Sunday, March 31, 2019

Love-Joy Scenes -- March 31, 2019

Moving Picture World, 01-March-1919
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.

Moving Picture World, 22-March-1919
The Wishing Ring Man was based on a novel by Margaret Widdemer.

Moving Picture World, 08-March-1919
"Would you Call These Love-Joy Scenes? Yes, if you were a man wishing to ring in the star of Vitagraph's 'Wishing Ring Man,' with lovely Bessie Love in the joyous role of 'Joy.'"

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Agnès Varda, RIP -- March 30, 2019
Director Agnès Varda has died.  She had a lot of influence on the women's movement and the Nouvelle Vague. She was married to director Jacques Demy.  She made dramatic films and documentaries.  I have learned from every one of her movies that I have seen.

Friday, March 29, 2019

How Fatty Arbuckle Makes "Love" -- March 29, 2019

Moving Picture World, 08-March-1919
Buster Keaton had not yet returned from the Army.  Roscoe Arbuckle and Al St John continued to produce comedies for Comique in California.

"Roscoe of the Movies in New York for a Week-End After Signing a New Paramount- Arbuckle Contract — Tells of Latest Comedv With the Romantic Title
"By Edward Weitzel

"IN one way Roscoe of the Movies is a disappointment. He keeps all of his comedy for his pictures. During an hour's interview with him he did nothing to uphold his reputation as one of the leading funny men of the screen. He leaned against a desk in a corner office at the Paramount and talked as soberly and sensibly of his plans and his work as might the head of a steel corporation. Before many minutes his listeners began to understand why it took more time and money to make one of his two-reel comedies than are required to complete the average five-part serious drama.

"Hard mental application and days of preparation are necessary to produce a piece of business that may not run a minute. The story is written as Scenarist-Director-Actor Arbuckle thinks up a new bit of the comic-continuity and tries it this way and that and starts all over again and tries it another way and four or five other ways and then throws them all away and thinks up something new.

"Such a steady course of close brain-work doesn't leave a man much time to be funny in a casual off-hand way for the amusement of chance callers. That is why he is glad to relax occasionally and have other persons do funny things to make him laugh. So he has run on from Kansas City for a week end in Times Square and a visit to as many smart shows along Broadway as can be taken in before he starts back for the Coast on Sunday.

"Arbuckle Renews Contract.

"'How did you come to make your start from Kansas City instead of Los Angeles?' Roscoe Arbuckle was asked.

"'It was an after thought,' was the reply. 'My old contract with the Paramount was about up and Joseph M. Schenck, my manager, and Lou Anger, my personal representative, met Adolph Zukor at the Mouhlbach Hotel, in Kansas City, last Saturday, and signed a new contract and I was taken along to keep me out of mischief. The business was completed in short order and everyone was so pleased with the terms of the contract that the New York members of the deal insisted upon dragging me back with them for a play spell.'

"'He didn't need much urging,' put in Personal Manager Anger. "And I don't mind saying for Mr. Arbuckle, who is a painfully modest man, that the new contract is the largest one ever signed by Mr. Zukor for an individual artist. It covers a period of three years and involves over three million dollars."

Comedian Pays Tribute to Associate.

"A large American flag floating from a tall flagpole in front of the Public Library changed the conversation to the wonderful parades that have passed up Fifth Avenue during the war and since the boys have started to come home.

"'Where's 'Buster' Keaton?' the stout comedian was asked.

"'Still over in France, waiting to be sent back. We are making every effort to get him started. It is utterly impossible to replace him. To my mind, 'Buster' is the coming comedian of the movies and will be a very successful star.'

"'I'll wager he is a great favorite with his company.

"'He can entertain them, all right. By the way, he had a funny experience, or rather his drill squad did, when 'Buster' first joined the army. He was eager and anxious to learn but knew just as little about handling a gun and about military tactics as the rest of the rookies. In going through the drill he unconsciously put in some of the funny steps and movements with which he was accustomed to burlesque military exercises. Everyone knew who he was and nothing but military discipline kept him from breaking up the show. When off duly he was the best entertainer in camp, with his ukelele solos and his stock of natural comedy. We'll all be glad to get him back again.

Yes, Luke Is a Regular Actor.

"'How about the four-footed member of your company — you must pay him an enormous salary to make him such a willing worker.

