Archivo de la etiqueta: Alice Guy Blaché

Solax Feature Co. filma en México (1914)

Este periplo de la Solax Feature Co. fue con el afán de filmar la cinta The War Extra. The Moving Picture World del 6 de junio de 1914 (Vol. XX, No. 10, p. 1389) comienza con la información del viaje:

BLACHÉ SENDS COMPANY TO MEXICAN BORDER.

Under the experienced eye of Harry Schenck, former trumpeter of Troop D, Third Cavalry: vaudeville star, motion picture actor, director and born adventurer, Herbert Blaché has forwarded a large company including Vinnie Burns, Kenneth D. Harlan and Edgar De Pauw to Fort Clark, Texas, one of the important Mexican border posts.

Director Schenck, who is armed with the scenario of a well-known war correspondent novel, the title of which is being jealously guarded at present writing, will be very much at home in the territory where the scenes of the picture are laid as he spent two years at Fort Clark.

Mr. Blaché has formed a valuable connection with a cameraman now in Mexico City, who has forwarded 2700 feet of interesting war scenes to the Fort Lee studio and claims to have several hundred feet more ready for immediate shipment. This is for use in the war feature, which will also include special scenes staged at Fort Clark in which between eight and nine thousand United States soldiers will appear.

Blaché Features War photographers to Mexico
Publicidad de la Blaché Features

The Moving Picture World del 4 de julio de 1914 (Vol. XXI, No. 1, p. 80):

Mexican War in Solax Features.

Manager Joseph Shear, of Solax and Blaché Features, has returned from Mexico with Director Harry Schenck and a large company of Solax players, including Miss Vinnie Burns. Miss Burns proudly exhibits a bullet which ploughed up the ground within three feet of her, passing between her horse and the horse of Mr. Schenck, who rode beside her.

The company entered Mexico by way of Eagle Pass, Texas, and made their way under a strong guard furnished by General Francisco Murguía of Villa’s army to Monclova. They not only succeeded in getting motion pictures of the battle of Monclova, but also several hundred feet of film showing the departure of trains loaded with the troops bound for Mexico City where the decisive battle of the war is in preparation. The stories they tell of the terrible sights they were compelled to witness easily explains the fact that no other motion picture company has ventured into the same locality.

The company’s departure from Monclova was hastened by the punishment of two soldiers who were severely beaten for insulting the Americans. The insults were hurled at Director Schenck, whose inability to understand Spanish kept him in blissful ignorance of the affair until he was invited to witness the flogging of the culprits with the flat of a sword.

The news of this incident caused such bitter feeling that the company was placed upon a special train and escorted across the border into Texas. Several days were then spent in making scenes in which Mexican and American cowboys posed in battle scenes staged especially for the benefit of the camera. Two of the Mexicans became enraged because the story called for their capture by the Americans and fired their guns into the faces of their opponents. The guns were only loaded with blank cartridges, but the affair started a fight which took the combined diplomatic’ services of Manager Shear and Director Schenck to settle.

The Moving Picture World del  (Vol. XXI, No. , p. 80)
The Moving Picture World del 4 de julio de 1914 (Vol. XXI, No. , p. 80)

Miss Vinnie Burns is the only member of the company who is anxious to return to the land of strife. She brought back to the Fort Lee studios a little Mexican dog which bears the name of Jesus Carranza and says that as soon as she can have a rubber stamp made she is going to return to Mexico with a pad and a pen and make a million dollars in Mexican money. As a proof of the value of her scheme, she has a choice collection of Mexican legal tender (Constitutionalist) which any school girl ought to be able to make with the aid of a twenty-five cent rubber stamp. But as the million dollars “Mex” is only worth about two dollars and thirty-two cents (Broadway), making Mexican money is not as attractive as it might seem to the casual observer.

The Moving Picture World del 18 de julio de 1914 (Vol. XXI, No. 3, p. 453) continúa las noticias del viaje:

Kenneth D. Harlan, who accompanied Harry Schenck, Charley Pin and Vinnie Burns into the heart of Mexico, playing the part of the cub reporter who witnessed the Battle of Monclova, has made arrangements with Madame Alice Blaché whereby he will be seen in coming Solax releases. Dan Barker, the well-known comedian is also appearing before the camera under Madame Blaché’s direction.

Picture Stories Magazine de octubre de 1914 (Vol. III, No. 14, p. 80) repite la información de The Moving Picture World:

The Moving Picture World del (Vol. XXI, No. , p. 80)
The Moving Picture World del 4 de julio de 1914 (Vol. XXI, No. 1, p. 80)

Manager Joseph Shear, of Solax and Blaché Features, has returned from Mexico with Director Harry Schenck, and a large company of Solax players, including Miss Vinnie Burns. Miss Burns proudly exhibits a bullet which ploughed up the ground within three feet of her, passing between her horse and the horse of Mr. Schenck, who rode beside her.

