Boom!: A Revolutionary Way to Record Sound

a creative solution

When looking back on the numerous technologies we have covered this semester, there was one that stood out to me as a surprisingly creative solution to a common problem. Being a music producer and music technology major, I care a lot about sound, recording technology, and the recording process, so I found boom microphones to be absolutely fascinating. It is a technology that is used in nearly every form of video recording today, and I am only now understanding that it is such a clever, unique, and much needed solution to a common problem many film studios were struggling with when sound was becoming more prevalent.

History of the Boom Mic

Before boom mics, microphones were hidden within the set in order for them to not be seen. This was a great struggle for film producers, as scenes had to be based around the microphone placement and movement was severely limited. Actors were forced to always act and speak in the direction of the microphone because if they moved their head while speaking, the sound waves would travel away, preventing them from being picked up. Many actors had a difficult time adjusting to this new technology, as it hindered and restricted their ability to be expressive with movement. The invention of the boom mic was in response to these issues during the filming of the 1929 film The Wild Party. One of the stars, Clara Bow, was nervous about the new technology and had difficulty adjusting to microphones. In order to fix this problem and to allow Bow to move around more freely, director Dorothy Arzner devised a plan to attach a microphone to a fishing rod to hang over the scene out of shot. This allowed for sound to continuously be recorded as characters move, since a boom mic operator can follow characters as they move across a scene.

A New Love for the boom

As I learned more about boom mics while preparing this blog post, I gained a newfound appreciation for the amount of effort that went into and still goes into the sound of film, television, and other video media. While watching a film, I normally don’t think about how the sound is captured during chase sequences, walking or running scenes, or other dynamic scenes involving movement. Due to boom mic technology, these types of scenes can have high-quality audio at a consistent volume throughout the course of the scene. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must have been for both actors and sound engineers at the time to have to worry about microphone placement and speaking in the direction of a still microphone while also trying to act. I would have probably gone insane having to keep telling actors to speak into the microphone over and over again. People still don’t know how to properly talk into a mic even after the technology has been around for over a century, and it drives me crazy while running the sound for different events. The boom mic seems so obvious and practical today, but it is incredible to think there was a time when it was infinitely more frustrating to capture audio.

Image of a Modern Boom mic operator https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boom_operator_(media)

Works Cited:

Barson, Michael. “Dorothy Arzner.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia
Britannica, Inc., 27 Sept. 2019,
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Dorothy-Arzner#ref1181030.

“Boom Operator.” Media, http://www.media
match.com/usa/media/jobtypes/boom-operator-jobs-402683.php.

“Boom Operator (Media).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Sept. 2019,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boom_operator_(media).

“Dorothy Arzner.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Oct. 2019,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Arzner.

“The Wild Party (1929 Film).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Aug. 2019,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wild_Party_(1929_film).

 

Parallel Editing – A Thing of the Past or an Integral Part of Cinema Today?

 

Parallel editing? don’t know her.

Yes you do! To quote the Elements of Cinema blog, “Parallel editing (cross cutting) is the technique of alternating two or more scenes that often happen simultaneously but in different locations. If the scenes are simultaneous, they occasionally culminate in a single place, where the relevant parties confront each other.”

Essentially, parallel editing is switching between two scenes which each depict a different situation. It is implied that these scenes take place at the same time, but in different places. This technique can be seen in many films, for example the 1908 film The Runaway Horse. In this film, the screen switches between an indoor scene of a man walking around a house and an outdoor scene of a horse starting to get up to mischief.

Ok, so what’s the big deal?

Parallel editing is a technique that has been found in films for the past century or so, and for good reason. It’s incredibly useful because it can be used to manipulate a viewer’s interpretation of the events. In The Runaway Horse the parallel editing induces a comedic effect. The viewers all know that the horse is up to something outside, but the man inside appears to be completely oblivious. This creates a moment of dramatic irony, which viewers find humorous.

While the above example is the most classic use of parallel editing, some directors choose to twist things around instead. In Silence of the Lambs (1991) there is another example of parallel editing. The scenes switch between Buffalo Bill hearing something in his home and becoming suspicious, and the FBI surrounding a house. Jonathan Demme takes advantage of our assumption to associate those two parallel scenes, misleading us to think that the house the FBI is surrounding is the one Buffalo Bill is in. This plot twist made the movie more engaging as it subverted the viewers expectations about the locations of the characters.

