Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Mabel Normand Broke All House Records -- January 31, 2024

Film Daily, 27-January-1924

Back around 1970, our public television station, KQED-Channel 9, showed a series of silent movies from the Paul Killiam collection. These may have been the first silents that I saw with tinting and good musical scores. One of the movies that I remember best was The Extra Girl with Mabel Normand. Mack Sennett produced, and F Richard Jones directed. 

Mabel Normand's career had been impeded by her being accused of involvement in various scandals, including Roscoe Arbuckle's and the murder of William Desmond Taylor. Some theaters stopped showing her films. The Extra Girl gave her career new life. 

Film Daily, 03-January-1924

Film Daily, 07-January-1924

Film Daily, 09-January-1924

Film Daily, 14-January-1924

Film Daily, 16-January-1924

Film Daily, 18-January-1924

Film Daily, 20-January-1924

Film Daily, 22-January-1924

Film Daily, 24-January-1924

Film Daily, 27-January-1924

Film Daily, 31-January-1924

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Lillian Gish -- Not a Movie -- A Work of Art! -- January 30, 2024

Motion Picture News, 12-January-1924

The White Sister was based on the play by F Marion Crawford and Walter C Hackett, and the novel by Crawford. The film, shot in Rome and Naples, starred Lillian Gish and Ronald Colman. Henry King directed. Lillian Gish became entangled romantically and legally with Charles Duell, president of Inspiration Pictures, Inc. "Not a Movie -- A Work of Art!"

Motion Picture News, 26-January-1924

Monday, January 29, 2024

Dorothy Malone 100 -- January 29, 2023
Actress Dorothy Malone was born 100 years ago today, on 29-January-2024. I love her small part in The Big Sleep as the bookstore clerk who entertains Humphrey Bogart's Philip Marlowe on a rainy afternoon.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Lloyd Hamilton Was Never Funnier -- January 28, 2024

Motion Picture News, 19-January-1924

Lloyd Hamilton starred in a series of two-reel comedies released by Educational. Many are lost.

Motion Picture News, 26-January-1924

Note the dogs in the top center photo. 

Film Daily, 28-January-1924

Film Daily, 31-January-1924

Some of us will remember that in 1923, Al Jolson signed a contract to star in a movie produced by DW Griffith. Jolson got cold feet and broke the contract. Albert L Grey was DW Griffith's brother, who worked on many of his films. Lloyd Hamilton replaced Jolson in the movie that was made, "His Darker Self." I love Lloyd Hamilton, but the movie is revolting. I will write more about it in the coming months.

Film Daily, 28-January-1924

Film Daily, 09-January-1924

Juvenile Comedies must have been Educational's response to Roach's Our Gang. Jack White produced and Earl Montgomery directed "About Face."

Film Daily, 07-January-1924

Film Daily, 31-January-1924

Educational offered free ad mats for their short subjects. These could be run as stand-alone newspaper ads or inserted into larger ads. Brian Foy directed Harry Tighe, Ned Sparks and Doris Deane in "One Night it Rained."

Motion Picture News, 12-January-1924

Baby Peggy Montgomery had been Century's biggest comedy star. She moved on to starring in features for Universal. 

Motion Picture News, 12-January-1924

Giant Jack Earle starred with Harry McCoy in Century's "Obey the Law." Robert Kerr directed. 

Motion Picture News, 05-January-1924

Fox Sunshine's "The Income Tax Collector" starred Lew Brice as a man hated by everyone. Erle C Kenton directed. Lew was Fanny Brice's brother. 

Motion Picture News, 05-January-1924

Archie Mayo directed Al St John in Fox Sunshine's "Spring Fever."

Film Daily, 10-January-1924

I know precisely nothing about Jazz Comedies, but "jazz" was a very popular word in 1924. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Stole Tickets; Gets Two Years -- January 27, 2024

New York Age, 19-January-1924

Oscar Micheaux's film Birthright was based on the novel by Thomas Sigismund Stribling. It played at Harlem's Lafayette Theater. The film is probably lost. 

