Monday, March 31, 2014

Keep 'Em Flying -- March 31, 2014

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello teamed up in burlesque and went on to Broadway and the radio.  In the 1940s, they made a series of popular comedies for Universal.  Keep 'Em Flying was one of their many service comedies. 

The trade ad is from the 14-November-1941 Moving Picture Daily

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mutoscope #1 -- March 30, 2014

The Mutoscope is a hand-cranked entertainment machine that works like a giant flipbook. I tried to build a device like it, but always had trouble getting it to work.

I took the photo at Disneyland in July, 2006.  Disneyland always has a few Mutoscopes set up in the Penny Arcade on Main Street.  I try to take a photo when I visit. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Clara Bow #14 -- March 28, 2014

Red haired Clara Bow was probably the most popular silent actress after Mary Pickford. In this item from the February, 1921 Cine-Mundial, a Spanish language film magazine produced in the United States, Clara is described as "una de los artistas más  simpáticas y nerviosas de las huestes cinematográficas, que aparece ahor en producciones de marca PARAMOUNT."  I'm sure nervous has a different meaning in this context.  Vibrant?  In the moment?  I'm not sure.  Anyway, it's a nice picture. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Match Carpentier-Sullivan -- March 27, 2014

Great French boxer Georges Carpentier defeated British fighter Jim Sullivan on 29-February-1912 for the  middleweight championship of Europe.  This ad for the film of the fight is from the 09-March-1912 Cine-Journal. Georges Carpentier, the Orchid Man, had a long career as a boxer, from about 1908 to 1926.    Carpentier later moved up to light heavyweight and then heavyweight.  During the First World War, he served as an observer in the French air service.  After the war, he won the world light heavyweight championship in 1919.  In 1921, Carpentier fought Jack Dempsey for the heavyweight championship of the world.  Carpentier broke his thumb on Dempsey's head in the second and Dempsey knocked him out in the fourth. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Zoetrope, or Wheel of Life -- March 26, 2014

From Scientific American / New Series, Volume 19, Issue 4, July 22, 1868

We have already noticed this unique optical instrument, which has afforded so much amusement to old and young, and although an American invention, its sale has already become quite extensive in Europe. Sets of figures are furnished with each wheel, and the changes which its rotation effects are both amusing and instructive. The Zoetrope is manufactured by Milton Bradley & Co., Springfield, Mass.

The image is from The Young Folk's Cyclopædia of Games and Sports by John Denison Champlin and Arthur Elmore Bostwick, 1890.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Keystone Every Monday -- March 25, 2014

Last year we marked the 100th anniversary of the Keystone company.  Here is an ad for Keystone's first release, a split reel of "The Water Nymph" and "Cohen Collects a Debt," from the 28-September-1912 Moving Picture World.  Most 1912 film ads did not name the performers, but this one talks about "Four Famous Comedians," Mack Sennett, Mabel Normand, Fred Mace and Ford Sterling. I have seen "The Water Nymph" and it is a good one.  That's a nice photo of Mabel.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Grauman's Chinese #36 -- March 24, 2014

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.

 Jack Oakie left his hand and footprints in the forecourt on 21-February-1945. I remember him best as Benzino Napolini, a parody of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, in Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator.  Oakie almost always played loud, over-the-top characters.  Some people can't stand him.  I can stand him.  (31/DSC_0051.JPG)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Patchwork Girl of Oz -- March 23, 2014

The Oz Film Manufacturing Company, located in Los Angeles, was formed in 1914 to produce movies based on stories by L Frank Baum, the creator of The Wizard of Oz.  The company made some movies, but was not a financial success. This review of their first feature, by W Stephen Bush is from the 03-October-1914 edition of Moving Picture World.  The reviewer is fairly enthusiastic, with some reservations.  "The acting is fair, and some of the characters enter into their parts with a good deal of enjoyable enthusiasm." 

The other article in this clipping is about the arrival in Hollywood of William C deMille, brother of Cecil B DeMille.  William did not capitalize his "D."  William was an experienced and successful playwright.  He became a good director, although he never had the commercial success that his brother attained.  William was considered a more serious artist. 

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Maltese Falcon -- March 21, 2014

Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon was first published in three issues of The Black Mask in 1929.

