April 25, 2019
On April 25, 2019, the Finger Lakes Film Trail (FLFT) will sponsor its inaugural event: a screening at the Dryden Theatre at Eastman Museum of the first four episodes of the landmark serial The Exploits of Elaine, produced by renowned silent filmmakers Ted and Leo Wharton. For its cultural and cinematic significance, The Exploits of Elaine was recently selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry; the first serial to earn that distinction.
The Finger Lakes Film Trail is a new and evolving collaborative effort by three Central New York institutions – Eastman Museum, Wharton Studio Museum and Case Research Laboratory/Cayuga Museum – that affords a fresh and exciting opportunity to interpret the singular history and culture of the Finger Lakes Region by highlighting some of its greatest motion picture innovations.
Few early serial episodes survive, so this is a rare opportunity to enjoy a true silent masterpiece. Expertly restored by the Eastman House, The Exploits of Elaine episodes to be screened will be introduced by film historian Dr. Barbara Tepa Lupack, author of Silent Serial Sensations: The Wharton Brothers and the Magic of Early Cinema (forthcoming, Cornell University Press). Musical accompaniment will is by renowned musicologist, Dr. Philip C. Carli.
The Wharton Brothers, who established their production studio at Renwick (now Stewart) Park in Ithaca, were among the premiere silent serial producers of the 1910s. Hailed by their contemporaries as “masters” of the genre, they introduced into their films numerous techniques and innovations, some of which are still being employed by filmmakers today
The Exploits of Elaine (1914), the Wharton brothers’ first serial, showcased internationally-known silent film star Pearl White as the intrepid Elaine, who—with the help of Dr. Craig Kennedy, film’s first scientific detective (sometimes called “the American Sherlock Holmes”)—resolves the mystery of her father’s untimely death. A remarkably innovative and entertaining serial, The Exploits of Elaine is considered by many film historians to be the first film to earn over a million dollars at the box office. It was so popular, in fact, that the Whartons produced two more “Elaine” serials: The New Exploits of Elaine (1915) and The Romance of Elaine (1915), both starring Pearl White.
The April 25 screening of The Exploits of Elaine is one of numerous film events, lectures, and screenings that have been planned and that will be sponsored by the new inter-county Finger Lakes Film Trail. Supported in part by a grant from Humanities New York, the three FLFT partner sites include the Eastman Museum, Rochester; the Wharton Studio Museum, Ithaca; and the Case Research Laboratory, Auburn.
General Admission: $8. Members and Students: $6.
Senior Matinee Admission: free (65 and older)
For tickets visit: www.eastman.org/dryden
The next Finger Lakes Film Trail event will be a screening of the Oscar Micheaux silent race-film classic, Within Our Gates, a black response to D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of Nation, and will be held at the Carriage House Theater, Case Research Laboratory and Cayuga Museum of History & Art, in Auburn, on May 19, at 2:00 p.m.