Roanoke Times, 31-January-1924

This guy got two years for "housebreaking and stealing tickets from the colored theater..." Another article said he was caught when he tried to use one of the tickets.

Film Daily, 02-January-1924

Reol Productions made several features and documentaries. 

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, 30-November-1922

A Reol production.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Demonstration of Phonofilm Assures Speaking Movies/Do It in Technicolor -- January 26, 2023

Washington Evening Star, 05-January-1924

Lee De Forest, a pioneer in vacuum tubes and radio, introduced his Phonofilm sound-on-film picture process in 1923.

Demonstration of Phonofilm
Assures Speaking Movies

By the Associated Press
CLEVELAND. Ohio. January 5. -- The phonofilm, a combination of radio and motion pictures, the invention of Dr. Lee De Forest, has been demonstrated successfully, according to those who have heard and seen the talking pictures. It is his object to produce motion pictures in which the characters speak. Dr. De Forest gives this explanation of the process:

"In the studio a motion picture is taken in the usual manner, but in addition to tbe camera lens, which registers action, a microphone registers every sound made by the actor. A wire from the microphone passes through an audion amplifier to a gas-filled tube, called the photion, located in the camera. The light from this tube fluctuates in exact accordance with the amplified telephonic currents which originates from the actor's lips.

Sound Waves Photographed.

"A very line slit is located near the negative film, through which these fluctuating light rays are registered on the sensitive emulsion of the negative as fine lines which are actual photographic sound waves and, being on the same film as the picture, insure perfect synchronism at all times.

"A positive print then is made in the usual manner. In reproducing, a small attachment is placed on the standard motion picture machine. This attachment contains a small incandescent lamp, which is placed in front of the photographed sound waves on the films. This light, passing through the sound record, falls upon a photo-electric cell, its brilliancy being governed by the density of the photographed sound waves. The photo-electric cell’s electrical resistance at any instant is determined by the amount of light falling upon it.

Synchronize Sound and Sight.

"The telephonic current from the cell then is passed through the audion amplifier, where it is built up hundreds of thousands of times. Thus, the actor's words are converted into telephonic currents, amplified, photographically registered on the film and eventually transformed back again into telephonic currents, which are made audible by the loud speaker.

"As the motion picture must be projected upon a screen to be viewed, it is likewise necessary to project the sound, in order that it may appear to come from the actor's lips. This is done simply by running a lamp cord from the machine to the screen, where a loudspeaker is attached."

Motion Picture News, 05-January-1924

The use of Technicolor as an extra in feature films was growing. In Cecil B DeMille's Ten Commandments, the Biblical prologue was shot in Technicolor. 

Motion Picture News, 05-January-1924

Paramount announced that its first color film would be an adaption of Zane Grey's novel Wanderer of the Wasteland

Film Daily, 10-January-1924

"Do it in Technicolor."

Thursday, January 25, 2024

San Francisco has Attractive Egyptian Theatre in the Alexandria -- January 25, 2024

Moving Picture World, 04-November-1922

In November, I missed the chance to note the 100th anniversary of the opening of San Francisco's Alexandria Theater. The Alexandria was the largest theater in my old neighborhood, the Richmond District. I remember going with my family to see Cromwell (yech) and Oliver! I was so young that I started to sing along with the music until someone told me to shut up. 

In 1941, the theater was redecorated in the Streamline Moderne style. Most of the Egyptian decorative elements were removed. I'm sorry they didn't leave the cats.

Years later, after the balcony and loge had been converted to separate theaters, my fiancé, (now my wife) and I saw a Disney revival in the balcony while a Star Wars movie played in the main house. We could hear the loud parts very clearly. 

I always enjoyed looking at the Alexandria's tall blade sign from my parents' back window. 

The theater closed in 2004 and has been gutted and converted into an "aquatic center."

