Friday, March 31, 2023

Pola Negri in Bella Donna -- March 31, 2023

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

Pola Negri was born in Poland and became a big star in German movies. In 1922 she went to America. Her first US film was Bella Donna. George Fitzmaurice directed.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

The Covered Wagon -- The Indian Attack -- March 30, 2023

Motion Picture News, 17-March-1923

George N Fenin and William K Everson in their book The Western: from Silents to Cinerama said that The Covered Wagon, directed by James Cruze, may have been the first epic western. Jesse Lasky gave Cruze liberty to shoot on location and spend money. Paramount promoted the film heavily, as we see in this two-page ad with color, which is number 2 of a series.

Future western star Colonel Tim McCoy translated for the native American members of the cast. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Oh Boy! I've Just Signed With Century Comedies -- March 29, 2023

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

Buddy Messinger, native of San Francisco and brother of Gertrude Messinger, had already appeared in many short- and feature-length movies by the time he signed with Century Comedies. I suspect the studio was trying to replace Baby Peggy, who had moved on to feature films.

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

Bobby Dunn was an experienced comic actor. He was one of the original Keystone Kops. Note that the article spells his first name in two different ways. I think "Bobby" was the more common spelling. 

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

"Cameo Clean Cut Comedies" were one-reel comedies released by Educational. "The cleverest and fastest rough and tumble comedies of the day." You can tell that Jack White was involved. 

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

The Christie Film Company was a major producer of short comedies from 1911 to 1933. Educational distributed their films. Al Christie was the director and Charles Christie ran the business. Life Magazine film critic Robert E Sherwood wrote "The Christies are about the only comedy producers since Sidney Drew died who have been able to strike a happy medium between light farce and slap-stick, and it is to be hoped that they will continue the good work -- for the field is limitless."

Christie sent a unit to Honolulu to make "A Hula Honeymoon." The movie must have had a high budget for a two-reel comedy. 

Motion Picture News, 10-March-1923

Christie sent another unit to Truckee to shoot snow scenes for "Winter Has Came." Good title

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

Roach veteran Snub Pollard had moved up from one-reeelers to two-reelers.

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

Hal Roach's new series, Our Gang, was a hit.

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

American Humorist Will Rogers did a series for Roach. I have seen one. It had a lot of verbal humor. 

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

This may seem confusing, but one of Hal Roach's comedy series was called the "Hal Roach Comedies." They were one-reel comedies that alternated between Stan Laurel and Paul Parrott, Charley Chase's brother. 

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

CC Burr produced All Star Comedies. CC Burr produced and Greg La Cava directed. Charlie Murray was a Keystone veteran.

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

Jo-Rok Productions made a series of two-reelers starring and and directed by movie pioneer Joe Rock. 

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

Mack Sennett produced "The Shriek of Araby," starring Ben Turpin in a spoof on Rudolph Valentino. F Richard Jones directed.

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

Sennett and Jones also produced and directed the feature Suzanna, starring the wonderful Mabel Normand. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The Picture the World Has Waited For -- Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood -- March 28, 2023

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

100 years ago this month, Douglas Fairbanks' huge production of Robin Hood was cleaning up at the box office. I like this image.

Casper Daily Tribune, 29-March-1923

I like this image, too.

Monday, March 27, 2023

The Greatest Dramatic Triumph of the Negro Race -- March 27, 2023

New York Age, 24-March-1923

Oscar Micheaux was a pioneer in producing what were known as race films. 100 years ago this month, his film The Virgin of Seminole was showing for three nights at The New Douglas Theater in "Harlem's Largest and Finest Theater."

New York Age, 24-March-1923

Leading lady Shingzie Howard made a personal appearance. "... one of the best films ever produced by Negroes."

New York Age, 31-March-1923

Shingzie Howard made a good impression in her first movie role.

