Barbara Tepe Lupack’s new book Silent Serial Sensations: The Wharton Brothers and the Magic of Early Cinema (Cornell University Press, 2020) is a book-length account of the dynamic early film industry, focusing on the pioneering and prolific filmmakers Ted and Leo Wharton.
Barbara Tepa Lupack writes that the Wharton brothers were behind some of the most profitable and influential productions of the era, including The Exploits of Elaine and The Mysteries of Myra, which starred such popular performers as Pearl White, Irene Castle, Francis X. Bushman, and Lionel Barrymore.
Working from the independent film studio they established in Ithaca, Ted and Leo turned their adopted town into “Hollywood on Cayuga.” Lupack argues that by interweaving contemporary events and incorporating technological and scientific innovations, the Whartons expanded the possibilities of the popular serial motion picture and defined many of its conventions. A number of the sensational techniques and character types they introduced are still being employed by directors and producers a century later, according to Lupack’s account.
New York State Public Scholar (2015–2018) and Senior Fellow at the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies (2014 & 2018), Barbara Tepa Lupack is former Professor of English at St. John’s University and Wayne State College and academic dean at SUNY. She has written extensively on American film, literature, and culture. Her most recent books on silent film include Early Race Filmmaking in America and the award-winning Richard E. Norman and Race Filmmaking.
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