Mutual Film

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Mutual Film Corporation
Industry Film studio
Fate Dissolved
Founded July 1912
Defunct 1972
Headquarters Edendale, California
Key people John R. Freuler (1872-1958)
Harry E. Aitken (1877-1956)
Roy Aitken (1882-1976)
Advertisement (1916)

Mutual Film Corporation was an early American motion picture conglomerate best remembered today as the producers of some of Charlie Chaplin's greatest comedies.

It originated with the Western Film Exchange founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in July 1906 by Wisconsin natives John R. Freuler (1872-1958), Harry E. Aitken (1877-1956) and Roy Aitken (1882-1976).

In 1910, Freuler would also form a partnership with Chicago film distributor Samuel S. Hutchinson known as the American Film Manufacturing Company.[1] In March 1912, the company acquired Thanhouser Studios, naming Charles J. Hite, who was Hutchinson's partner in Chicago and acquired some studio stock, helping the studio make the Thanhouser purchase.[2] He served as the company's president. The company was renamed the Mutual Film Corporation.[2] Hite died in 1914.

As 1912 progressed, the company included auxiliary units such as Keystone Studios Comedies and the Majestic Studios, which would later become the Reliance-Majestic Studios through Harry Aitken's partnership with D. W. Griffith, and the New York Motion Picture Company.[3] In 1915, the workers of Keystone Studios, Kay Bee Studios (a subsidiary of the New York Motion Picture Company) and Reliance-Majestic Studio left Mutual, along with the Aitken brothers, to form the Triangle Film Corporation. Now as complete owners of the former Reliance-Majestic Studio, by 1917 the conglomerate operated as the distributor for four subsidiary studios in California, three of which were in the Los Angeles area and the other in Santa Barbara. They were Signal Film Corporation, Vogue Films, Inc., Lone Star Film Company and American Film Company. Vogue Films, Inc. operated a studio at Santa Monica Boulevard and Gower street in Los Angeles producing two-reel comedy films exclusively.

In 1915, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio that motion pictures were a form of business, not an art form, and therefore not covered by the First Amendment.[4]

Shortly after this decision, cities began to pass ordinances banning the public exhibition of "immoral" films, concerning the major studios that state or federal regulations would soon follow. This ruling remained in effect until Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson in 1952 which declared that film was a legitimate artistic medium with free speech protections.

In 1916, Charlie Chaplin became the highest paid entertainer in the world when he signed a contract with Mutual for a salary of $670,000 per year. Mutual built Chaplin his very own studio and allowed him total freedom to make twelve two-reel films during this fruitful twelve-month period. Chaplin subsequently recognised this period of film-making as the most inventive and liberating of his career, although he also had concerns that the films produced were increasingly formulaic during the length of his contract.

During 1916 and 1917, the Lone Star Film Company had Charlie Chaplin working at their studio at 1025 Lillian Way, in Hollywood. Charlie Chaplin moved on to found United Artists in 1919 with Mary Pickford, D. W. Griffith, and Douglas Fairbanks. In 1919, Mutual Film Corporation ceased production. Like many other companies established at this time, Mutual was eventually absorbed by larger corporations, in this case Film Booking Offices of America and later RKO Radio Pictures.

With the exception of the Chaplin films, most of the Mutual shorts and feature dramas are lost to time and decompostion.

After a 53 year absence, MFC distributed one film, Tears of Happiness, in 1972.

There is a newer organisation, Mutual Film Company which has links to the older Mutual Film Corporation. It uses the original corporate film logo.[citation needed]

Selected filmography[edit]

A Little Hero (1913), silent animal movie with Mabel Normand with Dutch language intertitles. Collection EYE Film Institute Netherlands.
  • Treason (1918)
  • Her Husband's Honor (1918)
  • Who Loved Him Best? (1918)
  • Her Second Husband (1917)
  • American Maid (1917)
  • Daughter of Maryland (1917)
  • The Railroad Raiders (1917)
  • The Girl from Rector's (1917)
  • The Girl Who Can Cook (1917)
  • Souls in Pawn (1917)
  • The Serpent's Tooth (1917)
  • Please Help Emily (1917)
  • The Beautiful Adventure (1917)
  • Bab the Fixer (1917)
  • Mary Moreland (1917)
  • The Wildcat (1917)
  • The Greater Woman (1917)
  • Queen X (1917)
  • Rehabilitated (1917)
  • Pardners (1917)
  • Uncle Sam's Defenders (1916)
  • Admirers Three (1916)
  • His Uncle's Ward (1916)
  • Grouchy (1916)
  • When the Tide Turned (1916)
  • His Guardian Angel (1916)
  • Within the Lines (1916)
  • The False Clue (1916)
  • The Turn of the Wheel (1916)
  • At Twelve O'Clock (1916)
  • The Folly of Fear (1916)
  • Father and Son (1916)
  • Johnny's Romeo (1916)
  • The Other Side of the Door (1916)
  • Fighting the War (1916)
  • The Deathlock (1915)
  • Father and Son (1915)
  • Sweet and Low (1914)
  • The Life of General Villa (1914)
  • The Cocoon and the Butterfly (1914)
  • An Accidental Clue (1913)
  • The Grand Military Parade (1913)
  • A Little Hero (film) (1913)

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  • Robert S. Birchard, "Silent-Era Filmmaking in Santa Barbara" Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2007 ISBN 0-7385-4730-1

External links[edit]