Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Air Meet Film Shown at Academy in Los Angeles

Oscar gave a shout out to Dominguez Hills on November 8, 2010 when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented the film Aviation at Los Angeles, Calif. The film was one of 14 films shown in the program “A Century Ago: The Films of 1910. The archival collections at CSUDH were mentioned during the program and web-pages from the CSUDH site were displayed at the theater.

The film "Aviation at Los Angeles, Calif." a production of Essanay Films, released on February 16, 1910, shows the 1910 Aviation Meet at Dominguez Field in all its pioneering glory. The event was the first air meet in the United States and took place just east of the site of CSU Dominguez Hills. Because the film was shot outside the quality of the film is quite striking. It begins with shots of the practically bursting dirigibles of Roy Knabenshue and Lincoln Beachey. Pilots Glenn Curtiss and Louis Paulhan are shown rolling down the hard ruts of the aviation field in their rickety flying machines. In one scene French pilot Paulhan is lifted on the shoulders of an adoring crowd after breaking the record for solo cross-country endurance. He had flown to Santa Anita and back in just over an hour. As he is carried away he pulls out a handkerchief to blow his nose. In another scene Paulhan jumps into his plane with U.S. Army Lieutenant Paul Beck prior to one of the first aerial bomb-dropping tests. There are breathtaking shots of the air meet grandstand with its cast of thousands of spectators and views of the Dominguez hills ranch lands possibly including the Rancho Dominguez and the Carson Family farm. On a filmmaking visit to Los Angeles (Hollywood was still a housing development) Gilbert M. “Bronco Billy” Anderson, co-founder of Essanay Films is also seen in the film. “Bronco Billy” an actor in the important early film, The Great Train Robbery (1903) went on to act and direct over 400 early westerns and other films. The film was presented on a 1910 hand-cranked Cameragraph motion picture machine. The film was accompanied by live piano music. The film copy is owned by the George Eastman House Museum in Rochester, NY. Preservation was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Images and material from the largest digital archive of 1910 aviation meet can be found at the CSUDH Archives and Special Collection site http://archives.csudh.edu:2006/cdm4/aviationmeet.php. Short excerpts from another copy of the film can be seen at http://csudh.edu/1910airmeet/video/. The Air meet website is at http://www.csudh.edu/1910airmeet/. Archives and Library staff members started and have contributed to the Wikipedia page on the site. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1910_Los_Angeles_International_Air_Meet_at_Dominguez_Field. The Finding Aid to CSU Dominguez Hill’s archival collection can be found at