Monday, April 11, 2011

Hamlet and His Problems - T.S. Eliot (1922)


FEW critics have even admitted that Hamlet the play is the primary problem, and Hamlet the character only secondary. And Hamlet the character has had an especial temptation for that most dangerous type of critic: the critic with a mind which is naturally of the creative order, but which through some weakness in creative power exercises itself in criticism instead. These minds often find in Hamlet a vicarious existence for their own artistic realization. Such a mind had Goethe, who made of Hamlet a Werther; and such had Coleridge, who made of Hamlet a Coleridge; and probably neither of these men in writing about Hamlet remembered that his first business was to study a work of art. The kind of criticism that Goethe and Coleridge produced, in writing of Hamlet, is the most misleading kind possible. For they both possessed unquestionable critical insight, and both make their critical aberrations the more plausible by the substitution—of their own Hamlet for Shakespeare's—which their creative gift effects. We should be thankful that Walter Pater did not fix his attention on this play.

Two recent writers, Mr. J. M. Robertson and Professor Stoll of the University of Minnesota, have issued small books which can be praised for moving in the other direction. Mr. Stoll performs a service in recalling to our attention the labours of the critics of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries1 observing that
they knew less about psychology than more recent Hamlet critics, but they were nearer in spirit to Shakespeare's art; and as they insisted on the importance of the effect of the whole rather than on the importance of the leading character, they were nearer, in their old-fashioned way, to the secret of dramatic art in general.2
Qua work of art, the work of art cannot be interpreted; there is nothing to interpret; we can only criticize it according to standards, in comparison to other works of art; and for "interpretation" the chief task is the presentation of relevant historical facts which the reader is not assumed to know. Mr. Robertson points out, very pertinently, how critics have failed in their "interpretation" of Hamlet by ignoring what ought to be very obvious: that Hamlet is a stratification, that it represents the efforts of a series of men, each making what he could out of the work of his predecessors. The Hamlet of Shakespeare will appear to us very differently if, instead of treating the whole action of the play as due to Shakespeare's design, we perceive hisHamlet to be superposed upon much cruder material which persists even in the final form.3

We know that there was an older play by Thomas Kyd, that extraordinary dramatic (if not poetic) genius who was in all probability the author of two plays so dissimilar as the Spanish Tragedy and Arden of Feversham; and what this play was like we can guess from three clues: from the Spanish Tragedy itself, from the tale of Belleforest upon which Kyd's Hamlet must have been based, and from a version acted in Germany in Shakespeare's lifetime which bears strong evidence of having been adapted from the earlier, not from the later, play. From these three sources it is clear that in the earlier play the motive was a revenge-motive simply; that the action or delay is caused, as in the Spanish Tragedy, solely by the difficulty of assassinating a monarch surrounded by guards; and that the "madness" of Hamlet was feigned in order to escape suspicion, and successfully. In the final play of Shakespeare, on the other hand, there is a motive which is more important than that of revenge, and which explicitly "blunts" the latter; the delay in revenge is unexplained on grounds of necessity or expediency; and the effect of the "madness" is not to lull but to arouse the king's suspicion. The alteration is not complete enough, however, to be convincing. Furthermore, there are verbal parallels so close to the Spanish Tragedy as to leave no doubt that in places Shakespeare was merely revising the text of Kyd. And finally there are unexplained scenes—the Polonius-Laertes and the Polonius-Reynaldo scenes—for which there is little excuse; these scenes are not in the verse style of Kyd, and not beyond doubt in the style of Shakespeare. These Mr. Robertson believes to be scenes in the original play of Kyd reworked by a third hand, perhaps Chapman, before Shakespeare touched the play. And he concludes, with very strong show of reason, that the original play of Kyd was, like certain other revenge plays, in two parts of five acts each. The upshot of Mr. Robertson's examination is, we believe, irrefragable: that Shakespeare's Hamlet, so far as it is Shakespeare's, is a play dealing with the effect of a mother's guilt upon her son, and that Shakespeare was unable to impose this motive successfully upon the "intractable" material of the old play.4

