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Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company (The UCLA Film and Television Archives: Studies in History, Criticism, and Theory) Paperback – May 14, 1991


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Product Details

  • Series: The UCLA Film and Television Archives: Studies in History, Criticism, and Theory (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 591 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (May 14, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520069862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520069862
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,325,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

“The most important book on early American cinema yet to appear. At once a compelling biography and a fundamentally new view of a major cultural phenomenon, it offers fresh perspectives on the development of twentieth-century American society.”—Robert Sklar, author of Movie-Made America

From the Back Cover

The most important book on early American cinema yet to appear. At once a compelling biography and a fundamentally new view of a major cultural phenomenon, it offers fresh perspectives on the development of twentieth-century American society. (Robert Sklar, author of Movie-Made America)

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More About the Author

Charles Musser teaches courses on film historiography, American cinema, documentary film and media as well as documentary filmmaking at Yale University. His book The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907 (1990) received the Jay Leyda Prize in Cinema Studies, the Theater Library Association Award for best book on Film, TV and Radio, the Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for outstanding book in Media Studies and other awards. His other books include Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company (1991), High-Class Moving Pictures: Lyman H. Howe and the Forgotten Era of Traveling Exhibition, 1880-1920 (with Carol Nelson, 1991), and Edison Motion Pictures, 1890-1900: An Annotated Filmography (1997). The latter received Honorable Mention, Katherine Kovacs Prize for Outstanding Book in Media Studies (1998) and Honorable Mention, Theater Library Book Award for Best Book on Motion Pictures, Radio and Television. More recently, he co-edited Oscar Micheaux and His Circle: African American Filmmaking and Race Cinema of the Silent Era (2001) with Jane Gaines and Pearl Bowser, which included his prize-winning essay "To Redream the Dreams of White Playwrights: Resistance and Reappropriation in Oscar Micheaux's Body and Soul." He is currently working on several book projects, which include a study of Paul Robeson's film work, and the ways in which film transformed theatrical culture.


Charlie has worked extensively in documentary, beginning with a two-year "apprenticeship" as first assistant editor on Peter Davis's Oscar-winning Hearts and Minds (1974). He went on to produce and direct the prize-winning An American Potter (1976) and Before the Nickelodeon: The Early Cinema of Edwin S. Porter (1982), which premiered at the New York Film Festival. He taught the first university-level course devoted to filmmaker Errol Morris and went on to make a feature-length documentary portrait: Errol Morris: A Lightning Sketch (with Carina Tautu, 2012). His recent essays on documentary include "Carl Marzani & Union Films: Making Left-wing Documentaries during the Cold War, 1946-53," The Moving Image, 9:1 (Spring 2009), "Truth and Rhetoric in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11," in Mathew Bernstein, ed., Michael Moore: Filmmaker, Newsmaker, Cultural Icon (University of Michigan Press, 2010) and "Political Documentary, YouTube and the 2008 US Presidential Election: Focus on Robert Greenwald and David N. Bossie," Studies in Documentary Film 4:1 (2010), 199-210.

Musser has also worked extensively in the Public Humanities and regularly curates an intensive, annual weekend of film screenings with filmmakers for the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven. He has curated and programmed shows at such venues as the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the New-York Historical Society, UCLA Film and Televsion Archives, and the Giornate del Cinema Muto (Pordenone, Italy). He has received the Prix Jean Mitry (1996), the George Eastman House Society International Scholar Award (1992) and is an Academy Film Scholar (2005). For more information see his website: www.charlesmusser.com.

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