Prod.: Vitagraph 35mm. L.: 107 m. D.: 6′ a 16 f/s
After stagnation under the threat of Edison lawsuits, the American cinema began to respond to the nickelodeon revolution in 1908. As Richard Abel has shown, the growth in popularity in motion pictures in the USA after 1906 (triggered by appearance of hundreds of nickel theaters showing short programs of films with a cheap admission price that attracted working class audiences in droves) had depended mainly on French film, especially the product of Pathé. But in 1908, a number of American production companies chose to acknowledge Edison’s patents and pay the company royalties in exchange for the ability to produce and release films as part of the Edison Combine. The films in this program feature those companies that Edison now allowed to become producers. Certainly the most innovative of these was the Vitagraph Company, located in Brooklyn New York making films since the 1890’s under its executives and founders Albert Smith and J. Stuart Blackton. Since 1906 Vitagraph had been an innovator in a variety of genres – comedies, trick films, action-based dramas, and what William Uricchio and Roberta Person have called “films of quality”, adaptation of literary classics or stagings of historical incidents that strove to raise the cultural capital of the both the this company and the film industry generally. Unfortunately, in contrast to Biograph, most of whose films from 1908 survive, few Vitagraph films exist from this year so it is difficult to evaluate its productions.