"'My dog! Oh, he's a true artist and works for pure love of his art.'

"'What part of his art does he love best?

"'Biting Al St. John and 'Buster' Keaton.'

"'Do you have any trouble teaching him his share of the business?'

"'Very little. The only thing is to prevent him from overdoing it. Both boys wear stout leather union suits when there is to be a mix-up with the dog, and the instant they start to run he darts after them without being told. In the picture where he jumps off the pier we didn't bother about rehearsing him. It was a thirty-foot drop, but the instant one of the actors jumped he was right after him. It must have hurt when the dog struck the water, but he was always game for the next jump.'

"'That must have been a difficult scene to photograph,' remarked Publicity Promoter Peter Smith.

Is Careful About Risks.

"'Well,' explained the comedian, 'it took us two days to get the camera rigged so that we could shoot the jumps, and you know how many minutes the scene lasts. One reason why it takes so much time and expense is because we are obliged to guard against accident. We cannot afford to take any unnecessary chances of the actors getting hurt. There is enough risk that cannot be avoided, as it is.'

"The next question asked the comedian sounded like an attempt to pry into his private affairs :

"'Do you mind telling, Mr. Arbuckle, how you made 'Love'?'

The expected blush did not appear on the face of the man who has shown how Bill Hart was a maiden when he burlesqued him in "The Sheriff."

"'You mean my new picture? — some subject, isn't it?'

"'To tell in two reels ! — it certainly is. You're the hero, of course?'

Admits He Is There With Strong Arm Stuff.

"'Oh, yes ! I may not be as handsome as some of the other screen lady-killers, but I can be just as brave and hold the heroine in my arms just as long as the best of them.'

"'What kind of a hero are you? A cowboy hero?'

"'No, a farmhand hero who is in love with the farmer's daughter on the next farm. I have a rival, a rich young chap played by Al St. John, and he almost beats me to it in the tying of the wedding knot. But true love conquers in screen comedies — when the hero writes his own scenario — and I put one over on the wealthy youth by a trick, and marry the bride five minutes before he expects to make her his own wife. I'll not explain how the trick is worked, but it contains a lightning change act that I'm rather proud of.'

"'One more personal question, Mr. Arbuckle. Has your past experience made you competent to do justice to the subject? In other words, what do you know about making love?'

"'Everything. I've been making it all my life.'"

Moving Picture World, 01-March-1919

Moving Picture World, 15-March-1919

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Captain Kidd, Jr -- March 27, 2019

Moving Picture World, 29-March-1919
Mary Pickford was finishing her last contract with Artcraft for Famous Players-Lasky.  Soon she would independently produce four movies for First National distribution.  Then she would begin to release through the new United Artists.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Three Hearty Laughs, Two Snickers and One Chuckle to Each Minute -- March 25, 2019

Moving Picture World, 15-March-1919
100 years ago this month, this trade ad showed Harold Lloyd and his leading lady Bebe Daniels.

Moving Picture World, 01-March-1919
"One a week beginning March 9th."

Moving Picture World, 15-March-1919
I don't say this very often, but I have no idea what this caption means.

Moving Picture World, 22-March-1919
"Look Out Below" was Harold Lloyd's first thrill picture.

Moving Picture World, 15-March-1919
This is the first time I have seen the phrase "breath-retarding."

Moving Picture World, 22-March-1919
Harold and Bebe pose in the snow.

Moving Picture World, 22-March-1919
President Wilson returned from the peace conference aboard the USS George Washington.  He watched several movies, including five with Harold Lloyd and company.

Moving Picture World, 29-March-1919
"One reel comedy every week."

Moving Picture World, 29-March-1919
We don't see the term "dry goods store" much nowadays.  Think department store.

Moving Picture World, 29-March-1919
"A Sammy in Siberia" was set during the Allied intervention in Siberia during the Russian Civil War.

Moving Picture World, 22-March-1919
The Rolin Studio was in the Bradbury Mansion, on Bunker Hill.  The best way to get there was by riding the funicular Court Flight.

A circa-1930 view of Court Flight, showing the sandwich shop which provided additional revenue to the line. Digitally reproduced by the USC Digital Archive (c) 2004, Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, 1860-1960, CHS-M8486. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Amusing Scene from "The Chauffeur" -- March 23, 2019

Moving Picture World, 01-March-1919
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. We have seen him move from King-Bee to Bull's Eye.

Moving Picture World, 01-March-1919
Leo White appeared in many of Chaplin's Essanay and Mutual movies, usually playing a French count or some other European.  He lost some teeth to an accident on the set of a Billy West film.

Moving Picture World, 22-March-1919
There is no picture of Billy West in this Bulls Eye ad.

Motion Picture News, 22-March-1919
Despite this announcement, I couldn't find any record of Mack Swain working with Billy West. Swain is best remembered today as Big Jim McKay in Chaplin's The Gold Rush.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Four Star Chaplins! -- March 21, 2019

Moving Picture World, 08-March-1919
100 years ago this month, in March, 1919, Essanay was trying to squeeze money out of its Chaplin films. Note that this ad touts new prints, which makes me think that the old prints were already worn out.

Moving Picture World, 01-March-1919
The new prints were doing well.

Moving Picture World, 08-March-1919
Moving Picture World, 22-March-1919
The reissued films were showing in first run theaters.

Moving Picture World, 15-March-1919
When President Woodrow Wilson sailed back from the Peace Conference in Paris, one of the movies shown was Chaplin's Mutual, "The Adventurer."

Moving Picture World, 01-March-1919
Chaplin cancelled a planned trip to Europe, hoping to quickly finish his films for First National release so he could start making movies for United Artists.

Moving Picture World, 01-March-1919
 A huge crowd of soldiers wanting to see "Shoulder Arms" blocked the path of the manager and ticket seller to the box office of an Iowa movie theater.  An officer saved the day by ordering the men to attention and putting them in two lines.  The manager said there were 740 soldiers in the lines.

Moving Picture World, 08-March-1919
Chaplin posed with his good friend Douglas Fairbanks in some sort of cycle car.

Moving Picture World, 08-March-1919
Chaplin's wife Mildred Harris left for New York.  "Chaplin, who intends to finish the comedies yet to be made for First National Exhibitors in record time, did not accompany his wife, but may join her later and return to Los Angeles with her."

Moving Picture World, 08-March-1919
The Post Theater at Camp Greenleaf near Chickamauga Park, Georgia, showed Shoulder Arms all day.  The theater was packed the whole time.

Moving Picture World, 15-March-1919
World Films offered to book "Shoulder Arms" and The Better 'Ole, a British production based on Bruce Bairnsfather's stories about trench life which featured Old Bill. This production was made in Britain and starred Charles Rock as Old Bill. In 1926, Chaplin's half brother Sydney played Old Bill in an American production.

Moving Picture World, 15-March-1919
Chaplin's favorite villain Eric Campbell died in an auto accident in late 1917 ( .  Chaplin engaged a new heavy for "Sunnyside," Thomas A Wood.  Wood had played small roles in some of Chaplin's Mutuals, and went on to play more small parts in Chaplin's later shorts for First National, and in The Gold Rush.

Moving Picture World, 15-March-1919
The life of Chaplin's leading lady, Edna Purviance, was threatened by a faulty heater.

Moving Picture World, 15-March-1919

"Miss Harris has come to New York for the purpose of combining a brief rest with a shopping tour."

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tom Mix Goes to the Verge of Death -- March 19, 2019

Moving Picture World, 29-March-1919
100 years ago this month, Tom Mix was ignoring a bear and hugging a lady.

Moving Picture World, 01-March-1919

"Picturesque Fox Cowboy Insists on Real Thing in "The Coming of the Law" — First Shot Passes Between Necktie and Throat — Realism Rules in All Pictures

"HOW far should a motion picture star go to attain realism in his pictures? This is a moot point about which rages the debates of those who maintain that there cannot be too much realism and those who assert that the films are too minute in their exposition of action and should leave more to the imagination.

"How far should one go to get realism?

"Tom Mix, the cowboy star, goes to the verge of death — often and deliberately.

"In scenes in which guns are used Mix insists that real bullets be fired; if the script calls for him to jump, on horseback, from the roof of a house, Mix jumps — and does not let anybody jump for him; if the story demands that he ride through a plateglass window, Mix rides — and the window is of real glass, that cuts and lacerates. Mix is acclaimed in publicity copy as "the man who never fakes"; and film folk in Hollywood read the soubriquet and say it is true talk.

"Insists Knot in Tie Be Shot At.

