Sunday, April 30, 2023

Christie Comedies -- New Ideas -- New Laughs -- April 30, 2023

Motion Picture News, 14-April-1923

Christie Comedies were becoming more ambitious. "Backgrounds from Hawaii to Alaska -- different in every picture. "Green as Grass," centered on horse racing, starred Jimmie Adams and was directed by Scott Sidney. "... a fast and thrilling race of laughs."

Motion Picture News, 14-April-1923

Jimmie Adams and Charlotte Herriam. 

Motion Picture News, 14-April-1923

Unfortunately, Christie chose to make "Roll Along" with his actors in black face. Scott Sidney directed The movie was shot along the Sacramento River but set along the Mississippi. Jimmie Adams played Rastus Jones. "Every actor in the picture will be in burnt cork, that is to say there will be no real colored folks in the piece..."

Motion Picture News, 07-April-1923

Century Comedies, which had produced short comedies like "Sky High" was going to feature their biggest star, Baby Peggy, in a feature-length movie. Elsie Jane Wilson was to direct, but King Baggott would end up with the credit.  

Motion Picture News, 14-April-1923

Doris Eaton became known as the "Last Surviving Ziegfeld Girl" before she died in 2010. She appeared in three editions of the Ziegfeld Follies between 1918 and 1920. Her husband Joe Gorham, a former director for Flo Ziegfeld, produced a revue called the Gorham Follies. Joe Gorham died six months after they married, leaving Doris a widow at 19. At least two short comedies in the Gorham Follies series were produced. 

Doris and her sisters Pearl and Mary, all beautiful, appeared in several editions of the Ziegfeld Follies.

Motion Picture News, 14-April-1923

Hal Roach was producing short comedies which alternated between Paul Parrot, brother of Charley Chase, and Stan Laurel. 

Motion Picture News, 28-April-1923

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

Motion Picture News, 28-April-1923

Snub Pollard had his own series of two-reelers for Roach.

Motion Picture News, 07-April-1923

Lloyd Hamilton had his own series released by Educational. "His unerring sense of comedy..."

Motion Picture News, 14-April-1923

"The majority of  'F. O. B.' was shot in a box car ... The cast of 'F. O. B.' has no women."

Motion Picture News, 14-April-1923

Educational released Mermaid Comedies, produced by Jack White and often starring Lige Conley. Note the lion.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

The Covered Wagon -- Fording the River and The Buffalo Hunt -- April 29, 2023

Motion Picture News, 14-April-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 4 of a series.

Tim McCoy, who served as a technical adviser, remembered that many families had answered the call for covered wagons by bringing the ones their families had used to go west less than 70 years before. McCoy said that whole families came and treated the shoot like a camping trip and a picnic. 

Motion Picture News,

The buffalo hunt was shot on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. Some animals, then very endangered, were hurt or killed.

Motion Picture News, 28-April-1923

The movie opened to good business on the West Coast. 

Friday, April 28, 2023

Adele Mara 100 -- April 28, 2023

Actress Adele Mara was born 100 years ago today, on 28-April-2023. She appeared in many movies and television shows. She married novelist and television show devisor Roy Huggins.

I have never seen this movie, but I have a feeling it has something to do with tigers.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Phonofilm Demonstration Tonight -- April 27, 2023

Film Daily, 04-April-1923

Doctor Lee De Forest was to give a public demonstration of his Phonofilm process, which recorded images and sound on the same strip of film. De Forest used the work of associate Theodore Case and his Case Research Lab. De Forest did not share credit. The demonstration may have been held at the Engineering Societies' Building which still stands at 25 West 39th Street in Manhattan.

Film Daily, 04-April-1923

De Forest proposed a weekly release program of Phonofilms. 

Motion Picture News, 07-April-1923

The Pathé Company announced that its weekly Pathé Review would include sections in Pathécolor, a stencil process rather than a natural color process. 

Motion Picture News, 28-April-1923

Sections of Cosmopolitan's movie Enemies of Women were hand-colored. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Micheaux Shooting Thrilling 8-Reeler -- April 26, 2023

Pittsburgh Courier, 07-April-1922

Oscar Micheaux was a pioneer in producing what were known as race films. 100 years ago this month, he was working on The Ghost of Tolston's Manor, one of Oscar Micheaux's many silent films that are presumed to be lost.

Pittsburgh Courier, 07-April-1922

Robert Levy, organizer of the Lafayette Players and Reol Productions, worked to try to find enough "Race Attractions" to keep the segregated theaters busy. Levy was born in Britain of Jewish parentage, but he was strongly and positively involved in African-American show business. 

Motion Picture News, 28-April-1923

Al Christie, producer of mainstream short comedies, decided to put his performers in black face. "...a comedy of this type has never been attempted seriously by a high-class producing organization."