Of the intractability there can be no doubt. So far from being Shakespeare's masterpiece, the play is most certainly an artistic failure. In several ways the play is puzzling, and disquieting as is none of the others. Of all the plays it is the longest and is possibly the one on which Shakespeare spent most pains; and yet he has left in it superfluous and inconsistent scenes which even hasty revision should have noticed. The versification is variable. Lines like
  Look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill,

are of the Shakespeare of Romeo and Juliet. The lines in Act v. sc. ii.,
Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting
That would not let me sleep...
Up from my cabin,
My sea-gown scarf'd about me, in the dark
Grop'd I to find out them: had my desire;
Finger'd their packet;

are of his quite mature. Both workmanship and thought are in an unstable condition. We are surely justified in attributing the play, with that other profoundly interesting play of "intractable" material and astonishing versification, Measure for Measure, to a period of crisis, after which follow the tragic successes which culminate in Coriolanus. Coriolanus may be not as "interesting" as Hamlet, but it is, with Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare's most assured artistic success. And probably more people have thought Hamlet a work of art because they found it interesting, than have found it interesting because it is a work of art. It is the "Mona Lisa" of literature.5

The grounds of Hamlet's failure are not immediately obvious. Mr. Robertson is undoubtedly correct in concluding that the essential emotion of the play is the feeling of a son towards a guilty mother:
  [Hamlet's] tone is that of one who has suffered tortures on the score of his mother's degradation.... The guilt of a mother is an almost intolerable motive for drama, but it had to be maintained and emphasized to supply a psychological solution, or rather a hint of one.
This, however, is by no means the whole story. It is not merely the "guilt of a mother" that cannot be handled as Shakespeare handled the suspicion of Othello, the infatuation of Antony, or the pride of Coriolanus. The subject might conceivably have expanded into a tragedy like these, intelligible, self-complete, in the sunlight. Hamlet, like the sonnets, is full of some stuff that the writer could not drag to light, contemplate, or manipulate into art. And when we search for this feeling, we find it, as in the sonnets, very difficult to localize. You cannot point to it in the speeches; indeed, if you examine the two famous soliloquies you see the versification of Shakespeare, but a content which might be claimed by another, perhaps by the author of theRevenge of Bussy d' Ambois, Act v. sc. i. We find Shakespeare's Hamlet not in the action, not in any quotations that we might select, so much as in an unmistakable tone which is unmistakably not in the earlier play.6

The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an "objective correlative"; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of thatparticular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked. If you examine any of Shakespeare's more successful tragedies, you will find this exact equivalence; you will find that the state of mind of Lady Macbeth walking in her sleep has been communicated to you by a skilful accumulation of imagined sensory impressions; the words of Macbeth on hearing of his wife's death strike us as if, given the sequence of events, these words were automatically released by the last event in the series. The artistic "inevitability" lies in this complete adequacy of the external to the emotion; and this is precisely what is deficient in Hamlet. Hamlet (the man) is dominated by an emotion which is inexpressible, because it is in excess of the facts as they appear. And the supposed identity of Hamlet with his author is genuine to this point: that Hamlet's bafflement at the absence of objective equivalent to his feelings is a prolongation of the bafflement of his creator in the face of his artistic problem. Hamlet is up against the difficulty that his disgust is occasioned by his mother, but that his mother is not an adequate equivalent for it; his disgust envelops and exceeds her. It is thus a feeling which he cannot understand; he cannot objectify it, and it therefore remains to poison life and obstruct action. None of the possible actions can satisfy it; and nothing that Shakespeare can do with the plot can express Hamlet for him. And it must be noticed that the very nature of the donnĂ©es of the problem precludes objective equivalence. To have heightened the criminality of Gertrude would have been to provide the formula for a totally different emotion in Hamlet; it is just because her character is so negative and insignificant that she arouses in Hamlet the feeling which she is incapable of representing.7

