Rescued by Rover (1905)
Director: Lewin Fitzhamon, Cecil Hepworth
Cast: Blair, May Clark, Barbara Hepworth
Synopsis: A dog leads its master to his kidnapped baby.
This 1905 film from Cecil Hepworth’s studio was a massive hit in its day, and it is quite well made for the period. The camera is static and positioned directly in front of the action for most scenes, but on one occasion at least it chooses a slightly oblique angle which stands out amongst what now looks like purely routine and unimaginative camera positioning.
The storyline is one that would be repeated frequently over the next 50 years or so: a child in peril saved by a faithful family dog. The dog here is played by Blair, the Hepworth family pet, and he’s a handsome creature. The character he plays is incredibly bright as well, knowing exactly to which part of town the family’s baby has been taken. The film plays on the middle-classes fear of the lower classes: the villain is an alcoholic down-and-out woman living in an attic. It all looks very simplistic today, but it’s a good example of how early filmmakers were slowly coming to grips with the tools at their disposal.
(Reviewed 15th June 2009)