Birmingham News, 17-April-1923

Facing a shortage of race film items from April 1923, I jumped ahead to April 1948. The Birmingham theater billed itself as the "Biggest and Best Colored Theater," but it was showing a Gary Cooper movie. 

Memphis Press-Scimitar, 01-April-1923

You could purchase the Tennessee Theater in Memphis for $9500. Unless this was an April Fool's gag. 

Charlotte News, 03-October-1923

Some newspapers printed lists of "Negro Theaters." Notice that most of the movies are mainstream productions. The Return of Mandy's Husband was a race film starring frequent partners Mantan Moreland and Flournoy Miller. If Deadline was a race film, I can't find anything about it. 

Detroit Tribune, 10-April-1948

Mantan Moreland also starred in a 30-minute short subject, "The Dreamer." William Forest Crouch directed. "O'Voutie O'Rooney," starring the inimitable Slim Gaillard, was also a featurette. Jack Rieger directed.

Arizona Daily Star, 29-April-1948

The New Royal Theater in Phoenix was showing That Man of Mine, made in 1946, which was Ruby Dee's first movie. I cannot find a war propaganda film named "Call to Duty." Phoenix's Plaza Theater was showing movies from Mexico. Do those count as race films?

Seattle Northwest Enterprise, 04-April-1948

Reet, Petite, and Gone was a 1947 movie that starred bandleader Louis Jordan, "The Amazing Man of Music!" I didn't know about Louis Jordan until someone played "Saturday Night Fish Fry" on KJAZ. I went looking for him at Tower Records. I still love his music. William Forest Crouch directed.

The bill at Seattle's Metropolitan Theater also included Laurel and Hard in The Flying Deuces and "One World or None," a short film from the National Committee on Atomic Information. I might have visited the concessions when that one was playing.

Arizona Daily Star, 06-April-1948

Beware! was a 1946 movie that starred Louis Jordan with an "All Negro Cast." Bud Pollard directed.

Oklahoma City Black Dispatch, 29-April-1948

Killer Diller was a comedy starring Dusty Fletcher and featuring a skad of musical acts including the King Cole Trio. Josh Binney directed. 

Detroit Tribune, 17-April-1948

The first race I saw may have been Spirit of Youth, a 1937 film starring heavyweight champ Joe Louis. It turned up on a local UHF program called The Worst of Hollywood

Joe Louis starred in a 1948 race film called The Fight Never Ends. The Mills Brothers provided some music and Ruby Dee played an early role. Bud Pollard directed.

Detroit Tribune, 17-April-1948

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Harry Belafonte RIP -- April 25, 2023

Harry Belafonte, actor, singer and advocate for civil rights and human rights, has died. My parents had a record album that included "The Banana Boat Song" (Day-O). That may been the first Caribbean music that I heard. He went through with dignity and an open heart.

San Antonio Palace Theater -- April 25, 2024

Motion Picture News, 07-April-1923

This ad for Nicholas Powers projectors features a nice view of the newly opened Palace Theater in San Antonio Texas.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Buster Keaton Winner -- April 24, 2023

Los Angeles Times, 01-April-1923

I was interested to learn that there was a racehorse named "Buster Keaton." In 1923, he was running as a two-year-old. I have to find more information about the stallion.
New York Daily News, 06-April-1923

Buster Keaton's "The Electric House" received a thoughtful review in the New York Daily News. Note that the photo captioned "Keaton Senior" is a photo of Buster's frequent co-worker Big Joe Roberts. 

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Charlie Chaplin -- Fresh From Craplin's Fun Factory -- Aptil 23, 2023

Washington Evening Star, 14-April-1923

Chaplin's escaped convict posed as a minister in "The Pilgrim." I wonder if the writing on the top of this ad was on purpose. 

A lobby display in New York City contrasted the convict and the minister. < br />

Brownsville Herald, 21-April-1923

The way that this ad misspells his name is unfortunate.

Brownsville Herald, 21-April-1923

Meanwhile, lots of Chaplin films were being rereleased. I assume that Tillie's Romance is a rerelease of the 1914 feature Tillie's Punctured Romance, a Mack Sennett production which starred Marie Dressler. 

Perth Amboy Evening News, 30-April-1923

This all-comedy bill included:
The Bank -- Charlie Chaplin -- Essanay -- 1915
Bumping Into Broadway -- Harold Lloyd -- Roach -- 1919
The Bakery -- Larry Semon -- Vitagraph -- 1921

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Friday, April 21, 2023

John Mortimer 100 -- April 21, 2023

Biddeford Maine Journal-Tribune, 30-January-1993

John Mortimer was born 100 years ago today, on 21-April-1923. He was a writer and a barrister. I have read many of his stories about Horace Rumpole. I loved the television series Rumpole of the Bailey with Leo McKern.