11 East 14th Street is my effort to find the origins and understand the evolution and culmination of visual and performance arts — art forms created to explain our shared existence, make life understandable and, at a minimum, bearable. I’m probably a lot like you. If you’ve read even this far we may have something in common. I’m not an academic and certainly don’t consider myself an intellectual. My interest in the arts leans heavily toward art forms usually labeled, “entertainment.” But entertainment means the engaging of the senses; of interest. At some level, the best art entertains, though not always in the sense of making you “forget your troubles, come on, get happy!”
Despite the name and header image, this is not a blog devoted to D.W. Griffith, silent film, or the cinematic arts in general. Depending on how it evolves, I may have to spit this endeavor into separate discrete forums for specific topics. However, at least in the short term, I will focus more of my attention on film, film acting, silent and early sound film, and the horns of a social and artistic dilemma commonly known as “movie stardom.”
My interests are wide (and, I think, not shallow), and with any luck you’ll find something here at least occasionally that will make you think, smile, chuckle, laugh, sigh, groan or just make you nod your head up and down or sideways. I’m always interested in other opinions especially in areas where I’m pretty damn sure I’m right and my understanding is better than just about anyone’s. I’ve been proven wrong enough times to be humble. But I won’t refrain from trying to change your mind if we disagree and I sincerely hope you will do the same. I won’t engage in the shouting/hating/baiting bullshit we see all too frequently in nearly every internet forum. I think we as a culture (very dangerous and controversial word, “culture”) have forgotten how to “argue” in the constructive sense of that word. Argument isn’t angry impasse, but rather a rational airing of opinions AND the facts behind them. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy what you find here!
More about ’11 East 14 St’ is contained in this post, here:
32 thoughts on “About”
Great site! I cam upon it while doing picture research fro a book on Thomas Edison being produced by TIME Magazine. I’m wondering if you have available the means to supply larger size files of some of the stills from Edison movies on your site? Please let me know as soon as possible if you can help me. Thank you!
Patricia Cadley, Picture Editor, Time Home Entertainment Inc.
omg your posts are amazing
i am a silent film buff (dating back to 1997 when i was 11, not even kidding) but i haven’t pursued this interest very seriously into my adult years. would love to consider a phd in it at some point. anyway, please keep doing what you’re doing and keep in touch!! best regards, adina
Thanks so much. I’m glad you enjoy it. I also had an interest at a relatively early age in my teens, but only recently (last several years) have I really taken the time to study the subject. Keep reading (and subscribe by email or twitter) and I’ll keep writing.
Sorry this has nothing to do with the current subject but hopefully you might have some information on Dorothy Mackaill other than your post of some years back. Reading her history leaves one very big question and that is how she afforded to stay at the Grand Hawaiian for over 50 yrs? Does anyone know? I don’t think Charie Chan kept her up.
Thanks for reading and commenting. Unfortunately, i know very little about Dorothy Mackaill’s private life after motion pictures. It is possible that she was able to retire from acting in the late 1930s financially secure, and lived the remaining four decades in relative comfort — but this is pure speculation on my part. (Kay Francis, who retired a decade later, comes to mind as someone who also left the business at a rather young age having wisely saved and invested her earnings.)
Let me know what you find.
Hi Gene, did you ever complete Part Two of your essay on Florence La Badie? [To be continued in PART TWO: Thanhouser and stardom.] I’m working on a paper to explore the rumor that she had the illegitimate child of President Woodrow Wilson in 1915…would love to hear your take on this.
No, I haven’t done much further research on “Part Two.” On the “Wilson” issue, however, I did have an exchange of thoughts and information with Bryan Smith of the lilaclane website. Bryan published a pointed debunking of this rumor, and I think if you haven’t already checked it out you will find it worthwhile to do so. But I am certainly interested in any new information on that subject that you may uncover.
Bryan’s article is found here:
Thanks! And also, thanks for following!
Thanks for the reply, Gene…I have been in contact with Bryan and we are collaborating on this aspect of Florence’s story…if you are not aware, I did a fundraising campaign last year to place a headstone at her previously unmarked grave at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn…take a look at http://www.thanhouser.org/fearless-flo.htm. Regards, Ned Thanhouser
Thanks for responding, Ned. I’m glad you are working with Bryan on this. Also, I was aware of and made a small contribution to the campaign you conducted for Florence’s monument at Green-Wood.
You will also be interested in my 52 minute documentary film “The Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema” featuring Florence that is available online at http://www.vimeo.com/ondemand/thanhouser.