Warner Brothers released an adaption in 1931.  It featured Bebe Daniels as Brigid, Ricardo Cortez as Sam, Una Merkel as Effie, and Thelma Todd as Mrs Archer.  Warners made a loose adaption in 1936 called Satan Met a Lady.  It featured Bette Davis as sort-of Brigid, Warren William as sort-of Sam and a female sort-of Gutman.   John Huston made another version in 1941, which was the first movie he directed.  I saw all three versions in a triple feature at the Richelieu Theater, at Geary and Van Ness. 

Huston's version starred Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, Mary Astor as Brigid O'Shaughnessy, Sidney Greenstreet as Caspar Gutman, Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo, and Elijah Cook, Jr as Wilmer the gunsel.  I have often said I will watch any movie with Elijah Cook, Jr. 

The trade ad is from the 09-October-1941 Motion Picture Daily

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Filmdom's Headquarters -- March 20, 2014

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, built in 1927, hosted the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929.  Where "many resident stars and executives make their permanent homes." 

From Motion Picture News 02-November-1929. 

Here is a photo I took in 2012. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sternberg, Dietrich, Chaplin -- March 19, 2014

Josef von Sternberg (he added the "von" to make his name classier) directed his first movie, The Salvation Hunters, in 1925.  Charlie Chaplin saw it and was impressed.  Her persuaded his partners at United Artists to distribute the film.  Chaplin hired Sternberg to direct a movie with Edna Purviance, A Woman of the Sea.  Chaplin did not like the results and burned the film. 

Sternberg went on to direct some excellent silents including The Docks of New York and Underworld.  He directed the first German talkie, The Blue Angel, which starred Marlene Dietrich.  Sternberg brought her to America and made a string of successful and later not successful movies for Paramount. 

Sternberg wrote a wonderful book, Fun in a Chinese Laundry, about his life. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Everybody Loves the Irish -- March 17, 2014

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone. 

First National celebrated the holiday in the 17-March-1926 edition of Film Daily.  Colleen Moore's bobbed hair inspired imitators all over the world. Irene was "Adapted from the famous musical comedy."  Anna Neagle played Irene O'Dare in a 1940 talkie version.  Johnny Hines was a funny-looking guy who starred in many light comedies during the 1920s. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sherlock Holmes Looks Exactly Like William Gillette -- March 16, 2014
This post is part of  Sleuthathon, a Blogathon of Gumshoes, hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently.   Be sure to click on most images to see larger versions.  

The first actor to become famous for playing Sherlock Holmes was American William Gillette. He played Holmes more than 1300 times, in a play he wrote himself, from 1899 to 1932.  Playing a role for many years was not unusual in the American theater of that time.  No one knows how many times Joseph Jefferson played Rip Van Winkle between 1859 and his death in 1905.  James O'Neill, father of playwright Eugene, played Edmond Dantès, The Count of Monte Cristo, more than 6000 times between 1875 and 1920.  In 1896, Jefferson appeared in a series of scenes from Rip Van Winkle for the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company.  At least one is available on YouTube.  In 1912, James O'Neill played in a film version of Monte Cristo for Famous Players, a predecessor of Paramount.  I understand it survives as a paper copyright print.  In 1916, Gillette appeared in a feature film version of Sherlock Holmes for Essanay.  Sadly, this film is lost.  (See the 01-October-2014 update below.)

Library of Congress (POS - TH - 1898 .H44, no. 2 (C size) <P&P> [P&P])
William Gillette was born in Hartford, Connecticut on 24-July-1853.  He became an actor when he was 20.  By 1881, he was an actor, director and playwright.  Gillette stressed realism in sets, lighting and sound effects and naturalism in acting.  All this was a great change from the melodramatic standards in American theater.  Gillette worked closely with producer Charles Frohman. Gillette's Civil War play Held by the Enemy was a great success in the United States and Great Britain.  Some time in the 1880s, Gillette retired for the first time. 

Library of Congress (POS - TH - 1895 .T66, no. 1 (C size) <P&P> [P&P] )
William Gillette returned to the stage in 1894 with a farce, Too Much Johnson.  This play is remembered today because Orson Welles created filmed scenes that were meant to provide transitions for a 1938  theatrical production.  Because of various problems, he was never able to use the filmed scenes.  They were thought to have been lost in a fire, but a print has recently been rediscovered. 

Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-7243 (color film copy transparency) LC-USZ6-507 )
In 1895, Gillette wrote another popular Civil War play, Secret Service.  The star in the original production was Maurice Barrymore, the father of John, Lionel and Ethel Barrymore.  I remember seeing a production on PBS in the 1970s. 

Author Arthur Conan Doyle had killed Sherlock Holmes in 1893, but, needing money, wrote a play about the character.  It was not a very good play, but Conan Doyle's agent sent it to Charles Frohman, who suggested that Gillette could write a new adaption.  Conan Doyle agreed, but insisted that there should be no love interest for Sherlock Holmes.  Gillette sat down and read the stories and novels, which he had not read before.  Gillette worked on the play while touring in Secret Service.  He exchanged telegrams with Conan Doyle to get clarification.  One telegram said: "May I marry Holmes?" Conan Doyle's reply said: "You may marry him, or murder or do what you like with him."[

San Francisco Call, 22-November-1898.

The tour reached San Francisco in November, 1898.  Secret Service opened in the Baldwin Theater, which was part of the Baldwin Hotel.  "... with William Gillette and identically the same splendid cast seen during the triumphs in New York and London."  Joaquin Miller liked to call himself "The Poet of the Sierras" and "The Byron of the Rockies."  He visited the Yukon Gold Rush in 1897 and had two toes amputated because of frostbite. 

The Industries of San Francisco by Frederick J Hackett.  1884. 
In 1878, Elias J "Lucky" Baldwin built Baldwin's Hotel and Theatre at the corner of Powell and Market in San Francisco, where the Flood Building now stands. 

Gillette stayed across the street and down a few blocks at San Francisco's premiere hotel, the Palace.  Gillette's secretary, William Postance, stayed at the Baldwin, keeping the manuscript of the play in his room.  The Baldwin Hotel caught fire early in the morning of 23-November-1898.  Postance escaped, but could not save the manuscript.  At 3:30 in the morning, Postance made his way down the street and knocked on Gillette's door at the Palace.  Gillette asked "Is this hotel on fire?"  Postance said it was not.  Gillette said "Well, come and tell me about it in the morning," and went back to bed. 

San Francisco Call, 27-November-1898.
The play reopened at the California Theater on 28-November-1898, thanks to the "San Francisco Artisans" who produced "a complete new equipment of scenery, costumes and accessories."  And Gillette went back to work, to write Sherlock Holmes again. 

Library of Congress (LC-USZC2-1459 (color film copy slide) LC-USZ6-497)
The four act play, Sherlock Holmes, or The Strange Case of Miss Faulkner, opened in New York in 1899 and London in 1901.  It was a big hit.  Gillette introduced Alice Faulkner as a love interest for Holmes.  He gave a name, Billy, to the pageboy.  He wore the deerstalker hat which had appeared in a few illustrations for Holmes stories.  He introduced the curved pipe, which had never appeared in illustrations.  A pipe with a straight stem would have hidden his face from the audience. 

The Little Fellow, Peter Cotes and Thelma Niklaus, 1951

In the 1901 London production, Billy the pageboy was played by a young man named Charles Chaplin.  In his My Autobiography, Chaplin spoke highly of Gillette and Marie Doro, who played Alice Faulkner. 

Gillette revived many of his plays over the years, but Sherlock Holmes was always in demand. 

Producer Charles Frohman died in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, which was torpedoed by German submarine U-20 on 07-May-1915.  He had a bad leg so he could not get into a lifeboat.  He helped tie life vests to baskets containing babies who had been left in the nursery.  He joined hands with a group of people on the deck and waited for the ship to sink.  His last words, according to the only member of the group who survived, were adapted from Peter Pan, which he had produced: "Why fear death? It is the most beautiful adventure that life gives us."

Moving Picture World, 01-April-1916
In 1916, the Essanay Company produced a seven reel feature starring William Gillette as Sherlock Holmes.  The movie is lost.  Many people felt that Gillette was too old for the role, but apparently the movie did well at the box office.  This was Gillette's only film performance.  Don't believe the Internet Movie Database, which has him mixed up with another actor. 

