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American Cinema of the 1910s

Themes and Variations

Edited by Charlie Keil and Ben Singer

Publication Year: 2009

The essays in American Cinema of the 1910s explore the rapid developments of the decade that began with D. W. Griffith's unrivaled one-reelers. By the end of the decade, filmmaking had become a true industry, complete with vertical integration, efficient specialization and standardization of practices, and self-regulatory agencies.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Front Matter

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pp. v

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pp. vii

We would like to acknowledge our gratitude to the series editors, Lester D. Friedman and Murray Pomerance, for their valuable input; to Leslie Mitchner and her colleagues at Rutgers University Press for their professionalism and patience; to the contributors for their painstaking scholarship and good humor; and to our families for their perennial forbearance. ...

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INTRODUCTION: Movies and the 1910s

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pp. 1-25

The 1910s represents a turning point for American society, a period that saw many of the key transformations that helped shape the United States into a modern nation. By the decade’s close, America’s global supremacy as a supplier of commercial goods was secured, in part due to the disruptions caused by World War I. Progressivism, the dominant political movement of ...

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1910: Movies, Reform, and New Women

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pp. 26-47

At the start of the decade, it was still possible to call “moving pictures” a “passing” fad that “have had their day” and to classify them alongside the roller skating craze, as did the feminist reformer Rheta Childe Dorr (228). But others saw the movies growing into the new century’s defining mode of entertainment, and perhaps destined for something more. Typical, in ...

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1911: Movies and the Stability of the Institution

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pp. 48-68

Fifty years after the Civil War, popular culture explored the deep scars in the national body from that divisive conflict that left a nation still in a search for reconciliation. Monuments to war heroes were dedicated, commemorations were held on the old battlefields, and historic battles were reenacted on the original sites. Such memorializing events established cultural ...

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1912: Movies, Innovative Nostalgia, and Real-Life Threats

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pp. 69-91

Two days earlier, the U.S. attorney general had filed a suit against the Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC) and two dozen “Allies” for violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The suit charged that “the defendants determined to destroy competition between them, to monopolize commerce relating to the motion picture art, to exclude all others and carry on commerce according to the terms of the ...

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1913: Movies and the Beginning of a New Era

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pp. 92-114

At what point did the United States become a modern nation? When did the American cinema make the transition from small-scale industry to mass entertainment, from novelty to an accomplished storytelling medium? Such changes are gradual ones and can’t be attributed to the events of a single year. Even so, this year assumes particular significance in the development ...

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1914: Movies and Cultural Hierarchy

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pp. 115-138

The words are Oswald Spengler’s, from his monumental history The Decline of the West, and they suggest clearly the degree to which this year marks a critical moment in the global entry into modernity. Few years define so keenly the divergent historical experiences of Europe and the New World. The assassination on 28 June of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the ...

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1915: Movies and the State of the Union

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pp. 139-159

The United States marks the completion of the Panama Canal with two international expositions in California, celebrating the remarkable technological achievement of the creation of a passage across the continent between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The expositions seek to fashion a national self-identity marked by technological advancement and ...

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1916: Movies and the Ambiguities of Progressivism

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pp. 160-182

American involvement in the European war is debated throughout the year, as the rising death toll overseas causes great consternation. One million casualties are reported at Verdun, over a million more on the Somme, including 30,000 dead in the first half-hour of battle. Millions more die on other fronts. President Woodrow Wilson is reelected by a narrow margin in ...

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1917: Movies and Practical Patriotism

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pp. 183-203

As the year begins, Americans have reason to worry that their country may become involved in the three-year-old European war. Still, there is no national consensus about the proper role for the United States to take in this conflict. Some advocate preparedness and increased aid to Britain and the Allies; others, especially in the Midwest and the West, are isolationists. ...

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1918: Movies, Propaganda, and Entertainment

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pp. 204-224

The war remains far and away the most prominent and important news story. In some ways, however, this year in American life is as ordinary as any other. Most people and organizations go about their daily business as usual, with little fanfare, while some receive public attention. Edwin Armstrong, for example, is credited with developing an electronic circuit that ...

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1919: Movies and Righteous Americanism

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pp. 225-248

The decade ended with a turbulent year marked by both triumphalism and tribulation. World War I was finally over and Americans were full of jubilation, self-confidence, and hope. The country gloried in the recognition that American forces were a decisive factor in winning the war and, more generally, in the United States’ new geopolitical status as the richest and ...

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pp. 249-252

Many films from this decade are difficult to find. Some titles are only available in film archives. Some may be acquired for personal use, but only from small companies that distribute “collector’s copies” on VHS or DVD-R. Typically mastered from video copies of battered and “dupey” 8 mm or 16 mm prints, these copies are often well below normal commercial standards. ...


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pp. 253-260


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pp. 261-262


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pp. 263-278

E-ISBN-13: 9780813546544
E-ISBN-10: 0813546540
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813544441
Print-ISBN-10: 0813544440

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 33 photographs
Publication Year: 2009