Archivo de la categoría: Motography

He Waits Forever (1914)

Un anuncio en el Lubin Bulletin de la cinta He Waits Forever, filmada por la Lubin en 1914 es de las pocas pruebas de su existencia, salvo las crónicas, anuncios y sinopsis que se publicaron en un par de semanarios norteamericanos.

He Waits Forever (1914) Lubin
Montgomery County Community College — Betzwood Collection

En ninguna filmografía aparece mencionada esta película y fue gracias al hallazgo del programa en el archivo digital donde está parte del legado de Siegmund Lubin y los estudios de cine que construyó en los suburbios de Philadelphia a inicios del siglo XX. El archivo Lubin digitalizado lo encuentran en Digital History from the Libraries of Montgomery County Community College, donde me topé con el documento.

Pocas películas tenían a la totalidad de sus personajes interpretados por “mexicanos” o cuyos argumentos sucedían en este lado de la frontera, pero aún persiste el estereotipo del mal y ese es encarnado por un mexicano, quien muere de manera trágica por coincidencias del destino y no por la mano de la ley.

El anónimo crítico que esbozó un párrafo para criticar la cinta fue muy duro con sus opiniones y remató sobre He Waits Forever que “la actuación, como un todo, es mediocre”.

The Lubin Bulletin, impreso que la propia empresa publicaba para anunciar sus películas y que se localiza en el  Montgomery County Community College  en la Betzwood Collection, tiene un fotograma de la cinta, así como una crónica de Will M. Ritchey. Termina la publicidad con el elenco y la fecha de su estreno: 27 de noviembre de 1914.

He Waits Forever (1914)

Written by Will M. Ritchey

José Suárez, a poor Mexican, loves Helena Moreno, daughter of a wealthy resident. Helena returns José’s affection, but Moreno objects to the boy’s poverty and the “jefe político” orders José out of the town. José goes up into the Sierras and drives a mine shaft. Three years and more he works without results. Helena has promised to wait for José, but finally is persuaded to marry Andrés de Romero, a fine looking and worthy young Mexican. Then José strikes a rich gold vein and soon amasses a fortune. An insurrecto commander offers him a generalship if he will arm his men and devote some of his money to the cause. José, thinking to add glory to his wealth, accepts and winning many victories finally captures his home town. There he presents himself to Moreno and demands the hand of Helena. The old man tells José that she is married and points out the happy husband and wife in the garden. José resolves on a terrible punishment for all concerned. He orders a fiesta of the townspeople and all fearing to offend the General, attend. At a table he places a bottle of wine with four glasses, into each he pours several drops of poison, intending that Helena, Andrés, Moreno and himself shall die together. His emotion at the meeting is so acute that he is seized with a fainting spell, a waiter offers him one of the glasses, which he drinks. In his agony he grips the tablecloth, upsets the remaining glasses and falls forward dead.

CAST

William E. Parsons (José Suárez); E. Mayo (Andrés de Romero); John Hayes (Felipe Moreno); Velma Whitman (Helena Moreno).

Released Friday, November 27, 1914. Length about 1,000 feet.

The Moving Picture World del 21 de noviembre de 1914 (Vol. XXII, No. 8, p. 1116) publica una sinopsis con mucho más detalle que la anterior, donde se leen varias discrepancias entre ambas.

HE WAITS FOREVER (Nov. 27).—José Suárez, a poor Mexican, loves Helena Moreno, daughter of Felipe Moreno, a wealthy resident. Helena returns José’s affection, but her father forbids her to have anything to do with a poor man. José determines to go away, make his fortune and return to claim Helena. He climbs the wall of the Moreno grounds and meets Helena to say good-by. The girl promises to wait for him. The father sees the lovers’  meeting, has José arrested for trespass and the “jefe político” orders him out of the town. José goes into the Sierras, where he drives a mine shaft. Moreno urges Helena to marry Andres de Romero. The girl declares flatly that she will marry no one but José.

Three years pass, and Jose is doggedly driving his mine shaft, but without result. Helena still holds to her troth with José. Three more years elapse. Helena, who has gradually learned to forget Jose and love Andres, finally gives in and they are married. About the same time José strikes rich ore. He is rapidly becoming wealthy, when he receives a letter from one of the insurrecto commanders offering him a generalship if he will arm his miners and devote some of his gold to the cause of Mexico’s freedom. José accepts the offer of the insurrecto leader, thinking that he will add fame to his wealth. José’s army wins many victories and takes possession of his home town. José then hurries to Moreno’s residence and tells the old man that he has come to claim Helena. Moreno tells him that Helena is married, and points out the happy husband and wife in the garden. José is stunned. He returns to his headquarters and there determines upon punishment for all concerned. He sends out a command to townspeople, including Moreno, Helena and Andrés, that they are to attend a fiesta which he will give at the inn. Fearing to displease the rebel general all accept the invitation. José has a table set with four glasses and a bottle of wine. Before the guests arrive José fills the glasses and into each pours several drops of powerful poison. His plan is that Helena, Andrés, and Moreno and himself shall drink a toast and die together. José greets Helena and Andrés as if nothing had happened, but his emotions are so acute that he is seized with a fainting spell. One of the aids calls a waiter and urges him to get a glass of wine. The waiter sees the four glasses already filled on the table. He seizes one and hurries to the side room. José returns to the main room and takes Helena, Andrés and Moreno to the table to drink the death toast. The poison seizes José before they drink and in his agony he grips the table cloth, upsetting the other glasses, and falls forward dead.

Motography (Vol. XII, No. 22, p. 12)
Motography (Vol. XII, No. 22, p. 12)

Motography, por su parte, en el ejemplar del 28 de noviembre de 1914 (Vol. XII, No. 22, p. 756) reseña la cinta de forma muy limitada y corta.

