Sunday, August 31, 2014

Clara Bow #19 -- August 31, 2014

Red haired Clara Bow was probably the most popular silent actress after Mary Pickford.
From the wonderful site  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Extra Attractions -- WAR -- August 29, 2014

There are two interesting things going on here. 

The obvious one is that a movie distributor is trying to deceive the public.  WAR is "We Are Ready to help you get the money".  "THOUSANDS VOLUNTEER expressions of satisfaction."  "ONE OF THE GREATEST BATTLES of wits ever presented to the public." 

The other thing is that this is an ad for Melies Films.  By 1914, pioneer Georges Méliès and his useless brother Gaston Méliès had stopped making movies.  I see a "G" for Gaumont logo in the middle.  I'm not sure what that is all about. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Leading Lady's Narrow Escape -- August 28, 2014

Motography, 15-August-1914

George Middleton, a San Francisco automobile dealer, married the beautiful and celebrated prima donna (that's how she was billed), musical comedy actress Beatriz Michelena in San Francisco in 1907. She left the stage for a while, then returned in 1910. In 1912, Middleton, son of a famous family in the lumber business, founded the California Motion Picture Company in San Rafael, north of San Francisco. At first he made promotional films for his auto business, but in 1914 he began to produce dramatic features starring his wife. Salomy Jane still survives and is very impressive. Most of the CMPC movies were destroyed in a fire.

This article from the 15-August-1914 Motography describes an incident which may or may not have occurred while the company was filming Salomy Jane at the Russian River.  House Peters was her leading man.  In the photo, the beautiful and celebrated prima donna is posing in front of the stump of a redwood tree. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Remarkable Acting -- August 27, 2014

Motography, 01-August-1914

The Million Dollar Mystery was a Thanhouser production made in association with the Chicago Tribune, which ran the weekly stories in printed form. The 23-chapter serial starred Florence La Badie, a popular Thanhouser actress who died the next year in a car wreck. Her leading man was James Cruze, who later became a director. His most famous production was The Covered Wagon.

Motography, 15-August-1914
" $10,000 will be paid for the best 100-word solution of this mystery." 

Motography, 29-August-1914

"Remarkable Acting."  Yes indeed. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sir Richard Attenborough, RIP -- August 26, 2014

Actor and director Sir Richard Attenborough has died.  I enjoyed his acting in many movies, like the 1947 adaption of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock.  Attenborough usually seemed like a kind, gentle person, so it was interesting to watch him play Pinkie.

I enjoyed A Bridge Too Far.  I admired Gandhi, but I haven't seen it again since it came out.  Oh! What a Lovely War blew my mind and made me cry.  He sure could direct. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Thaumatrope: Its Retribution -- August 25, 2014

Charles Babbage was one of the great polymaths of the 19th Century.  He is regarded as one of the fathers of computers because of his work on the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine.  Here, in a passage from this memoir Passages From the Life of a Philosopher he talks about the thaumatrope.  Sir William Herschel was an astronomer.

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

The Thaumatrope.
One day Herschel, sitting with me after dinner, amusing himself by spinning a pear upon the table, suddenly asked whether I could show him the two sides of a shilling at the same moment.

I took out of my pocket a shilling, and holding it up before the looking-glass, pointed out my method. "No," said my friend, "that won't do;" then spinning my shilling upon the table, he pointed out his method of seeing both sides at once. The next day I mentioned the anecdote to the late Dr. Fitton, who a few days after brought me a beautiful illustration of the principle. It consisted of a round disc of card suspended between the two pieces of sewing-silk. These threads being held between the finger and thumb of each hand, were then made to turn quickly, when the disc of card, of course, revolved also.
Upon one side of this disc of card was painted a bird; upon the other side, an empty bird-cage. On turning the thread rapidly, the bird appeared to have got inside the cage. We soon made numerous applications, as a rat on one side and a trap upon the other, &c. It was shown to Captain Kater, Dr. Wollaston, and many of our friends, and was, after the lapse of a short time, forgotten.

