Before the Nickelodeon: The Early Cinema of Edwin S. Porter
Not Rated||Documentary, Biography, History
This documentary is produced by one of the world's foremost authorities and biographers of Edwin S. Porter. Since little is known of Porter's personal life, the emphasis here is on his ... See full summary »
Before the Nickelodeon: The Cinema of Edwin S. Porter (1982)
*** (out of 4)
D.W. Griffith's actress Blanche Sweet narrates this 60-minute documentary taking a look at the career of Edwin S. Porter the man best remembered today for his 1903 masterpiece THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY. The documentary goes over his rise at Edison Studios and how he eventually started directing pictures only to make his last one thirty-years before his death. Before his death the Hollywood system had all but forgotten about him and he was yet another figure who wouldn't get his credit until years after his passing. Those wanting a real look at Porter's life and work will probably be disappointed because the majority of the running time just discusses his major films like TRAIN ROBBERY, LIFE OF AN American FIREFIGHTER and JACK AND THE BEANSTALK. There's not too much discussion on the making of these films or countless others that Porter made. Instead, we get long clips from countless films with many of his popular ones getting shown nearly in their full versions. This will certainly not sit well with some people but you have to remember that when this documentary was made these films weren't as wildly available as they are today so I'm sure people in 1982 were having a good time seeing these clips probably for the first time in their lives. I found the most interesting things being some photographs taken at one of the earliest theaters and it was pretty interesting seeing the look on the faces of the people who might have been seeing a movie for the first time. The stuff taking a look at the movies from 1895-1899 was the highlight of the picture. Various famous people including Robert Altman, Milos Forman, D.A. Pennebaker, Tony Potter and Jim Walton add some narration as well.