Monday, January 30, 2017

Barbara Hale, RIP -- January 30, 2017

Barbara Hale, who was most famous for playing Perry Mason's secretary Della Street, has passed on.  I didn't watch the show, which was in reruns, but I kept running across it in syndication on various stations.  I often saw the last couple of minutes as I changed channels.  I came to know Raymond Burr from old radio shows and Film Noir.  Barbara Hale had been under contract at RKO and appeared in a lot of movies that weren't very good.  The Boy With Green Hair and Val Lewton's The Seventh Victim were good.  She didn't get a credit in the latter.  Speaking of old time radio, she appeared in movies based on The Great Gildersleeve and Lum and Abner

Sunday, January 29, 2017

William Powell 125 -- January 29, 2017
Actor William Powell, who has always been a favorite of mine, was born 125 years ago today, on 29-January-1892.
He was married to Carole Lombard for a while.  After the divorce, they remained friendly and starred together in My Man Godfrey.
Many people thought he was married to Myrna Loy.  They made many movies together.  The Thin Man movies are my favorites.  Nick and Nora really loved each other.

New Movie, March, 1930
I also enjoyed the movies where he played snooty detective Philo Vance. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

John Hurt, RIP -- January 28, 2017
John Hurt has died.  I remember him playing Caligula in I, Claudius.  The Masterpiece Theater show made a big impression on me.  I read the books later.
The Naked Civil Servant also made an impression on me.
I can't remember where we saw The Elephant Man, but I remember the movie very clearly. 

The Pathé Rooster -- January 28, 2017

Moving Picture World, 26-December-1914
In honor of the beginning of Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rooster, here is the Pathé rooster, symbol of the second-oldest movie production company in the world.  Pathé Frères was founded in 1896 by Charles, Émile, Théophile and Jacques Pathé.

Friday, January 27, 2017

"Ham," the Kalem Fun-Maker -- January 27, 2017

Moving Picture World, 06-January-1917
In his wonderful book The Silent Clowns, Walter Kerr suggested that Lloyd Hamilton was one of the great silent comics whose reputation has diminished. This is because many of the solo movies Hamilton made for Educational during the 1920s are lost. Perhaps this is also because he was not able to succeed as a star in feature films.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore, RIP -- January 26, 2017

I was sad to learn of the passing of Mary Tyler Moore.  I first saw her in reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Later I watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show on first run or rerun.  "The Death of Chuckles" was one of the best sitcom episodes I have ever seen.  Mary was always delightful.  Mary and Dick Van Dyke were a team.  She played a housewife, but insisted on dressing like a real person.  On her own show, she played in independent woman who had to compete with men in the workplace, and did a good job.  She demanded equal pay for equal work.  Her production company made many good situation comedies and dramas.  She was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award for Ordinary People.  She spent much of her life educating people about diabetes and fighting for better treatment of animals.  What a wonderful person.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I Am Here to Make Your Patrons Laugh -- January 25, 2017

Moving Picture World, 06-January-1917
Meanwhile, back at Essanay, partner George Spoor was looking for a comedian to take Charlie Chaplin's place.  He signed international star Max Linder.  Linder had appeared in early Pathé slapstick comedies in France. He became a major star before World War One.  There is some confusion about what he did in the war, but he was wounded or became seriously ill and newspapers reported that he had died.  This was not true, but the French film industry, the most powerful in the world before the war, had mostly shut down.  Max took the offer from Essanay and came to America, signing a deal to make six short films.  The first two did poorly and the third did only a little better, so that was the end of the series.

