The Gold Rush.



Safety Last.

Ben Hur.

Joyless Street.

The Eagle.

The Big Parade.


Phantom of the Opera.

For Heavens Sake.

Flesh and the Devil.

Son of the Sheik.

King of Kings.


The Jazz Singer.




The Cameraman.

The Secret Hour.

Passion of Joan of Arc.

The Docks of New York.

The Man Who Laughs.

Timeline 1910 to 1919.


A Brief Overview of the Decade

This was a decade of rebellion, revolution and war. Radical changes seemed to be taking place everywhere, and when Halley's Comet returned in 1910 many people thought the end of the world was at hand. By the time the Treaty of Versailles officially ended World War I on June 28, 1919, for many people the world had indeed come to an end. During the years between these two events, the Ottoman Empire had crumbled; the Titanic had sunk; Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been assassinated; World War I had introduced the world to "trench warfare", "fighter planes", "aerial dogfights", "U-boats", and "poison gas"; the Russian Revolution had dethroned the Czar; Irish nationalists had declared Irish independence from Great Britain; Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa had lead a revolution in Mexico; a virulent strain of influenza had swept the world affecting nearly half of the world's population; and race riots and violent union strikes had touched many U.S. communities both large and small.

Meanwhile, in 1913 Henry Ford organized his first assembly line, a concept that would fundamentally affect the lives of much of the workforce; and as the decade ended Congress passed the 18th Amendment that prohibited the "manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors", a law that would affect the lives of most U.S. citizens for the next 13 years. Throughout it all, however, the American public still had time to buy over a million copies of Irving Berlin's song, "Alexander's Ragtime Band", and swing to the first jazz recordings. They also had time to dance the Fox-trot, solve the clever crossword puzzles that had just been introduced in the New York "World" Sunday paper, and enjoy the shorter eight-hour workday that had been signed into law. And despite everything, during this decade as many as 26 million people a week found escape in the now familiar Nickelodeons and movie theaters.

History of Motion Pictures
Significant Films
Picture Show Man Articles



The Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC), referred to as the "Edison Trust", which only allows its own members access to cameras and projectors that use its patents, sets up its own film exchange. This distribution company, The General Film Company, attempts to counter the flood of films being produced by the "independents".

The noninflammable film stock that had been released by Eastman Kodak in 1909 proves to be so unsatisfactory that commercial film producers go back to using the original, very flammable Nitrate film.

D.W. Griffith, the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company's chief director, brings a group of actors and technicians to Los Angeles, California, for four months. While there they make 25 films for Biograph.

The huge French film company, Pathè Frères, which accounts for up to one third of the movies shown in the U.S., builds a studio in Jersey City. This New Jersey studio, Pathè-American, specializes in producing Westerns.

Formerly known as the anonymous "Biograph Girl", Florence Lawrence begins to be mentioned by name in film promotions when she starts making films for Carl Laemmle's Independent Motion Picture Company (IMP). After an extensive interview with her appears on the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Sunday magazine, adoring fans mob Lawrence when she visits the city. Florence Lawrence, also known as "The Girl of a Thousand Faces" and "The IMP Girl", becomes the first "movie star".

A fire devastates the studios of the Vitagraph Company of America, the leading film producer in the U.S. Numerous negatives are destroyed.

Georges Méliès's French film company, Star Film, begins to gradually collapse when his fantasy films no longer sell.

Pathè improves its "Pathècolor" process that uses a series of stencils to automatically add color tints to films.

Vitagraph releases, "The Life of Moses", a five-reel epic that is said to have cost $50,000.

The Edison Company releases an adaptation of Mary Shelley's tale, "Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus".

Nitrate Film - A Major Problem in Movie Restoration.

The “Academy” Ratio – The Shape of Movies Before 1953

The "Latham Loop" - A Loop of Film that Freed an Industry.

Movie Censorship – A Brief History



The Vitagraph Company of America opens a film studio in California.

Although more and more films that are longer than just one reel are being produced, the exchanges find that it is awkward to handle and rent them. Exchanges usually rent these multi-reel films one reel at a time, despite the fact that the multiple-reels, shown in sequence, depict a single story.

