Before The Nickelodeon

Directed by Edwin S. Porter and Charles Musser

Release Year: 1982
Running Time: 60
Color Type: Color and B&W
Country: U.S.
Language: English [audio]
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Screening Info
Crew
Directed by Edwin S. Porter and Charles Musser

An age of innovation
An era of idealism

The time when American movies were born

BEFORE THE NICKELODEON
The Early Cinema of Edwin S. Porter
A film by Charles Musser

“the rare documentary which enchants while it educates.”
- Carrie Rickey, VILLAGE VOICE

Noted film historian Charles Musser (The Emergence of Cinema) co-wrote and directed this definitive tribute to Edwin S. Porter, Thomas Edison’s mechanic and cameraman, who is now recognized as America’s first important filmmaker and a major contributor to the evolution of film structure. Porter was the first U.S. filmmaker to successfully explore the possibilities of making films with continuous action from shot to shot, instead of single scene films that the showman arranged at the point of exhibition.

From the time of his hugely successful The Great Train Robbery (1903) until Griffith started at Biograph (1908), Porter held center stage in early American cinema. Sadly, however, Edison quickly discarded Porter once his approach to filmmaking seemed to have become old-fashioned.

Narrated by silent-movie actress Blanche Sweet, BEFORE THE NICKELODEON is a treasure trove of rarely seen material, including hand-colored photographs and sixteen complete Porter films, among them The May Irwin Kiss (1896), The Sunken Battleship ‘Maine’ (1898), Jack and the Beanstalk (1902) and Life of an American Fireman (1902-3).

BEFORE THE NICKELODEON:
The Early Cinema of Edwin S. Porter
U.S. 1982 Color/B&W 60 Min.
Produced and Directed by Charles Musser
Written by Warren D. Leight and Charles Musser
Narrated by Blanche Sweet
Executive Producer: Stephen Brier
Associate Producer: Elizabeth Lennard
© 1982 Charles Musser

Critical Acclaim

“the rare documentary which enchants while it educates.”
- Carrie Rickey, VILLAGE VOICE

Awards

  • Best Documentary Nominee Chicago International Film Festival
    Official Selection Berlinale