A clerk looks over the bank of stacked shoe boxes on the wall behind him. Two women enter, perhaps a mother and her grown daughter, one in white and one in black, both wearing large hats. The younger of the two asks to see shoes while the older one, sitting on the far side of the clerk, reads. He shows the younger woman a sample, then another. She selects the second, and he puts it on her foot, taking his time with the buttons and buckles. She slowly raises her skirt to display her ankle and then her calf. He looks up at her. Wait a second – is he a heel or is this a planned assignation? —IMDb
Preeminent figure among early American filmmakers and one of the first to use techniques such as closeups and intercutting for narrative purposes. Porter was a projectionist, inventor and entrepreneur before starting work in 1900 for the Edison company, where he was soon promoted to head of film production. By 1901 he was making multi-shot films such as “The Execution of Czolgosz”, a drama about the execution of US President McKinley’s assassin which juxtaposed documentary footage of the prison with a staged dramatization of the execution itself.
Porter’s first major achievement was “The Life of an American Fireman” (1902), usually considered a landmark work thanks to its sophisticated editing techniques. The film cuts back and forth between the interior and exterior of a burning building in order to heighten dramatic effect, and is thus frequently cited as the first American use of editing in order to “drive” a narrative. (An alternative print of the film was recently discovered… read more