Monday, January 25, 2021

Douglas Fairbanks -- The Mark of Zorro -- January 25, 2021

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

100 years ago this month, Douglas Fairbanks was enjoying a big hit with The Mark of Zorro

Motion Picture News, 08-January-1921

Both Fairbanks and his wife, Mary Pickford were releasing through United Artists. The Love Light was directed by Frances Marion. 

East Oregonian, 18-January-1921

The movie played three days at the Alta Theater in Pendleton, Oregon. 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Billy West -- He's in Again -- January 23, 2021

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

Billy West had closely imitated Charlie Chaplin in a long series of comedies for different studios. By the time he was working for the Joan Film Sales Company, he had moved on to other characters.

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Chaplin -- Six Reels of Joy -- January 21, 2021

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

One hundred years ago today, on 21-January-1921, Charlie Chaplin staged the premiere of his first self-directed feature film, The Kid, at Carnegie Hall as a benefit for a children's charity. 

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

Jackie Coogan became a major star. 

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

Chaplin would get back to work on the four shorts he still owedFirst National. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

George Burns 125 -- January 20, 2021

George Burns, partner in life, in vaudeville, in movies, on radio and on television of Gracie Allen, was born 125 years ago today, on 20-January-1896. He lived and worked for an extraordinarily long time, passing on in 1996.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Dolly Parton, 75 -- January 19, 2021

 Dolly Parton, singer, composer, instrumentalist, actress and really nice human being, was born 75 years ago today, on 19-January-1946. She is in the Country Music Hall of Fame and has a pile of Grammy awards. She grew up in a poor family, but was always surrounded by love and music. Just recently she made a million dollar donation to a university doing research on COVID-19, which contributed to the development of one of the vaccines. She is a strong proponent of literacy. 

Over the years, I have  gotten a few of her songs stuck in my head. 

And she has appeared in some good movies.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Horror Shockers -- The "Original Frankenstein" -- January 17, 2021


Vampirella 51, 1976

When I was young, I read Warren Publishing magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland and Vampirella. The magazines always carried ads for back issues, posters and movies. I didn't have a film projector, so I read the ads with envy. Eventually, I got a Super-8 projector, but I didn't have enough money to buy any of these films. A friend had Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and I was fascinated by the way it had been cut down to less than 20 minutes.

This section of an ad has Boris Karloff in Frankenstein, and also Tarantula and The Deadly Mantis

Friday, January 15, 2021

California Theater Face Washing -- January 15, 2021


Motion Picture News, 08-January-1921

San Francisco's California Theater, the third of that name, stood at Fourth Street and Market. It opened in 1917. It was renamed the State in 1941, closed in 1954 and was torn down in 1961. More about the California Theater: Big V Riot Squad: California Theater, San Francisco -- June 17, 2018

Thursday, January 14, 2021

F Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos and AJ Cronin 125 -- January 14, 2021

An unusual group of writers was born 125 years ago, on 14-January-1896. F Scott Fitzgerald was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has been a favorite writer since high school. He spent his last years in Hollywood writing screenplays.

Three Comrades was the only movie that was released with a writing credit for Fitzgerald. His name is visible in tiny print on this poseter.

John Dos Passos was born in Chicago. When I was in grammar school, I attended a summer acting class at Lone Mountain College. I remember seeing posters for a production based on U.S.A. by John Dos Passos.   I never saw the show, but I read the three-volume book one summer. It took a while.

The stage version of U.S.A. was made into a television movie. Dos Passos wrote the screenplay for The Devil is a Woman

AJ Cronin was born in Scotland. He served as a doctor and became a novelist. An English teacher in high school was a big fan. He had us read The Citadel and The Keys of the Kingdom

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Carl Laemmle Presents Von Stroheim's Master Picture -- January 13, 2021


Motion Picture News, 08-January-1921

Erich von Stroheim made controversial movies. The second movie that he directed was The Devil's Passkey for Universal.

Bemidji Daily Pioneer, 29-January-1921

Monday, January 11, 2021

A Greater Picture, In Every Sense of the Word, Than His Previous Record Breakers -- January 11, 2021


Motion Picture News, 01-January-1921

100 years ago this month, Tom Mix was appearing in Prairie Trails. "In it this star portrays the finest character in the biggest story, with the most beautiful romance, of any of his pictures." George Marshall directed. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Birt Acres Demonstrates the Kineopticon -- January 10, 2021


Hopwood's Living Pictures by Henry Hopwood and RB Foster, 1915

125 years ago today, on 10-January-1896, soon after the Lumière Brothers made the first commercial presentation of their x (, English-American Birt Acres presented his own device, which went through several names, to the Lyonsdown Photographic Society. Acres had developed a camera with Robert Paul, but Paul left the partnership when Acres patented the device in his own name. 