Moving Picture World, 07-October-1916

The film was directed by Arthur Berthelet.  He directed other movies, but I have never heard of any of them.  Arthur Fielding played Doctor Watson.  He made a few silents, then later had a long career playing small parts in talkies.  Marjorie Kay played Alice Faulkner.  Sherlock Holmes is her only credit in the Internet Movie Database. 

Moving Picture World, 21-October-1916
"The Greatest Super Feature of the Year." 

Bisbee, Arizona Daily Review, 24-December-1916
"'Greek meets Greek.'  The emperor of crooks meets the king of detectives -- the world-famed Sherlock Holmes."  Note that the film was "Released through the Big Four -- Vitagraph, Lubin, Selig, Essanay, Inc."  VLSE was built on the ruins of the Motion Pictures Patents Company, which had tried to establish a monopoly on film production and distribution. 

What's On the Air, December, 1930
This article from the December, 1930 What's on the Air talks about how William Gillette played Sherlock Holmes on the first episode of a new NBC radio series.  The caption says Gillette is visible in the photograph.  Richard Gordon played Sherlock Holmes in following episodes.  There are no surviving recordings of the broadcast. 

There is a surviving recording of William Gillette's voice as he played Sherlock Holmes.  It was made in 1934 when Gillette was 81 years old.  G Robert Vincent made it for his private collection of spoken word recordings. FC Packard, a Harvard professor, played Doctor Watson. I don't know who played Alice Faulkner.  The recording is available in two parts on YouTube. 

Gillette played Holmes more than 1300 times.  He retired several times, after long farewell tours, and then made triumphant returns.  His last farewell tour ran from 1929 to 1932.  William Gillette died in Hartford, Connecticut in 1937. 

Gillette's home now stands in Gillette Castle State Park.  Gillette had a miniature steam railroad that ran around his estate.  Speaking as a fellow railfan, I am jealous.  Here is a clip from a 1927 Fox Movietone newsreel featuring Gillette and his train.  Note that the title says he was "retired from the stage":

William Gillette's play Sherlock Holmes served as the basis for other film adaptions.  I wonder if his version is lost because later producers tried to eliminate the 1916 movie so an unscrupulous distributor would not rerelease it. 

In 1922, John Barrymore starred in an adaption of Gillette's play.  Roland Young, who later played Cosmo Topper, was Doctor Watson. Carol Dempster, DW Griffith's protégée, played Alice Faulkner.  This was her only movie not directed by Griffith.  Gustav von Seyffertitz was good as Professor Moriarity.  William Powell played one of Holmes' college friends.  Read more about it at Movies Silently:

The film was thought to be lost for many years.  Dedicated restorers put it back together from thousands of separate shots, often in multiple takes, that had been cut up and put together out of order, probably for tinting. I have seen it, but I must admit that I found it slow.
New Movie, March, 1930
In 1929, Clive Brook became the first actor to play Holmes in a talkie, The Return of Sherlock Holmes.  Brook played Holmes again in 1930 in a sketch in the revue Paramount on Parade and in 1932, in Sherlock Holmes, adapted from Gillette's play.  Reginald Owen played Doctor Watson.  Miriam Jordan was Alice Faulkner.  Ernest Torrance was Professor Moriarity.  The photo, from the March, 1930 New Movie, shows William Powell as Philo Vance and Clive Brook as Holmes in Paramount on Parade

In 1939, Basil Rathbone played Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles at 20th Century-Fox with Nigel Brice as Doctor Watson.  For much of my life, they were nearly everyone's favorite Holmes and Watson.  Also in 1939, they appeared in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, another adaption of Gillette's play.  Ida Lupino played Ann Brandon, who was based on Alice Faulkner.  George Zucco, one of my favorite over-the-top actors, played Professor Moriarity. 

Rathbone and Bruce made 12 more movies with lower budgets at Universal, and played Holmes and Watson on the radio.  Rathbone felt that becoming so identified as Holmes hurt his career. 

In 1981, a television series called Standing Room Only did an adaption of the play with Frank Langella as Sherlock Holmes. 

William Gillette was not the first person to play Sherlock Holmes on the stage, but he has influenced everyone who played the part on stage, film, radio and television since he wrote the play and played the part. 

