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Yesterday and Today

Yesterday and Today(1953)

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Crying Boy

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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In his office, vaudeville performer and producer George Jessel describes the birth of the motion picture in 1893 and illustrates the first years of the medium with clips from some representative films of the first motion picture studio, Thomas A. Edison's Black Maria. Early newsreels show major events and public figures from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including an 1899 beauty pageant, Czar Nicholas II, King George V, Andrew Carnegie and Kaiser Wilhelm. Portions of films from the United States, England, France and Italy are shown. Jessel describes the progression of technological advances at the turn of the century and illustrates by explaining clips of French films such as The Living Head , The Professor's Secret (France, 1908), A Trip to the Moon (France, 1899) and Little Jimmy's Nightmare and Bride Retiring (France, 1904). Jessel discusses the earliest motion picture star, comedian John Bunny. He then shows scenes from early films of Little Moritz, French comedian Max Linder and Italian comedian Tontolini. Early dramas such as Edison's Asleep at the Switch are shown, as are early British and Russian dramas. In 1908, serials gain popularity, featuring such actresses as Pearl White and Ruth Roland. In a discussion of popular stars of the silent era, off-camera clips are shown of Blanche Sweet, Marie Dressler, George Arliss, Clara Bow, Dolores Del Rio, Eddie Cantor, Ronald Colman, Marion Davies, Harold Lloyd, Pola Negri, Tom Mix and his horse Tony, Charles Chaplin, Glora Swanson, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Mack Swain, Stuart Holmes, Tom Moore, Lon Chaney, Rudolph Valentino, Will Rogers and Lionel Barrymore. A portion of the animated Walt Disney film Alice in the Jungle (1925) is also shown. After discussing the importance of the box office hit The Jazz Singer (1927), starring Al Jolson in the first part-talking picture with synchronized sound, Jessel, who played the role on Broadway, imitates Jolson singing one of the film's hits, "Toot, Toot, Tootsie!" After briefly mentioning recent innovations such as Technicolor, CinemaScope and 3-D, Jessel posits, "Who knows what will happen next?" and comments that movies "will always be your best entertainment."