Daniel L. Symmes
NOTE: This article is dynamic in that
it will change over time as new or different information is found.
I have yet to find much in the way of advance word of the making of THE POWER OF LOVE (POL). One would think the production of the world's first feature length stereoscopic film would have blown a loud horn.
So far, the earliest mention of POL was on 19AUG1922:
True to its word, POL was screened on the night of 27SEP1922:
The LA showing was at the Ambassador Hotel, on Wilshire Blvd., just east of Western Ave. This was the hotel at that time, and many "industry" activities occurred there. It opened just eight months earlier, and was the first venue for the Academy Awards ceremonies.
The hotel had a "theater" setup though we do not know if the existing projectors were used for this demo.
POL was produced by Perfect Pictures ("511 Central Building, Los Angeles, California"), headed by Elliott Sparling and Daniel Gamble, which claimed to have "leased" the rights to the Fairall process. And Sparling happened to be the young male lead of the epic.
Interesting that Sid Grauman was present for the screening and reportedly offered to put the Yosemite short in his grand theaters. I find it more interesting he didn't make the offer for the feature.
Notice in the previous clipping the mention of reviews in four, Los Angeles newspapers.
Photography was with a custom camera designed by cameraman/inventor Harry K. Fairall. Two films in one camera body.This is spacing for
On the right, inventor Harry K. Fairall in the only known photo.
Fairall's company (Binocular Stereoscopic Film Co.) involved Fairall and a fellow named John W. Sward (and one mention of a Carl A. Rudquist) and seemed to be part of another company (name?) which probably financed POL. The key player in that company was actor-sometimes-director William J. Worthington (1872-1941) (who also ran Haworth Pictures). He in turn was in cahoots with writer-producer-director Rowland V. Lee (1891-1975). Oh, and Lee was married to Worthington's sister, Eleanor. (this part is like an old Johnny Carson routine)
Fairall's partner, Sward, was in the news ca.1915 and was an oil man as well as one of the first successful rice growers in California. An odd combination.
It seems logical Sward brought the development money for Fairall's camera.
One of Fairall's associates (for a better term), Robert F. Elder, apparently was also a mechanical type, as evidenced by a patent for a flotation dying machine (perhaps an improvement of Mason's 1920 patent owned by Kelley's Prizma). Nothing is known about him, though some seem to think he co-developed the "Fairall process." Examining patents by Elder and Fairall, and the time frames of same, I doubt this. Further, Elder was interviewed in Los Angeles by the New York Times in FEB1927, stating Fairall was the inventor (and without mentioning POL—see link at bottom).
Fairall also filed a patent the month before his LA demo for a duplitized printing process identical to that already in commercial use, particularly by William van Doren Kelley and Prizma. There is nothing whatsoever "novel" in the patent, particularly because of the proof of Kelley's work with MOVIES OF THE FUTURE and the WASHINGTON, D. C. films which is discussed at length in a separate chapter.
This point is brought up because it has been reported that the demo in Los Angeles was with two projectors. I have documented independent proof of this, and have found the statement from one reviewer that said: "This stereoscopic method is obtained by the projection on the screen simultaneously and super-imposed of two positive films..."
Another reviewer: "...can be shown to the public in a commercial way by any two projection machines..."
Lastly, another: "There are projected on the screen simultaneously two positive prints - super-imposed..."
But what has bothered me from day one is that films were typically projected from 2,000' reels at the time (as today). This was a five reel feature (plus one for the Yosemite travelogue) based on 1,000' reels. Running two projectors?? At 16 frames per second (nominal in '22), that would require a reel change every 15-16 minutes. I cannot believe this would have been the case.
Elder was apparently involved in devising a duplitized printing process, obviously the same as Kelley's. As mentioned above, he filed a patent for a dying machine MAR26, which was almost 4 years AFTER POL.
But, Fairall filed his duplitized patent AUG22, by which time he should have already had the demo print for POL.
Why wouldn't Fairall have dealt with Kelley/Prizma?
And in 1927, ex-Prizma alumnus William T. Crespinel was grabbed by Fairall to join his company to improve on the Fairall process—according to Crespinel. He reported Worthington and Fairall's request for the "secrets" in obtaining off-the-screen effects as apparently successful in Leventhall/Crespinel's PLASTIGRAMS/STEREOSCOPIKS seen nationally in 1924-25. This, it would seem, would indicate that POL was without 3D gimmicks. It further leads one to speculate Fairall didn't fully understand 3D.
Crespinel convinced them that 3D was a dead end, but said the equipment they had (not specified) could be used to create a "new" color process.
And thus Multicolor was born.
