Friday, December 14, 2018

Sondra Locke, RIP -- December 14, 2018
Actress and director Sondra Locke has died.  I enjoyed her work in movies like The Gauntlet and Bronco Billy.  Most of the articles about her devote more time to her relationship with Clint Eastwood than her

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Broncho Billy Rag -- December 13, 2018

Gilbert M Anderson, Broncho Billy, was the first western star. With George K Spoor, he had founded Essanay (S and A). In 1914, Nell Wright Slaughter published "The Broncho Billy Rag," a charming tune. I can't find much information about the composer except that she lived in Texas and was also known as Nell Wright Watson.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tom Mix, Master of the Plains -- December 11, 2018

Moving Picture World, 21-December-1918
100 years ago this month, many of the short films of Tom Mix were being rereleased.  "Series of Sixteen Two-reel Western Comedy-Drama Re-Issues..."

Motion Picture News, 21-December-1918
"It was announced this week that Exclusive Features, Inc., of 126 West Forty-sixth street, New York, has bought outright all negatives of the Tom Mix comedy dramas formerly owned by Selig Polyscope Company."

Moving Picture World, 21-December-1918
"Tom Mix does good work in both of these offerings, and there are several excellent riding scenes."

Moving Picture World, 28-December-1918
Since the Selig shorts were being rereleased, Fox decided to rerelease the shorts that Tom Mix had made for his studio.

Motion Picture News, 28-December-1918
"...the Fox Film Corporation...intends to release its two-reel Tom Mix comedy subjects, which, as part of the Foxfilm Comedy brand, were among the most popular comedies...The Tom Mix two-reel comedy releases will be started January 12, a Tom Mix comedy being released every other week alternately with a Fox-Lehrman Sunshine Comedy."

Moving Picture World, 21-December-1918
Meanwhile, Fox continued to release new Tom Mix features like "Treat 'Em Rough."

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Coliseum a Credit to San Francisco -- December 9, 2018

Motion Picture News, 21-December-1918
In late 1918, the so-called Spanish Flu, which killed between 10 and 20 per cent of the people it infected, caused many states, including California, to force movie theaters to close. The opening of the new Coliseum Theater on San Francisco's Clement Street was delayed for a couple of weeks by the influenza-inspired theater ban. It was finally able to open on 22-November-1918.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Air Force -- December 7, 2018
77 years ago a sneak attack by forces of the Japanese Empire sank much of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in the territory of Hawaii. The Japanese Empire came to regret doing this.

Air Force was a Warner Brothers' movie released in 1943.  The story follows the crew of Mary-Ann, a B-17 being delivered to Hawaii from the mainland.  They arrive during the attack.  They are able to refuel, but have to leave immediately for Wake Island.  They arrive at Wake while it is under attack.  The Marines ask the crew to take their dog, Tripod.

They move on to Clark Field in the Philippines, which is also under attack.  Harry Carey, the crew chief, learns that his son has been killed.  Mary-Ann is damaged trying to attack Japanese ships, and the pilot is badly injured.  He orders the crew to bail out, but John Garfield, who had washed out of pilot training, brings Mary-Ann back to the base.  I cry during the scene where the crew is with the dying pilot in the hospital and they go through a takeoff procedure.

They rush to repair the airplane, defying an order to burn it.  They take off for Australia, but spot a Japanese fleet.  They radio their position and keep track of the fleet until allied bombers arrive to attack.

At the end, surviving members of the crew are preparing to go on a mission to bomb Tokyo.

I watch this movie every chance I get.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Don Ameche 25 Years -- December 6, 2018
25 years ago today, on 06-December-1993, versatile actor and inventor of the telephone, Don Ameche, died. I have always loved his work with Frances Langford playing The Bickersons on the radio.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Who Said -- No More War Pictures! -- December 5, 2018

Moving Picture World, 07-December-1918
The United States joined the First World War in April, 1917. Learning from the British, the United States put its propaganda efforts into the hands of one organization, the Committee on Public Information, also called the Creel Committee, after its chairman, George Creel. The Creel Committee produced the "Official War Review," a series of weekly one-reelers about war subjects. 100 years ago, World War One had paused because of the Armistice on 11-November-1918, but the ad says "Official War Review ... will not be discontinued, but will be released weekly by Pathe for some time to come."

