Saturday, March 31, 2018

See It at Your Exchange. Laugh At It Yourself. Then Pass the Good Thing Along -- March 31, 2018

Motion Picture World, 30-March-1918
"The Bell Boy" was a hilarious two-reeler starring Roscoe Arbuckle, his nephew Al St John and his friend Buster Keaton. I wrote about half the movie for a blogathon in 2015. Some day I shall have to write about the other half:
Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton in "The Bell Boy"

Motion Picture World, 30-March-1918
Roscoe visited the Marine Barracks at Mare Island, a naval base near Vallejo.  He demonstrated his considerable athletic ability.

Motion Picture World, 30-March-1918
"The Bell Boy" got a good review from Motion Picture World.

Motion Picture World, 02-March-1918
Charlie Chaplin visited fellow Keystone alumnus Roscoe Arbuckle, who was making short comedies at the Balboa Studio in Long Beach. "Charlie Chaplin says he remembers when he used to bounce Buster Keaton around on his knee..." This is unlikely, but they did know each other.  Lou Anger introduced Buster to Roscoe.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Zoetrope -- March 30, 2018

Scientific American, 03-April-1869

from The Dictionary of Photography for Amateur and Professional Photographers By Edward John Wall, 1902.

Zoetrope. The application of photography to the Zoetrope —or wheel of life—is no new thing, as over twenty years ago Mr. Baden Pritchard made a series of photographs of a steam-engine, moving it forward a little between the taking of each picture; and when the series was viewed in the zoetrope, there was produced a most realistic appearance of the steam engine in motion. We must, however, go back much farther than this for the first idea of the lantern or projection zoetrope, something of the kind having been patented by Jundzill in 1856; but we believe the first exhibition of animated photographs on the screen in London was in 1882, when Muybridge exhibited the horse in motion at the Royal Institution. About the beginning of 1896 exhibitions of animated photographs on the screen became suddenly popular, and almost every maker of apparatus for this purpose gave a new and strange name to his particular form of the lantern or projection zoetrope. In the modern forms the series of negatives is taken on a long band of celluloid at the rate of about 900 per minute. A band of positives is printed from this by rolling the negative band and a band of coated celluloid together so that they shall run in contact in front of a source of light; and the exhibition is effected by means of a lantern, which automatically unrolls the positive band, and projects each photograph in succession upon the screen. For further information on this subject, see CINEMATOGRAPH.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Eric Idle 75 -- March 29, 2018
Happy 75th birthday to Eric Idle, Brave Sir Robin, Ratty, Dirk Ruttle and the marriage counsellor.  He loves playing with language and he composed many of the best Monty Python songs, including "The Philosophers' Song" and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," which he sang at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Blue Blazes Rawden -- March 27, 2018

Moving Picture World, 16-March-1918
William S Hart was an experienced stage actor who was fascinated with the American west.  He often played what became known as the Good-Bad Man.  In Blue Blazes Rawdon, Hart played a hell-raising lumberjack who reformed when he met the mother of a man he killed.  Hart was in the midst of a series of successful movies produced by Artcraft and released by Paramount.

Motion Picture Magazine, March, 1903
"Why did Bill Hart laugh?"  He didn't laugh much in his movies.

Moving Picture World, 23-February-1918
An interesting outfit called WH Productions was rereleasing Hart's old Triangle productions, along with Mack Sennet Keystone comedies.  The Hart features and shorts were often rereleased under other names.

Motion Picture News, 30-March-1918
Bill Hart was not going to stand for that.  He published a letter stating that he had nothing to do with the company.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Here's a Spring Tonic That Will Cure the Blues Instantly -- March 25, 2018

Moving Picture World, 09-March=-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. When Chaplin moved on to First National distribution, Billy West was still making comedies for King-Bee. That is a big spoon.

Moving Picture World, 09-March=-1918
I think that is Oliver Hardy sitting at the left front.

Moving Picture World, 23-March=-1918

"... on Sunday a total of seventy-eight prints of the fourteen different King-Bee comedies were played in greater New York."

Moving Picture World, 23-March=-1918

Arvid E Gillstrom, a native of Sweden, directed over one hundred short comedies between 1915 and 1934.

Moving Picture World, 23-March=-1918
In the greater New York area, the Bee Hive Exchange released King Bee comedies.  Great name.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Alice Guy-Blaché 50 Years -- March 24, 2018
50 years ago, on 24-March-1968, Alice Guy-Blaché died.  I wasn't very old, but I don't think I would have heard about it if I had been considerably older.  She was largely forgotten until some time later.
Alice Guy-Blaché was the head of production for the Gaumont company from 1897 to 1907. If she was not the first movie director, she was one of the first.

She directed hundreds of movies, ranging from actualities and one of the many serpentine dances recorded by different companies in 1897, to single-scene comic bits and vaudeville turns, to 1905 sound-on-disc Chronophones to a 1906 33 minute life of Christ, to developed dramatic stories. Alice Guy married Herbert Blaché and moved to America, where she directed for Gaumont, then started her own company, Solax.

The first disc of the Gaumont Treasures set features the films of Alice Guy-Blaché. 

Alice Guy-Blaché stopped directing in 1919.  She divorced Herbert in 1922 and returned to France. 

She returned to the US in 1964 to live with her daughter.  She died in New Jersey. 

Ten years after she died, I heard and read her name in an introduction to film class, but there was very little information about her and we didn't see any of her movies.  Over the last twenty years or so, scholars and archivists have dug up much more information about her.

Motion Picture News, 29-January-1916
Moving Picture World, 28-March-1914
"Staged under the personal direction of Alice Blaché."

Friday, March 23, 2018

Tarzan of the Apes Is a Mastodonic Monopoly -- March 23, 2018

Moving Picture World, 09-March-1918

"7 people out of 8 in your city have read the story and await the film."

