Branding Broadway. 1918. USA. Directed by William S. Hart

Thomas Harper Ince (American, 1880–1924) was a major figure in the early days of silent film. He began his film career in 1910 as an actor for the Biograph Company, but soon began directing one-reel films starring Mary Pickford for Carl Laemmle’s Imp Company. He moved to California in 1911 to direct two-reelers for the Bison 101 brand, and in 1913 he ceased full-time directing to concentrate on producing, returning briefly to the director’s chair to make Civilization (1916), an epic plea for peace and American neutrality. In 1915 he partnered with directors D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett to form the Triangle Motion Picture Company, leaving two years later to found his own independent production company and build Culver City Studios, later the home of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Many of the production methods and business techniques he developed formed the basis of the Hollywood studio system. Among the many luminaries whose films he produced were early cowboy star William S. Hart, Charles Ray, Blanche Sweet, Enid Bennett, Douglas MacLean, Madge Bellamy, and Florence Vidor.

In 1986, The Museum of Modern Art mounted a comprehensive exhibition of films produced or directed by Ince. Two decades later, and in cooperation with Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, where this program was first shown this past October, we present this update, covering the entire length of Ince’s career. Although many of the prints screened at MoMA in 1986 were in 16mm, this year all are in 35mm and most are either newly restored or not previously seen by the Museum’s audiences. All films directed by Ince, unless otherwise noted, and silent. Screenings in Titus Theater 2 feature piano accompaniment by Stuart Oderman and Ben Model.

Organized by Steven Higgins, Curator, Department of Film.

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