While Messrs. Lumiere were triumphing over their difficulties in France, the problem was also being attacked on this side of the Channel, It is certain that Mr. Birt Acres was working concurrently with Messrs. Lumiere, for he photographed the University Boat-race with his Kinetic Camera on March 30, 1895, only a few days after Messrs. Lumiere filed their French patent, and before the deposit of their English one. In fact, Mr. Acres appears to have been beaten all through the race by a few days; his English patent is dated about five weeks after Lumiere's, and he does not appear to have given a public exhibition until the early days of 1896. But this point is of little importance, for his apparatus was constructed on distinctly different lines to those adopted in the Cinematographic. Fig. 97 shows the Kinetic Camera at the commencement of an exposure. The film is firmly held by the shaded clamping-frame F, pressed home by the black cam C. While exposure is proceeding the upper sprocket-roller is feeding out an exact picture-length that is to say, it moves four teeth forward. So soon as the shutter cuts the light off the clamping-frame is loosened, and the roller R, which has been bearing against the film, is thrown into its shaded position by the action of a spring, thus drawing down the slack which has accumulated above the clamp and substituting a fresh sensitive surface, which is at once firmly held in position. A fresh exposure now commences, during which the bottom sprocket-roller takes up the looped film and so gradually forces the roller R back into its original position, ready to act again when the clamp is taken off. This apparatus has undergone several christenings. Brought out in January, 1896, as the Kinetic Lantern, this term was abandoned the following March in favour of the name of "Kineopticon." Being called to give an entertainment before the Prince of Wales in July, the inventor found, to his surprise, that the programmes issued under Royal auspices referred to his invention as the "Cinematoscope." What could a loyal photographer do except follow the same course as Mr. Acres actually did? Cinematoscope it was by Royal dictum, and Cinematoscope it remains to this day. But as "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," so did the Cinematoscope retain its good qualities under all its varied nomenclature.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

More Dramatic Punch Than All the Others Put Together -- January 9, 2021


Motion Picture News, 01-January-1921

William S Hart was an experienced stage actor who was fascinated with the American west. He often played what became known as the Good-Bad Man. He starred in The Testing Block with Eva Novak. Lambert Hillyer directed. Here we see Bill fighting other members of the gang to see who will take possession of Eva Novak. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

It Has More Laughs Than There Are Smiths in the Telephone Book -- January 7, 2021


Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

100 years ago this month, Harold Lloyd was appearing in "Number, Please." This was the standard greeting from telephone operators. I don't like the image of Harold. 

Motion Picture News, 01-January-1921

The manager of the Palace Theater in Hamilton, Ontario promoted Lloyd's "Get Out and Get Under" with a Model T Ford. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Roscoe Arbuckle in Brewster's Millions -- January 5, 2021

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

100 years ago, Roscoe Arbuckle starred in Paramount's Brewster's Millions. Brewster's Millions was a novel published in 1902 by George Barr McCutcheon (writing as Richard Greaves). In 1906, the popular novel became a popular play. It has been filmed many times. 

Moving Picture World, 24-January-1914

The first adaption was the second movie directed by Cecil B DeMille ("Master Playwright, Director and Author of Numerous Dramatic Successes")  and Oscar Apfel ("Acknowledged Peer of Directors and Genius of Innovators"). It starred Edward Abeles, who had played the lead in the stage production. The Jesse L Lasky Feature Play Company was an ancestor of Paramount. 

The 1921 version was the second adaption. In 1926, Bebe Daniels starred in Miss Brewster's Millions

The first talkie adaption was shot in Britain in 1935. It starred Jack Buchanan.

Three on a Spree was another British version released in 1961.

In 1945, Alan Dwan directed an American version starring Dennis O'Keefe. . 

There were Hindi, Tamil and Telugu versions made in India in 1954, 1985, 1988 and 1997. There was a Chinese adaption in 2018.

In 1985, Walter Hill directed a version starring Richard Pryor. 

Diane Keaton, 75 -- January 5, 2021

Actress Diane Keaton was born 75 years ago today, on 05-January-2021.  I don't remember how many times I saw Annie Hall at the Regency in San Francisco. played at another theater, and I didn't think I would find it interesting. When Manhattan came to the Regency, I went to see it only twice. I loved the black and white photography and the Gershwin score, but I found elements of the story to be creepy.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Tanya Roberts and Barbara Shelley, RIP -- January 4, 2021 (Updated January 5, 2021)

Reports said that actress Tanya Roberts died suddenly at the age of 65.  Later reports said she was still alive. Later reports said that she had been taken off life support before the first reports, but had died later.  Very confusing. 

Nowadays 65 seems too young. I remember when she joined the cast of Charlie's Angels during the last season, but I was not watching it by then. I didn't see Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, but I knew lots of people who enjoyed it.  I remember  people making fun of her when she played a geologist in a James Bond movie. I enjoyed her role on That '70s Show

Barbara Shelley, who appeared in many Hammer horror films, also died.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Larry Semon in "The Sportsman" -- January 3, 2021


Motion Picture News, 08-January-1921

100 years ago this month, the Vitagraph featured Larry Semon in "The Sportsman." The ad includes a long list of Larry's movies that were available. 

Motion Picture News, 01-January-1921

Harry's leading lady in "The Sportsman" was Maryon Aye.