He Waits Forever—Lubin—November 27.—José Suárez, a Mexican, loves Helena Moreno, though the girl’s father objects. When José determines to leave to find a fortune, he is seen bidding farewell to the girl by her father, and arrested. Later, escaping, José goes into the mountains and becomes a miner. Six years elapse and Helena is forced by her father to marry Andrés de Romero. José, meanwhile, becomes wealthy and is accorded a generalship in the Mexican army, if he will fight for Mexico’s freedom. Jose’s army wins many victories and, capturing his own town, he hurries to the Moreno home to find Helena, and is stunned to find her married. José determines revenge and inviting Moreno. Helena and Andrés to a fiesta, he poisons the food and plans to kill them all. José, at the critical moment faints, and the waiter gives him a drink from one of the poisoned glasses, and he dies.

Terminan las notas sobre esta cinta con una brevísima crítica anónima aparecida en The Moving Picture World, del 12 de diciembre (Vol. XXII, No. 11, p. 1522). Para el “crítico” el final es peculiar y cuestiona los motivos del autor para darle semejante muerte al villano.

HE WAITS FOREVER (Lubin), Nov. 27.— Photographically this picture is very well done and much beautiful scenery abounds, the plot being laid in Mexico. It has to do with the petty insurrections which are continually occurring there. There is a love theme which has a peculiar ending, and just why José, the first lover, should be made by the author to meet with such a sad end, or what he has done to deserve it, is not made at all plain. There is little continuity in the whole construction and the acting taken as a whole is mediocre.

An Adventure on the Mexican Border (1913)

Esta cinta tuvo un publicidad exhaustiva con varios anuncios donde la Lubin Co. promovía sus películas. Pero vayamos en estricto orden cronológico.

Iniciamos con la revista Motography del 1 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 5, pp. 174-175) donde, caso raro, incluyen los intérpretes:

Two Reel Film of Mexican Border

A two-reel story coming at an opportune time, is the Lubin release of March 15, entitled “An Adventure on the Mexican Border.” It was written, produced and acted in, by Romaine Fielding. On the United States side of the line dividing Mexico from the United States, the United States soldiers are camped, with a view of protecting the international line and the citizens of the United States. Fifty yards on the other side, the Mexican soldiers are camped to do likewise for their country. One of the bright-eyed señoritas of the southern race captivates two officers, one a captain of her own nationality, the other a lieutenant belonging to Uncle Sam.

Motography del 15 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 6, p. 10)
Motography del 15 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 6, p. 10)

Both of these men, true and staunch in war and love, have a silent battle to gain the lady’s hand. The captain of the Mexican troops, being the older of the two, wins the maid by his quiet love and kindness. The irrepressible United States trooper tries to take the senorita’s heart by storm, but is repelled. On the spur of the moment, to punish his rival, the lieutenant tells a falsehood to his commanding officer, and nearly causes international complications; but after analyzing the situation, the lieutenant rises above all personal feelings and delivers the captain from jail, returns him to his fiancé across the line, and goes back to take his place and await his punishment.

The parts are taken as follows:

Romaine Fielding (a soldier of Mexico); Robyn Adair (A soldier of the United States);  Mary E. Ryan (the señorita); Eleanor Mason (her friend); Richard Wangemann (her father); Lieutenant Rudd (Captain of U. S. troops); Moritz Cytror (U. S. private); Henry Alrich (Mexican lieutenant).

Motography del 1 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 5, p. 6)
On the Mexican border line troops are camped. A señorita captivates two officers, one a Mexican Captain, whom she favors and the other a U. S. Lieutenant. The latter insenced by jealousy makes a false charge against the Mexican which causes national complications. His better nature however asserts itself and je vindicates his rival and gives himself up for punishment. Motography del 1 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 5, p. 6)

The Moving Picture World del 8 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 10, p. 1018):

An Adventure on the Mexican Border, (Mar. 15). — On the United States side of the line dividing Mexico from the United States, the U. S. soldiers camped, with a view to protecting the international line and the citizens of the United States. Fifty yards on the other side, the Mexican soldiers were camped to do likewise for their country. One of the bright-eyed senoritas of the southern race captivates two officers, one a captain of her own nationality, the other a lieutenant belonging to Uncle Sam. Both of these men, true and staunch in war and love, have a silent battle to gain the lady’s hand. The captain of the Mexican troops being the older of the two wins the maid by his quiet love and kindness. The irrepressible, impassionate United States trooper, tries to take the senorita’s heart by storm, but is repelled. On the spur of the moment, to punish his rival, the United States lieutenant tells a falsehood to his commanding officer, and nearly causes international complications, but after coolly analyzing the situation, the lieutenant raises above all petty personal feelings and delivers the captain from jail, returns him to his fianceé across the line, and goes back to take his place and  await his punishment.

En un anuncio publicado en Motography del 15 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 6, p. 10)  apareció la siguiente información:

“An Adventure on the Mexican Border”

Lubin Drama in Two Parts. Released March 15, 1913

A timely film story, dealing with the troops encamped on both sides of the border between the United States and Mexico. A lieutenant of the United States army and a captain of the Mexican troops are silently battling for the love of a bright eyed señorita. The captain is successful. The lieutenant in a fit of passionate anger, tells his commanding officer of an alleged breach of the existing martial law by the Mexican Captain. Complications follow, but a careful analysis of the situation prompts the lieutenant to release the imprisoned captain and return to face his punishment.

Motography del 8 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 6, p. 10)
Motography del 8 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 6, p. 10)

En otro anuncio de la Lubin publicado en The Moving Picture World del 15 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 11, p. 1073) se aportan los datos siguientes:

“An Adventure on the Mexican Border”

A timely film story, dealing with the troops encamped on both sides of the border between the United States and Mexico. A lieutenant of the United States Army and a captain of the Mexican troops are silently battling for the love of a bright-eyed senorita. The captain is successful. The lieutenant in a fit of passionate anger tells his commanding officer of an alleged breach of the existing martial law by the Mexican captain. Complications follow, but a careful analysis of the situation prompts the lieutenant to release the imprisoned captain and return to face his punishment.