Annapolis Evening Capital, 27-March-1922

The Star Theater in Annapolis was showing another "Oscar Michelaux" movie, The Dungeon

Annapolis Evening Capital, 27-March-1922

Another bill at the Star featured "A Big Colored Production" called Shot in the Night. I assume this is the same movie as a 1922 production, called A Shot in the Night. I haven't found out who produced or directed it, but I will keep digging. 

Omaha New Era, 05-March-1923

Spitfire, on the other hand, was produced by Robert Livy for Reol Productions. It starred Lawrence Chenault. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Sarah Bernardt Dies in Paris -- March 26, 2023

Alaska Daily Empire, 27-March-1923

 One Hundred years ago today, on 26-March-1923 actress Sarah Bernhardt, considered by many at the time to be the greatest actress in the world, died at the age of 78 or so after a long career in the theater. She appeared in her first film in 1900 and her last in 1923, the year she died. 


Greatest Actress of World
Dies, Clasped in Son’s Arms

PARIS, March 27, -- "Divine" Sarah Bernhardt died at 7:59 o'clock last night, expiring in the arms of her son Maurice, who entered the room at that moment.

It seemed as if the great actress’ strength remained until her son, who hurried to the room, could clasp his mother in his arms and gently hold her to his breast so she could breath her last.

Shortly after 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, a priest arrived at the Divine Sarah's apartments to administer the extreme unction.

Father Riesler, who administered the sacrament, said the Divine Sarah was sufficiently conscious to show by her movements of her hands that she understood the ceremony.

The end finally came In the evening at about the hour the world's famous actress was making her first entrance in the make believe drama of life which she had for scores of years portrayed. instead of an entrance into life, she silently, peacefully glided into that peaceful land beyond life, a death scene which she had never enacted upon life's stage.

World's Greatest Actress

Madam Sarah Bernhardt, who at 70 years of life seemed still a girl, was known to every land as "the world's greatest actress." What dissent there might have been to this estimate, and however far her detractors ventured In their attempts to minimize her right to that distinction, the numberless admirers of the "Divine Sarah" remained convinced that never before had the stage produced an actress capable of soaring to such heights in the realm of emotional drama.

The work of Mme. Bernhardt was best where a theme afforded the greatest opportunity for a display of her powerful emotions. At the height of her career this form of acting, used principally on love, hate and jealousy, held the predominant place now dedicated to character delineations, and Bernhardt never was surpassed, her critics say, in this emotional school. Hundreds of parts she either rewrote or created to suit herself, seldom being content to act them as interpreted by others.

Three Generations

Three generations have praised and even worshipped the art of Bernhardt, and hundreds upon thousands of people around the world have thronged to see and marvel at her acting without understanding the French language, which she invarilably employed upon the stage. Once, in Rio de Janeiro, she was called before the curtain more than 100 times by a wildly enthusiastic audlcnee, and many times. In other parts of the world, she was obliged to answer scores of curtain calls at a single performance.

The long llfestory of Bernhardt is almost legendary. Closely woven with dramatic Incident, off as well as on the stage, It was set down by herelf in a lengthy volume published many years ago and, as one of her critics has said, "through the pages of the book peers the face of a woman, a little tired, weary of her own reputation, and blessed with nnre than her share of tho vanities of the sex." As she and others have told the story. It is summed up here:
The date of her birth, the record of which was destroyed in the flames of the Commune in Paris, was comnonly accepted as October 22. 1845. Her mother was Dutch and Jewish, and her natural father a French official.

Goes to Convent

As a child Bernhardt spen much of her time with relatives in Paris, and at the age of 12 was sent to the Grand Champ Convent, Versailles, where she made her debut in a little miracle play given by the children Even at ibis early age. the pale and sickly child is said to have displayed the fits of temper which were characteristic of her stage career.

After a year or two at the convent, she conceived a passionate desire to become a nun. To this her mother recorded unqualified opposition, and suggested a theatrical career instead.

"She's too thin to be an actress," said her god-mother. "Let her be a nun."

