A Change of Administration (1913)

Hurgando en los William Selig Papers de la Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collections encontré documentos relativos a una película de la que no hay información en los estudios mexicanos sobre el cine extranjero relativo a México o a lo mexicano.

Tal vez por el título o por no tener a mexicanos estereotipados como asaltantes o revolucionarios, no encontré datos sobre esta cinta ni en México visto por el extranjero de Emilio García Riera; ni en la obra de Juan Felipe Leal y Alexandra Jablonska, El cine de la Revolución mexicana. Tampoco hace mención de este extraño filme Margarita de Orellana en La mirada circular. Es de destacar que se hizo mucha propaganda para esta cinta. La Selig Polyscope Co. imprimió una “hoja de prensa”, fotogramas, paquetes para los exhibidores y souveniers para los expectadores. Hasta una lista de recomendaciones musicales para el acompañamiento orquestal de la película.

La escena del “Baile Inaugural” la describen como una de las más pretenciosas jamás puesta en escena:

The scene of the Inaugural Ball is one of the most pretentious ever staged. High government officials in full dress, Ambassadors in their costumes of office and military in showy uniforms with epaulettes and gold lace, are all there, while the feminine toilets have happy hints from every capital in Europe, –indeed a most imposing scene of fair women and brave men.

La siguiente ficha filmográfica es de información en la publicidad que la Selig distribuyó para promover la cinta:

 Filmada en los estudios Selig de Chicago, Ill. (1913). Productor: Hardee Kirkland. Argumento: Gilson Willets. Intérpretes: Charles Clary (Warren, funcionario del Departamento de Guerra), Harry J. Lonsdale (Embajador de México), Adrienne Kroell (Inez, hija del embajador mexicano), William Stowell (Lester, nuevo funcionario del Departamento de Guerra), LaFayette McKee (John Marshall, Secretario de Guerra), Rose Evans (Esposa del embajador mexicano), T. J. Commerford (James Wiley, un viejo oficinista del Departamento de Guerra). Soldados, agentes del servicio secreto, oficinistas, funcionarios, ciudadanos, diplomáticos, gente de sociedad, corredores de bolsa, especuladores, etc. 2 rollos.

“Coronel” William N. Selig, circa 1914. William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collections, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

La historia gira en torno a Inez, la encantadora hija del embajador mexicano, de quien está enamorado Warren, un alto funcionario del Departamento de Guerra, y próximo a renunciar a su puesto por el cambio de administración con la llegada de un nuevo presidente. Resulta que su sucesor Lester es un deshonesto funcionario a quien la bella Inez desenmascara para salvar el honor de Warren. Para ello se hace pasar por espía mexicana.

Resulta interesante que en este filme de dos rollos los mexicanos no sean sirvientes, bandidos o revolucionarios, personajes que comúnmente interpretaban los actores en roles de mexicano. En esta ocasión los mexicanos son diplomáticos; ni más ni menos que el propio embajador, su esposa y su encantadora hija Inez. Por todo lo que he podido investigar sobre el rol de los mexicanos en los filmes norteamericanos de inicios del siglo XX esta es la única cinta donde los mexicanos son personajes de tan alta alcurnia.

La siguiente sinopsis es transcripción de la “hoja de prensa” que la Selig Polyscope Co. distribuyó:

INTRODUCTION

The bright and shadowy side of official life in Washington is aptly portrayed in this deft drama, hinging about the change of administration that shakes the country from center to circumference every four years, with the presidential election. It shows the self-evident danger of summarily discharging old, trust-worthy  and capable officials and supplanting them with untried men that are advanced to office largely to pay some political or fancied political obligation.

FIRST REEL

Warren, the chief clerk in the war office, sadly realizes his job is in jeopardy with a new man, supreme in command; but he has a hardihood of convictions that leads him to follow the dictates of his heart, so he braves the wintry winds of a February storm to visit the fair Inez at the Mexican embassy. He boldly tells her of his love –in spite of whatever the new powers may fatalize. The fair one, with the coquetry of her sex, teases him, but leads him hopefully along by indirection. He starts to go, telling her that he will come for his answer “on the fourth of March,” a notoriously busy day in Washington. The girl from the golden land Mexico, shows her mettle by springing to a large desk calendar and tearing off the leaves till they show the date of March 4th. Thus she leaves him in no doubt as to her answer, which is as agreeable to the entire family as the scene demonstrates.

The next morning the retiring Secretary of War gives his trusty chief clerk a formidably sealed document (the secret and valuable formula of a high explosive that the Government has just acquired). Warren is about to put the prize package in his safe for further safety, when the fair Inez appears. In answer to her curious inquiries, he tells her that the package is one of great value, and would be highly prized by any foreign power –that it would mean big money to them, hence his care in looking after it so closely. Her curiosity is seemingly satisfied. Later in the day he receives a formal blue envelope of dismissal –and realizes that the blow to his fortunes has fallen. He is, however, philosophic about it and has his house in order. When Inez hears this news, she is far from pleased and immediately lays in train some plan for continuing an honest man in office and doing away with the chance of allowing a weak and dishonest one to supplant him in the public service. This comes about through her meeting with the new appointee, Lester, whom she instinctively doubts. They happen to meet in a Broker’s office –and from what she gleans from the Broker, and observes with her own eye, as Lester nervously studies the ticker, she sees too plainly his financial desperation, due to heavy losses.

