Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Silent Movie Sligo 1919

Were you at the cinema last night? What film did you see? Did it address any of the major issues of the day?

If you had gone to the Palace Cinema Sligo 90 years ago on 16 February 1919, a Sunday night, you would have seen The Labour Leader. This 1917 silent British drama features a Socialist labour activist John Webster whose consciousness is aroused when he meets an unmarried, pregnant laundress Nell Slade. Webster leaves his society sweetheart and becomes a political activist. He becomes the first-ever Labour Party member elected to Parliament. By his side at this triumph is Nell Slade, who has long since become his bride.

Picture: Keir Hardie one of two Labour candidates elected in the October 1900 General Election. More history here.

The film is described as entertaining enough to please even those filmgoers who didn't agree with its political views. Fred Groves played the male lead and Fay Compton was also among the cast. She was to have a long acting career, one of her last major roles was as Aunt Ann in the BBC's 1967 television adaptation of The Forsyte Saga.

As well as the feature you would have also seen episode one of a new eighteen part serial called The Mystery Ship. Each episode lasted twenty minutes. There was also a newsreel called Irish Events which was filmed and distributed by The General Film Company of Ireland headed by Norman Whitten.

And you thought silent films were all slapstick and comedy!

1 comment:

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dear Michael Farry, I am very happy to have found your blog through Barbara Smith's.
Ireland is closer than ever to me in these days since I am reading "Stepping Stones", interviews to Seamus Heaney by Dennis O'Driscoll. I am writing about this in my blog
Best wishes, Davide Trame