Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Earliest Iron Man? (1914)

While researching my lost film book (an expansion of my Rue Morgue feature), I have to spend a lot of time scanning through old silent film magazines. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of research, as there’s something fascinating on nearly every page.

Yesterday I was pleased to come across an ad for The Iron Man, a 1914 film by the French Gaumont company. 

The Iron Man, a silent serial listed in Motion Picture World, Volume 21, July-Sept. 1914.

While the storyline bears little resemblance to the Iron Man we know, obviously, the film does involve the disappearance of a wealthy young man, though he’s known as Phillip Travers rather than Tony Stark.

It’s also fun to note that the serial had three parts. Were the film-goers of 1914 dying for the release of Iron Man 4?

A fun bit of ephemera from Motion Picture World.


  1. Replies
    1. Me too. Gaumont made really good stuff. The mention of Fantomas #5 really got my attention at the bottom, because I'm watching that series right now.

  2. That is such a weird image Kelly - a disembodied shadow, a disembodied head and a suit of armour trying to do unspeakable things to man who has been tied and gagged - how did this serial ever get lost?

    1. I don't think it is lost, though it's not something you can watch without visiting an archive, most likely. I may have been unclear that I found it while looking for information on another film that IS lost.

      The French seem to have been better about archiving film, as far as I can tell. Some of the only copies of American films have had their only known copies fund in French archives. If this were made by an American company, then it probably WOULD be lost.

      Maybe we can petition someone to get THE IRON MAN on DVD.

    2. My favourite story about the masses of films that Henri Langlois managed to get into the archive in Paris was the recovery of the classic Lon Chaney silent THE UNKNOWN which remained untouched for years because it was assumed that the label meant that no one knew what was in it!

    3. Oh, that is a fantastic story. Thanks for sharing it. It's probably going to go in my book's introduction, as there's a lengthy section on the various ways film gets lost. (Though it's mostly fire, fire and fire.)