"In 1921, Sheeler and Strand collaborated to make Manhatta, considered to be the first American avant-garde film. Inspired by Walt Whitman's poem "Mannahatta," which is quoted in one of the intertitles, the film portrays life in New York City in sixty-five nonnarrative shots. The sequences display one epic day in Lower Manhattan, beginning with a ferry approaching the city in early morning and ending with a sunset view from a skyscraper. Shot from extreme camera angles, the film captures the dynamic qualities of the new metropolis" Museum of Modern Art (New York), Department of Film.
Charlton Heston stars in David Bradley's amateur adaptation of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. "Julius Caesar was produced with amateur actors and makes impressive use of available, neoclassical Chicago locations, including the steps of the Art Institute and the pillars of Solider Field. But the film, which cost at least fifteen thousand dollars to produce, was seen by both the ACL and the local Chicago press as a quasi-professional--if independent--production; indeed, it was on the merits of this film that Bradley won his much-sought-after contract with MGM" Tepperman, 252-253.
An amateur club adaptation of Alfred Noyes poem The Highwayman. A "ballad of love and murder" that "emphasizes atmosphere and explores the sympathetic relationship between natural and dramatic elements". The poem "narrates the highwayman's secret meeting with his love Bess, a landlord's daughter, their discovery by a group of soldiers who hold Bess as bait for the highwayman, and her grisly death by musket...Throughout the poem the natural settings play an important role in amplifying its supernatural and dramatic content...Like its use of natural settings, a natural acting style was employed to set this film adaptation apart from its source materials and its rival media. Finally, the film's use of double exposure in order to create the impression of ghostliness in the tragic couple's final reunion marks a particularly cinematic solution to the problem of visual representation" Tepperman, 244-245.
"An exceptional portrayal of the world's creation, from a barren landscape to the emergence of the Woman and the Serpent, ending with Society as we know it. The film is technically unsurpassed in plasticine animation." Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre.
"Unedited assembly of takes (some with slates) from Fox's unfinished film, intended as a symbolic rendition of the story of Abelard (d. 1142) and Heloise (d. 1164). Uses masked actors, expressionistic lighting and movement, and visual metaphors suggestive of various emotions." (British Columbia Archives)
A theatrical-dance version of Snow White performed at the Blue Hill Country Club in coastal Maine.
"In a few days of doldrums before being called for training in the Army Signal Corps, David S. Bradley, presiding genius of Bradley Productions, scenarized, cast, costumed, filmed and directed a screen version of Sredni Vashtar, a short story by Saki. running 800 feet of 16mm. monochrome, the picture is the eighth in the series to be produced by this unusual amateur unit of Winnetka, Ill. having been directly preceded by Peer Gynt and Oliver Twist. It will be Mr. Bradley's last production until after the war. Working with him on Sredni Vashtar was John Jameson, assistant director, with the small cast played by Mrs. Herbert Hyde, Lucielle Powell, Lois Northrop and Reny Kidd, all Bradley Production veterans", Movie Makers, Apr. 1943,158.
"The TellTale Heart is a 1928 American silent film directed by Charles F. Klein, based on the short story by E.A. Poe. This experimental, avant-garde film used many new techniques and influenced a series of cinematic Poe renditions in both the United States and France, including The Fall of the House of Usher by M. Webber, made in the same year. The two films have many aesthetic similarities, although the narrative in The TellTale Heart is significantly less abstract. The music underscoring the work creates a parallel drama to the events unfolding on the screen. After the title sequence, some of the text from the original short story is projected to foreshadow the gruesome events to follow. A still of the Old Man's eye is layered on the top of this scrolling text, accompanied by the first statement of the “Vulture Eye Chord”, which continues to come back as a leitmotif throughout the score. Also prominent is the leitmotif for our narrator, which takes the shape of a disturbingly quick and easily unhinged "Death Waltz". Upon strangling the Old Man for his vulture eye, the waltz quickly dissolves into a quick 5/8 section, dignifying the beating of a heart, which gradually slows. After two detectives come to investigate the scene, the narrator having initially been successful in covering up his deceit, the underscoring reveals to us that he's been tortured by his deeds as the two leitmotifs emerge from an otherwise calm texture. After hearing the beating of the Old Man's heart beneath the floorboards, the narrator admits to his sin and reveals the body at the end of the film" Center for Fiction, NY.
"Sweetheart Roland comes to us from Grimm's Fairy Tales and depicts a grandmother reading the story to a young child of perhaps three years while the latter imagines just what the tale would have been like in real life. This gives the producer sufficient latitude to act out the story with his characters much as the youngster might imagine it. Synched dialog of the actors with the narrator's voice is a clever innovation seldom seen on the amateur screen" PSA Journal, Sept. 1966, 34.
"The Black Cat is a 25-minute version of Edgar Allen Poe's story by the same name and concerns a man who does away with his wife in what he believes to be the perfect crime, only to be outdone in the end by the family black cat. This low key, well dramatized version is the only 8mm film among the top ten and also received the MPD Scenario Film Award" PSA Journal, Sept. 1965, 50.
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