Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tarzan of the Apes is Doing Big Business -- April 19, 2018

Motion Picture World, 06-April-1918
At the same time, First National had Tarzan of the Apes and Charlie Chaplin.

Motion Picture World, 13-April-1918
"Get in on this hurricane of publicity."

Motion Picture World, 20-April-1918
"Look what Tarzan took."

Motion Picture World, 27-April-1918
"They can't resist Tarzan of the Apes."

Motion Picture World, 27-April-1918
"'Tarzan of the Apes' is Doing Big Business."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Flame of the Barbary Coast -- April 18, 2018

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Today is the 112th anniversary of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.

John Wayne played Duke, a cowboy who came to San Francisco, visited the Barbary Coast, and fell in love with Flaxen, played by Ann Dvorak and got fleeced by gambler Tito Morelli, played by Joseph Schildkraut.  Seeking revenge, Duke went home and learned how to gamble and how to spot cheaters from his friend Wolf, played by William Frawley.  Duke returned to the Barbary Coast and won a pile of money, which he used to open a new joint on the Coast.  Duke tried to get Flaxen and Tito fought him until the earthquake and fire destroyed both of their gambling houses.   The special effects were not very impressive, which is unusual for a Republic movie.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Anne Shirley and William Holden 100 -- April 17, 2018

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Anne Shirley and William Holden were both born 100 years ago today, on 17-April-1918.  Her name was Dawn Paris.  When she became a child actress, she took the name Dawn O'Day.  When Dawn O'Day starred in an adaption of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, she took the name of the character she played, Anne Shirley. William Beedle, Jr changed his name only once, to William Holden.

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My favorite Anne Shirley movie is Murder, My Sweet, and adaption of Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely.

William Holden had such a long career and made so many good movies that it is hard to pick a favorite.

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His first big hit was Sunset Boulevard.

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He did a good job with the comedy in Born Yesterday.

Harry Anderson, RIP -- A[pril 17, 2018

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I remember Harry Anderson from Night Court.  I also remember him as a magician.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Spike Milligan 100 -- April 16, 2018

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Spike Milligan was born 100 years ago today, on 16-April-1918.  He served in World War Two.  He was a founder of The Goon Show.

According to Dr Richard Wiseman's 2002 study, Milligan wrote The World's Funniest Joke:
"Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, 'My friend is dead! What can I do?' The operator says, 'Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead.' There is a silence; then a gun shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says, 'OK, now what?'"


Miloš Forman and Isao Takahata, RIP

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Two directors died recently.

Miloš Forman started out in Czechoslovakia. In the US, he made many popular films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus and Ragtime.

Isao Takahata was one of the founders of Studio Ghibli. He directed animated features like Grave of the Fireflies and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Charlie Chaplin in His First Million Dollar Picture -- April 15, 2018

Rock Island Argus, 27-April-1918
Charlie Chaplin and Brownie (playing Scraps) were the stars of Chaplin's first movie for First National release, "A Dog's Life."

Rock Island Argus, 27-April-1918
The Spencer Square Theater in Rock Island, Illinois featured the short film prominently in its advertising.

Moving Picture World, 06-April-1918
I like the image in this ad.  "The One and Only."

Moving Picture World, 06-April-1918
Charlie was inspired by a stray which sought refuge in the studio, but used a bigger dog for the movie.

Moving Picture World, 20-April-1918
Charlie got a visit from TL Tally, a Los Angeles-area exhibitor and Vice President of First National.

Moving Picture World, 20-April-1918
Someone mentions Charles Joshua Chaplin, the Nineteenth Century painter.  The author has his dates a bit off.  CJ Chaplin lived from 1825 to 1891.  He was a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.  Read about him in Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Joshua_Chaplin

Moving Picture World, 20-April-1918
Three reels was an unusual length for a comedy.

Moving Picture World, 27-April-1918
"His first picture for 8 months."  "And it's a 3 reeler without a foot of padding and only 11 short sub-titles." 

Moving Picture World, 06-April-1918

With Chaplin gone for more than a year, Essanay released 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, 06-April-1918
"The sub-titles are in verse form and the comedy is a Chaplin jingle, although the main title is "Chase Me, Charlie." George Kleine distributed the film.  

Moving Picture World, 13-April-1918
At the same time, Essanay continued to rerelease Chaplin's individual comedies.  Some of these were also part of Chase Me Charlie, such as "His New Job," "The Tramp," "In the Park," "The Champion," "A Woman" (listed as "The Woman"), "By the Sea" and probably others.  

Moving Picture World, 13-April-1918
This article says that Chase Me Charlie was six reels.  The previous article said it was five reels.  The IMDB says it is seven.

Moving Picture World, 20-April-1918
"While there is a lack of continuity, there are many laughs."  "This picture was originally presented in England, and many of the subtitles have a distinctive English flavor and refer to English location."

Moving Picture World, 27-April-1918
In this ad, Charlie juggles a bunch of Charlies and drops one Charlie.

Moving Picture World, 20-April-1918
Chaplin left Mutual, but his short comedies were still in distribution, legally or not.

Moving Picture World, 13-April-1918
Meanwhile Charlie toured the country with his friends Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford to promote sales of Liberty Bonds to pay for the war.

Moving Picture World, 20-April-1918
It appears that Chaplin was going to pay a solo visit to Atlanta to promote war bonds.

Moving Picture World, 27-April-1918
Chaplin did not wind up in the US Army.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Roundhay Garden Scene (1888) -- April 14, 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 1905 or before movies, I thought I would look at some pioneering efforts.

