Caught on Film

Falsely Accused!

American Mutoscope & Biograph Co., USA, 1907

A sheet is attached to the wall so that the jury can watch the commission of a murder in a laboratory which, fortunately for the heroine whose dilemma is announced in the film’s title, was outfitted with motion-picture equipment. In footage archived at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, one scene shows a courtroom full of people looking at the blank sheet; the next frames contain the evidentiary footage, which is positioned so that it can be matted in to the space provided by the blank sheet. The actor standing on the chair behind the judge’s bench is D.W. Griffith, who acted and wrote scripts at Biograph for several months before directing his first film, in the spring of 1908. Until this print surfaced, film scholars had long assumed that Griffith’s first screen appearance was in Rescued from an Eagle’s Nest, directed by Edwin S. Porter at Edison in January 1908 (see Biographical Sketch 4.2); Falsely Accused!, however, was made in December 1907.

Back to CHAPTER 8/Part 2