Dickens' OLIVER TWIST is lovingly filmed for the screen by Vitagraph co-head, Blackton. A good deal of money has obviously been spent on costume and sets, but it is evident that Blackton was not concerned with the major changes in the industry that Griffith was wreaking at the Biograph Studios in Manhattan and that, indeed, were going on in New Jersey at the Edison Studios. The sets are clearly stage flats; the actors emote in a stagy fashion that was already a bit old fashioned; and the world of Oliver Twist fits snugly into a proscenium arch. Within two years, Blackton would largely retreat to the business office and Vitagraph would begin to produce some innovations of its own, but in an industry undergoing such rapid changes, two years was little short of eternity.
One advance worth noting is the crediting of a performer on screen: Elita Proctor Otis as Nancy. Miss Otis had a career on Broadway that spanned about 25 years and apparently Blackton wanted her badly enough to offer her a screen credit. It is the earliest one I have seen, giving her a good claim to being the first screen star.
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