Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Harold Lloyd is Shown in 18 Theaters in Omaha -- May 23, 2018

Moving Picture World, 11-May-1918
"Positively the best single reel comedies made."  Harold looks very enthusiastic in this image.  I guess he always did look enthusiastic.  Note that Toto is on the top of the full page ad.

Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, 24-May-1918
"Harold Lloyd Comedy" appears at the very bottom of this newspaper ad from Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Moving Picture World, 11-May-1918
Hal Roach was consolidating his control of the Rolin Film Company, easing out Dwight Whiting, who had been secretary and treasurer.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Chaplin's New Comedy Breaks Many Records -- May 21, 2018

Moving Picture World, 18-May-1918
Charlie Chaplin and Brownie (or Mutt or Mut, playing Scraps) were the stars of Chaplin's first movie for First National release, "A Dog's Life."

Moving Picture World, 04-May-1918
"At the Strand in New York, 16,141 people, on the opening day of the run, paid $5,619 to see Charlie and his trusty hound."

Moving Picture World, 04-May-1918
This item has some promotional suggestions:
Program and Advertising Phrases:
The Greatest Comedy Ever Shown on Either Stage or Screen.
Charlie Chaplin Makes a New Beginning Under Own Management.
Three Reels of Riotous Laughter.
Fun-Fest Supreme with, the World's Greatest Comedian.
Large Company of Trained Dogs Lead Comedy Life.
Chaplin Starts Million-Dollar Contract with a Hit.
The Funniest Thing this Funniest of Men Ever Presented.
Three Reels of Solid Laughter and Riotous Fun.
Three Reels of Innocent Fun and Frolic.
Simple Fun Free from Vulgarity.
Nothing but Dogs, Chaplin and Laughter.
Humor. Excitement and Pathos with Laughs Supreme.
The World Will Rock with Laughter.
The World's Greatest Comedian in His Greatest Comedy.

Moving Picture World, 11-May-1918
BF Keith's Palace was the most famous theater in vaudeville.  "A Dog's Life" did good business there.

Moving Picture World, 11-May-1918
"Charlie Chaplin came to Atlanta April 16, smashed all attendance records, including grand opera and political powers, by drawing eight thousand people to the auditorium; set a Liberty Bond sales record, locally by coaxing $502,350 out of Atlantans' pockets and found time to hobnob with both the upper and lower crusts of Atlanta's social stratum." 

Moving Picture World, 18-May-1918
Chaplin finished his Liberty Bond tour of the South and sold more bonds in New York City.

Moving Picture World, 25-May-1918
First National touted three big attractions, "A Dog's Life," Tarzan of the Apes, and My Four Years in Germany, the story of American ambassador James W Gerard.

Moving Picture World, 25-May-1918
Mutt died after a long illness, which this story blamed on Chaplin's absence on the bond tour of the South.

Moving Picture World, 04-May-1918
Meanwhile, WH Productions was rereleasing many of Chaplin's Keystone comedies.

Moving Picture World, 25-May-1918
WH Productions renamed many of the Chaplin Keystones.

Moving Picture World, 25-May-1918
I suppose "The Hula Hula Dance" was "His Prehistoric Past," Chaplin's last Keystone.

Moving Picture World, 04-May-1918
Essanay continued to exploit its collection of Chaplin films.  I like "Next great comedy" for a film that was going on three years old.

Moving Picture World, 04-May-1918
Besides reissuing individual movies, Essanay was also pushing Chase Me Charlie, a feature compiled in Britain from several of Chaplin's Essanay shorts. They referred to it as "A Chaplin Jingle."

Moving Picture World, 04-May-1918
"A Night Out" teamed Chaplin and Ben Turpin.  "In its new form this subject is presented in even a snappier style than when it was first released."  Essanay reedited some of the movies.

Moving Picture World, 11-May-1918
"Daddy!  Take Me to See CHARLIE CHAPLIN."  This ad promotes reissues of the Chaplin movies and the Snakeville comedies, which don't hold up as well.

Moving Picture World, 18-May-1918
"The feet that move the world to laughter."  I like the photos of feet and shoes.

Moving Picture World, 25-May-1918
"New Prints -- New Paper."

Moving Picture World, 04-May-1918
Mutual, which Chaplin had just left, was also reissuing his comedies.

Moving Picture World, 11-May-1918
A new booking plan increased demand for the Mutuals.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Patricia Ellis 100 -- May 20, 2018
Sources disagree, but actress Patricia Ellis was probably born 100 years ago today, on 20-May-1918.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906) -- May 19, 2018

This post is part of the Springtime Silent Movie Challenge: In the Beginning..., hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently. "Here’s the challenge. Before June 21, 2018, you will:
"Watch 5 movies made between 1906 and 1914
"Watch 5 movies made in 1905 or before
"Share your experience on your blog, on social media or here in the comments (I will set up a special post for the purpose to publish on June 21)"

For my five movies made between 1906 and 1914, I thought I would continue to look at some pioneering efforts.

My sixth film, my first from 1906-1914, may be the first animated movie shot on motion picture film, and it is one of the earliest to feature animation using drawings.

Paramount Press Book Collection, February-March, 1918
"Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" was made by J Stuart Blackton, who was one of the founders of the Vitagraph Company, an important early film studio. Blackton had been an artist for the New York World.  He also appeared onstage with conjuror Albert Smith.  Blackton and Smith, along with William "Pop" Rock founded Vitagraph in 1897.

San Francisco Dramatic Review, 30-September-1899
Many vaudeville bills included a "lightning sketch artist."  The lightning sketch artist had a large easel with a chalk board or sheets of paper on the stage.  He (usually he) would rapidly draw caricatures of famous people or other funny images.  Some of the lightning sketch artists were famous newspaper cartoonists. 