"One of the most recent demonstrations of Mix's scorn for substitutes was given during the filming of "The Coming of the Law," a forthcoming picture. In this production the script demanded that one of a gang of bandits should shoot a bullet through the hero's necktie at the point where it knotted.

"When it came to filming this part of the picture it was suggested that a cut-in could be used and thus obviate the necessity of having Mix used as a target. But Mix would not listen to this proposal. He insisted that a real bullet, from a real rifle, fired by a real marksman, should clip his necktie.

"Accordingly, when the scene was taken Mix stood up in the open so that he would give a clear side view. He selected Pat Chrisman, one of his company, to do the shooting, as Pat is an expert rifleman. The director and the other members of the company stood about in fear that a tragedy would result.

"Indeed it came near to being a tragedy. For the first bullet from Chrisman's rifle passed between Mix's necktie and his throat, close to the skin, and making a hole in his shirt.

"'Try it again,' said Mix imperturbably. 'A little to the right.'

"Chrisman shot again, and this time cut the necktie through the knot.

"Rides Broncho Through Window. 

Moving Picture World, 01-March-1919

"In 'Hell Roarin' Reform' Mix had to ride his horse through a plate glass window.

"'We can use a property window for that,' the director said.

"'Property nothing!' exploded Mix. 'What's the matter with a real window?'

"So a real window was smashed for art. And Tom Mix was badly cut about the neck and arm as his horse galloped through the window and the glass showered down in sharp-edged sheets.

"It was in making 'Hell Roarin' Reform,' by the way, that Mix was nearly choked to death. It hapened this way : In this picture bandits are supposed to lasso him and drag him over the ground between two horses. So that Mix, as he was being dragged, could be photographed properly, a compromise was made, and instead of being dragged by horses, Mix was dragged by an automobile, on the rear of which was a platform carrying the cameraman.

"Nearly Choked to Death by Lasso.

Moving Picture World, 01-March-1919

"When this stunt was first tried, the noose slipped from Tom's shoulders and went up about his neck. Instantly realizing his peril, Mix braced his head down into his shoulder in such a way that the noose could not slip tight and strangle him. The stunt was then tried over again, and the automobile, with Pat Chrisman at the wheel, started off at a rate that was nearly breakneck — for Mix. For it was only by the greatest of vigilance and agility that he was able to hold his head so that his neck would not be snapped as he was whirled along over the high spots.

"In this scene, too, Mix suffered serious abrasions about the neck and face. But because of his remarkable health his cuts and bruises healed quickly. One day you see him badly cut up; the next day the wound is nearly healed, and the third day it has nearly disappeared.

"Probably one of the most daring stunts Mix ever performed was when he allowed another cowboy to shoot at the sheriff's badge over his heart. In this picture Mix was supposed to be inside a stage-coach that had just rolled down the mountainside. When the coach reached the bottom Mix stepped out — stunned and bewildered by his shaking up. While he stood there, getting his bearings, a Mexican bad man was supposed to shoot at him from a clump of bushes near by, and hit a watch which was in his breast pocket ; the watch, of course, was supposed to save Mix's life.

"Uses Mix's Badge as Aiming Point.

"For this scene Mix wore a sheriff's badge, so that the marksman in the clump of bushes would have a mark to shoot at. Then under his coat he wore a small stove cover, less than six inches in diameter.

"When the director yelled camera, Mix emerged from the smashed stage-coach and stood, as if dazed, a minute. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out his watch. After noting the time he put the watch back. An instant later the bad man's rifle spoke from the clump of bushes. Mix clapped his hand to his chest and pulled out his watch, which was badly smashed.

"Had the marksman deviated a few inches to the left Mix would have been shot through the left lung, just above the heart — a wound that undoubtedly would be fatal. If the marksman had shot low Mix also would have been seriously wounded, and if the shot had been high the bullet probably would have smashed his shoulder. The only non-fatal mistake would have been to shoot a little to the right. This would have given Mix merely a flesh wound in the side.

"Now, officials of the Fox Film Corporation state that Mix's insistence that there be no faking in his pictures has this big advantage — the camera can record a continuous action, thus making unnecessary the cut-ins that prove the picture has been faked.

"But at the same time, they point out, it has this grave disadvantage: They never know when a wire is coming from Los Angeles announcing that Tom Mix has been killed in making a picture."