Monday, March 20, 2023

The Boy Wonder and the Studio Queen -- March 20, 2023

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

I thought it was interesting that I found items about both Irving Thalberg and Norma Shearer this month.

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

Norma Shearer was nearly 21 when the top article lauded her work. She had been in the movies since 1919. Irving Thalberg was nearly 24 when he moved to Louis B Mayer's Metro Pictures Corporation "as vice-president and manager of productions." He was called a boy wonder, and he stayed with Metro and its successors, including M-G-M, for the rest of his short life. 

Shearer and Thalberg married on 19-September-1927, They were a real power couple as a star (Norma) and a senior executive at M-G-M. Thalberg died in 1936. 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Happy Saint Joseph's Day, 2023 -- March 19, 2023

Happy Saint Joseph's Day to my fellow Joes. One of my favorite movie Joes is Mighty Joe Young. Willis O'Brien led the animation team and Ray Harryhausen did much of the animating. Ernest B Schoedsack directed and his frequent partner Merian C Cooper wrote the script. 

Terry Moore takes her pet gorilla Joe Young to Hollywood in an attempt to save the family ranch. Robert Armstrong plays his usual hustler, who tries to market Joe. The scene where the orphanage burns at the end makes my eyes water.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Chaplin Pleads Poverty -- March 18, 2023

Chicago Tribune, 10-March-1923

I like the designs of these ads for Chaplin's four reel ("His first big picture since 'The Kid'") "The Pilgrim" and Ben Turpin's "The Shriek of Araby."

Alaska Daily Empire, 28-March-1923

Men of the cloth in Walla Walla Washington did not find "The Pilgrim" amusing. 

Motion Picture News, 17-March-1923

Everyone else found "The Pilgrim" amusing. This item claims that it played at 130 theaters served by FBO's Manhattan Exchange in the same week.

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

First National ordered 200 prints and planned to order 25 more. These were big numbers at the time. 

Motion Picture News, 24-March-1923

Meanwhile, Harry Aiken, formerly of the Mutual, was planning to repackage Keystone comedies, especially those with Chaplin made during 1914. 

New Britain Herald, 01-March-1923

We saw last month that there were strong rumors that Chaplin was going to marry Pola Negi. In this item, Chaplin claimed that he was "too poor" to marry her. That will sound hilarious to people who know that Chaplin was rich but will be understandable to people who remember that he grew up in terrible poverty. 

Friday, March 17, 2023

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, 2023 -- March 17, 2023

Orange County Plain Dealer, 16-February-1923

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone.

The United Theater in Anaheim invited people to "Enjoy Saint Patrick's Day by Seeing a Real Irish Picture." Come on Over starred Colleen Moore and was based on a musical with a book by Rupert Hughes. Hughes was the uncle of Howard Hughes. Alfred E Greene directed.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

WC Fields -- George White's Scandals -- March 16, 2022

Chicago Tribune, 11-March-1923

100 years ago this month, WC Fields was touring in the current edition of George White's Scandals.

George White's Scandals was a touring review like Earl Carroll's Vanities, the Ziegfeld Follies and the Passing Shows. The Scandals featured lots of showgirls wearing very few clothes. 

After a long career in vaudeville, WC Fields made his film debut in 1915, but then returned to the stage, including the Follies, the Passing Shows, the Vanities and the 1922 edition of the Scandals. His film career would revive in 1924.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Hoot Gibson Appears to be Sitting on a Bear -- March 15, 2023


Casper Daily Tribune, 11-March-1923

I always enjoy Hoot Gibson movies. He added a lot of comedy to his films. Kindled Courage was directed by William Worthington. I like the image of old Hoot. 

In the first still from Single Handed, Hoot saws on a fiddle while Elinor Field shows her appreciation. In the second, Hoot appears to be sitting on a bear. Eddie Sedgwick directed.

Motion Picture News, 17-March-1923

Leo Maloney starred in a series of short westerns. "Double Clinched" was directed by Ford Beebeand Leo Maloney. The guy with the striped suit, played by Bud Osborne, is an escaped convict posing as a minister who marries Leo and Pauline Curley. 

Motion Picture News, 17-March-1923

Monday, March 13, 2023

Buster Keaton's Silent Shorts -- Reel Two and a Half -- March 13, 2023

Film Daily, 11-June-1922

This post is part of the Ninth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon, hosted by Lea at Silent-ology. It is amazingly impressive to me to see a blogathon go on for nine years. 

For the first annual blogathon, I wrote about Buster Keaton's time in vaudeville: The 3-4-5 Keatons.
For the second annual blogathon, I wrote about Buster Keaton and the Passing Show of 1917, the show he signed for after leaving vaudeville.
For the third annual blogathon, I wrote about Buster's transition from vaudeville to the movies, Buster Keaton: From Stage to Screen.
For the fourth annual blogathon, I wrote about Buster Keaton's time in the US Army: Buster Keaton Goes to War.
For the fifth annual blogathon, I wrote about Buster Keaton's time making short comedies with Roscoe Arbuckle, Comique: Roscoe, Buster, Al and Luke.
For the sixth annual blogathon I wrote about Buster Keaton's First Feature: The Saphead
For the seveth annual blogathon I wrote about Buster Keaton's Silent Shorts -- Reel One, a series of films produced during 1920-1921. Buster and his team had a very high batting average.
For the eighth annual blogathon, I started to write about the Buster Keaton shorts produced for the second season, 1921-1923. Buster Keaton's Silent Shorts -- Reel Two
For the ninth annual blogathon, I have written about the rest of the Buster Keaton shorts produced for the second season, 1921-1923. Last year I was interrupted by appendicitis. 

Be sure to click on most images to see larger versions.

