Robert Mitchum – Night of the Hunter 1955

Movies That Are Awesome

Is there a more creepy film that this? Is there a better bad guy that Robert Mitchum? The shot of Shelley Winters at the bottom of the lake! WOW! Why didn’t Charles Laughton direct anything else! And Lillian Gish! What a f**king great career that women had!

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Robert Osborne, Touch of Evil, and Life of an American Fireman.

OK, so, a bunch of people came to this site last week but no one clicked through to my YouTube page. That’s fine! I’ve got thick skin!

So, I’ve been watching Turner Classic Movies Tribute to the fantastic Robert Osborne. Oh, how I am going to miss him. He had not been on TCM for some time, so I figured something was up. I like Ben Mankiewicz! How could you not? His Grandfather wrote Citizen Kane. He does a great job but I feel bad that he had to live up to Osborne.

We also lost Chuck Berry last night! Damn it! Chuck is another one who has been away for so long, I figured it was coming. Chuck was Mr. Rock and Roll!

On the lighter side, things are starting to come together for The Elgin Dead, my latest short film for Nightmare on Chicago Street. I’ll need to start casting it soon. Hopefully, my friend Dave will get a script for his film.

Speaking of Turner Classic Film, Wednesday night, Touch of Evil by Orson Welles will be on. You have not watched that you, what is wrong with you! OK, so Charlton Heston plays a Mexican, I get it, but if you can get beyond that, it is a great film.

So, what follows in the dialogue for my short video on Life of an American Fireman I just posted on YouTube.

The Life of An American Fireman Part 1

It is common when discussing the history of the motion picture to attempt to find the person who was, “The First”, to say so and so came up with the concept of this or that before anyone else, but in reality, trying to pinpoint a definitive start of a new concept or idea is not so easy. The creation of the modern film was not created in a linear way, many ideas were being worked on and developed at the same time with a lot of overlap and whether this person was a month, day, or even an hour before this one, in my opinion is insignificant. When one hears of a significant discovery or invention, we tend to think of it as a light bulb going off over the head, but that it rarely the case. Most times one takes a lot of work by other people and puts it all together.

For years The 1902 Film by Edwin S. Porter called The Life of An American Fireman, made for the Edison Manufacturing Company, was considered a lost film, a legendary silent film that we could only read about, and never seen. Now a day the film is available for anyone to see in various versions all over the Internet. There are two points of interest of The Life of An American Fireman I would like to discuss, the film’s history and its significance in the development of the motion picture.

The Life of an American Fireman was the creation of Edwin S. Porters, a producer, director, studio manager and cinematographer with the Edison Manufacturing Company, who only began making films of his own a year before. What makes American Fireman important was it use of using multiple shots edited together to create a chronological sequence of events. The film uses nine shots to make seven scenes. It also may or may not be the first to use crosscutting, or parallel editing. You see, the idea that one could cut between two sets of action that are happening at the same time wasn’t immediately apparent to filmmakers in the early days. Most were still thinking in terms of the theater with the camera taking the place of an audience member. In this case, Porter had the action of the fireman outside a burning house, while at the same time, a mother in child inside the house. Until recently, this was thought to be the first example of cross cutting.

Another myth about Porter’s film is commonly thought of as being influenced by a 1901 English short film called Fire, directed by James Williamson. This might be true to some extent but there is a bit more to it than that.

Before the age of film, there was something called The Magic Lantern. These were basically still drawings or photographs that were projected onto a screen or wall. A series of twelve images called Bob the Fireman was very popular in the late 1800s, and it was still around at the time Porter made his film. The story of Bob the Fireman was very similar to that of American Fireman. And, at the turn of the century, stories of the heroes of fire rescue part of the mainstream od popular culture, so making a film about a fireman rescuing people from a burning building would have been something one might expect around that time. In fact, there was quite a few other films already produced besides James Williamson film.

What was unusual about Life of an American Fireman wasn’t its subject matter, but its use of multiple shots to tell a story. While Porter may have been the first in American to do this, he definitely wasn’t the first. Georges Méliès 1902 film, A Trip to the Moon used multiple shots and special effects to tell a story. Porter had seen Méliès’s film and was heavily influenced by it. In fact, Porter may have helped the Edison Company bootleg A Trip to the Moon for their own profit, but that is another story for another day.

But even before Méliès, the idea was already around. Originally films were made by pointing the camera at a subject, cranking the handle on the film ran out, about 46 to 60 seconds, and that was it, the film was done. These little films, in many cases, would be ordinary people doing ordinary things, or to document events, like fire equipment rushing down the street.

It was common for people showing theses early one-minute silent films to group independently made films together to tell a story. Let’s say someone had a film of fireman getting the call about a fire, and someone had made a film of fire equipment going down the street, and there was another film of fireman putting out a fire, distributers would show them one after another as if they all belonged together and a narrator would talk while these films were being shown, telling the audience the story. So, the idea of multiple shots to tell a narrative was already there and it was only a matter of time before people began splicing scenes together clips into a longer form. If fact, in a way, that was what Porter did. He found stock footage of fireman in the Edison archive and used those, along with staged action to create his film.

