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Friday, August 16, 2013

MOVIES | Locations in Greater NYC, Silent-Film Classics

Sampling of silent-film locations. NYC has
hundreds of them–NYT, please find.
Two years ago I posted on this site a hunt in Paris for the location of key scenes in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. So imagine my pleasure at finding in the New York Times today a story by Eve M. Kahn about location-hunting in Greater New York  for scenes in classic silent films.

As film buffs will know, Thomas Edison started the silent film era in New York City, substituting films for vaudeville acts The silent films had a piano player on hand to accompany the moving pictures. Edison moved his film operations to New Jersey, but that move–as happened later with the garment industry–turned out to be only a temporary way-station on the way to a more distant location.

Just as later the garment companies moved on to North Carolina, then Mexico, then China and now Bangladesh and Vietnam, the movie industry took off from New York and New Jersey to Hollywood in the first and second decades of the 20th century.

But meanwhile many films were made in New York City, nearby Fort Lee, N.J., and upstate New York. Now, in the words of the New York Times,
modern technology is turning some of the strip malls and storage sheds of New Jersey and New York into silent-movie shrines. With help from the Web, fans of those films can hike along parking lots, weedy streambeds and gritty alleys where early screen actors posed as American Indians, Confederate soldiers, Soviet spies, Dickens characters and escaped convicts.
Examples:
  • Irene Castle in the silent film Patria (1916), filmed in Ithaca, N.Y.
  • Edwin Thanhouser, in a studio in New Rochelle, N.Y., about 1915. 
  • Theda Bara beguiling suitors on rock outcroppings in Fort Lee, N.J.
  • Lionel Barrymore’s being followed by star-struck extras on the Cornell campus in Ithaca.
  • D. W. Griffith using hand-forged iron gadgets to produce fade-outs while filming along an eroded canal towpath in Cuddebackville, N.Y., in Orange County.
“It’s like hallowed ground,” said Ben Model, a silent-film historian and film piano accompanist.

Yes, indeed. For the whole story, go here.