The "madness" of Hamlet lay to Shakespeare's hand; in the earlier play a simple ruse, and to the end, we may presume, understood as a ruse by the audience. For Shakespeare it is less than madness and more than feigned. The levity of Hamlet, his repetition of phrase, his puns, are not part of a deliberate plan of dissimulation, but a form of emotional relief. In the character Hamlet it is the buffoonery of an emotion which can find no outlet in action; in the dramatist it is the buffoonery of an emotion which he cannot express in art. The intense feeling, ecstatic or terrible, without an object or exceeding its object, is something which every person of sensibility has known; it is doubtless a study to pathologists. It often occurs in adolescence: the ordinary person puts these feelings to sleep, or trims down his feeling to fit the business world; the artist keeps it alive by his ability to intensify the world to his emotions. The Hamlet of Laforgue is an adolescent; the Hamlet of Shakespeare is not, he has not that explanation and excuse. We must simply admit that here Shakespeare tackled a problem which proved too much for him. Why he attempted it at all is an insoluble puzzle; under compulsion of what experience he attempted to express the inexpressibly horrible, we cannot ever know. We need a great many facts in his biography; and we should like to know whether, and when, and after or at the same time as what personal experience, he read Montaigne, II. xii., Apologie de Raimond Sebond. We should have, finally, to know something which is by hypothesis unknowable, for we assume it to be an experience which, in the manner indicated, exceeded the facts. We should have to understand things which Shakespeare did not understand himself.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Syd Field's Paradigm

From Wikipedia.

Screenwriting guru Syd Field wrote the seminal book Screenplay, and posited a new theory, which he called the Paradigm. Field noticed that in a 120-page screenplay, Act Two was notoriously boring, and was also twice the length of Acts One and Three. He also noticed that an important dramatic event usually occurred at the middle of the picture, which implied to him that the middle act was actually two acts in one. So the Three Act Structure is notated 1, 2a, 2b, 3, resulting in Aristotle's Three Acts divided into four pieces.

Field also introduced the idea of Plot Points into screenwriting theory. Plot Points are important structural functions that happen in approximately the same place in most successful movies, like the verses and choruses in a popular song. In subsequent books, Field has added to his original list, and students of his like Viki King and Linda Seger have added to the list of Plot Points. Here is a current list of the major Plot Points that are congruent with Field's Paradigm:

Opening Image: The first image in the screenplay should summarize the entire film, especially its tone. Often, writers go back and redo this as the last thing before submitting the script.

Inciting Incident: Also called the catalyst, this is the point in the story when the Protagonist encounters the problem that will change their life. This is when the detective is assigned the case, where Boy meets Girl, and where the Comic Hero gets fired from his cushy job, forcing him into comic circumstances.

Plot Point 1: The last scene in Act One, Turning Point One is a surprising development that radically changes the Protagonist's life, and forces him to confront the Opponent. In Star Wars, this is when Luke's family is killed by the Empire. He has no home to go back to, so he joins the Rebels in opposing Darth Vader.

Pinch 1: A reminder scene at about 3/8 the way through the script (halfway through Act 2a) that brings up the central conflict of the drama, reminding us of the overall conflict. For example, in Star Wars, Pinch 1 is the Stormtroopers attacking the Millennium Falcon in Mos Eisley, reminding us the Empire is after the stolen plans to the Death Star R2-D2 is carrying and Luke and Ben Kenobi are trying to get to the Rebel Alliance (the main conflict).

Midpoint: An important scene in the middle of the script, often a reversal of fortune or revelation that changes the direction of the story. Field suggests that driving the story towards the Midpoint keeps the second act from sagging.

Pinch 2: Another reminder scene about 5/8 through the script (halfway through Act 2b) that is somehow linked to Pinch 1 in reminding the audience about the central conflict. In Star Wars, Pinch 2 is the Stormtroopers attacking them as they rescue the Princess in the Death Star. Both scenes remind us of the Empire's opposition, and using the Stormtrooper attack motif unifies both Pinches.

Plot Point 2: A dramatic reversal that ends Act 2 and begins Act 3, which is about confrontation and resolution. Sometimes Turning Point Two is the moment when the Hero has had enough and is finally going to face the Opponent. Sometimes, like in Toy Story, it's the low-point for the Hero, and he must bounce back to overcome the odds in Act 3.

Showdown: About midway through Act 3, the Protagonist will confront the Main Problem of the story and either overcome it, or come to a tragic end.

Resolution: The issues of the story are resolved.

Tag: An epilogue, tying up the loose ends of the story, giving the audience closure. This is also known as denouement. In general, films in recent decades have had longer denouements than films made in the 1970s or earlier.

Why I Make Melodramas (1936) by Alfred Hitchcock

What Is Melodrama?

If I admit I prefer to make films that may be so classified I must first define it. Try to define it for yourself and see how difficult it is.

One man's drama is another man's melodrama.

In the Victorian theatre there were only two divisions of entertainment - the melodrama and the comedy. Then snobbery asserted itself. What you saw at Drury Lane was drama. At the Lyceum it was melodrama. The only difference was the price of the seat.

