Fort Lee: Early Film Capital

January 18, 2006


The Department of Film and Media presents a program recognizing Fort Lee, New Jersey, as one of the first major sites of American film production, born as a filmmaking center nearly one hundred years ago. From 1905 on, D. W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, and Mack Sennett ferried entire acting companies across the Hudson to pose against the Palisades. As films became longer and more elaborate, permanent studios were built, occupied by such producers as David O. Selznick, Samuel Goldwyn, and William Fox. Actors Theda Bara, “Fatty” Arbuckle, and Douglas Fairbanks worked in great greenhouse studios that sprung up. But by the 1920s, everything had changed. Over the years, fires claimed one studio at a time. But why did the “moving-picture men” establish themselves firmly in Fort Lee in the first place, and what made them leave? In this illustrated lecture, art historian and scholar Richard Koszarski discusses the rise and fall of Fort Lee filmmaking. The films are presented by Koszarski and Nelson Paige of the Fort Lee Film Comission

Organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film and Media.


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