Jacksonville: Film Capital of the World…Almost

Jacksonville Shoot

Kalem Studios, Jacksonville, Fla. 1912

In the Beginning…

   In the last years of the nineteenth century, during the Spanish-American War, both the Edison Film Company and the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company (which would soon change its name to just the Biograph Company) produced a series of short films in Florida. Many were just clips less than a minute long. At the time, Florida was a training ground for soldiers preparing to go to war (The Spanish-American War). There are clips of soldiers disembarking from railroad cars, boarding ships and training for the war. Films had titles like Roosevelt’s Rough Riders (Tampa), Military Camp in Tampa Taken from Train, Colored Troops Disembarking (Tampa), War Correspondents (Key West), U.S. Calvary Supplies Unloading in Tampa, Florida and Burial of the “Maine” Victims (Key West). All are from 1898 and are available on-line via the Library of Congress. These films are considered to be the earliest made in Florida. Continue reading

Tony Rome (1967) Gordon Douglas

TOnyRome23The private detective film made a comeback in the mid to late 60’s thanks to the Paul Newman starring 1966 film Harper. (There were shades of Bogart and a good story line thanks to the source novel The Moving Target by Ross MacDonald). Other films soon followed (P.J., Marlowe) in its successful path including Tony Rome released the following year.

By 1967, Frank Sinatra’s film career was once again on a slide downward, unlike Newman’s who pretty much ruled the screen in the 1960’s. The original Jersey Boy made three mediocre films in a row (Marriage on the Rocks, Assault on a Queen and The Naked Runner). They were films he walked through and he looked as bored as the films were themselves. With Tony Rome, Sinatra, the actor, found his way back with the kind of smart ass, wise guy loner the public always kind of felt the singer/actor was in real life. Sinatra does look a bit too old for the role, he was 51 and looked even older. Just compare a photo of 51 year old Brad Pitt next to Frank, the difference is obvious. However, that hard, tired face and look surely adds to the aura. Continue reading