Here's another artifact I've brought back from my sojourn into early film. The plot of the 10-minute short Suspense—an intruder menaces a lone woman while her savior rides to the rescue—was already a cliche by 1913 (so much so that an early Keystone Kop comedy that year featured a spoof of both it and such D.W. Griffith's two-reelers as The Lonedale Operator that has used the same storyline).
Suspense is notable, however, for a couple of reasons. First is its imaginative use of the camera—split-screen, overhead shots, tracking and extreme close-ups (witness the two stills from the movie). The second is that it is the work of Lois Weber, the first really successful American woman director.
Rumor has it this and other works of Lois Weber will be coming out on DVD next year. In the meantime, check it out:
A Visit to the University of Oregon
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