The Motion Picture Industry Gloated via Cartoons in 1916

By 1916, it was clear movies were there to stay and so who can blame Motion Picture Magazine for taking a little victory lap and tweaking the noses of doubters?

In addition to being amusing, this little cartoon spread is also quite informative, starting with the header.

The Raymond Hitchcock reference will make more sense if you listen to his boozy ditty entitled Ain’t It Funny What a Difference a Few Hours Make?

And now, the first cartoon.

Oh yeah, I am feeling this one! Mary Pickford was warned against entering the movies in 1909 but just five years later, there was a massive wave of stage talent. The class of 1914-1915 was knee-deep in big stage names and while a few stuck (Douglas Fairbanks, William S. Hart), most went limping back to the legitimate theater. And some returned to gloat during the talkie revolution but that is another story.

Church screenings emerged fairly early and received a shot in the arm with the introduction of 16mm safety film.

Lots to unpack here. A visual reference to the five cent nickelodeon admission (up to fifty cents) and the implication that theaters were being turned into girly shows. Wow. Obviously, theater survived the movies but you’d never know it from this cartoon.

Oddly enough, actuality footage was among the first commercially successful moving picture entertainment to be distributed and they were reissued later for this very market. It just took some educators a while to get over their prejudices.

Okay, that’s enough back-patting, dudes.

I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news but I wouldn’t be bragging too much about all that.

You can look up lots of swell clippings like these at the Media History Digital Library.

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6 Replies to “The Motion Picture Industry Gloated via Cartoons in 1916”

  1. And of course it’s easy to extrapolate the themes to the film industry’s period of disdain for the artistic merits of TV.

  2. Hi Fritzi,
    This was a very clever and interesting post. I like satirical cartoons, and these were interesting as they conveyed the initial “high-hat” sense of supremacy that some held over the motion picture folk. Fun stuff! Thanks for the post!

  3. Talk about boasting! When the Electric Palace here in Walsall opened in 1910 it was claimed that movies had reached a level of excellence that would be impossible to exceed!!

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