Saturday, August 03, 2019
Col. William N. Selig: The Man Who Invented Hollywood
Andrew Erish's book is an impressively-researched work that fills in many gaps in the traditional histories of the early film business, and in doing so, serves nearly as much as a history of the fledgling American film industry as it does as a biography of a major film pioneer. Selig was responsible for a number of important steps in the transition of filmmaking into a full-fledged industry. He was making films almost from the very beginning, in 1896. Originally based in Chicago, the filmmaking activities of his Selig Polyscope Company eventually expanded to Los Angeles, where he established Southern California's first permanent film studio in 1909, as well as his famous Selig Zoo. Selig also pioneered popular film genres and forms (particularly the serial) and helped establish such stars as Tom Mix and Fatty Arbuckle.
Unfortunately, most of Selig's films are lost, making re-evaluation of his work difficult, and unfairly consigning his name to relative obscurity -- not helped by the fact that he is also somewhat awkwardly positioned between the earliest inventors of cinema (Edison, Lumiere) and the next generation of moguls who often receive credit for many of Selig's contributions to the cinema.
This book is a major work that provides a much-needed re-evaluation of those contributions made by Selig, as well as painting a more complete picture of the development of the American film industry.
Posted by Matt Barry at 7:12 PM