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|John Libbey Publishing|
The Film Town
Publication date: 2004
Total pages: vi + 378
ISBN: 0 86196 652 X
Price: £ 17.50
Over the next ten years, motion pictures came to
dominate every aspect of life in this suburban New Jersey community.
During the nickelodeon era, D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Mack Sennett
would ferry entire acting companies across the Hudson to pose against the
Palisades. But as films became longer and more elaborate, permanent
studios were occupied by men like Selznick, Goldwyn and Fox. Pearl White
still clung from the cliffs, but Theda Bara, ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle and Douglas
Fairbanks now worked in the rows of great greenhouse studios that had
sprung up across Fort Lee and the neighboring communities. Tax revenues
from studios and laboratories swelled municipal coffers, and even the
ferryboats were renamed after Mabel Normand and Mae Marsh.
‘The fields and woods around historic Fort Lee, just across the Hudson, are the scene nowadays of a continuous performance of extremely animated, open-air theatricals. On almost any fine day one may enjoy historic pageants, sham battles, tragedies, comedies, and the bill is changed daily. Few motorists are attracted to this region and they, with the native population, form the only audience. The manager of these one-night, or rather, one-day, stands is the moving picture man …’– New York Times, 19 December 1909
Richard Koszarski is a member of the Fort Lee Film Commission and Associate Professor of English and Cinema Studies at Rutgers University. His books include An Evening’s Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Film and Von: The Life and Films of Erich von Stroheim. He is the 1991 recipient of the Prix Jean Mitry for his contributions to silent film scholarship.