January 22, 2008

What Was Done Once Away from the Trusts in New York by Allan Dwan, For Example.

"In his elegy for Allan Dwan, Jean-Claude Biette (CDC 332) called him "a great narrator" and "a great poet of space." An anecdote Dwan told Peter Bogdanovich about his early days shows how these compliments are linked: Scouting for ideas with his cast and crew near Lakeside, California, the young director saw a cliff and filmed a fight that ended with the hero throwing the villain over it. Still in search of a story, he then saw a flume "like a great bridge" which carried water from one ranch to another. Result: a two-reel melodrama in which the villain poisons the flume to kill his neighbor's cattle and is punished by being thrown off the cliff at the end of the film. 
"The story has an archetypal quality. On the one hand, the setting (the cliff) inspires the action that takes place in it (without determining it: other actions could easily have been envisioned); on the other hand, a division of space (the two ranches) and the passageway which links them (the flume) generate a story to justify the action (THE POISONED FLUME, 1911)."

Why Get Away from the Trusts in New York?

"They began to hire hoodlums to put us out of business -- either by destroying the camera or by burning down our studios, if we happened to have one. That's one of the reasons most of us went to California, and to distant places, to get away from the packed areas where hoodlums could hide, appear with a gun suddenly and take away the camera. They found that by shooting holes through the camera, they could stop their use and that became their favorite method."

-- Allan Dwan