Silent movies and, occasionally, Robert Montgomery.

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A Christmas Carol, 1910

This early version of A Christmas Carol made for Edison Manufacturing Company tells the entire story in just over ten minutes, and utilizes some marvelous and spooky early special effects. A very young Viola Dana and her sister Shirley Mason also appear.

The Night Before Christmas, 1905

A beautiful short film inspired by the popular Christmas poem, directed by Edwin S. Porter for the Edison Manufacturing Company. Definitely check out the stunning example of early animation during Santa’s sleigh ride!

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,  dir. Georges Méliès, 1907
Watch here.
Georges Méliès (December 8, 1861 - January 21, 1938)

"Outright fantasy…came early. In France a professional magician named Georges Méliès became interested in the camera precisely because it could be made to seem to lie. It could, for instance, be stopped at a certain frame until an object - a chair, a bed, a man - was removed from its range and then started up again. Using painted sets in a studio, Méliès went on with his magic - transforming rods into snakes and sending rockets head-on into the grimacing face of the moon.”

~Walter Kerr, The Silent Clowns

Georges Méliès (December 8, 1861 - January 21, 1938)

"Outright fantasy…came early. In France a professional magician named Georges Méliès became interested in the camera precisely because it could be made to seem to lie. It could, for instance, be stopped at a certain frame until an object - a chair, a bed, a man - was removed from its range and then started up again. Using painted sets in a studio, Méliès went on with his magic - transforming rods into snakes and sending rockets head-on into the grimacing face of the moon.”

~Walter Kerr, The Silent Clowns

Georges Méliès (December 8, 1861 - January 21, 1938) as the chemist in his film The India Rubber Head (The Man With the Rubber Head), 1901

IMDb:

"A chemist in his laboratory places upon a table his own head, alive; then fixing upon his head a rubber tube with a pair of bellows, he begins to blow with all his might. Immediately the head increases in size and continues to enlarge until it becomes truly colossal while making faces. The chemist, fearing to burst it, opens a cock in the tube. The head immediately contracts and resumes its original size. He then calls his assistant and informs him of his discovery. The assistant, wishing to experiment for himself, seizes the bellows and blows into the head with all his might. The head swells until it bursts with a crash, knocking over the two experimenters."

View the entire film here.

Georges Méliès (December 8, 1861 - January 21, 1938), far left,  at work in his studio, c. 1900
Happy birthday to one of the most beloved pioneers of early cinema. If you celebrate today by going to see Hugo, you’ll see the studio in the film is remarkably similar to the real thing!

Georges Méliès (December 8, 1861 - January 21, 1938), far left,  at work in his studio, c. 1900

Happy birthday to one of the most beloved pioneers of early cinema. If you celebrate today by going to see Hugo, you’ll see the studio in the film is remarkably similar to the real thing!

The ‘?’ Motorist, 1906, dir. by Walter R. Booth
View entire film here.

The ‘?’ Motorist, 1906, dir. by Walter R. Booth

View entire film here.

The Sign of the Cross (Le diable au convent), Georges Méliès, 1899