Thanks for your support, Gene! Have you seen/watched the Thanhouser Studio documentary? http://www.vimeo.com/ondemand/thanhouser. A 52 minute history of the Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema…with a focus on Florence, worth a watch!
You’re welcome, Ned. I haven’t seen the documentary, but I will make a point to watch it. Thanks for the link!
I did not know you had published the second part….i read it very fast because I was preparing an e-mail for a filmaker I just contacted…
please let me know more..
Hi ! I saw the analysis you wrote on your website about A country cupid and I would like to ask you some questions about it. I am research student at university and I am doing some researches on this specific movie. Next to your article, there is couple of very good quality pictures, but on the internet, I haven’t been able to find the movie in such a good condition. Is the movie available on DVD or did you actually found it on internet ? Thank you very much for your time.
The still frames from “A Country Cupid” were taken from the 2006 DVD, “Nickelodia Vol. 1” by the company, Unknown Video. I am fairly certain I bought it on Amazon, however, when I checked just now, it is listed on Amazon as “Currently unavailable.” It is probably out-of-print now, although someone may be selling used copies somewhere! Thanks for your interest in the article, and if I can be of any further assistance to you in your research, feel free to contact me here.
Ok, then I will try to find this DVD. Thank you for your help !
You’re quite welcome!
I was delighted to find your site – as I’ve been looking for information about my grandmother, Ruth Hart. She died in ’52, two years before I was born, and we have very little of her, other than a handful of photos and her correspondence, most of which I discovered after my mother died. So I was happy to find your site, and to read your informative piece about “The LIght that Came”. Thanks so much!
Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m always amazed, and gratified, when I receive a comment from a relative or an acquaintance of someone who has been the subject of an essay I’ve written. Some, like you, are searching for more information. It often seems as if there should be more information out there, but it takes a lot of time and patience, even in the digital age. But the information IS out there… knowing where to look is at least half the battle. Although my essay wasn’t specifically about Ruth Hart, I did find a few basic facts, most of which but not all, were included here.
Ruth Hart appeared in 30 films for Biograph, directed by D.W. Griffith; all but two were minor, “bit” parts, the two exceptions being “The Light That Came” (filmed at the Biograph Studio in New York, Sept 30 – Oct 4, 1909; released Nov 11 1909) and “The Last Call” (filmed at Biograph, NY, Dec 15-16, 1909; released Jan 27, 1910). In the latter, she plays the female lead — the wife of a suicidal gambler. Though not available for home video, “The Last Call” does exist (as do most of the 400+ films made by Griffith and Biograph between 1908 and 1913). In addition to the 35 mm paper print submitted by Biograph to the Library of Congress for copyright purposes in 1910, a 35 mm nitrate negative is held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. (“The Light That Came” also exists as a paper print, and in a 35 mm nitrate positive print at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY.)
Although the remainder of her roles were bit parts, they were “bits” of history. Ruth Hart’s time with Biograph may have been brief, but her timing was excellent. She appears in two of the best and most important of the early Griffith Biographs, “A Corner in Wheat” (released Dec 13, 1909) and “The Redman’s View” (Dec 9, 1909). In the former, she is visible in the group of angry “breadline” customers in three separate shots at the bakery; in the latter she is one of the “Indians,” (though I haven’t been able to isolate her among the females with shawl-covered heads).
If you haven’t already, you may want to research her stage career. There is only one entry for Ruth Hart in the IBDb (Internet Broadway Database), but it is significant: the 1906 production of “The Clansman,” based upon the Thomas Dixon novel that was, in turn, the basis for Griffith’s 1915 film, “The Birth of A Nation.” It lasted less than two months on Broadway at the beginning of 1906, but reviews should be accessible via historic newspaper archives, particularly The New York Dramatic Mirror (and many other historic NY state newspapers at Fultonhistory.com) and The New York Times. From there you can follow the tour of that production and look for reviews and articles about the play from various newspapers from the cities in which the show appeared, and, possibly more information or articles about Ruth Hart. There are many newspaper archive services, some free, some paid subscription, and there is Ancestry.com and other geneology services as well, to lead you into new and unexpected directions. You’ll find that one thing invariably leads to another once you’ve started down the road of historical research.
Any further questions, please feel free to ask. Good luck and thanks again.
