Saturday, December 31, 2005

Forgotten John Collins


Film director John H. Collins was born on this day in 1889 in New York City.

Originally a set designer for the Edison studios, John H. Collins was a film director before the golden age of silent film took shape. Though largely forgotten, film scholars during the 1960s and 70s began to recognize the stylistic maturity of Collins' work, and some have called him one of the finest American film directors of the period. Among his 28 films, almost all of which starred his wife Viola Dana, were Children of Eve (1915), Blue Jeans (1917), and The Cossack Whip (1916), "parts of which," according to critic James Card, "look as though it could have been made by one of the Russian revolutionary directors."

Collins' promising career was cut short by the 1918 influenza epidemic -- the same one getting all the press these days as the world gears up for avian flu; he died in New York City on October 23, 1918.

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