"Melodrama" came to be applied by sophisticates to the more naive type of play or story, in which every situation was overdrawn and every emotion underlined.

But still the definition is not universal. The "melodrama" of the West-end may be taken as drama in the Provinces. To some extent "melodrama" seems to be in the eye - and mind - of the beholder.

In real life, to be called "melodramatic" is to be criticised. The term suggests behaviour which is hysterical and exaggerated.

A woman may receive the news of her husband's death by throwing up her arms and screaming, or she may sit quite still and say nothing. The first is melodramatic. But it may well happen in real life. In the cinema a melodramatic film is one based on a series of sensational incidents. So melodrama, you must admit, has been and is the backbone and lifeblood of the cinema.

I use melodrama because I have a tremendous desire for understatement in film-making. Understatement in a dramatic situation powerful enough to be called melodramatic is, I think, the way to achieve naturalism and realism, while keeping in mind the entertainment demands of the screen, the first of these being for colourful action.

Examine what was popular in the provincial theatre before films and you will see that the first essential was that the play had plenty of "meat." It is to that audience, multiplied many times, we must cater in films.

But - and it is a difficult "but" - the same audience has been taught to expect the modern, naturalistic treatment of their "meaty" dramas. The screen has created the expectation of a degree of realism which was never asked of the theatre.

Now realism on the screen would be impossible. Actual life would be dull, in all but its more exceptional aspects, such as crime. Realism, faithfully represented, would be unreal, because there is in the minds of the cinema or theatre audience what I would call the "habit of drama." This habit causes the audience to prefer on the screen things that are outside their own, real-life experience.

So there is the problem - how to combine colour, action, naturalism, the semblance of reality, and situations which will be intriguingly unfamiliar to most of the audience. All these must be blended.

My own greatest desire is for realism. Therefore I employ what is called melodrama - but which might as well be called ultra-realism - for all my thinking has led me to the conclusion that there is the only road to screen realism that will still be entertainment.

Perhaps the strangest criticism I encounter is that I sometimes put wildly improbable things, grotesque unrealities, on the screen when actually the incident criticised is lifted bodily from real life. The reason is that the strange anomalies of real life, the inconsequences of human nature, appear unreal.

On the other hand, if they are real they may be too near the onlooker's experience and he does not go to the cinema to see his own troubles at closer range.

The man who understands the psychology of the public better than anybody else to-day is the editor of the successful, popular modern newspaper. He deals to a great extent in melodrama. The modern treatment of news, with its simple statement, which makes the reader "live" the story, is brilliant in its analysis of the public mind.

If the film-makers understood the public as newspapers do they might hit the mark more often.

Aristotle's Poetics 13 and 14


The next points after what we have said above will be these: (1) What is the poet to aim at, and what is he to avoid, in constructing his Plots? and (2) What are the conditions on which the tragi.e.fect depends?

We assume that, for the finest form of Tragedy, the Plot must be not simple but complex; and further, that it must imitate actions arousing pity and fear, since that is the distinctive function of this kind of imitation. It follows, therefore, that there are three forms of Plot to be avoided. (1) A good man must not be seen passing from happiness to misery, or (2) a bad man from misery to happiness.