Some months after, during dinner at the Royal Society Club, Sir Joseph Banks being in the chair, I heard Mr. Barrow, then Secretary to the Admiralty, talking very loudly about a wonderful invention of Dr. Paris, the object of which I could not quite understand. It was called the thaumatrope, and was said to be sold at the Royal Institution, in Albermarle-street. Suspecting that it had some connection with our unnamed toy, I went the next morning and purchased, for seven shillings and sixpence, a thaumatrope, which I afterwards sent down to Slough to the late Lady Herschel. It was precisely the thing which her son and Dr. Fitton had contributed to invent, which amused all their friends for a time and had then been forgotten. There was however one additional thaumatrope made afterwards. It consisted of the usual disc of paper. On one side was represented a thaumatrope (the design upon it being a penny-piece) with the motto, "How to turn a penny."

On the other side was a gentleman in black, with his hands held out in the act of spinning a thaumatrope, the motto being, "A new trick from Paris."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Real Battle of 1948 -- August 24, 2014

Film Daily, 07-May-1948

Rocky Graziano and Tony Zale, the Man of Steel, were two tough middleweights in the 1940s.  They met three times in bloody fights for the middleweight championship.  In 1946, champion Zale took a beating and nearly lost, but came back to KO Graziano in the sixth.  In 1947, Graziano's eye was closed and he was nearly defeated when he came back to KO Zale in the sixth, taking the title.  On 10-June-1948, the fight went only three rounds.  Zale won his title back with a KO in the third. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

from Amusements for Park Resorts -- August 23, 2014

"Amusements for Park Resorts" is an article from the 11-March-1905 Street Railway Journal.  Many transit companies operated amusement parks to encourage weekend travel.  This is part of my mutoscope series, but I had to throw in the Puss in Boots Slot Machine as well. 


The mutoscope, made by the American Mutoscope & Biograph Company, of New York, is one of those novelties which appeal equally to all classes. The mutoscope is a handsome silver gilt cast-iron cabinet, provided with a coin slot and a crank. When a coin is dropped in the slot the beholder views some interesting scene, embracing the use of over 700 moving pictures, greatly magnified and brilliantly illuminated by electric light. When one subject has lost its earning power, another can be substituted in a few minutes. The mutoscope does not use films, the pictures being bromide photographs mounted on reels. The mechanism of this device is extremely simple. The parts are few and are all interchangeable, so that repairs can be made readily.

The weight of the boxed machine is 325 lbs.; the height to the eye piece is 4 ft. 6 ins., and the floor space needed is 2 ft. square.

Roovers Brothers, of Brooklyn, N. Y., whose aluminum name plate machine has proved a most profitable slot device, have placed on the market an amusing and ingenious vending or fortune-telling apparatus known as “Puss in Boots.” This machine is mounted on handsomely carved legs, which, however, are not shown in the accompanying illustration. By placing a coin in the slide recess, drawing down the handle on the right-hand side of the machine and then letting it return, the cat is caused to greet the customer with a bow, then to move its left paw, which holds a pan, to the chute containing the article to be delivered, the head moving in unison with the pan so as to see that the latter is in the correct position to receive the article from the chute delivery opening; next the cat moves its head toward the right paw, which holds a nickel-plated rod, with which it carefully opens the lid of a basket in front, the paw holding the pan containing the article having taken a position over the lid. On lowering the pan, the article drops on the lid, then the pan is raised again to allow the lid of the basket to be closed a second time. The cat follows these movements with its head, and ends with a bow of thanks. The article falls through the basket into a receptacle in front of the machine. The figure is dressed in satin. and the seat and floor are covered with velvet. The net weight of the complete machine is 136 lbs., and the weight crated, 190 lbs. The size of the case is 32 ins. high x 14 1/2 ins. square. The stand is 30 ins. high x 16 ins. square. The full height with sign is 6 ft. 2 ins.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Half Shot at Sunrise -- August 22, 2014

Photoplay, November, 1930.

Service comedies set during World War One became quite popular during the 1920s, after the success of What Price Glory on stage and screen.  Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey were a popular team in the late 1920s and into the 1930s.  Some people can't stand them.  Cute Dorothy Lee was their frequent costar.  "...park the grouch and toddle to wherever they're showing 'Half Shot at Sunrise.'  It's one of the most absurdly ridiculous, nonsensical messpots of assorted comedy that ever was cooked up from celluloid."  Messpots -- that is a good word. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Grauman's Chinese #41 -- August 21, 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.

