For background, see: (from War, Literature and the Arts)
Scene Thirteen: Crane’s studio, New York, August 1898
Crane has converted an apartment into a small studio. He is tinkering with various film developing equipment. Against the wall is the camera from Cuba. The phone rings.
Roosevelt: Hello, Stephen. Its Roosevelt. Back in Washington
Crane: Colonel! It grand to hear your voice. Even when you are cursing Crane as a damned fool. So all Four Musketeers [Crane, Roosevelt, Frank Norris and Richard Harding Davis] arrived home sans casket.
No bad tidings after all for Alice, Rebecca, Blix or Cora. Scene 11
Roosevelt: Nor Margharita Quesados.
(Crane is silent)
Anyway Crane, how is the camera and the film going?
Crane: Teddy, I’ve never felt so alive. Rejuvenated. Reborn.
You see, when I write I envision words as the sharpest of the sharpest cut tip of a dart. That pierces reality — the dartboard.
Now, in film, my gaze looks at the dart stuck in the board. As a wordless picture. And I see the dart now in motion. Leaving my hand. In wordless motion.
Roosevelt: Bully, I guess. Stevie, your cinematic genius is too abstract for me. But as long as you get the story right.
And have you found ample funds in your bank account? Money should be no object. How about the footage you and the Vitagraph men took?
[The extent and condition and quality of the actual footage has always been uncertain. In Two Wheels and a Crank, Smith is evasive on the question. In Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction film, Eric Barnouw explains:
When Albert E. Smith returned to New York for Cuba with his San Juan Hill footage, he was worried: in spite of Roosevelt’s posturings, it looked like a dull uphill walk in no way fitting the “charge up San Juan Hill” trumpeted by newspapers.
Meanwhile, theaters clamored for the Cuban material, already publicized. So Vitograph held off its distribution until Smith and his partner J. Stuart Blackton had shot a table top “battle of Santiago Bay” complete with prolific cigarette and cigar smoke, explosions, and cardboard ships going down inthe inch-deep water. Combined with the shots brought from Cuba, it became the hit of the war coverage. The public apparently did not suspect its true nature. ]
Crane: Yes, ample funds indeed. Edison no doubt appreciates your munificence. His men have built me a mini-studio right here in Greenwich Village. And the equipment, stunning. It was amateur hour with those Vitograph fellows.
And the technology is going leaps and bounds. The Edison men say soon enough films can have sound right along with the pictures. The pzzzzzzzzzzt of the bullet. And one day those pictures will be in color. The crimson red of the wound.
Roosevelt: Yes, yes, think big Crane. Think big.
Crane: I’ll rescue a little of the San Juan footage. But mostly it will actors. We’ll use Edison’s Black Maria Studio in West Orange, New Jersey.
We”ll recreate the whole Rough Riding gang. Cowboys and Indians. I want Bisbell, the half-Cherokee, to play himself. As for that Jewish trooper, I’ll personally find the best looking Israelite in vaudeville. And as for your college men from Harvard and Princeton, I’ll round up my chums from Syracuse and Lafayette.
Crane: I’ll get the finest actor on Broadway. A man who has played, hmm, Marc Anthony! How’s that sound?
Roosevelt: Excellent. But I’ll need a Cleopatra in my tent. And who will be Mr. Stephen Crane?
Crane: And you call me risqué! Why, Crane will be Crane. Didn’t you yourself say the film was also about me? Crane, America’s first real movie director, playing Crane. Scene 10
Roosevelt: You are sounding absolutely Faustian. Also, I am sending along the manuscript of The Rough Riders I am now composing. And two pictures I am including. Also, Dick’s [Richard Harding Davis] manuscript. They should give you the right material to form the story. And I do think the title should be The Rough Riders.
Crane: (distracted and only half listening) Yes, yes, by all means. That’s fine. Anyway its back to work, old boy.
Crane hangs up the phone. Then picks it up again and dials.
Crane: Is this Mr. Hearst’s secretary. Its Stephen Crane. Why, thank you sir. I am delighted the account of my daring escape with Margarita Quesdas went through a dozen printings.
Speaking of Miss Quesedas, how can I reach her now that she is here in New York? Might do a follow up. You don’t have an address but know where she can be found, you say. Recently joined the Anti-Imperialism League. And they are having a rally tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden. And William Jennings Bryan is speaking. Thanks much, old sport. Give Mr. Hearst my greetings.
The Anti-Imperialist League was first organized in June 1898 to advocate against American overseas colonial ambitions. Prominent literary members were Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, Henry and James, as well as his brother William James.
Williams Jennings Bryan was not an official member of the League. In 1896, as the Democrat/Populist candidate, Bryan had lost to McKinley. In 1898, he supported intervention in Cuba, serving himself as Colonel in the so-called, “Silver Regiment” of Nebraska that never saw action in Cuba during the war. In 1900, Bryan ran again against McKinley (with Roosevelt as his running mate), this time on an anti-imperialist platform, and again lost.
In 1905, William Dean Howell wrote the widely-read “Editha,” an anti-war short story.
Although Twain supported the intervention in Cuba, he quickly became an anti-imperialist. In 1901, he wrote, To the Person Sitting in Darkness , a vitriolic attack on American imperial pretensions.
In 1910, William James wrote “On the Moral Equivalent of War” that still resonates today. See below.