Came the dawn : memories of a film pioneer (1951)

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absolutely insisted that the show must be abandoned altogether if, as I had told him, the film could not be omitted. For the unfortu- nate picture, besides being the best of my series, was for that very reason occupying the place of honour as the last but one on my first reel. There was no time to cut it out; no chance to bypass it, for I felt quite certain that if I attempted to run it through with my hand over the lens, the pure young persons all around me would protest with anything but their expected docility. So, feeling rather like Abraham going up the mountain with his son for a sacrifice, I proceeded with the show and hoped against hope for the best. Then, just before I came to the fatal film I had a brainwave: I announced it as Salome Dancing Before Herod and everyone was delighted—especially the parson! He said in his nice little speech at the end that he thought it was a particularly pleasant idea to introduce a little touch of Bible history into an otherwise wholly secular programme. And then he added that he had had no idea that the 'Cheenimartograrph' had been invented so long ago! Talking of fire risk, I was one of the first to point out the danger of using celluloid in a lantern without proper precautions. This was in a weekly article I was writing for the Amateur Photographer. A large firm of photographic dealers sent a letter to the editor in which they claimed that celluloid was no more inflammable than paper. Whereupon I experimented: I put pieces of paper and pieces of celluloid in my projector in turn and noted carefully the number of seconds which each took to ignite. I published the results. The firm notified my editor that if he valued their ad- vertisements he would be well advised to get rid of this contributor. The editor notified me, regretting that he had no alternative but to take the hint. Thus I got the sack from that job. There occurred about this time, 1897-8, a rather strange interlude which I cannot place in exact order of date. This was the incursion into the incipient cinematograph world of Messieurs Lever and Nestle—surely an odd combination of soap and Swiss milk—to exploit the possibilities of the film for advertisement purposes. The impact was a big one for those days, for they purchased no less than twelve complete Lumiere projection outfits for a start. Each consisted of a limelight lantern together with all its accessories, a condenser which was a large spherical bottle of water, a Lumiere mechanism, being camera, printer and projector in one, and a suitable objective lens, all mounted on a strong 34