Silent Movie Capital
From The W.G.N., 1922
When the World War dwarfed everything else on earth The Tribune not only covered it with staff correspondents, but sent its own motion picture photographer to the front in Belgium, in Germany, in Poland and in Russia. These War Movies of The Chicago Tribune were shown to vast audiences in all the large cities of the United States as well as in Chicago.
In the period before and during World War I, American newspapers were involved in a cutthroat war to increase circulation. To do so, they increasingly turned to tie-ins with the new popular medium of motion pictures in order to boost readership, and to increase newspaper profits by theatre receipts as well. In response to these pressures, the Chicago Tribune decided to groom photographer Edwin F. Weigle as its film correspondent overseas. To this end, it sent Weigle to Vera Cruz to film conflict in April 1914, and in August, after the World War broke out, to Belgium. In 1915 and 1916 the Tribune sent him to Europe on two different occasions, where he made feature documentary films. When the United States entered the war in 1917, Weigle joined the U. S. Army Signal Corps, and filmed with the 35th Division in France. After the war, Weigle and his wife filmed in Ireland during the Troubles in the 1920s. Weigle retired as a film correspondent shortly after World War I.
Edwin Weigle was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 13, 1889 and died in Deerfield, Illinois, on August 1, 1973.
Chicago Tribune, February 11, 1915
ROBERT R. McCORMICK of The Tribune sailed yesterday from New York en route to the European war zone. He was accompanied by Donald C. Thompson and Edwin F. Weigle, The Tribune’s two world famous war photographers.
Mr. McCormick’s ultimate decision is the headquarters of the commander in chief of the Russian armies. He expects to penetrate to the battle front in the eastern war arena. He sailed on the Adriatic for Liverpool and will stop at London, and then proceed to Petrograd through Norway and Sweden.
Mr. Weigle, whose pictures of the fighting in Belgium gave him a world wide reputation as an intrepid war photographer and as preserver of accurate history, goes direct to Germany to join James O’Donnell Bennett, The Tribune’s war correspondent now with German forces. Arrangements similar to those made last fall with the Belgian Red Cross are pending with the German authorities. It is planned to send Weigle to the firing line with the German forces and picture the hostilities on the battle front.
Mr. Thompson will go to the front in France and Belgium and after covering this war zone will hope to reach the eastern battle lines.
Thompson and Weigle are today perhaps the two most famous war photographers in the world. Weigle first won his spurs in Mexico. He was at Vera Cruz when the American soldiers landed. The snipers began firing from the windows and housetops on the United States troops. Weigle’s companion shouted to him to “duck” and started to run. Weigle went in the other direction—toward the place where the firing came from. He got the actual pictures of that clash.
When the European irruption broke forth Weigle packed his kit and said he was ready. He accompanied Joseph Medill Patterson to Europe and under the arrangement of with the Belgian Red Cross he was the first photographer actually to picture the bloody battles and the burning of the cities throughout a greater part of the war zone, being attached to the Belgian army.
Thompson—”Shrimp” Thompson, as he was known in the German trenches—is the young Topeka corn fed product who has written K-A-N-S-A-S across the war map of Europe. He was in thirty-two battles in Belgium, large and small, but taking only still pictures the first weeks of the conflict. He fell in with Weigle at the bombardment and burning of Antwerp, and the two were together considerably after that.
On the night of the bombardment of Antwerp Thompson and Weigle were in a coal bin in the basement of a house at 74 Rue de Paris. Their house was hit with a big shell and they clambered upstairs and put out the fire, then went back to their coal bin. They were in the coal bin about twenty hours. Then they went out and photographed the city burning, the dead in the streets and the flight of the refugees across the pontoon bridge. Thompson had a part of his nose shot away at Dixmude.
Both boys came back home for a rest. They are now on the ocean on their way back. Both allowed before departing from Chicago last week that if the charmed life sticks with them this trip, they will photograph this war up and down, sideways and backwards, and will come back with the greatest collection of war films the world perhaps ever will know.
“Official agreement to this effect was made and official permission was granted to Edwin F. Weigle to accompany the German armies to the Russian, the Italian, and the French frontiers.”
The Moving Picture World, September 11, 1915
The Chicago Tribune’s German War pictures, taken by Edwin F. Weigle, Tribune war photographer, were given their first presentation at the Studebaker, Saturday, August 28. The Studebaker box office has given out that 10,000 people viewed the pictures during the day. Mr. Weigle gives an interesting lecture, recounting his experiences during the taking of the pictures. The Tribune-Russian war pictures, which had a memorable week’s showing at the Studebaker, were transferred to the Midway Gardens, East 60th street and Cottage Grove avenue, where they are being viewed by vast audiences nightly. After their run at the Studebaker, the German war pictures will be transferred to the Bismark Gardens, on the North Side.
