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Growing Pains

Confusing Storytelling

Me And My Pal (USA 1933)

As film transitioned into narrative, early attempts often had audiences scratching their heads–much like the often befuddled comedic duo Laurel and Hardy (pictured). Film reviews from about 1904-1907 suggest that audiences were often faced with films that had all the clarity and logic of a mismatched jigsaw puzzle!

Growing Pains

Shorts or Features?

Keaton Sleeping on the Job

In the early days of narrative cinema, producers and studios didn’t think audiences would stay engaged (or awake!) for anything longer than 30 minutes. This frustrated a lot of visionary filmmakers–such as the legendary comic Buster Keaton, pictured here in “Sherlock, Jr.” However, audiences proved the executives wrong, and by 1920, the American film industry primarily made feature-length films.

Growing Pains

Patent Wars

film strip

The nascent film industry was plagued by massive patent wars over the technology for filming and exhibition. In 1908, Thomas Edison invited rivals to form a monopolistic concern called the Motion Picture Producer’s Association to control the use of film technology and collect royalties on all American films made and exhibited. Click the “Find Out More” button and read this entertaining (though not entirely accurate) article from Ars Technica.