Sunday, May 31, 2020

Rainer Werner Fassbinder 75 -- May 31, 2020
When I was in my movie-going prime, it was hard to find contemporary West or East German movies, so I read a lot about Rainer Werner Fassbinder's movies before I saw one.  His abundant output reminded me of a filmmaker of the 1910s.  Fassbinder  was born 75 years ago today on 32-May-1945.  He was only 37 when he died of an overdose in 1982, but had made more than 40 feature films.
After reading about his movies in magazines, newspapers and books, I think the first one I saw was probably The Marriage of Maria Braun, probably at the Lumiere on Fillmore.  This was also the first movie I saw with Hanna Schygulla.  

World's Greatest Motor Race -- May 31, 2020

Film Daily, 23-May-1920
The Indianapolis 500 is another casualty of the TrumpVirus.  It has been rescheduled to 23-August-2020.

Friday, May 29, 2020

A Saturday Evening Post Story by F Scott Fitzgerald -- May 29, 2020

Motion Picture News, 01-May-1920
I did not know that Metro had made of movie from F Scott Fitzgerald's short story "Head and Shoulders."  Viola Dana starred.  It was released as The Chorus Girl's Romance.

Motion Picture News, 22-May-1920
Irish-American actress Eileen Percy was going to star in a Fox Film adaption of another story, "Myra Meets His Family." The movie was released as The Husband Hunter.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Michel Piccoli, RIP -- May 27, 2020
I was sad to learn that great actor Michel Piccoli has died. I remember him in some Luis Buñuel movies, and many others.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Johnny Got His Gun -- May 25, 2020
Happy Memorial Day, everyone. 

One summer while I was in high school, I read Dalton Trumbo's book Johnny Got His Gun, the story of a wounded soldier who lost his limbs, his eyes, his ears and his mouth. It scared the heck out of me.   Later, I saw the 1971 movie adaption, starring Timothy Bottoms, on television.  It scared me, too. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Amusement Home of the Colored People -- May 23, 2020

Dallas Express, 29-May-1920
I was surprised by the size of this ad for the segregated Mammoth Theater in Dallas. I like the image of Chaplin. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Charles Chaplin Has Just Finished his Five-Reeler -- May 21, 2020

Topeka State Journal, 08-May-1920
Charlie Chaplin finished the first feature that he produced and directed, The Kid, in 1920.  His releasing company, First National, would have preferred two-reelers. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

School Days -- May 19, 2020

Motion Picture News, 01-May-1920
Lucille Carlisle starred with Larry Semon in "School Days."

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Burning Daylight -- May 17, 2020

Film Daily, 16-May-1920
Jack London published Burning Daylight in 1910 and it was his biggest seller while he lived. I have not read the book, but I use the phrase a lot. Mitchell Lewis played the title character.

At the same time that Metro was releasing Burning Daylight, Paramount was releasing The Sea Wolf.

Film Daily, 16-May-1920

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Fred Willard, RIP -- May 16, 2020
I was sorry to learn that Fred Willard has died.  It was not because of COVID-19. Sometimes his humor was so accurate that I found it hard to watch.  I especially liked him in Christopher Guest's mocumentaries like Best in Show and A Mighty Wind.

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Sea Wolf -- May 15, 2020

Motion Picture News, 08-May-1920
Jack London's novel The Sea Wolf has been filmed many times.  Paramount's 1920 adaption was directed by George Melford.  Tom Forman played Humphrey Van Weyden and Noah Beery played Wolf Larson.

Film Daily, 16-May-1920

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Monday, May 11, 2020

Two Former Slap Stick Artists -- May 11, 2020

Motion Picture News, 08-May-1920
Roscoe Arbuckle finished his series of two reelers for Comique and moved into making features for Paramount.  Bebe Daniels, who had been Harold Lloyd's leading lady in a long series of short films, left to work in Cecil B DeMille's movies.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Life With Father -- May 10, 2020
Happy Mothers' Day, everyone. I'm grateful for my mother and my wife and my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law and cousins and friends. All excellent mothers.

I always enjoy watching Life With Father.  Father, played by William Powell, thought he was in charge, but Mother, played by Irene Dunne, was really in charge.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Richard Barthelmess, 125 -- May 9, 2020
Actor Richard Barthelmess was born 125 years ago today, on 09-May-1895. He played leads opposite Lillian Gish in two movies directed by DW Griffith, Broken Blossoms and Way Down East.  Barthelmess joined with Charles Duell and director Henry King to form the Inspiration Picture Company.  Their first production was Tol'able David, which became a huge hit.  After the talkies started, he dropped from the lead in the original Dawn Patrol to smaller parts. 

He served as an officer in the United States Navy during World War II.  He left the film business after the war. 

Photoplay, June, 1925

Thursday, May 7, 2020

irving Thalberg -- May 7, 2020

Motion Picture News, 08-May-1920
Irving Thalberg was nearly 21 when he greeted new executives, representing Universal head Carl Laemmle.  Thalberg, often called a "Boy Wonder" had been studio manager since 1919. He went on to have a remarkable career. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Rudolph Valentino, 125 -- May 6, 2020
Actor Rudolph Valentino was born 125 years ago today, on 06-May-1895 in Castellaneta, in the Apulia region, the boot heel of Italy. He came to America and started in the film business as an extra. He worked his way up to giant stardom, and then died on 23-August-1926 of appendicitis . He was 31 years old.

I think the first complete movie that I saw him in was Son of the Sheik, which I enjoyed immensely.  Our public television station, KQED-Channel 9, showed prints from the Paul Killiam collection. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

El Automóvil Gris -- May 5, 2020

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone.

Enrique Rosas directed El automóvil gris in Mexico in 1919. It made a big impression at a recent San Francisco Silent Film Festival.  It was shot as a serial but was edited into a feature during the 1930's.

Charles Lamont 125 -- May 5, 2020

Exhibitors Herald, 02-August-1924
Charles Lamont was born 125 years ago today, on 05-May-1895, in San Francisco.  He had a long career as a Hollywood director. In the 1920s, he made short comedies for many different studios.  He worked with Buster Keaton on some of his talkie shorts for Educational.  He moved on to directing features, and wound up at Universal directing Abbott and Costello, The Ma and Pa Kettle series and Francis the Talking Mule.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Keaton Films -- May 3, 2020

Motion Picture News, 08-May-1920
After making the feature The Saphead, Buster Keaton moved on to make short films, which turned out to be one of the two best series of silent comedies.  Eddie Cline directed and wrote most of the series. 

Friday, May 1, 2020

Union Members Are The Heroes on the Frontlines of the Crises -- May 1, 2020

Today is International Workers' Day. God bless the grocery workers, the transit operators, the medical workers, the janitors, the farm workers.  We owe them a great debt.