Another example of parallel editing, this time in Silence of the Lambs (1991)
1991 was almost 30 years ago! How is that still relevant?

A more recent example of this is in Jordan Peele’s Us, a movie that just came out this year.

On a side note, I highly recommend watching this movie if you haven’t seen it already. So spoiler warning:

At this part of the movie, the screen jumps between an above ground scene depicting carnival goers, and an underground scene depicting their doppelgangers jerkily and unwillingly mimicking their movements.

This is a very recent example of parallel editing from Us (2019)

Here, the parallel editing technique is used in the original way to show two scenes happening simultaneously.

why I find it interesting

I am especially glad that parallel editing was developed and used through the early film industry because it is still an extremely important technique today. Since learning about it, I’ve noticed parallel editing along with similar narration techniques when watching shows and movies in my downtime. It’s a common tool that directors still use now, both in the classical way like in The Runaway Horse and in a twisted way like in Silence of the Lambs.

It’s exciting to look closer at this type of editing. I noticed that it has a similar effect as establishing shots in that they are both very effective techniques for establishing how the settings and events of the film are relating to each other.

Sources
Silence of the Lambs, YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts1x6uADFtM.
Edwards, Alexandra. “Early Narrative Technology in Film.” https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1jGc8fPDebz_WrjIKkW8oetF8F2juIyf6j0jrjdDRW0k/edit#slide=id.g4db57e2dda_2_1.
Moura, Gabe. “Parallel Editing.” Elements of Cinema, 1 July 2014, http://www.elementsofcinema.com/editing/parallel-editing/.
Peele, Jordan. “Adelaide’s Plan (Reveal Scene) | Us (2019).” Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z94mLlvbQN0.
Gasnier, Louis J, director. The Runaway HorseYoutube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts1x6uADFtM.

 

 

Censorship: The Ever-Changing Technology in Film

Throughout the semester we have taken a look at many different types of film technology. All of these technologies have affected how films are made with varying levels of significance. There is one that has really stuck out to me though, and that technology is censorship. Censorship is fascinating particularly because it continues to evolve as time marches on. This has a lot to do with what is identified as socially acceptable. Censorship is a technology that quickly started to be developed as soon as movies began to become popular. A full history of movies helps properly demonstrate how censorship has evolved. 

 

Beginning in 1896, movies began to arrive in the United States. They attracted large audiences, who were excited for this new, innovative method of entertainment. One of the most popular movies from that year was Thomas Edison’s “Lust”. This early movie even drew questions of morality, which began the conversation of censoring movies. By 1907, Chicago created the first cencorship laws, which pushed many other places around the country to enact local censorship laws. The main problem this created was censorship laws varied throughout the United States, which allowed some theatres to play movies and others to restrict them. This problem lead to the formation of The National Board of Censorship in 1909. Censorship would continue to undergo many changes throughout the years. No matter how popular the film is censorship has proven strong against anything that falls under indecent. 

 

A great example of censorship in an early stage is D.W. Griffith’s, “The Birth of a Nation”. The 1915 film about the Civil War has extreme levels of racism. It portrays black men as dangerous, and can be seen as a mathod of propaganda, which helped lead the United States into an era of structuralized racism. The movie was so popular that Woodrow Wilson had a provate screening of it at The White House. However, the film was largely protested by groups such as the NAACP, and even caused riots to break out in many states. “The Birth of a Nation” later became the most banned movie in the United States and for good reason.

D.W. Griffith’s: “The Birth of a Nation”

 

Censorship continued to evolve with the creation of the Production Code in 1930. This code lasted until 1967, and covered many topics such as murder, sex, vulgarity, obscenity, profanity, costumes, dancing, religion, locations, national feeling, titles, and repellent subjects. These rules helped to ensure movies were up to standards for presentation in theatres. Each subject was added on as it became necessary. 

