-First 20 Years of Moving Pictures in Toronto (1894-1914)
by Robert W. Gutteridge,
258 pages. 8 1/2 x 11 inch. Over 200 black and white images.,
Published by Gutteridge-Pratley Publications,
104 Ontario St. W., Whitby, ON, L1N 1P3,
ISBN 0-9686125-0-4, $30.00 + s&h.
book review by Robert Carter
Robert Gutteridge is an educator in visual art and film, collector of motion picture apparatus and optical toys, a filmmaker, and a member of both the Movie Machine Society and the Photographic Historical Society of Canada.
I first met Robert Gutteridge at one of our photo fairs; later, he was a guest speaker at a Toronto meeting. Along with his submission for a PHSC Publication Grant, Robert provided a short extract from his book-in-progress. I read the extract and decided then and there to order a copy of his history of the early years of moving pictures in Toronto. He is a natural storyteller, making the dry historical writings come alive.
The copy was delivered last night -what a great book! I spent hours browsing through Magic Moments, and
(Photo courtesy Robert Lansdale)
I was intrigued to read more the next day during breaks and lunch.
The book is the culmination of two decades of research into early cinema, especially of the technology and films. In Magic Moments, Robert strives with a passion "to set right the many misconceptions and myths that are perpetuated by ill informed media". All references are carefully noted, and Robert clearly identifies inconsistent reports and clarifies the confusion in articles-of-the-day when variations of moving picture apparatus and techniques arrived on the scene. The footnotes, appendices and indices make the book especially useful for the student and researcher.
Magic Moments gives a clarity and sequence to the rapid evolution of motion pictures from novelty acts at local fairs to serious entertainment with the creation of movies based on plot lines and stories. While the focus of the story is Toronto, the ambiance and atmosphere would fit any North American city experiencing the thrills of the evolution of motion picture.
The book's twenty-one chapters cover technologies, issues, and business aspects of the viewing side of the early movie industry. The technologies -including the Vitascope, Cinematographe, Biograph, and Nickelodeon, each receive a chapter. The book gives a clear explanation of their respective place in the evolution of movies from the peep show apparatus favoured by Edison, to projection systems which became the standard for the rest of the 20th century. I was surprised to find chapters devoted to sound and colour - years before the Jazz Singer appeared on the scene and vacuum tube amplifiers arrived. I found the chapter on "Production and Distribution" of particular interest given the overwhelming influence of Hollywood on our movie choices today.
If you enjoy movies, history and old technologies then pick up a copy of this book. You won't be disappointed.
Click here for ordering information.
"To The Reader" by Robert Gutteridge