Monday, January 31, 2022

Zane Grey 150 -- January 31, 2022

Motion Picture News, 21-May-1921

Zane Grey was born 150 years ago today, on 31-January-1872. He was a popular Western novelist. I had read about movies made from his stories, so I took a few novels out from the Anza Branch Library. It turns out that he was not a very good writer, but he did produce interesting characters and descriptions. Many of his short stories and novels were made into movies. We once visited his cabin near Payson, Arizona some years before it burned down. 

Last year I had a Zane Grey Week: 

Sunday, January 30, 2022

With Stanley in Africa -- January 30, 2022

Moving Picture Weekly, 28-January-1922

With Stanley in Africa was a Universal serial, which starred actor and athlete George Walsh, Raoul Walsh's brother. Walsh played British-American explorer Henry Morton Stanley who is best known for searching central Africa for missionary David Livingstone, who had not been heard from in six years. Note that the cover of this Universal publication calls it a "Universal Continued Feature" rather than as a serial. The film is probably lost.

Moving Picture Weekly, 21-January-1922

This ad calls the film a "chapter play," a common synonym for "serial." 

Moving Picture Weekly, 14-January-1922

Wear your wart-hog button and get in for free. 

Moving Picture Weekly, 14-January-1922

"Another Golden Universal Discovery." Please excuse the racist images. 

Moving Picture Weekly, 14-January-1922

"Carl Laemmle Presents George Walsh/Famous Athlete and Motion Feature Star in His First Appearance in Any Serial or Continued Feature..."

Exhibitors Herald, 07-January-1922

Ruth Roland, who was born in San Francisco, was one of the great Serial Queens. "She fights, she loves, she kisses, she thrills..."

Motion Picture News, 28-January-1922

Moving Picture Weekly, 14-February-1922

Eddie Polo was a popular serial star. He started out as a trapeze artist in a circus. He appeared in many serials in the US and then went to Germany, where he starred in action films. He later worked as a makeup artist. I like the image of Polo diving through the "4" in The Secret 4.

Moving Picture Weekly, 21-January-1922

"Universal's Cyclonic Chapter-Play."

Motion Picture News, 28-January-1922

It looks as if Polo was leaving or planning to leave Universal. 

Motion Picture News, 07-January-1922

Elinor Field played the Jungle Goddess in Selig's serial of the same name. "The Mightiest Animal-Jungle Chapter-Picture Ever Produced"

Exhibitors Herald, 28-January-1922

It looks as if poor Elinor Field is in a sticky situation. 

Motion Picture News, 14-January-1922

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Big Colored Picture! -- January 29, 2022

Dallas Express, 28-January-1922

I admire John Harris, owner and manager of the Grand Central Theater in Dallas. His ads were always interesting and always featured a photo of himself. I like to see a man who was proud of his work. In this ad, he mentioned that he was bringing By Right of Birth back by popular demand. We saw an ad for the previous showing in September:

The Lincoln Motion Picture Company, founded in Omaha in 1916 by brothers Noble and George Johnson, is often called the first company to make "race films," independent production with all- or almost-all-African American casts. In 1918, the company moved to Los Angeles, where it remained until it folded in 1922. The Johnsons left the company in about 1920. By Right of Birth, starring Clarence Brooks, was the company's fifth and last production. Actor Clarence Brooks went on to appear in many race films and some mainstream films during his career.

Dallas Express, 14-January-1922

This program consisted of movies not produced by African Americans, but one short comedy, "The Custard Nine," featured black performers. It was based on a story by a white guy, Harris Dickson.

Dallas Express, 28-January-1922

The Dallas Express was African-American owned. 

Evening Capital and Maryland Gazette, 21-January-1922

The bill at the Star Theater in Annapolis included a vaudeville program and a 1916 Biograph comedy, "A Natural Born Gambler." It starred Bahamian-American comedian Bert Williams. Williams appeared in vaudeville and the Ziegfeld Follies. He died tragically young in 1922.

The ad promised a real race film, The Sport of the Gods, based on the novel by poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Robert Levy, a Jewish immigrant from Britain, made it through his company, Reol Productions. 

Evening Capital and Maryland Gazette, 23-January-1922

This ad is hard to read, but I thought it was worth including. 

Friday, January 28, 2022

Roof Crash Buries Knickerbocker Theater Audience -- January 28, 2022

Motion Picture News, 28-January-1917

On the evening of 28-January-1922, during a huge blizzard, snow that had accumulated on the roof of Crandall's Knickerbocker Theater caused the roof and the balcony to collapse. 98 people died and 133 were injured. 



Infantry Summoned from Fort Myer to
Help Maintain Order, as Fifth
Alarm Reinforces Firemen


Panic Follows Spread of News as Streets Are
Roped Off to Hold Back 10,000 Frantic
People -- Guards Ordered to Shoot

From 150 to 500 persons were entombed under tons of snow and wreckage when the roof of Crandall's Knickerbocker Theater, Eighteenth street and Columbia road, northwest, collapsed at 9:10 o'clock last night.

