Henry Ford’s Moving Picture Show, by Phillip W. Stewart

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

This attractive & well-laid out reference book with a shot from a movie on each new chapter page is for researchers & the curious about an American's passion for this new medium & the beginnings of his Motion Picture Department.

The author explains in his Preface how during the research for his next book he came upon the Henry Ford's Moving Picture Show in the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). After vainly searching the Internet & catalog card files he had to resort to the paper records, all 2700 pages stored in 30 three-ring binders. Having pored through the 3500+ titles to find the films about his subject, WWI, he decided to catalog  the library, identifying them in "...an alphabetical title index and a comprehensive subject index."

In his Introduction he offers the story of these film clips & some frames of reference re: listings & brief descriptions of this treasure trove of a million+ feet of black and white 35 millimeter celluloid film: "...100 feet of 35-mm film, shot at the standard silent speed rate of 16 frames-per-second, is equal to 1 minute and 39 seconds." p.xii.

Henry Ford thought everything was worth filming: from Helen Keller "seeing" his face to children in a bath tub with a cake of soap to army athletics to bears in the woods to ostrich farms to coal mining to African basket weaving. From Olympic skiers to a driver parking on the White House lawn to a trip to Santa Fe to his family and friends to cartoons to baseball to Yosemite Valley to lumber & date farms to camping trips to....

Reviewed by: Dave Brown (August 2011)

Author's Synopsis

This is the first volume of the HENRY FORD'S MOVING PICTURE SHOW: An Investigator's Guide to the Films Produced by the Ford Motor Company series. It focuses on the initial six years (1914-1920) of the Ford Motor Company motion picture collection that is held in the U.S. National Archives and identifies 935 films. To assist in your investigation of this historically significant film collection, two indexes are also provided--an alphabetical title index and a comprehensive subject index.

The Henry Ford's Moving Picture Show is a multi-book series of guides written to facilitate the public and professional use of the film footage in the Ford Motor Company Collection and to describe its contents in a way that has been, until now, unavailable. The volumes ultimately published under this title, catalog the surviving films produced or acquired by the Ford Motor Company between 1914 and 1954. When the U.S. National Archives accepted these historically significant films in 1963, it provided an all inclusive formal title of: Films Relating to the Ford Motor Company, the Henry Ford Family, Noted Personalities, Industry, and Numerous Americana and Other Subjects...and this pretty well sums up the visual content of the collection.

Altogether, the collection holds approximately 1.8 million feet of silent, black and white, 35-millimeter celluloid film. The main goal of Henry Ford's Moving Picture Show is to provide a useful and practical resource to the moving images of the world during the first half of the 20th Century, as seen through the camera lens of the Ford Motion Picture Department and its successor, the Ford Photographic Department. These films have superb historical value that stems from their very broad subject-matter coverage. Overall, the moving images contained in these films are truly Americana in motion.