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thanhouser doc

A 52-minute documentary, The Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema, will be screened in the US on TCM tonight, July 5, at 9 PM (Pacific Daylight Time), followed by three classic Thanhouser movies, made from 1912-13, when the studio was at its peak (their prodigious output accounting for an estimated 25% of independent films released in America.)

From 1916-17, a young Jeanne Eagels starred in three films produced at the Thanhouser lot: The World and the Woman, The Fires of Youth and Under False Colors. The first two are still in print, and can be viewed here. By 1918, however, the studio would close its doors.

‘They brought the dramatic qualities of theater to the screen as they all found their way into moviemaking, they lavished attention on elaborate film sets in their roomy studio, and they took their cameras on location,’ writes critic Sean Axmaker (who has also championed Jeanne’s later work.) ‘The resulting films were vibrant and lively, with often complex stories, dynamic staging, and creative camera angles and lighting. The Thanhouser brand was a recognized mark of quality to audiences and distributors alike and a century later, the Thanhouser brand still stands for high production values, sensitive direction, intelligent stories, and fluid, energetic storytelling.’

For those unable to catch the documentary on TCM, it is also available to view at Vimeo On-Demand, while DVDs can be purchased from Amazon or the Thanhouser website.