Saturday, January 5, 2013

One Is Business, The Other Crime (1912)

WHO: Directed by D.W. Griffith.

WHAT: It's a bit of a misnomer to call this one-reeler a "short film" as it was standard for most films 101 years ago to fit on just one projector reel; perhaps the comparatively few multi-reelers of 1912 should be labeled "long films" instead! But it's much easier for a writer to go with the current convention of distinguishing "shorts" from "features" when writing about an approximately fifteen minute film, no matter how anachronistic it is to apply to a film from this era. One Is Business, the Other Crime is a fairly straightforward moral lesson about the hypocrisies of social stratification. Made when the Gilded Age was still fresh in memory, its message is sadly no less relevant today than ever. And it allows Blanche Sweet to brandish a pistol! For more on Sweet, Griffith, and this film, do check out this excellent blog.

WHERE/WHEN: At the unique Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, California, which screens films from the first three dozen years of cinema history on fifty-one Saturday nights every year. 7:30 PM.

WHY: Every two months the Museum releases a new screening calendar, available as a mailing or a pdf download from its website. Local silent film researcher Thomas Gladysz has a habit of writing up a fine preview of the Niles offerings every month, but he can't cover every detail of every program- most Saturday nights include a feature-length silent film as well as two short films, though the popular monthly "Comedy Short Subject Night" ditches the feature to pack in more shorts. Tonight's feature is Behind The Front, a 1926 comedy that was part of a mid-1920s wave of World War I films launched by the massive popularity of King Vidor's smash hit war drama The Big Parade. It's always nice to see a Griffith film in a cinema, but it will be especially nice to see just a month before more Griffith films play at Niles to kick off its February schedule; though titles are not announced as yet, a number of the February 2nd Mary Pickford tribute selections are certain to be his.

HOW: Almost all of the films shown at the Niles Film Museum on Saturday nights are shown via 16mm prints, and always with live musical accompaniment. Tonight it will be Bruce Loeb at the piano.

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