27 Nov

Melodrama !

Archive, Norman Mowatt

n June 1913 the Picture House changed to a continuous performance each evening from 7.30pm to 10.30pm, and in the first week of June there was melodrama !

There were two special star pictures advertised for that week, both of them melodramas.

The first was Kathleen Mavourneen, a 1906 silent short film by Edwin S. Porter, produced and distributed by Edison Manufacturing Company. It was based on the song “Kathleen Mavourneen” by Annie Crawford , Frederick Williams, and Nichols Crouch, which inspired the play by Dion Boucicault.

Captain Clearfield, a wealthy landlord, assaults Kathleen with the help of an accomplice, but Terence O’More arrives in time to break up the attack. Clearfield then tries to get his way by intimidating Kathleen and her father, but again help arrives in time. Clearfield and his accomplice then come up with further plans.

Kitty ONeil as Kathleen
Walter Griswoll as Terence O’More
H.L. Bascomb as Captain Clearfield
W.R. Floyd as Dugan
E.M. Leslie as David O’Connor
N.B. Clarke as Father O’Cassidy
J. McDovall as Danny O’Lavey
C.F. Seabert as Black Rody
D.R. Allen as Red Barney
D.J. McGinnis as Darby Doyle
W.F. Borroughs as Dennis O’Gaff

The second film, Aurora Floyd is a 1912 American silent short drama film directed by Theodore Marston based on the 1863 British novel of the same name by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

The plot follows the eponymous heroine, the daughter of a marriage between a nobleman, and an actress, as she matures and is embroiled in mystery and scandal. Aurora is an atypical Victorian heroine, being strong-minded, active and willing to defy contemporary social rules. The story includes such controversial elements as bigamy, murder, and elopement.

Florence La Badie as Aurora Floyd
Harry Benham as John Mellish, Aurora’s second husband
David Thompson as John Conyers, Aurora’s first husband
Justus D. Barnes as Aurora’s father
William Garwood
Maude Fealy

Melodrama as a cinematic form has its roots in 19th century theatre where it became very popular. Characterized by a plot to appeal to the heightened emotions of the audience melodramas were often driven by the music and exaggerated plotlines. The form has lasted well and is still poplar today … think Titanic, Bridget Jones’s Diary or the more recent Bridget Jones’s Baby and on the small screen Eastenders, or Coronation Street !

Image credits
1.) ‘Picture House – Kathleen Mavourneen and Aurora Floyd ’  (7th June 1913, © Campbeltown Courier)

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