Thursday, December 31, 2020

Dawn Wells, RIP -- December 31, 2020

Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island, has died from the TrumpVirus. I watched Gilligan's Island in reruns during the summers. Guys used to debate which woman they liked better, Mary Ann or Ginger. I liked Mary Ann. Everyone who met Dawn Wells at fan events said she was amazingly nice. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The World's Greatest Box Office Attraction -- December 30, 2020


Motion Picture News, 25-December-1920

Al Jolson wishes everyone a typically subdued happy new year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Do Nice Girls Shimmy? -- December 29, 2020


Motion Picture News, 04-December-1920

The Chorus Girl's Romance, starring Viola Dara was based on F Scott Fitzgerald's' short story "Head and Shoulders."

Cops Oppose Schmidt's Animated Cut-out Exploitation and Police Court Publicity Vie With Each
Other in Putting Over " A Chorus Girl's Romance "

THIS is the true and touching "drama " (which came near being a melodrama) of a cut-out which didn't shimmy. It has all the elements of drama — a hero whose motives are questioned, who is denounced, and arrested, of the police force, whose duty, according to the latest " crook-drama," is to hound a man back into jail as fast as he gets out. And for a heroine, it has a beautiful life-size cut-out of Viola Dana.

To begin at the beginning, Manager George Schmidt, of the Alamo No. 2, Atlanta, booked " The Chorus-Girl's Romance," and, looking over the campaign book for an effective idea for exploitation, happened on the stunt that tells of an animated cut-out. The idea struck his fancy, and he made all the necessary arrangements.

A week before the picture opened for a three-day run at his theatre, a huge banner appeared across the front of his theatre — jade-green letters on a buff background — reading, " Do Nice Girls Shimmy? Viola Dana will tell you." The "teaser" screen-campaign is always a part of Mr. Schmidt's exploitation stunts, and this one began a week ahead of the picture. Each day the slide was changed, and during the week, such slides as "Could She Shimmy? Oh, Boy! A maple leaf in an October gale had nothing on Marcia Meadows!" "Gilda Grey, shimmy-art- ist, had her shoulders insured for fifty-thousand dollars! Some shoulders, we'll say! But she had nothing on Marcia Meadows!" "Could she shake a wicked shoulder? Oh, lady, lady! You tell 'em, standing room — I'm reserved" created interest in the picture.

On Sunday morning, the animated cutout was rigged up in front of the theatre. It was a cut-out of " Marcia Meadows" seated, with her knees crossed. A second part of shoulders cut out and mounted was hung just an inch in front of the main cut-out, and these shoulders, by an electrical device, "shimmied " most convincingly. This cut-out, with a lobby-frame full of interesting photographs from the picture, held up traffic for more than an hour Sunday afternoon. The crowd grew and grew — until finally the fat and good-natured "traffic cop" on the corner below the theatre came up to investigate — and remained to admire. He went back to his post, quite lenient with the people who continued to make his job unpleasant.

But noon on Monday brought trouble, in the person of a very important Captain of Police, who took one look at Marcia, and gave Mr. Schmidt five minutes to take her off the sidewalk. Mr. Schmidt protested, belligerently, which resulted in a trip to the police-station, where he was advised to explain it to the Chief.

Which he did. There were two or three newspaper reporters at the station when Mr. Schmidt arrived, but he was too angry to notice them. They, bored with an unusually dull Monday, when nobody had taken poison by mistake, or jumped out of a fourteenth story window, listened to the heated argument between him and the Chief with much enjoyment.

Early in the spring, in a laudable effort to get a great many undesirables out of Atlanta, a sort of "Purity Squad " had been organized. During the hectic enthusiasm resultant from their first activities, they had passed a number of more or less trivial laws over which the most innocent of citizens find themselves tripping. One of these laws had to do with " shimmy-dancing," and the law had been framed and aided through by the Chief himself. So what the crimson cloth is to the celebrated bull, so is the bare mention of the hated word "shimmy" to the Chief.

The end of the argument, when Mr. Schmidt grew too angry to care for fines, and the Chief lost his temper so far he forgot to impose any, the Chief agreed to go up and see the picture and the cut-out. The reporters, half a dozen "smaller fry" policemen and the self-important captain went along. They looked at the picture and the Chief agreed that there was nothing wrong with it — "though it did seem unnecessary to have all that shimmy-dancing in it" he added, and stuck to the decision in spite of all arguments.

