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Silent Serial SensationsThe Wharton Brothers and the Magic of Early Cinema$
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Barbara Tepa Lupack

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501748189

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501748189.001.0001

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Seeking “Old Opportunity”

Seeking “Old Opportunity”

(p.14) Chapter 1 Seeking “Old Opportunity”
Silent Serial Sensations

Barbara Tepa Lupack

Cornell University Press

This chapter details how Ted Wharton got into the entertainment business. The early years that Ted spent on and behind the stage gave him an invaluable introduction to virtually all aspects of the entertainment industry, especially to the performance and production of melodrama. They also taught him the technical and improvisational skills that would serve him well as he graduated from vaudeville performance and legitimate stage acting to direction of film shorts and production of serials, particularly since he was often experimenting as he developed the conventions and devices that would become staples of later cinema and television. Ted's interest in the motion picture industry was further aroused by his visits to the old Edison Studios in Manhattan, after which, on his own, he began writing screenplays that revealed his aptitude for the craft. He then joined Pathé Frères to assist in the opening of its American studio and then to serve as its director. In late 1911 or early 1912, Ted decided to leave the company for a better opportunity at another studio: Essanay. The chapter then looks at Ted's most thematically and technically sophisticated short for Essanay, From the Submerged (1912), which is now considered one of the masterpieces of silent film.

Keywords:   Ted Wharton, melodrama, film direction, film shorts, serials, motion picture industry, Edison Studios, Pathé Frères, Essanay, silent film

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