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Fly Low Jack, and the Game

00:00 Introduction by Michael C. Krickmire, Lecturer, Department of Theatre and Music Studies at SUNY Brockport
03:44 Fly Low Jack and the Game

Fly Low Jack, and the Game (US 1927)
Director: Mrs. Harold A. Gleason [Marion Gleason]
Photographed by: Harris B. Tuttle and Allan H. Mogensen
Cast: Olive K. Tuttle (Elaine), Wilbur O’Brien (Fly Low Jack), Howard Cumming (Uncle Oliver), Wm. W. Winans Jr. (Kenneth), Angela C. Sessions (Margot), Adele Mogensen (Adele)
Production company: Eastman Kodak Company, The Rochester Community Players

First screening: October 13, 1927
Length (in feet): 1,450 ft. (16mm)
Length (in reels): 2
Sound: silent
Color: black & white
Running time: 40 min., 18 sec.

Preserved with funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation
Preserved by Cinema Arts Laboratory
Digitized by Eastman Film Preservation Services

The piano accompaniment for this online presentation was composed and performed by Philip C. Carli.

With the creation of the 16mm format Ciné-Kodak camera and safety film, Eastman Kodak Company sought to put motion picture making into the hands of amateurs. While it was not the first non-flammable film on the market (the Pathé Film Company had introduced 28mm cameras, diacetate safety film, and projectors to the world in 1912), the Ciné-Kodak proved to be much more popular and enduring. Everything about the Ciné-Kodak was appealing: the camera was easy to load and operate; the 16mm film was easier for non-professionals to handle, splice, and wind, and it had excellent image quality; and the projector was simple to operate. Now, anyone with an interest could make films.

To make sure anyone could load and operate the camera, demonstrate how easy it was, and inspire public confidence, Kodak placed its new film format in the hands of someone who knew nothing about making movies. The person they handed the camera to was Marion Gleason (1890–1991). Gleason was a member of George Eastman’s luncheon club, known as the Lobster Quartet, and she was married to Dr. Harold Gleason, Eastman’s resident organist. Working with Kodak staff, Marion Gleason produced, wrote, and directed numerous short films beginning in 1922.

The Ciné-Kodak was officially launched in 1923 and quickly gathered enthusiastic adherents. Improvements to the camera design (a spring motor-driven Ciné-Kodak Model B debuted in 1925) culminated in Gleason’s most complex project: Fly Low Jack, and The Game (1927). This technically ambitious short fiction film utilized actors from the Rochester Community Players, and was shot on locations across Rochester, including Britton Field, now the Rochester International Airport. Kodak screened it for customers at sales conventions, and it proved to be the perfect finale to Gleason’s film career. The unofficial “Godmother of Amateur Filmmaking,” Gleason contributed to her community and the world for the rest of her life, including researching, editing, and publishing Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products in 1957. She left behind her films (now preserved at the George Eastman Museum), the many articles she wrote for the Amateur Cinema League’s magazine Amateur Movie Makers, and her book, Scenario Writing and Producing for the Amateur (1929).