So where did I find the title of this post?  On 25-September-1938, The Mercury Theatre on the Air on CBS radio performed a version of Gillette's play, adapted by Orson Welles, who also played Holmes.  Some people said he did an excellent imitation of Gillette.  Others said Welles sounded bored.  Search the web and you can find the episode and make up your own mind.  In his introduction to the episode, Welles said "It is too little to say that William Gillette resembled Sherlock Holmes.  Sherlock Holmes looks exactly like William Gillette."

This post is part of  Sleuthathon, a Blogathon of Gumshoes, hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently.  Thank you to Fritzi for all the hard work.  Thank you to everyone who visited and I encourage you to read as many posts as you can.  


Update 01-October-2014.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival announced that William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes is no longer a lost film. A print has turned up at the Cinémathèque Française.  The  Cinémathèque and the Festival are working together on a restoration.  I'm excited. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Barbarous Mexico -- March 14, 2014

The Mexican Revolution was a hot subject for US films.  Here we have an ad for Barbarous Mexico, a five reel feature from the 01-March-1913 Moving Picture World.  The title gives an idea of the feeling many people in the US had towards Mexico and its people.  "Every reel full of ginger." 

Francisco Madero, a democrat who fought for social justice, was a leader of the revolution, who was elected President after hated dictator Porfirio Diaz resigned and fled in 1911.  In February, 1913, General Victoriano Huerta led a military coup.  Madero was deposed and then assassinated.  I think I remember more than one movie where the characters would say Huerta's name then spit.  The only movie I could find in a quick Google search was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  I believe there are others. 

The ad refers to "the late revolution," but the revolution continued until about the end of the decade.  There is some disagreement about how to define its end. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The German Kaiser -- March 13, 2014

With the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One coming up in a few months, I thought it might be interesting to look at the state of relations between the United States and the German Empire.  In this ad from the 05-April-1913 Moving Picture World, Uncle Sam shakes hands with German Emperor Wilhelm II.  This was described as an entry in the "Crowned Heads of Europe" series from the True Feature Company.  "A Short Reel (500 feet) but a BIG Subject."  Many German-Americans were proud of the economic and scientific achievements of Germany since unification in 1871 under the Kaiser's grandfather, Wilhelm I. 

"These pictures were shown to the Kaiser and officially approved by him." 

Many people still blame the Kaiser and his ham-handed foreign policies for the war.  It wasn't that simple, but he deserved a share of the blame. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tom Mix #15 -- March 12, 2014

Tom Mix was the biggest cowboy star in silent movies.  He and his horse Tony had many adventures in Fox films.

"A tale of western grit on auto track and in saddle -- a romance with speed at the wheel." 

Tom Mix made The Road Demon, a western with racing cars, for Fox Films in 1921. I think this is a rare combination. Note that he is driving on a board track. These were popular for auto racing till the early 1920s. I have visited the memorial near Florence, Arizona where Tom Mix died in a fast car.

Rolin was a company founded by Hal Roach and Dan Linthicum. Harold Lloyd was their first comedy star. By 1921, I think his name would have appeared in the ad.

From the Tulsa World, 17-April-1921. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Isis Theater -- March 11, 2014

The illumination of Denver's Isis Theater is shown in these two images from the April, 1911 Motography.  Note that the neon sign had been demonstrated only the year before, so the theater relied on lots of incandescent light bulbs for illumination.  Also note that admission was five cents and that there was a "New Picture Every Day." 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bessie Love #15 -- March 10, 2014

I have always been fascinated by the career of actress Bessie Love.  She was born in Texas.  Her name was Juanita Horton.  Her family moved to Los Angeles and she went to Los Angeles High School.  Looking for work, she met director  DW Griffith and got a small part in Intolerance.  She appeared in movies with William S Hart and Douglas Fairbanks.  She was a 1922 WAMPAS (Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers) Baby Star.  She played many leading roles, most famously in The Lost World, but never broke through until the talkies came, when she starred in The Broadway Melody.  Her career was hot again for a few years, but then tailed off.  She continued to appear in small parts in movies until the early 1980s.

