Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wild Canyon for Arbuckle Comedy -- January 31, 2018

Moving Picture World, 12-January-1918
"Out West" was an ambitious western starring Roscoe Arbuckle, his nephew Al St John and his friend Buster Keaton.  Scenes were shot in the desert and in a wild canyon near Long Beach.

Moving Picture World, 05-January-1918
"Thrown off a freight train into the heart of the Western desert, Fatty lands eventually in the village of Mad Dog, described by the fervid scenario writer as 'the toughest, wildest and wooliest town in the West.'"

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Recent Scientific Discoveries -- January 30, 2018

San Francisco Call, 08-May-1900
Copyright, 1900, by Seymour Eaton.

Note— These papers on Practical Science have been prepared for The Call's Home Study Circle by Professor William J. Hopkins of Drexel Institute.


If we look at one of the conventional pictures of a running horse— a picture twenty years old, preferably— and compare it with some of the more recent pictures of the same subject we may see a marked difference. In the older picture the horse is stretched out in an attitude which, to the eye not specially trained, suggests speed. In the more recent one he may perhaps be seen standing like an awkward statue on one leg, with no visible means of support for the rest of him. And yet this is. in a sense, true to life, for it represents accurately the position of the horse at one instant. Except to the technically trained eye it conveys no impression of rapid motion, for the eye does not see things that way.

Persistence of Vision.

The response of the optic nerve and its connections to any action which produces the sensation of light Is not instantaneous nor does the sensation cease at once with the cessation of the cause. It persists for an appreciable time, varying from about one-thirtieth to one-tenth of a second, according to the intensity of the light. In the case of the running horse, therefore, the rapidly changing positions blend into an impression which is pretty well represented by the kind of picture that was customary before the days of instantaneous photography.

Muybridge's Pictures.

It would never have occurred to any one before Muybridge had come to this country and had shown his instantaneous pictures of moving horses that any horse ever assumed such attitudes. Even with the evidence before their eyes the first sensation of the majority his hearers was one of amusement and incredulity. His photographs were obtained by using a series of cameras so placed that the horse came before each one in succession and caused the exposure to be made at the right instant by the breaking of a thread. With the cameras at the right intervals there was thus obtained a series of pictures which showed successive instantaneous attitudes of the horse, with brief breaks between. If these pictures could be presented before the eye, one at a time, in order and rapidly enough, the impression of one would persist until the next appeared and the horse would be seen running, trotting or cantering naturally. Such an instrument, very crude and simple, existed at that time and had been in use for many years as a scientific toy. It was the zoetrope, the forerunner of the kinetoscope and all its kin.

The Zoetrope.

The zoetrope consists of an open cylinder, usually of cardboard, so mounted that it can be whirled on a vertical axis. In the upper half of this cylinder are cut equidistant vertical slits. The pictures in order showing the successive instantaneous positions In the motion to be represented are placed inside the cylinder, against the lower half, so that one picture is opposite each slit. On whirling the cylinder, therefore, keeping the eye at the row of silts, the pictures follow each other in rapid succession, only one being seen at a time. The sensation of each lasts until its image is replaced by that of the next, and the impression is that of the action of which the individual pictures show different stages.

Moving Picture Machines.

All machines for showing moving pictures by whatever name they may be called are nothing more than improvements and elaborations on the optical principle of the zoetrope. There are but few essential things which a successful machine of this sort must accomplish, but their accomplishment is not in every case altogether easy. The pictures must be presented so rapidly that there is no appreciable break between, either in light or in positions of the moving figures. The light must be admitted exactly as the picture is in place and must be cut off just before the picture Is changed. The different pictures must be shown in exact register or there will be a shifting or dancing effect which is not intended and is unpleasant.

