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Daylight Burglary (1903)

A Daring Daylight Burglary (original title)
A thief jumps a fence and removes the shutter from a house. He enters, but a lad who's witnessed the crime runs off to hail the coppers. The first officer on the scene climbs the fence, ... See full summary »
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Storyline

A thief jumps a fence and removes the shutter from a house. He enters, but a lad who's witnessed the crime runs off to hail the coppers. The first officer on the scene climbs the fence, enters the house, and is soon fighting with the thief on the roof. The cop is injured and requires an ambulance. Meanwhile, the thief flees, pursued by more men in blue. He jumps onto a train. Has he escaped? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Genres:

Short | Crime | Drama

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June 1903 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Daylight Burglary  »

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1.33 : 1
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The cast was made up of members of the Sheffield Fire Brigade. See more »

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Featured in Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Fluid
4 October 2009 | by See all my reviews

Historian Barry Salt makes some fine points on this one; its fluidity of shots to create exciting action surely do owe much to James Williamson's films, including "Stop Thief!" and "Fire!" (both 1901). In turn, "A Daring Daylight Burglary", in addition to similar British crime chases at the time, such as "A Desperate Poaching Affray", had a significant influence on Edwin S. Porter's "The Great Train Robbery" (1903). British filmmakers, like Robert W. Paul, George Albert Smith, James Williamson and the fellows who made this film, were at the forefront of inventing film techniques and grammar in the beginning of cinema's history.

Perhaps, the earliest crime chase was the aforementioned "Stop Thief!" Comparing it to these later incarnations illustrates what the genre did in establishing continuity editing and other film techniques. "Stop Thief!" breaks the rule the axis of action of direction across the screen (a rule not yet invented): when characters exit the frame to the right, for example, in one shot, they enter the next shot at the right, rather than from the left. Williamson may have been imitating the grammar of theatre here, since there was no precedent in cinema. In subsequent films, including the 10-shot "A Daring Daylight Burglary", however, action is continuous by association of shots through continuity editing.

The thread from "Fire!" to this film and then to "The Great Train Robbery", with other films in between, is also demonstrated in their "operational aesthetic" (as historian Neil Harris phrased it). Like "The Great Train Robbery", this film presents the violent actions in a straightforward and distant manner because of the aesthetic of showing the details, the operations, of the events. The same sort of curiosity was at work in "Fire!", where the operations of firemen are shown in detail. Thus, we have to see exactly how the injured policeman is taken away before the film resumes with the chase. Two other particular similarities between this film and "The Great Train Robbery" are that they both feature an escape by train, and in a fight scene in each, a substitution splice is used for the tossing of an obvious dummy.


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