Pathè capitalizes on the popularity and fame of the French comic actor, Max Linder, by adding his first name to the titles of his comic films. An example is "Max and His Dog Dick".

Pathè refuses to honor the Motion Picture Patents Company's (MPPC) contract with Eastman Kodak that requires Pathè to buy raw film stock only from Kodak. Pathè builds its own factory in France to manufacture raw film stock.

The explosion of independent film producers, producers who will not agree to the monopolistic restrictions imposed by the MPPC (the "Edison Trust"), begins to seriously affect the number of Pathè films being distributed in both the U.S. and France. Pathè's share of the U.S. film market slips from over 30% to under 10%.

Pathè begins to abandon film production to concentrate on film distribution. The French cinema industry quickly becomes decentralized.

The French motion picture company, Gaumont, opens the largest cinema in the world in Paris. The "Gaumont-Palace" has 3,400 seats.

To combat the growing output of single-reel films made in the U.S., French, Italian and Danish film companies launch a concerted effort to produce multi-reel, feature-length films on a regular basis.

Vitagraph releases a three-reel adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel, "A Tale of Two Cities". Each reel is rented separately.

The Biograph Company releases the D.W. Griffith film, "Enoch Arden". It is two-reels long, and Biograph has decided to show both reels at the same time.

Thomas Ince releases a two-reel Western for Bison Life Pictures entitled, "War on the Plains". Shot in California, it sets a new standard for Westerns by using authentic cowboys, Indians, buffalo, covered wagons and stagecoaches.

Nitrate Film - A Major Problem in Movie Restoration.

The “Academy” Ratio – The Shape of Movies Before 1953

The "Latham Loop" - A Loop of Film that Freed an Industry.

Movie Censorship – A Brief History



The patent for the "Latham Loop" is overthrown by the courts.

French multi-reel, feature-length films achieve great popularity and critical acclaim in the U.S. They help to establish the multi-reel "feature" film as a story that should be screened in its entirety during a single program.

The French comic actor, Max Linder, who makes films for Pathè, becomes the highest paid film actor in the world.

Daniel Frohman, Adolph Zukor and Edwin Porter found the "Famous Players Film Company". They purchase the exclusive distribution rights to "Queen Elizabeth", Sarah Bernhardt's latest film, from the Franco-German company, Eclipse.

Carl Laemmle, the head of the Independent Motion Picture Company (IMP), has organized the merger of several independent production companies to form "Universal Film Manufacturing Company".

Mack Sennett, a former director at Biograph, forms the "Keystone Picture Company" and prepares to start filming at the studios of Bison Life in Hollywood, California.

The four-reel film, "Queen Elizabeth", starring Sarah Bernhardt, is shown at the Lyceum Theater in New York City. It is the longest movie presented in the U.S. to date. It becomes the first film to be seriously reviewed and talked about in the major newspapers.

The "Latham Loop" - A Loop of Film that Freed an Industry.

Nitrate Film - A Major Problem in Movie Restoration.

The “Academy” Ratio – The Shape of Movies Before 1953

Movie Censorship – A Brief History



Jesse L. Lasky, Samuel Goldfish, Cecil B. DeMille, and Arthur Friend form the "Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company". Their first film, "The Squaw Man", is directed by Cecil B. DeMille and shot in and around Los Angeles, California.

To compete with the foreign multi-reel, "feature" films, the American film industry is forced to embark in earnest on the production of longer films.

The Famous Players Film Company hires Mary Pickford and pays her $2,000 per week.

Eastman Kodak releases the first panchromatic film, which is sensitive to the whole tonal range.

Mack Sennett's Keystone Picture Company hires the young British comedian, Charles Chaplin, at a salary of $150 per week.

D.W. Griffith leaves Biograph and signs on with the "Reliance-Majestic" production company that uses the Mutual Film Corporation to distribute its films. Reliance-Majestic agrees to let him direct two to three feature-length films a year.

The Famous Players Film Company releases its first film, "The Prisoner of Zenda".

The nine-reel Italian film, "Quo Vadis?", is shown on Broadway making it the longest film ever presented in the U.S. to date.