San Francisco has Attractive Egyptian
Theatre in the Alexandria

ONCE more San Francisco has surpassed herself in building a new theatre, the Alexandria, one of the most distinctive motion picture houses to be found in the city.

The Alexandria, an Egyptian theatre, dedicated November 26, was built at a cost of $350,000. It is at the corner of Eighteenth Avenue and Geary Street, in the new "Million Dollar Business District" of San Francisco. George A. Oppenheimer and Alex E. Levin are the owners.

The Alexandria Egyptian Theatre introduces a new idea in theatre construction. At the entrance of the theatre are two guarding Sphinxes. The floor of the outer foyer is laid with big stone blocks carved in conventional Egyptian designs. Rameses heads topping pilasters in the main auditorium have niches cut out for alabaster jars from which are produced diffused lighting effects. The winged circle is used in the decorative scheme.

At either side of the motion picture screen are huge columns, and projecting over it is a canopy suggestive of Cleopatra's time. All seats are on one floor. The theatre accommodates 2,000 people. Loges and boxes are in a section which inclines easily from about the center of the auditorium to a comfortable altitude at the rear. The absence of the balcony gives the auditorium the effect of spaciousness and contributes to the efficiency of ventilation.

It is the stage which registers the impression of "something different" in the Alexandria Egyptian Theatre. The curtain is cloth of silver with a delicate pink background, which scintillates to a myriad of tints with the change of lights.

An innovation is the modern stage device which, under the control of hidden machinery, slides out over the orchestra revealing a special stage setting of black and gold. This set. used the opening night for the re-introduction to San Francisco of Ben Black's band, created something like a sensation among the patrons of the theatre.

The stage, at the right and left, is flanked by huge Egyptian columns. From the proscenium arch projects a silken canopy. On the supporting brackets are images of the sacred Egyptian cat.

In the Alexandria, Alex E. Levin achieves a life-long ambition. It was his conception. He has grown up with the motion picture business, and all during the construction of the Alexandria he poured into the enterprise experiences necessary to make it the success it is. His energy and inspiration adding to the magnificence of the theatre.

George A. Oppenheimer represents the type of man who chooses to put wealth and brains into the motion picture business. As head of the organization, George A. Oppenheimer, Inc, he is distributor in California, Nevada, Arizona and the Hawaiian Islands for Warner Brothers "Classics of the Screen."

Reid Brothers, builders of many San Francisco theatres, were the architects.

As a special feature for children the Alexandria presents the fairy tales made for youthful eyes with a cast of 1,300 children. "The Kiddies' Matinee," Saturday afternoons, is one of the ideas for which Alex Levin is known, his claim of having been the first San Francisco theatre manager to introduce the children's matinee with special films and entertainment suitable for the younger patrons being substantiated by the motion picture-loving public.

The Alexandria is equipped with a Wurlitzer organ which rises from the orchestra pit. Frederic Rowley is the organist. Ben Black's Band introduced a new song, "Alexandria," written for and dedicated to the theatre, on the opening night.

Mirrors reflecting each interesting architectural design and setting, the Egyptian jar which bubbles over with refreshing drinking water at the touch of a spring, and each detail of the Alexandria Egyptian Theatre all tend toward pronouncing this beautiful new San Francisco theatre as "The motion picture theatre with a personality." -- Gross

Moving Picture World, 04-November-1922

San Francisco Chronicle, 26-January-1924

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Charles Osgood, RIP -- January 24, 2024

CBS News

Charles Osgood died. I loved listening to his Osgood Files essays on KCBS. We didn't get to watch CBS Sunday Morning very often, but we enjoyed it.

John Belushi 75 -- January 24, 2024

John Belushi was born 75 years ago today, on 24-January-1949. He died far too young on 05-March-1982 because of the damned drugs. I first saw him on Saturday Night Live. I remember the samurai, the restaurant guy and the Killer Bees.

Animal House and The Blues Brothers made a big impression on me. I have grown to like 1941

Director Harold Ramis was going to make a movie out of John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces with John Belushi, but it never happened.