Sunday, February 28, 2021

There Is a Lot to See -- February 28, 2021


Motion Picture News, 19-February-1921

Bebe Daniels, who had been Harold Lloyd's leading lady in a long series of short films for Hal Roach's Rolin studio, left to work as an ingenue in Cecil B DeMille's movies. Realart had her star in a series of features that lasted for the rest of the 1920s.

Motion Picture News, 19-February-1921

Motion Picture News, 19-February-1921

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Doug's Greatest Picture -- February 27, 2021


Motion Picture News, 05-February-1921

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

Motion Picture News, 19-February-1921

Motion Picture News, 12-February-1921

The Nut was Doug's last modern-dress movie until his second talkie, Reaching for the Moon, in 1930. Doug's next six films were all swashbucklers: The Three Musketeers (1921), Robin Hood (1922), The Thief of Bagdad (1924), Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925), The Black Pirate (1926) and The Gaucho (1927). Each was a big hit.

Motion Picture News, 19-February-1921

Motion Picture News, 19-February-1921

Doug was starting to promote his next movie, The Three Musketeers

Friday, February 26, 2021

Betty Hutton 100 -- February 26, 2021

Actress Betty Hutton was born 100 years ago today, on 26-February-1921. She was very talented and very energetic, a little too energetic for my taste. 

Many years ago we were driving somewhere and listening to an old radio show on tape. Charlie McCarthy was hitting on Betty Hutton. My daughter still remembers it. 

Betty Hutton appeared in Preston Sturges' The Miracle of Morgan Creek and a highly inaccurate biopic of Pearl White called The Perils of Pauline.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Billy West -- The Conquering Hero -- February 25, 2021

Billy West had closely imitated Charlie Chaplin in a long series of comedies for different studios. By the time he was working for the Joan Film Sales Company, he had moved on to other characters.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Washington Under the American Flag -- February 24, 2021


Moving Picture World, 20-June-1909

In honor of George Washington's birthday, here is an ad for a pair of short films produced by The Vitagraph Company of America. "Washington Under the British Flag" covered George Washington's early life, and "Washington Under the American Flag" covered the American Revolution and Washington's time as president. Joseph Kilgour played George Washington. 

Abe Vigoda 100 -- February 24, 2021

Actor Abe Vigoda was born 100 years ago today, on 24-February-1921. He was good in everything I saw him in. 

I remember him in The Godfather as Sal Tessio.  "Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him."
 I remember him in Barney Miller as Fish.  I didn't know he was only in his 50s. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Chaplin -- The Kid -- February 23, 2021


Motion Picture News, 12-February-1921

Charlie Chaplin's first self-directed feature film, The Kid, starred Jackie Coogan. They made a wonderful team.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Guilietta Masina 100 -- February 22, 2021

Actress Guilietta Masina would have been 100 years old today. She was born near Bologna on 22-February-1921. She met Federico Fellini while appearing on radio shows. He was a writer. They moved on to movies together, and she appeared in many movies written and/or directed by Fellini. They married and stayed together for 50 years. 

She is most famous for La Strada and Nights of Cabiria. La Strada breaks my heart.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Alan Rickman 75 -- February 21, 2021

The late actor Alan Rickman was born 75 years ago today, on 21-February-1946.  I would have happily rented his voice at any time.  Many people talk about his roles in Harry Potter and Die Hard.  I liked him in CBGB and Robin Hood and Sense and Sensibility and Hitchhiker's Guide and all sorts of other movies that are not so well known.  I wish I could have seen and heard him on stage.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Theatrograph, 125 Years -- February 20, 2021


Pike County Press, 20-March-1896

125 years ago today, on 20-February-2021, Robert Paul demonstrated his Theatrograph, a motion picture projector, in London at the Egyptian Hall, Picadilly, London. On the same day, the Lumière Brothers demonstrated their Cinematograph in London. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Horror Shockers -- Creature From the Black Lagoon -- February 19, 2021

