Monday, May 31, 2021

Tulsa Race Massacre 100 -- May 31, 2021


Motion Picture News, 25-June-1921

100 years ago today, on 31-May-1921, a white mob in Tulsa, Oklahoma attacked the black-owned Greenwood District, destroying businesses, burning houses and killing people of color. The Tulsa Race Massacre may have been the worst single instance of racial violence in US history. These two theaters were among the businesses that were destroyed.

Read contemporary newspaper accounts of the massacre on my other blog:

Film Daily, 08-June-1921

La Grande Illusion -- May 31, 2021

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. 

World War One veteran Jean Renoir made La Grande Illusion in 1937. A group of French POWs wants to escape, but class differences get in the way. Pierre Fresnay is an aristocrat and Jean Gabin is a working man. They land in a prison commanded by a crippled German officer, played by Erich von Stroheim.

I watched it several times on our local PBS station, KQED-Channel 9. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Howard Hawks 125 -- May 30, 2021

Director Howard Hawks was born 125 years ago today, on 30-May-2021. He could direct films in any genre. He learned to fly before World War One. When America entered the war, he enlisted in the Signal Corp's aviation section. He trained pilots. Many of his movies centered around aviation. 

In the image above, he chats with Angie Dickinson, one of many actors whom he is credited with discovering.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Big Values in Little Packages -- May 29, 2021


Motion Picture News, 07-May-1921

By 1921, most of Mack Sennett's biggest stars, Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Roscoe Arbuckle, were long gone, although Mabel returned later in the year to make features. He continued to produce short comedies, many, like "Made in the Kitchen," starring Billy Bevan and Louise Fazenda.

Motion Picture News, 11-June-1921

Sennett produced occasional features like Home Talent. It featured "...a cast of celebrated comedians including Ben Turpin, Charlie Murray, Phyllis Haver, James Finlayson, Kalla Pasha, Eddie Gribbon, Dot Farley, Harriet Hammond and Kathryn McGuire." And of course there were lots of bathing beauties. 

Motion Picture News, 25-June-1921

Motion Picture News, 25-June-1921

Friday, May 28, 2021

Audie Murphy 50 Years -- May 28, 2021

Audie Murphy's father abandoned the family when Audie was young. Audie's mother worked hard to hold her children together. Audie developed great skill at shooting by hunting to feed the family. His mother died when he was 16 and he took care of all of the children as well as he could. After Pearl Harbor, he tried to volunteer for the Army, the Navy and the Marine Corps, but they all rejected him for being below minimum weight and age. He lied about his age and joined the Army. He took part in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, and Torch, the invasion of the south of France. He earned a battlefield commission and nearly every decoration that was out there up to the Medal of Honor.

His experiences left him with a bad case of PTSD, but he went to Hollywood and became an actor, starring in To Hell and Back, his own biography. He appeared in many westerns and in John Huston's adaption of The Red Badge of Courage. When I was young, San Francisco television stations did not play many westerns, so I did not become familiar with his work. 50 years ago today, on 28-May-1971, he died in a plane crash. I knew his name, but not a lot about him at that time.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Heart Line -- May 27, 2021


Motion Picture News, 07-May-1921

San Francisco writer, poet and prankster Gelett Burgess was born in Boston on 30-January-1866. His most famous composition was "The Purple Cow":

I never saw a purple cow
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one!

He and his friends dumped a pro-prohibition statue into the bay. He published a literary magazine, The Lark. He wrote "The Ballad of the Hyde Street Grip." Read it or listen to it on my cable car site:

The Heart Line was based on his 1907 novel about fraudulent spiritualists in San Francisco. I have not read the book, but many people did not like it. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Chaplin -- Some Snap -- May 25, 2021

Cinéa, May, 1921

Charlie Chaplin was the biggest movie star in the world. Cinéa was a French movie magazine.
Cinéa, May, 1921

Cinéa, May, 1921

Cinéa, May, 1921

Motion Picture News, 07-May-1921

Meanwhile, back in Jackson, Mississippi, Charlie Chaplin's first self-directed feature film, The Kid, which co-starred Jackie Coogan, was doing great business with the help of a passel of Chaplin imitators.

Motion Picture News, 07-May-1921

Harry Cohn, his brother Jack and Joe Brandt provided the initials for C.B.C. Film Sales Corp. C.B.C. and its successor, Columbia Pictures, produced the Screen Snapshots series of shorts about life in Hollywood from 1920 to 1958. This edition features Chaplin and his friend Douglas Fairbanks.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Harry Langdon -- Johnny's New Car -- May 24, 2021

Seattle Star, 07-May-1921

 Harry Langdon would be the last of the great silent comics to go into films. 100 years go this month, he was still appearing in vaudeville. He appeared in his first movie in 1923. 

