Milestone Cinematheque release of THE CHAMPION: A STORY OF AMERICA'S FIRST FILM TOWN. I may have previously heard something about Fort Lee, New Jersey, being a place where early movies were made, but nothing had prepared me for the details that spill out -- surprising, funny, and full of so many names of our early and important filmmakers, actors and eventual and/or would-be moguls -- during this 35-minute-but-too-short-by-half documentary.
Oscar Micheaux, and the first female filmmaker, Alice Guy-Blaché, who wrote, directed and/or produced some one thousand films and actually owned her own film studio -- all before women could even vote here in America.
The Champion concentrates most on a man named Mark Dintenfass, who came to Fort Lee in 1910 and decided it would be smart move to build a studio nearby (in Englewood Cliffs). He purchased land and built what would become the hugely successful (for awhile) Champion Studios, the mark of which is shown below.
ROBIN HOOD, made in 1912 by Eclair America, which was to become the first American-produced version of the tale. The longest of the films is THE DANGER GAME (from 1918) running one full hour.
The First Film.
The Milestone Cinematheque, and running, in all, 203 minutes, this two-disc set features a 2K restoration of that 1935 doc on Fort Lee entitled Ghost Town. For five of the films, all produced at Champion Studio, this new release marks the first time these silents will have appeared on DVD. Special thanks are due The Fort Lee Film Commission for its work in putting together this fine set. The Champion, complete with all its extras, hits the street this coming Tuesday, October 17 -- for purchase and/or (I hope) for rental, too.