There seems no reason why motion picture work should not be fully as meritorious from an artistic standpoint as the ordinary still photography, although it must be admitted that up to the present time this ideal has not been realized, most producers being intent on securing films which will be sufficiently sensational in character to attract large crowds and be financially profitable. Unquestionably they have been tremendously successful in this respect, as is evidenced by the great sums which are spent on the production of photoplay films, such expenditure being without justification unless anticipated and actual receipts were correspondingly large. Still, it is more than probable that at some future date there will arise a producer who will subordinate the sensational to the meritorious, and the reward of such an individual will be large. At least one man is now working along those lines and has produced some wonderfully fine films.
Many persons feel that the photoplay is destined to supplant the legitimate drama, but the writer does no believe that this can ever take place, since the motion picture appeals to the eye alone and is therefore limited to a comparatively low grade of intellectual appeal and to a crude emotional stimulus. The drama, on the other hand, appeals to both the eye and ear, and since it places actual individuals before the spectator an appeal not only through muscular and facial expression but through the ear as well is made, the spoken word being a far more potent factor in stimulating and emotional response than is the case with the eye. Should the writer be inclined to doubt this, let him try to imagine any photoplay which would be capable of arousing the feelings stimulated by the quarrel between Brutus and Cassius in Julius Caesar, or by the Council of Infernal Peers in Paradise Lost, and it will be seen that the photoplay is totally incapable of rising to the emotional heights possible to the spoken word.
Paul L. Anderson, Pictorial Photography, 1917
It is interesting to me that Anderson downgrades the appeal of the eye to the intellect here, whereas he accentuates it when writing of color photography. It is worth noting that several instructors from the Clarence White school went on to illustrious careers in motion picture photography, including Ralph Steiner and Karl Struss. Struss left the school to work with Cecil B. DeMille, among others.