Gene , Thanks very much for taking the time to answer my message in such detail. It seems that Ruth’s career in the movies ended at about the time she met my grandfather , Walter J. Moore – a lithographer, specializing in theatrical and movie posters. Ruth’s ‘day job’ was secretary to the producer A.H. Woods, which is how she met my grandfather, who was a close friend and business associate of Woods. As you say, it’s very true how one piece of information leads to another. And I certainly appreciate your good leads!
You’re welcome. Your grandmother certainly had an interesting career working for two of the most important people in show business at that time, both stage and screen. Those were different times, of course, and marriage often ended a woman’s acting career — but in this case, a day job as secretary to a major Broadway producer offered more security than did acting. The timing and the connections are certainly interesting. It seems more than a coincidence that Ruth had appeared in The Clansman and that she was hired by Griffith, who quite likely knew this, a couple of years later. Griffith may have known Woods; (he certainly knew OF him). She worked for Griffith and Biograph in the Fall of 1909, a period of great productivity for Griffith, just before the company made their first trip to Southern California in January 1910. I wonder if she was asked by Griffith to come to California and maybe declined due to her commitments in New York? Pure speculation, but fun. And thanks for a fascinating story. Let me know if (no, when!) you find more. 😉
Hi Gene: Not sure if you are aware that the Library of Congress is now making many of their film library available to public, free. Including a number of Griffith and Pickford films.
Hope all is well with you and might see some new posts based on these films?
I was not aware of this! Thanks so much for letting me know that the LOC is making this material available digitally. I use the LOC feature film database frequently, but somehow i missed this announcement. You bet I’ll be looking over what is available, and that the Pickford Biographs will be my primary focus. The lack of readily available, viewable (i.e., watchable) material made it difficult to give these films the sort of focus and detailed analysis they deserve, but that appears to be changing!
Thanks again for the info and link 🙂
My pleasure, it was a revelation to me as well. Hopping to read your observations in near future. I’m enjoying this long over due opportunity.
Very happy to have come across your website this morning, and ashamed I didn’t discover it before now. But such is the morass of the internet. Your scholarship and-especially-your clear and entertaining writing are absolutely tops. Off for more reading now. Cheers and thanks!
Thank you very much for the complements and kind words, they are greatly appreciated. Hope you enjoy the new content as it appears every couple of weeks — that’s my intent anyway! (As you can see, it’s not exactly a “blog” with daily posts). Thanks again, for reading and for commenting.
Was trying to remember the titles/author of the guy who was responsible for three (?) ‘faux photoplay editions’. Featured stills from non-existent movies. Believe they were published in the ’20’s and think at least one was a ‘Sheik’ kind of plot. Any help on this?
Photoplay editions of movies that NEVER existed? Wow, that’s intriguing . . . and hilarious. No, I’ve never heard about those fake editions. I have (or had) one of a 1915 film that no longer exists, but that’s not what you’re searching for. Try contacting Bob Fells at the facebook group Silent Films Today. Bob is an authority, maybe even an “expert” on the Photoplay Editions. Chances are he’s heard of and/or knows something about them.
And thanks for reading and commenting!
One Way Passage is my all time favorite film. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you about it. I’ve been a fan of the pre-code era for years now and although was not a big fan of romances, there’s a magic in this film that I can’t really put my finger on. For instance I always feel like I’ve watched a 90 minute film (which was about the length of the 1940 remake, Till We Meet Again) instead of a 68 minute film. I’ve watched many times and find new background images seemingly every time. Also I’m fortunate to own a copy of the script which was printed in the 60’s when they were thinking of doing another remake. It’s fun to find lines and sometimes whole scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut.
Thanks so much for the interesting article.
Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
Thanks for reading. Your comments are much appreciated. It is a remarkable film, and one that demonstrates vividly how much can be told in so little time. It seems to me that one can draw a line without too much zigging or zagging from the single reel 15 minute dramas of the early 1910s with their condensed (albeit by necessity) format, and connect it to the 68 minutes of ONE WAY PASSAGE with its discrete, episodic structure, much of which contains minimal dialog. And even if that seems too much of a stretch, the film clearly owes more to the silent dramas of just a few years before than to the early talkies.
Thanks again for reading and commenting!
I’m watching Trouble in Paradise and am smitten by Kay Francis. TCM is featuring her this month and an internet lookup led me here. History is exciting. Thank you.
Yes, Kay Francis is fantastic! I love Trouble in Paradise, In Jewel Robbery, which i believe is on the TCM schedule for tomorrow (Monday the 3rd), she plays quite effectively \ a character almost the complete opposite of her role in Trouble in Paradise.
Thanks for reading and commenting!