The Birth of Biograph

september 1895
September 22, 1895

This photograph records the first meeting of all of the members of the K. M. C. D. Syndicate, September 22, 1895, at Canastota, N. Y. Left to right—H.N. Marvin, W. K. L. Dickson, Herman Caster, E. B. Koopman, founders of the world famous American Mutoscope & Biograph Company, later known to the screen world as “Biograph”.

When Henry N. Marvin saw Edison’s kinetoscope he thought that a simpler machine could be built to present the peep show pictures and do it better. When he and Herman Casler had built the machine they sought Edison pictures to put in the machine.

“No,” was the decision from the Edison plant. Right then and there was the motion picture’s biggest moment. Marvin and Casler had to invent a machine to make their own pictures.

Out of that moment came the force that through a long series of dramatic sequences brought to the motion picture and its world the names of Griffith, Pickford, Sweet, Marsh, Gish, Normand, Nielan, Ince, Sennett, and all that glory that was Biograph.

A Picture Pioneer

William A. Brady is the husband of Grace George, the famous actress of the legitimate stage, and father of Alice Brady, who needs no introduction. But he is also something far more than that.

For twenty-five years Mr. Brady has been a dominant factor in American theatricals as a pre-eminent stage manager and discovered of wonderful histrionic gifts, as a promoter of both the popular and higher-class drama, a patron of American authors, and as a builder of theatres. And though it does not concern us here, it may be remarked in passing that he is also an authority on pugilism, a national political force, and throughout the war the close and confidential personal friend of President Wilson. But what does practically concern us is his prominence as a motion-picture manufacturer and director — a prominence which gained his appointment by the President in 1917 as organiser of the motion-picture industry, and a fighting arm of the American Government.

In a word, Mr. Brady knows the whole art of production — both on stage and screen — from A to Z, and it was only to be expected that he would have some very interesting and illuminating things to say upon films and film players, so during his visit to England I begged Mr. Brady for an interview, which he very kindly granted.

An Very Early Motion Picture.

“I was connected with practically the first motion picture ever shown,” began Mr. Brady, – “which appeared in 1891, after Jim Corbett, my protege and find, beat Sullivan. It was made by Edison, and featured Corbett, in a fight — not a real fight, however. But he had made such a success that Edison persuaded him to go through some of his pugilistic poses before the camera.”

“And your recent productions, Mr. Brady ?” “Well, of course, I’ve produced all the World-Brady productions — the Select pictures have come under my direction, too — but if you want me to mention particular plays, here are a few: Rasputin, The Whip — yes, Maurice Tourneur was the director, but I was responsible for the racecourse scenes— Sealed Orders, and Little Women, of which I belive you already have a version by an English Company, Mr. Samuelson’s.”

MHC (The Picture Show, July 5th, 1919)