Prod.: Charles Urban Trading Company; 35mm. L.: 86 M. D.: 5′ A 16 F/S.
For British filmmakers 1907 was another difficult year, with the ongoing problems of international competition. But falling prices were not enough to discourage producers; at least 467 films were released (a conservative estimate) of which 82 survive in the BFI National Archive. Exhibition was healthy with purpose-built film theatres opening in London and pioneering companies such as Electric Theatres Ltd. were founded to establish circuits of cinemas. The surviving films are heavily dominated by the London contingent of pioneering companies such as Hepworth, Urban and Clarendon. Content and styles of film making continued along the lines of previous years with comedy, drama trick film and animation, interest films and actualities being produced in similar proportions. In this selection we see the dominant position played by Charles Urban in British production and we feature the work of W.R. Booth a cartoonist, animator and amateur magician who had worked with Maskelyne and Devant at the Egyptian Theatre before going into film with R W Paul and then Urban. In drama, adaptations of literary works likely to have a international appeal were still popular. Percy Stow’s source for his film, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, was presumably the Robert Browning poem of 1842 but also had a basis in European folk culture. Hepworth continued to produce good quality comedies along tried and tested lines and in the non fiction field Mitchell & Kenyon were still producing wonderful local films and world events were being recorded in ever greater number. One newcomer to the film scene this year was the Cinematophone, a synchronised disc system not unlike the Gaumont’s Chronophone which was produced in the same year. These ‘singing’ films featured well-known songs of the day. One example is By the Side of the Zuyder Zee, a popular song of 1906 by W.A.J. Mills m. Bennett Scott.