American Portrait

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Moving Image:American Portrait
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American Portrait is a short film from 1940 released on 16mm. It is held in the Prelinger Archives collection.

Tells the story of improvements and better ways of life which have come into being during the last one hundred years. The story centers around a life insurance agent as portrayed by Alan Ladd.

06:27:10:22 CU grandfather clock reads 12:00; camera pans down to woman dropped off by boyfriend wearing suit, woman tries to sneak upstairs past grandfather working at desk but trips on staircase; grandfather walks up to young woman smoking pipe; girl mockingly says to grandfather

What are you doing up at this hour of the night? 
What are YOU doing up? 

06:31:07:14 Horse-drawn carriage pulls up in front of camera; salesman opens up side of carriage with hand painted sign Marvel of the Age Coal Oil Lamps ; salesman of the 1880s tries to sell woman at door a coal oil lamp, husband comes to door and stubbornly tells salesman off.

06:33:49:02 Man in late-nineteenth century suit smoking cigar.

06:34:43:15 Man rides up on horse to talk to farmer about buying life insurance; farmer angrily sands man away.

06:40:17:25 CU pocket watch with American flag carved into the cover held in disembodied hand; hand opens watch, watch reads 8:32.

06:40:30:26 CU date October 5, 1882 printed on calendar pages removed by disembodied hand to show next day.

06:40:37:14 CU date printed on calendar reads January, 2 1887.

06:40:46:00 Pages of calendar from July of 1895 blow off table.

06:40:53:28 Disembodied hand pulls away calendar page with date November 9, 1899.

06:41:03:17 CU disembodied hand rolls back page on calendar dated September 14, 1903 and flips up to the 17th.

06:41:14:28 Man working at desk stands up to answer antique phone from around 1903.

06:41:52:25 Carnival scene supposed to take place around 1903; great footage of phrenological map on sign in front of circus tent; two men meet at circus, man shows the other man the automobile he is demonstrating at the circus; man says he will race the car against a horse.

06:43:06:18 Great footage of race between antique automobile and a horse; man starts engine and horse bucks; VS of race, automobile wins; driving stands on winning automobile and gives speech about the advantages of the automobile to an audience; VS a man, couple and family driving in automobiles each showing a step forward in the progress of automobile design and quality of roads up to 1920s models.

06:47:28:29 Two old men are talking in an office where suits in 1920s styles, cute little girl with lollipop enters office and interrupts men, man sits girl down in chair and gives her a magazine, little girl asks man for a car, man says he shouldn t, little girl responds that the other man (insurance agent) sends her presents/money because her father was in an accident; MS cute little girl seated in chair holding lollipop says my pap was in an accident and he can t come back ever.

06:50:17:12 Man working at desk, writing notes, sifting through paperwork then speaks into horse shaped intercom or phone.

06:50:44:11 CU disembodied hand types on typewriter; CU typewriter ribbon prints out words Life Insurance Program.

06:53:42:05 CU pocket watch with American flag engraved in cover held in palm of disembodied hand.

American Portrait
Produced byWilding Picture Productions
Wilding Picture Productions
Distributed byWilding Picture Productions
Release date
Running time
ewid: 2034 | Fresh | || dopt: {{{dopt}}}