"I won't be an actress," little Sarah categorically exclaimed. "Rachel is an actress. She came in the convent and walked around the garden, then she had to sit down because she couldn't get her breath. They fetched her something to bring her around. Buit she was so pale, oh, so pale. I was very sorry for her, un;l the nuns told me that what she was doing was killing her, for she was actress, and so I won't be an actress, I won't."

Fate Steps In

But fate had determined otherwise, and at the ago of 11 Bernhardt was sent to a conservatory. At the end of the first year she won second prize for tragedy. A subscription among the players at the Comedie Francaise enabled her to spend another year at the conservatory, and upon the completion of this she carried off second prize for comedy. Her first public appearance was at the Comedie Francaise in August, 1862. She took a minor part without any marked success.

Five years later she emerged from laborious obscurity with her first definite success as Cordelia in a French translation of "King Lear" at the Odeon, then as Queen in Victor Hugo's "Ruy Blas," and above all, as Zanzett in Francois Coppee's "Le Passant," which she played in 1869.

Is War Nurse

Then came the Franco-Prussian war. Bernhardt increased her popularity by becoming a war nurse. In 1871 she was made a life member of the Comedie Francaise. She clashed repeatedly with M. Perrin, the manager, over the roles she should take, and once in a fit of pique fled from the theater and decided to give up the stage. She plunged into sculpture. Her first piece, "After the Storm" -- finished some years later -- won a place in the Salon. She returned to M. Perrin only to break with him again, incurring a forfeit of 4,000 pounds, which she paid.

She invaded England, receiving a tremendous ovation, then toured Denmark and Russia. Next she came to America, where her success was instantaneous. She toured the United States and Canada eight times in some 35 years, and appeared several times in the larger cities of South America.

Breaking with the theatrical syndicates, which denied her the use of their theaters when she refused to come to their terms, she was compelled to appear on one of her American tours in tents, convention halls and armories. She vowed never to appear in a theater again, but on subsequent visits she came to terms with the syndicates.

Loses Right Leg

The great actress was a grandmother when she last appeared in America, and had suffered amputation of her right leg. Upon her arrival in New York, October, 1916 it was evident to the group of friends and admirers who gathered to welcome her that she walked with extreme difficulty.

While playing in New England she contracted a severe cold which promped her to take, a trip South for her health. A few works later she underwent an operation for infection of the kidney, and although more than 70 years of age. she enjoyed complete recovery and remained in America for several months.

The injury to her knee which compelled the amputation of her leg in 1915 was attributed to many different causes. For years before the amputation the plays in which she appeared were altered to hide the fact that she was able to walk only with great difficulty. The operation was performed in Paris, and upon her recovery she reappeared on the stage to receive the greatest ovation of her career. Her manager announced that henceforth site would interpret only motionless roles.

In Recent World War

During tho World War Bernhardt made several trips to the french front and gave a number of performances for the soldiers. This, she declared, was the "incomparable event" of her life.

The memoirs of Bernhardt sedulously avoid any mention of her marital experience, and only in the middle of the bulky volume does she mention casually the existence of a son. One of her critics declared that "she never seemed to find the man who could master her."

"There was in her," he continued, "the making of a super-woman, and although she met Victor Hugo and the greyest intellectual potentate of her time, the super-man, who alone could hold her, never entered her life."

Years ago a Jealous rival of her theatrical career published a satire entitled "The Story of Sarah Barnum," in which the love-affairs of the actress, real and alleged, were shamelessly laid bare. Bernhardt resorted to the horsewhip to punish the author.

In 1882 the actress; was married to Jacques Damala, a handsome Greek, who hail made a name in the theatrical world through his work in "The Ironmaster." He later took a minor part In one of her plays, but after a year on tour they separated. Later she took him back to her home and nursed him through a fatal siege of consumption.

Mme. Bernhardt's natural son, Maurice, showed no inclination to follow the profession of his mother, and after spending a short time in the French army, he married a Russian Princess. She died after bearing him a daughter, and Maurice Bernhardt took a Parisienne as his second wife.