Inez is by nature, a schemer and a diplomat, and having made a favorable impression upon the vain and weak Lester, she secures a conference with him at the Broker’s office, in which she adroitly admits that she is a spy for her country. She further describes a certain sealed document in the War Office with which she is anxious to familiarize herself. She describes the outward appearance of the document with such accuracy that no one could mistake it, and having presented the case, she goes home and drops Lester a note: “If you find that you need money and can secure the document described, bring it to me at the Inaugural Ball.”

William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collections, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

SECOND REEL

Following this come the scenes in the War Office where the unsuspecting Warren turns over all the possessions of safe and office to his successor. Lester is particularly interested in the package described by the fair Inez, and pockets this at the first opportunity.

The scene of the Inaugural Ball is one of the most pretentious ever staged. High government officials in full dress, Ambassadors in their costumes of office and military in showy uniforms with epaulettes and gold lace, are all there, while the feminine toilets have happy hints from every capital in Europe, –indeed a most imposing scene of fair women and brave men. As per arrangement, Inez meets Lester in the Palm Room off the main ball room. She carries with her, a large silken opera bag with draw strings, and when she drops it and he picks it up, he drops the document into it and she asses him the bribe, a roll of marked bills. She drops the bag seemingly by accident and when he restores it to her he apologizes –but in that brief interval of bending over, he has dropped the envelope in it. Warren, who has been hovering admiringly in her neighborhood, sees part of this performance, but is quite in the dark as to its details, or what it is all about, for the foxy Mexican girl has not told him an iota of her plans. He dutifully escorts her home, and, as she carelessly tosses her opera bag aside, and goes to the mirror to primp, the suspicious Warren, lays hands on the silken bag. She sees him, through the reflection in her mirror, open the bag, take out the sealed package. Before she can protest, her father the Ambassador appears. This blocks explanation on the part of both the principals, and Warren, bows his way quickly out of the room. Inez immediately writes a note to Warren. It reaches him at his hotel. The document is under his pillow ready for restoration to the Secretary of War in the morning. Her note reads: “If, before I see you in the morning, you should be caught with that document, say you got it from me, I will do the rest.” He tears the note to pieces.

The morning scene in the War Office shows the seemingly alarmed Lester examining everywhere for the document, then accuses Warren of stealing it, and before that worthy is well awake, two agents of the Secret Service are in his room. They find the document under his pillow. He picks up the torn note, but indicates he will never betray Inez. In the anti-room of the War Secretary, Warren confronts Lester and accuses him of stealing the document. The Secretary remarks, “If he stole it, how came it in your possession?” Warren then realizes he cannot explain further without incriminating his sweetheart. At this psychological moment the young lady herself comes into the outer office. She overhears all.

She hurriedly writes this note and thrusts it through the portiers. “The guilty one is the new chief clerk, a woman trapped him with marked money.” Secret Service men get busy and drag in Inez. Lester is searched, the marked money is found and he wilts in the presence of Inez. Then Inez tells the high official the story of her suspicions and of how she had trapped a dishonest employee. As Inez had planned, she is again restored in Warren’s esteem, and he is reappointed to his old position.

La Selig Polyscope Co. recomendó en una lista que publicó para los propietarios de teatros y cines la música para acompañar el filme. Lo que no informa es si la compañía también ofrece la partitura o si son piezas fáciles de obtener y bastante populares. Para recomendar un “banda sonora” por llamarla de algún modo, la mayoría de los teatros o cines donde se exhibía esta cinta tenía una orquesta o al menos un grupo musical para acompañar la imagen con la música adecuada la escena en cuestión. La música junto con la imagen reafirman en el espectador las emociones.

Sugerencias para acompañamiento musical para A Change of Administration de la Selig (1913).

Propuesta para The Selig Polyscope Co. por el Sr. Clarence E. Sinn, experto musical de The Moving Picture World.

PRIMERA PARTE

  1. “Morning Star” (característica marcha por Neil Moret). Publicada por Remick. Hasta los títulos.
  2. “Moonlight” (Moret-Remick). Hasta INEZ CREE QUE LESTER ES DESHONESTO.
  3. Intermezzo neutral. Hasta CAE EN SU TRAMPA.
  4. “Awakening of the Lion” (característica). Hasta el final del rollo. Dar efectos cuasi-misteriosos.

SEGUNDA PARTE

William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collections, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  1. Gran marcha (corta). Hasta EL NUEVO JEFE DE OFICINA.
  2. “Passion” (Helf & Hager). Hasta que Warren sale de escena.
  3. Música suave misteriosa. Hasta EL BAILE INAUGURAL.
  4. Polonesa. Hasta que ella deja caer su bolso.
  5. Música suave misteriosa. Hasta que Warren toma el documento de su bolso.
  6. Agitado suave. Hasta el cambio.
  7. Primera estrofa de “Moonlight”. Hasta WARREN OCULTA EL DOCUMENTO.
  8. Intermezzo. Hasta LA MAÑANA.
  9. Segundo movimiento (Andantino) de la obertura “Raymond”. Hasta que Inez entra a la oficina.
  10. Primera parte de “Awakening of the Lion” (igual que el previo). Hasta que TIENE SU TRABAJO ASEGURADO OTRA VEZ.
  11. “Moonlight”. Hasta el final del rollo.

RECORTAR ESTA SECCIÓN Y ENTREGARLA A SU DIRECTOR DE ORQUESTA (traducción LRE)

Anuncio para los exhibidores donde se ofrecen fotogramas (cuts) en diferentes medidas para circulares, postales, programas o como souvenirs. Esta propaganda va junto con la lista de piezas musicales que recomiendan para acompañar el filme.

William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collections, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

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