Irene Franklin was a star comedian, who worked with her husband, Burton Green. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Keaton in New York to Sign Two Contracts -- May 23, 2021

Motion Picture News, 07-May-1921

After the success of his first season of silent short comedies, Buster Keaton went to New York to sign a new contract and to marry Natalie Talmadge. Buster and Natalie were married on 31-May-1921, at her sister Norma's house.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Horror Shockers -- Son of Frankenstein -- May 21, 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 Son of Frankenstein, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and The Dr Cyclops. In Son of  Frankenstein, Boris Karloff played the monster for the last time. Bela Lugosi played Ygor the hunchback. I Was a Teeenage... was a popular title for exploitation films in the 1950s. Dr Cyclops was heavy on the special effects.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Cher 75 -- May 20, 2021

Cher, who is equally talented as a singer and an actress, was born 75 years ago today, on 20-May-1946. I have always liked her low voice and her dead-pan delivery. I remember hearing music from Sonny and Cher for most of my life. "I Got You Babe" got stuck in my head recently. I remember their television show, and then her solo show after they split. She acted on Broadway and in films and was exceptionally good. She won the Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck. I thought some of her solo songs were bombastic, but I still remember them.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Hippodrome Theater, Fort Worth -- May 19, 2021


Motion Picture News, 07-May-1921

100 years ago this month, Fort Worth's Hippodrome was showing the fondly remembered Prisoners of Love.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Charles Grodin RIP -- May 18, 2021

Actor Charles Grodin has died. He was in many movies and television shows, but none stand out in my memory except the movie he made with the Muppets.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Legion Protests Caligari Showing in Los Angeles -- May 17, 2021


Motion Picture News, 21-May-1921

In 1919, German director Robert Weine created The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, an expressionist horror film. The movie premiered in Germany in early 1920. In 1921, it premiered in the United States and caused an uproar, distributed by Goldwyn. I think I first saw it on KQED-Channel 9, our local PBS station. 

Conrad Veidt played Cesare, the Somnambulist. Werner Krauss played Doctor Caligari.

Motion Picture News, 07-May-1921

"The Town Clerk Insults Dr. Caligari." I cannot find the name of the actor who played the town clerk. The character later came to regret this act. I think his desk needs some ergonomic adjustments.

Motion Picture News, 21-May-1921

The American Legion, a veterans' organization, opposed the showing of Caligari, not because it was a weird film but because it was made in Germany.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Hurrah! Tom Mix is Coming in a New Play -- May 15, 2021


Omaha Bee, 29-May-1921

Please excuse the racism.

Let me see if I have this straight. In A Ridin' Romeo, Tom Mix finds an abandoned baby. The baby won't stop crying. "He had to feed the squalling thing, so he kidnapped an Apache squaw a la Indian fashion and induced her to feed the babe." But the sheriff got after Tom, not for kidnapping the lady, but for kidnapping the child. Sounds like a hoot.

Omaha Bee, 29-May-1921

"He loves excitement but he fails to see the humor in excitement pursuing him."

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Wiiliam S Hart -- Highest Class in Every Way -- May 13, 2021


Richmond, Kentucky Daily Register, 23-May-1921

"This is the first of my own productions." Before The Toll Gate, Thomas Ince had produced William S Hart's films. 

Albuquerque Morning Journal, 17-May-1921

The B Theater. Interesting name. "A Wm. S. Hart Production."

Morning Tulsa Daily World, 29-May-1921

Truthful Tulliver was a reissue of a 1917 Ince production. Notice that nothing in the ad says that this was a reissue.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Norman Lloyd, RIP -- May 12, 2021

Norman Lloyd has died at the age of 106. I remember when Saint Elsewhere began its run on television and I realized that the kindly old doctor had also been in Saboteur and Limelight.  I imagine there is only a limited set of people who worked with both Alfred Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin.

Lloyd was put on the Hollywood blacklist, but Hitchcock had enough influence to get him off of it. Lloyd was associate producer of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and he directed many episodes.

His character in Saboteur was named Frank Fry. What a great name for an arsonist. And what a wonderful exit.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Harold Lloyd -- Look at His Teeth -- May 11, 2021


Motion Picture News, 21-May-1921

Here we have a two-page trade ad for "Among Those Present."

 Cinea was a French industry magazine. If I am reading it correctly, it says "Harold LLoyd, known as 'Him', in Him at the Cow-boys." I thought it might be "An Eastern Westerner," but the IMDB says that had a different French title.