The first situation is not fear-inspiring or piteous, but simply odious to us. The second is the most untragic that can be; it has no one of the requisites of Tragedy; it does not appeal either to the human feeling in us, or to our pity, or to our fears. Nor, on the other hand, should (3) an extremely bad man be seen falling from happiness into misery. Such a story may arouse the human feeling in us, but it will not move us to either pity or fear; pity is occasioned by undeserved misfortune, and fear by that of one like ourselves; so that there will be nothing either piteous or fear-inspiring in the situation. There remains, then, the intermediate kind of personage, a man not pre-eminently virtuous and just, whose misfortune, however, is brought upon him not by vice and depravity but by some error of judgement, of the number of those in the enjoyment of great reputation and prosperity; e.g. Oedipus, Thyestes, and the men of note of similar families. The perfect Plot, accordingly, must have a single, and not (as some tell us) a double issue; the change in the hero’s fortunes must be not from misery to happiness, but on the contrary from happiness to misery; and the cause of it must lie not in any depravity, but in some great error on his part; the man himself being either such as we have described, or better, not worse, than that. Fact also confirms our theory. Though the poets began by accepting any tragic story that came to hand, in these days the finest tragedies are always on the story of some few houses, on that of Alemeon, Oedipus, Orestes, Meleager, Thyestes, Telephus, or any others that may have been involved, as either agents or sufferers, in some deed of horror. The theoretically best tragedy, then, has a Plot of this description. The critics, therefore, are wrong who blame Euripides for taking this line in his tragedies, and giving many of them an unhappy ending. It is, as we have said, the right line to take. The best proof is this: on the stage, and in the public performances, such plays, properly worked out, are seen to be the most truly tragic; and Euripides, even if hi.e.ecution be faulty i.e.ery other point, is seen to be nevertheless the most tragic certainly of the dramatists. After this comes the construction of Plot which some rank first, one with a double story (like the Odyssey) and an opposite issue for the good and the bad personages. It is ranked as first only through the weakness of the audiences; the poets merely follow their public, writing as its wishes dictate. But the pleasure here is not that of Tragedy. It belongs rather to Comedy, where the bitterest enemies in the piece (e.g. Orestes and Aegisthus) walk off good friends at the end, with no slaying of any one by any one.

The tragic fear and pity may be aroused by the Spectacle; but they may also be aroused by the very structure and incidents of the play—which is the better way and shows the better poet. The Plot in fact should be so framed that, even without seeing the things take place, he who simply hears the account of them shall be filled with horror and pity at the incidents; which is just the effect that the mere recital of the story in Oedipus would have on one. To produce this same effect by means of the Spectacle is less artistic, and requires extraneous aid. Those, however, who make use of the Spectacle to put before us that which is merely monstrous and not productive of fear, are wholly out of touch with Tragedy; not every kind of pleasure should be required of a tragedy, but only its own proper pleasure.

The tragic pleasure is that of pity and fear, and the poet has to produce it by a work of imitation; it is clear, therefore, that the causes should be included in the incidents of his story. Let us see, then, what kinds of incident strike one as horrible, or rather as piteous. In a deed of this description the parties must necessarily be either friends, or enemies, or indifferent to one another. Now when enemy does it on enemy, there is nothing to move us to pity either in his doing or in his meditating the deed, except so far as the actual pain of the sufferer is concerned; and the same is true when the parties are indifferent to one another. Whenever the tragic deed, however, is done within the family—when murder or the like is done or meditated by brother on brother, by son on father, by mother on son, or son on mother—these are the situations the poet should seek after. The traditional stories, accordingly, must be kept as they are, e.g. the murder of Clytaemnestra by Orestes and of Eriphyle by Alcmeon. At the same time even with these there is something left to the poet himself; it is for him to devise the right way of treating them. Let us explain more clearly what we mean by ’the right way’. The deed of horror may be done by the doer knowingly and consciously, as in the old poets, and in Medea’s murder of her children in Euripides. Or he may do it, but in ignorance of his relationship, and discover that afterwards, as does the Oedipus in Sophocles. Here the deed is outside the play; but it may be within it, like the act of the Alcmeon in Astydamas, or that of the Telegonus in Ulysses Wounded. A third possibility is for one meditating some deadly injury to another, in ignorance of his relationship, to make the discovery in time to draw back. These exhaust the possibilities, since the deed must necessarily be either done or not done, and either knowingly or unknowingly.

The worst situation is when the personage is with full knowledge on the point of doing the deed, and leaves it undone. It is odious and also (through the absence of suffering) untragic; hence it is that no one is made to act thus except in some few instances, e.g. Haemon and Creon in Antigone. Next after this comes the actual perpetration of the deed meditated. A better situation than that, however, is for the deed to be done in ignorance, and the relationship discovered afterwards, since there is nothing odious in it, and the Discovery will serve to astound us. But the best of all is the last; what we have in Cresphontes, for example, where Merope, on the point of slaying her son, recognizes him in time; in Iphigenia, where sister and brother are in a like position; and in Helle, where the son recognizes his mother, when on the point of giving her up to her enemy.

This will explain why our tragedies are restricted (as we said just now) to such a small number of families. It was accident rather than art that led the poets in quest of subjects to embody this kind of incident in their Plots. They are still obliged, accordingly, to have recourse to the families in which such horrors have occurred.

On the construction of the Plot, and the kind of Plot required for Tragedy, enough has now been said.

