The University of Wisconsin Press


Film / American Studies

Early American Cinema in Transition
Story, Style, and Filmmaking, 1907–1913
Charlie Keil

Wisconsin Studies in Film


“An important contribution to the exploration of silent cinema.”
—Kristin Thompson, series editor

The period 1907–1913 marks a crucial transitional moment in American cinema. As moving picture shows changed from mere novelty to an increasingly popular entertainment, fledgling studios responded with longer running times and more complex storytelling. A growing trade press and changing production procedures also influenced filmmaking. In Early American Cinema in Transition, Charlie Keil looks at a broad cross-section of fiction films to examine the formal changes in cinema of this period and the ways that filmmakers developed narrative techniques to suit the fifteen-minute, one-reel format.

Keil outlines the kinds of narratives that proved most suitable for a single reel’s duration, the particular demands that time and space exerted on this early form of film narration, and the ways filmmakers employed the unique features of a primarily visual medium to craft stories that would appeal to an audience numbering in the millions. He underscores his analysis with a detailed look at six films: The Boy Detective; The Forgotten Watch; Rose O'Salem-Town; Cupid’s Monkey Wrench; Belle Boyd, A Confederate Spy; and Suspense.

Charlie Keil is associate professor in the Cinema Studies Program and the History Department at the University of Toronto.

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cover of Keil's book displays a flim reel and a black and white photo of a scene from an old film.

December 2001
352 pp. (est.) 132 b/w film stills, 5 tables 6 x 9


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978-0-299-17360-9
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