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 Creature From the Black Lagoon,  Curse of the Demon (also known as Night of the Demon) and Battle of the Giants, which was cut down from One Million BC, a 1940 Hal Roach production.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The New State Theater, Minneapolis -- February 17, 2021


Motion Picture News, 26-February-1921

A System of Indirect Colored Light-
ing Is One of Features of State Theatre
Finkelstein and Ruben's New Theatre in Minneapolis
Opens to Largest Crowd in Mid- West Theatre History

ACCOMPLISHING what had been believed an utter impossibility in the last seven days of a construction period of almost two years, Messrs. Finkelstein and Ruben were able to open their new $1,000,000 State Theatre, located at Eighth street and Hennepin avenue, Minneapolis, Saturday evening, February 5, to the largest crowd that ever attended a similar event in the Mid-West.

The State represents the largest theatre, from a seating standpoint, between Chicago and the Pacific Coast and has been claimed by authorities one of the most comfortable and homey appearing large photoplay houses in the country. The exterior of the theatre is more or less deceiving in that, like the Circle Theatre of Indianapolis, it gives little indication of the immensity of the interior, or auditorium.

The auditorium is designed in a free motif of the Italian renaissance and its main feature is the noble proscenium arch which spans almost the clear width of the building and is richly treated in an original manner with massive Corinthian columns supporting the entablatures, which in turn carry two groups in gold representing Music, the Drama, and the Muse of the Cinema. This unusual treatment has given remarkable dignity to the grand sweep of the arch and forms a magnificent frame for the stage opening. A beautiful peristyle overdraped with a cloth of gold surmounted with drapes of royal blue richly embroidered gives the theatre one of the most striking stages imaginable. Each of the side panels of the peristyle is draped with royal blue plush curtains and royal blue plush drapes which pull up- ward as the picture is flashed on the screen cover the picture sheet. A good portion of the stage floor is of pebbled glass one and an eighth inches thick with six colors of 300 watt lights beneath, so that soloists are given an unusual lighting from all sides.

A thirty-piece band, under the leadership of Frank Pallma, former conductor of the Lagoon orchestra, Minneapolis, and previously a prominent figure in Pacific Coast musical circles, furnishes the music for The State presentations and the overture for the initial program was " The State," a snappy march especially written for the occasion by Clifford Reel. Varied colored light effects are thrown over the entire band as it plays the overtures and other selections and from behind the orchestra pit balustrade which goes beneath the curve of the stage come delicate tints of blue, amber, pink and green changing by dimmer simultaneously with the variation of the color scheme the lights of the auditorium. Atop the auditorium hang six large cut glass chandeliers, each containing six colors of electric bulbs which constantly change as the performance goes on and giving a jewel-like appearance to the upper porof the theatre. Small cut glass light fixtures beneath the balcony and on sides of the theatre also change color to blend in keeping with the orchestra side and ceiling fixtures.

In each of the proscenium boxes are placed various colored indirect lights which throw their rays upon the back walls and ceiling of these boxes at intervals during the performance, adding the richness of the color scheme to a mean extent.

A color scheme of delicate blue and gold has been carried out throughout the foyer, mezzanine and lobby and Hal A. Larsen, the decorator, has added more to the homey appearance of the building by his artistic small touches on fixtures, railings and ceilings. The foyer ceiling and mezzanine or entresol promenade are indeed marvels of richness and tasty coloring. Heavy blue carpeting adds to the distinctiveness of the theatre throughout and soft gray leather seats placed 36 inches apart add to the comfort of the patrons.

The State seats exactly 2,377 persons, all seats being uniform.

The projection is furnished by three Simplex machines and all of the latest booth equipment has been provided for the operators. Spot lights are thrown upon the stage from the projection booth and from a loge in the center of the lower balcony. The stage is large enough to accommodate a very heavy setting and enough fly-scenery for a large legitimate attraction. Lowell V. Valvert, managing director of the Capitol, St. Paul, will prepare the State presentations and his ideas will be carried out by Francis J. Murray, his assistant.

