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Long before Where the Boys Are (1960) elevated Fort Lauderdale to a spring break mecca, filmmakers found something special about the city.
French-born Alice Guy-Blaché (1873-1968), one of the first women to write, direct and produce a film, brought a crew from her New Jersey studio to Fort Lauderdale in 1917 to make Spring of the Year. She chose the city for its tropical, swampy environment. Many of her works have not survived the years. Guy-Blaché is considered by some to be first in the industry to develop narrative films. She was among the first to work with color and with synchronized sound in film before 1910. (Others claim Edwin R. Porter, maker of the Great Train Robbery in 1903 as first to create narrative.)
Also interested in Fort Lauderdale for its tropical look was iconic director D.W. Griffith (1878-1948) who came to the city in 1919 to film Idol Dancer, a story set in the South Pacific. It was the first of two back-to-back films set in the Pacific. He chose the New River area as backdrop for the first, but filmed only parts of the second, White Roses, in Fort Lauderdale. He didn’t like the new seawalls on New River; he thought they spoiled its natural beauty. Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.
For history of movies in Miami, see:
Search this blog's archives for "Florida History" to see additional posts.
Gillis, Susan. Fort Lauderdale: The Venice of America. Charleston: Arcadia (2004).
Mast, Gerald. A Short History of the Movies. Indianapolis: Pegasus (1971).