Kelley wouldn't have seen the Fairall patent until it was published in AUG26, by which time Prizma was virtually out of business, and therefore less likely to have contested the offense nor the validity of the patent.
It is possible that POL and the Yosemite short were printed on duplitized, toned film, exactly like MOVIES OF THE FUTURE/WASHINGTON, D.C., but there is no evidence of this.
I was recently asked if it was possible the two-color Technicolor process (#2 with cemented films) could have been employed. I doubt this, as the that process was very costly, and in this case, would have been prohibitively so for one print.
Kelley's other competition was Harriscolor (for whom Crespinel worked late 1926, early 1927), but that process wasn't available in 1922.
Assuming you've followed this logic so far, here's the monkey wrench: At some point prior to FEB23, Fairall provided information for an article in the FEB23 issue of Scientific American about his process. He confirms: "Two projection machines of any of the standard makes are required for showing the picture. These are interlocked in operation by a simple attachment and two films are projected on the screen at the same spot." This is very clear language, attributed to the source, Fairall. If he had any kind of single print arrangement, he would have said as much. But he didn't.
So, a mystery is: how did he show a six reel program without breaks every 15-16 minutes?
The only suggestion so far is that they were one of the first to build 6,000' reels, and adapt the projectors to accept them. This wouldn't be a simple thing. The major projectors of the day had reel enclosures (because of the inflamibility of nitrate film) which often were part of the projector's body, not allowing larger reels. Further, many projectors would have to be mounted on risers so the lower reel would clear the floor. The projectors would likely need to be reinforced to accept the considerable weight of the large reels. The projectors of 1922 were NOT the super sturdy machines of today. And many projection booths had very low ceilings, posing another problem.
In 1922, the latest model projectors were $1,200-$1,500 each (plus lamps). If Fairall could build a special camera and shoot a feature, then buying and modifying two projectors wouldn't have been a big problem. Yet in all the publicity, such a major equipment change was not mentioned. One review said: "Two projection machines of any of the standard makes...are...interlocked in operation by a simple attachment..." Nothing about modified projectors.
According to the Scientific American article, the prints were tinted red and green. This is consistant with additive, dual projection. This could have also been accomplished with colored filters on the projectors. In any case, the projection lamps would need to be brighter than normal to compensate for the coloring.
And to add to the mystery list, the oddest aspect of the Scientific American article is that it was stated for the camera: "One lens photographs through a green filter and the other lens through a red filter, thereby giving two negatives which contain everything of the image within the scope of the complementary colors." And: "It is necessary to make all negatives for this process on panchromatic stock which is slightly slower in exposure than the average negative film stock now on the market."
To shoot through two colored filters onto pan stock would produce color separations. When projected through the same colored filters, a two-color image would result! In the very same article: "The projected motion picture when viewed through the colored spectacles is black and white..."
In further evidence that this wasn't a writer unfamiliar: "It is also necessary to close down the diaphragm of the lenses until what might be termed a universal focus is secured. This insures sharpness in all portions of the picture, but at the same time cuts down the amount of exposure to such a material degree that "slow cranking" of the camera is necessary to secure the proper exposures. This feature is apparent in the finished product, for the players are required to move so slowly that at times their action does not seem real."
As a couple of the reviews noted, the depth of field was apparently unusual for the time; indicative of Fairall's idea of closing the lens down for such depth of field.
These intimate details HAD to be provided by Fairall himself. Yet the reviews of the film made no mention of the actors moving strangely.
I cannot believe he shot through filters. Makes no sense whatsoever. It COULD be that he was putting "disinformation" out there to throw off potential competition. If so, it was too thin.
Might also be that Fairall's understanding of some aspects of 3D weren't so clear and perhaps some aspects were handled by Elder, if he was involved during the making of POL.
It's frustrating for historians to run into contradictory information—especially from "trusted" sources.
The last mention I have found for the so-called Fairall Process:
THERE. Elder worked for Worthington, developing a two-color anaglyph process, consistant with his background. He and Fairall apparently mixed well for POL was produced. Over four years passed with no record of what happened. Crespinel joined Fairall/Worthington/Elder in 1927, suggesting using the two-color equipment for making color prints to compete with Technicolor, which was very expensive (and a year away from becoming Technicolor #3). Multicolor did very well for a few years, but was eventually eclipsed by Cinecolor, who eventually saw Crespinel as its president.
Theory: I believe distributors and theaters would balk at having to link projectors, and dual prints, and glasses. The 3D probably worked well enough, but didn't appeal to bean counters. Thus a few months later the feature was acquired by the rather new Selznick Distributing Corp. and widely distributed in 2-D as FORBIDDEN LOVER in 1923-24.
My thanks to Jeff Joseph for tracking down some details.
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