The Moving Picture World del 15 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 11, p. 1073)
The Moving Picture World del 15 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 11, p. 1073)

Por último una nota de The Moving Picture World del 15 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 11, p. 1113):

AN ADVENTURE ON THE MEXICAN BORDER (Lubin).

This is a two-reel special of the Lubin Company and a dramatic photoplay showing the heroism of the American soldier. Love drives him to fault, but his manhood prevails and shows him to be “true blue.” It is a story of Romaine Fielding, who is directing the Lubin Company at Nogales, Arizona, and it is safe to say that this excellent actor is giving true atmosphere.

The Moving Picture World del 15 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 11, p. 1113)
The Moving Picture World del 15 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 11, p. 1113)

On the United States side of the line dividing Mexico from the United States the United States soldiers camped, with a view of protecting the international line and the citizens. Fifty yards on the other side are the Mexican soldiers. One of the bright-eyed senoritas of the southern race captivates two officers, one a captain of her own nationality, the other a lieutenant belonging to Uncle Sam. Both of these men have a silent battle to gain the girl’s hand. The captain of the Mexican troops, being the older of the two, wins the maid by his quiet love and kindness. The irrepressible trooper tries to take the senorita’s heart by storm, but is repelled. On the spur of the moment, to punish his rival, the lieutenant tells a falsehood, but after coolly analyzing the situation the lieutenant raises above all petty personal feelings and delivers the captain from jail, returns him to his fianceé across the line, and goes back to take his place and await his punishment.

The Moving Picture World del 15 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. XV, No.  11, p. 1074)
A thrilling love story, showing the nerve-raching trials of a Mexican girl choosing between her Mexican lover and one of Uncle Sam’s troopers. The Moving Picture World del 15 de marzo de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 11, p. 1074)

Emilio García Riera en su multicitada obra México visto por el cine extranjero, tomo I, apunta que:

El director y galán Romaine Fielding, al servicio de la Lubin, advirtió en An Adventure on the Mexican Border (1913) la inconveniencia para los norteamericanos de cruzar la frontera, por mucho que los “ojos brillantes” de una “señorita” (The Moving Picture World, Vol. XV, ene-mar 1913, marzo 8, 1913, p. 1018) lo provocaran, pues eso podía costar un “incidente internacional”. (p. 51)

Remata García Riera que “se admitió incluso en algunas [cintas] la preferencia legítima del amor de un mexicano al de un norteamericano, como ocurría en The Mexican Sweethearts (1909), The Señorita (1909), A Knot in the Plot (1910) y An adventure on the Mexican Border (1913). (pág. 55)

Por lo que corresponde a la ficha filmográfica y sinopsis de la película, García Riera da los siguientes datos en el tomo II de su obra citada:

1306 / 15. An adventure on the Mexican Border. Producción: EU (Lubin), 1913. Dirección y argumento: Romaine Fielding. Intérpretes: Romaine Fielding, Mary Ryan, Robin Adair. 2 rollos. En el lado norteamericano de la frontera, unas tropas acampadas protegen a los ciudadanos del país. No muy lejos, en el otro lado, unos soldados mexicanos hacen algo semejante. Dos oficiales, uno mexicano y otro norteamericano, compiten por el amor de una señorita mexicana. Vence el mexicano, mayor que su rival, gracias a su discreción y a su generosidad. El norteamericano, un teniente impulsivo, es rechazado cuando trata de ganar a la mexicana por la fuerza. En venganza, el teniente cuenta una mentira que casi provoca un incidente internacional, pero acaba por recapacitar, poniendo de lado sus intereses personales: saca al mexicano (un capitán) de la cárcel, lo devuelve a su novia y atraviesa la frontera para enfrentar un justo castigo. (p. 34)

The War Extra (1914)

De esta cinta, Emilio García Riera menciona en el volumen I de México visto por el cine extranjero que:

Otros norteamericanos viajaron a México para filmar en junio de 1914 The War Extra, cinta de cuatro rollos sobre las aventuras de un periodista (del diario The Herald) en la revolución. Para esa película, su productor Herbert Blaché aprovechó el trabajo de un camarógrafo que había filmado 2,700 pies de batallas mexicanas, según The Moving Picture World del 4 de julio de 1914 (citado por Margarita de Orellana). La cinta incluía escenas de la batalla de Monclova y de buques norteamericanos de guerra en camino a Veracruz. (pp. 69-70)

Por su parte, Orellana en su multicitada obra La mirada circular nos ofrece una sinopsis de la cinta tomando la información de The Moving Picture World del 22 de agosto de 1914:

El editor del periódico The Herald está desesperado porque no recibe noticias de México. Fred Newton, un ambicioso reportero, le pide que lo envíe a cubrir esa fuente. Sube a bordo del barco Key West y en la travesía encuentra a la flota que se dirige a Veracruz. Se comunica por telégrafo con uno de los buques de guerra y así envía su primera noticia. Atraviesa la frontera en Eagle Pass, Texas, y llega al centro de las actividades de los constitucionalistas en Monclova, donde construye una barraca y conecta su telégrafo a la línea más cercana. Dolores, la hija adoptiva de un comerciante, le lleva alimentos y es salvada por Fred de unos villanos que la raptan. Sin autorización para acompañar al ejército, Fred presencia la batalla de Monclova con unos binoculares y da la noticia antes que nadie a su periódico. En las oficinas de The Herald toda la maquinaria de impresión está funcionando. Se está asegurando el futuro de Fred como reportero. Sin embargo, Fred es tomado por espía y atacado por federales. Lo salva Dolores que llega con unos vaqueros reclutados en la frontera. Ella se va con Fred a Nueva York, donde les dan una gran bienvenida. (p. 199)