Red Skelton played in medicine shows, showboats, stock theater, circuses, vaudeville, movies, radio, television and night clubs. I remember his television show and his pantomime routines. On 18-June-1942, Red Skelton left his hand and footprints in the forecourt. "We dood it" refers to a popular catch-phrase from his radio shows, when he played Junior, the Bad Widdle Kid. Junior would say "If I dood it, I'll get a whippin' --- I dood it."

Next month will be the last entry in this series.  I think I'll start over again because until I moved to this new site, I didn't include other photos, like this poster with Red Skelton and Ann Rutherford. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Violet MacMillan With Oz -- August 20, 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. Actress Violet MacMillan appeared in their first movie, The Patchwork Girl of Oz and some others. Here she appears on the cover of the 24-October-1914 Motography.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

War and More War -- August 19, 2014

Moving Picture World, 14-August-1914.
The Austro-Servian Film Company released "With Serb and Austrian" within a few weeks of the outbreak of the First World War.  "This is Not a Bawling Bull but Good Hard Facts."  I'm not sure what they are trying to tell us. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Is Pauline Working for You? -- August 18, 2014

Motography, 01-August-1914

The Perils of Pauline was a big hit in 1914. The 20 chapter serial was not the first movie serial, but it was one of the big ones. It starred Pearl White, the first serial queen. The Eclectic Film Company distributed Pathé movies in the United States. The film exists only in a mutilated form, based on a copy exported to France. The subtitles has been translated into French, then translated back into English. I like the balloon image from the 01-August-1914 Motography.

Motography, 08-August-1914
This ad mentions the Colonel Heeza Liar animated cartoons created by JR Bray as a satire on Theodore Roosevelt. 

Motography, 15-August-1914
I don't know what a Hartigan Comedy is. 

Motography, 20-June-1914.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Colorful Tom Mix -- August 17, 2014

Tom Mix was the biggest cowboy star in silent movies. He and his horse Tony had many adventures in Fox films. I like this image from the March, 1918 Moving Picture World

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Valley of the Moon -- August 16, 2014

Moving Picture World, August 29, 2014

Actor Hobart Bosworth admired Jack London's writing and formed a company to produce movies based on London's stories and novels.

I think I first heard about Jack London's novel The Valley of the Moon when I read a book about San Francisco Bohemians who gathered in Carmel.  London's novel had been out of print, but I found a paperback copy and enjoyed it.  Billy (Jack Conway) and Saxon (Myrtle Steadman) were a young couple who were stifled by city life.  They wandered through California and wound up in Jack London's favorite place, the Valley of the Moon in Sonoma County. 

I don't think the novel has been filmed since 1914. 

Moving Picture World, August 22, 2014

Moving Picture News, August 22, 2014

Moving Picture World, August 29, 2014

Odyssey of the North is based on a short story, "An Odyssey of the North," which London published in 1900.  Hobart Bosworth played Naas, a man of mixed race. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Some Universal News -- August 15, 2014

The Universal Film Manufacturing Company was very good at advertising.  Mary Fuller was a big star taken from Edison.  Her leading man Charles Ogle, who also came Edison was the first person to play Frankenstein's Monster on the screen.  Mary Pickford was the biggest silent star.  I have never seen a movie with Matty Roubert, the Universal Boy.  Ford Sterling was a major comic who had been at Keystone.  Pathé Lehrman had also come from Keystone.  Billie Ritchie claimed that Charlie Chaplin copied his costume and act. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Stupendous Mexican War Drama Sensation -- August 14, 2014

World War One was not the only war going on in August, 1914.  The Mexican Revolution was still a hot topic.  A company of Blaché Features was shooting a fiction film in Mexico when they got caught in a battle at Santiago de la Monclova. Herbert Blaché, who managed Blaché Features was the husband of pioneering film director Alice Guy-Blaché.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lauren Bacall, RIP -- August 13, 2014

I was sad to learn about the death of actress Lauren Bacall.  I love her voice.  She always had class.  Her marriage to Humphrey Bogart was odd because of their age difference, but they really belonged together.  I love her movies with Bogart. 