Instead of a number of separate cameras to take the pictures, a single instrument is used, so arranged that the shutter is in practically continuous vibration at the rate of thirty or more exposures a second. In its proper place behind the shutter and lens a continuous strip of film is run in time with the shutter. Its motion is necessarily jerky, for it must be at rest for the exposure, while the shutter is open, and move ahead one space while the shutter is closed. By the development of this long strip of film there is obtained a series of negatives, from which positives are printed, in similar long strips, and these positive strips are used in the viewing or projecting instrument. If the positives are examined separately it will usually be difficult. If not impossible, to detect any difference in positions of the figures in pictures which lie near together in the strip, and when these pictures are passed through the projecting instrument at the same rate as that of the taking camera the movements of the figures upon the screen appear natural and lifelike.

The projecting instrument for moving pictures is a regular projecting lantern, with the addition of mechanism, attached to the objective, for keeping the shutter and the pictures in motion. This motion is kept up by a motor or by a hand-wheel, and the shutter or fan is run by the same mechanism that moves the film. A picture is held against the opening while the lens is uncovered, then released as the vane covers the lens, and the next one takes Its place, to be shown, in turn, the instant the vane has passed.

Practical Uses.

The chief use to which moving pictures have' been applied thus far is that of entertainment, and unfortunately the subjects which have aroused the most interest have been prize-fights. There are, however, many directions in which this instrument may prove of great value. It is proposed to make use of it in war and how far such an idea can be carried out we shall perhaps know better after the close of the present war in Africa. There are certain practical difficulties in having a kinetoscope camera at the front always ready for service, even If its use were permitted.

The value of a series of instantaneous photographs taken at short intervals in analyzing rapid motion is sufficiently obvious. By passing the pictures through the viewing instrument at a reduced speed the motion may be made as slow as we wish and its nature clearly seen. Another application of this principle which has recently been proposed is less obvious. It is proposed to take photographs at long intervals of movements which are very slow. Then, passing the series of_ pictures from these negatives through the viewing instrument at the usual speed the slow motion becomes rapid. Suppose, for example, that a photograph is taken every few hours of a sprouting seed and growing plant. When shown by the viewing or projecting instrument the sprout may be seen breaking through the ground, gaining in height and size, putting forth leaves, buds and branches and reaching its maturity, all in a few minutes. The same method may be applied to many things other than plants. To this modification of the principle of moving pictures it has been considered necessary to give a new name -- the "phantoscope."

Monday, January 29, 2018

Harry Carey in The Phantom Riders -- January 29, 2018

Moving Picture World, 26-January-1918
John Ford directed Harry Carey in The Phantom Riders, which is thought to be lost.

Moving Picture World, 19-January-1918
"Universal intends to specialize in Harry Carey features, directed by Jack Ford..."

Saturday, January 27, 2018

El Comico Mas Gracioso Del Mundo -- January 27, 1918

Moving Picture World, January 26, 1918
Billy West closely imitated Charlie Chaplin in a long series of comedies for different studios. While Chaplin was making the excellent Mutual comedies, West was making imitations of Chaplin's Essanay comedies.

Moving Picture World, January 12, 1918
Billy West is a slave of the Sultan of Bacteria.

Moving Picture World, January 12, 1918
Moving Picture World, January 19, 1918
Like Charlie Chaplin, Billy West was a composer.  I wonder if anyone ever recorded "The King-Bee Waltzes."

Moving Picture World, January 12, 1918
Billy West's leading lady in "The Stranger" was Leatrice Joy.

Moving Picture World, January 19, 1918
The studio manager married the niece of the president of King-Bee.

Moving Picture World, January 19, 1918
"The Candy Kid" and "The Slave" reviewed.

Cine-Mundial, January, 1918
Billy West comedies were released in the Latin American market.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Tarzan of the Apes -- January 25, 2017

Moving Picture World, 05-January-1918
Tarzan first appeared in Tarzan of the Apes, serialized in All-Story Magazine in 1912.  The novel by American Edgar Rice Burroughs was published as a book in 1914.  The first film adaption was Tarzan of the Apes, released in 1918.
Elmo Lincoln, who had a huge chest, played Tarzan.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Sharon Tate 75 -- January 24, 2018
Actress Sharon Tate would have been 75 years old today.  She was born on 24-January-1943.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Harold Lloyd -- He Knows -- January 23, 2018

Moving Picture World, 05-January-1918
Harold Lloyd had been successfully appearing in the Lonesome Luke comedies for Hal Roach's Rolin since 1915. He felt dissatisfied with the unrealistic Luke, who had started as an imitation of Charley Chaplin, and looked for a new character. Lloyd came up with what he called the "Glass Character." This ad mentions Lonesome Luke, but by December, he had moved on from producing Lonesome Lukes and was only appearing as the character we know and love.

