Edison Film Catalogue

  In the early days of the movie business, before conventions for advertising and reviewing movies were established, producers of films relied on sales agents and catalogues to inform distributors about their new releases. The catalogue here, from the collections of the George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, was prepared and published by the Thomas A. Edison Company in October 1903. It begins with a scene by scene description of the film, which provides a lot of detail that is hard to see or appreciate in the silent film itself, and ends with three pages of still pictures from the movie that help us understand which parts of the story struck the promoters as iconographically most signficant or at least saleable.

  "Silent films" were, in fact, seldom silent when shown. As Charles Musser suggests, it's also likely that some exhibitors used the catalogue copy as a script that was read aloud to audiences by a live narrator/showman while the film played on the screen.* That would explain, for example, why the text includes a "Prologue."

  The text and illustrations are derived from the 1984 microfilm edition published by the Thomas A. Edison Papers.*


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