In this item from the June, 1925 Photoplay, Bessie Love relaxes on Miami Beach with director John Robertson and leading man Richard Barthelmess "after finishing a day's work on Soul-Fire."  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Telling Whoppers -- March 9, 2014

"Telling Whoppers" was a short comedy with Hal Roach's Our Gang.  Note that the ad also says "Hal Roach presents His Rascals."  In this scene, Joe Cobb and Farina Hoskins confront Tuffy the bully.  Please excuse the racist quality of the drawing.  The Our Gang movies were not usually racist. 

A note at the bottom of this ad from the 16-Decmber-1926 Film Daily says that this ad is a cornerblock provided to theaters to use in newspaper advertising. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Peerless Features Producing Company's New Studio -- March 7, 2014

The Peerless Features Producing Company's new studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey.  From the 26-September-1914 Moving Picture World.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

DVD: Accidentally Preserved, Volume 2 -- March 6, 2014

In January, I reviewed Accidentally Preserved, a DVD made by famous film accompanist Ben Model.  Now I have watched Volume 2, which came out in February this year.  Again, Model dug into his collection of old 16mm prints, which were mostly made for the home rental or purchase market.  Some of the movies only exist in old Kodascope prints.  Naturally he also created the musical scores.

The DVD contains nine films, seven short comedies and two public service films. 

"Why Wild Men Go Wild" was an Al Christie production directed by William Beaudine.  It starred Bobby Vernon, whom I had only seen in Sennett movies.  It was silly, but worth watching.  There was a cute swimming pool gag at the end. 

"Charley on the Farm" was a cartoon produced by Pat Sullivan and animated by Otto Messmer, who later created Felix the Cat.  It was one of a series that featured Charlie Chaplin.  I think Messmer captured Charlie's movements and gestures.  He also recycled many gags from Chaplin's Essanay short "The Tramp." 

"Sherlock's Home" was a two-reel entry in the "Telephone Girl" series, starring cute Alberta Vaughn.  I thought it dragged in spots, but it was fun.  It also featured the team of Al Cooke and Kit Guard, whom I learned about in Steve Massa's excellent Lame Brains and Lunatics.  The title came from a light heavyweight boxer called Hurricane Sherlock.  His opponent in a match was played by the real Kid McCoy, the dirtiest fighter in history.  Mal St Clair directed it and Darryl F Zanuck, later president of 20th Century Fox, wrote it. 

"The Little Pest" was a Universal Bluebird one-reeler starring Neely Edwards.  When the little boy in the sailor suit arrived, I asked my daughter "The little blond kid.  Is he evil?"  She looked at him and said "Yes, I've had him in my classes."  Bud Jamison played the evil kid's father.  I enjoyed it, especially when the kid dismantled Neely's car. 

"Papa's Boy," a Lloyd Hamilton two-reeler, was my favorite item.  Hamilton's father wanted he-man Glen Cavender to make a man out of his wimpy, butterfly-chasing son.  There was a nice series of gags with Hamilton chasing butterflies with a net, some sort of a grabber, and a huge pin.  Cavender and Hamilton went camping.  There were two nice sequences with an alligator and a tent on fire.  Norman Taurog directed. 

"Helter Skelter" was an Educational two-reeler, but the first reel of the only surviving print is unprojectable.  The second reel is very lively, with Malcom Sebastian (Big Boy) and his dog Mutt leading a merry chase around the house of some rich folks. 

"Cook, Papa, Cook" starred Henry Murdock, who was usually a supporting player.  He had a fight with his wife, triggered by their mischievous son, and tried to make breakfast.  At least it moved quickly. 

"How Jimmy Won the Game" was a public service short about blasting cap safety.  Until I saw it, I had not remembered that I used to see blasting cap safety ads during kid's shows on television.  This one was pretty stark, warning about blowing eyes out or hands off.  I was impressed by the crappy condition of the field where the kids played baseball. 

The last item was a short animation for Christmas Seals.  It may have been animated by Dick Huemer. 

I thought the best score was the one for "Papa's Boy." 

