Life of an American Fireman (1903) Director: Edwin Stanton Porter
The Life of An American Fireman is an early silent short film that was one of the first American narrative films. It portrays an American fireman who envisions a woman in peril. Together, he and his fellow firemen go to her home and rescue her.
It was one of the first films to employ editing techniques like cross-cutting. It was a smash success upon its release, both domestically and abroad. It was made through the Edison Manufacturing Company. Director, Edwin Porter’s more famous film was The Great Train Robbery also in 1903. He was the son of a Pennsylvania merchant who nearly lost all his wealth in the Panic of 1893. He eventually worked for the Edison company as an inventor and director. He died in 1941. He was a sort of an enigmatic man, never repeating his directorial signatures, and preferring to stay mostly behind the scenes. It was said that he preferred to work more with machines than with people.
Life of an American Fireman is a wonderful film filled with impressive cinematic innovations and remarkable editing. It is a simple film, but also a must-see for all classic film gurus.