Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Grace Bradley -- Halloween, 2018 -- October 31, 2018
Happy Halloween to all. Actress Grace Bradley was the wife of Hopalong Cassidey, William Boyd.
Grace Bradley starred with William Bendix in Taxi, Mister.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Prevent an Epidemic of Spanish Influenza -- 30-October-1918

Moving Picture World, 05-October-1918
The 1918 influenza pandemic killed 3-5% of the world's population. It was often called the Spanish Flu because Spain's newspapers were not censored as heavily as those in countries involved in the war. Many cities and states ordered movie theaters to close. This article offers some useful advice about avoiding the flu.

Film Daily, 13-October-1918
"By reason of the fact that a majority of theaters in the United States and Canada are closed the undersigned companies have decided to release no new or re-issued pictures for a period of four weeks..."

Moving Picture World, 12-October-1918
One unique feature of the 1918 flu was that it killed many healthy young people.  Flu is usually the hardest on the very young and the elderly.  Note that these two 25-year-old brothers were in an army camp.

Moving Picture World, 12-October-1918
Ralph Camp was 35.

Moving Picture World, 12-October-1918
New England theaters were ordered closed for 12 days.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Denounces Detractors of "Fatty" Arbuckle -- October 29, 2018

Exhibitors' Herald, 26-October-2018
"Any statements to the effect that Roscoe ("fatty") Arbuckle does not personally write and direct his own pictures are false."

Moving Picture World, 05-October-1918
Roscoe made a one reeler to promote Liberty Bonds to pay for the war.  I think Chaplin's "The Bond" is the only film of this type that survives.

Motion Picture News, 19-October-1918
Roscoe's western, "The Sheriff," was made while Buster Keaton was in the army.

Motion Picture Magazine, October, 1918
An unusually dapper portrait of Buster's nephew and co-star, Al St John.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Teresa Wright 100 -- October 27, 2018

Beautiful actress Teresa Wright was born 100 years ago today, on 27-October-1918.  She appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt and William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Baby Peggy 100 -- October 26, 2018

Motion Picture Magazine, November, 1924
Child star Baby Peggy Montgomery was born 100 years ago today, on 26-October-1918.  She is still with us today and is called Diana Serra Cary.  She may be our only remaining silent movie star.  Her father cleverly blew all the money that she had earned in movies.

She went on to live a productive life, writing for radio shows and later writing books.  I read her book The Hollywood Posse many years ago and did not realize the author's earlier identity.

Happy birthday, Diana Serra Cary.  I hope you have many more.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Wolves of Kultur -- October 25, 2018

Moving Picture World, 05-October-1918
Those of us who used to receive the "Blackhawk Bulletin," a monthly catalogue of movies offered for sale by Blackhawk Films, will remember ads for the serial Wolves of Kultur, starring Leah Baird.   "What Does Kultur Mean?" asks this ad.  "Kultur" is German for "Culture."  One of the war aims of the German Empire was to spread its culture.

Moving Picture World, 19-October-1918
Notice that the producers or the distributor went to the expense of printing the ads on yellow paper.

I have never seen the serial.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Fifth of the Four Marx Brothers -- October 23, 2018
Everyone remembers Groucho, Harpo and Chico.  Some people remember Zeppo.  The firth Marx Brother, Gummo, whose given name was Milton, was born 125 years ago today, on 23-October-1893.  Gummo was the first brother to appear on stage, and the first to quit, when he joined the Army during World War One.  Zeppo replaced him in the act.  Gummo went into the clothing business and then became a theatrical agent. The article is from the 13-August-1933 Washington Star

Fifth Marx Brother.

SUDDENLY out of the nowhere into Hollywood has come "Gummo" Marx, the fifth of the famous four Marx brothers. Gummo, it seems, was one of the original quartet, but for some strange reason decided he liked the clothing business better. He pulled up stakes from the team and became a merchant. Zeppo filled in for him. Now Gummo has returned to the fold to act as business adviser for his brothers, who are busily engaged in making their latest film, "Duck Soup."

Incidentally, it is reported that Harpo Marx has shaved his head, adopted a cane and monocle and decided to call himself Harpo von Marx, on account he insists he resembles Erich von Stroheim.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Catherine Deneuve 75 -- October 22, 2018
Beautiful French actress Catherine Deneuve was born 75 years ago today, on 22-October-1943. She still works.  I can't remember how many of her movies I have seen in theaters.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Dachshund Gets Licked by Three Allied Pups -- October 21, 2018

Moving Picture World, 26-October-1918
Henry (Pathé) Lehrman started out at Biograph, then went to Keystone with Mack Sennett, then left Sennett to found L-KO (Lehrman Knock-Out) Komedies. He left L-KO to produce Sunshine Comedies for Fox. Sunshine Comedies frequently featured pretty girls and lions.  "Mongrels" had no lions or pretty girls, just dogs.  The story of a German dachshund attacking a French poodle, who gets rescued by a British bulldog and an American terrier, was an allegory of the war.

Moving Picture World, 26-October-1918
"A dachshund, wearing a Hun helmet, comes along, crosses the line and attacks the poodle."