Moving Picture World, 13-January-1917
Moving Picture World, 13-January-1917
Moving Picture World, 20-January-1917

Max Linder's first US production was "Max Comes Across."  He directed with the help of interpreters. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ernest Borgnine 100 -- January 24, 2017
Actor Ernest Borgnine would have been 100 years old today.  In interviews, he always sounded like a wonderful grandfather or uncle.  In movies, he often played murderous villains.  I first remember seeing him in reruns of McHale's Navy.  Then I saw him in Emperor of the North Pole.  Then The Dirty Dozen, then Marty, then Bad Day at Black Rock.  I was confused about him, but I always knew he was a good actor, who wasn't afraid to open the throttle.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Patria -- The Serial Supreme -- January 23, 2017

Moving Picture World, 06-January-1917
The Wharton Brothers produced Patria, a fifteen-chapter serial starring Irene Castle, for William Randolph Hearst.  Warner Oland, who made a career out of playing Asian parts, was a Japanese spy.  Baron Huroki and his spy ring want to destroy American munitions plants, many of which are owned by Patria Channing, who was played by Irene Castle.  .  Milton Sills is a Secret Service agent who is after the spy ring.  At one point in the serial, the Japanese ally with Mexico to attack the United States.  While the film was being release, President Woodrow Wilson learned about the themes of the film and asked the producers to change the nationalities of many of the characters.

Irene Castle had become famous, with her husband Vernon, as a ballroom dancer.  He left the act in early 1916 to return to his native Britain, where he joined the Royal Flying Corps.  He was a successful pilot, earning the Croix de Guerre.  He was sent to Canada and then the United States to train new pilots.  He died in a flying accident in 1918.

Moving Picture World, 20-January-1917

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Carole Lombard 75 Years -- January 17, 2017

75 years ago yesterday, on 16-January-1942, beautiful and funny actress Carole Lombard, who had been in Indiana selling war bonds, boarded a Transcontinental and Western Air Douglas Sleeper Transport, a close relative of the DC-3, to return to Hollywood.  The airplane crashed into a mountain in Nevada, killing everyone aboard, including Carole Lombard and her mother.

 She started out appearing in silent comedies for Mack Sennett, floundered around a bit during the talkie transition, and then became a big star, appearing in many favorites including My Man Godfrey, Nothing Sacred, Twentieth Century and To Be Or Not To Be.  She had a special knack for screwball comedies. 

Lombard had been married to William Powell, and was married to Clark Gable.  Both men were shattered.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Tom Mix Signs With Fox -- January 14, 2017

Moving Picture World, 13-January-1917

Tom Mix was the biggest cowboy star in silent movies. He and his horse Tony had many adventures in Selig Polyscope Company and later Fox films.This item from the 13-January-1917 Moving Picture World announces his signing with Fox.  "He will produce for Fox the same type of western features which made him so popular with Selig Company."  Leading lady Victoria Forde was his fourth wife. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

DVD: Accidentally Preserved, Volume 4 -- January 10, 2017

They're at it again.  Famous film accompanist Ben Model has produced a fourth volume of the Accidentally Preserved series.  This time, Model dug into his collection of old 9.5mm prints, which were made for the home rental or purchase market. Most of the movies in this collection only exist in old home use prints.  Naturally he also created the musical scores.  Volumes 1, 2 and 3 of Accidentally Preserved used 16mm prints.

The DVD begins with a brief text introduction to 9.5mm films.  Pathé introduced the format in 1922.  The films, printed on safety stock, were eventually distributed across Europe, in the UK and the United States.  16mm was more popular in the US.  Pathé subsidiaries continued to sell and rent 9.5mm films until around 1960.

The US subsidiary was called Pathex.

The first movie in the set was "Nonsense," a 1920 Mermaid Comdies two-reeler, directed by Jack White and released by Educational.  It starred Jimmie Adams and Sid Smith as two farmhands who competed for the attention of Marvel Rea, the beautiful niece of the farmer.  The unidentified bad guy calls her "Mary Hickford" in one intertitle.  There was little plot, but there were lots of gags and it moved right along.

Exhibitors Herald, 07-May-1921
This movie was released in both two and one-reel versions in 9.5mm.

The Ninety and Nine was a 1922 Vitagraph feature based on the popular 1902 melodrama by Ramsay Morris.  The greatly abridged 9.5mm version dashes through bits of the story to get to the huge forest fire scene.  Warner Baxter is the hero and Colleen Moore with long hair is the leading lady.  The town simpleton looks like Harpo Marx.

