100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

The First Gangster Film Is Released

In 1908 in order to to bring stability to the patent wars and litigation the Edison Film Manufacturing Company, the Biograph company, and the 7 other east coast motion picture studios ended their competitive feuding in favor of a cooperative system that provided industry domination and formed the Motion Picture Patents Company known as The Film Trust. By pooling their interests, the member companies legally monopolized the business, and demanded licensing fees from all film producers, distributors, and exhibitors for cameras and projectors, which were all made by Edison. Either you did what the Film Trust wanted or you could build your own cameras, developers, and projectors. The General Film Company was formed by the Motion Picture Patents Company in an attempt to monopolize distribution. In 1909, the General Film Company tried to seize the equipment of independent distribution companies to discourage their activities. Using their control over several film patents, the General Film Company and Motion Picture Patents Company tried to force independent distribution companies to sell out or lose their patent licenses.

The rebel film studios started looking elsewhere to avoid the Film Trust and have moved all the way across the country to California (where the nice weather allows a longer filming season) and opened studios is small southern California towns like Edendale and Hollywood.
On October 31, 1912 the General Film Company released THE MUSKETEERS OF PIG ALLEY through Biograph. It is considered the first gangster film in history. Directed by D W Griffith and written by Griffith and Anita Loos, the film deals with a family trapped and victimized by criminals. Loos, who just started writing for Griffith at Biograph, had an upbringing by her alcoholic father that exposed her to the shadier side of life. The film stars Lillian Gish.
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