 

As previously stated censorship continues to change obviously not stopping in 1967, but what is interesting is that some things have become less censored, while others have become more censored. For instance, think back to a time when couples had to sleep in separate beds in film. While movies in theatres now are not showing X-rated content, films such as “Fifith Shades of Grey” would have been viewed as incredibly innapproriate in a different era. That is why censorship is such an interesting form of technology in the filming industry. A movie that is widely popular now could be viewed as a disgrace in the near future. It makes the process a much more complicated process, that requires authors to question morality in their writing.

 

Works Cited

The Production Code of the Motion Picture Industry (1930-1967), productioncode.dhwritings.com/multipleframes_productioncode.php.

“The Birth of a Nation.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Nov. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_a_Nation.

“Censorship as Technology.” Google Slides, Google, docs.google.com/presentation/d/1yHm4ix7cbRaGHv6YDVVSwUnHVGpx9CbpAjrGa5EIe1Q/edit#slide=id.g4fdacb4af7_0_401.

 

Censorship as Technology: Being Cool But PG

Throughout the course of the semester, we have explored a multitude of film technologies, dating from the birth of cinema itself to, as of yet, the films noir of the 1940s.  Our definition of technology–a means to change the way we perceive the world–has allowed us to think beyond the traditional sense of the term, and we have been able to consider topics such as genre and censorship as pieces of technology in themselves, thereby broadening the scope of our analyses.  Speaking personally, I found censorship to be the most intriguing technology that we have studied so far.  Not only does it play a role in expanding our definition of technology, but it also provides a reflection of the social atmosphere of the time and place of the film’s naissance.

Due to the nature of censorship, it is often easier to take a look at what we cannot see, rather than what we can see, and perhaps this was most apparent in the 1930s and 1940s, the early days of censorship under what has been known as the Code.  Before the Code was solidly enforced in 1934, films like Merrily We Go to Hell had almost free reign to show anything deemed necessary to enhance the storyline, including morally ambiguous scenes of infidelity, alcoholism, and drug abuse, just to name a few.

Image result for merrily we go to hell
Merrily We Go to Hell (1932) (link in image)

This had worried conservative leaders in the country who feared that such unregulated film production would soon descend into chaos and deeply sinful territory.  Subsequently, along the same line of logic as the enactment of Prohibition, the Code laid out the concrete moral guidelines for films.

Following the implementation of the Code, further movies were limited in their expression of explicitly Code-violative content, but by no means did this stop film studios.  Instead, they grew reliant on substitutions of seemingly normal symbols that would pass through Code guidelines but still convey the same idea as if it were shown explicitly.  This came in the form of uninhibited symbolism, innuendos, and visual gags–all to find loopholes in the Code and deliver the same level entertainment to general audiences who could not care less about the vulgarity of films.  From the assortment of films that we have studied so far, The Girl From Missouri, Bringing Up Baby, Laura, and In a Lonely Place all exhibited apparent signs of the Code’s effects.  For example, Bringing Up Baby featured countless hidden innuendos under the guise of slapstick comedy–mature audiences understood the references, younger audiences appreciated the humor, and all of it slipped under the radar of the Code.

All in all, we can see that censorship, at least in American cinema, was governed by the aforementioned Code, and it served as a reflection of the time, place, and attitudes at its creation: conservative leaders in 1930s America, concerned with the vulgarization of film and set on enforcing limits.  As a piece of technology, the Code controlled what the public could or could not see in theaters by setting the bounds for morality in cinema.  Yet censorship through the Code was directly changing the way audiences consumed film, unlike technology in the traditional sense, which only provided an indirect means for people to alter their perception of the world.  As with its Prohibition counterpart, however, people found ways around the Code, and although it was intended to curb explicit content, it only changed the way that people received it.  In this sense, both the rules of the Code itself and its unintended consequences have emphasized its role as a piece of technology.

Censorship, to this day, continues to influence our modern film culture, and although the days of the Code are over, we still see it as a byproduct of societal norms.  After further consideration, I came to realize that films, especially censored ones, are only a portion of what they could be, and what audiences can see has gone through the judgement and filtering process according to current standards.  And to relate to engineering and other forms of technology, regulations across industries have been put in place to enforce ethics and morals in a similar fashion.  Technology, in the more conventional definition, is likewise limited by considerations for its consumer population, despite the apparent efficiency or effectiveness of certain processes or practices.  As with film censorship, other technologies change the way we view our surroundings, but they are also formed as a product of the same viewpoint.  Overall, technology means a great deal more than just the next smartphone iteration or autonomous vehicle–it is both a driving force and a consequence of an enhanced perspective of the world around us.

