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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • John W. Boyle Biography
  • Collection Description
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Digital Collection

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: John W. Boyle Film Stills and Photograph Collection
    Dates: 1900-1927
    Collection number: 061
    Collection Size: 1 archival document box .5 linear feet
    Repository: Loyola Marymount University. Library. Department of Archives and Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90045-2659
    Abstract: The John W. Boyle Film Stills and Photograph Collection consists of film stills and photographs related to movies that this cinematographer shot in the 1910s and 1920s.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open to research under the terms of use of the Department of Archives and Special Collections, Loyola Marymount University.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in the Department of Archives and Special Collections may be subject to copyright. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, Loyola Marymount University does not claim ownership of the copyright of any materials in its collections. The user or publisher must secure permission to publish from the copyright owner. Loyola Marymount University does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or of publication rights held by the original author or artists or his/her heirs, assigns, or executors.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Series number, Box and Folder number, John W. Boyle Film Stills and Photograph Collection, 061, Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.

    Acquisition Information

    Source of acquistion unknown. Accession number: 2003.22

    Processing Information

    Madigan McGillicuddy originally processed this collection in 2003. Clay Stalls revised the collection guide in 2013, and then encoded it in EAD for inclusion in the Online Archive of California.

    John W. Boyle Biography

    Cinematographer John W. Boyle (1891-1959) worked on over 150 American motion pictures in the first half of the twentieth century. He began shooting films by 1915 and worked closely with director J. Gordon Edwards and consequently with such actresses as Theda Bara, whose favorite director was Edwards. Boyle also filmed shorts for Mack Sennett (1880-1960), the famous director of comedy.
    Accomplished in his profession, Boyle served as secretary of the American Society of Cinematographers and later as its president, from 1928 to 1929. He discussed the art of cinematography in such journals as the Journal of the Society of Film Engineers; see his 1942 article on black and white cinematography in volume 39, pp. 83-96, of that journal. Boyle improved cinematography by devising a dual, mounted camera for shooting both close-up and long shots for panoramas (see the American Cinematographer, March 1926; accessed from this URL, 31 May 2013: http://archive.org/stream/amemato06asch/amemato06asch_djvu.txt  ).
    His last films were "The Courage of Black Beauty" and "The Restless Breed," both released in 1957. Married to Lillian Prowell (1892-1956), John W. Boyle died in 1959 and is buried, suitably enough, in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

    "Sheba" will always be grateful.

    Betty Blythe.

    Queen of Sheba 1922

    Collection Description

    This collection consists of film stills and photographs, most of which are related to the films that the well-known cinematographer John W. Boyle (1891-1959) shot. Very active during the Silent Era, Boyle shot a number of films important for that period of film history. In this collection these include "Salome" and other Theda Bara films now lost, but the stills preserved in this collection, although perhaps not unique, are in many cases rare and provide important documentation for her work. In addition, a number of photographs record cast and crew at work on the set during the Silent Era. For these reasons, the John W. Boyle Film Stills and Photograph Collection contains important photographic evidence for the history of silent film in Hollywood.
    Most of the photographs in the collection concern films that Boyle was shooting. For example, Folder 10 contains eight of his personal photographs of the filming of "The Fall of A Nation" that Boyle annotated on the back; he also helped shoot the film, now lost. From another film, there is also a run of photographs of a cast and crew at a desert location, perhaps Yucaipa Valley, which Boyle most likely took and which were probably related to the filming of "Lone Star Ranger" (1919).
    Noteworthy in this collection are the stills from the movies of Theda Bara, perhaps the first sex symbol of American cinema. The majority of her films have been lost, and the stills of her films in this collection such as "Salome," "The Light," and "A Woman There Was" document her now lost film work.
    Director J. Gordon Edwards (1867-1925) shot a number of Bara films, and worked with Boyle on them as well as other films. There are several photographs of the two men at work on the set; see Folder 49, for example, where Boyle and Edwards are together on a shooting scaffold for "Salome." In addition, other photographs exist of Edwards on location in such films as "The Lone Star Ranger."
    The collection also houses film stills and photographs of William Farnum (1876-1953) in "If I Were King" (1920) and "Lone Star Ranger," and, perhaps, "The Last of the Duanes."
    Many of the photographs contain the still codes for a film, usually written in a corner. These have been noted in the box and folder list.
    The still codes proved critical in identifying many of the films from which the stills came. Identification of the stills or photographs was also based on comparing the details of known stills with those of other stills or photographs. Jeff Thompson, the archivist for the photograph collection at Twentieth-Century Fox, provided gracious advice in identifying the stills. The members of the website "Nitrateville"  also graciously--and crucially--helped in identifying the films documented in the stills and photographs of this collection.
    In folders 46 and 67 through 69 are mounted photographs of persons and a city scene from New Orleans, Louisiana. The former may be family members, since Boyle, a Southerner born in Memphis, Tennessee, had a brother (William) who lived in New Orleans.
    All photographs and film stills are in black and white. Still codes have been recorded in the box and folder list. Titles of films are in quotation marks.


    The John W. Boyle Film Stills and Photograph Collection is arranged by item, either photograph or film still. There are no series.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Boyle, John W., 1891-1959
    Stills (Motion pictures)
    Bara, Theda, 1885-1955
    Edwards, J. Gordon, 1867-1925
    Farnum, William, 1876-1953
    Nilsson, Anna Q., 1888-1974
    Silent films -- United States -- Photographs
    Roscoe, Albert, 1887-1933
    Bara, Theda, 1885-1955 -- Performances -- Photographs
    Lone Star Ranger (Motion Picture)
    If I Were King (Motion Picture)
    Salome (Motion Picture)
    The Light (Motion Picture)
    The Fall of a Nation (Motion Picture)
    The Last of the Duanes (Motion Picture)
    Fox Film Corporation
    Camera, early photography & moving pictures

    Digital Collection

    The photographs of the John W. Boyle Film Stills and Photograph Collection related to the history of film have been digitized and can be viewed by selecting the following title: