W. J. Lincoln
William Joseph Lincoln
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Died||18 August 1917 46–47) (aged|
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Spouse(s)||Pearl Ireland (m. 1896–1917; his death)|
William Joseph Lincoln (1870 – 18 August 1917) was an Australian playwright, theatre manager, film director and screenwriter in the silent era.  He produced, directed and/or wrote 23 films between 1911 and 1916.
One obituary called him "undoubtedly the pioneer of the Australian picture-producing industry." 
Another obituary echoed these sentiments, adding that:
His faith in the possibilities of Australia as a centre of' activity in moving picture production was unbounded, and for many years past he had devoted his energies chiefly to the realisation of this conviction. In common with others with whom he was at different periods associated in the making of film stories, -Mr Lincoln's work was carried on under conditions that might well have daunted the most sanguine. That he made admirable use of the materials that lay to his hand is generally admitted, and in some of his earlier productions he achieved a technical standard that was little if at all inferior to the output of the overseas studios at that time. 
Film historians Graham Shirley and Brian Adams wrote that Lincoln's films "were more like stage tableaux than films. However, with the right ingredients at their disposal the best of Lincoln's early productions were well-received". 
Lincoln was born in Melbourne, the only son of Thomas and Esther Lincoln, and was brought up in St Kilda. 
He began as a playwright his first credit seemingly One Summer's Eve (1890). He wrote the play The Bush King which debuted in London in 1893 and in Melbourne in 1894.  This play would later be rewritten by Alfred Dampier, a version which premiered in 1901 and became very successful over the following decade, being adapted into the popular film Captain Midnight, the Bush King (1911).
Lincoln wrote the one act plays After Sundown (1896) and An Affair of Honour (1897). He wrote another play The Power of Wealth (1900) which was also performed by Dampier, though with less success than The Bush King. He wrote the book to the pantomime Little Red Riding Hood.
Lincoln first became involved with the film industry for J. C Williamson, managing his Anglo-American Bio-Tableau in 1904 to 1905.  
He then managed the Australasian tour of the Gaiety Company for Williamson. While doing this he received notice to meet up with Clement Mason who had film of the Russo-Japanese War. Lincoln toured with this and some other films throughout Western Australia. It was a massive success with the public.  
According to Lincoln's obituary "He worked with Meynell, Gunn and Clarke in their early days" (the Meynell and Gunn Dramatic Company).  He did this from 1906 to 1909.  In 1907 Harold Bessett went bankrupt. He blamed Lincoln, his manager, but Lincoln denied this.  He then became the theatrical manager of Miss Lancashire Ltd which toured Australia; this production starred Florence Baines. Lincoln also worked as an advertising copywriter for The Bulletin. 
According to one newspaper report he produced and directed the feature film The Story of the Kelly Gang (1907)  but this seems doubtful. Lincoln himself attributed the direction to Sam Crews. 
In 1909 he became manager of the Paradise of Living Pictures movie theatre in St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria, one of the earliest moving picture palaces in Melbourne. He had begun to write and direct films for show in the theatre.  
Lincoln made his film debut as director and writer with It Is Never Too Late to Mend (1911), based on a popular play and novel, for the Tait brothers. They appointed him director of their new company, Amalgamated Pictures, for whom he made nine films over the next year most based on play adaptations of a novel: The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1911), The Luck of Roaring Camp (1911), Called Back (1911), The Lost Chord (1911), The Bells (1911), The Double Event (1911), After Sundown (1911) (based on Lincolns own play, but the film was not commercially released), Breaking the News (1911) and Rip Van Winkle (1912).  After from the not-released After Sundown the films did good business.  During this time Lincoln continued to manage the Paradise Gardens.
In later writing about these films Lincoln said "I am... in a somewhat awkward position in appraising their merits, but in justice to those who assisted in these productions, I may say that their work under discouraging conditions, Is entitled to the highest commendation." 
A writer said of It Is Never Too Late to Mend, Mystery of the Hansom Cab and Called Back that "They were very cheaply produced (the cost per film was between £300 and £400), and Johnson and Gibson must have done well out of them, although they were not first-class. How could they be?" 