The History Of Slot Machines


"1891 and against the backdrop of the town of Brooklyn, in the recently-booming east coast New York City, Sittman and Pitt had just developed the gaming machine that in the years to come would be considered THE precursor to the modern slot machine. Based on poker, possibly to cash-in on the popularity of the game, the machine contained five drums carrying a total of fifty cards and like it’s namesake in the table-sitting world, it proved to be a popular hit with gambling players everywhere but especially in it’s home city of New York. At this time you would be hard-pressed to find a bar in the city that didn't have at least one of these machines standing at the side of the bar waiting for potential players to insert a nickel and press the lever in the hope of a good poker hand. These machines had a drawback. There was no direct payout mechanism, so in order to cure this problem, establishments would for example, offer a patron a free beer should he receive a pair of Kings, maybe a cigar if he hit a lower hand. It was not ‘made’ easy for a customer to win. Once obtaining a machine, many establishments would typically remove two select cards from the deck: the Ten of Spades and the Jack of Hearts. This, naturally, cut the odds of winning drastically and to make it even more difficult to win, the drums themselves could also be re-arranged to the taste of the proprietor.

"What can not be re-arranged so simply however, is the differing accounts of a German immigrant named Charles Augustus Fey, and his invention over on the west coast. There are some who say he invented the first mechanical slot machine in 1887, four years BEFORE Sittman and Pitt’s machine hit the bars of New York. There are others who state that Fey conceived his innovation in 1895, four years AFTER Sittman and Pitt’s machine. It is the year 1895 however, that seems to prove more popular with gambling history enthusiasts. Regardless of the chronology, Fey’s invention was revolutionary.

"With what later would be termed the first "one-armed bandit," Fey had solved the problem of designing a machine capable of making an automatic pay-out for all possible winning combinations. This was achieved by replacing ten cards with five symbols ( Diamonds, Hearts, Horseshoes, Spades and a cracked Liberty Bell ), and utilizing three reels instead of five drums thereby considerably reducing the complexity of reading a win! Three bells in a row equaled the largest payoff, amounting to fifty cents or ten nickels. The machine, consequently called Liberty Bell due to it’s attractive symbol became a massive success and is generally credited with spawning the massive mechanical gaming device industry at this time.

"During the next five years Charles Fey also invented the first descendent of the Liberty Bell called "4-11-44" named so after the maximum winning combination of the machine, worth five dollars. After this success, Fey upgraded his business from small-shop trading to factory production and in successive years invented the "Card Bell" machine and then further improved it a year later in 1899. This latest innovation had an altered symbol ( Star ) and boasted a maximum prize of twenty dimes or tokens, achieved with a three bell combination!

"Fey had been enjoying limited competition and favorable government legislature in his bid to dominate the gaming device market. However, various companies including Kalamazoo and Monarch had also released slot machines and one company in particular would severely test his control. Again, there are conflicting theories as to what actually happened but it was well-known in gaming device circles around the turn of the century that Charles Fey refused to sell or lease his revolutionary Liberty Bell slot machine to anyone. One theory as it that in 1905, a robbery occurred at a saloon in San Francisco, a theft in which only two items were stolen - an apron and a Liberty Bell slot machine. Less than a year later, Herbert Stephen Mills who had inherited the ‘Mills Novelty Company’ some years earlier from his father Mortimer Mills, produced a new version of the Liberty Bell called the Mills Liberty Bell. Despite the competition, the Mills Liberty Bell saw off all challengers. Mills, at this point, was employing assembly-line techniques for the construction of slot machines and despite the controversy, later became known as the "Henry Ford of slot machines."

"The other theory however states that Charles Fey actually went into business with the Mills Novelty Company, and then manufactured the Mills Liberty Bell which stunted all competition.

"The Mills Liberty Bell itself featured a cast iron case with a classic Liberty Bell actually cast into the front of the machine. Originally the machine had cast iron feet with toes, but this was scrapped in later versions and they were replaced with ornate scrolled feet. Playing cards ( the King, Queen and Jack ) were depicted on the machine’s reel strips, and it also featured a bell that rung when a winning combination was hit. This was later dropped for the Mills Liberty Bell, though this concept would resurface many years later.