All the photos are from the wonderful site  Be sure to click on the images to see larger versions. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams, RIP -- August 12, 2014

Robin Williams had a volcanic talent.  Sometimes he rubbed me the wrong way.  He made some good movies and a lot of bad ones, like Toys, which was a remake of a Pierre Richard movie. 

He did a lot for the film industry in San Francisco. 

I'm sorry he is gone, another victim of depression. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Jungle -- August 11, 2014

The All Star Feature Corporation produced a 5 reel adaption of Upton Sinclair's muckraking novel The Jungle

Just recently I read in Christina Wilkie's article "Charles Koch Hijacks Martin Luther King Jr. To Pitch His Vision For Low-Wage America" (

"WASHINGTON -- Conservative billionaire Charles G. Koch laid out his prescription for reviving the American economy on Wednesday in an op-ed published by USA Today.

"In it, Koch argues that the economic recovery is hampered by 'destructive regulations affecting whether and how business invests and employees work.'

"He's referring to regulations designed to protect workers' safety, ensure fair pay, provide for clean air and water, eliminate dangerous consumer products and other benevolent results. For a good sense of what America would be like without these protections, pick up a copy of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle."

Jurgis Rudkus is injured on the job and gets fired with no compensation.  His wife Ona is raped and sexually exploited by her boss.  With no possibility of legal redress, Jurgis attacks the boss and goes to jail.  When Jurgis gets out, he finds that his family is homeless and Ona dies in childbirth because they cannot afford health care.  It sounds like a Koch Brothers wonderland. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Kaiser Film Company -- August 10, 2014

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

Before the United States entered the war, some people admired Kaiser Bill.  The Kaiser Film Company released this movie.  "The Man of the Hour."  " special permission of the Kaiser himself." 

From the 15-August-1914 Moving Picture World

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Baseball Manager Plays Detective -- August 9, 2014

John McGraw managed the New York Giants from 1901 to 1933.  He became a nationally known character, and appeared in a fiction movie, "Detective Swift," for the Eclectic Film Company.  Some of the footage was taken during the world tour of the Giants and the Chicago White So:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cabiria Unaffected by War -- August 8, 2014

Moving Picture World, 15-August-1914

Giovanni Pastrone's Italian feature Cabiria was a popular spectacle which influenced filmmakers all over the world, including DW Griffith. It was set during the Second Punic War. The image above shows a "Mammoth volcano scene."

 The movie introduced the strongman character Maciste, who went on to appear in many movies.

Moving Picture World, 29-August-1914

This article mentions that the war in Europe has not affected the production of prints with translated subtitles for the American market.  Italy did not enter the war until 1915.  Note that some scenes had two colors applied in "the Itala process."  Perhaps that was tinting and toning. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Majestic Theater, Louisville -- August 7, 2014

The Majestic Theater in Louisville, Kentucky.  The accompanying article in the 25-March-1911 Nickelodeon calls it the "cynosure of attention."  Not a word one sees every day. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bessie Love #20 -- August 6, 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.

The image is from the April, 1918 Moving Picture Magazine.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

War News -- August 5, 2014

World War One was a boost to the early newsreel business.  The Pathé Daily News was one of the pioneers. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

War! War! War! -- August 4, 2014

Moving Picture World 15-August-1914

100 years ago today, the German Empire violated the neutrality of Belgium by invading that country on its way to invade France.  With a few weeks, American movie producers were offering "The first authentic photoplay to depict the great events of the beginning" of "The War of Wars."  "Taken on the actual battlefields of France." 

Moving Picture World 22-August-1914

Moving Picture World 22-August-1914
I don't know much about Ramo Films, Inc. 

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

Sunday, August 3, 2014

United Keanograph -- August 3, 2014

I don't know much about the United Keanograph Film Manufacturing Company, "James Keane -- President and Gen. Mgr.,"  but I like the design of the poster for the feature film Money, and find it interesting that the company's studios were in Fairfax, California, which is in Marin County. 

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