Blackton worked as a lightning sketch artist, and appeared in an early Edison film making a lightning sketch.  I think "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" was influenced by Blackton's work as a lightning sketch artist.

Please excuse the music. You might want to mute it.

"Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" begins with a title which we see being assembled using stop motion.

We see a hand with a piece of chalk draw a man's head, as Blackton did in his lightning sketch artist act.  The shot was probably undercranked to make it run faster.  When the man's head is done, we see a woman's head drawn without the hand or the chalk being visible except when Blackton accidentally exposed a frame with them in the shot.  This happened to me many times when I did object animation.

The man's eyes roll around and look at the woman.  She winks at him and he smiles.  His hair begins to grow wildly and she stops smiling.  A large cigar springs up in his mouth and he begins blowing smoke, which envelops her in a cloud.  She looks shocked just before she disappears and a top hat appears on his head.  All of this is animated smoothly.  A hand with an eraser erases the blackboard.

Then a portly man with an umbrella and a derby hat is drawn in animation.  He flips his umbrella and doffs his hat.  Suddenly he is replaced by an abstract spiral.  The spiral winds away and a picture of a woman and an ugly man facing each other gradually becomes clear.  Then they gradually get erased.

The scene changes to a show a clown.  When his arms start to move, we can see that they are jointed cut-outs.  He does tricks with his hat and then with a small dog.  The hand appears again and erases the dog and half of the clown.  The clown moves a little bit more, and then the hand erases the rest.  The hand draws patterns in the cloud of erased chalk, and then the movie ends abruptly.

New York Clipper, 07-April-1906
This ad from the 07-April-1906 New York Clipper says "Originality.  That's the secret of our success.  Here's another original novelty.  HUMOROUS PHASES OF FUNNY FACES.  Absolutely different from any film ever made.  Comical sketches drawn by an invisible pencil.  Drawings actually executed but the artist is nowhere in sight.  FUNNY, MYSTERIOUS, CLEVER.  After each drawing completes itself it moves, laughs, winks, weeps, dances, juggles and performs many surprising feats.  Then an eraser wipes out the drawings showing that after all they are only the products of an artist's brush."  I'd like to see "Sherlock Holmes, or Held for Ransom."

International Projectionist, November, 1933
Here are some illustrations from "The History of the Animated Film Cartoons" by Earl Theisen (International Projectionist, November, 1933).  "Figs. 3 to 6.  Copies from specimens of cartoon films made by Blackton in 1906 (Fig. 3, picture of Blackton doing a chalk talk in his 1906 cartoon)."  Note that Figures 4 and 5 are both reversed from their appearance in the movie and are drawn in black on white.  The chalkboard effect must have come from printing from a positive to a negative.

If you are interested in the beginnings of animation, "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" is worth viewing.  It is rough, but it is fun to watch.

Coming Next Saturday: The first feature-length dramatic movie.

S Rankin Drew 100 Years -- May 19, 2018

Motion Picture Magazine, September, 1918
Director and actor S(idney) Rankin Drew was the son of Sidney Drew and Gladys Rankin Drew of the Mr and Mrs Sidney Drew comedies and cousin of Ethel, Lionel and John Barrymore.  The second Mrs Drew, Lucille McVey, was his stepmother. 

Based on the photo, Rankin Drew was a lot better-looking than his dad.  He seems to have resembled his cousin John.

When America entered World War One, Rankin Drew enlisted right away.  He became an aviator, and was reported missing after a combat on 19-May-1918.  It was later determined that he died that day.  The news shattered his father, who kept working but died the next year.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Film Stars Wed at Inn-- May 17, 2018

Moving Picture News, 03-February-1912
100 years ago this month, on 06-May-1918, Tom Mix married Victoria Forde, his fourth of an eventual five wives.  The Saint Ceclilia Oratory was the wedding chapel at the Glenwood Mission Inn in Riverside.  At the bottom is a postcard view of the oratory.  This article from the 06-May-1918 Riverside Daily Press, describes the ceremony.

Dr. B. S. Haywood Officiates at Marriage of Tom Mix and Victoria Ford

The Saint Cecelia oratory of the Mission Inn was the ideal setting for the wedding of Miss Mabel Victoria H. Anaford and Mr. Thomas Mix yesterday at high noon. The lovely bride is better known by her professional name of Victoria Ford, under which she appears on the shadow stage. Mr. Mix is the famous Tom Mix of the films, who has performed so many daring exploits in western pictures.

The little marriage altar was heaped with delicate white flowers for the ceremony, orange blossoms gleaming here and there in the trembling glow of the tall wax tapers that gave the only light admitted to the tiny chapel. The solemn ring ceremony was read by Dr. Haywood in the presence of the bride’s mother, Mrs. Hannaford; her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Paider, and her brother, Eugene Hannaford, all of Los Angeles. The dainty bride was quietly and appropriately gowned in a summer tailleur of pongee, with which she wore a broad leghorn hat, brightened with touches of a fashionable blue. Her flowers were Cecil Brunner rosebuds nestling among delicate ferns. After the ceremony the wedding party enjoyed a delightful wedding breakfast, served in the court dining room of this inn.

In the afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Mix departed in their motor for Los Angeles, as studio engagements make a honeymoon impracticable at present. As Victoria Ford the young bride has won her laurels with the Fox film company in the cast and with the Universal Film company in Los Angeles, where her talent for high comedy won her the leads in Christie comedies and popularity with the theater going public. Mr. Mix is a pioneer of the films, and his work in pictures requiring expert horsemanship is nationally if not internationally famous.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Brevoort Theater, Brooklyn -- May 15, 2018

Moving Picture World, 18-May-1918
When the Brevoort Theater opened, it was the largest movie theater in Brooklyn.  It seated 2,500.