The Woman in White (1917) and lingering shots

March 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s a very quick thought for today : yes silent films on average cut less often than today, but what’s more, they linger more on shots. Observe this from Thanhouser’s The Woman in White (1917):

shot 1: introduction title

shot 2: LS the girl runs to the gate

shot 3 : MS the girl breaking the lock

shot 4 : she exits right

shot 3 : iris out on the lock

It’s a 3 second iris in, and a full 3 second iris out. Why the lingering ? Hopefully i’ll have soon some more examples coming and some more to say about that.

The Show Off (1926)

May 21, 2008 § Leave a comment

ASL: a surprising 5.8 – Melodramas like Vidor’s Love Never Dies (1921) or Elmer Clifton’s action packed Down To The Sea in Ships (1922) have similar ASLs. A comedy such as this one ought to cut faster — Mary Pickford’s Suds (1920) clocked in at a brisker 4.4 seconds/shot. What gives ?

Ford Sterling’s histrionics and an eye for dramatic composition are the answer, as the next striking shots show:


Extra hypothesis: on par with the massive use of dialogue titles over exposition titles (90% of titles are dialogue), with its increasing reliance on psychological motivation, shots let us read human reactions and are therefore longer.

See for yourself: here’s the link to the shot-by-shot breakdown of the film. Thanks to Shot Logger‘s explanation, you now have the timecode as part of the file name (“showoffqq00:45:33qq00503” means the frame you’re looking at came 45 minutes and 33 seconds into the film — qqHoursMinutesSecondsqq)


The Trey o’ Hearts (1914)

May 19, 2008 § 2 Comments

Per a 1914 serial from Universal, with Wilfred Lucas directing.

Although lost, this historical serial has been reconstructed in book form using the original novel and existing action photo stills as part of the Serial Squadron Lost Serial Photonovel re-creations.(this message appeared in 2005 on, but see comment for update!)

Couldn’t find a trace of the Serial Squadron edition (but see comment: a new edition should be out July 2009!), so I’m re-posting the stills included in the orginal, published 1914 from Grosset & Dunlap and available through Google Books…

Merry Go Round (1923)

August 20, 2007 § Leave a comment

The full shot by shot breakdown of the 1923 film, from the 2003 Image Entertainment edition with the original 1923 score (with many interesting ironic musical comments at times).

The DVD edition is 114 minutes, so that’s a rather slow ASL of 5.2 second/shot. The film does slow down noticeably by the (Rupert Julian directed) second half…(Stroheim’s previous Blind Husbands has according to my edition a faster cutting rate at 4.8 second/shot)

The Forbidden City (1918)

August 10, 2007 § Leave a comment

Grapevine, 2004 DVD, running time 62 minutes.Here it is, the whole 554 shots of this Norma Talmadge vehicle ! A very thin plot, but gorgeous sets and lots of iris compositions. Use this shot by shot breakdown of the film as you see fit. Full stats to follow.

Cobra (1925) – ASL

August 7, 2007 § Leave a comment

  • Version: Grapevine, 1996 VHS release, 68 minutes ( indicates a running time of max. 75 minutes)
  • ASL = 5,75 seconds/shot (a slightly slower cutting rhythm than the average silent film 4 – 4,3 second/shot ASL
  • Number of shots: total 709, 535 non title shots, 177 titles with 33 exposition titles and 144 dialogue titles).
  • Only 81 exterior shots (15% of total non title shots)
  • 17% LS, 33% CU, 50% MS.

Naked Hands (1918)

March 27, 2007 § Leave a comment

Naked Hands (1918) – Humanity (1916)

A 5 reeler originally, it was reissued as a 2-reeler as Broncho Billy Anderson was attempting a comeback in 1918. It is tight, quick, and interestingly rough. The characters move in all directions in the frame, but whenever you’re given depth of field you can bet your six-gun that they’re going to be moving from background to foreground at some point. There’s a heck of a fight scene with Billy bleeding from a nasty cut to the head and not a vase safe in the house. It’s packed, to say the least.

But I don’t need to tell you. You can see the whole shot list for the film here, with some comments (in French!), courtesy of yours truly.

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