Moving Picture World, 12-January-1918
Meanwhile, Hal Roach was looking for new stars. He found the famous circus clown Toto, who was a Swiss man named Alfonso Novello. Toto came to the US during the war and was very successful in vaudeville. He was less successful in the movies.

Moving Picture World, 12-January-1918

"The Toto comedy is certain to make a particular appeal to children, and its humor is clean and inoffensive."  I imagine children might have been scared of Toto.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Conrad Veidt 125 -- January 22, 2018
Conrad Veidt was born 125 years ago today, on 22-January-1893.  He served on the Eastern Front during World War One.  He became ill and was hospitalized.  Eventually he was medically discharged.  He pursued a career in the theater, and soon started appearing in German movies.  He played many memorable parts.
He played Cesare the somnambulist in The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.
He played Gwynplaine in The Man Who Laughs.

Veidt opposed the Nazis.  When they came to power, he and his Jewish wife went to Britain.  Later they went to the United States.
He played Jaffar in The Thief of Baghdad.
He played Major Heinrich Strasser in Casablanca.

Soon after, Conrad Veidt died of a heart attack.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Including Three of the Funniest Charlie Chaplins -- January 21, 2018

Moving Picture World, 05-January-1918
Two years after Chaplin left, Essanay continued to re-release a Chaplin film every month.

Moving Picture World, 19-January-1918
Moving Picture World, 26-January-1918
This was the last movie where Chaplin played in drag.

Moving Picture World, 26-January-1918
Toronto patrons did not realize that a whole program of shorts including "historic Biographs" and Chaplin in an early Essanay, were all rereleases.

Moving Picture World, 05-January-1918
WH Productions, which had been rereleasing William S Hart (WH) and Douglas Fairbanks Triangle productions also rereleased Keystone comedies, including a selection of Charlie Chaplin films.

Moving Picture World, 19-January-1918
Chaplin was setting up his organization to produce new movies and release them through First National.  Alf Reeves, who had know Chaplin when they were both part of the Fred Karno organization, became Chaplin's production manager.

Moving Picture World, 26-January-1918
"How the Soldiers Came to Ask for Pictures" tells the story of how front line soldiers came to enjoy Chaplin's work while he was at Essanay.

Moving Picture World, 26-January-1918
We recently saw that Chaplin's favorite heavy, Eric Campbell was killed in an auto accident.  This article makes a correction.  Articles about the accident:

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Dorothy Malone, RIP -- January 20, 2017
Actress Dorothy Malone died.  I love her small part in The Big Sleep as the bookstore clerk who entertains Humphrey Bogart's Philip Marlowe on a rainy afternoon.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Cupid's Round Up -- January 19, 2018

Motion Picture World, 26-January-1918
Tom Mix had left the Selig Polyscope Corporation, where he made a series of short westerns, at the end of 1916.  Throughout 1917, he made short films for the Fox Film Corporation.  In January, 1918, Fox released his first feature film, Cupid's Roundup.  Tom Mix was on his way to becoming the biggest cowboy star in silent movies.

Motion Picture World, 05-January-1918
"...his first picture as a star in Western dramas..."

Motion Picture World, 19-January-1918
"The former comedian is cast this time as a rich man's son..."  Comedian?  There was a lot of comedy in the Selig films.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Every Pair of Eyes In Your Audience Will be Glued to the Screen... -- January 17, 2018

Motion Picture World, 12-January-1918
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.

Motion Picture World, 19-January-1918
"Every pair of eyes in your audience will be glued to the screen..."

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Broadway's Newest Photoplayhouse -- January 16, 2018

Moving Picture World, 05-January-1918
I have never seen the word "photoplayhouse" before.  Samuel Rothafel (changed from Rothapfel during the war to sound less German), known as "Roxy" owned and operated several theaters in New York.  The Roxy was his most famous.  The Rialto was torn down in 2002.  

Rivoli Opens to Public December 27 Description of Great Photoplay House Erected by Sol. Rothapfel
Last Word in Motion Picture Palaces

ON Thursday evening, December 27, the eyes of the amusement community will center with uncommonly keen interest at Broadway and Forty-ninth street, where the Rivoli, the latest and greatest of picture play theaters, will open in all its stately splendor and make its first bid for popular approval. The building of this superb structure proves beyond need for further discussion that the motion picture, artistically presented in conjunction with a program of high-class music, has become the most popular form of entertainment now being offered to the American public. In other words the Rivoli marks the triumph of what has come to be known as "the Rothapfel idea," for it goes almost without saying that S. L. Rothapfel, originator of that type of amusement associated with his name, will direct the destinies of the new institution.

As thousands of people who have noticed the classic façade of the Rivoli are already aware, it is with one exception the most imposing theatrical edifice in the city. Its Grecian purity of line, its towering columns, the finely modeled figures in the triangular pediment -- these and the gleaming, marble-like whiteness of it all assuredly give promise of something surpassingly beautiful within. Those who have seen the interior know that this promise will be more than fulfilled. To say that the general scheme of decoration is Italian Renaissance, that the dominant colors will be dull gold, ivory and black, that the carpet will be gray and the seats upholstered in tapestry conveys but an indifferent idea of what the architect and the decorator have accomplished. There always remains to be considered the enchantment which Mr. Rothapfel can weave over the place with his flexible system of illumination in color.

This method of handling color through a system of indirect lighting permits of effects in the Rivoli which are beyond the imagining of those who have not seen them. At the Rialto Mr. Rothapfel first essayed this particular form of wizardry, with results that were amazing, to say the least, but the lighting plant there was in a measure experimental. It was installed in a theater which was rebuilt as a motion picture house before the artistic value of Mr. Rothapfel's ideas on lighting had been demonstrated. Profiting by the popularity of the "color symphonies" for which the Rialto has become famous, the builders of the Rivoli took into consideration that feature from the outset, with the result that the place is equipped from floor to dome with all the wiring, the masked lamps, and other ingeniously concealed sources of light requisite to flood the auditorium with any color or combination of color desired.

Another and in this case an entirely novel feature of the Rivoli will be the introduction of perfume to supplement the appeal made to the other senses. Several thousand dollars have been expended on a newly devised compressor plant which operates in connection with an intricate system of atomizers and by means of which any delicate odor desired can be wafted instantly to all parts of the house; incense for oriental scenes, clover and new mown hay when the stage setting reveals a country landscape at dusk, a myriad variety of floral scents if a garden is to be suggested, and any other blending of odors so long as they be aesthetically possible and have a definite suggestive value.

In the way of stage setting and scenic effects, Mr. Rothapfel will have far greater scope for his ingenuity than he has had heretofore. For the opening of the theater the stage setting will be known as "The Conservatory of Jewels," a masterful creation from the Lee Lash Studios which promises to make even blasé Broadway open its eyes. It will consist of a dome within a dome, each studded with huge crystal gems after the manner of the celebrated Tower of Jewels at the Panama Pacific Exposition. These will flash with kaleidoscopic effect when the light plays upon them from in front and will glow softly in their several colors when another set of lights is brought into play behind them. The base of the inner dome will be incrusted with a fine jeweled mosaic, and at the rear of the scene the eye will be led away in perspective down a magnificent avenue of palms. The brightest jewel of all, of course, will be the screen, and this will be arranged so that it fits in as a component part of the stage picture. There will be two sets of curtains, a screen curtain and a tableau curtain, thus adding another innovation to houses of this character.

Pageant for Opening Week. 

