Motor City Movie Culture, 1916-1925
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Motor City Movie Culture, 1916–1925 is a broad textured look at Hollywood coming of age in a city with a burgeoning population and complex demographics. Richard Abel investigates the role of local Detroit organizations in producing, distributing, exhibiting, and publicizing films in an effort to make moviegoing part of everyday life. Tapping a wealth of primary source material—from newspapers, spatiotemporal maps, and city directories to rare trade journals, theater programs, and local newsreels—Abel shows how entrepreneurs worked to lure moviegoers from Detroit's diverse ethnic neighborhoods into the theaters. Covering topics such as distribution, programming practices, nonfiction film, and movie coverage in local newspapers, with entr'actes that dive deeper into the roles of key individuals and organizations, this book examines how efforts in regional metropolitan cities like Detroit worked alongside California studios and New York head offices to bolster a mass culture of moviegoing in the United States.

List of Abbreviations
Entr'Acte 1: The Michigan Film Review
1. Mapping Circulation in Detroit's Movie Market
Entr'Acte 2: Detroit Area Picture Theaters
Entr'Acte 3: John H. Kunsky and George W. Trendle
2. Movies, Live Acts, and the Theatrical Experience: Programming Practices in the Motor City
Entr'Acte 4: Detroit-Made Films
Entr'Acte 5: The Metropolitan Film Company
3. "Detroit-Made" Newsreels and Other Short Nonfiction Films
Entr'Acte 6: Star Gazing
4. Motor City Newspapers, Menus for Movie Fans



Publié par
Date de parution 21 janvier 2020
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253046482
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 6 Mo

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Richard Abel
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
2020 by Richard Abel
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Abel, Richard, 1941- author.
Title: Motor City movie culture, 1916-1925 / Richard Abel.
Description: Bloomington, Indiana : Indiana University Press, [2020] | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2019036664 (print) | LCCN 2019036665 (ebook) | ISBN 9780253046451 (hardback) | ISBN 9780253046468 (paperback) | ISBN 9780253046499 (ebook)
Subjects: LCSH: Motion picture theaters-Michigan-Detroit-History-20th century. | Motion picture audiences-Michigan-Detroit-History-20th century. | Motion pictures-Social aspects-Michigan-Detroit.
Classification: LCC PN1993.5.U752 A24 2020 (print) | LCC PN1993.5.U752 (ebook) | DDC 384.850977434-dc23
LC record available at
LC ebook record available at
1 2 3 4 5 25 24 23 22 21 20
For the divine Ms. B Barbara C. Hodgdon (1932-2018) encore une fois
List of Abbreviations
Entr Acte 1: The Michigan Film Review
1 Mapping Circulation in Detroit s Movie Market
Entr Acte 2: Detroit Area Picture Theaters
Entr Acte 3: John H. Kunsky and George W. Trendle
2 Movies, Live Acts, and the Theatrical Experience: Programming Practices in the Motor City
Entr Acte 4: Detroit-Made Films
Entr Acte 5: The Metropolitan Film Company
3 Detroit-Made Newsreels and Other Short Nonfiction Films
Entr Acte 6: Star Gazing
4 Motor City Menus for Movie Fans
M UCH LIKE MY PRIOR WORK , Motor City Movie Culture, 1916-1925 is once again greatly indebted to a network of archives, libraries, colleagues, and friends for sustained support and encouragement.
Crucial support for the research on which this book relies came from the facilities and staff of the University of Michigan Hatcher Graduate Library, University of Michigan LSA Information Technology, Detroit Public Library, University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library, and University of Texas-Austin Ransom Center. That research also benefited from online databases of the Wayne State University Library, the Detroit Free Press , the Media History Digital Library, , and .
I especially was grateful for the anonymous readers reports that offered timely suggestions for revising the final version of the book. In different ways, each was helpful in making the introduction more precise in explaining the book s subject, what it is and is not primarily as a cultural history. Their suggestions also prodded me to reorganize and reduce the last chapter on Detroit s newspaper discourse, urged me to reposition the extensive list of picture theaters from an appendix to an early Entr Acte, and confirmed my stress on certain lines of inquiry for further research in the afterword.
Special thanks go to Michael Hauser for permission to photocopy his personal collection of the Weekly Film News and to current and former University of Michigan doctoral students for their generous assistance. Ben Strassfeld found rare archive materials such as the Michigan Film Review as well as the digitized files of the Detroit News Pictorial , codesigned a graduate seminar that I taught on the history of Detroit, and created original maps of Detroit neighborhoods and many picture theater locations. Caitlin Dickinson deftly revised those into vector maps as required by the press. Ken Garner constructed a database of Detroit picture theaters, and Katy Peplin allowed me to draw on her research into Ford materials at the Ford Historical Museum and the National Archive. At one time or another, Garner, Strassfeld, Nathan Koob, and Jim Carter all scanned years of pages from the microfilm of surviving Detroit newspapers and offered useful contextual suggestions. Ginny Agnew photographed several fragments of early house organ programs that Koob found in research at the Ransom Center.
Many colleagues and friends graciously shared their own sources, helped locate new resources, posed pertinent questions, and led me to pursue those questions in unexpected ways. Paul S. Moore was especially helpful for his extensive knowledge of the early twentieth-century history of newspapers, film distribution, and film exhibition. Other support of one kind or another came from, in alphabetical order, Matthew Bernstein, Giorgio Bertellini, John Bukowczyk, Mark Garrett Cooper, Don Crafton, Leslie Midkiff DeBauche, Kathryn Fuller-Seeley, Doron Galili, Dan Herbert, Martin L. Johnson, Richard Koszarski, St phanie Salmon, Gregory Waller, and Mark Williams.
At Indiana University Press, Raina Polivka first expressed strong interest in the project. When she became acquisitions editor, Janice Frisch persuaded me to sign a contract with the press, and she smoothly kept the project on track, particularly when delays occurred in the later stages of writing. Allison Chaplin expertly eased the manuscript into production, despite some initial confusion over a few illustrations. David Hulsey directed the design team for the book s cover, and David Miller oversaw the processes of copyediting and proof review, which were handled so meticulously and efficiently by Jennifer Crane, Editorial Project Manager at Amnet. Garner helped edit the final version of the index.
Finally, finally, I am so deeply grateful to Barbara for the forty-two years we had together, often as Eeyore and Pooh, engaging in one Expotition after another to discover what? . . . Oh, just something. 1 I would not have missed any of those for the world. Despite a lengthy illness, Barbara wrote another groundbreaking book, Shakespeare, Performance and the Archive (2016) and several essays, the last of which, The Shakespeare Phonograph, 2 announced a new research direction that has been cut short. Her keen intelligence, marvelously cadenced prose style, and mischievous wit certainly elevated my own writing. One of her typical marginal comments in reading most of the manuscript was Punch up that last sentence.
But words sometimes do fail, now that a great spirit is gone.

