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(Edison Manufacturing Company, © USA, 1891)

Produced by: William K.L. Dickson, William Heise

Starring: James C. Duncan, Fred C. Devonald

Runtime: 0:19 min.

Rated: U.

Illo Tempore Film Awards history

Edison Manufacturing Company (William K.L. Dickson, William Heise) - Nominee, Best Picture

Fred C. Devonald - Nominee, Best Actor

William Heise - Winner, Best Producer

Fred C. Devonald - Nominee, Best Breakthrough (actor)

Review by Aaron Time

        Duncan Or Devonald With Muslin Cloud, the final part of the Duncan Trilogy, was one of the two most nominated films at the 1st Illo Tempore Film Awards, with four nominations.

        The short piece presents a short scene in which an interesting ambiguity is created between the two performers Fred C. Devonald and James C. Duncan (Duncan And Another, Blacksmith Shop) in a relation to a muslin cloud. With a successful plot twist at the end, the Dickson’s and Heise’s experimental film, tries to go beyond the pure documentary style of the first productions, and introduces the story element.

        Shot at the begging of summer of 1891, Duncan Or Devonald With Muslin Cloud is an honest sequel of Duncan And Another, Blacksmith Shop if we are referring to the development of the concept of grandiosity as a prime element in film productions. As with most of the productions at the time, it is pretty obvious the intention of the two producers and cinematographers, William K.L. Dickson and William Heise, in experimenting the effects of different backgrounds and lighting styles, which though innovative, take a bit of from the successfulness of the this production, that seems over-filled in the short time available.

        The film was nominated for Best Picture, and brought William Heise (Dickson Greeting, Duncan Smoking) the Best Producer Award at the 1891 Illo Tempore Film Awards, even though Dickson’s contribution was of similar value.

        Fred C. Devonald received two nominations for the particular part: Best Actor and Best Breakthrough. Though Devonald has worked alongside Dickson at least in the initial years, he did not appear in many of the experimental productions produced at Edison’s Laboratory in New Jersey. Duncan Or Devonald With Muslin Cloud has represented the most successful achievement in Devonald’s brief acting career.

        The short is not an utter disappointment, even though it represents a valuable lesson for future filmmakers not to concentrate a complicated construction in one single scene.



Copyright © Illo Tempore Film Awards 2003. The copyrights of the pictures are kept with the authors.

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