Motion Pictures

Here are some interesting statistics regarding the movie industry. The first moving picture was projected ,on a screen in 1896 (USA). In 1903, the first major movie was produced. It was called "The Great 'Train Robbery." In 1912, Cecil B. De Mille produced the first of his many outstanding movies. It was called "The Squaw Man." The biggest blockbuster movie produced up to 1914 was called "The Birth of a Nation." Color was first introduced in 1909, however it took many years before it was perfected.

All movies prior to 1926 were silent movies with subtitles. Usually ‑a piano player played music throughout the entire movie in the larger, more luxurious theatres. With the introduction of sound and color, the movie industry really ‑took off and flourished throughout the US and Canada. One of the first major films made after sound was introduced was "The Jazz Singer." The most expensive Movie made up to 1939 was "Gone With The Wind" at a cost of $4 million.

Actually the term 'moving picture' is very misleading. There is no such thing as a moving picture ‑ it is an illusion. When a movie is filmed, it appears on a long ribbon of celluloid film with each picture being slightly different than the preceding one. When this film passes through a projector each picture is stopped perfectly still for 1/24th of a second by an intermittent gear which is synchronized with a shutter fan. When a picture is stopped a portion of this shutter blade is in the open position and allows the light from the are lamp to pass through the film and on to the screen. When the picture is displaced by another picture this blade momentarily cuts off the light until the next picture is stopped. Without this synchronized fan blade you would see nothing but a blur. When 24 pictures, each different, are flashed on the screen each second you get the illusion of motion.

The 'first movie shown in our hamlet was in 1920. It was a silent movie and was shown in the Veterans Hall, located about where the museum is located. During the latter part of the 1920s, other travelling movie operators visited Elk Point and showed movies. The first movie I remember viewing was in 1929. It was shown in a school classroom which now houses our rummage. store. I remember the movie well, but not the title. It was a silent movie with subtitles and was in black and white. I have never forgotten this movie simply because it was the first one I ever viewed and also because it was a real tear jerker, one which had the entire audience in tears. The story was about a beautiful Indian maiden who was jilted by her lover and who poisoned herself. It was a real tragedy and even though you had to read the subtitles and use your imagination it still proved to be very entertaining.

Shortly after, other movies were held in the spacious front end of the old Soldan Garage which was located across the street from the old C.J. Markstad store. In 1931 the Arnott Hall was built and for many years, movies were shown there about once a month.

I remember viewing my first color movie with sound in 1936 in a city theatre. The movie was called "Rose Marie." It was a musical starring Jeannette McDonald and Nelson Eddy.

Other movies I will always remember are movies such as "Gone With The Wind," "Ben Hur," "The Ten Commandments," "North To Alaska," "The Lost Weekend," "Stalag 17," "Friendly Persuasion," all the "Ma and Pa Kettle" movies, the many good westerns and the more recent Elvis Presley movies. Many people enjoyed ‑the Abbot and ‑Costello movies which were always good for a few laughs.

.In my opinion, they don't make movies like they did back in the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, they made movies you were not ashamed to take the entire family to. Now it seems the majority of films are based on sex, violence, drugs, murder and violent war movies, the majority of them restricted to adult attendance.

Years ago, everyone had their own favorite movie star. It was either Clark Gable, Doris Day, Jeannette McDonald, Deanna Durbin, John Wayne, James Stewart, Gary Cooper or Humphrey Bogart. You watched for their movies and usually you went to see them. Today, the movie star is someone you never heard of before or someone you may never hear of again.  It is true, movies have drastically changed, and not for the better.