Chicago Tribune, September 21, 1915
Mew York, Sept. 20.—[Special.]—More than 10,000 men, women, and children crowded into Schubert’s Forty-fourth street theater today to see The Chicago Tribune’s famous war films, “The German side of the war.” For twelve hours, from 11 this morning till 11 tonight, the theater was jammed to the doors, while thousands patiently waited in line.
More than 8,000 persons were turned away. Crowds lined up all through the afternoon and evening. At 7 o’clock there were several thousand persons waiting in line, five and six abreast, bleocking the sidewalk for a distance of three blocks.
The police reserves were called out son after the theater opened to keep the crowds in line. Old theater men, who have been in touch with every big theatrical success in New York for years, say there has never been anything like it in the history of New York theaters.
The crowds came on foot, in street cars, in carriages, and automobiles. Persons came who had not been inside a theater for years. Women brought babies in their arms. All classes were represented.
The pictures will be on exhibition for two weeks. They will be followed by The Tribune pictures of the Russian side of the war, which will be shown for one week.
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive
Scenes from the archives of the Imperial War Museum, showing the 35th Division, American Expeditionary Force, shortly after the collapse of the division during the Meuse Argonne Offensive. Filmed on October 18, 1918 by 2nd Lt. Edwin F. Weigle and his camera operator Pvt. Thomas J. Calligan. Mr. Weigle used a Bell & Howell 2709 camera, serial number 250.
Chicago Tribune, June 13, 1919
Mew York, June 12.—[Special.]—Capt. Edwin F. Weigle, formerly a Chicago Tribune staff photographer, with thirty signal corps photographers, arrived on the Leviathan from France this morning. Capt. Weigle brought back with him the entire motion picture history of the American army in France.
In France, 5Am 70,000 feet of negative film was exposed by the photo division of our troops in the various battles in France. In other words, it would take 142 hours to show the entire operations of the American army. One hundred officers and 1,500 men connected with the photo division, most of them formerly newspaper men, are responsible for making this story of the American army complete. In taking these pictures the casualties of the photograph division were one officer killed, nine wounded, and four captured.
The film, which takes up almost an entire baggage car, will be conveyed to the war colleges. Washington, D. C., there to be filed in the archives of the United States army.
Some of the most interesting pictures were taken of the St. Mihiel and Argonne offensives. In these two drives alone over 200,000 feet of negatives was exposed.
Chicago Tribune, December 12, 1920
Capt. Edwin F. Weigle, war photographer of The Chicago Tribune, the same man who in 1916 scored a sensational “scoop” by bringing in Chicago the famous motion picture films of the world war, has just arrived in Chicago from Ireland with thousands of feet of new films in which true conditions in Ireland today are clearly shown for the first time.
These new motion pictures vividly portray the raids, riots, reprisals, and destruction in general which are daily occurrences in Ireland. They are actual photographs of real events—Irish history in the making. In them may be seen the royal Irish constabulary (black and tans) and the Sinn Feiners meeting in armed conflict before the camera’s eye. For the first time they bring to Chicagoans actual views of mob scenes in the famed “Mustard Pot” of Belfast—the armored motor cars in use, the barbed wire barricades in the streets, the store windows boarded up along the main business streets, factories burned to the ground, the smoking ruins of once peaceful homes.
Pictures Shown Wednesday.
Capt. Weigle has been busy for the last week editing the pictures, and arrangements have been made to show them for the first time on Wednesday morning at the Randolph theater, State and Randolph streets, and daily thereafter from 8:30 to 12 p.m. The pictures are titled “Ireland in Revolt.”
The Tribune dispatched Capt. Weigle on Aug. 2, 1920, with instructions to “get the truth about Ireland—first ahnd facts in pictures!” He spent three months on the job and carried out instructions to the letter.
Throughout his journeyings Capt. Weigle was accompanied by his wife, who shared with him the hardships and dangers he encountered while on his quest for “facts in pictures,” who dodged cobblestones when the two were attacked by rioters who mistook them for representatives of “the enemy,” and whose tact and woman’s wit on several occasions aided considerably in securing actual motion pictures of historic events which would otherwise have been missed.
Hard to Convince of Neutrality.