Works Cited

“Bringing Up Baby.” DropBox. dropbox.com

Edwards, Alexandra. “Censorship as Technology.” Google Slides. 2019. docs.google.com

“In a Lonely Place.” DropBox. dropbox.com

“Laura.” DropBox. dropbox.com

“Merrily We Go to Hell.” Mahatma Kane Jeeves. YouTube. 2015. youtube.com

“Motion Picture Production Code.” Wikipedia, 2 November 2019. en.wikipedia.org

“The Girl from Missouri.” DropBox. dropbox.com

 

The Marvelous Moviola

I’m choosing to reflect on the Moviola, a machine that allowed editors to view the movie while editing. I’m fascinated at how long this machine was used to edit movies and I think the name, Moviola, is marvelous as well.

A photo of an Upright Moviola

The Upright Moviola was introduced in the 1920s and was used to edit movies until the 1970s. It was difficult to use and caused a larger separation between the editors and the control of the directors. This caused the directors to only shoot shots that they really wanted in the movie because they didn’t have as much control over the editing process. Learning to use the complicated Moviola machine was difficult and few people wanted to help because that was their job.

The Moviola was invented by Iwan Serrurier, who originally wanted to sell the machine as a home movie projector. It was too expensive and very few sold. An editor suggested to Serrurier that he should modify his device to be used by film editors. Serrurier did exactly that and the Moviola Company launched along with the first Moviola machine in 1924. Many large companies used the Moviola as their main editing machine. These include Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Charlie Chaplin Studios, and many more.

The invention of the Moviola did more than just make editing more precise, it influenced the structure of the film process. Editors no longer communicated with the director as much and had more freedom to do as they please. Directors recognized this and labeled the editor as an important creative figure in the post-production process of a film. I hadn’t realized how much of an impact technology can have on the structure of a company. I often hear of certain technologies replacing jobs, due to the low operating costs of the machine, but in a way, the Moviola made the editor’s job more important. Unfortunately, this caused some directors to view the editing position as a “man’s job,” causing many women in film to lose their jobs.

The Moviola would eventually be replaced by the Flatbed, due to its easier use and viewing of the film. The Flatbed started to become popular in Hollywood in the 1960s and rapidly decreased the use of the Moviola. The machine was often called a Steenbeck or KEM after the companies who developed and sold it. It consisted of a few buttons and two reels for picture and sound. It was so easy to use that people could film and edit their own movies. Overall, the Moviola and the Flatbed were very important technologies in linear editing that allowed editors to creatively manipulate messes and turn them into masterpieces. However, the invention of non-linear editing would make these technologies obsolete in the 1990s.

The Moviola has made me wearier about engineering and the invention of new technology. It seems as if we have very little knowledge about the impact of an invention until we see the effect ourselves. I’m sure that Iwan Serrurier had no idea that his invention would have such a large impact on the structure of editing and female jobs. It makes me wonder what’s next.

Sources:

“’Moviola’ Machine Used by Film Editors.” Science Museum Group Collection, collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co417283/moviola-machine-used-by-film-editors-film-editor.

“Moviola.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Feb. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moviola.

Schrader, Paul. “Game Changers: Editing.” Film Comment, 2014, www.filmcomment.com/article/game-changers-editing/.

Sucher, Joel. “Moviola Redux: Martin Scorsese’s Most Beloved Editing Machine.” Medium, Medium, 25 Nov. 2018, medium.com/@joelsucher/moviola-redux-martin-scorseses-most-beloved-editing-machine-f25c2bbec58.

Please Consider Adding this to the Adaptation!

