Early Film of Campus

This photo from earlier in the week prompted questions in the comments and in my email about the earliest film we have that was shot on campus:

Slides Opening shot with camera

Sadly but predictably, we’ve never found the smallest trace of the movies that were made at the Formal Opening. (If you know where it is, please call soonest!) The first film we have dates to the late 1930s. Called “Through the Sallyport,” it was given to Rice by Dorothy Weiser Seale ’37 (the daughter of Chemistry professor and Dean, Harry Weiser). It’s interesting mainly for its age–it’s silent, a series of plotless images of students goofing around in various venues on and near campus. We have it on dvd if you’d like to come in and take a look.

I did recently happen upon a tantalizing reference in the April 13, 1916 edition of the Thresher, though, just a small wisp of excitement about “movies” on campus:

Movies April 13, 1916



This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Early Film of Campus

  1. Richard A. Schafer says:

    Is there any indication that this 1916 movie was actually ever made? This sounds like the barest of plans by an unknown “motion picture concern.” I’d never heard of Lubin, but a little research shows that the Sigmund “Pop” Lubin’s Lubin Film Company produced over 3000 silent movies from 1896 to 1916, before he went bankrupt and returned to ophthalmology.

    • Steve Lukingbeal says:

      Rumor has it that the movie license agreement was never finalized because Lupin was going to make an action movie which required that the Italian Cypress trees be climbed by the various actors pursuing each other. He also wanted to fly a hand glider off the top of the old West Dorm (today’s Hanszen College).

      • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

        Some stranger things than that have occurred at West Hall. (It was West Hall to us; never heard any of the residences called a “dorm” in the dear dead days beyond recall.*)

        And “have” because I think they are probably still occurring.

        * Extra points for anyone who recalls that tear-jerker.

  2. marmer01 says:

    Bonus: backstage Stude Concert Hall. The aluminum platforms are choir risers, made by (surprise!) Wenger. If you went out the door into the hallway on the stage right side, you would have been looking right into the courtyard with the bottlebrush trees.

    • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

      Bottlebrush trees handy to hang up the empties, I imagine.

  3. J Cameron Cooper says:

    These last few articles remind me: I remember a movie was shot in Ryon Lab somewhere circa 2000; I had to go around back to stay out of the shot while going to a class upstairs. (Japanese History, strangely enough.) I think it was being shot as a villain’s secret lair for some low-budget cable movie. I’ve not been able to find any reference to it since. Anyone know what it was called?

  4. Melissa Kean says:

    Really?? This is the first I’ve ever heard of this.

    • J Cameron Cooper says:

      I remember it quite well; they built an office set in the Ryon lobby out of “Hollywood” flats (which made an impression on me, since I was working with the Rice Players at the time, and we used “theatre flats”.) The background was the crane pit and there were guys in jumpsuits standing around.

      I’ve never found any mention of it in the Thresher or Rice News online archives. Don’t know why, you’d think it would make the news. I don’t know exactly when this was, but if I got my transcript or something I could at least figure out the semester. I believe it was Sarah Thaler teaching Japanese History. I don’t think she’s there any more.

Leave a Reply