Charles Dickens on silent film: part three, BFI Southbank, March 2012

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One of the great strengths, at least as far as this blog is concerned, of the BFI’s ongoing Dickens on Screen programme, is that the silent films on offer have been spread out across the season, rather than all lumped into the first month. Witness: the impressive range of silents screening in January and February.
More silents appear in March, including another programme of pre-1914 shorts and a rare sighting of a Danish film, AW Sandberg’s Our Mutual Friend (1921). The Nordisk films is one of four Dickens adaptations by Sandberg, which were all well received in Denmark at least. Our Mutual Friend, or Vor Faelles Ven, is the least seen of the quartet, and indeed the restoration work on this print has been going on for quite some time. Now, 90 years after it was released, we can see it as it should be seen.
Our Mutual Friend screens at NFT3, BFI Southbank at 6.20pm on 6 March 2012 and at 8.45pm on 9 March 2012 with live piano accompaniment. Buy tickets here.

Seymour Hicks as Ebenezer in Scrooge (1913)
Seymour Hicks as Ebenezer in Scrooge (1913)

The shorts programme kicks off with Thomas Bentley, who went on to direct several Dickens films, in front of the camera taking on a number of roles in Leaves from the Books of Charles Dickens (1912). American comedian John Bunny starred in three films based on The Pickwick Papers – but the two shown here are the only ones to survive. Two versions of A Christmas Carol finish the programme, with Seymour Hicks playing the miser in 1913 version and Charles Rock being visited by spectres in 1914.
Pre-1914 Short Films (Programme two) screens at 9.30pm on 9 March at NFT3, BFI Southbank (with introduction by Michael Eaton) and at 6.20pm on 23 March 2012 in NFT2, BFI Southbank. Both screenings will feature live piano accompaniment. Buy tickets here.

4 thoughts on “Charles Dickens on silent film: part three, BFI Southbank, March 2012”

  1. If you’d like some silent Dickens to keep forever the BFI DVD ‘Dickens Before Sound’ has quite a few of these treasures including John Bunny’s ‘Pickwick’ voiced hilariously by Ken Campbell – also a complete magic lantern presentation of ‘Gabriel Grubb’ and the Jackie Coogan Oliver Twist

  2. I have noticed that in articles on the 1913 film ” Scrooge” (re-released in 1926 by Pictorial Clubs, Inc. and Pathe’ Distributors) that while Seymour Hicks is credited as playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, the names of the other cast members are listed, but not the roles they played. Since buying a dvd of the film some years ago, I have been researching on the internet the biographies and photos of the other cast members trying to determine ( or guess) who played what part in the film. Here is what I’ve come up with: Seymour Hicks -Scenario and Ebenezer Scrooge, Leonard Calvert – Charles Dickens (possibly) and Scrooge’s Nephew Fred Wyland, Leedham Bantock -Director and Bob Cratchit, Osbourn Adair -Tiny Tim (possibly), Dorothy Buckstone (daughter of J. C. Buckstone and Adela Measor) – Poor Woman, J. C. Buckstone -Guardian of the Poor/ Mr. Middlemark, William Lugg – Ghost of Jacob Marley, Ellaline Terriss (wife of Seymour Hicks)- Scrooge’s Lost Love, Belle and Adela Measor (wife of J. C. Buckstone) -Mrs. Cratchit. I would like to see these fine actors of the Edwardian Era given their proper credit in this historic first feature film of ” A Christmas Carol” and film version of J.C. Buckstone’s famous and popular play.

    Also I would be curious to know the location where this film was made by Zenith Films
    Ltd. ; Great North Road?, Barnet? Totteridge?

    David E. Miller
    United States of America

  3. Nice bit of research Mr Miller. That name Buckstone caught my eye. I haven’t checked the genealogy but I think Dorothy might have been younger sister of Walter Buckstone, cameraman in the early British film industry.

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