Pushing Boundaries

Silence of the Films


Once moving pictures could be recorded on film the industry grew quite rapidly. From the first motion picture c. 1890 to the 1920s, these films went from run times measured in seconds to ones measured in hours. The art went from filming guys walking out of a factory at the end of their work day to actual scripted and acted stories. The initial celluloid film, which was quite flammable and led to many movie house fires, was soon replaced with plastic-based film that was less prone to catching fire from the heat of the projector lamp or a movie operator’s cigar. At first, the only soundtrack was the clicking of the projector wheels. Soon, theaters hired pianists, organists or, in large urban areas, an entire orchestra to provide mood music. Soon, the producers were drafting sheet music to go with the movie so that moviegoers in Iowa City had the same movie experience as moviegoers in NYC. The industry as a whole really came alive. Even though Europe’s movie industry, which was the crown jewel of the industry, suffered a major setback due to a little world war during the 1910s, it came roaring back and was made stronger by a burgeoning film industry in an upstart town called Hollywood.

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Moments in History

You Prude!

Not long ago, it was improper to show married couples with a single bed on TV. I’m not sure why this came about, considering even the Puritans liked to get it on, but somewhere somehow it was considered vulgar and improper to imply on the boob tube that married people engaged in coitus.
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Technology Ruining Filmography

A movie opened 90 years ago today that, while technologically unremarkable at the time, would be wholly remarkable today. Not for dazzling special effects or intelligent conversation between characters. The Sheik was quite the opposite — a silent film made in 1921 where the height of special effects was filming in one place but making it look like another.
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