4/9 — UTC at the Movies (1)

  I've set this up so that today we're looking directly at the "texts" of Uncle Tom on film. Then for Wednesday we'll look at materials that will contextualize the biggest movie version, and give us one cinematic way to bring the story of Stowe's story into our times. But first, a different way to view the films, if you're interested:

      All the movie clips I'll ask you to see are available online through links below, but if you'd rather watch whole movies, I've asked the Robertson Media Center to put 7 items on reserve. You can see the list by clicking on the link above.

  • Selling Uncle Tom: A Cultural Montage

  • MOVIES HOMEPAGE   Start by reading this page, to get a brief introduction to UTC ON FILM.

  • Edison-Porter Film (1903)   This is the first movie version of UTC — and, I'd argue, the "first American movie" (though film historians mostly cite The Great Train Robbery, I think because they'd rather see "American movies" born with a western rather than a sentimental melodrama). Online you'll view this 14-minute "full length" film in 22 clips. The movie you're seeing was adapted from a Tom Show that had been adapted from Aiken's script that had been adapted from Stowe's novel. As a text it was very easy for viewers in 1903 to "read," but much more difficult in 21st century. If you're using the clips to view the film, you'll also read the Edison Catalogue captions for each scene (which may have served as a script for a narration that accompanied showing of the film) -- but if you decide to watch the film in Clemons, print out and take along the catalogue, at THIS LINK, and use it to orient yourself to what's happening on screen.

  • 16 CLIPS FROM 1927 FILM   This 2-hour "full length" Universal film is the last of the studio productions of UTC. For Wednesday I'll ask you to look at a lot of material about it, but for today's class looking at and thinking about the clips will be enough.

  • SCREENING ROOM   On this page you can look at scenes from the other two extant silent UTC's, the 1910 Vitagraph and the 1914 World productions (the first movie version to cast an African American to play Tom). You'll already have seen 1903 and 1927 clips on this page, but now you can compare their representations to the others'.

  • Edison's UTC & Lubin's Dupe   The other film Uncle Tom's no longer exist, but in the rest of the items in this syllabus you'll be able to get some idea what they looked like. On this page, you'll also see another UTC Company performing the story for the cameras of Sigmund Lubin, Edison's Philadelphia rival who regularly copied the movies Porter made. The similarly between the scenes, costumes and imagery of the two movies also reflects the standardization of the "Tom Show" by the start of the 20th century.

  • REVIEW OF LOST 1910 MOVIE   This gives a plot summary of another missing movie.

  • REVIEW OF LOST 1913 MOVIE   Another plot summary. One item of interest: the (white) actors who play Tom and Topsy — Harry Pollard and Margarita Fischer — were a husband and wife who in 1927 remade UTC for Universal (as director and Eliza).

  • PHOTOPLAY STORY OF ANOTHER LOST 1913 MOVIE   This is a "textualization" of yet another missing movie, published in The Moving Picture World.

  • 1918 MOVIE HOMEPAGE   Marguerite Clarke plays both Eva and (in blackface) Topsy in this lost movie. You don't need to read all the articles linked from this page, but take a look at the pictures and promotional materials.

  • OPTIONAL: UTC in Other Silent Films (1903-1927)   The 7 films listed and briefly described here have all been lost, but you can still get an idea of how "living" UTC (Stowe's story and its dramatic theatrical history) was as a point of reference as the new technology of film defined itself.

  • OPTIONAL: UTC IN HOLLYWOOD (1929-1956)   Short clips from various sound movies. Especially interesting: Shirley Temple as Eva in Dimples (1936) and Judy Garland as Topsy in Everybody Sing (1938)

  • OPTIONAL: 9 MOVIE POSTERS   including one that was originally designed and printed for use by the "Tom Shows."