But when he saw the cut-out and watched it "dance " — well, when the sulphuric atmosphere cleared a little, he could be heard agitatedly warning Mr. Schmidt that he would fine him one hundred dollars for every five minutes "the thing operated" and would, if opposed, close the theatre. So, borne down by weight of superior numbers, and still too mad to permit himself to talk, Mr. Schmidt agreed. He was told, grudgingly, that the cut-out might remain in the lobby, provided there was no further movement. He went away, content — and, an hour later, a sign was fastened across the bottom of the cut-out — a sign which told its own story — "Censored."

The morning paper, and the noon editions of the two extras treated the whole affair with a great deal of what Mr. Schmidt is morosely convinced was ill-placed humor — but the Alamo No. 2 was packed to the doors for every performance from then on — and such remarks as, "Why, I don't see anything wrong about that picture !" "Why should the police object to it?" and so on indicate the source of their enthusiasm.

Despite the fact that it was good publicity, Mr. Schmidt is very, very sore! For he has been accused of some things which make him fighting mad — and there's nobody he can fight !

Monday, December 28, 2020

Birth of Commercial Cinema, 125 -- December 28, 2020

Brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière grew up in Lyon.  Their father operated a small factory which made photographic plates and generated losses.  Both brothers went to technical school.  After they graduated, they ran the factory.  They automated the process of making plates and money.  Both brothers were inventors who made many improvements to the dry plate process and later developed the first commercial color photography process.

Their father retired in 1892 and they began to work on making moving pictures.  By 1895, they had created the Cinematographe, a device which could shoot movies, make prints and project them.  

On 22-March-1895 they had a private screening at the Society for the Development of the National Industry in Paris. 

125 years ago today, on 28-December-1895, they showed their films to a paying audience in Paris.  This is generally considered to be the beginning of commercial cinema.

"The Lumière Cinematograph," Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, December, 1936

The brothers sent cameramen around the world to film many famous places and people.  They soon lost interest in movies and concentrated on color photography.  When  magician Georges Méliès, who was to become a pioneering filmmaker, wanted to buy a camera, they told him that film was just a novelty.  They would not sell him a camera.  

Among the subjects on the original program were these (some of these may be remakes, made when the negatives wore out): 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Genuine Fairbanks Novelty! -- December 27, 2020


Motion Picture News, 04-December-1920

Douglas Fairbanks' The Mark of Zorro was the first movie made from Johnston McCulley's novel The Curse of Capistrano.  Learn more here: 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas, 2020 -- December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas, everyone. Peace on earth and goodwill to all. Actress Jane Greer was the femme fatale in Out of the Past. Here she asks Santa for some items that were scarce during the war.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Harold Lloyd in the Greatest Comedies Ever Made -- December 24, 2020


Motion Picture News, 25-December-1920

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone. I don't care for the way they colored the image of Harold Lloyd. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

With the Compliments of Marion Davies -- December 23, 2020


Motion Picture News, 25-December-1920

The beautiful Marion Davies gives us her compliments of the season. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

May Your Hands and Eyes Grow Weary From the Counting of Your Kale -- December 21, 2020


Motion Picture News, 25-December-1920

The Metro Parrot wishes everyone a Merry Christmas. The lion came along after the merger that created M-G-M. The stockings hung by the chimney with care hold Metro stars, including Bert Lytell, Viola Dana, May Allison, Alice Lake, Ina Claire and Buster Keaton. 

I did not know anyone had made a movie based on Jack London's The Star Rover. I would like to see that. 

Motion Picture News, 25-December-1920

Saturday, December 19, 2020

A Tree Full of Good Things -- December 19, 2020


Motion Picture News, 25-December-1920

Harry Cohn, his brother Jack and Joe Brandt wish everyone happy holidays. The gifts on the Tree are different movies or series produced by C.B.C. Film Sales Corp. They include the Hallroom Boys Comedies and Screen Snapshots. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

John le Carré, RIP -- December 18, 2020


Time, 03-October-1977

Author John le Carré has died. I read The Spy Who Came in From the Cold in high school, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in college. I read later books as they came out. Many of his books were adapted for television and movies.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Horror Shockers -- The "Original" Dracula -- December 17, 2020


Vampirella 51, 1976

When I was young, I read Warren Publishing magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland and Vampirella. The magazines always carried ads for back issues, posters and movies. I didn't have a film projector, so I read the ads with envy. Eventually, I got a Super-8 projector, but I didn't have enough money to buy any of these films. A friend had Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and I was fascinated by the way it had been cut down to less than 20 minutes. 