Moving Picture World, 14-December-1918
One of the conditions of the Armistice was that the German High Seas Fleet would be surrendered to the Allies and held until the final peace terms were agreed upon.  This became a popular theme for movies.

Moving Picture World, 21-December-1918
An interesting variety of scenes, including Italians with flamethrowers and Germans shelling a Red Cross hospital.

Moving Picture World, 21-December-1918
People often forget that Allied troops occupied Vladivostok, Russian during the Russian Civil War.

Motion Picture News, 21-December-1918
The Battle of Château-Thierry was the first large-scale action by the American Expeditionary Force, made up of Army and Marine Corps units.  "Who Said -- 'No More War Pictures!'"  There was a reaction coming against war films.

Moving Picture World, 21-December-1918


Monday, December 3, 2018

Semon Working on Thrilling Comedy -- December 3, 2018

Motion Picture News, 28-December-1918
"Two-reel Big 'V' special comedies alternately featuring Larry Semon and Montgomery and Rock in the screen's speediest fun films.  One each week."

Moving Picture World, 07-December-1918

Amid an abundance of alliteration, we find "Hula Hulas and Hocus Pocus," which may have been the last one-reel Big V Comedy.

Moving Picture World, 14-December-1918
Larry Semon was working on a new comedy "which he says will introduce to picture play audiences more thrills and story plot than has ever been attempted in screen farce comedy."

Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Romance of the Air -- December 1, 2018

Moving Picture World, 21-December-1918
Bert Hall was an American fighter pilot who served with the French as a member of the Lafayette Escadrille before the US entered World War One.  He was known to brag and stretch the truth.  In 1918, he published En L'air, a book about his experiences.   The book inspired A Romance of the Air, a movie starring Bert Hall.

Moving Picture World, 23-November-1918

Moving Picture World, 23-November-1918
"Lieut. Hall rings true, but his story does not."

Moving Picture World, 14-December-1918
Bert Hall's medals are displayed in this ad.

Moving Picture World, 14-December-1918
"...the average life of an aviator is about twenty years."

Moving Picture World, 14-December-1918
Edith Day was Bert Hall's co-star.  Her movie career was fairly short, but she also appeared on Broadway.

Film Daily, 10-November-1918
Bert Hall went on to appear in one more movie.

Moving Picture World, 14-December-1918

Friday, November 30, 2018

Nicolas Roeg, RIP -- November 30, 2018
Director and cinematographer Nicolas Roeg has died.  I remember going to the Bridge Theater in San Francisco to see The Man Who Fell to Earth with David Bowie.  It left a big impression on us.  I think we saw Walkabout later.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Houdini -- November 29, 2018

Film Daily, 17-November-1918
Escapologist Harry Houdini wanted to expand his exposure to the public, so he began to appear in movies starting in 1918 with the serial The Master Mystery.

I saw what survives of it on a DVD set from Kino. It doesn't make much sense, but that is typical of serial plots. I liked the robot, Q the Automaton. Its gang was called the Emissaries of the Automaton. Great name.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Plague of Spanish Influenza -- November 27, 2018

Moving Picture World, 16-November-1918
The 1918 influenza pandemic killed 3-5% of the world's population. It was often called the Spanish Flu because Spain's newspapers were not censored as heavily as those in countries involved in the war. Many cities and states ordered movie theaters to close.

Actor Harold Lockwood was 31 when he died on 19-October-1918.

Moving Picture World, 02-November-1918
"EVERYWHERE the spread of the Spanish influenza is hurting business, even where the city or state authorities have not declared an actual quarantine. In many sections this quarantine seems arbitrary and perhaps a bit unjust, but we have yet to hear of a house manager who has attacked the ruling of the authorities, though some must feel sorely tempted to do so. Most of them have accepted the situation gamely."

Film Daily, 12-November-1918
"Everybody quit work Monday and there was so much peace celebration that I couldn't get a review ready." 