Shortly before midnight fourteen injured persons had been removed from the debris and estimates of the dead ranged from fifty to 100. Police stated shortly after 10 o'clock that at least 100 were dead, but it was impossible to corroborate this.

Police Reserves Called.

Five alarms for fire were turned in in rapid succession. and police reserves from all precincts were requisitioned to aid in the work of rescue.

A crowd, estimated at from 3,000 to 10,000, lined all streets adjacent to the theater and overwhelmed the first police arrivals. The Seventy-first Company, Sixth Regiment of Marines, was placed on guard duty at 11 o'clock with orders to shoot at the first sign of disorder or rioting. Soldiers from Walter Reed Hospital also were used to keep back the frantic crowds.

Within a few minutes after the weight of snow on the roof of the theater caused the collapse, nearby physicians opened their homes to accommodate the injured, many of whom were assisted out of the wreckage by volunteer workers. Householders threw open their home and provided blankets and wraps for the injured.

Shortly after the arrival of the police Columbia Road was roped off from Biltmore street to Eighteenth street in the belief that the north wall of the playhouse, which swayed perilously in the wind would crash in on the wreckage.

Police and firemen, disregarding the menace of the swaying wall worked in the piles of mortar, bricks and concrete to dig out the dead and injured.

One of the first of the injured taken out wag a small boy, hardly more than 12 years old. He was pinned from the waist down under twisted wreckage hut retained consciousness. He was unable to speak, however, and his name was not learned.

Ambulances from Emergency, Casualty, Sibley and George Washington hospitals were pressed into service and several ambulances from Walter Reed Hospital brought army surgeons and doctors to lend aid.

Despite the blizzard, some of the escaped audience estimated that at least 500 persons were in the theater. Others placed the audience as high as 1,500. Police were inclined to accept the 500 estimates as nearer the truth. None of the attaches of the theater could be located to give official estimates of the number of tickets sold.

Rescuers were hampered by the swirling snow. Hundreds of jacks were being used to lift the debris. Large portions of the fallen roof remained Intact, making it necessary to dig with picks and crowbars to get to those imprisoned underneath.

Two priests. the Rev. Thomas Walsh, of St. Thomas' Church and the Rev. William Carroll, of St. Paul's Church, administered the last rites of the Catholic church to the dying who could not be reached. Kneeling in the snow and wreckage the two priests alternately prayed and gave their strength in lifting beams from the injured.

Few Make Escape.

A small number managed to escape before the roof crashed. The biggest part of the audience were well down in. front, and few were able to take advantage of the momentary warning given by the roofs supports when they gave way.

The first body to be taken from the ruins was that of Mrs. B. A. Covell, 52. The next victim was a 10-year-old child. The child was crushed and believed fatally hurt.

The roof first began to give sway from the balcony. It swung down, almost touching the heads of the frightened patrons, seemed to hesitate a moment in its deadly drop, then buckled and fell on top of the orchestra seats.

Men and women screamed and tried to jump from their seats, but the falling roof caught most of them. Then, as the sound of crashing and wrenching timbers and girders died away, a stunned silence fell over the scene.

Several persons passing on the street came running toward the theater when they heard the noise of the crash. Soon the smothered moans and shrieks of the injured could be heard coming from under the wreckage.

Two children, Francis and Jack Duncan, 15 to 12 years old, respectively, who had gone to the movie theater without their parents, are believed under the wreckage.

The theater is of brick, has a capacity of 2,000, and was constructed in 1919. Fire apparatus was kept in preparation to act quickly at the first sign of fire, but the fireproof construction tended to minimize this danger.

Troops Rushed to Scene.

Company K of the sixty-fourth Infantry, Fort Myer, reached the theater at 10:45, having made the trip by motor. They used ambulances in rushing troops to the scene and these vehicles were pressed into service to carry the injured to the hospitals.

Officials of Walter Reed hospitals sent about twenty ambulances.

When news of the calamity spread over downtown Washington, there was a rush of anxious relatives to the District Building to inquire for more definite information. But they could not reach the District Building by telephone for twenty-five minutes after the roof crashed, owing to the number of messages from the vicinity of the theater for "help."

Immediately after the crash, police communicated with the other amusement places and warned the managements of danger and informed them of the Knickerbocker Theater accident, several playhouses shortened their shows.

Theater Without Pillars.

The Knickerbocker Theater was constructed on the plan of the "modern" theater style without pillars to block the view of the audience from any part of the house. Steel trestle supported the roof and walls of the building which was built of concrete under fireproof plans.

It is said that the seating capacity was in the neighborhood of 1,500. being the largest "residence" theater in the District. The playhouse had a balcony that seated about 500. When the roof crashed in the balcony fell under the extra weight, hurling the people to the first door.

A staff of about 30 employes operated the theater.