This section of an ad has Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee as Doctor Frankenstein and the Monster, and Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart." 

The last movie has "Ultrasonic Sound." I have to find out if that is from a mag stripe or from a phonograph record. "The Tell Tale Heart" is a short animated cartoon made in 1953 and narrated by James Mason.  

Moving Picture News, 06-December-1930

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Orpheum Theater, Scottsbluff, Nebraska -- December 15, 2020


Motion Picture News, 18-December-1920

The Orpheum Theater in Scottsbluff, Nebraska (yes, that's how they spell it) had an elaborate lobby display to promote The Revenge of Tarzan

Sunday, December 13, 2020

The Devil's Passkey -- December 13, 2020


Motion Picture News, 11-December-1920

Erich von Stroheim made controversial movies. The second movie that he directed was The Devil's Passkey for Universal. "No pretty woman need ever be in debt -- in Paris." Gosh, what could that mean? 

Friday, December 11, 2020

The Testing Block -- December 11, 2020


Motion Picture News, 25-December-1920

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. He starred in The Testing Block with Eva Novak. Lambert Hillyer directed. Here we see Hart protecting a child who was probably played by Richard Headrick.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Lloyd -- Long on Laughs -- December 9, 2020

100 years ago this month, Harold Lloyd was appearing in "Number, Please."  This ad displays the results of funhouse mirrors. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Pamela Tiffin and David Lander, RIP -- December 8, 2020

Beautiful actress and model Pamela Tiffin has passed away. I haven't seen many of her movies, but I have always been aware of her. She cut her career short.

Actor David Lander has died. We used to watch Laverne and Shirley. Michael McKean and Landers worked well together as Lenny and Squiggy. I thought they must have watched a lot of Bowery Boys movies. Lander was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He did much work to raise awareness and money before MS carried him off. 

Penny Marshall, who played Laverne, directed Lander in A League of Their Own

Monday, December 7, 2020

From Here to Eternity -- December 7, 2020

79 years ago a sneak attack by forces of the Japanese Empire sank much of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in the territory of Hawaii. The Japanese Empire came to regret doing this.

From Here to Eternity was directed by Fred Zinnemann and based on the novel by James Jones. The film is set in the time leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Much of the film was shot on location in Schofield Barracks. Montgomery Clift played a Regular Army lifer. Burt Lancaster played his friend. Ernest Borgnine played a sadistic jailer. The movie climaxes with the attack on Pearl Harbor.  

Frances Gifford 100 -- December 7, 2020

Actress Frances Gifford was born either 100 or 101 years ago. Sources differ. She is remembered by serial fans for playing Jungle Girl in a sort-of adaption of the book by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Lots of dads accompanied their kids who went to see each episode in the theater. Before Jungle Girl, female leads had been rare in sound serials. Many silent serials featured female leads. 

Gifford went on to star in some features, but an auto accident in 1946 almost ended her career and ruined her health.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

It's All Comedy and All Arbuckle -- December 5, 2020


Motion Picture News, 04-December-1920

The Life of the Party was the ironic title of Roscoe Arbuckle's second feature film released by Paramount. It was based on a story by Kentucky writer Irvin S Cobb.

Motion Picture News, 04-December-1920

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Larry Semon -- The New Comedy King -- December 3, 2020


Iron County Record, 31-December-1920

100 years ago this month, a promotional piece called Larry Semon "The New King of Comedy."

Omaha Daily Bee, 14-December-1920

I thought this was an interesting one-column ad. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Bette Midler 75 -- December 1, 2020

Singer actress and comedian Bette Midler was born 75 years ago today, on 01-December-1945.I think I first heard her music on KFRC. Later, I learned about her comedy and acting. We went to see The Rose at the Metro on Union Street. When my daughter was young, we all loved Hocus Pocus.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Virginia Mayo 100 -- November 30, 2020

Remarkably beautiful actress Virginia Mayo was born 100 years ago today, on 30-November-1920. Sam Goldwyn signed her to a contract and put her in a number of musicals with Danny Kaye. She was very with dramatic roles in The Best Years of Our Lives and White Heat

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Busby Berkeley 125 -- November 29, 2020

Today would have been the 125th birthday of director and choreographer Busy Berkeley. I love his musicals.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Coming: The Tame Cat -- November 28, 2020


Motion Picture News, 20-November-1920

I don't know what it is about, but I like the image.