Moving Picture World, 23-November-1918
"WITH few exceptions health authorities in the United States have lifted the ban imposed on motion picture theatres by reason of the inroads of influenza. San Francisco is to remain closed until December 1. Seattle and the northwest generally have extended the embargo on theatres. In North Carolina Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Raleigh were closed at the latest writing, although the remainder of the State is open to picturegoers. Dayton has opened its theatre doors to all but the children. The situation in Illinois shows marked improvement.

"Houses in the Southwest have resumed business to the hearty satisfaction of throngs of picture patrons. Towns situated near cantonments especially have felt the boom. Pennsylvania, where the epidemic was very heavy, has thrown open its doors. The national capital, too, has permitted theatre men to entertain their patrons. The coming of peace, together with the opening of the screen houses, marks a dramatic shift in the business situation facing motion picture men a month ago. There is every indication of a big winter for motion picture theatres."

Moving Picture World, 30-November-1918
"THE gloom cast over the nation by the plague of Spanish influenza is being penetrated by rays of hope and brightness in many sections. That the epidemic is, generally speaking, within control may be accepted as applying to the greater section of the country.

"Several strange features are developing in the news that comes to us from our correspondents. For the first time gauze masks are mentioned — San Francisco opened November 16 with these protectors exacted as necessary to admission.

"In some places, Richmond, Va., in particular, churches are closed, while theatres are allowed to open. In Boston, as a side issue, the demand for Sunday closing of picture theatres is agitated. Showmen in other sections will have a "Sunday closing" fight upon their hands because of the opening the epidemic made for such discussion.

"St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the whole of Minnesota is under strict ban. In St. Paul most drastic regulations have been adopted, the "closed shop" extending to saloons and soda fountains. Kansas City and vicinity are open under restrictions; Greensboro, N.- C, having once been opened, is again closed."

Moving Picture World, 30-November-1918
San Francisco theaters were allowed to reopen on November 16.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Bernardo Bertolucci, RIP -- November 26, 2018

Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci has died.  1900 made a big impression on me.  I liked The Last Emperor, but I have no desire to see it again.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Wolves of Kultur -- November 25, 2018

Moving Picture World, 02-November-1918
Those of us who used to receive the Blackhawk Bulletin, a monthly catalogue of movies offered for sale by Blackhawk Films, will remember ads for the serial Wolves of Kultur, starring Leah Baird.

"The Hun, when still at peace with us, sought to dynamite, burn and destroy. He sourht to terrorize, to use some of the methods which have made his name execrated throughout the world."

Moving Picture World, 16-November-1918
"Stunts that seem humanly impossible to do are the rule and not the exception."

Last month, the ads were printed on yellow paper.  This month is off-white.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Wild Women and Tame Lions -- November 23, 2018

Moving Picture World, 25-May-1918
Henry (Pathé) Lehrman started out at Biograph, then went to Keystone with Mack Sennett, then left Sennett to found L-KO (Lehrman Knock-Out) Komedies. He left L-KO to produce Sunshine Comedies for Fox. Sunshine Comedies frequently featured pretty girls and lions.  Case in point: "Wild Women and Tame Lions."

Bud Fisher's Mutt and Jeff was the most popular comic strip in America for many years. Augustus Mutt and Jeff had many timely adventures.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Coliseum Theater 100 -- November 22, 2018

Moving Picture World, 21-December-1918
In late 1918, the so-called Spanish Flu, which killed between 10 and 20 per cent of the people it infected, caused many states, including California, to force movie theaters to close. This delayed the opening of the new Coliseum Theater on San Francisco's Clement Street was delayed for a couple of weeks by the influenza-inspired theater ban.  It was finally able to open 100 years ago today, on 22-November-1918.

Exhibitors Herald, 30-November-1918
The first movie shown was Johanna Enlists with Mary Pickford.

Moving Picture World, 21-December-1918

Roscoe Arbuckle, who frequently visited San Francisco, made a surprise appearance at the opening of the Coliseum.

Exhibitors Herald, 14-December-1918
Samuel Levin set up an area in the lobby where patrons could park their strollers and even leave their babies under the watchful eye of a nurse.

The Coliseum, damaged by the 17-October-1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, never reopened as a movie theater. Today the Coliseum has a Walgreen's on the ground floor and condominiums upstairs. I saw Jaws there, and a bunch of other movies. I always thought the theater was dark and gloomy.