Physical Description

A physical description of Bernhardt is difficult. In her youth she undoubtedly was what might be called beautiful, although from the French standpoint her slimness was against her. The greatest interest in the actress, aside from her art, was the tenacity with which she clung to her girlish appearance. At 75 she might have passed for a woman of 30, so well had the features of her younger days been preserved.

Bernhardt seems to have had no disillusions about her personal appearance. By themselves her features -- high cheek bones, aquiline nose, and lips parted above an almost masculine chin -- were not pleasing, but taken together they comprised the harmony of expression which gave her the title of "the divine Sarah." She admitted on one occasion that the effect of her long white face rmerging from a long black sheath was by no means pleasant. "In this rig I look like an ant," she said.

Bernhardt was the most famous for her death scenes, but it is doubtful if her breathless, spellbound perhaps, audiences ever knew that many of them were played while the actress was suffering almost unbearable agonies from her various physical ailments, of which she never was heard to complain.

Omaha Bee, 30-March-1923

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Blackhawk Bulletin 256 -- 20% Off Boxing Films --March 25, 2023

Blackhawk Bulletin 256, October 1974

I was an avid reader of the Blackhawk Bulletin, even though I rarely had enough money to buy any movies from Blackhawk Films. I would like to have purchased these fight films, especially at 20% off.

I was excited to learn that scans of many issues were available at the HMH Foundation Moving Image Archives at USC:
USC HMH Foundation Moving Image Archive » Blackhawk Films’ Catalogs (

Friday, March 24, 2023

F Scott Fitzgerald -- Gloria was Beautiful and Anthony Was Damned -- March 24, 2023

Motion Picture News, 17-March-1923

The Warner Brothers heavily promoted their adaption of F Scott Fitzgerald's second novel, The Beautiful and Damned. I need to read it again.

Marie Prevost played Gloria Gilbert and Kenneth Harlan played Anthony Patch. Prevost later married Harlan in real life.

San Antonio Light, 18-March-1923

Daily Kennebec Journal, 14-March-1922

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Radio Moves are Next -- March 23, 2023

Alaska Daily Empire, 28-March-1923

American inventor Charles Francis Jenkins demonstrated and patented a successful electro-mechanical television system in October 1922. He did much of his work in parallel with Scottish inventor John Logie Baird. "Remain at Home to See Show."

Seattle Star, 24-March-1923

Meanwhile back in the movie theaters, inventor Lee De Forest gave a public demonstration of his Phonofilm process, which recorded images and sound on the same strip of film.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Grauman's Egyptian Theater -- March 22, 2023

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

The American Seating Company was proud to have supplied the seats for Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theater, which opened in in 1922. The theater still exists.

Los Angeles Evening Express, 10-March-1923

Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks premiered at the Egyptian on 18-October-1922 and was still playing there 100 years ago this month, in March, 1923.

Grauman's Chinese Theater, also on Hollywood Boulevard. opened in 1927.

Los Angeles Times, 01-March-1923

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Strongheart and Rin-Tin-Tin -- March 21, 2023

Gardnerville Record-Courier, 02-March-1923

Audiences at the Rex Theater in Gardnerville, Nevada must have liked dogs. The Man From Hell River (should have been The Man From Hell's River) with Rin-Tin-Tin was going to be followed by Strongheart the WonderDog in Brawn of the North. I like the image of Strongheart. Irving Cummings directed Hell's River. Jane Murfin and Lawrence Trimble directed Brawn of the North.

Motion Picture News, 31-March-1923

The Warner Brothers' production of Wolf Fangs was working in the mountains of Plumas County, California when a major blizzard put the show three weeks behind schedule. Rin-Tin-Tin starred. Chester Franklin directed. The movie was renamed as The White Silence (good choice) and released as Where the North Begins (better choice).

Monday, March 20, 2023

The Boy Wonder and the Studio Queen -- March 20, 2023

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

I thought it was interesting that I found items about both Irving Thalberg and Norma Shearer this month.

