SF and bay area film history (1894 - 1950)

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I am doing a report on northern CA film history, and i need to find out why "hollywood" ended up in LA and not SF. I am also tryuing to find more resources on the film inventions, production companies, local film makers of the time, stars and other related topics. If you have any info, or sugestions for where I might find info, please reply. thank you

-- kelley McAbee (sinister_rain@netzero.com), May 29, 2002


I'm not an encylopedia but I know quite a bit of stuff about every area of study sometimes even to the shock of scientists since I was one of the first people who suggested that killing someone, operating on them and then bringing them back could be a very successful way of conducting some types of surgical operations. Well, 30 years later I proved to be right when they finally tried it. Anyway, in regards to the question as to why Hollywood ended up in L.A. instead of San Francisco, I can only give you a general answer. It had to do with mostly the discovery of being able to record sound on film. This happened about in the mid 20s. A film was produced called I think it was the Jazz singer. It was the first time that anyone ever heard someone singing on film and it was for that moment the most incredible thing that ever happened. And Al Jolsen and his "How I Love You Mamie" singing did that film justice to say the least. It had to be really stunning. The problem is that new equipment was needed to produce with sound as well as special technicians to run such equipment. All of that cost a lot of money and the silent filmakers of the time were not in a position to pay for it. The Depression came in 1929 and so they couldn't raise the money by stock offerings either. It took years for the economy to recover after the depression and by that time sound films had become strongly established in L.A.

-- Harry Murphy (harrymurphy@bigmailbox.net*), May 29, 2002.

In answering the second part of your question about who were the silent film era stars. Obviously first and foremost was Charlie Chaplain. Bronco Billy Anderson was a smash western film star who made western films in the hundreds. I also remember Tom Mix was a big western star maybe because he was also a real good to life Sheriff. There were also a number of actors who made a smooth transition from the silent films to the sound films like Rudolf Valentino and what's her name, oh yeah, Mary Pickford. And then there were lots of others who didn't make the transition. That reminds me, there was also a silent film company called the California Motion Picture Corporation which specialized in films on California History. The executive producer was George E. Middleton who, can you believe it, ran the Ocean Shore Railroad which was one of my favorites. It must of been so incredible to ride on that railroad directly on the cliffs above the ocean all the way down to Santa Cruz. Although I've seen photos of the railroad, I've never seen what it must have looked like at sunset from inside the car looking out the window of the railroad just above the cliffs. You'd think that Middleton would have used his railroad and scenary to make some films and maybe he did. I don't know. Anyway, Mary Pickford starred in a lot of their films. I wish I could see all of them. And by the way, has anyone ever thought about taking one of these films and dubbing in sound. I haven't seen that done yet but it might prove to be very successful and attract a big audience to such a novelty.

-- Harry Murphy (Harrymurphy@bigmailbox.net*), May 29, 2002.

A good place to start would be any history sites for the town of Niles, now part of Fremont, as they made silent movies there. I beleive Carlie Chaplin was involved in that operation

-- Don Martinich (dutchm@dcn.davis.ca.us), June 05, 2002.

earthquake 1906 caused everyone to have to pack up and leave sf. la was promoting its good weather and open space for big studios, which were pretty much all destroyed in sf.

-- larry flint (ginnjuice@mail.com), March 04, 2003.

Cheap bastards

-- Sean M. Hall (chunkylover53@sfhe.cjb.net), March 04, 2003.

I ripped ass

-- Power McDong (jacalzyer@nonads.com), March 02, 2004.

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