Saturday, June 30, 2012

Phil attends the 15th Annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival: Day One-June 29, 2012

It's hard to believe that it's been a whole year, but it's that time again. The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum's Annual Broncho Billy Film Festival kicked off today and boy what a kick off it was! There was a gala reception at the Fremont Bank building here in Niles. Afterwards, the crowd then headed over to the Edison Theater, the home of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. The show began with introductions by the museum's historian, author, and projectionist David Kiehn and by world renown film historian and preservationist David Shepard. On the piano tonight was the amazing Frederick Hodges.

The night began with the short film ARRIVAL OF ESSANAY IN NILES. This short film was shot during the big 100th Anniversary of Broncho Billy and the Essanay Studio coming to Niles back on April 1st. The film was shot on 35mm in both black and white and in color. The film was an reenactment of that very special historical event and was shot using the very same film cameras that were used back in the silent film era!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1913)
The main feature of the night was a film entitled ATLANTIS. This long, lost, and little seen film is based on author Gerhart Hauptmann's novel, which was published just before the sinking of the Titanic! Filmed in Denmark, the movie tells the tale of a Dr. Friedrich Kammacher (Olaf Fønss) who travels to the United States in search of a cure for his ailing wife. While traveling aboard the the SS Roland, he meets and fall in love with a dancer named Ingigerd (Ida Orloff). Their romance is cut short with the tragic sinking of their ocean liner after it strikes an unseen object at sea. Released only one year after the sinking of the Titanic, the movie drew considerable attention as well as criticism due to similarities to the actual tragedy. The print shown was a 35mm print and it looked incredible! Very interesting set ups and silhouette shots and scenes actually shot in a lifeboat out on the water were all very impressive. It's interesting to compare this film to what was transpiring in the film industry here in America. The same year that this film was released, Broncho Billy Anderson was still riding around in the hills of Niles Canyon. At 144 minutes, the film was a fantastic and great discovery for me to see! The film was distributed by Nordisk Film Kompagni on December 26, 1913.

Now originally the museum was going to show three 1912 Biograph short films before ATLANTIS: THE NEW YORK HAT starring America's Sweetheat Mary Pickford, THE MUSKETEERS OF PIG ALLEY with Lillian Gish, and THE TOURISTS starring Mabel Normand. Since the film was over 2 hours long, a vote was taken and it was decided to show just one of the shorts. Now THE TOURISTS was a one-reeler short and featured funny girl Mabel Normand and her friends who miss their bus and hang out visiting a local Native Indian town. But when Mabel becomes too friendly with their Chief, his wife wants her scalp! Overall very politcally incorrect and hilariously funny! The film was released to theaters on February 18, 1912.

What a great why to kick off the film festival! There are still more shows on both Saturday and Sunday, so come on down and join me at the Edison Theatre. To view the festival film schedule and to purchase tickets, visit the museum's website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!


  1. I am thankful to Philip Castor for writing such a useful blog and thus sharing it with us.
    movie posters

  2. Nice work, Phil! I gave the museum a prominent plug in my blog posting a few days ago: