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28Silent

Tid bits about Lionel Atwill

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I read this years ago, but, do you know that Lionel Atwill was a swinger? I was surprised when I read it. He had an understanding wife. His home was on an Island, I forgot the name of it.He would have wild parties on the weekends, including stag films. Before a guest was allowed to come in, they had to go through an examination, by a real doctor, to make sure they had no disease. Knowing the Hays code, he was very discreet and kept it away from his work. The moguls knew what he did and were worried that if the public found out it would have a bad effect on the studio. Because of this, he ended up making films from smaller studios.  

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Yes, I had read that several years ago in a bio about him and George Zucco.  Atwill's "sex parties" pretty much tanked his career in the 1940's.  In my opinion, assuming it was among consenting adults, no big deal.  Hollywood and its "scandals" but the studio overlords behaved in public like a bunch of sanctimonious prudes.

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I've never understood the need people have to focus on the sordid details of stars' lives. Focus on the films instead.

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Here's a tidbit that's not so scandalous. Lionel Atwill originally wanted to be an architect. I think he even went to school for it, but I could be wrong.

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9 hours ago, TopBilled said:

I've never understood the need people have to focus on the sordid details of stars' lives. Focus on the films instead.

I agree about focusing on the films but sometimes "sordid details" aren't all that sordid but Hollywood honchos wanted their stars to be heterosexual and squeaky clean.  People aren't always like that in real life.  I find it interesting how actors had to navigate their personal reality with their silver screen images.  

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30 minutes ago, ChristineHoard said:

I agree about focusing on the films but sometimes "sordid details" aren't all that sordid but Hollywood honchos wanted their stars to be heterosexual and squeaky clean.  People aren't always like that in real life.  I find it interesting how actors had to navigate their personal reality with their silver screen images.  

It wasn't that Hollywood honchos wanted their stars to be a certain way,  but that movie goers wanted their stars to be a certain way.     The suits couldn't care less,  but had to act like they did to protect profits.

 

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1 minute ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

It wasn't that Hollywood honchos wanted their stars to be a certain way,  but that movie goers wanted their stars to be a certain way.     The suits could care less,  but had to act like they did to protect profits.

 

Did you mean "The suits couldn't care less"?  There's a difference.

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I've been a fan of  Lionel Atwill for years since I was in high school and saw him as Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes Basil Rathbone movies.

 It was only recently, fairly recently that I heard about these wild parties which wrecked the end of his career.

My understanding was that it went to trial because there were minors involved.

I think that people are interested in this sort of thing when it truly does prevent an actor from continuing on the level he had been on.

It's not just prurient gossip if this sort of thing destroys or nearly destroys an actor 's career. It's something that you need to know if you are a fan, and certainly if you are a film historian or Critic and you're evaluating someone's film career.

17 hours ago, 28Silent said:

I read this years ago, but, do you know that Lionel Atwill was a swinger? I was surprised when I read it. He had an understanding wife. His home was on an Island, I forgot the name of it.He would have wild parties on the weekends, including stag films. Before a guest was allowed to come in, they had to go through an examination, by a real doctor, to make sure they had no disease. Knowing the Hays code, he was very discreet and kept it away from his work. The moguls knew what he did and were worried that if the public found out it would have a bad effect on the studio. Because of this, he ended up making films from smaller studios.  

 

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1 minute ago, Princess of Tap said:

I've been a fan of  Lionel Atwill for years since I was in high school and saw him as Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes Basil Rathbone movies.

 It was only recently, fairly recently that I heard about these wild parties which wrecked the end of his career.

My understanding was that it went to trial because there were minors involved.

I think that people are interested in this sort of thing when it truly does prevent an actor from continuing on the level he had been on.

It's not just prurient gossip if this sort of thing destroys or nearly destroys an actor 's career. It's something that you need to know if you are a fan, and certainly if you are a film historian or Critic and you're evaluating someone's film career.

Can't say I agree. I think the films can be looked at without any focus on the stuff that was happening in the stars' private lives. And there are plenty of other meaningful things film historians can focus on when examining a career in motion pictures. 

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24 minutes ago, ChristineHoard said:

Did you mean "The suits couldn't care less"?  There's a difference.

Yes,  I did:   So ,  thanks I made the correction.

 

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19 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

I think that people are interested in this sort of thing when it truly does prevent an actor from continuing on the level he had been on.

I agree with this;  there is a legit historical interest in knowing why an actor's career was impacted.  E.g. take Ingrid Bergman;  Her affair, with director Rossellini,  which lead to a child, caused a huge scandal in the United States, where it led to Bergman being denounced on the floor of the US Senate.

Someone reviewing her filmography would naturally wonder "why did she make no American films from 1950 - 1956,   but instead Italian films'?      