Moving Picture World, 05-October-1918
Bud Fisher's Mutt and Jeff was the most popular comic strip in America for many years. Augustus Mutt and Jeff had many timely adventures. The cartoon in this ad, "Bulling the Bolsheviki," has the boys in Russian during the revolution.  The ad also promotes Fox Sunshine Comedies.

Moving Picture World, 26-October-1918
I have never seen the term "bomb inhalers" before.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Mary Miles Minter in Rosemary Climbs the Heights -- October 19, 2018

Moving Picture World, 19-October-1918
"Dainty Mary Miles Minter has firmly established in the hearts of the fans."

Film Daily, 13-October-1918
"Follow the lead of such exhibitors as Marcus Loew, Turner and Dahnken, Ruben and Finkelstein." 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Rita Hayworth 100 -- October 17, 2018
Beautiful actress, dancer and singer Rita Hayworth was born 100 years ago today, on 17-October-1918. Her name was Margarita Cansino. She began performing in the family's dance act at an early age. At Columbia Pictures, she became a big star and a popular pin-up. She made some very interesting movies including The Lady From Shanghai, with her husband Orson Welles, Gilda and Blood and Sand.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Harry Pollard, Bebe Daniels, Harold Lloyd -- October 15, 2018

Moving Picture World, 05-October-1918
100 years ago this month, there was a dearth of Harold Lloyd items in the trade papers.  This triptych has Snub Pollard, Bebe Daniels and Harold Lloyd in the center.  On the other two panels, we see comedian Smiling Bill Parsons.  I have never seen any of his movies.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Lillian Gish 125 -- October 14, 2018

Photoplay, August, 1917
Actress Lillian Gish was born 125 years ago today, on 13-October-1893. I remember when she was still appearing in movies.
Lillian Gish and her sister Dorothy started making movies directed by DW Griffith at the Biograph company.  They both became famous, and Lillian Gish is considered one of the greatest actresses of all time.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Robert Walker 100 -- October 13, 2018
Actor Robert Walker was born 100 years ago today, on 13-October-1918.  He usually played nice guys, as in The Sailor Takes a Wife with June Allyson.
But he may be best remembered as the evil/crazy Bruno Antony in Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train.

He died at 32 in strange circumstances.

Friday, October 12, 2018

1492, Conquest of Paradise -- October 12, 2018
Happy Columbus Day, everyone.  In 1992, for the 500th anniversary of the discovery, two major studios released movies about Christopher Columbus.

Alexander and Ilya Salkind produced Christopher Columbus: The Discovery:

Director Ridley Scott made 1492: Conquest of Paradise.  Gérard Depardieu played Columbus.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Charles Chaplin, Second Million Dollar Comedy -- October 11, 2018

Moving Picture World, 26-October-1918
Chaplin's second release through First National, "Shoulder Arms," turned out to be one of his most popular movies at the time.  World War One was a hot topic. "In his only newly movie since 'A Dog's Life.'"  Take that, Essanay.

Moving Picture World, 12-October-1918
"Pre-Release Date October 20th/Regular Release Date October 27th."

Moving Picture World, 19-October-1918
Charlie and his mates in a soggy dugout.  This was a common image of life in the trenches.

Exhibitors Herald, 12-October-1918
Charlie and the trench.

Moving Picture World, 26-October-1918
Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance behind German lines.

Film Daily, 20-October-1918
"For Release in Your Locality as Soon as Conditions Permit."

Moving Picture World, 05-October-1918
",,, to be Published as a Three-Reeler."  You don't usually see the term "published" used for a movie.
Moving Picture World, 19-October-1918
"Here's the Story of Chaplin's 'Shoulder Arms.'"

Moving Picture World, 05-October-1918

Explains Reason for Irregular Releases and Proves His Production Plan the Best to Insure Perfect Comedies

"RUMORS and alleged authentic statements that dissension, politics, dissatisfaction and other difficulties have been responsible for the intermittent release of Chaplin comedies are answered in a statement issued this week from the offices of the First National Exhibitors' Circuit, which carries an explanation from Mr. Chaplin of the exact conditions under which he is working and the policy that actuates his production efforts.

"It was made plain by First National officials that the statement was not prompted by any interest in the text of those few of the hundreds of rumors constantly in circulation which relate directly to Chaplin comedies, but that it was issued for the purpose of making known to exhibitors the protection afforded them under their contracts by the very infrequency of Chaplin re- leases. First National officers declare that there is no difficulty attached to making footage for Chaplin releases. The difficulty is in making footage for Chaplin comedies.

"Under the terms of his contract Mr Chaplin is to make a total of eight comedies. No definite dates of delivery for each subject are specified. This contract became operative last year. Figured on the basis of ordinary comedy production for two or three reel subjects the eight productions could have been made and delivered in four months, averaging tw0 weeks of studio work for each.

"When Mr. Chaplin signed his contract he had just started the construction work on his new studio. This structure he had especially designed for comedy work, and in it he had provided for every improvement and facility which would contribute to the quality of his productions. Many of his ideas for mechanical and technical equipment are innovations.