I first became interested in Buster Keaton when I watched The General with my grandfather and he told me how much he had always liked Buster Keaton.

When I discovered that the Anza Branch Library had a shelf of books about movies, I found two books about Buster Keaton, Buster's memoir My Wonderful World of Slapstick and Rudi Blesh's Keaton. I read both and I enjoyed learning about his career in vaudeville and his career in the movies.

After The Saphead, Buster started making a series of nineteen two-reel comedies (actually, he made one before The Saphead, but it would be too complicated to explain). No one ever asks me, but I tell people that this series of comedies and Charlie Chaplin's series for Mutual are the two best series of silent comedy shorts ever made. For the Ninth Annual Blogathon, I am continuing to write about the eleven Buster Keaton shorts produced for the second season, 1921-1929.

The movies of the first season had been released by Metro. The movies of the second season were released by First National. At this time, First National released the movies of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. 

Moving Picture World, 05-August-1922

Last year I left off with a mention of "The Blacksmith." Here are some images from "The Blacksmith." Buster's leading lady was Virginia Fox.

Moving Picture World, 23-September-1922

GR Stewart, manager of the Iris and America Theaters in Casper, Wyoming, promoted Buster's short comedy, "The Blacksmith" with an animated figure. Some poor kid had the job of moving the cut-out's right arm to hit the anvil.

Casper Daily Tribune, 14-August-1922

Note that "The Blacksmith" is advertised above the feature film, and that Buster's name is in the largest type.

Moving Picture World, 22-July-1922

The title of this trade ad for "The Blacksmith" misspells Keaton's name.

Moving Picture World, 07-October-1922

In "The Frozen North," Buster parodied stone faced, steely eyed western star William S Hart. Hart was not amused. 

Snow scenes were shot at Truckee, in the Sierras near Lake Tahoe. 

Motion Picture News, 19-March-1921

In 1921, Hart had made O'Malley of the Mounted, a movie about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Photoplay, October, 1922

First National was happy with the results of releasing Buster's second season of comedy short films.

Moving Picture World, 27-May-1922

Buster was injured several times on the set of "The Electric House." The first time they tried to film the story in 1920, Buster broke his ankle on the escalator. He gave up and started over, scrapping the footage from 1920.

Motion Picture News, 04-November-1922

Buster had an electric train that ran from the kitchen to the dining room in his own house. 

Motion Picture News, 24-February-1923

"They'll Never Want to Wake Up" is a scary tag line. 

When I first started reading about silent comedy, Buster Keaton's "Day Dreams" was considered a lost film. Later, people digging around found most of the movie, but some scenes are still missing. Eddie Cline and Buster directed.

Moving Picture World, 02-September-1922

"Day Dreams" has some dark elements. When Buster asks his girl's father, played by Buster's father Joe, permission to marry her, the father asks "How will you support her?" Virginia Fox is mentioned in this item, but the girl was played by Renée Adorée, who would soon become a major star.

Buster promises that he will go the city and find success. If not, he will come back and commit suicide. 

In the city, Buster fails as a veterinary assistant, a street sweeper, and a member of the chorus in a musical. He fails everything and winds up being chased by lots of cops. 

"Day Dreams" has special meaning for me because it was partly shot in San Francisco and includes a scene shot on the Powell/Mason cable car line. Cable cars are the subject of my monomania. Above we see Buster waiting to hop on a Powell-Mason cable car on Columbus Avenue. The cable car's dark green paint renders it difficult to see Buster. 

In this screenshot, we see Buster sitting on the front bench of a Powell Street cable car while it rotates on the turntable at Bay and Taylor Streets. 

Watch the movie to see what happens when Buster returns to his girl's house.

Motion Picture News, 02-September-1922

Joe Schenk, Buster's brother-in-law had great plans for Buster and for the sisters of Buster's wife Natalie, Norma and Constance Talmadge.

Motion Picture News, 24-February-1923

"The Balloonatic" (great name) may have been the first of Buster's silent short films that I saw. The San Francisco Main Library used to show films one day a week at lunchtime.

Motion Picture News, 24-February-1923

"Buster Keaton rises to great heights..." Ha ha. 

Motion Picture News, 22-June-1923

"Keaton Steals the Show!"

Motion Picture News, 05-May-1923

Buster's short comedies were popular all over the world. 

Motion Picture News, 12-May-1923

"The Love Nest" was Buster's last silent short. Buster's last talkie short film for Educational, released in 1937, was "Love Nest on Wheels." No relation.

Motion Picture News, 24-March-1923

This still shows a nice contrast between the size of Buster and the size of his frequent nemesis, Big Joe Roberts. 

Motion Picture News, 24-March-1923

"Buster Keaton had so much fun and furnished so much amusement in a comedy about a boat on the high seas, shown some time ago, that he has evidently attempted to provide a sequel."

Ridgewood Herald-News, 11-January-1923

After completing his second season of short films Buster Keaton took a three-month vacation. On his return, he started working on a feature.

Motion Picture News, 03-February-1923

Metro, which had released Buster's first season of silent comedies, wanted to distribute the first feature in which he had creative control, The Three Ages.

Motion Picture News, 16-June-1923

Photoplay, October, 1922

Journalist Adela Rogers St Johns interviewed Buster Keaton's son Joseph, who must have been three or four months old. He didn't have much to say. She said that neither Buster nor the little guy had ever been photographed smiling.

Moving Picture World, 20-May-1922

A boyhood photograph of Buster smiling.  "The First and Only Time He Was Caught Smiling." Not true, but funny.

This post is part of the Ninth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon, hosted by Lea at Silent-ology. Thank you to Lea for all the hard work. I think it is wonderful that this blogathon has reached a ninth year. Thank you to everyone who visited and I encourage you to read and comment on as many posts as you can. Bloggers love comments.