Romance, Exploits & Peril
Another side benefit of my weekend sojourn in Ithaca – -I got to see this swell exhibition Romance, Exploits & Peril: When Movies Were Made in Ithaca, organized by the Ithaca Motion Picture Project. Sound trifling? Insignificant? Trumped up? Wrong, wrong and wrong! For roughly 7 years (1912-1919), Ithaca and environs were the locus for one of the country’s burgeoning film centers, mostly due to the activities of a pair of producers named the Wharton Brothers. In the early years of the film industry, it took awhile for everything to settle down in Southern California. Other major centers in the early years included Chicago, New York and Florida. Ithaca was popular (not surprisingly) for its natural assets, waterfalls, gorges and woodlands. This made it the perfect place to shoot cliffhanger serials, which is what the Whartons specialized in. (On one memorable occasion they drove an Ithaca City trolley car off of a bridge). Stars both emerging and established passed through the area on these shoots, among them Lionel Barrymore, Oliver Hardy and Irene Castle. The multi-part exhibition is spread throughout several locations around Ithaca and will be on view through November 6. For more information go here.