"Charles Fey had not only had to contend with these commercial losses, but he suffered most heavily when his main slot-machine producing factory was almost utterly destroyed in an earthquake. After this point, Fey faded into relative obscurity and he died some years later in 1944. Herbert Mills’ company however continued to thrive.


"By 1910 slot machines could be found seemingly everywhere. The Mills Novelty Company introduced slight variations to it’s Liberty Bell design and named it the Operator Bell. The Operator Bell had a more fitting neck coin entry and also featured fruit symbols unlike previous models. The Mills Novelty Company was also now producing five different variations of it’s Liberty Bell design at it’s factories, and by the time World War One broke out, the company had expanded into Europe and it’s factories were manufacturing up to 30,000 gaming machines.

"The age of the cast iron machines came to an abrupt end when Mills introduced slot machines fashioned with cheaper wooden cabinets, and by the early 1930’s the Mills Novelty Company made a number of changes to it’s production line of slot machines that signaled another revolution of the gaming industry.

"The new wave of machines introduced a double jackpot that allowed players the luxury of knowing that they could win twice in quick succession. The machines were also designed to be quieter and these 1930’s machines are now referred to as the "Silent Bell(s)."

"New cabinet designs were also released as part of this new wave of slot machines and included such themes as the Lion Head, the War Eagle, the Roman Head and finally in 1933, the Castle Front.

"The War Eagle also boasted a new coin acceptor that displayed the coins played moving successively across the top of the machine. In the case that slugs were used to operate the machine, the operator would now be able to see if such an object was being used. The new specification also added additional movement. Herbert Mills passed away in 1929 at the age of 57, leaving a vast fortune to his wife and eight children.

"In 1909, the previously favorable laws were thrown out the window, and new laws were introduced declaring that slot machines could no longer dispense cash. Slot machine manufacturers and bar owners managed to cope with these new laws by giving away free packs of gum and other prizes for getting certain combinations of symbols on the machines. There is a theory that this was the idea for the fruit and bar symbols present on modern-day slot machines. The bars are said to represent the packs of gum and the fruit symbols indicate the various kinds of candy that were won. Another theory holds that an early slot machine rewarded it’s players by awarding fruit-flavored chewing gums with the pictures of the flavors depicted by the corresponding symbols on the reels. The popular ‘cherry’ and ‘melon’ symbols are said to have derived from this machine. According to this representation of events, the ‘BAR’ symbol now common in slot machines was actually derived from an early logo of the Bell-Fruit Gum Company.

"In 1919, the American government declared PROHIBITION and the consumption or supplying of alcohol was made illegal. The slot machines which mainly populated bars and saloons, were moved into the speakeasies that had been set up in light of the recent changes in the law. Since the speakeasies were illegal anyway, the managers figured they may as well go back to offering cash prizes on the slot machines. Because of this, the popularity of slot machines increased even more.

"Despite the governmental pressure the gaming industry continued to bloom and grow, especially in the state of Nevada where gambling was legalized in 1931. Several companies sprung up to take advantage of the situation, and they began to manufacture and sell slot machines to the fledgling casinos in Nevada. The manufacture and enjoyment of slot machines grew at an exponential rate well into the 1960’s.

The pinball machine manufacturer, Bally, in 1964 began to produce a new slot machine named Money Honey. This machine was powered by electricity, and also possessed new sound effects as well as being classed as a multi coin machine. It was also the first slot machine ever to have a hopper - the name for the holder into which the coins get paid out. More innovations flowed from the Bally business brains; they added games that had more reels, bigger hoppers and more coins until 1970 when they produced a hopper large enough to hold dollar coins which meant larger jackpots for the consumers.

"In 1978, Atlantic City legalized gambling, and by this time Bally had cornered about 90% of the slot machine market. The company continued to add reels, knowing this would decrease chances of winning and so maximizing the size of a jackpot . In addition to increasing the number of symbols on each reel with 25 eventually becoming the maximum, they also raised the wagers so games could be played at $5, $25 and even $100. Bally also hired a computer programmer by the name of Inge Telnaus to increase the size of the jackpots without losing profits for the company. Using a computer program, Telnaus utilized a random number generator that cycled through the numbers on imaginary reels he had made. A revolution had been realized in slot machine gaming as Telnaus with these imaginary reels could radically change the amounts that could be won. This random number generator has ushered slot machines into a new age and opened up new markets with new opportunities to be explored much like the Californian gold fields did for the American populace over 150 years ago."