The Marvellous Corricks

Rare and colourful films from the earliest days of The Moving Picture are vividly reanimated in this entertaining Live Cinema show.
Director: Various
Year: 1904
Country: New Zealand
Running time: 80 mins

A wonderfully fruitful collaboration between The Film Archive and Te Puna Toi Performance Research Project recreates the element of live performance that first ushered the movies into the world of popular entertainment. Superbly restored prints of amazing early films are brought to life with wit and alacrity in a lovingly detailed accompaniment devised by Free Theatre performers pianist Chris Reddington and narrator Dr Ryan Reynolds.

Te Puna Toi was established in 2001 by the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at the University of Canterbury to provide a platform for performance research in New Zealand. Reynolds’ research is matched by a quick, well-trained eye for everything that’s going on in these century-old dramas, comedies, travelogues and early special-effects wonders. As surely as the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia have restored tinting and colour to these lovely antiquities, so have Reynolds and Reddington reanimated the spirits of the showmen who created them, and the performers who prance so nimbly through them.

The films were acquired by the eponymous Corricks, a vaudeville family from Christchurch, who incorporated them into their ‘Musical and Pictorial Event’ which toured New Zealand, then the world between 1901–14 with great success. The film collection was deposited at the Australian Archive in 1970. This programme includes the first British animated cartoon from 1907, a fascinating view of life in London streets and parks in 1904, a surreal tale of a man who thinks he’s a bull, and a farce made in Perth by and starring the Corricks themselves. Great fun. — BG

Programme includes

The Conjurer’s Lottery (La poule aux oeufs d’or)
France 1905. Pathe. 14 mins
A beautifully hand-coloured  extravaganza featuring a golden hen that turns into a beautiful woman who in turn transforms her fellow chickens into a troupe of elegant dancers.

The Man- Bull Fight (Monsieur qui a mange du taureau)
France 1907. Gaumont. 6 mins

A surreal comedy about a man who goes mad after eating beef at a dinner party. He straps a set of bull’s horns to his head and sets off on a rampage. Call for the toreadors.

Ralph Benefits by People’s Curiousity (Toto exploite la curiosité)
France 1909. Pathe. 5 mins

A small boy finds a kaleidoscope in the street and charges curious onlookers (but not us) for a peek. This fine example of early stenciling shows the influence of magic lantern shows.

The Hand of the Artist
UK 1907. Robert Paul. 3 mins

A brilliant trick film involving stop motion photography, this was the first British animated film. A hand draws a man and a woman who begin to perform only to be interrupted by the hand…

The Little Street Singers (Les petits pifferari)
France 1909. Pathe. 7 mins

A charming story about two children who set out to perform as street singers to earn money for their poor mother. This film is precisely stenciled in detailed colour and features some striking rural location filming.

The Japanese Flower Dance
France 1907. Pathe. 4 mins

This hand-coloured special effects film was a favourite on vaudeville programmes.

Living London
UK 1904. Charles Urban Trading Co. 10 mins

An impressive ‘actuality’ illustrating daily life in London’s streets and parks in 1904, this ten minute condensation is all that remains of a much longer film.

Babylas Inherits a Panther (Babylas vient d’hériter d’une panthère)
France 1911. Pathe. 8 mins

Lucky Babylas inherits a panther. The panther escapes and causes chaos as it explores the building before it gets into the street and runs amok amidst shoppers.

The Bashful Mr Brown
Australia 1907. Corrick. 4 mins

This farcical comedy, made by the Corricks themselves in Perth, features an awkward young bachelor whose clumsiness disrupts afternoon tea.