Edwin S. Porter’s 1904 classic Dog Factory is a must watch film for all. Well, except maybe your dog loving children.
This film is also featured at the National Film Preservation Foundation website, with an interesting explanation about why so many very early films survive compared with those in the middle years of the silent era:
Before 1912, U.S. copyright law made no provision for motion pictures, but for a fifty-cent fee one could copyright a still photograph. It was the Edison company, always vigilant in legal matters, that in 1894 hit upon the curious idea of copyrighting a “photograph” thirty-five millimeters wide and many feet long: rolls of photographic paper that documented its movies frame by frame. A few other companies, notably Biograph, followed Edison’s example over the next twenty years. These legal records gathered dust in the Library of Congress basement until the late 1940s, when a former LC employee championed their value to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which began to fund experiments in copying the paper back onto film. Examples convinced Congress to continue funding the project, which was completed in 16mm by the early 1960s. Thus, while most of the fragile and flammable films from the turn of the century were discarded or deteriorating, these prints on paper survived to become our key record of early American filmmaking—from short actualities through early multi-reel features. The unexpected result is that pre-1912 American filmmaking survives more fully than that of the later teens.
It’s a one joke film that feels long, but the last 30 seconds is pretty great.
This is the second Porter film in this series, along with the truly great Dream of a Rarebit Fiend.