About these ads
Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘silent film’

Oh joy! Oh bliss, wait till you see this! We just happened to come across raw footage shot in 1960s and perhaps 1950s Coney Island from the collection of Anthology Film Archives. The first clip titled “Coney Island – Night – Silent work-print” has atmospheric scenes of a grand carousel, amusement games and Nathan’s packed with people. Based on the signage and prizes–games where you can win teddy bears and table lamps for a quarter–the era is the late 1950s or early ’60s. Frankfurters cost 20 cents and knishes and chow mein are 15 cents.

Do you remember the carousel in the clip? It’s not the B&B Carousell, which is returning to Coney Island next year. Historian Charles Denson tells ATZ it looks like a carousel on the Boardwalk at 16th Street that was operated by the McCullough family. It was called the Steeplechase Carousel. In the film, you can actually see “Steeplechase Carousel” lettered on the back of the ride attendant’s shirt. He’s one of the guys with a cigarette dangling from his lips as he straps kids on the horses. Before you say eeewww, remember this was back in the “good old days,” when it was normal for people, especially James Dean-esque ride boys, to chain-smoke. Other clues to the carousel’s identity are the mesmerizing animated figures on the band organ and a bell inscribed 1943.

In the Nathan’s scene, men in white paper hats flip a dozen hot dogs at once and neatly place each order on a silver pedestal cake stand. Condiments are served in a communal bowl! Besides hot dogs, Nathan’s had roast beef, barbecue, chow mein and “crispy pizza.” Are you ready for lunch yet?

The second Coney Island clip is described as unsplit 8mm, color, silent, Summer 1969, from the Bob Parent Collection. We were excited to find rare footage of what appears to be the Flying Saucer in action at Astroland’s Kiddie Park. It was among the first rides in the park, which was “Born at the Dawn of the Space Age.”

The AFA has a large uncatalogued collection of unedited amateur films from Parent, a famed photographer of jazz musicians who also made 8MM films and wrote a column for the movie magazine Take One. What other gems will be discovered in the collection?

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

July 26, 2012: Film Trailer: Zipper, Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride

May 12, 2011: “Last Summer at Coney Island” Airs on PBS, DVD Offers Epilogue

March 10, 2011: Video: Seasons of the Cyclone Roller Coaster by Charles Denson

September 27, 2010: Video: The Museum of Wax by Charles Ludlam

About these ads

Read Full Post »

La Marcus Thompson’s Gravity Switchback Pleasure Railway debuted in 1884 in Coney Island on the site where the Cyclone thrills today. Film footage doesn’t exist since the Kinetoscope wasn’t invented until the 1890s, but this documentary short by British filmmaker R.W. Paul shows patrons at an English fairground enjoying a Switchback Railway in 1898. We love the little boy running up to see the coaster and hope that he got a chance to ride!

Thompson’s 1885 patent was titled “A Roller Coasting Structure” and his gravity-powered ride which took its inspiration from a mining railway is known as America’s first roller coaster. In Coney Island, the first cars seated passengers sideways and went 6 miles per hour over 600 feet of undulating track. When people waited on line for up to three hours to ride, a reporter for the New York Sun proclaimed that “Coasting” was all the rage in Coney this season. As for the nickel ride: “It combined the effect of seasickness, imparted by the primeval swing, with the rush of a runaway ice wagon on a down grade; but besides all this there is a feeling of sailing through space which is elsewhere unattainable without the assistance of a balloon.”

By 1888, Thompson had been granted 30 patents and had built at least 20 roller coasters in the U.S. and 24 more abroad including several in the U.K., according to Robert Cartmell’s The Incredible Scream Machine.