Capt. Weigle said as he replied to queries regarding his latest exploit:
It wasn’t easy, but the pictures will convince you we succeeded. Convincing representatives of first one side and then the other that we were really neutral was our hardest task.
Our first view of the results of rioting was obtained at Lisburn, where some seventy houses were destroyed after a black and tan constable had been shot. We arrived while the ruins were still smoking and the population was at fever heat.
Some days later we visited Belfast, where many of the pictures were obtained. For two entire days the main business street of this Irish city—what corresponds to State street in Chicago—was given over to street riots and fighting, absolutely dominated by the shipyard workers and union men, without any semblance of law and order. Most of the fighting centered in Ballymacarrett—the ‘Mustard Pot’ or Old Park road.
Threatened with Death.
I set up my camera in the street, but had hardly begun to ‘shoot’ when the mob overwhelmed me, demanded to know who I was, and why the pictures were being taken, and threats were made to stone me to death unless I immediately ceased taking pictures. I later learned that the Sinn Feiners particularly feared a camera since some British newspaper photographs have been secured by the military authorities and used as a means of identifying the leaders in the rioting going on at the time the pictures were taken.
However, by concealing myself and the camera in second story windows along the streets in which rioting most frequently occurred I was able to get some exclusive pictures of the street fighting. It was from a position of this sort that the beating of men to death was photographed, also views of the women engaged in digging up cobblestones from the paving (the Irish call them ‘kidney stones’) and passing them along to their men folk as ammunition in the street battles.
He also obtained views in Mallow, the location of the second largest creamery in Ireland, where several raids and counter raids occurred in Galway, the most primitive section of Ireland, where the populace was wholly unacquainted with a motion picture camera and hadn’t the remotest idea what it was all about, and in Killarney, where some exceptionally beautiful pictures were made of the celebrated lakes. Some unique views of the Blarney stone also were filmed.
Chicago Tribune, December 16, 1920
Chicago Tribune, December 16, 1920
By Mae Tinée.
Having passed the censor board with flying colors, “Ireland in Revolt,” as photographed by Capt. Edwin F. Weigle, is offered for your contemplation at the Randolph theater.
Of course, we COULD be abject and say that, seeing as how its our own, it isn’t much of a picture. BUT, it being CONSIDERABLE of a picture, we refuse to roll over our backs and wave our paws. Instead, even if “Ireland in Revolt” is our own, we puff out a chest at you and advise you to go to see it.
“Ireland in Revolt” was filmed by Capt. Weigle (ever since the war started he’s been “over there” doing one stunt or another) during August, September, and October of 1920. He had a military pass which got him something and a Sinn Fein pass that got him more. What he came away with was plenty!
He has procured pictures of riots and raids; of the burning of factories; of mob scenes and burned and looted homes. He shows you closeups of people in whom the world is just now breathlessly interested. Arthur Griffith, for instance, head of the SinnFein. He shows cause and effect with impartial chronicling, via camera, of events as they occurred.
One instance which started trouble the Irish in the optience yesterday appreciated heartily.
At Balbriggan two constables dropped into a saloon to celebrate the promotion of one of them. Much later, in a fight over who should pay for the drinks, the local police were summoned. Several killings ensued, which brought about their sure return fire from the other side. (Just a little laugh under-health all the chaos and tragedy depicted.
MacSwiney alive is shown—and what a hand he gets! Follow the impressive scenes that attended his hunger strike, death, and funeral.
The picture is full of incident and will give you a clearer idea than you have ever before had as to how the trouble all started and why it doesn’t end.
Our own Mr. Weigle is to be congratulated. So say we modestly, are we—and you. (That lets everybody in.)
“Ireland in Revolt”
Based on the difficulty Mr. Weigle had in order to photograph scenes during the revolt, it is assumed that this clip is part of his footage.
1914 On the Belgian Battlefield
1915 The German Side of the War
1918 The Meuse-Argonne Offensive
1920 Ireland in Revolt
Variety, December 8, 2018
By David McNary
Peter Jackson remains a bit astounded at his transition four years ago from the Shire of Middle Earth to the French battlefields of World War I.
Jackson introduced his documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” Friday night at the Linwood Dunn Theatre in Hollywood, four weeks after it aired on Armistice Day on the BBC. He explained that the project originated in 2014 at the London premiere of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.”
“The people at the imperial War Museum asked me if I could do a movie for the centennial of the Armistice and four years seemed like a long time — easy,” he recalled. “They wanted me to use their footage and use it in a fresh and original way.”
Jackson and his collaborators at WingNut Films spent several months pondering how to proceed and decided that they would use the voices of the actual British soldiers.