"The Adventures of Kathlyn", is released. It is considered to be the first true motion picture serial.

The Producer/Director Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (aka: Dadasaheb Phalke), the "Father of Indian Cinema", releases India's first feature-length film, "Raja Harischandra". The movie runs for 1hour and 30 minutes.

Nitrate Film - A Major Problem in Movie Restoration.

The “Academy” Ratio – The Shape of Movies Before 1953

The "Latham Loop" - A Loop of Film that Freed an Industry.

Movie Censorship – A Brief History



Bringing together a number of independent production companies, including Adolph Zukor's "Famous Players", W.W. Hodgkinson founds a nationwide distribution network named "Paramount Pictures". Throwing out the old system where the production company rented its films directly to regional exchanges, Paramount pays member companies an advance of $30,000 for each picture, and then distributes the films nationwide keeping 35% of the rental fees for itself, and giving 65% to the original producer.

Charlie Chaplin leaves Keystone to work for the film production company, Essanay. Essanay agrees to pay Chaplin $1,200 per week plus a $10,000 bonus.

The first of the new movie "palaces", the Strand and the Vitagraph, open in New York City. Each can accommodate over 2,000 patrons.




The Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company releases "The Squaw Man", directed by Cecil B. DeMille. This is DeMille's first picture, and the first feature–length motion picture to be filmed in California.

The Keystone Picture Company releases, "Making a Living", which is Charlie Chaplin's first motion picture.

The Famous Players Film Company releases its first film, "Hearts Adrift", starring Mary Pickford.

Pathè's American subsidiary releases the movie serial, "Perils of Pauline", staring Pearl White. It is simultaneously serialized in a number of the Hearst newspapers, and becomes the most famous of the early "chapter plays".

Keystone releases, Caught in the Rain", the first movie to be entirely written and directed by Charlie Chaplin.


Nitrate Film - A Major Problem in Movie Restoration.

The “Academy” Ratio – The Shape of Movies Before 1953

The "Latham Loop" - A Loop of Film that Freed an Industry.

Movie Censorship – A Brief History




Harry Aitken, former head of the Mutual Film Corporation, and D.W. Griffith form the "Epoch Producing Corporation".

The Bell & Howell 2709 camera, that was introduced in 1911, starts to be widely used. It is the first high-precision, all-metal 35mm motion picture camera. It has a frame-counter that makes it easier to create special effects, and a turret lens for making close-ups. (To see a photo of the Bell & Howell 2709 camera, click here.)

William Fox and Winfield Sheehan form the "Fox Film Corporation". Their new film star, Theda Bara, is nicknamed "The Vamp" because of her exaggerated and exotic makeup.

Carl Laemmle, the president of the Universal Manufacturing Corporation, opens film studios in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. He calls the studio complex, Universal City.

The U.S. Supreme Court cancels all of the Motion Picture Patents Company's (MPPC) patents. The "Edison Trust" loses its battle to control the motion picture industry and soon dissolves.

The actor, Douglas Fairbanks, signs on with D.W. Griffith for a salary of $2,000 per week.

The Mutual Film Corporation releases D.W. Griffith's, "Birth of a Nation". It is 12 reels long (185 minutes) and is so popular it runs for 44 consecutive weeks at the Liberty Theater in New York. In some theaters in the South it runs continuously for up to 12 years. It is estimated that the film may have grossed as much as $50 million in its first run.

Nitrate Film - A Major Problem in Movie Restoration.

The “Academy” Ratio – The Shape of Movies Before 1953

The "Latham Loop" - A Loop of Film that Freed an Industry.

Movie Censorship – A Brief History



Charlie Chaplin signs a year-long contract with the Mutual Film Corporation. He is to receive $10,000 per week plus a $150,000 signing bonus.

The "Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company", and "The Famous Players Film Corporation" merge to become "Famous Players-Lasky Corporation". Adolph Zukor becomes the president.

Samuel Goldfish resigns as administrative president of Famous Players-Lasky Corporation due to disagreements with the new president, Adolph Zukor. Goldfish redeems his stock in the company for $900,000.