The Moving Picture World del 22 de agosto de 1914 (Vol. XXI, No. 8, pp. 1160-1161)
During the staging of “THE WAR EXTRA,” the BLACHÉ players suddenly found themselves in the midst of the bloody battle of Monclova. Cameraman Charles Pin succeeded in photographing the terrible onslaught of the Constitutionalist army upon the doomed city, the smoking ruins of which are also seen in this remarkable photodrama. Following the battle, the BLACHÉ Actors were placed in a special train by General Francisco Murguia and sent under heavy guard to the United States Border Post at Eagle Pass, Texas. The Moving Picture World del 22 de agosto de 1914 (Vol. XXI, No. 8, pp. 1160-1161)

La revista The Moving Picture World del 22 de agosto de 1914 (Vol. XXI, No. 8, p. 1110) nos ofrece datos sobre la filmación:

THE WAR EXTRA (Blaché)

Actual scenes of the bloody battle of Monclova. Combined with a strong story of love and adventure, staged in the very atmosphere of war which it demanded, places the four part drama, “The War Extra,” produced by Blaché Features, in a class by itself.

In order to stage this remarkable drama in the most effective manner it was necessary to send a company of Blaché players to Eagle Pass, Texas, and thence across the border into the middle of the Mexican war zone. During their stay in Monclova the great battle which left that city a mass of smouldering ruins took place around them and was made a part of the photodrama.

The leading character of the story is a war correspondent sent by “The Herald” to get “war news,” and to get it at any cost. The battle of Monclova gives him his great opportunity, and in spite of the fact that he is attacked by Mexican outlaws as a spy and finally driven to the United States border, where he is rescued in the nick of time by a large band of cowboys and the U. S. Border Patrol, he succeeds in wiring his great news to the paper and scoring a “scoop” which gives him both fame and fortune.

Intimate and interesting scenes connected with the publishing of a war extra by a great American newspaper, follow the arrival of the war correspondent’s account of the great battle in New York. Every department of the paper is immediately set in motion and the excitement is intense from the time the first news of the battle reaches the editorial rooms until the “extras” are sent broadcast throughout the country.

En el mismo número de The Moving Picture World del 22 de agosto de 1914 (Vol. XXI, No. 8, p. 1152) se publicó un extenso comentario sobre la película:

THE WAR EXTRA (Four Reels—August)

Twenty minutes before press time the Herald has received no news from the front in Mexico, where the interest of the nation is centered, and the editor is desperate. He listens to the pleading of the ambitious cub reporter, Fred Newton, and orders him to Mexico, with instructions to send back real news, regardless of the censors.

Accompanied by a telegraph operator assistant, Fred boards a steamer for Key West. He is fortunate enough to pass a battleship and transports bound for Vera Cruz, and communicating with them by wireless he gets some live news for his paper before he has reached the Mexican border. Flushed with success he pushes into Mexico by way of Eagle Pass, Texas, and succeeds in reaching the center of the Constitutionalist activities at Monclova where he builds a shack and runs a wire of his own to the nearest telegraph line.

The Moving Picture World del 22 de agosto de 1914 (Vol. XXI, No. 8, p. 1110)
The Moving Picture World del 22 de agosto de 1914 (Vol. XXI, No. 8, p. 1110)

While delivering supplies to the shack, Dolores, the adopted daughter of a Mexican storekeeper, is set upon by outlaws and her rescue by Fred makes her his devoted friend, but also causes him to be hated by the men he opposed. Prevented from accompanying the main body of the army, Fred and his telegrapher go on a scouting trip. They hear firing and, climbing a tree, witness the great battle of Monclova through field glasses. When the defeat of the Federals by the Constitutionalists is assured, they ride back to the shack and wire the important news direct to their paper.

At the Herald office all of the machinery of the issuing of a great daily paper is set in motion as the news of the battle is received from Fred. The story is edited at the copy desk, set up by linotypes, made up in the forms, and stereotyped and placed on the presses. As the papers are distributed and the bulletin boards announce the scoop of the “young reporter on the firing line,” Fred’s future as a newspaper man is assured.

But, as the dispatch is being received and published in New York, the outlaws, reinforced by Mexican irregular troops who have been told that the Americans are spies, attack the shack which is vigorously defended. Dolores attempts to stop the bandits and, failing, rides to the border to summon assistance. She enlists the aid of a large band of cowboys who arrive at the shack in time to engage the bandits in a fierce battle and rescue the now wounded Fred and his companion and make a dash for safety over the American line. A wild chase, in which many shots are exchanged, is about to end disastrously for the Americans just as they begin to cross the Rio Grande to United States soil, but the American regulars appear upon the scene and fire a volley across the river which sweeps a score of Mexicans from their horses and drives the rest to cover.

As Dolores dare not return, Fred persuades her to accompany him to New York and an enthusiastic welcome by his newspaper friends is quickly followed by his marriage to the beautiful little maiden, who is received with open arms by his mother and sister.

Blaché Features War photographers to Mexico
Publicidad para la cinta The War Extra

Por su parte, Motography del 29 de agosto de 1914 (Vol. XII, No. 9, p. 322) nos da un listado de los lugares de filmación:

Herbert Blaché of Blaché Features, Inc., has announced a four-reel picture entitled “The War Extra” which contains scenes taken at Fort Lee, N. J., Herald Square, The Mallory Line Steamship Docks and The Statue of Liberty in New York, Key West, Florida, Galveston, El Paso and Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras and Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico.

Y para el número correspondiente al 24 de octubre de 1914 (Vol. XII, No. 17, p. 556), Motography desliza el siguiente dato:

In a four-reel drama entitled “The War Extra,” Blaché gives a peep behind the scenes of a newspaper.