Another article wrote Lincoln "had an undoubted capacity for .writing scenarios, and he had an excellent dramatic company, so that he produced quite a number of photo-plays. There were some big fakes in then occasionally, as when the St. Kilda railway station did duty for the great Euston station of London in Called Back. 
The Taits withdrew from film production around 1912 to focus on importing and distributing overseas films, which was cheaper than making local movies. In 1912 Lincoln became publicity manager of Amalgamated. The following year he bought out Amalgamated Picture's interest in the "Paradise" theatre.  
A 1913 article called Lincoln "a captivating conversationalist". 
In 1913 Lincoln partnered with Godfrey Cass to make films as the Lincoln-Cass Film Company.   According to a contemporary report "Mr. Lincoln has the literary taste, the business qualifications, and wide experience as a showman to justify him in taking this step."  Lincoln said "they were Australians, and hopeful of interesting the public in Australian pictures. With the interest of the public and the generosity of the managers, they hoped to succeed, and to illustrate much which was interesting in Australia and its features." 
The company survived for only one year, but in that time it made eight films, most of which Lincoln directed. These were The Sick Stockrider (1913), based on the poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon, The Remittance Man , Transported , The Road to Ruin (1913), The Crisis (1913), and The Reprieve (1913).  Australian films were now struggling to compete with American product – according to one report, the meteoric progress made in the development of moving pictures in America, due chiefly to the exploiting of the growing popular taste for this form of entertainment by wealthy organisations, quickly left the Australian product behind." 
Lincol n later worked for J. C. Williamson Ltd when they moved into film production. 
Lincoln wrote the scripts for Within Our Gates (1915), directed by Frank Harvey, and Within the Law (1916), directed by Monte Luke. Lone Hand wrote that in Within Our Gates Lincoln " succeeded in producing a strong story of German intrigue and cunning, of patriotism and valor all happening within our gates. Startling as the story is, it is made to appear quite feasible." 
He was originally supposed to direct as well but by this stage his alcoholism had gotten out of control, causing him to be removed as director of Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford (1916); actor Fred Niblo took over the job, launching Niblo's considerable career as director. Niblo directed Officer 666 for Williamson's with Lincoln working as writer. 
In October 1915 it was announced that Lincoln "has been in poor health lately, and has had to take things quietly. He is contemplating spending a few weeks at one of the mountain resorts, and while there will looks over, manuscripts of some big film, factories which are under consideration for future production." 
Lincoln recovered sufficiently to write and direct Nurse Cavell (1916) and La Revanche (1916).
Lincoln later formed Lincoln-Barnes Productions in partnership with G.H. Barnes, directing The Life's Romance of Adam Lindsay Gordon (1916). The shoot was not easy and Lincoln was unwell during filming. However Cinema Papers later wrote "Lincoln was a talented director and this film shows the maturity he had reached in film production" adding that the movie "has a haunting beauty. The long camera shots, interior lighting and sophisticated direction mark him as a particularly sensitive and advanced director for that time." 
Lincoln and Barnes would up in litigation against Amalgamated Pictures in 1917. 
Lincoln's drinking got worse and he died in Sydney on 18 August 1917.  
At the time of his death he was working on an adaptation of the stage play The Worst Woman in London called The Worst Woman in Sydney. It was unclear if this was a play or a film script. 
An obituary described him as:
One of the stoutest champions of Australian moving picture production. Although his sanguine views of the business as a profitable investment were not shared by all his friends, it was conceded by everyone who kn6w him, that he had the courage of his convictions. In the early years of moving picture development, as a medium for dramatic expression, Mr. Lincoln achieved success as a maker of photodramas. Undaunted by the-fact that studio facilities were confined to improvisations of one sort and another, that practical experience was only to be acquired by spending money and risking failure, he stuck to his work, and secured results that, were the more to be commended in that they were obtained under such' discouraging conditions. That Australia could not keep pace in the general upward trend in production, was not the fault of Lincoln and others who strove to establish the industry here. 
Lincoln's Bulletin obituary said his best films were The Sick Stockrider, After Sundown, Le Revanche, The Bells and Adam Lindsay Gordon. 
Lincoln married Pearl Ireland (d. 4 February 1943  ) in 1896 – they were described as "a runaway match".  They had one child, a daughter Marguerite ("Madge") (1897–1972).  His daughter married in 1923. 
Godfrey Cass was an Australian actor in the silent era. Between 1906 and 1935 he acted in nineteen film roles. He played Ned Kelly three times, and also had roles in a number of other bushranger movies including A Tale of the Australian Bush (1911) and Moondyne (1913).
Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford is a 1916 Australian silent comedy film directed by Fred Niblo. The film was the first made by the film unit of theatrical firm J. C. Williamson, although it was one of the last to be released. It was Niblo's debut film as a director and is considered a lost film.
St James the Great, St Kilda East, is an Anglican parish church in the Melbourne suburb of City of Glen Eira in Victoria, Australia.
It Is Never Too Late to Mend is an Australian feature-length silent film written and directed by W. J. Lincoln. It was based on a stage adaptation of the popular 1865 novel It Is Never Too Late to Mend: A Matter-of-Fact Romance by Charles Reade about the corrupt penal system in Australia. It was called "certainly one of the best pictures ever taken in Australia."
The Mystery of the Hansom Cab is an Australian feature-length film directed by W. J. Lincoln based on the popular novel, which had also been adapted into a play. It was one of several films Lincoln made with the Tait family, who had produced The Story of the Kelly Gang.
Rip Van Winkle is a 1912 Australian feature-length film directed by W. J. Lincoln about Rip Van Winkle. It was arguably Australia's first fantasy film.
The Life's Romance of Adam Lindsay Gordon is a 1916 Australian feature-length film directed by W. J. Lincoln, based on the life of poet Adam Lindsay Gordon.
The Remittance Man is an Australian melodrama film directed by W. J. Lincoln about a thief's reformation.
Transported is an Australian convict melodrama film directed by W. J. Lincoln. It is considered a lost film.
The Road to Ruin is an Australian melodrama film directed by W. J. Lincoln. It was one of the first movies from Lincoln-Cass Films and is considered a lost film.
The Reprieve is a 1913 Australian melodrama film directed by W. J. Lincoln about a man on trial for killing his unfaithful wife. It is considered a lost film. Contemporary reviews were positive.
Lincoln Cass Films was a short-lived Australian film production company.
The Sick Stockrider is a 1913 film directed by W. J. Lincoln based on the 1870 poem of the same title by Adam Lindsay Gordon. It was the first production from Lincoln-Cass Films and is one of the few Australian silent films to survive in its entirety.
The Bells is a 1911 Australian feature-length silent film directed by W. J. Lincoln. It is based on the famous stage melodrama by Erckmann-Chatrian, adapted by Leopold Lewis, which in turn had been adapted for the Australian stage by W. J. Lincoln before he made it into a film.
Called Back is a 1911 Australian feature-length film directed by W. J. Lincoln based on a popular play which was adapted from an 1883 novel by Hugh Conway. Although the movie was a popular success it is now considered a lost film.
Within the Law is a 1916 Australian silent film based a play of the same name by Bayard Veiller. The leading role was played by American stage star Muriel Starr, reprising her stage performance. It is considered a lost film.
Amalgamated Pictures was a film exchange company in Australia.
After Sundown is a 1911 Australian film directed by W. J. Lincoln set in the Australian bush.
J. C. Williamson's was an Australian theatrical management company and theatre owner. Colloquially known as 'The Firm', the company dominated Australian commercial theatre in the twentieth century and at one time was described as the largest theatrical firm in the world. With its beginnings in the theatrical productions of J. C. Williamson and partners in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the company J. C. Williamson Limited was established in 1910. It closed under financial pressure in 1976.
William Charles Baxter was a carnival rides operator who ran a celebrated merry-go-round at St Kilda, Victoria, Australia. He has also been credited as the first to screen a moving picture film in Australia, and was the first to screen a film of the Melbourne Cup on the evening of the event. He was closely associated with his cousin, Frederick William Baxter who later operated a merry-go-round in Glenelg, South Australia.