The locomotive used to make the dash through the fire has the railroad name on the side of the cab painted over and the number of the locomotive, 1379, is mostly obscured.  The locomotive should have been numbered 99.

Exhibitors Herald, 19-May-1923
The Ninety and Nine was a major production and exhibitors used a variety of tricks to promote it, including an automobile disguised as a locomotive.

Bobby Ray starred in "Meet Father," an Arrow film, in 1924.  It also stars Josephine the Monkey from The Navigator and Pete the Dog from Our Gang.  Bobby loves a girl whose father wants her to marry a tough boxer.  Bobby is absent-minded and not tough.  He carefully studies a book on fighting.  Bobby uses his little car to chase the boxer over a famous cliff in the Pacific Pallisades.

"The Wages of Tin" is a 1925 Hal Roach two-reel comedy starring Glenn Tryon.  The 9.5mm version is one reel.  Glenn reads a book on how to operate an automobile.  He rents a Model T Ford to impress Blanche Mehaffy.  Things don't go well.  The intertitles must be from a UK version.  "That'll be another two quid."  "I say, can I write you a cheque?"

Mae Marsh stars in a two-reel cut-down of a Vitagraph feature, Tides of Passion.  Her husband is a louse.  He ships out for India and forgets her.  He fools around with other women and falls overboard on the way back.  He gets the woman who rescues him, Laska Winter or Winter Blossom, pregnant.  He dies.  Mae Marsh tries to help with the baby, but the mother gets jealous.  There is a nice rescue from the rocks when she tries to commit suicide.  It goes by quickly.

Photoplay, July, 1925
Photoplay said the feature version was slow.  The abridgement may have been an improvement.

"A Man's Size Pet" starred cowboys Ben Corbett and Pee Wee Holmes as a pair of rivals who played tit for tat in the west.  There is a bear and a guy in a bear suit.  Leading lady Dorothy Kitchen, also known as Nancy Drexel, was really cute.

Pathescope 9.5mm Sound, 1956-7
This movie was listed in the Pathescope 1956-1957 catalogue.

"Walter's Paying Policy" was a 1926 British short starring Walter Forde, who had elements of Harold Lloyd in his style.  Walter and his rival worked for Busy Bee Insurance (You Won't Get Stung) and needed to sell a policy to the owner of a famous vase to get a big promotion.  It was funny.

The Fleischer Brothers, known for their animated cartoons, also made live action movies, like the Carrie of the Chorus series, in the 1920s.  "Morning, Judge" starred former chorus girl Peggy Shaw as a chorus girl who gets involved in problem with small-town prudes.  It was cute.

Moving Picture World, 04-September-1926
Peggy Shaw was also cute.

Update 26-January-2017.  Ben Model reports that the movie was not "Morning Judge" but "Chicken Cooped."  

Ben Model's music was great.

I highly recommend the dvd.  

Volume One:

Volume Two:

Volume Three:

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Wife Tamers -- January 8, 2017

Film Daily, 22-March-1926

Lionel Barrymore and producer Hal Roach were going through a hard patch when Roach featured Barrymore with comic Clyde Cook in "Wife Tamers" with Gertrude Astor as Barrymore's wife.

A note at the bottom of this ad says that it is a cornerblock provided to theaters to use in newspaper advertising.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Do You Know This Man? -- January 6, 2017

Moving Picture News, 06-January-1917
Snub Pollard was born in Australia.  He supported Harold Lloyd in most of his early movies.  Later, producer Hal Roach gave Pollard his own series, where he frequently performed with Marie Mosquini. I always liked Snub's mustache. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Grauman's Chinese -- Jeanette MacDonald -- January 3, 2017

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 headed singer and actress Jeanette MacDonald left her hand and footprints and wishes to Sid Grauman for continued success on this slab on 04-December-1934 (DSC_0029).  Jeanette MacDonald starred in several wonderful films with Maurice Chevalier and in one of my all-around favorites, San Francisco with Clark Gable.