The Accidentally Preserved website:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Alain Resnais, RIP -- March 5, 2014

French director Alain Resnais has died.  I had read about his work, but I didn't see any of his movies till I saw Last Year at Marienbad in a film class.  The whole class found it confusing, even after a vigorous discussion.  Then I took a class where we read translations of two novels by Alain Robbe-Grillet, The Voyeur and Jealousy.  When I saw the movie again, I found it more digestible. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pearl White 125, Ward Kimball 100 -- March 4, 2014

Actress Pearl White was the first and best-remembered serial queen, starring in The Perils of Pauline in 1914.  She was famous for performing her own stunts.  She was born 125 years ago, on 04-March-1889.  She died in 1938. 

Other posts about Pearl White:
Pearl of the Army
The Iron Claw

The image is from the May, 1921 Cinea

Animator Ward Kimball worked on many Disney films, including the features Dumbo and Alice in wonderland and the shorts "Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom" and "It's Tough to Be a Bird."  Kimball was a fan of traditional jazz.  He founded the Firehouse Five Plus Two which recorded albums and performed at Disneyland.  He was a dedicated railfan who had a narrow gauge railroad, the Grizzly Flats Railraod, in his back yard. 

Disneyland Railroad Number 5, the Ward Kimball, premiered at Disneyland on 25-June-2005.  Kimball designed the gold Jiminy Crickets on the sides of the headlight. Number 5, a 2-4-4T, was built by Baldwin in 1902 as an 0-4-4T for a plantation railroad in Louisiana. This was Disneyland's first new locomotive since 1959. Disney acquired Number 5 in a trade with Cedar Point, an amusement park in Ohio, where it had operated as Number 1, the Maud L, from 1963 to the early 1990's. Cedar Point had added the leading pony truck. In return for Maud L, Cedar Point received the first Ward Kimball, a Davenport 2-4-4T which Disney had intended to operate on the Disneyland Railroad, but which proved to be too heavy for the bridge at Critter Country. The locomotive went to Walt Disney World in Florida, where it proved to be too light (!). The new Ward Kimball sat in storage until 2004, when restoration began at Boschan Boiler & Restorations.  I took the photo on July, 2007.  Learn more about it on my Park Trains and Tourist Trains page. 

Amid Amidi has written a biography of Ward Kimball, Full Steam Ahead: The Life and Art of Ward Kimball, but it appears that the Disney company has blocked its publication. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

2014 Academy Awards -- March 3, 2014

Film Daily, 20-March-1945.

I thought I would write about my experiences watching this year's Academy Awards.  We were at my mom's house for dinner.  Between bouts of helping in the kitchen, we saw some of the red carpet show, which is pretty silly.  Leonardo DiCaprio wore a navy blue tux.  That is not right. 

Dinner was served just as the awards started.  We left the television on, which we rarely do.  My mother made stuffed zucchini, onions and green bell peppers.  She complained that her mother got the potato slices underneath to brown on both sides, but she could only get them to brown on the bottom.  She also said that her mother ground the meat again so it was very fine.  Then she asked who was talking.  We said the host was Ellen DeGeneres.  My mother looked over her shoulder and said she didn't recognize her.  My mother stood up to see Kim Novak as a presenter. 

Every time they announced an award, somebody talked and I didn't hear who won.  We want to see the short about the 110-year-old woman. 

After we finished dinner, we went out to the kitchen to get the coffee and the apple pie.  The pie was good. 

Then we did the dishes and put away the food and packed up some leftovers.  Then we drove home.  I fed the cat and put away the leftovers.  I saw Glen Close come out in a nice gown to present the list of people who had died.  Then I had to go out to the garage to get more boxes of soda so I could make my lunch for tomorrow.  Then I made my lunch. 

I got to see best director, Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity

Sidney Poitier is very old and unsteady, but everyone was happy to wait for him to walk out. 

12 Years a Slave won best picture.  I want to see it. 

The only nominated picture we saw was The Lone Ranger

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Harold Ramis, RIP -- March 2, 2014

Harold Ramis died last week.  I remember seeing him on SCTV in the 1970s.  He wrote National Lampoon's Animal House with Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller. I was interested to learn recently that some people didn't understand what happened to the horse. I never saw Meatballs or Caddyshack.   People kept telling me that Caddyshack was the funniest movie they had ever seen.  I guessed that it probably wasn't.  I'll have to look for it. 

I was sad to learn that he was going to make a movie out of John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces with John Belushi, but it never happened. 

I liked Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day.  I didn't like Analyze This and his version of Bedazzled