My first film is one of the first films.  Some people say it was the first movie shot on celluloid, but it was shot on strips of sensitized paper.  Other people say it was the first movie shot with a movie camera.  That may be correct.


Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince was born in France in 1841.  He moved to Britain in 1866 and to the United States in 1881.  He took a US patent for a camera with 16 lenses that could capture motion, but it did it poorly because every lens captured a different angle. 


He returned to Britain in 1887 and patented a single lens camera and projector. 


On 14-October-1888, Le Prince shot a scene in the garden of his in-law's house at Roundhay, in Leeds. We see four people on the terrace of a home.  A young man in a dark suit walks across the scene from left to right.  This is Adolphe, Louis's son.  Adolphe said that the young lady in the light dress is Annie Hartley, a friend of the Le Prince family.  The older lady in black and the older man on the right are Sarah and Joseph Whitley, Louis's in-laws.  Sarah Whitley died ten days after Le Prince shot the film.  Adolphe said that Le Prince shot the movie at twelve frames per second.

I enjoy watching the film both for its historical importance and because it is a rare opportunity to see late Victorian people goofing around.  Even poor Sarah Whitely, who was to die ten days later, looks as if she is having fun.

The National Science Museum in London produced a copy of the surviving frames in 1930.  This led to a rediscovery of Le Prince and his work.


In 1890, Le Prince travelled to France to visit his family.  After that, he was going to patent his latest devices in the UK, then travel to the US to exhibit them.  After visiting his brother in Dijon, Le Prince, was seen boarding a Paris-Dijon express train in Dijon .  He was not on the train when it arrived in Paris and was never seen again. 

Many people assumed that he committed suicide, but his business was in good financial shape and his family life was happy.  Some thought he might have fallen victim to robbers.  In either case, how did his body and luggage disappear so completely?  His wife suggested that Edison, who was trying to claim the invention of the motion picture, might have had Le Prince killed.  To me, that does not seem likely. 

In 2003, a person searching in Paris police archives found a photo of an 1890 drowning victim who resembled Le Prince. 

The illustrations (Figs. 1-2-3) are from an article in the July, 1931 Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, "Career of L. A. A. Le Prince" by E Kilburn Scott. 

Next Saturday:  The first American movie shown to the public.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Mix Tries to Be "Civilized" -- April 13, 2018

Moving Picture World, 20-April-1918

In Fox's Western Blood, Tom Mix led a group of cowboys who tried to put on dress suits and act civilized.  
Omaha Daily Bee, 18-April-1918
Western Blood played at Omaha, Nebraska's Empress Theater with four acts of vaudeville.  


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Soldiers at Camp Sherman Get Good Shows -- Aprilo 11, 2018

Moving Picture World, 27-April-1918
When the US entered World War One, training camps sprung up all over the country.  Camp Sherman, near Chillicothe, Ohio, is still an active base. The new soldiers could spend some of their leisure time watching movies in a dedicated theater.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Nelson-Gans Fight Pictures -- April 9, 2018

Moving Picture World, 27-March-1910
Battling Nelson had won the lightweight title from Joe Gans on 04-July-1908 in Colma, south of San Francisco. This ad offers their next fight, on 09-Setptember1908. Nelson won by knockout in 45 rounds. Joe Gans, the Old Master, was African-American.

New York World, 10-September-1908

Saturday, April 7, 2018

5000 Theaters Play Broncho Billy -- April 7, 2018

Moving Picture World, 06-April-1918
Gilbert M Anderson, Broncho Billy, was the first western star. With George K Spoor, he had founded Essanay (S and A). In 1918, Essanay began rereleasing his one-reel westerns.

Moving Picture World, 06-April-1918
"The Broncho Billy dramas ... are reported to be doing an unprecedented business.  Already there has been a call for more prints."

The Snakeville Comedies mentioned above were produced at the same time and in the same locations, often around Niles, California.  They starred Augustus Carney as Alkali Ike, Harry Todd as Mustang Pete and Margaret Joslin as Sophie Clutts.

Moving Picture World, 20-April-1918
 There's that word "revivified" again.  "...they stack up splendidly with present-day stuff..."

Moving Picture World, 27-April-1918
George Kleine System distributed the movies.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Emperor of Magic, Zera Semon -- April 5, 2018

Owosso, Michigan Times, 12-December-1890
Magician, ventriloquist and puppeteer Zera Semon, father of silent movie comedian Larry Semon, toured the country for many years.  I think this is the first time I have seen an image of Zera.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Graumans Chinese -- Kirk Douglas -- April 3, 2018


In July, 2012 we paid a return visit to Hollywood and Grauman's Chinese Theater. Sid Grauman was a San Francisco showman who came to Los Angeles and built three major houses, the Million Dollar, the Egyptian, and the Chinese. The theater has hosted many film premieres, but is most famous for the hand and footprints (and hoofprints and nose prints and other types of prints) in the forecourt.

Actor Kirk Douglas left his hand and footprints in the forecourt on 01-November-1962. He is a passionate actor whose work I have always admired. (31)

Kirk Douglas turned 100 on 09-December-1916. He is still alive.

He grew up poor, but wanted to be an actor after he recited a poem in kindergarten. He attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts with Betty Joan Perske, who later became

Lauren Bacall. She had a crush on him, but he probably felt that she was too young.

After Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Navy and served until 1944, when he was discharged because of wounds. Lauren Bacall helped him move from Broadway plays to the movies.

He made many good movies, including Out of the Past, In Harm's Way and Paths of Glory. In his own productions like Spartacus, he helped to break the Hollywood blacklist. Dalton Trumbo received a credit under his own name.

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