Margarita de Orellana también nos da algunos datos para la ficha filmográfica:

Productor: Blaché Features. Director: Harry Schenck. Intérpretes: Vinnie Burns, Kenneth D. Harlan y Edgar de Pauw.

El cinematógrafo en el estado de Veracruz (1912)

Dos medios impresos norteamericanos publicaron la misma nota sobre el negocio del cinematógrafo en el estado de Veracruz. Primero, el Motography de enero de 1912  (Vol. VII, No. 1, p. 22); segundo, The New York Clipper de mayo 4 de 1912 (Vol LX, No. 12, p. 4).

Aunque con cuatro meses de diferencia la nota es la misma, lo cual muestra que las noticias sobre el cine en México eran poco difundidas en Estados Unidos y los medios “refriteaban” las mismas notas. Cabe destacar la ortografía que utilizan: Vera Cruz, misma que siguieron utilizando hasta bien entrados los años 20.

Si bien el negocio era relativamente bueno, la novedad del mismo iba en descenso y lo combinaban con teatro, danzas españolas y otras variedades. En el puerto, el único establecimiento dedicado enteramente al cine era el salón de Variedades, el cual utilizaba un cinematógrafo de la marca Pathé.

En el puerto de Veracruz sí se proyectaban películas de buena manufactura, pues el público no aceptaba cintas viejas o de mala calidad. Hacía tiempo que los cinematografistas itinerantes tenían presencia en la ciudad y la gente ya se había acostumbrado el buen cine. Ejemplo de ello, fue una función que tuvo en su noche de estreno alrededor de mil personas; la siguiente noche, tan solo seis.

Las ciudades veracruzanas con población entre 2,000 y 35,000 habitantes eran visitadas por cinematografistas itinerantes quienes se proveían de películas y aparatos con la Compañía Cinematográfica Explotadora.

Destaca el reporte consular que las películas americanas eran poco entendidas debido a la idiosincracia del publico,  situación que no sucedía con el público capitalino, más habituado a ese tipo de cintas.

Veracruz circa 1915. Foto: Colección Allen Morrison
Veracruz (circa 1915). Foto: Colección Allen Morrison

Shows in Vera Cruz

Consul William W. Canada, of Vera Cruz, Mexico, writes that moving-picture shows in his district, while still patronized, have long since ceased to be a novelty. In Vera Cruz, population about 50,000, the largest city in the consular jurisdiction, these shows have  taken second rank in the estimation of the majority of the people, and wherever such a performance takes place it is in combination with a more or less theatrical enterprise. Spanish dancers, farces, and general variety business are the principal attractions at present. The Salon de Variedades is the only permanent place of entertainment of this kind in Vera Cruz.

As far as he is informed, other towns of comparative importance, as, for instance, Jalapa, Orizaba, Cordoba, Coatepec, Cosamaloapan, Tlacotalpan, Alvarado, Tuxpan, Papantla, Huatusco, Rio Blanco, and others of 35,000 down to 2,000 inhabitants, have no permanent moving-picture shows. All these places are visited at slated intervals by traveling exhibitors, who do not even own apparatus or films, but are fitted out by the Compañía Cinematográfica Explotadora, Mexico City.

The Vera Cruz show operates a Pathé apparatus, and nearly all films shown are from the same concern. At long intervals only are American films shown. The fact is that, with few exceptions, pictures of American scenes are never well understood. This is due to the lack of familiarity with conditions as they exist in the United States, and also because the humor or pathos, as the case may be, represented on French films is of a nature that appeals to the people. In Mexico City, where the American element is better represented, matters are different.

It is worthy of mention that the films shown in Vera Cruz are all first class. There is no exception to this. The town has been worked by traveling shows for so long a time that the people will not now accept anything ancient or of inferior grade. This determination of the citizens to insist upon the best was exemplified some time ago when, upon the opening night of a show, well-advertised, over 1,000 persons attended; the succeeding evening, when the show was repeated, there were but six persons in the theater.

 

Headin’ South (1918)

Esta película protagonizada por uno de los grandes actores del cine mudo, Douglas Fairbanks, tuvo repercusiones que llegaron hasta la presidencia de Estados Unidos. Pero vayamos por partes.

La filmación de este western que inició en enero de 1918 contó con el apoyo del Director de la United States Railroad Administration, William Gibbs McAdoo, a la sazón yerno del presidente Woodrow Wilson. Al finalizar la Primera Guerra Mundial, este abogado se convirtió en consejero de la recién creada United Artists conformada por Charlie Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, Mary Pickford y Douglas Fairbanks.

McAdoo prestó ocho carros Pullman y doce vagones de carga a Fairbanks para transportar cerca de doscientos vaqueros e igual número de caballos de Los Ángeles, California a Tucson, Arizona, lugar donde se llevaría a cabo la filmación de Headin’ South. (1) El Saguaro National Monument East fue el lugar elegido para rodar la película.

Douglas Fairbanks, Allan Dwan y Arthur Rosson durante la filmación de Headin' South. Foto: Motography (Vol. XIX, No. 8, Feb. 23, 1918, p. 358)
Douglas Fairbanks, Allan Dwan y Arthur Rosson durante la filmación de Headin’ South. Foto: Motography (Vol. XIX, No. 8, Feb. 23, 1918, p. 358)

El Douglas Fairbanks Special, nombre con que se bautizó al tren que trasladó a todo el equipo, arribó a Tucson la última semana de enero e incluía a los actores, director, productor, camarógrafos, técnicos, administradores y hasta a publicistas:

The principals of the company who journeyed into Tucson on the Douglas Fairbanks Special includes Katherine McDonald, the new leading lady; Frank Campeau, Chief Producer Allan Dwan, Director Art Rosson, Assistant Director James P. Hogan, Business Manager John Fairbanks, Harry Tenbrook, Bennie Zeidman, publicity representative. Special reservations were made for the photographic staff, consisting of Hugh McClung, Harry Thorpe, Len Powers, Glenn McWilliams, Charles Warrington and Billy Emerson, who is in charge of a large crew of property men and carpenters.(2)