Moving Picture World, 23-March-1918

"Rights to Orient, Japan, Australia and South America have been disposed of."  "Disposed of"?

Moving Picture World, 23-March-1918
 "First National reports that eighty prints will be necessary."

Moving Picture World, 30-March-1918
"'Tarzan of the Apes' is a mastodonic monopoly embracing all that the mind of man can possibly conceive, suggest or imagine." 

Moving Picture World, 30-March-1918
I think the story implies that this is Broadway in Manhattan, but it doesn't look wide enough to me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Harold Lloyd Vists New York -- March 21, 2018

Moving Picture World, 30-March-1918
Harold Lloyd left the studio where he was producing one film a week to visit Pathé executives.  "It's a Wild Life" was a short with Harold as the Glass Character.

Moving Picture World, 02-March-1918

Moving Picture World, 16-March-1918

Moving Picture World, 23-March-1918
Meanwhile, back at Rolin, Hal Roach was trying to play up Toto as his new great comedian.  It didn't work out.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Chaplin's First Million Dollar Comedy Nearly Finished! -- March 19, 2018

Moving Picture World, 02-March-1918
A cartoon imagines Chaplin working on his first movie for First National release.  The director is tied to a stake.  Chaplin was directing himself.  Copycats and imitators spy on him with a periscope, a balloon and an airplane.  Note that it shows five cameras.  Below is a long line of exhibitors waiting to sign up to book the movie.  The safe in the round insert hold Chaplin's million dollars.

Moving Picture World, 09-March-1918
Chaplin was working to finish "A Dog's Life."  His brother Sydney said the movie would be delivered two weeks later than expected but that "the great daily expense under which they now operate would have spurred them to the completion of the first picture before this time were it not for Charlie's determination to give the circuit a picture of real quality regardless of expense."  That is the Charlie Chaplin that we know.

Moving Picture World, 16-March-1918
"Of the story it may be said that it is of a nature entirely different from anything the star has heretofore attempted, and not alone will his comedy antics provoke outbursts of joy, but he has also added touches of pathos similar to those evidenced in 'Easy Street' and 'The Vagabond.'"

"Following the first release it is planned to issue a Chaplin subject on an average of about every six weeks until the eight comedies, as contracted for, will have been released."  It didn't quite work out that way.

Moving Picture World, 23-March-1918
Chaplin chose to incorporate his new studio.  "In regard to extra production at the Chaplin studio, Syd Chaplin, who is Charlie's manager, stated that it was possible, if a good dramatic story were offered to the new corporation, Mr. Chaplin might act as its producer, though there was nothing definite at present in the matter."

Moving Picture World, 23-March-1918
Moving Picture World, 30-March-1918
Another cartoon tells the tale of two theaters in a town.  Everyone rushes to the theater showing "A Dog's Life."

Moving Picture World, 30-March-1918
The Strand Theater in San Francisco paid $3500 to run "A Dog's Life" for two weeks after it played at the Hippodrome.  I don't think this was the same theater as the current Strand, which houses a second stage for the American Conservatory Theater.

Moving Picture World, 30-March-1918
"Texas has been eagerly waiting for the new production."

Moving Picture World, 02-March-1918
Essanay continued to rerelease Chaplin's comedies.  I recently saw "The Tramp" again.  The ad also mentions "Essanay's New Laugh Makers."  "Wild Algy of Piccadilly" doesn't sound like much of a laugh maker.

Moving Picture World, 16-March-1918
"Essanay Comedies Will Keep Your Patrons Roaring With Laughter."  I'm not sure about that.

Moving Picture World, 23-March-1918
This article says that the Essanay rereleases are doing well.  It is illustrated with a still from Chaplin's first film for Essanay, "His New Job."  I notice that it doesn't mention that Gloria Swanson was Chaplin's leading lady, or that Ben Turpin was his co-star.

Moving Picture World, 30-March-1918
This ad features a photo from Chaplin's first film for Essanay, "His New Job."  "The Final Word in Comedies is Essanay Made."  I don't understand that sentence.  "Essanay Made" is not a word, it is a phrase.  "The Jazbo Sheriff" -- what could that be about?  The IMDB doesn't offer much help.  

Moving Picture World, 09-March-1918
Jeanie MacPherson wrote many of Cecil B DeMille's movies.  I wonder if the butler who hit Chaplin with a pie was Buster Keaton.  He often impersonated a clumsy waiter at dinner parties.  

Moving Picture World, 09-March-1918
The Income Tax was fairly new in the United States.  The Sixteenth Amendment, which was adopted in 1913, allowed the Federal Government to begin collecting it.  Chaplin didn't pay as much as some actors because he was between contracts for part of the year.  

Moving Picture World, 16-March-1918
King Baggot was not King Baggot, Jr's favorite actor.  

Moving Picture World, 23-March-1918
"Some Useless Statistics."  

Moving Picture World, 02-March-1918

And finally, Chaplin visited fellow Keystone alumnus Roscoe Arbuckle, who was making short comedies at the Balboa Studio in Long Beach.  Buster Keaton was appearing in Arbuckle's Comique comedies.  "Charlie Chaplin says he remembers when he used to bounce Buster Keaton around on  his knee..."  This is unlikely, but they did know each other.  

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Tom Mix Puts on Dress Suit -- March 15, 2018

Moving Picture World, 09-March-2018

Tom Mix, wearing some fancy duds, poses at the Fox studio with director Lynn Reynolds.  Reynold killed himself in 1927.  

Moving Picture World, 30-March-2018
In Western Blood, Tom Mix played a cowboy who went about his business in a dress suit.  Fish out of water stories like this made popular westerns.

Moving Picture World, 02-March-2018
Last month we saw an ad for Six Shooter Andy: