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scsu1975

NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

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24 minutes ago, DougieB said:

It's amazing the amount of time you must be putting into this to come up with this kind of detail, especially for films which technically no longer exist. Great job.

Thanks, I am actually enjoying the work. I always wanted to do a thread about forgotten films and forgotten performers, but I was never sure where to begin. Now I just see what is playing next, and do the research. I'm learning a lot in the process. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate the kind words.

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From February 9-12, 1919, the Poli featured A Romance of Happy Valley. The film was directed by D. W. Griffith, and starred Lillian Gish and Robert Harron. It was released in January of 1919, and is about 76 minutes long. There is a complete version available on You Tube, with French subtitles.

Plot: Young John Logan works on his father’s farm in Kentucky, but yearns for something more. He decides he will go to New York City and seek fortune. His parents are against the move. His mother takes him to a church service where the preacher compares New York City to Sodom and Gomorrah.

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Logan relents, much to the relief of his parents and his neighbor, Jennie, who loves him.

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But Logan becomes frustrated on the farm, and again decides to leave.

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He promises Jennie he will return in a year. In New York, Logan gets a job with a toy manufacturer. His goal is to create a toy frog that will swim. Meanwhile, back on the farm, things are not going well for his parents, and Jennie continues to pine for him. A stranger arrives in town and shows interest in her. She rebuffs him by claiming she is married. Logan continues to work on his invention. Eight years pass. The Logans are about to be evicted from their farm. Logan returns, a wealthy man, but is unrecognizable. Even Jennie has a difficult time recognizing him.

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Logan’s father, desperate for money, does not recognize his son, but sees him flashing money and decides to rob him. Logan returns to the farm and takes a room. His father follows him. (Since the film is available, I will not reveal the ending. But this is Happy Valley, after all.)

Review: The movie is interesting, but is not one of Griffith’s better films. There are a few implausible events. It’s hard to believe someone would work on a toy frog that long. The stranger who is after Jennie is described as a “descendant of Judas Iscariot.” We never find out who he is, or where he came from. He disappears from the film, only to pop up at the climax, making the finale a bit contrived. Also, eight years pass, yet no one seems to age. Still, I would recommend taking a look, mostly for two reasons: 1) Lillian Gish as Jennie, and 2) Robert Harron as Logan. Gish, cute-as-a-button as always, has plenty of close-ups and speaks volumes with her facial expressions. There is a wonderful little scene where she puts on a new hat, thinking this will keep Logan from going to New York. After he has left Kentucky, she takes his coat and hat and places them on a scarecrow, as a reminder. At the end of 365 days, she sits by her window, wearing dress and hat, waiting patiently for Harron … who doesn’t come. You can feel her pain. Harron, whose acting I appreciate more and more every time I see him, is perfectly cast as the boyish farmer who wants to spread his wings. His scenes with Gish are quite tender. (The two always had great onscreen chemistry). When he returns older (with a moustache, looking like John Gilbert) and wealthy, his entire posture changes to indicate he is now confident and self-assured. The change is not exaggerated, but subtle and effective. It is a shame he died a year later. It would have been interesting to see if he could have transitioned to sound. He would have been young enough to still play leading men, into the 1930s and early 1940s.

When the film was shown at the Alhambra theater in Milwaukee, manager George Fischer pulled out all the stops to promote it, turning the lobby into a cornfield.

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He also decorated the stage with live pigs, chickens, and other livestock (which must have smelled wonderful to the patrons).

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The IMDb trivia section for the film mentions that the movie had been presumed lost, until a copy showed up in Russia in the 1970s. It is true that the film was in possession of the State Film Archives of the Soviet Union. Russia agreed to donate two previously lost Griffith films to the Museum of Modern Art, in exchange for some early newsreels the Museum had about events in Russian history. Besides A Romance of Happy Valley, the Russians also donated Scarlet Days, a 1919 Griffith film, featuring Richard Barthelmess.  (Interestingly, the Museum was also searching for another lost Griffith film, The Greatest Thing in Life, which was discussed earlier in this thread. Lillian Gish considered the film to be one of Griffith’s best.) However, the reference to the 1970s is incorrect. As early, as 1968, the film was being screened at UCLA, and in early 1969, newspapers were reporting on the film swap.

Apparently Bill Murray is a fan of this film. When he was interviewed in 2008 by Elvis Mitchell for the show Under The Influence, the actor mentioned seeing the film while in France. “I walked home in shock,” said Murray. “There were people doing this long ago, and they made a great movie without any words, without any sound, and it was perfect.” Twenty years earlier, in an interview appearing in The San Francisco Examiner, Murray had also mentioned the film, stating “it had Russian subtitles. I didn’t know what the hell they were saying, but this movie just destroyed me.”

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From February 3-6, 1919, the feature at the Poli was The Dub. Released on January 19, 1919, it was a five-reel comedy/drama, and is presumed lost. Directed by James Cruze, it starred Wallace Reid as John Craig. The supporting cast included character actor Raymond Hatton as Driggs. The title is a slang word for an inept person.

 Plot: A brokerage firm run by three men, Blatch, Markham, and Driggs, dissolve their partnership. Markham removes some of the business records from the company’s safe and discovers that Blatch and Driggs were involved in a mining claim worth a fortune. Driggs demands that Markham return the papers, but Markham threatens to burn the papers if Blatch and Driggs go forward with the claim. The pair hire an unscrupulous lawyer named Burley Hadden to get the papers back. Meanwhile, Blatch is planning to double-cross Driggs and lets Hadden in on it. Hadden goes to a park to think up a plan. There, he observes John Craig, who runs a small construction company. We are told that Craig needs eight hundred dollars to overcome some financial difficulties. Craig suddenly recalls that he left a box of dynamite on his office desk, and fears that if someone knocks the box off his desk, the office will explode. At that same instant, a little boy explodes a paper bag behind Craig, startling the man, and he runs away, bumping into Hadden. Hadden concludes that Craig is a “dub,” and decides to use him in his plan. He offers one thousand dollars to Craig for a simple and quick job. Hadden’s plan is to send Craig to Markham’s home to retrieve the papers. He believes Craig will be tossed out of the house, and then Hadden can tell Driggs there is no chance of retrieving the papers. Craig goes to Markham’s house, where he meets Enid Drayton, Markham’s ward. Markham appears with two servants and they toss Craig onto the street. At midnight, Craig sneaks into the basement, goes up to the library, and again meets Enid. Enid tells Craig that she is essentially a prisoner, and that Markham is controlling her finances. She shows Craig a bag of Markham’s papers. Craig throws the bag out a window.

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Markham appears and offers to give the mining paper to Craig. When Craig opens the sealed envelope outside the home, he finds it contains useless paperwork. Meanwhile, Markham has discovered his bag of papers is missing, and drives to the city. Craig sees him leaving, but collides with a burglar named Bill. Craig induces Bill to help him get back into Markham’s house, where they capture the two servants and tie them up.

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Markham meets up with Blatch and Hadden and they realize that the bag of papers also contains records of crooked deals involving Markham and Blatch. Craig and Bill crack Markham’s safe, and find the mining paper.

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Craig takes Enid to the city to find Blatch. They meet Driggs and turn over the paper to him, along with the documents incriminating Markham and Blatch.

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Blatch and Markham head for Mexico. Driggs informs Enid that she is a millionaire, and gives Craig the thousand dollars that Hadden had promised him.

This film sounds a bit convoluted. However, Wallace Reid was a popular star, and contemporaneous reviews were generally positive. I also learned what a "dub" is.

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From February 17-19, 1919, the Poli featured For the Freedom of the East. Released in the fall of 1918, the film was anywhere from five to seven reels, depending upon the source. It is presumed lost. The star of the film was Lady Tsen Mei, sometimes billed as the “First Chinese Star of the Screen, “The Screen’s Only Chinese Star,” and “the Chinese Nightingale.” One reviewer referred to her as a “black-banged China Doll.” According to several trade journals, Tsen Mei’s father had brought her to America when she was young. She studied in this country, and attended the Pittsburgh Musical Conservatory. She completed a law degree at Columbia and passed the bar exam. Supposedly she also had a medical degree. (Some of this may be taken with a grain a salt.) She then performed as a singer in vaudeville before making films.

Plot:  Princess Tsu is the leader of a secret Chinese society to fight German propaganda in her land.

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Franz von Richtman, head of the German spy system, plots with the Princess’ uncle, the Viceroy. Von Richtman will make the uncle ruler of China if he organizes a Chinese army to join forces with the Germans in Siberia. The two put their agreement in writing. The Princess overhears the plot and informs Robert Kenyon, head of the American Secret Service in China.

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He photographs the document, with the intent of sending it to Washington, D.C. Princess Tsu mistakes Kenyon’s gratitude for love. Prince Kang, who has been promised to Princess Tsu since they were children, is jealous of Kenyon and tells the Princess that Kenyon is already engaged to an American girl. She lashes Prince Kang, and says “Bring Kenyon to me and he shall choose your punishment.”

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When Kenyon admits the truth, the Princess says “Let there be no more lies between us.”

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The Princess decides to turn against Kenyon, and informs von Richtman that she has a photo of the agreement. But then the Princess changes her mind, and she and her followers rush to Kenyon’s aid as he is being overpowered by von Richtman’s thugs. Kenyon leaves for Washington, with von Richtman traveling on the same steamer. Princess Tsu is also on board, disguised as a servant. In Washington, von Richtman plans against Kenyon. He sends word that the Secretary has returned and is ready to see Kenyon. Kenyon goes to the Secretary’s office and is surprised by one of von Richtman’s henchmen. Princess Tsu jumps from a window thirty feet to the ground, then climbs up a fifty-foot wall covered with ivy leading to the balcony where Kenyon has been tied up. Princess Tsu saves the day and returns to China to marry Prince Kang.

 

The three additional stills below could not be placed in the context of the film. The first two are from the same sequence, but it is unclear who the woman is … perhaps Kenyon’s betrothed, being threatened by the Princess and Prince Kang.

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The third still shows the Princess holding a document, probably the agreement between the Viceroy and von Richtman. The man on top is probably Prince Kang. Perhaps the man on the ground is the Viceroy.

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For this film, Tsen Mei insured her hands, arms, and back for $10,000, because she would appear in an evening gown during a scene in Washington, D.C. Moving Picture World noted that “the full beauty of these indispensable portions of her anatomy are shown.” Other critics fell all over themselves praising her figure and athletic prowess. One wrote “the modern evening gown she wears in the last reel shows her splendid muscles, and the ease and sureness of her movements are fascinating.” In describing the film’s climax, the same critic wrote “the manner in which she climbs down the side of a house while in evening costume and throws the villain after a short and sharp encounter is an interesting sight.” So I guess Lady Tsen Mei was the “Wonder Woman” of her time.

Newspapers promoted the film by stating “a division of American troops dashes across the Asiatic plains and saves China and Russia from the grasp of the Huns.” The weirdest tagline, however, was “The Sensational Uprising of the Ku-Klux-Klan of the Far East.”

The film was distributed by Goldwyn Pictures. Marcus Loew, who owned a chain of theaters, booked the film for seventy days on his circuit, which was an almost unheard of vote of confidence. The film appears to have gotten good reviews and performed well at the box office, possibly due to Tsen Mei’s popularity as a vaudeville performer. She herself commented “I have noted that my return to the vaudeville stage adds a great deal more interest to the motion picture in which I have the leading role and that the picture adds more interested to my vaudeville act. One of my friends told me that she personally knew many women who had witnessed my act in vaudeville and then hastened to see ‘how I looked and acted’ in a screen melodrama. I suppose it is a case of curiosity.” But for whatever reason, Tsen Mei’s film career was short-lived, although she did have a substantial part in the 1929 version of The Letter. That version has been shown on TCM, and is also available on YouTube.

Tsen Mei’s actual distaste for the German government went on full display during a vaudeville show in Washington, D.C., just before America entered World War I. She was doing a number in which she imitated bird and animal calls. At the conclusion of the performance, she told the audience she would imitate any animal they requested. A German diplomat and his aides were attending the show, and one of the aides yelled out “make a noise like me.” Tsen Mei replied “I said birds and animals. You are decidedly not a bird. You ask for the sound of your cry. It is also your master’s voice. Listen.” She then squealed like a pig.

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From February 20-22, 1918, the feature at the Poli was the comedy Here Comes the Bride, starring John Barrymore. Released in January of 1919, the film was five reels, and is presumed lost. It was based on a play first produced in September, 1917, at the George M. Cohan Theatre in New York City.

Plot:  Frederick Tile, a New York lawyer, is in love with Ethel Sinclair, daughter of a corn magnate.

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But there is another man named Frederick Tile, married to a woman named Maria Pizzaro, who is from South America. Maria has divorced her husband, and under the terms of her father’s will, her former husband cannot share in the estate if he remarries within a year after her father’s death. Maria comes to New York with Sevier, her lawyer. Her divorced husband wires her than he is leaving on the next ship. Sevier tells Maria that he will find another Frederick Tile, and arrange a sham marriage before her divorced husband arrives in New York. This would protect her fortune. They find Frederick Tile’s name in the city directory and hire a lawyer to arrange the marriage. Meanwhile, Ethel’s father finds a marriage license for Tile and Ethel. He assumes Tile is after her money, and tears up the license in front of Tile.

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Tile is despondent, until the lawyer contacts him with an offer of $100,000 to marry a widow, who would also agree to an immediate divorce. Tile agrees to the marriage, not realizing how ugly the woman is because she is hidden under a veil.

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Ethel telephones her father that she and Tile have eloped. She withdraws money from the bank and bursts in on Tile just as his wedding has concluded. She tells him she is ready to marry him, but he tells her he cannot marry for one year, due to the terms of his marriage.

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Ethel departs in anger, and her father has the police search for her. James Carleton, a friend of Tile, gives him the key to his home and tells him to stay there until the situation is resolved. Ethel goes to the same house, believing that Carleton’s sister, who is her friend, will put her up. Ethel and Tile end up in adjoining rooms, then bump into each other in the hallway.

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They end up dining together, then read newspaper accounts of their supposed elopement. Tile’s bride appears on the scene, claiming she is dissatisfied with the $500 she was paid to become Tile’s wife, and demands more money. Tile locks her in a room. Ethel’s father demands that his daughter and Tile have an official marriage, not realizing that Tile is already married. Tile is forced to tell him the truth. At this point, an ex-convict who has just been released from Sing Sing appears and recognizes the bride as his wife. The two are sent to Cuba. However, Tile and Ethel must still wait a year before they can get married.

Director John Stuart Robertson wanted to film a scene showing Barrymore, in a hungry state, dreaming about food floating over his head. When he asked Barrymore what particular food would appeal to him, the actor replied “bacon and eggs.” In short order, a waiter appeared from the hotel across the street with the food. Barrymore thought Robertson was buying him breakfast, so he wolfed down the food before the scene could be filmed.

A reviewer for The Film Daily wrote “robbed of the dialogue, which had considerable to do with giving snap to the stage play, this becomes just a passable offering, depending largely upon the personality of John Barrymore, whose comedy method is distinctive enough to give value to scenes that otherwise wouldn’t register anything in particular.”

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From February 23-26, the Poli ran Breed of Men, a western starring William S. Hart. The film was released in January of 1919, at five reels. A complete 16mm print is held in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Although most of the filming was done in California, some scenes were shot at the Chicago stock yards. Lambert Hillyer is credited as director, but Hart directed himself in many scenes.

Plot:  Wesley B. Prentice, a land swindler, is President of the Arizona Ranch Lands company. He has rented some land to Ruth Fellows, who lives with her little brother Bobby. “Careless” Carmody rides into Chloride, a town founded by the land company. Prentice gets wind of Carmody’s arrival at the hotel, and decides to clean him out. Prentice tells the hotel’s proprietor, Farley, to rig a card game. Carmody loses everything he has in the game, including his horse.

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Prentice then returns Carmody’s horse to him, and offers him the job of Sheriff.  Carmody accepts, not realizing Prentice will try to use him for his own purposes. When a Mexican stabs the card dealer, Carmody sets off in pursuit. The Mexican hides out on Ruth’s property, taking her prisoner. But Carmody tunnels underneath the shack where she is being held hostage and frees her.

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He then hitches the Mexican to a plow and makes him plow the fields. Ruth tells Carmody that she is suspicious of Prentice, but Carmody assures her that Prentice is reliable. Ruth and Carmody begin a romance.

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Then, a rumor starts that Prentice is a land shark and that he has swindled numerous settlers, including Ruth. Ruth and her brother have barricaded themselves in her shack, holding off several strangers with deeds, who claim the ranch is really theirs. Carmody arrives and believes the deed-holders. He tries to break into the shack, not realizing that Ruth is inside. In the confusion, Ruth fires a shot from inside the shack and injures him. Carmody returns fire, and shoots the gun out of her hand. Ruth is angered that Carmody has sided with the strangers. Then Carmody learns from a judge that Prentice has gone to Chicago. Carmody goes to Chicago as a cow hand, finds where Prentice is living, and takes him prisoner.

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Prentice’s daughter sends for the police, but before they can intercede, Carmody takes Prentice onto a train heading west. Meanwhile, the Vigilance Committee of Chloride hears Ruth’s complaint and sentences both Carmody and Prentice to death. When the townspeople hear that Carmody and Prentice are returning to Chloride, they get ropes and prepare to meet the pair. Carmody holds the crowd back until he has a chance to explain.

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Prentice make restitution to his victims and is sent back to Chicago. Carmody and Ruth decide they will send a notice of their wedding to Prentice.

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A few anecdotes survive, regarding filming:

In the scene where Carmody (Hart) returns fire, he stood about ten feet from the cabin door and fired twice, trying to make the shots land as close as possible to each other. One of the crew yelled out “you missed the whole door that second shot.” “Impossible,” said Hart. Upon investigation, they found that the second bullet had gone through the hole made by the first bullet. “I couldn’t do that again in a thousand years,” Hart said.

When staging a fight scene, Hart’s opponent was supposed to fall to the floor when Hart said “go.” The crew began filming the fight, and then after he thought he had enough good footage, Hart said “go.” But the other actor kept fighting. Hart hit him three times before he fell on his own. “Why didn’t he stop when I said ‘go’?” asked Hart. “Aw,” one of the crew said, “he’s deaf. He couldn’t hear a word you said.”

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From February 27 – March 1, 1919, the Poli ran Hard Boiled, a romantic comedy starring Dorothy Dalton. This was Dalton’s next film after Quicksand, a domestic drama which I discussed earlier in this thread. Released in February 1919, Hard Boiled was five reels. A complete copy is held in the Archives du Film du CNC in Bois D’Arcy, France.

Advertising line: “If you were a show-girl stranded in a village, and a sweet-faced old lady took you into her home and mothered you, would you play the “vamp” if necessary to save the cottage from foreclosure by a pious old skinflint? See “Hard Boiled” for the answer.”

Plot:  Corinne Melrose, the prima donna of a musical comedy company, finds herself stranded in the town of Nilesburg.

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She has given all her money to a female member of the troupe to help her get out of town. Connie’s sweetheart, the tenor Billy Penrose, offers his assistance, but because Connie is jealous of the attention he paid to someone else, she turns him down.

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Connie hears of a kind-hearted old lady named Miss Tiny Colvin, who has a charitable reputation. Miss Colvin takes Connie in.

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But Miss Colvin is under pressure from Deacon Simpson, an old money-lender, who is threatening to foreclose on her estate.

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Connie remembers Simpson as someone who had attempted to force himself on her after one of her performances. So she sets a trap for Simpson, and puts him in a compromising position. To avoid scandal with his wife, the miser agrees to hand over Miss Colvin’s promissory note.

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Connie then delivers the note over to Miss Colvin.

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Penrose, who has been searching all over for Connie, finally finds her and proposes. He has become rich, and wants to the two to go on the road with their own show.

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But Corinne, who has become fond of the town and Miss Colvin, persuades him to settle down in Nilesburg.

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They open a hotel, and decide to run a cabaret show on the roof in the near future.

Walter Hiers, a rotund comedian, was cast in a supporting role. One trade magazine reported that at one time, he had been used to test out a stage before an elephant act was to perform. Despite his portly frame, Hiers was a member of the Hollywood Athletic Club, and played both baseball and football in his younger years. He died in Hollywood of bronchial pneumonia in 1933, and was buried in Forest Lawn.  Among his pallbearers was Johnny Mack Brown.

 

 

 

 

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From March 2-5, 1919, the Poli ran Cheating Cheaters. Released in January 1919, and directed by Allan Dwan, the film featured Clara Kimball Young as Ruth Brockton and Jack Holt as Tom Palmer. Based on a stage play, the film was 5 reels. It is presumed lost. There were at least two remakes; one silent, and one sound.

Plot:  A gang of crooks take over a house in New York City, and pass themselves off as the Brockton family. The leader is Ruth Brockton, posing as the daughter of the family.

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Their goal is to steal the jewel collection of their neighbors, the Palmers. Ruth meets Tom Palmer, the son of the house, and they become enamored of each other.

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A fake telegram arrives, calling the Brocktons out of town. Tom invites Ruth to stay at the Palmer home until the rest of the Brocktons return.

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Meanwhile, the Brocktons hear that a detective named Ferris is on their trail. Shortly after Ruth moves into the Palmer household, Palmer shows her the family jewels, which are kept in an electrically-charged safe.

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She eventually discovers the jewels are paste. Incredibly, the Palmers also turn out to be a gang of crooks, whose goal is to rob the supposedly wealthy Brocktons! The Palmers and Brocktons decide to join forces and operate together. But the entire group is arrested.

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Then Ruth Brockton reveals a surprise. She is actually Ferris, the detective.

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She decides to let all the crooks go, providing they give up their lives of crime and turn their attentions into tracking down criminals.

The film received good reviews, and the cast, including the supporting performers, earned praise.

For those interested in fashion, Clara Kimball Young debuted a new hairstyle just for this film, combining curl with a marcelle wave. Her hairdresser dubbed it the “Friseé la Clarayoungué.” Here it is:

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The film was produced by the Select Pictures Corporation, which was involved in a feud with Young. This was Young’s last film for the company, due to what she perceived as contract violations. She made sure everyone knew about it by posting a notice in The Motion Picture News, on January 11, 1919:

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And this was many years before Bette Davis took on Jack Warner. I wonder how her career fared after that. It's also interesting to me that she played the "daughter" of the Brockton family, when she looks so borderline matronly. It seems like the female leads in general for these movies tend to be older than what would be standard now. Or maybe it's just that the distinctive "youthful" style of the Twenties hadn't emerged yet, so that everyone, young and old, appeared middle-aged.

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1 hour ago, DougieB said:

And this was many years before Bette Davis took on Jack Warner. I wonder how her career fared after that. It's also interesting to me that she played the "daughter" of the Brockton family, when she looks so borderline matronly. It seems like the female leads in general for these movies tend to be older than what would be standard now. Or maybe it's just that the distinctive "youthful" style of the Twenties hadn't emerged yet, so that everyone, young and old, appeared middle-aged.

Young was in her late twenties when she made this film. I agree that women back then seemed to look older than they were. I've noticed that some of the leading ladies in these films (so far) were "solid" looking, which makes me suspect that was what the audience wanted. Preferences probably changed in the next decade.

Some of the clothes don't help. The hats are a bit much (at least, by today's standards), and in that one photo where everyone's hands are up, it looks like she has the Chevrolet insignia on her chest.

Thanks for your feedback.

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From March 6-9, 1919, the Poli featured Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. Released in February 1919, the film starred the popular actress Marguerite Clark. A complete version, at just under an hour, is available on You Tube. There are at least two other silent versions, and two sound versions.

Brief Plot: Lovey Mary lives in an orphanage, and has a rivalry with Maggie Duncan.

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Maggie eventually leaves the orphanage, but returns a few years later with a baby son she cannot support. She leaves the baby, and Mary bonds with the little boy.

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When she discovers that Maggie is returning to claim the child, Mary takes the boy and runs away from the orphanage. She seeks refuge in the home of the widow Mrs. Wiggs, who has her own children.

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The remainder of the film deals with the efforts of the orphanage to track down Mary and the boy.

Review: I found the film so-so, although in fairness, I was interrupted several times while trying to watch it, so I lost the continuity at times. Still, it is worth a look since so few of Clark’s films have survived.  And her scenes with the little boy are very sweet. Clark is supposed to be in her upper teens in this film; in reality, she was 36 at the time, but doesn’t look it. This version bears no resemblance to the novel upon which it is based. This was clearly designed as a vehicle for Clark, whose character (Lovey Mary) is not even in the book; nor is there any mention of an orphanage in the novel. There is an amusing subplot in the film, involving a spinster named Miss Hazy and a rascal named Hiram Stubbins, whom she buys from a matrimonial agency.

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Strangely, when I first saw this guy (played by the six-foot-six Robert Milasch), he reminded me of Abraham Lincoln. Then, as the story developed, there were several remarks about his likeness to Lincoln. Although the character of Miss Hazy appears in the novel, Stubbins and this weird marriage are nowhere to be found.

Robert Milasch had quite a career, playing mostly uncredited parts. I wrote a short bio of him for IMDb, which you can read here:

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0586903/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

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From March 10-12, 1918, the Poli ran Ruling Passions. The film was released on October 12, 1918, and is presumed lost.

Plot:  The film opens with a prologue, featuring Love, Hate, Revenge, and Mercy, represented by, respectively, a beautiful girl with wings, an old white-haired hag, a menacing Arab with a knife, and a Red Cross nurse.

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John Walton, a wealthy New York banker and broker, suffers a nervous breakdown. He has become vengeful and has brought misery to other people. Various nurses try to treat him, but only one, Eveline Roland, is able to break through.

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She questions Walton’s butler, and discovers that two years earlier, Walton had offered an ex-schoolmate, Alexander Vernon, a partnership with Walton’s firm. Vernon was held high regard by society. Walton was in love with Louise Palmer, a schoolteacher. However, she did not return his affections. But then Walton saved her brother, who had committed forgery, from a prison sentence. Louise then felt obligated towards Walton. However, once she met Vernon she fell for him. One day, Walton discovered the pair embracing. He dissolved his partnership with Vernon.

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His former partner ran off with Louise and married her.

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Walton became embittered and consumed with hate and revenge. Eveline decides to bring back Vernon, Louise, and their child. This effort successfully removes the poison from Walton’s mind, and he recovers. Eventually Walton realizes that Eveline has become more than his nurse, and he marries her. The firm of Walton and Vernon is established again.

The film seems to have been released at five reels, but the original may have been eight. An anonymous critic writing for The Film Daily noted that in a private showing, the film was eight thousand feet and ran almost two hours. He wrote “despite the terrible slowness of this, and the fact that it never gets anywhere in particular, it is built on elemental, established human incidents that may hold the interest of a non-critical audience if they don’t go to sleep, because of the excess footage. It is really a pity that this should be offered in the present footage, because if ever a production needed cutting, this is it. … Cut to five reels, this would move quite satisfactorily, be rather interesting and please generally. In its present form I consider it very, very sad.”

At least one critic was underwhelmed by Julia Dean, as Eveline Roland, writing “Miss Dean is stagey and has a terrible time keeping her eyes off the lens. She improves toward the finish of the picture, but not in time to prevent your becoming a bit bored with her.” Another critic was appalled at the title cards, writing “the sub-titles are written in very poor English. There is scarcely one of them but has some glaring fault. It is unfortunate that such technical weaknesses should not be corrected before the picture is released in the first place.”

Julia Dean made a handful of silent films. Then, after a long break, she made her first sound film, and it was a good one. She played the role of Mrs. Farren in the 1944 fantasy The Curse of the Cat People (seen below with Ann Carter):

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Edwin Arden, in the role of John Walton, earned praise for his work. Arden was a long-time stage actor and playwright who had toured with Edwin Booth’s company. About ten days before Ruling Passions was released, Arden went to call on a woman named Elsie Rizer in New York City. After Arden climbed the stairs to Rizer’s apartment, he collapsed. Arden’s wife, at their Queens home, was immediately contacted, but it was too late; Arden had died of an apparent heart attack. Rizer later told interviewers that she was an actress, and said that Arden was coming over to talk business.

Claire Whitney, who played Louise Palmer, was mentioned earlier in this thread as having been married to John Sunderland, who had turned out to be a bigamist and a rat, not necessarily in that order. Her second marriage, to vaudevillian and future character actor Robert Emmett Keane, was successful, although not without tragedy. In July of 1959, a fire swept through Laurel Canyon, destroying their home and about forty other houses. “We’re not quitting,” said Keane. “We’ll build again.”

Whitney’s photo on her IMDb page was probably taken when she was in her early 50s, and does not do her justice. She was quite attractive, as can be seen from her corset endorsement below:

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From March 13-14, the Poli featured The Girl Dodger, starring Charles Ray as Cuthbert Trotman. Released in February 1919, this was a five-reel feature, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Harry Tavistock, nicknamed “The Gloom Buster,” is an underachieving student at Barrytown College. When his father threatens to cut off funds, Harry worries that his fiancée, Anita Graham, will hear about it. Cuthbert Trotman, nicknamed “The Girl Dodger,” moves into the room next to Harry. Cuthbert, absent-minded and a bookworm, has been tossed out of his last dwelling for failing to pay the rent, using the money to buy books instead. Harry concocts a scheme; when his father arrives, Harry tells him that he has hired Cuthbert as a tutor. Harry’s father is delighted by this news, and gives Harry money to pay for the tutor. Harry makes a date to meet Pinkie le Rue, a chorus girl. But then he receives word that his mother and Anita will be arriving that evening and he is expected to meet them at their hotel. So Harry asks Cuthbert to entertain Pinkie while he visits his mother and sweetheart. Cuthbert puts on one of Harry’s suits and downs a cocktail in anticipation of the date.

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Anita’s car breaks down, so instead of meeting Harry at the hotel, she heads for Harry’s place. Cuthbert mistakes Anita for Pinkie and attempts to prove he is a “man about town.”

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Anita sees through the ruse, but does not reveal her identity. After she leaves, Cuthbert goes to the theater where Pinkie performs and discovers his mistake.

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Harry thinks Cuthbert is trying to cut in on his action. Anita sends Cuthbert a note inviting him to a dance at the hotel, but when he shows up, he can’t find Anita. While searching for her, he has various misadventures, including getting locked in a hotel room, being mistaken for a burglar, and being chased by the police.

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Anita arrives and clears things up. Cuthbert wins her away from Harry.

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Ray helped promote the film by saying “it is the kind of picture I would choose if I were seeking entertainment of this nature. There is comedy and real life as well, plenty of excitement, a dash of love, withal, the spirit of youth and the wonderful days of college experience that are never forgotten once they are lived. … The scenes where we had the glee club singing and so on were like the real thing. I actually forgot I was acting.”

Although I could not discover how a glee club scene fit into the plot, I did learn that a vaudeville quartet was used, and they also entertained the cast with songs while the picture was being made.

 

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From March 15-19, 1919 , the Poli featured The False Faces, a World War I spy thriller starring Henry B. Walthall as “The Lone Wolf,” Margaret Anderson as Cecilia, and Lon Chaney as Karl Eckstrom. Released in January of 1919, the film was based on a novel of the same name, by Louis Joseph Vance. There have been several films and a television series based on The Lone Wolf character. This film is available on You Tube and runs about one hour and 35 minutes.

Plot: At the front during World War I, Michael Lanyard, aka “The Lone Wolf,” makes it to the Allied trenches and claims he has secret information on the Germans. In a flashback, we learn that some time ago, a German force led by Karl Eckstrom had murdered Lanyard’s sister and her child.

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Now Lanyard wants to get to America, and also get even with Eckstrom, who is currently a member of the German Secret Service. Lanyard books passage on a steamship, where he meets Cecilia Brooks. One night he rescues her when a stranger accosts her. Cecilia gives Lanyard a small cylinder which she claims is vital to the Allied cause.

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Later, Lanyard is attacked in his stateroom by thugs who demand he turn over the cylinder. He manages to overpower one of them, and recognizes the other as Eckstrom, who escapes with the cylinder. Lanyard gives chase, but Eckstrom throws him overboard. A German submarine fires on the steamship. Lanyard, drifting in the water, finds himself on top of the surfacing submarine. He tells the Germans he is a German spy, thus sparing his life.

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The sub heads for Martha’s Vineyard, where the Germans have established a secret base. Lanyard eventually makes his way to New York, where he discovers that Cecilia and others have survived the submarine attack. Meanwhile, Eckstrom, posing as The Lone Wolf, turns over the cylinder to the British Secret Service in New York, pocketing a ransom of $10,000.

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Lanyard witnesses the transaction. Eckstrom later returns to the office, intending to take back the cylinder. Lanyard lies in wait. The two enemies scuffle, and Eckstrom escapes. Later, Eckstrom kidnaps Cecilia, and Lanyard rushes to her rescue, setting up the final showdown between the two.

Review: Because of the lousy print (with an even lousier organ score which I eventually turned off), I didn’t enjoy this as much as I probably should have. A few scenes were completely unviewable, and many of the title cards were difficult to read. Still, one could get the sense of what was happening, and most of what I saw was entertaining. The film, for the most part, faithfully follows the novel (which is itself a good read). There is a much cleaner version on You Tube, but it’s about 20 minutes shorter. I took the screen captures from that print.

It was fun to see a rather spry and handsome Henry B. Walthall running around, engaging in a few stunts, and even getting into a good slugfest with Chaney. There is an interesting moment in the film when the commander of the submarine and one of his officers have an argument.  The officer, who is from Prussia, tells Lanyard that the commander is a “Bavarian dog.” This seems to be an attempt to show that not all Germans were rats. This point is hammered home even more when we are informed that the German commander is the same guy who sunk the Lusitania. Boo. Hiss. Another interesting scene occurs later in the film, when Lanyard breaks into the safe in the British Secret Service office in an attempt to retrieve the cylinder before Eckstrom can get it. As he goes through the contents, Lanyard (a former jewel thief) discovers a necklace, and temptation strikes.