También incluyó a los cowboys que tendrían un rol preponderante en la película y al perro de Fairbanks, el cual se convirtió en la mascota de la compañía:

Among the prominent cowboys who will take active parts in “Headin’ South” are Johnny Judd, Tommy Grimes, Art Acord, Hoot Gibson, and Ed Burns, who is in charge of all the horses. Ginger, the Fairbanks dog, is the mascot for the company. (3)

El guión fue escrito por el director Allan Dwan, quien en esta ocasión se convirtió en productor ejecutivo, dejando la dirección a Arthur Rosson. La producción corrió a cargo de la Artcraf Co., compañía propiedad de Douglas Fairbanks quien desembolsó todos los gastos para las cerca de 500 personas –cantidad que considero exagerada– que conformaron el equipo que llevó a Tucson y según la revista Variety, la cinta costó 190,000 dólares. (4) La película requería que Fairbanks superara las escenas acrobáticas de sus anteriores filmes, en especial de The Man From Painted Post, a la vez la cinta llevaba la historia a diversos escenarios que iban desde Canadá hasta México y se apreciaban montañas nevadas, planicies del medio oeste americano y desiertos inhóspitos.

La película se estrenó el 25 de febrero de 1918 en Estados Unidos y una semana después se intensificó la campaña publicitaria donde se exhortaba a los exhibidores a utilizar varias medidas mercadológicas para promover la cinta. Recomendaban cómo confeccionar el programa hasta la distribución de tarjetas con fotografías de los actores y actrices. Exhortaban los publicistas a centrarse en la figura de Fairbanks y llevaron a cabo una acertada campaña que incluyó:

For the Program: Fairbanks as a “good” bad man. A dizzy debauch of daring deeds and startling stunts.

Advertising Phrases: The Fairbanks of the Rio Grande. As a bandit, “Doug” is a perfect gentleman—but active.

Feature this Player: It will be best to concentrate upon Fairbanks.

Stunt Suggestions: Borrow or fake a large compass, and send a man through the streets with it. He should hold the box so that the card will show, and should never divert his attention from it. From the box hang a sign reading. “I’m headin’ south to see Douglas Fairbanks in ‘Headin’ South’ at the (house and date). And. man, believe me it’s a scream—some scream.” It will help if you can rig an auto steering gear to the box by which the man may “steer” his course. With a little trouble a light framework boat can be built to suspend from his shoulders. For the lobby use the cut-outs you probably already have, draping the face in a black mask. For the street wagon use the posters.

Advertising Aids: Two styles each one, three and six-sheets. One 24-sheet. Rotogravure. Lobby displays 8×10, 11×14 and 22×28. Cuts and mats for star and production one to three columns wide. Advertising layout mats. Slides. Press book. (5)

Anuncio publicado en The Moving Picture World del 9 de marzo de 1918 (Vol. XXXV, No. 10, p. 1303)
Anuncio publicado en The Moving Picture World del 9 de marzo de 1918 (Vol. XXXV, No. 10, p. 1303)

No era común un despliegue publicitario de tal magnitud para una cinta de esa época; contadas cintas merecían tanto, pero la presencia de Fairbanks y su popularidad eran perfecta justificación para ello. La historia que muestra ambas fronteras norteamericanas, la mexicana y la canadiense, fue el debut de Rosson como director de la compañía propiedad de Fairbanks y la integración de Katherine MacDonald al equipo. La actriz con ciertos éxitos y reputada atleta era una de las favoritas del presidente Woodrow Wilson, por ello no es descabellado que su inclusión en la cinta tuviera otros fines más allá de lo cinematográfico, siendo que el yerno del presidente también estuvo involucrado, pues proveyó el transporte.

Dos reseñas de la película se publicaron en semanarios de amplia difusión, The Moving Picture World y Motography y ambas firmadas por pioneros de la divulgación cinematográfica norteamericana. La primera de Edward Weitzel quien publicará posteriormente Intimate Talks with Movie Stars, una serie de entrevistas con grandes estrellas y directores de los años veinte que aparecieron en el semanario para el cual laboraba:

“Headin’ South”

Douglas Fairbanks’ in Artcraft Picture by Allan Dwan Takes Part in an Exciting Man Hunt.

Reviewed by Edward Weitzel.

The latest Artcraft picture, “Headin’ South,” is a lively melodrama with Douglas Fairbanks comedy trimmings. His mission in the story is a serious one, but he accomplishes it with his usual display of joyful zest in living and doing the impossible, and the laughs are never separated by long stretches of dramatic intensity. “Headin’ South” is the name assumed by an officer of the Canadian Mounted Police, who trails a murderer from the Far North down through California and into Mexico. The fugitive is known as “Spanish Joe,” and, once south of the Rio Grande, he puts himself at the head of a band of Mexican outlaws and starts to raid on both sides of the border.

“Headin’ South” pretends to be an outlaw himself, and becomes a member of the band. The estate of a wealthy Mexican family is captured by the marauders and made their headquarters. “Spanish” Joe is attracted by the beautiful daughter of the house, and the Canadian officer has to use his wits to prevent the girl and the other women of the household from being ill-treated before the arrival of a company of Texas Rangers. He is successful, of course, and is rewarded with the love of the beautiful Spanish maiden.

“Headin’ South” has no side issues, and contains sufficient real interest in its serious moments to keep a tight hold on the attention of the spectator. It is not the biggest laughing hit of the Fairbanks series, but is always entertaining, and will cause many a grin and chuckle. The star does his work in the regulation Fairbanks fashion, and everyone knows what that means.

The production is a fine one. Directed by Arthur Rosson under the supervision of Allan Dwan, and photographed by Hugh McClug and Harry Thorp it presents a number of picturesque views of the Land of the Snows, and the Mexican scenes are equally impressive and true to life. The rides of the bandits and the Texas Rangers are full of thrills.

Frank Campeau as “Spanish” Joe keeps up his reputation for superior excellence in the line of “badmen.” Catherine MacDonald looks the Mexican beauty, and James Madison is effective as aid to “Headin’ South.” (6)

Fotogramas de la cinta publicados en Motography del 9 de marzo de 1918 (Vol. XIX, No. 10, p. 463)
Escenas de la cinta publicados en Motography del 9 de marzo de 1918 (Vol. XIX, No. 10, p. 463)

La segunda de la pluma de L. J. Bourstein para el semanario Motography:

Headin’ South

Artcraft Picture with Douglas Fairbanks.

Reviewed by L. J. Bourstein

A unique and distinctive mystery plot is the basis of the most recent Fairbanks feature, written for the star by Allan Dwan. It is a story that presents unlimited opportunities for the popular athletic star and each one is taken full advantage of. Fairbanks is everywhere and his dominating personality is, as usual, a singular advantage.

The story relates an episode during the recent troubles on the Mexican border, the chief characters of which are a stranger, who because of his traveling tendencies is dubbed “Headin’ South”; and a Mexican bandit who has earned the soubriquet of Mexican Joe. The action of the plot is traced from the innermost depths of the Canadian north country, to the far-off deserts of the Mexican border. This furnishes quite a variety of natural beauty; the Canadian forest scenes are rich in their regal splendor, while the cactus fields of Arizona offer just the opposite extreme of a barren country. The many exteriors have been well selected and are in keeping with the atmosphere of the plot.

Catherine MacDonald is a pleasing personality as the Mexican senorita, who later becomes a blushing bride, and adds materially to the interest of the story. Frank Campeau, who has been seen in many of the Fairbanks’ pictures, is again seen as the villain in this picture; Campeau plays Mexican Joe, a role that is peculiarly suited to his talents. The only Doug plays the dashing hero “Headin’ South,” who creates the impression, at first sight, of being a ferocious villain. Arthur Rosson directed, under supervision of Allan Dwan, and the masterful manner in which the big scenes were handled is tribute to his excellent work.

The story: A strange outlaw lands in a small town on the border, and joins a band of Mexican bandits under the leadership of Mexican Joe, who has been terrorizing the neighborhood. The stranger tells of his travels from Canada to the south and earns the name of “Headin’ South.” As such a reward is offered by the authorities for his capture with that of the Mexican. After many experiences “Headin’ ” meets a beautiful Mexican senorita whose home the bandits have taken possession of. Mexican Joe forces his attentions upon the girl and Headin’ beats him and makes him a prisoner. He helps the girl to escape with her many women servants. The bandits have become frenzied with drink and demand the women; upon learning they have escaped they follow in pursuit. The women arrive safely in the border town just as the bandits ride up. A furious gun battle then ensues in which the Mexicans appear to be getting the upper hand, but a band of Rangers arrive and turn the tables. Headin’ South is captured with the bandits and is about to be taken away when he is recognized by one of the deputies. He reveals himself as Corporal Smith, of the North West Mounted Police of Canada, and explains that he had been detailed to arrest Mexican Joe for the murder of a member of the force. So Headin’ South, or Corporal Smith as he is now known, makes his formal arrest and, incidentally, wins for a bride the Mexican girl he had saved. (7)

La proyección de esta cinta motivó, según escribió Jorge Hermida en Cine-Mundial de abril del 1918 una queja del cónsul mexicano en Nueva York:

El Cónsul General de México en Nueva York, Sr. Adolfo de la Huerta, acaba de protestar ante el Alcalde de la ciudad para que se eliminen de la última cinta de Douglas Fairbanks, titulada “Con rumbo al sur,” ciertos incidentes que estima denigrantes para su país. Mr. Hylan, al alcalde, ha prometido investigar oficialmente el asunto. (8)

Algo debió suceder casi de forma inmediata, ya que el gerente del Castle Theatre de Chicago, M. J. Weil envío al rotativo Motography un comunicado donde se alegra de la recaudación que está teniendo la película, pero se queja que el censor local haya cortado algunas escenas. No especifica cuáles sean las partes censuradas. (9)

Para el número correspondiente a mayo de 1918, Cine-Mundial publica una sinopsis de la cinta donde hace manifiesto su desagrado por la película:

Con rumbo al sur

(Headin’ South). Marca “Artcraft.” 1500 mts.

Melodrama con toques de comedia, interpretado por Douglas Fairbanks. La acción pasa en la frontera mexicana y se reduce a una serie de luchas y escaramuzas en que el héroe naturalmente se entiende con ejércitos completos de “bandidos,” saliendo vencedor. Una de tantas cintas cuya producción no tiene otro objeto que alimentar más y más la ignorancia de las clases ineducadas de este país y envenenar la opinión el perjuicio de la vecina república. El Cónsul General de México presentó protesta ante el Alcalde de Nueva York, por considerar la cinta denigrante para su país, y es de esperarse qué este funcionario tome medidas encaminadas a suprimir los ridículos exabruptos de que adolece la producción. (10)

Fotograma de Headin' South aparecido en Motograpy del 16 de marzo de 1918 (Vol XIX, No. 11, p. 521)
Fotograma de Headin’ South aparecido en Motograpy del 16 de marzo de 1918 (Vol XIX, No. 11, p. 521)

El clímax de este embrollo, que no fue motivado en exclusiva por la exhibición de Headin’ South, pues las distorsiones y visión denigrante de México y los mexicanos venían de tiempo atrás, obligó al presidente Wilson a intervenir:

El discurso del Presidente Wilson a los directores de periódicos mejicanos está produciendo múltiples buenos efectos. Por la importancia que encierra para la cordialidad en las relaciones entre los Estados Unidos y las demás repúblicas de América, debemos citar el que se refiere a la exportación de películas. Sabido es que por razones climatológicas, el 90% de las cintas norteamericanas se impresionan en las regiones del Oeste, en la frontera de Méjico, y… no hay peor cuña que la del mismo palo. El tejano, por ejemplo, que puede llamarse Smith y no saber inglés o García y desconocer el castellano, tiene tanto amor por el mejicano del otro lado del río como el perro por el gato. Los directores y argumentistas, que por lo general proceden de las grandes urbes del Norte y Este, se contagian en aquel ambiente y tenemos, como resultado, toda esa serie de fotodramas sin más base que disparatados prejuicios raciales. Debido a las declaraciones de Wilson, no sólo no saldrán fuera del país cintas de esa índole sino que las autoridades ya están tratando de evitar que se exhiban dentro de los Estados Unidos. (11)

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Para finalizar, transcribo lo que Emilio García Riera comenta sobre la cinta y su protagonista, Douglas Fairbanks:

Anuncios de mano de un cinematógrafo de Farribault, Minn.
Anuncios de mano de un cinematógrafo de Faribault, Minnesota tomados de The Moving Picture World del 22 de marzo de 1919 (Vol. XXXIX, No. 13, p. 1650)

Fairbanks dejó la Triangle y pasó a trabajar con la Paramount. Interpretó para esa compañía un western, Headin’ South (1918), que lo mostraba como un policía disfrazado de bandido mexicano para derrotar al ladrón de ganado Spanish Joe, ese sí mexicano de verdad, y conquistar a otra señorita. His Majesty, the American: The Films of Douglas Fairbanks, libro de John C. Tibbetts y James M. Welsh, incluye una foto de Headin’ South con Fairbanks y el villano, vestidos ambos de algo así como charros coquetos, dándose casi un beso en el acto de prenderse mutuamente sus cigarros. La foto sugiere una equívoca benevolencia con lo mexicano; para desmentirlo, basta leer en el mismo libro lo escrito sobre His Majesty, the American (1919):

[…] el héroe llega y saluda al paisaje mexicano de modo similar, aunque no olvida la burla y enciende su cigarrillo en la tierra calcinada. En la misma película, además, se ofrece un retrato irónico de una población mexicana típica; el retrato es notable por la rapidez del sobrentendido y por el siguiente letrero: “Presentando a Murdero, México: (donde espera encontrar) Reptiles/Balas/Bandidos/ y como atractivo principal, Francisco Villa.” Villa cabalga raudo a través de la adormecida y desierta población una vez al año, levantando mucho polvo, y desaparece hasta el año siguiente. Fairbanks pregunta: “¿Dónde están los habitantes de este pueblo?” La respuesta es: “Muertos” […] (12)

También de la obra de García Riera transcribo una breve sinopsis de Headin’ South:

Un jinete misterioso y solitario a quien llaman Headin’ South, y que tiene gran reputación en el suroeste de buen tirador y asaltante, se incorpora a la banda de forajidos mexicanos encabezados por Spanish Joe, ladrón de ganado, Headin’ South se enamora de una señorita prisionera de Spanish Joe y la salva de las garras del mexicano. Al final, Headin’ South lleva a la señorita, a su madre y a otras mujeres de un rancho a una población fronteriza. Atacan los bandidos, pero Headin’ South los vence, capturando con una sola mano a Spanish Joe, y revela ser oficial de la policía montada. (13)

La ficha filmográfica está tomada de Silent Era:

Headin’ South. (1918) Norteamericana. B & N. Cinco rollos. Producción: Douglas Fairbanks Pictures Corporation. Distribución: Famous Players-Lasky Corporation [Artcraft Pictures]. Productor: Douglas Fairbanks. Supervisor de producción: Allan Dwan. Guión: Allan Dwan. Director: Arthur Rosson. Asistente del director: James P. Hogan. Fotografía: Harry Thorpe, Hugh McClung, Len Powers, Glenn McWilliams, Charles Warrington y Connie De Roo. Estreno: 25 de febrero de 1918. Intérpretes:  Douglas Fairbanks (Headin’ South), Katherine MacDonald (Señorita), Frank Campeau (Spanish Joe), James Mason, Johnny Judd, Tommy Grimes, Art Acord, Bob Emmons, Alice Smith, Hoot Gibson, Edmund Burns, Jack Holt y Marjorie Daw. (14)

Notas:

(1) Motography, Vol. XIX, No. 4, Jan. 26, 1918, p. 183.

(2) The Moving Picture World, Vol. XXXV, No. 5, Feb. 2, 1918, p. 696.

(3) The Moving Picture World, Vol. XXXV, No. 5, Feb. 2, 1918, p. 696.

(4) Variety, Vol. L, No. 10, May. 3, 1918, p. 43.

(5) The Moving Picture World, Vol. XXXV, No. 9, Mar. 2, 1918, p. 1272.

(6) The Moving Picture World, Vol. XXXV, No. 11, Mar. 16, 1918, p. 1557.

(7) Motography, Vol. XIX, No. 11, Mar. 16, 1918, p. 521.

(8) Cine-Mundial, Vol. III, No. 4, abril 1918, p. 189.

(9) Motography, Vol. XIX, No. 13, Mar. 30, 1918, p. 596.

(10) Cine-Mundial, Vol. III, No. 5, mayo 1918, p. 259.

(11) Cine-Mundial, Vol. III, No. 7, julio 1918, p. 383.

(12) México visto por el cine extranjero, vol. 1, Emilio García Riera, Era/U de G, México, 1987, pp. 64-65.

(13) México visto por el cine extranjero, vol. 2, Emilio García Riera, Era/U de G, México, 1987, pp. 71-72.

(14) Silent Era: http://www.silentera.com/PSFL/data/H/HeadinSouth1918.html