The suggestion was made to Mr. Chaplin that he rent another studio pending the completion of his own, and begin work at once on the initial comedy This he declined to do, with the explanation that he knew the facilities of his studio would contribute to a much higher quality in his first production than he could get by making it elsewhere. As a consequence he did not begin "A Dog's Life" until late in February, and this was despite the fact that the continuity for it was prepared in rough draft early in January.

"This was a forerunner of the policy which has marked his work since then. Quantity and speed have been sacrificed to quality, with an attendant monetary loss to Chaplin which, if made known, would seem unbelievable.

Pride in the quality of his comedies has outweighed every other consideration. Letters from exhibitors, requesting a greater output have each met with the same response: 'Each Chaplin release has got to have in it the very best work of which I am capable. Comedy situations are much more difficult to work up than the action of dramatic scenes. There is no trick in grinding out scenes that might be called amusing, but to get real laughs and actual humor out of situations demands study, the utmost concentration and eternal experimenting.

"'No one knows better than I do how simple it would be to just grind a camera crank and turn out footage which would constitute a release. The problem in producing successful pictures is no longer one of an output made to meet a regular releasing schedule. That system demands that quality be sacrificed to time and speed. The release date must be met. Half the picture is finished. It is full of good material. It has taken time to produce. Now it must be hurried. The last half of the picture is jammed through hastily. The subject is released on schedule. But is that system fair to the exhibitor? Does it benefit the producer or the star?

"'The public pays its money to be entertained. It demands, as a right, the utmost that the star, the cast, the director and the producer can give in ability, intelligence and entertainment value. When a production falls short of this standard, when it docs not represent every ounce of energy' and enthusiasm of which those responsible for it are capable, then it becomes a burden to the exhibitor. His audience is quick to recognize lack of value. They blame him directly, because it reflects both on his judgment and his sincerity. The star is the next to share the blame. Popularity decreases. And the exhibitor pays the penalty in loss of valuable patronage. He suffers the most.

"'I suppose I could take the first 'shots' of all my scenes and assemble them into releases, saving time, money and effort, but theatre-goers would not see the best that I can do. There is hardly a scene made at the studio that is not rehearsed a dozen times. Very often the final rehearsal will develop a suggestion or an idea for a greatly superior situation, and where only a smile would have resulted from the original action, we make a revision that is certain to bring a hearty laugh.

"'This constant effort to improve every bit of action, to be satisfied that it cannot be made stronger or funnier, is the supreme obligation of every star and producer.

"'I want to be absolutely content that Chaplin comedies contain the very best of my ability, and I won't sanction their release under any other condition. Then I know that the public is going to be entertained and satisfied, that the exhibitor will make money, and that I am not going to be accused of trading on a name to the loss of any threatre owner who books my productions.

"'I would release only one picture in a year if the others I attempted did not measure up to my own personal standard, but that one would have to be right, or it would be shelved. I would be better off with no releases, and the good will of the American public and exhibitors than I would with a score of subjects booking, with any one of them meriting criticism.'

"Directors of the First National Exhibitors' Circuit cite Chaplin's last release. 'A Dog's Life,' as an example of his policy of giving the best of which he is capable. More satisfaction has been expressed over its supreme entertainment value, the novelty and originality of the scores of humorous situations than has characterized any previous Chaplin release of which they can find records. "Exhibitor-directors of First National have encouraged Chaplin in his policy of no releases until he is satisfied that they will be good ones. The result has been that 'Shoulder Arms,' the next Chaplin comedy, now completed, has been months, instead of weeks, in the making. Every scene and every situation in it has had Mr. Chaplin's personal attention. Each of them, with the seemingly infinite possibilities that the action of the story suggests for laughable results, has been worked over repeatedly until the famous comedian was satisfied that there was nothing more that he could do to improve it. "'We believe.' said one of the First National officials, 'that Mr. Chaplin's determination to make quality the master principle in his producing is an epoch in the manufacturing branch of the business of an importance equal to some of the recent evolutions in the exhibiting and distributing departments of the industry. "'He has kept his own counsel for months, rather than to commit himself to a statement of what was about to happen. He preferred instead to put his conclusions into practice, leaving to self-styled wiseacres the apparently welcome task of assigning a score or more of erroneous reasons for the completion of only two comedies since he signed his contract with us. Now he has proven, by nine months of activity, that he is really sincere, and that his decision is not a thing for the future, but that it is for the past as well at the present and future.'"

Moving Picture World, 05-October-1918
Chaplin produced "The Bond" to support the sale of Liberty Bonds to support the war effort.

Moving Picture World, 12-October-1918
Rothacker Film Manufacturing Company, which produced prints for exhibition, boasted of three First National movies it had handled, incluing "Shoulder Arms."

Moving Picture World, 05-October-1918
Meanwhile back at Essanay, they were touting their cut and paste job "Triple Trouble" with the line "Look at this new Chaplin picture yourself."

Motion Picture News, 12-October-1918
Pat Sullivan's studio made the animated "How Charlie Captured the Kaiser." Otto Messmer did most of the work.