C. Harry Preston, formerly house manager of the Capitol, St. Paul, and for a score of years associated with the Keith and other theatrical circuits in Pittsburgh and New York, will look after the theatre. Christ Palmquist, former manager of the Palace theatre, Superior, Wis., is Mr. Preston's assistant manager and twenty two ushers, two directors and two superintendents and four porters attending to the guidance of patrons. A graduate nurse, in addition to two matrons, is kept at the theatre at all times.

Cashiers and pages or ushers are clothed in a costume of French in conception resembling that of the typical artists, a tamoshanter or elephant's breath colored corduroy, a blouse and belt of bluish-black corduroy and unpressed full length trousers of grey corduroy. The blouse sleeves are completed with white linen cuffs and a grey silken bow tie and Buster Brown collar and each page carries a swagger stick of mahogany. Patent leather pumps and black silk stockings complete the outfit. Directors, superintendents and porters are garbed in a dark blue uniform similar to that of a French naval officer.

Motion Picture News, 26-February-1921

Motion Picture News, 26-February-1921

Monday, February 15, 2021

Gabriel Over the White House -- February 15, 2021

Happy Presidents' Day, everyone.

Gabriel Over the White House is a strange film that was shot in February and March,1933 after Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president and before he was sworn in. Greg La Cava directed it, based on an anonymous novel by TF Tweed. William Randolph Hearst put up the money and contributed at least one speech.  

Walter Huston, who had played Abraham Lincoln a few years before, was newly elected President Judd Hammond. Hammond is a machine politician who operates on giving and getting favors. He was driving his own car and was hurt badly in an accident. When he came out of his coma, he had changed. Apparently under the influence of the Angel Gabriel and the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, he became an active president who tried to help people. 

At the same time, he seemed to adopt some fascist practices, sending a special police unit with armored cars to attack criminal mobsters. They get tried before a military tribunal and then shot. 

After bringing peace to the world by strong arming other leaders, he dies. 

Motion Picture Herald, 20-May-1933

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy Saint Valentine's Day, 2021 -- February 14, 2021

Happy Saint Valentine's Day, everyone.

Beautiful actress, dancer and singer Rita Hayworth holds a big box of candy. Her original 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.

Gregory Hines 75 -- February 14, 2021

Actor, singer and especially tap dancer Gregory Hines was born 75 years ago today, on 14-February-1946.He did much to bring tap back to prominence. He died far too young. 

My wife has been a tap dancer for most of her life. She helped me to gain an appreciation of the art.

Notice that Gregory Hines and his brother Maurice do not appear on the poster.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Offshore Pirate -- February 13, 2021

Motion Picture News, 12-February-1921

Viola Dana played Ardita, the heroine of The Offshore Pirate, based on F Scott Fitzgerald's short story. 

Moscow, Idaho Daily Star-Mirror, 26-February-1921

Friday, February 12, 2021

The Year of the Ox -- February 12, 2021

In honor of the beginning of Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox, here is Buster Keaton in Go West, with Brown Eyes, who I think was his best leading lady in a feature film. 

The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln -- February 12, 2021


Exhibitors Herald, 01-September-1923

Today would have been Abraham Lincoln's 212th birthday. Brothers Al and Ray Rockett produced The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln in 1923. Frances Marion wrote the script. Phil Rosen directed and George A Billings played Abraham Lincoln. 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Women Simply Can't Resist This Title -- February 11, 2021


Motion Picture News, 19-February-1921

Erich von Stroheim made controversial movies. The second movie that he directed was The Devil's Passkey for Universal.

Motion Picture News, 05-February-1921

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Tom Mix in The Road Demon -- February 9, 2021


Wilmington Evening Journal, 28-February-1921

In The Road Demon, Tom Mix played the driver of a car in a Los Angeles to Phoenix road race. He liked fast cars.