Media | 1970 | Sound | Colour
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A film presenting the pioneers of silent British cinema, discussing their work and its significance in the evolution of film as a movement.
Some very old and blurry scenes of horse and trap driven in amongst an immensely crowded urban street. Two old men, Bert Chambers and Tom Williamson in 1970s sit side by side on a settee in a living room, before a small coffee table, upon which rests a sort of scrap book, the men are immaculately turned out, one in black suit and white handkerchief in top breast pocket, the other in brown with read carnation at the breast pocket. The man in the black suit talks about how his father (James Williamson) used him to act in his early films, we see one of these films, one of the lad being doused with water from a cart, and another of him entering a wine and spirits shop, with a wicker basket, he reappears from the shop and is chased by a whole array of people a la Keystone Cops, including the shopkeeper, a policeman, a gent in a top hat and frock coat, and a woman in a Victorian dress, the boy removes some bricks in a wall and scrambles through into a house, the policeman realises what has happened and tries to go in after him, but is too big. Inside the house, the people all see the boy but cannot reach him through what looks like a fence of chicken wire, the boy taunts them and laughs, looking very pleased with himself ('Our New Errand Boy').
The other old man reminisces about another film, they leaf through an old Williamson catalogue. Clip from 'Attack On A China Mission' - we see a fight outside a sort of country house, with guns going off with smoke, and men punching and wrestling one another, eventually the house is penetrated.
There is an excerpt from the silent "Vicar of Wakefield" (1913) a costume drama lasting nearly an hour, made at Walton Studios: film had rapidly moved from the obsession of a handful of pioneers making two minute films, to becoming big business. Actress Chrissie White is interviewed, she discusses the costumes that they used to wear for the productions. Clip - Two girls in white smocks fool around with a hose one turns the pump and the other takes the nozzle, and turn the water onto some chaps riding by on bicycles, then on some firemen in metal helmets: they get a good drenching. Mrs White explains that the director Cecil Hepworth would not allow publicity, therefore people generally thought there was an air of mystery around what the film people did and who they were.
An old still of a young looking Winston Churchill from 1911. Bertram Brooks-Carrington and Bill Arch -t wo cameramen technicians from the early days of film sit on a bench and one recounts a story of King George V coming onto the set of a film, was asked to take part in the film and was very obliging.
Arthur Kingston - cameraman technician.
Some shots of men with cameras rotating a lever to the side of the machine, it makes a rattle, one of the old 'hand crank' cameras - they are now museum pieces, relics of the reel war of the 1920s. Jimmy Gemmell and Ken Gordon - newsreel cameramen. One old chap discussing when he took some footage of the Derby, we then see some very old footage of horses lining up and then racing. We see the horses racing toward the camera. Some policemen stand by the horses and we see them from behind. One of the men, Kingston, discusses Irish 'bruisers' hired to protect the Pathe cameramen, in order to stop anyone who might be pirating film. We see horses jump a fence on the fairway and then one rider falls, as the others charge past the camera from left to right. Some shots of what appears to be the Oxford/Cambridge boat race.
Interview with projectionist Herbert Fullilove.
May Clark and Dorothy Bellew - Interviews. An old actress remembers when she appeared in a film as a nurse maid to a baby, she was out taking baby for some fresh air when she meets her soldier boyfriend, when the nurse's back was turned and she was talking to boyfriend, an old hag in black cloak dashes into the scene and steals baby out from the pram!
Another scene of a man in top hat and frock coat rushing down suburban road with dog out in front, they come to s stream and the dog wades into the water and doggie-paddles over to the other side, and the man gets into a row boat and uses an oar to push himself to the other side, he gets out of the boat. The next scene is a street with slum-like houses, the dog leads the man along to the door of one of the houses and jumps up and paws the handle of the door, pushes it open, they enter into a room that resembles an attic, the old hag is sleeping, he takes baby up in his arms and flings the old hag back as she tries to stop him. Next shot is of a woman sitting expectantly in a wicker chair, within a well furnished room, she is presumably the child's mother, the dog comes in and she strokes it under the chin, followed by the man who restores baby to her, she is ecstatic, the family unit is now happily restored to its whole. ('Rescued by Rover')
We next hear the two women discussing how motor cars were often used to comic effect, Hepworth film with small car running people over etc.
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