The company entered Mexico by way of Eagle Pass, Texas, and made their way under a strong guard furnished by General Francisco Murguía, of Villa’s army to Monclova. They not only succeeded in getting motion pictures of the Battle of Monclova, but also several hundred feet of film showing the departure of trains loaded with troops bound for Mexico City, where the decisive battle of the war is in preparation. The stories they tell of the terrible sights they were compelled to witness easily explains the fact that no other motion picture company has ventured into the same locality.

Across the Mexican Line (1911)

Esta película reviste cierta importancia que trasciende su mera exhibición, pues fue filmada por una de las primeras féminas detrás de cámaras: Alice Guy Blaché para la Solax Company. La primera noticia sobre el film se publica en Moving Picture News del 8 de abril de 1911 (p. 20):

Solax Military Releases

We notice with a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction the announcement of the Solax Company regarding their Friday release.

Beginning April 28th they will start to release their regular Friday military pictures, the first subject of which is entitled Across the Mexican Line. This wide-awake company seem always to be on the alert for an idea that is novel, new and of topical interest. Now what could be more acceptable to the exchangeman and exhibitor than these military pictures dealing with a controversy of current and national importance.

Topics that are before the general public always prove to be big money-getter for the exhibitor, and this is the sole aim of the Solax Company–to turn out pictures that will redound the profit of their patrons, the exchangeman and exhibitor in greatest measure.

Quite aside from the merely entertaining purposes of these pictures they have the added virtue of being of exceptional educational value as many of the productions will be taken at places of historical interest.

This enterprising company will deserve the support and co-operation of all those who are in favor of raising the standard of the picture and making it a medium of not only wholesome entertainment but practical and useful instruction.

Moving Picture News de abril 15 de 1911 (100yearoldmovies.wordpress.com)

The Moving Picture World publicó una brevísima sinopsis y una reseña. La primera en el número del 13 de mayo de 1911 (Vol. VIII, No. 19, p. 1083):

“Across the Mexican Line” (Solax).—This story is based upon the imbroglio in Mexico. It details a love story, coupled with the thrilling adventures of a woman spy. Apparently the Mexican general did not get the information he wanted, and the prisoner was recaptured by the American troops. The climbing of a telegraph pole and sending a message from its top is a novel stunt which pleased the audience. The situations are also interesting.

La reseña, bastante breve también, aparece el 27 de mayo (Vol. VIII, No. 21, p. 1201):

“Across the Mexican Line” (Solax, April 28,).—This film is mentioned again to emphasize the assertion heretofore made that it is sometimes difficult to tell how a picture will take with a different audience. For example, this picture was seen first in New York. It made scarcely a ripple. It was seen again in a crowded house in a small town and was greeted with wild applause. Almost every move the lieutenant made when de Castro surprised him was applauded, while the Mexican was hissed. The girl at work on the telegraph pole sending the message to the American headquarters was almost continuously applauded, and the plunging ride of the American troopers brought forth round after round, closing with an outburst of several minutes when they arrive, stop the execution and capture the Mexicans.

The American loves a contest, and if his side wins he is all the more enthusiastic. The illustration of that spirit in this picture pleases the audience in the average theater beyond calculation. There is life, action, but above all that illustration of contrast, the winning of a fight and the exemplification of fair play. Apparently managers will have no difficulty in pleasing their audiences with this picture.

Motography de abril de 1991 (Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 297)
Motography de abril de 1911 (Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 297)

De acuerdo a Alison McMahan en su biografía de Alice Guy Blaché, Across the Mexican fue dirigido por esta última. De ser cierto, sería la primera mujer en haber dirigido una película en el país. La dirección de un film bélico y con una historia de amor interracial resultan una combinación explosiva para el público norteamericano. No sabemos quién se enamora de quién: un gringo de una mexicana o un mexicano de una güerita.

Alice Guy Blaché: Lost Visionary of the Cinema menciona varios datos interesantes sobre la filmación de la cinta y la compañía productora:

Guy directed the first films at Solax by herself, but soon hired other directors to work under her supervision. One of them was Mr. Wilbert Melville who was described by The Moving Picture News as the “managing director” of the Solax Company. Melville was credited with the idea of having a regular release of military pictures (which began with Across the Mexican Line on April 28th, though this particular film was probably directed by Guy, as it had been announced before the military series was announced), and he also wrote and directed “practically all of them.” (p. 110)

The Moving Picture World, Vol. XII, No. 11, p. 1008
The Moving Picture World (Vol. XII, No. 11, p. 1008)

La autora nos sigue relatando sobre la cinta y nos informa de la existencia de una copia en Gran Bretaña de esta cinta:

Female Mexican characters were more likely to be fetishized though they were usually played by Anglo actresses, as was the Mexican woman in the first of the Solax military pictures, Across the Mexican Line, (Solax, 1911).

“The situation” referred to is an interracial romance (the Solax film still exists at the NFTVA [National Film and Television Archive de Gran Bretaña], but it is unclear if it can be preserved). Some film companies went to Mexico and shot films using the Mexican war as a backdrop; Solax sent a director, cast and crew to New Mexico to shoot several films and commissioned a cameraman in Mexico to provide them with footage of the revolution. From the Admittedly scarce remaining evidence, this did not seem to have changed the way Mexicans were represented. (pp. 137-138)