Hollywood’s First Movie: A Centenary Celebration

hollywood stars

America, or the entire cinematic world, celebrates next month the centenary of Hollywood’s first movie. The filming in February 1910 of D. W. Griffith’s “In Old California” was considered a cultural landmark. Equally fascinating are the details about the development of Hollywood (situated just 11 kms from Los Angeles) coinciding with the birth of the first movie.

Director D.W. Griffith discovered “the little village” (Hollywood) on his trips to California and “decided to shoot there because of the beautiful scenery and friendly people.” For years the first film thought shot in Hollywood was Cecil B. DeMille’s feature film The Squaw Man (1914). The discovery of Griffith’s film not only made it the first ever movie filmed in Hollywood, but that it was a ‘Latino’ storyline-based film. More here…

A locally popular etymology is that Hollywood traces its name to the ample stands of native Toyon, or “California Holly,” that cover the hillsides with clusters of bright red berries each winter. In this lush green countryside one Harvey Wilcox drew up a grid map for a town and filed it with the county recorder’s office. Thus marking the first official appearance of the name “Hollywood” on February 1, 1887.

In early 1910, the film director Griffith was sent by the Biograph Company to the west coast with his acting troop. They started filming on a vacant lot near Georgia Street in Downtown Los Angeles. The Company decided to explore new territories and traveled several miles north to a little village. This place was called “Hollywood”.

By 1900, Hollywood also had a post office, a newspaper, a hotel and two markets, along with a population of 500 people. Los Angeles, with a population of 100,000 people at the time, lay seven miles (11 km) east through the citrus groves.

Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality in 1903. Among the town ordinances was one prohibiting the sale of liquor except by pharmacists and one outlawing the driving of cattle through the streets in herds of more than two hundred. In 1904, a new trolley car track running from Los Angeles to Hollywood up Prospect Avenue was opened…

More here…

“The movie industry had been thriving for a decade or more by February 1910, but it had, as yet, no star system – and no stars. The reasons were financial. Producers in the US and Europe had begun to put leading actors under contract, but still tried to keep these actors’ names from the public.

“They feared (with good reason) that if the actors were known to their audiences they would demand to be paid more, and film-making costs would surge…” More here…

For the first two decades, the stars of the screen were mostly seen, not heard. But they were no less dazzling for that… More here…

         

Author: SWARAAJ CHAUHAN, International Columnist

Swaraaj Chauhan describes his two-decade-long stint as a full-time journalist as eventful, purposeful, and full of joy and excitement. In 1993 he could foresee a different work culture appearing on the horizon, and decided to devote full time to teaching journalism (also, partly, with a desire to give back to the community from where he had enriched himself so much.) Alongside, he worked for about a year in 1993 for the US State Department's SPAN magazine, a nearly five-decade-old art and culture monthly magazine promoting US-India relations. It gave him an excellent opportunity to learn about things American, plus the pleasure of playing tennis in the lavish American embassy compound in the heart of New Delhi. In !995 he joined WWF-India as a full-time media and environment education consultant and worked there for five years travelling a great deal, including to Husum in Germany as a part of the international team to formulate WWF's Eco-tourism policy. He taught journalism to honors students in a college affiliated to the University of Delhi, as also at the prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication where he lectured on "Development Journalism" to mid-career journalists/Information officers from the SAARC, African, East European and Latin American countries, for eight years. In 2004 the BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) selected him as a Trainer/Mentor for India under a European Union project. In 2008/09 He completed another European Union-funded project for the BBC WST related to Disaster Management and media coverage in two eastern States in India --- West Bengal and Orissa. Last year, he spent a couple of months in Australia and enjoyed trekking, and also taught for a while at the University of South Australia. Recently, he was appointed as a Member of the Board of Studies at Chitkara University in Chandigarh, a beautiful city in North India designed by the famous Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier. He also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students there. He loves trekking, especially in the hills, and never misses an opportunity to play a game of tennis. The Western and Indian classical music are always within his reach for instant relaxation. And last, but not least, is his firm belief in the power of the positive thought to heal oneself and others.

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