I want to start off by thanking you to take the time to adapt this timeless classic of a novel. Vera Caspery was an amazing writer and her work should be adapted correctly. In my opinion the most important scene that you must include in its entirety is when Detective McPhearson realizes Laura is alive while he is staying at her apartment. This occurred when the story was being told through McPhearsons perspective after we got Waldos part of the story. This scene is pivotal because it shifts the entire focus of the novel from the investigation of her death to figuring out who was the one killed. This scene was also very unexpected from both the characters and the readers perspective as previously the narrator, Waldo, led the reader to believe that it was Laura who was killed based on an account from Bessie Clary. This scene raises a lot of questions like: Where was Laura during the killing? Could Laura be the Killer? The whole investigation is shaken from the point forward when now even Laura becomes a suspect for the murder of a women who was later revealed to be Diane Redfern. Most of the evidence against the suspects begins to be called into question as the link between the motive and the murder becomes very unclear. This moment also shocks many of the characters, especially Waldo who was the killer in the end. His reaction to her reappearance served as a huge indicator to his guilt as he was convinced, he killed Laura, not Redfern.

In addition to the shakeup in the case, this scene had massive implications for McPhearson himself as he began to fall in love with Laura after her reappearance. This can be seen in his story telling as well when he starts of his section writing in a very methodical and dry manner, but later switching to more drawn out ornamental language as he begins to fall in love with Laura. These feelings started earlier than when she reappeared as he learned more about her, his writing still changed into a more ornamental form. This scene shifts the narrative from a crime story to more of a love story as McPhearson continually falls in love with Laura. This event also allows us to connect more emotionally with McPhearson as this is the first time, we see any emotion from McPhearson.

This event also led to the development of Laura’s character as before she was talked about as a victim and not developed as a character further than that. As soon as she is introduced into the story, the reader can form a more informed opinion on her. If you guys plan on developing her further by introducing this scene, please stay true to her character in the books. She is a very strong-willed person who I would describe as a go-getter. Please strongly consider adding this scene to your adaptation as the movie will not be true to the book if not included. For more information please consider reading the book.

 

The Fatherly Fiend Scene in “Laura”

Murder, suspense, and mind games characterize Vera Caspary’s pulp fiction novel Laura.  After reading Laura, I discovered that the 1942 story was originally entitled Ring Twice for Laura.  It was a seven-part serial that ran in Colliers.  Twentieth Century Fox bought the rights from Caspary and produced a popular 1944 film adaptation of Laura (“Laura (novel)”).   After reading the book and watching the film, I began pondering over which aspects of Laura must be included in a film adaptation to maintain the integrity of the original story.  If I were given the opportunity to make another film adaptation of Laura based on Caspary’s novel, there is one pivotal scene that I would make sure to include.  This scene not only provides necessary tension, it also translates well using film technology and would ensure the film’s success.

Cover Page of "Laura" found on Wikipedia
Cover Page of “Laura” found on Wikipedia

In part four of the novel Laura exists one scene that reveals the inner nature and manipulative characteristics of a twisted mind.  The scene begins with Waldo and Laura dining together at Laura’s home and extends until Waldo kisses Laura.  In this scene, Waldo at first seems to act fatherly towards Laura, but as time progresses, his becomes vehement in his attack on Mark McPherson’s character.  Waldo is trying to manipulate Laura into believing that Mark is evil. Every time Laura makes a short statement in the defense of Mark, Waldo becomes more impassioned and verbose.  When Waldo states that Mark was, “seized with the need to possess you.  Possess and revenge and destroy,” he is actually projecting his own twisted desires onto another man (Caspary 147).  This scene depicts Waldo’s inner character.  He is obsessed with the image of Laura that he has created.  Waldo believes that if he cannot possess her fully, she is better completely destroyed than given to another man.  In this pivotal scene, the audience is provided with clear insight of Waldo’s inner mind.  With this comes a motive for him to commit the heinous crime of murder. 

Not only does the scene of Waldo and Laura arguing over Mark depict the inner desires and drives of Waldo, it also translates well using film technology.  Much of the scene is composed of dialogue, but conversation requires more than words.  Tone of voice, gestures, and eye movement are all included in communication between two people.  A novel contains line-by-line dialogue and cannot depict someone talking over another person as directly as a film.  In a film adaptation, I would be able to include Waldo acting fatherly by tucking an afghan around Laura’s legs and feet while making venomous remarks against Mark McPherson.  Waldo could stand over Laura and voice, “I must protect my sweet child” in an overly possessive manner (Caspary 145).  I would make use of nonverbal communication as Laura withdraws from Waldo, shrinking into a corner of the room (194).  In my film adaptation, the audience would be able to not only hear the words, but also watch the mannerisms of Laura and Waldo. 

