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scsu1975

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About scsu1975

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  1. From January 22-25, 1920, the Poli ran Piccadilly Jim, starring Owen Moore as the title character. The film’s release date is uncertain, but it was five reels, the film is presumed lost. Advertising line: Can you imagine a pretty girl telling a man to his face that she hates a certain fellow and in the end finds that he was the one she hated? Plot: James Braithwaite Crocker, aka “Piccadilly Jim,” was once a star newspaper reporter in New York. He goes to London to visit his father, Mr. Bingley Crocker, and his step-mother. He runs wild through the cabarets, attends theater parties, and generally has a good time. The New York papers get wind of his activities and write stories about him. His aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Pett, read the articles, and feel the stories are a detriment to their social standing. The Petts visit England with their son Ogden, and try to persuade Jim to return to America. Mr. Petts’ pretty niece, Ann Chester, meets up with them. She has never met Jim, but apparently she has a score to settle with him for some unknown reason. Jim gets wise to their plan, and when he hears Ann tell the Petts she will secure passage on the Acquatania, he makes a reservation as well. Ann meets him on the boat and romance slowly develops. Not knowing who he is, she mentions that Jim Crocker is no good; meanwhile, Jim has assumed the name of Bayliss. By the time the boat arrives in America, the two are deeply in love, but complications arise. Ogden becomes unbearable, so Ann tries to have him kidnapped. But all ends well, as Jim reveals his identity to Ann, and Ann forgives him for something he did to her once – criticizing her poetry when he was a reporter. The story was based on a serial written by P. G. Wodehouse, and published in The Saturday Evening Post. Wodehouse later adapted the story into a novel. The film was remade in 1936, with Robert Montgomery and Madge Evans in the leading roles. Another version was released in 2004. Zena Keefe, who portrayed Ann, worked in films until the mid 1920s. When she died in Massachusetts in 1976, The Boston Globe carried a brief obituary, sadly not even mentioning her work as an actress. British-born Reginald Sheffield, who played Ogden, was the father of Johnny Sheffield. Reginald had a long career in films, and had the distinction of being the first actor to play the young David Copperfield on screen. He also appeared in both versions of The Buccaneer. He died in his sleep in 1957. Reviews were lukewarm at best, with some critics dismissing the film as dull. The Film Daily wrote “the story is a rather listless affair and without plot of any substantial consequence, attempts to get by with a lot of foolishness, only little of which registers. In fact one of the biggest laughs in the entire production comes when a fat boy’s trainer lets loose on the punching bag and sends it sailing across the room to connect with the lady’s face, spreading pie all over it incidentally. And when an old gag like this is the outstanding feature in an intended polite comedy its general character can best be imagined.” However, Exhibitor’s Herald bucked the trend, writing “sumptuously mounted, with beautiful photography throughout, the picture is bound to please the most fastidious. … As the society “dandy” he (Moore) is at all times fascinating and convincing.” Some of the trade journals played up a bathtub scene with Moore. The scene is shown below, followed by a behind-the-scenes shot showing Moore with director Wesley Ruggles (wearing the white shirt and tie) and producer Lewis Selznick: In Buffalo, the Strand Theatre promoted the film by hiring two men to portray Piccadilly Jim and his valet. The pair walked the downtown streets for almost ten hours a day, stopping in offices asking for James Braithwaite Crocker. The valet had a sign on his back reading “I’d rather be a valet and see the world series than be a lord and not see it.” The two men are shown below:
  2. From January 18-21, 1920, the Poli ran A Regular Girl¸ starring singer/dancer Elsie Janis (in a rare film appearance) as Elizabeth Schuyler. The film was released on November 30, 1919, at five reels, and is presumed lost. The working title for the film was Everybody’s Sweetheart. I could only find a few stills. Plot: Elizabeth Schuyler is the daughter of a wealthy man, and is spoiled by him. But then the war comes and she goes overseas as a nurse. She returns to her former life as a changed woman. She decides to help out returning soldiers who are looking for jobs. Her father promises to give her $10,000 if she can raise the same amount on her own. To win the help of the returning soldiers, she poses as a “slavey” at Mrs. Murphy’s boarding house, where many of them are staying. She gains their trust, then puts on a circus, in which she rides a horse bareback and does stunts. The circus raises more than $10,000, so her father honors his part of the bargain. With the additional money, she sets up an office and devotes her energies to finding jobs for the servicemen. Photoplay praised the film, writing “this picture is a series of entertaining episodes in which Miss Janis humorously scrubs floors, sings to and with soldiers, cooks, waits on the table, goes to Coney Island, gives a circus, and cheers everyone with the exception of her father.” Other reviews were rather lukewarm. Motion Picture News wrote “Elsie Janis is a charming girl and known as an accomplished actress, but she does not photograph well. And while there is a sweet thought in the picture the photoplay does not register as one of our leading productions.” The Film Daily noted that the idea of trying to find employment for returning soldiers was a bit outdated. Still, the film was apparently a hit with audiences. When it ran at the Broadway Theatre in NYC, it broke all previous box office records, and during its second week there, ticket lines stretched for three blocks down Broadway. Part of the crowd is shown below, along with a female rider who rode up and down Fifth Avenue promoting the film: According to some of the trade journals, the Prince of Wales viewed the film during his stay in the States, pronouncing it “all sorts of a good show.” The film was shown aboard H.M.S. Renown, which was the lead battleship in the Royal Navy. In Atlanta, the film was shown at the Criterion Theatre. Local newspapers sponsored a contest entitled “How can a girl earn $10,000 in thirty days if thrown on her own resources.” Some of the ideas submitted by contestants included the invention of ripless silk hosiery, and posing as a French countess to collect a large dowry from an eligible millionaire. In a more philanthropic gesture, a special performance of the film was given to wounded soldiers stationed at nearby Fort McPherson. Over three hundred veterans were transported to the theatre in trucks and ambulances. The crowds of servicemen are shown below: Ladies of the Federate Woman’s Club and delegates from the Overseas Club were also on hand, passing out cigarettes and candy to the men (see below): During one of the days the film played at the Criterion, the Ringling Brothers circus happened to be in town. During the circus parade, several men carrying “A Regular Girl” banners marched along with the circus performers, giving more free publicity to the film. In Colfax, Illinois, H.A. Arnold, manager of the Colonial Theatre, paid Select Pictures $100 for a one-day showing of the film. This was quite a gamble – because the population of Colfax at the time was around 100 people. However, Arnold did make money, then sent a telegram to Select asking if they had any more $100 pictures. In an exploitation stunt, Paul Gerard Smith, publicity man for Randolph Theatre in Chicago, sent off balloons from atop the Consumer’s building, carrying tags which entitled the finder to a photograph of Elsie Janis. Smith claimed that one of his balloons traveled across Lake Michigan to Hammond, Indiana, where it was retrieved by a Miss Edna Borchardt. Smith was arrested for his trouble. However, Frank Cook of the Strand Theatre in Milwaukee, did Smith one (or more) better, as he was arrested four times for pulling the same stunt. Also on the bill was a Mack Sennett short entitled Salome vs. Shenandoah. The two-reeler was released on October 19, 1919, and is presumed lost. This appears to have been a send-up of two stage plays. In “Salome,” Ben Turpin plays John the Baptist, Charles Murray plays King Herod, and Phyllis Haver plays Salome. Turpin loses his head, but still manages to act as its bodyguard, telling the audience “the King thinks he’s got my head but he’s wrong.” Murray is attached to wires offstage, which keep yanking him around. When he gets a little too close to Haver’s knees, the man controlling the wires is unable to pull him away. Turpin comes in and declares that he is “every inch a ruler,” causing Murray to leave. A water tank is overturned from above, and a stagehand yells “my mistake.” In “Shenandoah”, there are dummy soldiers and horses everywhere. Turpin leads the Northern army to slaughter. He is about to be executed when Little Nell arrives on horseback to announce that the Civil War is over. The still below, from “Salome,” shows some of the craziness. From left to right, the actors are Heinie Conklin, Ben Turpin, Charles Murray, and Phyllis Haver. No idea who (or what) is portraying the head.
  3. From January 15-17, 1920, the Poli featured Anne of Green Gables, starring Mary Miles Minter as Anne Shirley. Released on November 12, 1919, at between six and seven reels, the film is presumed lost. However, I did find a large number of stills, and others are available at the IMDb website. Plot: Anne Shirley, an orphan, goes to live with her Aunt Marilla and Marilla’s brother Matthew. She arrives at their home carrying a large wicker basket containing all her worldly possessions – which consist mainly of a black and white chicken. Matthew takes a fancy to Anne, and on one occasion when she is locked in her room for punishment and given only bread and milk, Matthew drops a bag of food outside her window. But Marilla catches her brother holding the bag up to the window at the end of a long pole. Mrs. Pie, the village gossip, takes a dislike to Anne and tries to make things unbearable for her. Her daughter Josie attempts the same. Meanwhile, Marilla sings the praises of Anne, telling everyone how quiet and refined the young girl is becoming. But then Anne chases a boy who had dropped an apple on her head. She catches him and pummels him as much as she can. This shocks the village minister and gives Mrs. Pie more ammunition to spread her gossip. One day, Anne cannot find her Aunt’s cameo pin, which she had played with while “dressing up” like a lady. She is punished by not being allowed to go to the Sunday school picnic. However, Anne escapes from her window and manages to go. Along the way, she runs into what she believes is a cat, and pets it. But the animal turns out to be a skunk, which causes everyone to run away from her. Then Anne sells the neighbor’s cow by mistake. During her early years, Anne meets Gilbert Blythe, and love slowly blossoms. Anne eventually graduates from high school and is about to go to college when her benefactors lose the money that was to be used for her education. So Anne becomes a teacher in the village school. She is then accused by her nemesis, Mrs. Pie, of beating up Mrs. Pie’s son and breaking his arm. Eventually, Matthew dies and Aunt Marilla is going blind, but an operation saves her sight. Anne finally is happily united with Blythe. The images below could not be placed in context: The film had a great opening, no doubt bolstered by Minter making personal appearances at several theaters. Theatre owners and managers sent telegrams to J.S. Woody, General Manager of Realart Pictures, expressing their delight. Some of the telegrams are reproduced below: In Los Angeles, Roy Miller, manager of Miller’s Theatre, gave a free showing of the film for around six hundred children from an orphan’s home. After viewing the film, the children were given large apples by Mary Miles Minter and singer Ellen Beach Yaw. Yaw (at left) and Minter (at right in black) are shown below with some of the children: In Denver, the American Theatre hooked up with local stores to promote the film. An elaborate display was set up in Herrick Book and Stationery Company, and is shown below: The American also set up a display in a department store, showing stills from the film and books in the “Anne of Green Gables” series: The theater itself packed in the patrons, as can be seen below: Exhibitor’s Herald praised the film, writing “the narrative which is laid in the small town or village must be very, very good or it will be judged very, very poor by those who see in it entertainment. “Anne of Green Gables” wins a place in the former classification by a wide margin.” Motion Picture News opined that “there are some very good characterizations in this picture and it is the array of excellent types that registered best with the reviewer. The continuity, the mountings, and the photography are all up to present day standards but after an auspicious opening the director evidently believed that he should inject the so-called “punch” in the action and possibly “forced” his performers to “act” and thus destroyed some of the naturalness of the later scenes.” Motion Picture Classic was not kind, stating that the film “belongs to the sugar-coated Pollyanna school of realistic literature. … Miss Minter is a pleasant little person, but of limited technical equipment. Hence, “Anne of Green Gables,” centered wholly upon her, moves along a monotonous level of conventionality.” Minter, a rising star, was heavily promoted by Realart, with color spreads in many magazines, and posters in newspapers. In addition, a Curtiss airplane, part of the U. S. Army Service All-American Pathfinders and Recruiting Unit, was named after her. Paul Kelly, who had a long career in Hollywood, portrayed Gilbert Blythe. He had already appeared in some shorts, but this one was of his first feature films, Also on the bill was violinist Ota Gygi (pronounced “gee-gee”), accompanied by dancer Maryon Vadie. Gygi is shown below: In the 1930s, Gygi teamed up with Ed Wynn to form the radio chain entitled the “Amalgamated Broadcasting Company.” “It is an idealistic venture,” claimed Wynn. “There are now more than 27,000 actors out of work in this country and if I do no more than to help some of them get employment I shall be satisfied. I have all the money I want. I believe the time for a new deal in business has arrived – a policy of live and let live and I propose to follow this. … It may not be a big network, but it will grow.” The venture bombed, costing Wynn his investment of $250,000.
  4. Obviously a university professor wrote that.
  5. For those who have not seen Operation Eichmann, just be forewarned that there are several disturbing scenes of the concentration camps, with actual footage.
  6. Zelaya was a pianist who delivered monologues on music as well. One of his talks was on the "Psychology of Jazz," in which he claimed that 60% of performers resorted to "humdrum" jazz in their acts, while the remainder tried to be more artistic and failed miserably at it. He felt that music was "vibratory," affecting the brain and spine but not the hearing. Zelaya died of a heart attack in Hollywood on December 14, 1951. He was 57. According to Variety, his father, Jose Santos Zelaya, was once President of Nicaragua. Zelaya also appeared in some films and TV shows. and has an IMDb entry. I remember him in an episode of The Abbott and Costello Show where the boys go west. He shows up in a bit at the five-minute mark:
  7. From January 11-14, 1920, the Poli featured Red Hot Dollars, starring Charles Ray as Tod Burke. The film was released on December 28, 1919, at five reels. A complete 35mm copy is held in the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY. Plot: Tod Burke works at Peter Garton’s iron foundry. One day, Tod is hurt while saving Garton from being crushed by a falling crane. Garton nurses Tod back to health, adopts the lad, and makes him an executive. Garton’s snobbish sister attempts to introduce Tod into high society, with comic results. Tod falls for Janet Muir. But Janet’s father Angus and Garton are deadly enemies. Angus’s small foundry has been “crowded out” by Muir’s. Tod gets Janet a position at Garton’s office. But Garton, not approving of the relationship between Tod and Janet, fires her. Tod denounces Garton and quits. When Angus learns what has happened, he decides to have it out with Garton. Tod and Janet arrive in time to put a stop to it. Tod berates the old men for their prejudices against each other, and the two enemies reconcile. Tod and Janet happily kiss. Motion Picture News called the film “a lively photoplay from start to finish with never a lagging moment. There are several high spots in the comedy that will bring hearty laughter and the star is surrounded by a good cast and favored with splendid direction.” Motion Picture World also praised the film, and singled out the performance of Charles Mailes, as Angus Muir, noting “honors in the support go to Charles Mailes for his forceful impersonation of a hard-headed old Scot … it is one of those rare impersonations that stick in the memory, a gem of its kind.” Gladys George made her film debut, in the role of Janet. Around the time of filming (the reports are not clear), she suffered severe burns on one arm, which forced her off the stage and screen for a year. Fortunately, the burns left only a faint scar, and she did not require any surgery. There were also unfounded rumors that her face had been mysteriously injured and was remade with plastic surgery. In a 1937 interview, George spoke very kindly of Jean Harlow, saying the platinum blonde “was kind and helpful to me,” and “didn’t look down her nose at me and seem to resent my being here. … Jean had many big warmths in her to have any room for petty rivalries. She offered to show me the ropes. All of them. And did. I miss her.” An added attraction was the Wilson Aubrey Trio (pictured below), who did a comedy gymnastic and burlesque wrestling act. The act was successful enough that the trio were still performing into the 1930s. Also on the bill was a 1919 Charlie Chaplin short entitled A Day’s Pleasure. The film is available on YouTube, and runs about 20 minutes Brief Plot: Charlie takes his wife (Edna Purviance) and two sons on a pleasure boat ride. Things don’t work out so well. Review: OK comedy, but not exactly a knee-slapper. Charlie has trouble starting his car, and he experiences multiple mishaps on the boat, followed by multiple mishaps with his car. Highlights include Charlie getting seasick, Charlie getting into a fight with a big guy (Tom Wilson), and Charlie getting into trouble with traffic cops. Notable for an appearance by Jackie Coogan as one of Chaplin’s kids, but you can barely see him for most of the film.
  8. I have these in my stamp album:
  9. Hmm ... sounds like Sole Survivor
  10. You know, I am starting to believe that everyone on this forum is dead, and we are finding out one by one.
  11. Billy Drago as "the Enforcer" Frank Nitti getting pushed by Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness in The Untouchables:
  12. Julie Reding about to fall to her death in Tormented; her lovely breasts could not be used as flotation devices Then there is this from A Kiss Before Dying, which still gives me the creeps:
  13. From January 8-10, 1920, the Poli ran L’Apache, starring Dorothy Dalton in a dual role. Released on November 2, 1919, at five reels, the film is presumed lost. I could only find a few grainy stills from newspapers, along with some production cuts. I tried to place them in context. Plot: Helen Armstrong, daughter of a college professor, comes to Paris to study music. She becomes the mistress of a wealthy American, Harrison Forbes. French-born Natalie, who looks exactly like Helen, has married the King of the Apaches, Jean Bourget, in order to save her brother from prison. Helen’s grandfather is coming to visit Helen, but her life has been so dissipated by her affair that she does not dare see him. She persuades Natalie to take her place. Shortly afterwards, Helen, dressed in Natalie’s clothes, commits suicide by jumping into the Seine. Bourget visits Helen’s apartment and kills Forbes. Natalie has fallen in love with Otis Mayne. But she is arrested when the police believe she is Helen. She is charged with the murder of Forbes. At her trial, she refuses to defend herself. At the last moment, Bourget is captured by police and is shot attempting to escape. Before he dies, he confesses to Forbes’ murder. Natalie is set free and finds happiness with Mayne. The Film Daily noted that Dalton “did a fine and impressive piece of work handling the dual role of Natalie and Helen. She differentiated sharpely [sic] between the two characters causing each one to stand out as a separate and distinct personality.” Of the film itself, the trade journal stated “this picture should go fairly well down in the down town houses and those in which the audience demands a more or less sensational sort of entertainment and does not care whether the subject material of the picture deals with the seamy side of life or not.” Macey Harlan, who played the villain in the previously reviewed Flame of the Desert, drew some critical praise for his work as the Apache. The manager of the Family Theatre in Cincinnati, I. Lisbon, found an interesting way to promote the film before it was scheduled to be shown. He had the Cincinnati Post run a photograph of a film star holding a black mask before her face. Lisbon offered a ticket to anyone sending in the correct identity. In the first mail that arrived after publication, about 150 out of 200 readers correctly identified the woman as Dorothy Dalton. Lisbon was forced to end the contest earlier than planned when he got swamped by hundreds of letters. The photo is shown below: Also appearing on the bill was the comedy team of Murphy and Lachmar. The Hartford Courant described the act as “the large size of the woman of the team furnishing her partner many opportunities to poke fun at her that is thoroughly appreciated.” But Variety was not as kind, stating that “some of the talk is rough and should be eliminated … He also slammed her on the leg at one time, said slamming also being unnecessary.” Somehow, I don’t believe this act would be successful today.
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