To me that type of information should be provided by a TCM host;  It isn't about shaming an actor but instead providing useful historical context.

 

 

 

 

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I'll give an example that I had an experience with as an ordinary adolescent fan.

We didn't have any kind of internet or fluid information on old movie stars in the 1950s and 60s. You had to rely on the public library if they had a current biography on somebody or maybe a microfiche from an old newspaper.

 I had seen Larry Parks in the Jolson story and in Jolson sings again.

As a fan I was crazy about him and I thought he had done some of the best work I've ever seen and I couldn't figure out why he seemed to just fade away after these movies. I couldn't find anything about him or see what happened to him.

I can remember seeing him in a movie called Freud for a few minutes.

I think I must have been in college or graduate school probably taking a film course when I found out he had been blacklisted for membership in the Communist Party.

Knowledge about an actor or actress' real life and how that affects their professional career is absolutely necessary and understandable if you're going to review or even comprehend  the quality and quantity of their work.

 It might even be just knowledge about an illness, a divorce, tax problems or a myriad of problems like Charlie Chaplin,  Fatty Arbuckle or Roman Polanski had.

Whether you're in show business or just in an every day job or profession, your personal life and how you lead it is always a factor.

Another example would be how the Warner Brothers stars like Bette Davis, James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland got punished and fought back because they were fighting Jack Warner over their contracts. That's a very interesting Hollywood Story.

 

6 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Can't say I agree. I think the films can be looked at without any focus on the stuff that was happening in the stars' private lives. And there are plenty of other meaningful things film historians can focus on when examining a career in motion pictures. 

 

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19 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

I'll give an example that I had an experience with as an ordinary adolescent fan.

We didn't have any kind of internet or fluid information on old movie stars in the 1950s and 60s. You had to rely on the public library if they had a current biography on somebody or maybe a microfiche from an old newspaper.

 I had seen Larry Parks in the Jolson story and in Jolson sings again.

As a fan I was crazy about him and I thought he had done some of the best work I've ever seen and I couldn't figure out why he seemed to just fade away after these movies. I couldn't find anything about him or see what happened to him.

I can remember seeing him in a movie called Freud for a few minutes.

I think I must have been in college or graduate school probably taking a film course when I found out he had been blacklisted for membership in the Communist Party.

Knowledge about an actor or actress' real life and how that affects their professional career is absolutely necessary and understandable if you're going to review or even comprehend  the quality and quantity of their work.

 It might even be just knowledge about an illness, a divorce, tax problems or a myriad of problems like Charlie Chaplin,  Fatty Arbuckle or Roman Polanski had.

Whether you're in show business or just in an every day job or profession, your personal life and how you lead it is always a factor.

Another example would be how the Warner Brothers stars like Bette Davis, James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland got punished and fought back because they were fighting Jack Warner over their contracts. That's a very interesting Hollywood Story.

Again I am going to have to disagree. These are interesting stories about the private lives of stars. But the films themselves exist on a whole other level. And to me, the two are very separate from one another. I cannot go along with justifying a discussion about someone's sex life and trying to correlate that to a film performance. We're going to have to respectfully disagree and move on to other topics now. Thanks.

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And the topic isn't just about sex-- it's about any relevant thing that's of an issue and in the life of an artist..

But ostrich commentary could be your cup of tea but it's not mine. Later...

51 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Again I am going to have to disagree. These are interesting stories about the private lives of stars. But the films themselves exist on a whole other level. And to me, the two are very separate from one another. I cannot go along with justifying a discussion about someone's sex life and trying to correlate that to a film performance. We're going to have to respectfully disagree and move on to other topics now. Thanks.

 

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9 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

And the topic isn't just about sex-- it's about any relevant thing that's of an issue and in the life of an artist..

But ostrich commentary could be your cup of tea but it's not mine. Later...

I think you were trying to stretch your argument to include blacklisting which is not what the OP was getting at, because Atwill was not blacklisted. I think you went off on a tangent to justify gossiping about stars' private lives and it's not something I'm ever going to agree with, sorry to say. I didn't like your need to keep arguing or adding what seemed like an insult at the end of your post (the ostrich jab).

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  Talking about Jack Warner and Hollywood contracts is not a tangent.

 

And I was talking about Hollywood golden age film activity in general.

 

But I'm a pragmatic realistic person and that's just the way life is and sometimes we don't have any choice in the matter.

11 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

I think you were trying to stretch your argument to include blacklisting which is not what the OP was getting at, because Atwill was not blacklisted. I think you went off on a tangent to justify gossiping about stars' private lives and it's not something I'm ever going to agree with, sorry to say. I didn't like your need to keep arguing or adding what seemed like an insult at the end of your post (the ostrich jab).

 

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