Parts of two chapters either draw on or are revised and much expanded versions of the following published essays:

House Organs and the Detroit Weekly Film News in the Late 1910s. Film History 27, no. 3 (2015): 137-179.
The Circulation of Local Newsreels in the Silent Period: The Case of Detroit. In Rediscovering U.S. Newsfilm: Cinema, Television, and the Archive , edited by Mark Garrett Cooper, Sarah Beth Levavy, Ross Melnick, and Mark Williams, 133-154. New York: Routledge, 2018.
1 . A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1926), 112.
2 . Barbara Hodgdon, The Shakespeare Phonograph, Shakespeare Bulletin 35, no.1 (Spring 2017): 1-14, doi:10.1353/shb.2017.0000.
For the purpose of space, the following abbreviations are used for frequently cited sources from the period.

Brightmoor Journal
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Detroit Free Press
Detroit Journal
Detroit Jewish Chronicle
Detroit News
Detroit News-Tribune
Detroit Sunday Free Press
Detroit Sunday News
Detroit Sunday Times
Detroit Times
Ferndale News
Hamtramck News
Highland Parker

Industry Magazines

Educational Film Magazine
Exhibitors Herald
Exhibitors Trade Review
Film Daily / Wid s Daily
Ford Times
Michigan Film Review
Moving Picture Age
Motion Picture Magazine
Motion Picture News
Moving Picture World
Photoplay Magazine
Reel and Slide


Editor Publisher
Photoplay Weekly
Weekly Film News
Michigan is in the midst of the greatest period of industrial expansion in its history.
Made in Detroit USA, Detroit Free Press (November 5, 1917)
M OTOR C ITY M OVIE C ULTURES MAY SEEM TO NARROW my prior research on early twentieth-century American cinema, yet it also expands the subject of that research considerably. On the one hand, this book contributes to the study of local/regional cinema history by charting several paths through a specific historical site, a single city and its environs, Detroit, Michigan-with the caveat that what defines the uniqueness of any place is by no means all included within that place itself [and] includes relations th

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