Switchback Railway

Engraving of La Marcus Thompson's Switchback Railway in Coney Island on Opening Day, June 13, 1884

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

January 8, 2012: Video of the Day: Coney Island at Night by Edwin S. Porter

August 16, 2011: Video of the Day: “IT Girl” Clara Bow in Coney Island

March 10, 2011: Video: Seasons of the Cyclone Roller Coaster by Charles Denson

January 15, 2011: ATZ Saturday Matinee: Shorty at Coney Island

Read Full Post »

Time travel back to Coney Island at Night in 1905 and see a panoramic view of the magical lights of Luna Park, Dreamland and Steeplechase. This early time exposure was made by pioneering filmmaker Edwin S. Porter, whose use of panning and the first after-dark photography can be seen in films of the 1901 Pan-Am Exposition in Buffalo. The long, sweeping view of Coney Island’s three great amusement parks ends with the camera panning up and down the Dreamland Tower.

According to Charles Musser’s Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company, Edison acquired “the exclusive privilege” for the 1905 season at Dreamland. Other subjects made by Porter under this contract are Hippodrome Races, Dreamland, Coney Island (June 1905), Mystic Shriners’ Day, Dreamland, Coney Island (July 1905), June’s Birthday Party (July 1905), and Boarding School Girls. In this version of the film, the young ladies of Miss Knapp’s Select School go on an outing to Coney Island where they pass through Dreamland’s Creation gate, frolic in the surf and ride Steeplechase’s camels and mechanical Horse Race.

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

August 16, 2011: Video of the Day: “IT Girl” Clara Bow in Coney Island

January 15, 2011: ATZ Saturday Matinee: Shorty at Coney Island

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

September 27, 2010: Video: The Museum of Wax by Charles Ludlam

Read Full Post »

On opening night of the Coney Island Film Festival, the first film up was Charles Ludlam’s silent horror short “The Museum of Wax,” shot in the late 1970s in Coney’s World in Wax Musee. It is a little gem, but seeing Lillie Santangelo’s long-vanished museum was eerie and sad, especially now that the Henderson Building, where it was located for more than 60 years until closing in 1984, is being demolished to make way for Thor Equities’ strip mall.

Equally eerie and sad was seeing the late and much-missed Charles Ludlam‘s brilliance on the silent screen. Ludlam’s over-the-top performances in campy melodramas like “The Mystery of Irma Vep” at his Ridiculous Theatrical Company in Sheridan Square were a must-see for us in the 1980s.

Unfinished at the time of Ludlam’s death from AIDs in 1987, this rarely seen 16 MM film was remastered by Queer/Art/Film as part of the Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. OutfestLA has also made the 20-minute film available in three parts on their YouTube channel.

At Friday’s screening, Coney Island USA founder and artistic director Dick Zigun referred to the film as “a work of film genius” and noted that it was last screened in Coney Island on Halloween in 1981. The occasion was a day-long theatrical extravaganza called “Tricks or Treats,” which Zigun curated at the Wax Musee. The film was shot in a few days after Zigun introduced Ludlam to Lillie Santangelo, the elderly proprietress of the wax museum. “It was a 100 percent found location,” says Zigun, who had discovered fifty wax heads, which appear in the film, in the museum’s storage area.

“Not much was planned. It was just go for it,” recalled actor Everett Quinton, who was Ludlam’s partner and muse. Quinton, who appears as the second convict in the film, compared it to “the unfinished Michelangelo sculptures that lead up to the David. It is unfinished.” According to Outfest’s website, until the recent digital re-mastering and the addition of a new score by original composer Peter Golub, “Museum of Wax” had not been seen in over 20 years.

In an act of programming genius by Coney Island Film Festival director Rob Leddy, “The Wax Museum” shared the opening night bill with “Shape of the Shapeless,” a new documentary exploring the gender bending life and performance art of Jon Cory aka Rose Wood, and the effervescent “Dirty Martini and the New Burlesque,” which won best documentary feature.

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

September 20, 2010: Movie Monday: Teaser Trailers from the Coney Island Film Festival

September 12, 2010: Video: Coney Island’s Faber’s Fascination by Charles Denson

August 28, 2010: Video: Grand Prize Winner of Luna Park Coney Island’s Film Contest!

March 30, 2010: Super 8 Movie: I Had A Dream I Went To Coney Island

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 308 other followers

%d bloggers like this: