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Those Awful Hats (1909)

6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 597 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 3 critic

Set in an early cinema house, this comic short illustrates the problems with the gals' hats obscuring the movie patron's line of vision.

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Title: Those Awful Hats (1909)

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Man in checkered jacket and top hat
Flora Finch ...
Woman with largest hat
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Linda Arvidson ...
Theatre Audience
John R. Cumpson ...
Theatre Audience
George Gebhardt ...
Theatre Audience
...
Theatre Audience
Anita Hendrie ...
Theatre Audience
Charles Inslee ...
Theatre Audience
Arthur V. Johnson ...
Theatre Audience
...
Theatre Audience
Gertrude Robinson ...
Theatre Audience
Dorothy West ...
Theatre Audience
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Storyline

A gentleman with a top hat, and a series of women with ever more ludicrous hats enter a movie theatre. They refuse to remove them, until a giant bucket forcibly removes one hat. All but one woman then remove their hats, and the bucket returns to remove the woman. Written by Jon Reeves <jreeves@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

hat blocks view | manners | See All (2) »

Genres:

Comedy | Short

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 January 1909 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Those Darn Hats  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Several sources (including the BFI) credit Arthur Marvin as the cinematographer instead of G.W. Bitzer See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Ladies will please remove their hats"
25 May 2008 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

This three-minute farce is one of the most unique and unusual Biograph shorts. Those Awful Hats sees DW Griffith, father of film narrative, doing what is virtually a non-narrative film. A one-liner, basically, giving a message to the audience in a fresh, entertaining form that they would take notice of.

This is also Griffith's only special effects film in the mode of Georges Melies. Melies' trick shot shorts had been widely imitated throughout the 1900s, although by 1909 they were dying out as cinema became less of a magic show and more of a storytelling medium. Griffith not only makes smooth use of a few Melies techniques (superimposition and stop motion) but has also absorbed some of the older pioneer's extreme and absurd comedy style, with the huge grabbing machine. Griffith was just making passing use of the style though – he was rather more subtle (for the era) in his regular shorts.

What is more interesting today is that this is one of the earliest films in which cinema references itself. You have a screen audience being watched by a real audience, and a film within a film. Nothing really symbolic here – this isn't Fritz Lang – but it does show you how much of an institution cinema was becoming, as well as being a rare glimpse into what a movie theatre of the time would look like (minus the grabby thing of course).

Although his point-and-shoot approach has been denounced as theatrical (although it is no more so than that that of his contemporaries), at this point Griffith was really starting to experiment with the infinite possibilities of depth within the frame. The screen was a stage for Griffith, but it was the biggest and most versatile stage imaginable, into which a street, a beach or even another theatre could be placed. The idea of a "show-within-a-show" may date back to Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, or perhaps even earlier, but at this stage in the game Griffith's introduction of theatrical and literary devices was moving the medium forward, not holding it back.

When you recall that it was made as a public service announcement, in the same vein as those "turn off your phone" things you get in cinemas today, Those Awful Hats is simple yet effective. It doesn't show you Griffith the master of film technique, just a functional short by a practical filmmaker.


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