The entertainment in the "Conservatory of Jewels" will be an elaborate variation of the combined program of music and motion pictures on which Mr. Rothapfel founded his reputation. For the opening week the introductory number will be a modified pageant which has been styled "The Victory of Democracy." This will enlist the services of Forrest Robinson, the actor, and Mary Lawton, dramatic reader, together with the full orchestra, a chorus of thirty voices, and a boy soprano. The verses for the spectacle have been prepared by Charles Keeler, of the Bohemian Club, San Francisco, in collaboration with Professor Brian Hooker, of Columbia University, widely known as an authority on history. The musical score is the result of collaboration on the part of Mr. Rothapfel and Hugo Riesenfeld, his musical director. Without disclosing too much concerning this number it may be said that it traces the progress of democracy in this country from the time the Pilgrim Fathers landed until the United States entered the present war to make the world safe for the principles on which the nation is founded.

The remainder of the program will be made up of selected soloists, film novelties of every sort, orchestral numbers, and a miniature ballet, each presented in a manner quite different from anything of the sort which has been attempted heretofore.

The feature picture which will comprise the second half of the Rivoli program during the opening week will be Douglas Fairbanks' latest Artcraft production, "Modern Musketeer." Fairbanks was the feature of the opening week at the Rialto; he was the chief attraction again on the Rialto's first anniversary bill last April, and now his latest comedy-drama has been chosen to open the Rivoli.

So far as music is concerned, interest in the new theater centers largely around the orchestra. Mr. Rothapfel announces that it will consist of approximately fifty musicians, under the general direction of Hugo Riesenfeld, though except on special occasions Dr. Riesenfeld will continue to conduct at the Rialto. Unusual interest has been stimulated by the announcement that once each week the orchestras of the Rivoli and the Rialto will be combined in what is to be known as the Rothapfel Symphony Orchestra, of a hundred or more pieces, which will render a popular symphony concert in the new theater.

The grand pipe organ at the Rivoli is the largest and most complete ever installed in any theater in the world. It was built by the Austin Organ Company, of Hartford. It is equipped with every attachment known to the organ builder's art and will supply adequate musical atmosphere for those performances at which the orchestra is not present.

Mr. Rothapfel has selected the following musicians to serve as his musical staff for the Rivoli and the Rialto: Hugo Riesenfeld, director in charge; Erno Rapee, Nat W. Finston and George Rubinstein, conductors; Arthur Depew, Uda Waldrop, Dr. A. G. Robyn and Professor Firmin Swinnen, organists; William Humiston and Edward Falck, composition and arrangements; M. Borodkin, librarian; Alfred Saenger, assistant librarian.

Eight Columns Striking Feature of Facade.

From an architectural point of view the Rivoli offers a number of novel features which will be of interest to theater builders and to the playgoing public in general. Viewed from Broadway it suggests an art museum or public library rather than a theater. The façade is constructed of an extremely light-colored stone, so light that when illuminated at night by the indirect lighting system which is to be employed it will have the effect of white marble. There will be no electric signs on the building above those used on the marquee to announce current attractions. Searchlights and arcs will be disposed in such a way as to throw the severe outlines of the building into bold relief.

The most striking feature of the façade is its row of eight towering Doric columns. These extend from a point above the level of the marquee clear up to the entablature, with nothing to relieve their severity save the leaded glass windows set into the wall behind them. Crowning the entire façade is the broad triangular pediment, adorned with sculptured figures in deep has relief. These figures are symbolical of music and the arts in general, as befits the nature of the entertainment offered within.
There is an Egyptian note in the slanting lines which frame the main entrance to the theater, but otherwise the scheme is pure Grecian. Credit for the architecture of the building goes to Thomas W. Lamb.

Coming to the interior construction of the Rivoli, the most novel and interesting feature is found in the elaborate precautions which have been taken to insure the expeditious handling of large crowds. Taking advantage of the fact that the building extends through the block from Broadway to Seventh avenue, the architect designed a series of superimposed passageways of generous width which parallel the auditorium on both sides and run straight through the structure from front to rear. Not only are the orchestra and mezzanine floors cared for in this manner but each cross aisle of the balcony has its own corridor as well, so that patrons in any part of the house will find themselves but a few steps from a doorway at which they can turn either to right or to left and pass directly to the street most convenient to them, without interference from incoming crowds.