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

Norma Shearer was nearly 21 when the top article lauded her work. She had been in the movies since 1919. Irving Thalberg was nearly 24 when he moved to Louis B Mayer's Metro Pictures Corporation "as vice-president and manager of productions." He was called a boy wonder, and he stayed with Metro and its successors, including M-G-M, for the rest of his short life. 

Shearer and Thalberg married on 19-September-1927, They were a real power couple as a star (Norma) and a senior executive at M-G-M. Thalberg died in 1936. 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Happy Saint Joseph's Day, 2023 -- March 19, 2023

Happy Saint Joseph's Day to my fellow Joes. One of my favorite movie Joes is Mighty Joe Young. Willis O'Brien led the animation team and Ray Harryhausen did much of the animating. Ernest B Schoedsack directed and his frequent partner Merian C Cooper wrote the script. 

Terry Moore takes her pet gorilla Joe Young to Hollywood in an attempt to save the family ranch. Robert Armstrong plays his usual hustler, who tries to market Joe. The scene where the orphanage burns at the end makes my eyes water.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Chaplin Pleads Poverty -- March 18, 2023

Chicago Tribune, 10-March-1923

I like the designs of these ads for Chaplin's four reel ("His first big picture since 'The Kid'") "The Pilgrim" and Ben Turpin's "The Shriek of Araby."

Alaska Daily Empire, 28-March-1923

Men of the cloth in Walla Walla Washington did not find "The Pilgrim" amusing. 

Motion Picture News, 17-March-1923

Everyone else found "The Pilgrim" amusing. This item claims that it played at 130 theaters served by FBO's Manhattan Exchange in the same week.

Motion Picture News, 03-March-1923

First National ordered 200 prints and planned to order 25 more. These were big numbers at the time. 

Motion Picture News, 24-March-1923

Meanwhile, Harry Aiken, formerly of the Mutual, was planning to repackage Keystone comedies, especially those with Chaplin made during 1914. 

New Britain Herald, 01-March-1923

We saw last month that there were strong rumors that Chaplin was going to marry Pola Negi. In this item, Chaplin claimed that he was "too poor" to marry her. That will sound hilarious to people who know that Chaplin was rich but will be understandable to people who remember that he grew up in terrible poverty. 

Friday, March 17, 2023

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, 2023 -- March 17, 2023

Orange County Plain Dealer, 16-February-1923

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone.

The United Theater in Anaheim invited people to "Enjoy Saint Patrick's Day by Seeing a Real Irish Picture." Come on Over starred Colleen Moore and was based on a musical with a book by Rupert Hughes. Hughes was the uncle of Howard Hughes. Alfred E Greene directed.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

WC Fields -- George White's Scandals -- March 16, 2022

Chicago Tribune, 11-March-1923

100 years ago this month, WC Fields was touring in the current edition of George White's Scandals.

George White's Scandals was a touring review like Earl Carroll's Vanities, the Ziegfeld Follies and the Passing Shows. The Scandals featured lots of showgirls wearing very few clothes. 

After a long career in vaudeville, WC Fields made his film debut in 1915, but then returned to the stage, including the Follies, the Passing Shows, the Vanities and the 1922 edition of the Scandals. His film career would revive in 1924.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Hoot Gibson Appears to be Sitting on a Bear -- March 15, 2023


Casper Daily Tribune, 11-March-1923

I always enjoy Hoot Gibson movies. He added a lot of comedy to his films. Kindled Courage was directed by William Worthington. I like the image of old Hoot. 

In the first still from Single Handed, Hoot saws on a fiddle while Elinor Field shows her appreciation. In the second, Hoot appears to be sitting on a bear. Eddie Sedgwick directed.

Motion Picture News, 17-March-1923

Leo Maloney starred in a series of short westerns. "Double Clinched" was directed by Ford Beebeand Leo Maloney. The guy with the striped suit, played by Bud Osborne, is an escaped convict posing as a minister who marries Leo and Pauline Curley. 

Motion Picture News, 17-March-1923