If I were to create a version of this scene, it would ensure the film’s success.  The novel Laura attracts the attention of readers because most of the pages are filled with suspense.  This scene in part four relates a major turning point where the audience is given enough evidence to conclude that Waldo has the mentality of a murderer.  He is possessive enough and jealous enough to kill his creation of Laura.  Without this scene, the ending of the story would lack justification, and the movie would not have the necessary tension required to forge an impactful ending.

Works Cited

Caspary, Vera. Laura. New York, Feminist Press, 2005.

Laura. Directed by Otto Preminger, Twentieth Century Fox, 1944.

“Laura (novel).” Wikipedia, 14 October 2019,          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_(novel),
Accessed 31 October 2019.

Hidden from the World

The film I chose to watch is the silent drama film Stella Maris directed by Marshall Neilan. This 1918 American film was written by Frances Marion and also stars Mary Pickford. Mary Pickford plays dual roles as the title character and an orphan servant in this film. There are several other actors including Ida Waterman, Herbert Standing, Conway Tearle, Marcia Manon, Josephine Crowell, Lou Conley, and Gustav von Seyffertitz. As the film begins there is a slide that tells us about Stella Maris. Stella Maris was paralyzed from childhood and has been tenderly shielded from all the sordidness and misery of life. So she dwells serenely within a dream-world, created by those who love her, unaware of sorrow, poverty or death.  Stella lives in a London mansion and has very wealthy guardians who are her aunt and uncle. Sadly, Stella is stuck in her room day in and day out. Because she is paralyzed, she just lays in bed all day. On her door there is a sign that says, “All unhappiness and world wisdom leave outside. Those without smiles need not enter”. Her aunt and uncle are very protective and shield her from all the bad stuff that happens in the world outside of her room. John Risca visits Stells often and tells her fancy stories about his castle. John is the cousin of Stella’s aunt. John always tells Stella very nice and beautiful stories but never talks about his mean alcoholic wife Louisa, whom he is separated from. Stella ends up getting an operation on her spine that allows her to walk once she is recovered. Another part of the story is about Unity Blake who lives in an orphanage. Unity is adopted by John’s wife Louisa. At one point, Louisa beats Unity so bad that she has to go to the hospital. Louisa ends up being put in jail for three years. John adopts Unity after this happens. Going back to Stella, three years have passed and she is finally able to walk. She is able to leave the isolation of her home now and can explore the world. Stella starts to realize how truly awful people can be and that the world has tons or terrible things that happen. Some of these include war, murder, poverty, and greed. Stella ends up secretly falling in love with John. Louisa is finally released from prison and goes to live with her husband John. John isn’t happy about this at all because she is really mean and viscous. Stella decides to go to his house that she believes is a wonderful castle from his stories and tell him that she loves him. She is shocked to find out that John’s house isn’t a castle at all and he has a terrible wife living with him there. Stella is heartbroken from this. John and Stella cannot be together as long as Louisa is alive. Unity sees this and takes matters into her own hands by killing Louisa then taking her own life. Unity sacrifices herself so that John and Stella can be together. Overall, I’d say this film is very decent for its time. Its scenes are put together well and the story is easy to follow. It has several slides throughout the film that inform the viewer of what is going on in the story. The lighting for the scene shots is very poor though. I really enjoyed the ending to this story, it was bittersweet but still very good overall. This film used the available technology very well. Stella Maris accomplished its goal perfectly.