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The acting, direction, and sets are pretty good. I would have liked to have seen more of Mary Anderson; she doesn’t get enough screen time, and she seemed to be spunky. Some contemporaneous descriptions of the film mentioned that it was Lanyard’s wife and child who were killed by the Germans. This occurs in the novel, but not the film. Thus, one must always be careful when “reconstructing” a lost film from such sources.

Advertisements for the film played up the “evil Hun” aspect. “It takes considerably more than a Hun with a gun to scare this boy.” “He cleans out a whole band of Hun spies infesting New York City.” “Ride inside a Hun submarine. Trap a band of Hun plotters working right in New York City.”

When the film played in Detroit, the Detroit Free Press sponsored a “Want to Get Into the Movies?” contest. Readers were asked to submit a story about an imaginary visit by Henry B. Walthall to the different businesses listed on a certain page of the newspaper. The establishments consisted of clothing stores, a restaurant, luggage store, and so forth. The first, second, and third prize winners would be shown on screen at the Broadway Strand Theatre, where the film was being shown. Various other prizes included anywhere from 2 free balcony seats to 6 free orchestra seats.

Elsewhere, Famous Players-Lasky issued postcard-sized masks, representing “the fiercest sort of individuals.” The postcards were cut to leave room for the nose and eyes.

In 1917, The Lone Wolf had been released, starring Bert Lytell as the title character, with direction by Herbert Brenon. In early 1918, Brenon announced that Lytell would reprise his role in The False Faces, but neither were involved in this film. About a decade later, Lytell returned in several films as “The Lone Wolf.”

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6 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I've actually seen this one! I enjoyed it. 

Did you see it on You Tube? I wonder if TCM has ever shown it.

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5 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

Did you see it on You Tube? I wonder if TCM has ever shown it.

Yes, it was on YouTube.

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From March 20-22, 1919, the feature at the Poli was Boots, starring Dorothy Gish as “Boots” and Richard Barthelmess as Everett White. Released in February of 1919, the comedy-melodrama was five reels and is presumed lost.

Advertising line: “The Bolsheviki try to put one over on her. Imagine anybody, especially the Bolsheviki, trying to flim-flam Dorothy Gish! No chance!”

Plot:  “Boots” has received her name by shining the shoes of the boarders at the King’s Inn in London.

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An orphan, she works hard as a servant, or slavey, and in her spare time, reads romantic stories. Boots has fallen for a boarder named Everett White, but White seems to be interested in Mme. de Valdee, a beautiful resident of the boarding house. Boots dislikes de Valdee, especially since the woman makes Boots feed her pet mice. Unknown to almost everyone, de Valdee is a “Bolshevist”. She has come to the boarding house because there is a series of underground passages that lead to a building nearby.  When world delegates meet in the building, the plan is to detonate a bomb. Among those delegates will be King George of England and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.

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Posing as a sculptress, de Vallee sets her plan in motion while her associates work in other parts of the city. Boots sees White romancing de Valdee.

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What neither women know is that White, posing as a student, is actually an agent of Scotland Yard, and is determined to foil de Valdee’s plot. While Boots is working in her garden, she begins digging because she needs more dirt for her plants. The ground gives way, and Boots finds herself below ground in an underground tunnel.

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She hears sounds of a struggle. de Valdee and an associate are planting the bomb while White is bound and gagged. de Valdee’s associate has second thoughts about the bomb and tries to stop de Valdee, but she shoots him.

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Boots rushes towards the shot, and fights with de Valdee, overcoming the woman.

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Boots tears the gag from White’s mouth in time to hear him yell out to throw the bomb outside. Boots scoops up the bomb and runs wildly through the tunnel, finally tossing it into the river below. The bomb detonates and Boots faints. When she awakens, she is in the arms of White.

Gish based her character upon an actual servant, whom she had met in London during World War I. “She made my heart ache,” said Gish, “because she was abused from morning until night by an old wretch of a landlady who seemed to think her chief form of amusement was to keep this little girl breaking her back over some kind of work. I used to feel so sorry for her that my sister Lillian and I would do things to draw the old landlady away so we could cheer up “Boatsie,” as she was called in that place. We did not stay there, but often went in because a woman we used in pictures was boarding there…. I haven’t taken all of ‘Boatsie’s’ character for this part because sometimes she neglected little things like washing her face. It was not her fault so much as it was the landlady’s, because the old rapscallion wouldn’t let her have time enough off to breathe. ‘Boatsie’ was really my inspiration for the part … I used all of her that I could. The rest is just me, I guess.”

Advertisements played up the comic side of the film, with one reading that Boots “probably thought Bolshevik was a new brand of cheese … you’ll keep your hands gripped on the arms of your chair, partly in suspense and partly to steady yourself as you rock with laughter.” The promotional shot below gives you a sense of this:

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At the same time, at least one trade journal suggested downplaying the suspense, commenting “we would stay away with the sensation in this exploitation. You may be tempted to run in a line, “Attempt to kill President Wilson” or something of the sort … you are losing the appealing punch by putting this over too strong.”

This film sounds like fun. It’s a pity it is probably lost.

 

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