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Le Cinématographe Lumière (septembre-novembre 1896)

C'est dans les premiers jours de septembre 1896 que le cinématographe Lumière est présenté à Pittsburg à l'Avenue Theater, dirigé par M. Davis. Les annonces se multiplient dans la presse locale et certains articles, comme celui du Pittbsburg Daily Post offre la totalité du programme de l'inauguration qui a lieu le 7 septembre : 

The opening of Pittsburg’s leading continuous theater, “The Avenue,” to-morrow at 1 o’clock will be hailed with delight by its many patrons. Manager Harry Davis has made many improvements in the popular and cozy house in the way of redecorations and remodeling. There are several good reasons why the Avenue is looked upon by the public of Pittsburg as a favorite play-house. The location is the very best, the management liberal, the prices within the reach of all, and last, but not least, no expense is spared to give the people the best the market affords in the way of attractions. The opening bill proves this, and the engagements already made for the season comprise leading vaudeville artists of the European and American stage.
The offering for the inaugural week, beginning at 1 p. m. to-morrow, are the following exceptionally strong novelties: For the first time in Pittsburg, the marvelous Cinematographe will be seen. It is a French invention, and antedates all other machines made for instantaneous photographic purposes. It is declared to be the best ever shown in this country of Europe. The Cinematographe is at present the greatest fashionable and scientific fad of London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin and the entire continent. Its exhibitions have been attended by crowned heads, and have created a furore wherever witnessed. It will surely create a sensation in this city. “The March of the Ninety-Sixth Infantry” is said to be one of its superb views, and one of the best French infantry regiments, with its regimental officers on horseback marching at the head and sides of the regiment, with drum corps and band. The marching movements of these troops differ greatly in countries, and military men have remarked that these pictures possess the greatest interest, because they enable one to see the different methods used in different armies. Another view is “A Blacksmith Shop.” This is a scene familiar to everyone, young and old; a splendid horse being held while the blacksmith is removing the old shoes, preparing the hoof, and others are working on the new shoes which are to be put on the horse. Another is a beautiful picture of “Swans Moving in the Water,” with all their well-known grace, while they are being fed by an aged retired French officer. Others views, which will be shown at the Avenue to-morrow and all the week include “Children at Play,” “Drawing a Coke Oven in France,” “The Aquarium, Brighton, England,” “Charge of the French Cavalry,” “Burning Leaves in French Forests,” “Watering Horses in the French Cavalry,” “Babies’ Quarrel,” “Arabian Cortege at Geneva Exposition,” “Demolition of a Building,” “Gondoliers of Venice,” “Village Fete in Switzerland,” and “The Artillery at Practice in Spain.” This wonderful invention is now being exhibited in Keith’s Union Square theater, New York city, where it has tested the capacity of the theater nightly. The distinguished actor, Beaumont Smith, has been especially engaged to give descriptive lecture during the exhibitions of the Cinematographe.

Pittsburgh Daily Post, Pittsburgh, 6 sep 1896, p. 9.

Les opérateurs Lumière sont souvent discrets sur place et il est rare que leur nom apparaisse. Ce qui peut retenir l'attention, dans le cas présent, c'est le rôle d'un acteur local, Beaumont Smith, engagé pour faire office de bonimenteur. L'idée n'est sans doute pas neuve et montre, en tout état de cause, que le cinématographe n'a jamais été totalement muet. 

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Beaumont Smith
The Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 21 juin 1896, p. 8

Par la suite, les informations sur le cinématographe vont diminuer singulièrement. Certes, l'annonce de la présentation des films sur le couronnement du Tsar est un moment fort et un argument commercial indéniable :

For the coming week the presentation of the wonderful pictures showing the recent coronation of the Russian czar and czarina is announced. In these pictures are shown all the ceremonies and principal incidents connected with this important event, and those Pittsburgers, who were unable to accept the invitation of the czar to be present will there have an opportunity of seeing the whole affaire at second hand. These pictures have made an immense sensation in Europe, and they will without doubt repeat their success there the coming week.

Pittsburgh Daily Post, Pittsburg, 13 septembre 1896, p. 15.

Mais par la suite, on doit se contenter de quelques rares entrefilets, même si le spectacle des images animées rencontre indéniablement un grand succès. Les présentations vont se prolonger pendant de nombreuses semaines. Une dernière tentative pour relancer l'intérêt des habitants consiste à indiquer que des vues américaines sont présentées, mais nous n'en avons pas de confirmation :

The Lumiere cinematographe will still continue the amusement novelty, with an interesting program of American and foreign views and humorous subjects.

Pittsburgh Daily Post, Pittsburg, 26 novembre 1896, p. 10.

L'appareil projette ses dernières vues à la fin du mois de novembre, puis il disparaît. Pourtant, l'Avenue Theater va présenter à peine deux semaines plus tard un autre appareil dont le moins que l'on puisse dire, c'est qu'il joue sur le succès du cinématographe Lumière : " The Marvelous ZINEMATOGRAPHE. An invention equally remarkable and said to possess all of the fine points of the Cinematographe. "  (Pittsburg Daily Post, Pittsburg, 13 décembre 1896, p. 16).

Répertoire (autres films) : Coronation of the Czar, Street Scene in London, Empress of Russia at the Crowning of the Czar, General Boysdeffre, French Representative at the Crowning of the Czar, Minerva's Bath, Milan, Italy, A Morning Dip in the Surf, The Arrival of the Fast Express, Watering the Lawn. (The Pittsburg Press, Pittsburg, 20 septembre 1896, p. 20).

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