This system of entrances and exits bears a marked resemblance to the one used in emptying the Coliseum at Rome of its eighty thousand occupants during the days of the gladiators, a process which historians say could be accomplished in from fifteen to twenty minutes.

Seating Capacity 2,500 Persons.

The whole structure is built with similar ideas of spaciousness. The lobby will hold three hundred people comfortably; the foyer is wide enough to give easy access to the orchestra seats; there will be an extensive promenade on the mezzanine, flanked by capacious lounging, smoking, and retiring rooms; and the auditorium itself will seat approximately 2,500 persons.

As an instance of the advanced ideas in theater equipment which have been embodied at the Rivoli it is worth noting that one room off the first mezzanine has been lined in white tile and fully equipped as an emergency hospital.

The Rivoli is extraordinarily well equipped with facilities for its musicians, its individual artists, its ushers, and its general staff. The musicians have a large lounging room to themselves, with locker room and shower baths adjoining. The dressing rooms have showers and there is another lounging room for the soloists and other individuals on the program. The ushers and the stage crew are cared for in like fashion, each in a separate portion of the building, so that no member of the huge organization will have the slightest excuse for being in any part of the theater where he does not belong. There is a communicating tunnel in the cellar which leads from the front of the house to that portion known as "back stage," thus permitting instant access from either end to the other without the necessity of passing through the auditorium or going out of doors.

The executive offices will be on the second mezzanine, at the front of the theater, excepting the office of the manager, which will be just off the orchestra floor.

Mr. Rothapfel's executive staff will' consist of the following: Hugo Riesenfeld, musical director; C. C. Stewart, manager; Hamish McLaurin; director of publicity; Edwin Mocsary, treasurer; Joseph La Rose, master of effects; Charles C. Reis, superintendent; Lester Bowen, chief operator; George Larbig, chief electrician, and Edward M. Berry, in command of ushers.

For those whose inclination runs toward figures it may be stated that the theater is 100 feet wide by an average depth of 138, and is 70 feet from the sidewalk to the peak of the pediment. It cost in the neighborhood of half a million dollars to construct and the job was completed in six months almost to the day. This is close to a record on this sort of construction.

In booking pictures for both the theaters Mr. Rothapfel will adhere to the open market system. His feature pictures will be the products of no one concern and his sole aim will be to get the best photodramatic production available for each house each week. The entertainment he will provide will be entirely institutional in any event, and it will be a case of going to the Rivoli to see the show -- not going to see a certain picture at the Rivoli.

With reference to giving the patron his money's worth, an idea of the sort of show Rothapfel has in mind for the Rivoli may be gleaned from the fact that the regular price of loge seats there will be $1. Prices for the other parts of the house will range from 30 to 60 cents, as at the Rialto, but for the first time in the history of motion picture presentation, an effort will be made to provide an entertainment of such superior quality that a dollar will be considered a reasonable price for the choice seats.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Ivor Novello 125 -- January 15, 2018
I think I first learned about Ivor Novello in Truffaut's Hitchcock.  I thought, what a funny name.  Later I saw Blackmail.  Novello was good as the potential serial killer.  Later I learned that Ivor Novello was not his original name.  Later I learned that he was a songwriter and I knew some of his songs.  He was born 125 years ago today, on 15-January-1893.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison -- January 13, 2018
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me."  (Matthew 35:36)

Fifty years ago today, on 13-January-1968, Johnny Cash and his band visited Folsom Prison in California and recorded one of the greatest live albums.
When Cash was in the Air Force, he saw the 1951 film Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison, directed by Crane Wilbur. He was inspired to write "Folsom Prison Blues," which combined two great genres of folk song, railroad songs and prison songs.  He recorded it for Sun Records in 1955 and had a hit.

After his career took a dive because of drug use, Cash cleaned up and made a comeback.  In 1968, he played two shows at the prison.  The album was a hit.
In 2008, Bestor Cram and Michael Streissguth produced a documentary about the recording.