Stella Maris

Lovey Mary in Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch

When I clicked on the Wikipedia page for the 1926 film adaptation of Lovey Mary, I read that the film is still around today, however there are parts missing. I thought that wouldn’t be a very big deal, as when I looked at the Library of Congress’ online database I found that 6 out of the 7 reels of film for the movie have survived until today, so I figured I’d be able to find those 6 put together somewhere. However, this wasn’t the case, as everywhere I looked, the only movie I could find was Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch – a prequel to Lovey Mary also written by Alice Hegan Rice. There are 4 film adaptations of Mrs. Wiggs made in 1914, 1919, 1934, and 1942, and as I started looking into these more on Wikipedia, I found that the plot of the 1919 adaptation was actually very similar to that of Lovey Mary. I was, and still am, confused as to why the plot of this second film differed so much from what I read about Mrs. Wiggs in regards to the other movies and the book, and why the plot even seemed closer to that of Lovey Mary in general. Everything I looked at about Mrs. Wiggs except for the 1919 film had no mention of the character Lovey Mary in its plot or character list, while this specific film was about and orphan named Lovey Mary who runs away from the orphanage to an area called the Cabbage Patch with a small boy named Tommy who she grew attached to. At least this bit of the plot is, as far as I can tell, the same as that of Lovey Mary, so I decided to watch this film.

Lovey Mary holding Tommy in the 1919 adaptation of Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch

Image Source: (https://images.app.goo.gl/EYbnHZgV7r3LWHym9)

Technologies, Techniques, and Acting Styles

While the 1926 film Lovey Mary was directed by King Baggot and starred Bessie Love as Lovey Mary, the 1919 adaptation of Mrs. Wiggs that I watched was directed by Hugh Ford and starred Marguerite Clark as Lovey Mary and Mary Carr as Mrs. Wiggs. Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch is a black and white silent film, which features a heavy usage of inter-titles, as well as parallel editing between Lovey Mary and Tommy (the runaway orphans), and those trying to find them to bring them back to the orphanage. The inter-titles are used to introduce scenes and characters, however they most commonly convey dialogue that is integral to understanding what is happening on a deeper level – they also often feature drawings on them of the upcoming scenes. Even though panning was invented prior to the making of this film, it didn’t feature here aside from some small camera movements that may have been due to mistakes in the camerawork or editing. However, a technique that was taken advantage of often was cutting between shots of the same scene at different distances to give a zooming effect on the characters and their expressions.

This film is a dramatic comedy, which means it had the task of conveying a very wide range of emotions. This task was achieved in part by the strongly accentuated movements and facial expressions exhibited by the actors, which I got used to fairly quickly as the lack of audio made it seem natural to have alternate ways of transmitting emotions. The actors were also almost always opened up towards the camera so that all of their movements could be seen and understood. There was even an instance where a character named Miss Hazy made a funny face and then the film cut to an inter-title that had an underlined word in order to convey sarcasm and therefore humor regarding the situation. So, acting and technological techniques such as these were taken advantage of to create a more effective film.

Review:

Although at first I thought I wouldn’t be able to get into the film very much due to the lack of audio, the use of inter-titles to convey dialogue really helped out with that issue for me. With that aside, I would give the film a 4/5, as I was still able to get drawn into the story of Lovey Mary as she ran away from the orphanage with Tommy and ended up becoming a part of Mrs. Wiggs’ family. Additionally, and the bits of comedy that I was able to pick up on were surprisingly effective seeing as it had to be done without speech. The strengths of this film were probably in its ability to use the technology available to its fullest potential, whether that was through inter-titles or the impressive contrast in the darker scenes of the movie. In the nighttime scenes, everything was still easy to see, however it was still dark enough that you could tell it was the night. Another strength to me is the ability of the filmmakers to convey the humor that Alice Hegan Rice featured in her novel, as I laughed a few times throughout the movie. A weakness may have been that sometimes new scenes didn’t have inter-titles even though there was a fairly large change in scenery, so you would be left trying to figure out what was going on which took a few seconds, however other than that I enjoyed everything about the 1919 film. Even though it wasn’t the exact film that I set out to watch, it seems surprisingly similar to Lovey Mary in its plot and characters, especially as the main character in both is Lovey Mary herself.

Works Cited:

Ford, Hugh, director. Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. YouTube, Famous Players-Lasky, 1919, www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaBW08OlAIE.

“Lovey Mary / King Baggot [Motion Picture].” The Library of Congress, USA.gov, 5 Jan. 2017, lcweb2.loc.gov:8081/diglib/ihas/loc.mbrs.sfdb.2750/default.html.

“Lovey Mary.” IMDb, Amazon, www.imdb.com/title/tt0017088/.

