Posted by Susan Doll on February 2, 2015
Can you guess where the first film version of The Wizard of Oz was produced? Hollywood, 1939? What about the first newsreel? New York, maybe? Or, the initial screen adaptation of A Christmas Carol? Would London be a reasonable guess? What about the first movie to chronicle the story of Jesse James? The original film adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Or, the first biopic of Lincoln? The answer to all of these questions is not Hollywood, or New York, or London—all represented in the history books as places where film pioneers established a new medium. The answer is Chicago—the so-called Second City—which barely rates a mention in most of those books.
Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry (Wallflower Press, 2015) by Michael Smith and Adam Selzer offers a well-researched, in-depth chronicle of the Windy City’s role in cinema history. From the early 1890s to World War I, the city was a major player in the motion picture business, giving the likes of Carl Laemmle, Gloria Swanson, Wallace Beery, Charlie Chaplin, and Francis X. Bushman a leg up in their careers.
Posted by Susan Doll on March 8, 2010
Last week, I wrote about Chicago’s role in the birth of the mainstream film industry, which is most often treated as a footnote in text books and film histories. Even less known is the city’s importance to the development of an African American cinema in which black entrepreneurs made movies for black audiences. While there are several scholarly studies on the development of an African American cinema, and many of them chronicle the early pioneers, the whole story has yet to creep into coffee-table film histories or filter into the popular consciousness.
Posted by Susan Doll on March 1, 2010
This past week a bright and charming grade-schooler interviewed me about Chicago’s place in film history. He was knee deep in producing a documentary for his school’s history fair, and I was one of the people he interviewed on camera. I am always thrilled when young people exhibit an interest in the cinema of the past, let alone an era that predates Hollywood as the hub of the industry. The experience was doubly enjoyable because not only was it fun to help out, but in prepping for the interview, I uncovered and re-discovered some fun facts about my adopted city and its place in the history of film. As a matter of fact, I found so much that I am going to divide the information into two posts, continuing the saga next week. Much of this detail is omitted from standard film texts, which tend to travel the path of history as it threads through the industry centers of Hollywood and New York.
MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D Academy Awards Action Films Actors Actors' Endorsements Actresses animal stars Animation Anime Anthology Films Art Direction Art in Movies Asians in Hollywood Australian CInema Autobiography Avant-Garde Aviation Awards B-movies Beer in Film Behind the Scenes Best of the Year lists Biography Biopics Black Film Blu-Ray Books on Film Boxing films British Cinema Canadian Cinema Character Actors Chicago Film History Cinematography Classic Films College Life on Film Comedy Comic Book Movies Crime Czech Film Dance on Film Digital Cinema Directors Disaster Films Documentary Drama DVD Early Talkies Editing Educational Films European Influence on American Cinema Experimental Exploitation Fairy Tales on Film Faith or Christian-based Films Family Films Film Composers Film Criticism film festivals Film History in Florida Film Noir Film Scholars Film titles Filmmaking Techniques Films About Gambling Films of the 1960s Films of the 1980s Food in Film Foreign Film French Film Gangster films Genre Genre spoofs HD & Blu-Ray Holiday Movies Hollywood history Hollywood lifestyles Horror Horror Movies Icons independent film Italian Film Japanese Film Korean Film Literary Adaptations Martial Arts Melodramas Memorabilia Method Acting Mexican Cinema Moguls Monster Movies Movie Books Movie Costumes movie flops Movie locations Movie lovers Movie Reviewers Movie settings Movie Stars Movie titles Movies about movies Music in Film Musicals New Releases Outdoor Cinema Paranoid Thrillers Parenting on film Pirate movies Polish film industry political thrillers Politics in Film Pornography Pre-Code Producers Race in American Film Remakes Revenge Road Movies Romance Romantic Comedies Satire Scandals Science Fiction Screenwriters Semi-documentaries Serials Short Films Silent Film silent films Social Problem Film Sports Sports on Film Stereotypes Straight-to-DVD Studio Politics Stunts and stuntmen Suspense thriller Swashbucklers TCM Classic Film Festival TCM Underground Television The British in Hollywood The Germans in Hollywood The Hungarians in Hollywood The Irish in Hollywood Theaters Thriller Trains in movies Underground Cinema VOD War film Westerns Women in the Film Industry Women's Weepies