On this day: a film premiere in 1900

 Embarquement_d'un_bœuf,_Gabriel_VeyreEarly French filmmaker Gabriel Veyre premiered (Through Indochina (1st series). Bull being loaded on a ship) in Lyon on the 18th of November.

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Early French filmmaker Gabriel Veyre premiered À travers l’Indochine (1° série). Embarquement d’un boeuf à bord d’un navire (Through Indochina (1st series). Bull being loaded on a ship) in Lyon.

It was part of a series recorded in Tonkin (present-day Vietnam) between 1899 and 1900.

On this day: the first Women’s Cricket Test Series

Test_cricket_-_women_-_1935English womens cricket team in Australia and New Zealand in 1934–35

From 1934-35, the first women’s test series in cricket was played by England against Australia and then New Zealand.

The first test was played in Brisbane from the 28th to the 31st of December, 1934.

Myrtle_MaclaganA picture of cricketer Myrtle Maclagan on the England tour of Australia in 1934-35. Taken from the National Library of Australia. Canberra

Stars of the series included Myrtle Maclagan (above) and Betty Snowball (below).

Betty_SnowballA picture of cricketer Betty Snowball on the England tour of Australia in 1934-35. Taken from the National Library of Australia. Canberra.

The tour was documented in a series of photographs that are now in the collection of the National Library of Australia in Canberra.

England_womens_cricket_team_in_1934-35A picture of the England womens cricket team in 1934-35. Taken from the National Library of Australia. Canberra.

Official England tour portrait.

On this day: an actor in the Air Force

Chips_RaffertyPilot Officer Goffage RAAF (better known as the Australian actor Chips Rafferty) reading the programme for a revue to be held at the RAAF Base at Gili Gili in the Milne Bay

Film star Chips Rafferty is seen here on the 14th of August, 1943, while he was a member of the Royal Australian Air Force.

Rafferty, born in New South Wales to an English father and Australian mother, rose to prominence in the 1940 war movie Forty Thousand Horsemen. Australia entered World War Two on the 3rd of September, 1939, and Rafferty joined the Air Force on the 29th of May, 1941 – the day after he married Ellen Jameson.

He was discharged  from service on the 13th of February, 1945. In the years after the war he was contracted to England’s Ealing Studios, where he found international fame.

On this day: the release of Bombardier

Bombardier_movieThe American film Bombardier was released on the 14th of May, 1943. Concerning the training of United States Army Air Forces bombardiers, the movie was unpopular with cri

The American film Bombardier was released on the 14th of May, 1943. Concerning the training of United States Army Air Forces’ bombardiers, the movie was unpopular with critics, but a success with viewers.

The film was actually conceived in 1940, more than a year before the United States entered the Second World War. The storyline evolved after America was drawn into the conflict at the halfway point, and the script was changed to include Japanese bombing scenes after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

On this day: the premiere of Foyer de Danse

foyer-de-danse Alicia Markova, seen here at left in Frederick Ashton_s Foyer de Danse at the fledgling British company Ballet Club (1932).

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Foyer de Danse, a ballet by English choreographer Frederick Ashton, had its premiere on the 9th of October, 1932.

This footage (begins 24 seconds in) from the 1932 production features Ashton alongside English prima ballerina Alicia Markova (born Lilian Alice Marks):

Ashton would go on to become one of ballet’s best-known choreographers. His productions of ballets such as Cinderella and La fille mal gardée are still seen onstage at the Royal Opera House on a regular basis.

What Happened on Twenty-third Street, New York City.

The short film What Happened on Twenty-third Street, New York City was released in August, 1901.

Depicting a couple walking down the street in New York, the woman’s skirts are lifting by air when she walks over a grate.

While it only runs for 77 seconds, the film is credited with providing inspiration for similar scenes in movies in the decades afterwards.

Victoria the Great – for fans of anything Victorian

anna-neagle-victoria-the-great-1937-coronation-scene

I commented on the new television series, Victoria, and how horrified I was by the deliberate changes to history (such as making a teenage girl’s ageing mentor her love interest!).

Recently a different version of Queen Victoria’s life was on television: Victoria the Great, released in 1937 on the centenary of the real queen’s ascension to the throne.

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Victoria being woken early to be informed she is now queen.

The movie version and a 19th century depiction of the moment.

Now, I don’t usually expect much of films from the 1930s (though Gone with the Wind has some spectacular crowd scenes that hold up today).

So how surprised I was to realise this old movie was the best interpretation of Queen Victoria’s life I’ve seen!

Actual, recorded historical moments are recreated beautifully, and accurately. I even learnt a few things – yes, I checked that they were true.

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The queen’s (played by Anna Neagle), and Prince Albert’s (played by Anton Walbrook, all the way down to his dorky hair) costumes and hairstyles are spot-on. In an era where historical licence was practically expected, the people working on this film have all but recreated the costumes from official portraits.

The sets and filming locations are spectacular, even in black and white. Unlike so many “historical” movies today, the dances are accurate for the period (Anna Karenina, I’m looking at you!), and the women have their hair pinned up! The forms of transport they use (such as the early train they depart London on) look accurate to me.

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I usually sit and nit-pick when watching historical dramas, but I couldn’t find much to complain about here.

I never liked The Young Victoria. For all the praise heaped on it, neither Emily Blunt or Rupert Friend suited their roles, and the less said about the horrific rewriting of history in the more recent Victoria, the better.

So far, this eighty-year-old film is my favourite version of the life of Britain’s most famous queen. I’m not sure how easy it is to track down these days, but it’s worth a watch.

In its time, Victoria the Great was so successful a second film was immediately made.