Samuel Goldfish forms a new production company, which he eventually moves to California, called "Goldwyn Pictures Corporation". The name "Goldwyn" is formed by combining Goldfish and Selwyn (one of the partners in the corporation).

Paramount Pictures sets up a studio called "The Comique Film Corporation". They hire Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle to be its writer, director and star. He will be paid $7,000 per week plus 25% of the profits.

The D.W. Griffith's film, "Intolerance", is released. The final cost of the film is about $400,000.

Cecil B. DeMille's film, "Joan the Woman", is released. It stars the popular opera singer, Geraldine Farrar.

Nitrate Film - A Major Problem in Movie Restoration.

The “Academy” Ratio – The Shape of Movies Before 1953

The "Latham Loop" - A Loop of Film that Freed an Industry.

Movie Censorship – A Brief History




Backed financially by Artcraft Pictures, which is owned by Paramount Pictures, Douglas Fairbanks forms the "Douglas Fairbanks Pictures Corporation". He will be paid $10,000 per week plus a percentage of the company profits.

Paramount Pictures, under Adolph Zukor, begins to require "block booking" of its films. This procedure forces exhibitors to commit themselves to an entire Paramount "package" of films each month that includes less desirable films along with its major features.

Thomas Edison, at the age of 70, begins to shut down his film production company.

Secretly funded, in part, by the German government, the German film trust "Universum Film Aktien Gesellschaft" (UFa) is formed. Integrating a number of established film companies, UFa immediately becomes the largest film company in Europe

Twenty-seven regional film distributors, controlling over 2,000 cinemas, join together to form the "First National Exhibitor's Circuit". This new company, "First National", hires Charlie Chaplin to make films for their theaters, paying Chaplin $125,000 for each of eight films.

Samuel Goldfish legally changes his name to Samuel Goldwyn, and he creates the "Goldwyn Distribution Company" to distribute and/or sell his films.

The Fox Film Corporation opens a studio in Los Angeles.

The Comique Film Corporation releases the first "Fatty" Arbuckle film, "The Butcher Boy". The film features a talented newcomer named Buster Keaton.

The Fox Film Corporation releases, "Cleopatra", starring Theda Bara.



Nitrate Film - A Major Problem in Movie Restoration.

The “Academy” Ratio – The Shape of Movies Before 1953

The "Latham Loop" - A Loop of Film that Freed an Industry.

Movie Censorship – A Brief History




Charlie Chaplin opens his own studios to produce films for First National.

Mary Pickford forms her own film production company to make films for First National. First National will pay her an advance of $150,000, and then $250,000 for each of three films.

The Pathè company in France splits into two companies. Emile Pathè will run the "Sound Reproduction Machine Company", and his brother Charles Pathè will run the "Pathè-Cinema Company".

Adolph Zukor's "Artcraft" company releases D.W. Griffith's film, "Hearts of the World". Starring Lillian Gish and Erich von Stroheim, this anti-German propaganda film arouses great waves of sympathy for the Allies.

Rudolph Valentino has his first major role in, "The Married Virgin".

Nitrate Film - A Major Problem in Movie Restoration.

The “Academy” Ratio – The Shape of Movies Before 1953

The "Latham Loop" - A Loop of Film that Freed an Industry.

Movie Censorship – A Brief History


In Hollywood fifteen cameramen found "The American Society of Cinematographers".

Feeling that distributors are taking too much of their money, D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks join forces and form their own distributing company called "United Artists Corporation". Each will produce their own films that will then be distributed by this new joint enterprise.




"Daddy Long Legs" is the first film released by the new Mary Pickford Corporation.

"Blind Husbands" is released by Universal. It is the first film to be written and directed by Erich von Stroheim.

"His Majesty, The American" is the first film to be released by United Artists. The film stars Douglas Fairbanks.

"The Miracle Man", starring Lon Chaney, is released. Chaney causes a sensation with the grotesque makeup he devised for the part.


Nitrate Film - A Major Problem in Movie Restoration.

The “Academy” Ratio – The Shape of Movies Before 1953

The "Latham Loop" - A Loop of Film that Freed an Industry.

Movie Censorship – A Brief History

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