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

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was to him and how much he depended upon her for advice and counsel. In the middle of one of the rehearsals he suddenly asked her whether she would advise him to wear his hat or not. Her reply is, I think, almost a classic of cockneydom. She said: 'Ow, 'av yer 'at on yer 'ead, 'Enry. Yer made yer 'it in yer 'at.' He did so and as far as I can remember, 'e 'ad another 'it. As evidence of the infinite variety of the personages who strode for a brief hour upon the studio stage at Walton, let me lift a paragraph from the Kinematograph Weekly of 1915. 'Eminent people in Hepworth films:—Henry Ainley, Clara Butt, Hall Caine, Sir J. Forbes-Robertson, Martin Harvey, Violet Hopson, Lionelle Howard, Bonar Law, Stewart Rome, Kennerley Rumford, Sir F. E. Smith, Alma Taylor, Ghrissie White and Sir Charles Wyndham.' It was about this time that a trade paper promoted a popular competition to decide who was the favourite British film player. This was the published result of the voting: Alma Taylor, first, with over a fifth of the total number of votes; then, in this order, Elizabeth Risdon, Charlie Chaplin, Stewart Rome, Chrissie White, Fred Evans. This was in 1915 which, be it remembered, was the second year of the first great World War. Griffith's Birth of a Nation was reported as the masterpiece of that year—which it certainly was— but it was also described as Charlie Chaplin's year, but there is, of course, no contradiction in that for they occupied entirely different spheres. A note which marked a most remarkable and important change in the politics of the film world was to the effect that the 'open market' was suffering severely owing to the coming of the 'exclusive.' These two terms require a little explanation for they have no meaning at the present time. Films were originally sold in the 'open market' to anyone who would buy, at so much a foot, without any reference to quality or value of the subject. First it was a shilling a foot, less 33J per cent, to 'the trade.' This soon dropped to sixpence net, then fivepence—at which there was a firm but ineffectual effort to fix it—and then fourpence, at which it stuck for years. But it came in time to be realised that the value of a film was not really a factor of length alone, but primarily of the interest of its material. That is so entirely self-evident now that it is difficult to realise that several years went by before anyone thought of it. 146