“Lovey Mary.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 July 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovey_Mary.

“Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1919 Film).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Aug. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mrs._Wiggs_of_the_Cabbage_Patch_(1919_film).

“Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch.” Children’s Library, The International Children’s Digital Library, www.childrenslibrary.org/icdl/BookPreview?bookid=ricmrsw_00870704&route=text&lang=English&msg=&ilang=English.

“Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Apr. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mrs._Wiggs_of_the_Cabbage_Patch.

Tammy and the Bachelor: A Classic Cinderella Story

     1957. The year both of my parents were born, and the year that Tammy and the Bachelor, directed by Joseph Pevney, was released.  It’s weird to think that the film I am researching was made that same year. After several searches on the internet, I found a reliable source to watch the hour-and-a-half film. I watched part one and part two on a site called Dailymotion

     Tammy and the Bachelor is an adaptation from the novel: Tammy out of Time by Cid Rickets Sumner. The movie started with a classic old horn intro and several scenes displaying how poor Tammy was. She talked about how she wished she could go places, and how she had never been able to see her full figure before because she had never seen a full mirror. She talks aloud to what you think is just herself, but then you hear her call her goat, Nan, who walks out from behind the bushes. This shows how lonely her life has been because she is either talking to herself or her goat, which seems to be her only friend throughout the movie. She does have one companion though, and that’s her grandfather. They live together in a houseboat on a river in Louisiana. Throughout these first couple of scenes, you really get a sense of how Tammy has grown up: without much education, and pretty lonely. In the first twenty minutes of the film, Tammy and her grandfather find a man on a log in the river who seemed to have gotten in some sort of crash. At first, they weren’t sure if he was alive or not, but he was and they took him back to their house to nurture him back to health. Because of Tammy’s lack of interaction with younger people, especially those of the male gender, she seemed pretty excited to take care of Pete. This is where the story really begins. 

     As soon as Pete felt better, he returned home and Tammy was very upset about it. However, being the nice man he is, he told her grandfather that if he ever was in trouble, that Tammy could stay with him. So, of course, her grandfather gets arrested for making corn liquor, and Tammy ends up staying with him for a while. Pete, coming from a rich family, feels pressured to be with a woman named Barbara. However, the more time he spends with Tammy, the more he falls in love with her and her youthful, optimistic spirit. Pete always wanted to stay on the farm, but Barbara wanted to move to the city. So, he loves that Tammy would be completely content on a farm with “chickens and children.” He also loves how smart she is for being so young. It ends with him leaving Barbara for Tammy in the last couple of minutes of the movie, and the edges fading to black as they kiss in the last 5 seconds. 

     Overall, this movie was kind of cheesy, but still good and it accomplished its goal. I would rate it a 7.75 out of 10. The film I chose was one of the later films, so it is in color instead of black and white. However, I noticed that the color was sort of dim. Despite the lack of brightness in the colors, it looked good for a film in that day and age. Tammy, played by infamous Debbie Reynolds, who also stars in Singin’ in the Rain, plays this character wonderfully. She was very good at catching everybody’s attention and she had a way with her storytelling. Tammy was supposed to be this youthful, unsophisticated, innocent girl who was smart for her age, and Debbie Reynolds displayed these characteristics really well. I liked the storyline, even though it was cheesy, because it kept me on my feet. It was easy and fun to watch. I also thought certain parts were humorous. One thing that I didn’t like was how abruptly it ended. I wanted to see more of Tammy and Pete’s life after they finally seal the deal. Most movies now don’t end so sudden and there is usually a little more to the ending. There are sequels to the movie, but they don’t follow the same storyline. I also would have liked more of her singing. She had a very nice voice and I enjoyed the songs that she did sing. All in all, Tammy was a very lovable character and this movie was super fun to watch!

Bibliography:

“Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) 1/2 – Dailymotion Video.” Dailymotion, Dailymotion, 14 Mar. 2016, www.dailymotion.com/video/x3xmj5v.

“Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) 2/2 – Dailymotion Video.” Dailymotion, Dailymotion, 14 Mar. 2016, www.dailymotion.com/video/x5l5fkd.

“Tammy and the Bachelor.” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt0051051/mediaindex.