At 11:30 o'clock The Herald was appealed to for assistance in getting hack-saw blades and acetylene torches to clear away the steel girders. The railway companies and the War Department were appealed to. The first torch was rushed to the scene by Augustus Forsberg, of Eighth and Water streets southwest, upon being appealed to by The Herald.

Dr. J. L. Thompson. 1735 Twentieth street northwest, reported before midnight that scores are still pinned beneath the debris, many of whom are conscious and directing their own rescue. He was one of the first physicians to reach the theater.

One of the first problems faced by the rescuers was to get water to the injured. This was done about an hour and a half after the roof crushed in, carrying the balcony with it.

Washington Herald, 28-January-1922

The crowd was watching a comedy, Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford, based on a popular novel and play. Frank Borzage directed. 

Moving Picture World, 26-November-1921

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Sherlock Holmes Stories -- January 27, 2022

Motion Picture News, 07-January-1922

Eille Norwood played Sherlock Holmes and Hubert Willis played Dr John Watson in a series of short films and features made between 1921 and 1923 by Stoll Pictures. The producers replaced Hubert Willis in the last film, a feature based on The Sign of Four.

Holmes fans will know that this was not "The first time that the 'Sherlock Holmes' subjects have found their way to the screen..."

Moving Picture World, 14-January-1922

Moving Picture World, 07-January-1922

At the same time, John Barrymore was preparing to star in an adaption of William Gillette's play. Albert Parker directed. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Century Comedies -- Four Daisies for the Wise Picker -- January 26, 2022

Moving Picture Weekly, 28-January-1922

"The Century Limited" promoted Century Comedies' four series, starring Lee Moran, Harry Sweet, Baby Peggy and Brownie the Century Wonder-Dog.

Motion Picture News, 14-January-1922

   Baby Peggy and Brownie the Century Wonder-Dog were two of Century's biggest stars.

Moving Picture Weekly, 14-January-1922

Lee Moran was the latest comedian to join Century. Before, he had been a member of Lyons and Moran, with Eddy Lyons.

Moving Picture Weekly, 14-January-1922

Motion Picture News, 28-January-1922

"This ad was personally written by Carl Laemmle. Laemmle was the founder and president of Universal. I'll bet he didn't write the ad. Universal distributed several brands of comedies, including Century. 

Moving Picture Weekly, 21-January-1922

Motion Picture News, 07-January-1922

Eddie Lyons, Lee Moran's former partner, was appearing in Arrow Comedies. 

Exhibitors Herald, 14-January-1922

Eternal juvenile Bobby Vernon played in Christie Comedies. 

Motion Picture News, 28-January-1922

Harry Cohn, his brother Jack and Joe Brandt provided the initials for C.B.C. Film Sales Corp. They had been producing the Hallroom Boys Comedies for some time. They added a new series of Carnival Comedies, starring Polly Moran and Smiling Bill Jones.

Moving Picture World, 07-January-1922

The Hallroom Boys Comedies were a long running series of short comedies, based on a comic strip by Harold MacGill. At this point, Sid Smith played Percy and Jimmie Adams had just started to play Ferdy. 
Moving Picture World, 07-January-1922

Exhibitors Herald, 14-January-1922

Hal Roach produced a series of comedies starring Ernest Truex, who I thought was a minor league comic.

Motion Picture News, 07-January-1922

Motion Picture News, 07-January-1922
Jimmy Audrey appeared in comedies for the Vitagraph.

Motion Picture News, 28-January-1922

Please excuse the racism in this scene with Jimmy Aubrey and cannibals. 

Moving Picture Weekly, 14-January-1922
Joe Martin was an every-day average orangutan who was frequently billed as a chimp. With his wife, Mrs Joe Martin, he starred in a series of short comedies.

Moving Picture Weekly, 21-January-1922

Topeka State Journal, 28-January-1922

Johnny Hines was a funny-looking guy who starred in many light comedies during the 1920s. He co-directed Burn 'Em Up Barnes, a feature-length racing comedy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

First National to Revive Chaplin Successes -- January 25, 2022

Motion Picture News, 07-January-1922

The Colonial Theater in Tacoma used a truck with signs depicting both of Charlie Chaplin's characters to promote "The Idle Class."

Motion Picture News, 28-January-1922

First National planned to reissue the four two reelers that Chaplin made before The Kid

Motion Picture News, 21-January-1922

Monday, January 24, 2022

Keep Your Eye on Buster Keaton! -- January 24, 2022

Exhibitors Herald, 21-January-1922

First National, having taken over distribution of Keaton's second season of silent short comedies, was promoting them heavily. The first film of the second season was a great one, "The Boat." "Take a Peek Through the Port Hole in His New Comedy Series."

Exhibitors Herald, 21-January-1922

This item cleverly gives away most of the surprises in the film.

Great Falls Tribune, 01-January-1922

"Keaton's Latest Mirthquake."

Motion Picture News, 21-January-1922

"The Playhouse" opens with Buster playing the actors, the musicians and the audience of a vaudeville show. 

Moving Picture World, 14-January-1922

"Cops" would be another one of Buster's best.