While Edwin S. Porter was most likely the first to do anything he is sometimes given credit for, he did create a remarkable film for its time. When we watch the film, we can see how far filmmaking had become since its introduction less than seven years earlier and how far it had to go to become the art form we all know and love. In Part 2 of Life of an American Fireman, we will look at the film itself. Thanks for watching and don’t forget to leave a comment and like my page.


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You Should Watch because I’m a Genius

It is Sunday morning and I am watching a great movie, Bowfinger, and publishing my latest Vlog on YouTube. I was wondering why last weeks Vlog, which is probably one of the best Vlogs ever posted to the Internet, only received 9 views. For a moment I was a little down on myself. But then I began to thing, “What I am doing is just too good for the general public!”

When I think about it, Citizen Kane was a box office flop and now it is considered one of the best, if not one of the best movie, ever made. So it is only a matter of time before people realize how much of a genius I am. Funny thing here, I just spelled “Genius” wrong and didn’t realize it until I did a spell check. Maybe I am not the . . . No, screw it, don’t doubt myself, I am the man!

Let me ask you a question, are you one of those people who don’t see genius, one of the dirty, uneducated, unwashed, low lifes that live under a bridge in a card board box, or do understand that I am better than most and am making Vlogs that will change the world. If so, look to your left and you will see button than reads “THE VIDEO”. Click on that to see my latest vlog.

Or click on the small sign below and you will be magically transported to my YouTube channel were you will see some amazing things.

Visit my page

Anyway, whether you watch of not, I appreciate you reading this and . . . Oh, screw that, if you don’t watch my work you are no friend of mine. Do you want to be my friend? Watch my video.

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The Story of Alice Guy Blaché, Film Pioneer!

Alice Guy Blaché was there from almost the beginning, yet she has been slowly forgot about. What are others remembered from the early days of cinema and this wonderful lady has been forgotten. She had a career that lasted 24 years. Find out on this episode of Old Man Kelley on Film.

Visit my Old Man Kelley Film History YouTube Channel. Thanks!


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The story of Auguste and Louis Lumière

On December 26, 1895 at the Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris, a 20-minute presentation of 10 shorts films became the talk of Paris. It wasn’t the first time people had paid to watch a movie, but this event change entertainment forever, so much so, we get the word Cinema from the device that made it all possible. This is the story of Auguste and Louis Lumière and their invention, the cinematograph!

Visit my Old Man Kelley Film History YouTube Channel. Thanks!

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A little Orson Welles Talk

For about 5 minutes, I walk about Orson Welles.

Visit my Old Man Kelley Film History YouTube Channel. Thanks!

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The History of Film 01 – G. A. Smith

In 1903 that G. A. Smith did something that would change filmmaking forever! In his film called Sick Kitten, he did something unexpected. Smith wanted to the audience to see the cat eating its medicine, so he did something that most filmmakers at the time thought would confuse an audience, he cut to a different shot, a close up. This was different to what he had done in the past. There was no telescope point of view, just a cut to a close up to show more detail of the same action. This is a huge change to the way films were being done. It was slowly being realized that films were not theater, and viewpoints in film could vary to give a clearer image or message to the audience. In this situation, Smith wanted to show a more detailed shot of the cat getting its medicine, but soon filmmakers would realize they can vary shots and angles for all different reason.

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A Word from Jeff

The year is coming to an end and we at Coffee With Jeff thank all those that support the show. Your emails and messages on Facebook and Twitter are always a great thrill to read. And we actually sold a mug this year! Wow!

This is just a reminder that all the video work and podcasts are available for your viewing by clicking on the tabs on the right of this page.

Yesterday I published the last podcast episode for the year. I will be back in January with all new shows. I was really happy with my last show of the year in which I did three separate stories of the different toys from my childhood, Silly Putty, The Magic 8-Ball, and the Slinky. All three, I thought, have interesting stories. The thing is, I could really see the show going more of that direction in the future, a few short stories, rather than a long one.

And I am hoping to do better in 2017 with our video work. I love working with video and really hope to improve the entertainment value in these videos. For all of you have not been to my YouTube Channel, please do so. I would be forever grateful.

Thanks again for a fantastic year, and I truly hope you have a wonderful holiday

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Marcia West: What are manners? Little rules for little people!

  • From the Film: It’s Love I’m After from 1937.
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Lillian Darlene Calkins – Women’s Airforce Service Pilot

A listener to the Coffee With Jeff podcast named Tina sent me these photos. The were of her mother, Lillian, who was one of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilot during World War two.  We did a story on the WASP’s and you can listen to it by clocking here. CWJ Show 52. I hope it did justice to those brave women who had to fight their own government to help in the war effort. Thanks Tina, your Mom was truly a beautiful woman!

Lillian Darlene Calkins

Lillian Darlene Calkins Lillian Darlene Calkins Lillian Darlene Calkins Lillian Darlene CalkinsTina's Dad

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