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scsu1975

NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

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9 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

The Sun Theatre in Omaha went one better, getting a real bear and driving him around the city to promote the film. The bear was even able to “mingle” with passersby (see stills below):

That bear must have been heavily sedated. What an odd publicity stunt!

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1 hour ago, sagebrush said:

That bear must have been heavily sedated. What an odd publicity stunt!

Apparently there were no liability concerns back then.

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From June 17-19, 1920, the Poli featured Excuse My Dust, starring Wallace Reid as Toodles Walden. The film was released on March 21, 1920, at five reels. It is available on YouTube, and runs about 48 minutes.

Brief Plot:  When last we saw Toodles Walden, he had won the road race from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Now he has a wife and baby, but still has an itch to race, despite the admonitions of his wife Dorothy, and father-in-law J.D. Ward, a car manufacturer. Then Toodles is pulled over for speeding with his wife and infant in the car.

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An exasperated J.D. cooks up a scheme to prevent Toodles from driving for the next six months.

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J.D. also sells off his racing cars, determined to get out of that business. But a turn of events leads him back into the sport, with the speed record from Los Angeles to San Francisco up for grabs. Naturally Toodles wants to drive in the race, but J. D. forbids it. Meanwhile, Dorothy has left Toodles and has taken their child to San Francisco. Then Toodles receives a telegram from his wife, urging him to come at once because their infant is sick. Can Toodles get to San Francisco in time, and maybe set a new record in doing so? Well, yes … and no … well, you’ll see …

Review: This film is the follow-up to The Roaring Road (1919) which was reviewed earlier in this thread. The same cast returns, including Ann Little as Dorothy and Theodore Roberts as J.D. Ward. Villains Tully Marshall and Walter Long are added this time for good measure. Even Wallace Reid’s actual son makes an appearance (his film debut), as the infant.

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While predictable, the film is still fun, and probably a bit better than the first one. The road race is more interesting, with some good camera work and an impressive car wreck. Roberts steals the show again with his bluster and omnipresent cigar. He even gets behind the wheel of a racing car to take part in the final race.

Wallace Reid Jr., like his father, was born William Wallace Reid. The lad made a dozen movies. He also appeared in a sketch as a prison guard in 1974, in a Bob Hope special. By then, he was an architect, and upon being interviewed, remarked that he had designed a set for an unnamed movie filmed in Saigon. “I drew the master plans for the American embassy there – the one they blew up.” Reid was also interested in flying. He built his own experimental plane, called the Long-EZ. The 17-foot long plane, designed by Burt Rutan, was built of mostly Styrofoam, epoxy, fiberglass, and plastics. It weighed about 700 pounds, had no tail, and its engine faced the rear of the plane. Around 11 in the morning on February 27, 1990, Reid took off from Santa Monica Airport in his plane. A half hour later, the control tower lost contact with Reid. Bob Tur, a friend of Reid’s, was flying in a helicopter to Newport Beach to cover a fire, when the tower asked him to fly over the area and search for Reid. Just before noon, Tur spotted the wreckage of the Long-EZ, about two miles west of the Santa Monica Pier. About ten minutes later, Reid’s body floated to the surface. Tur later said he felt Reid had probably become disoriented by the heavy fog that morning. “The fog was almost translucent,” he stated, “the kind that you wouldn’t know you were in it until you already were in it. The fog was changing so quickly.” Tur later added these comments about his 72-year-old friend: “Bill died the way he wanted to die. Bill didn’t want to die in a retirement home or in a hospital. He said that if he was going to die he wanted to die flying.”

Also on the bill was a 1915 Charlie Chaplin short entitled A Jitney Elopement. There is a sharp print on YouTube, running around 24 minutes. I’m not sure why a 1915 short would be matched with a 1920 film, unless it was because the Chaplin film has a car chase for the climax.

Iona Lott (Edna Purviance) is not thrilled when her father tries to marry her off to Count Chloride de Lime (Leo White) sight unseen. Enter her boyfriend (Chaplin) who impersonates the Count and seems to be getting along well with Iona’s father – until the real Count shows up. Charlie finds the Count and Iona in the park, and some slapstick ensues.

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And so it goes. The film is not terribly amusing, but it’s also not terrible. The big plus is that Edna Purviance gets quite a bit of screen time, unlike the last few Chaplin films I’ve seen. She has a wonderful on-screen presence.

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From June 20-23, 1920, the Poli featured Paris Green¸ starring Charles Ray as Luther Green. The film was released on June 13, 1920, at five reels, and is presumed lost. Unfortunately, I could only find one still.

Plot: As the story opens, Corporal Luther Green, nicknamed “Paris Green” by his buddies, is in a Parisian café. There, he meets Ninon, a French girl, and inadvertently says to her vous etes un morceau de fromage (“you are a piece of cheese”) when he meant to say “pleased to meet you.” Although their meeting is short, Paris gives the girl his address in America. Paris returns home to his parents in Quigley Corner, New Jersey.

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There, he discovers the girl he left behind has become engaged to someone else during his absence. In addition, his dog has died. In InDespondent, he departs for the big city. Meanwhile, Ninon has just arrived in New York City, looking for her uncle, and has escaped from crooks who tried to abduct her after she had left her ship. She boards a train for Quigley Corners, and encounters Paris at the station. He takes her back to his parents, and romance blossoms. There is comedy as Paris constantly refers to a dictionary to communicate with Ninon. Later, the crooks appear, and kidnap Ninon. Paris pursues their car on horseback, overtakes them, and holds them at bay with his gun. Ninon’s uncle eventually locates the girl, and all ends happily for everyone.

Despite a generally positive review, Wid’s Daily noted “the story takes some far-fetched turns and the pair of villains introduced are so conventionally the old style, melodramatic, cigarette-smoking type that they and their activities are more laughable than sustaining.” Still, the daily remarked that the sequence where Green is greeted by his mother upon his return from Paris “will surely bring out the tears.” Motion Picture News also praised that scene, writing “these are the human touches which tone up the picture and make it interesting despite the melodramatic hokum.” Exhibitor’s Herald  was not impressed, writing “the present vehicle does not possess the all-around appeal of [Ray’s] former successes, and the usual Ray comedy touches will not stir anyone into mad gales of mirth.”

Ann May, who portrayed Ninon, was supposedly discovered while visiting the Beverly Hills Hotel. She only made about a dozen films before retiring. As can be seen in the publicity shot below, she was certainly a pretty young lady:

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Also on the bill was a Mack Sennett short, Fresh From the City, released on May 2, 1920. A city guy woos the daughter (Marie Prevost) of a restaurant owner. The old man introduces a cabaret into his business and starts to clean up. Not satisfied, he cooks up a scheme to sell some land, claiming it has oil on it. He pours kerosene into a pool to convince buyers. The tables get turned when the buyer pretends he has a gusher and sells the land back to the old man. Exhibitor’s Herald remarked that the two-reeler “affords the Sennett comedians many excellent opportunities.” Kalla Pasha, who is billed as “the dance chaperone,” was a professional wrestler. His wrestling schtick consisted of trying to bite his opponents’ feet, and making faces at the audience. He amassed a good number of film credits before dying of heart troubles in 1933. He is at the far left (in drag) in the still below:

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From June 24-26, 1920, the Poli ran The Man Who Lost Himself¸ starring William Faversham in a dual role as Victor Jones and the Earl of Rochester, and Hedda Hopper as the Countess of Rochester. The film was released on May 3, 1920, at five reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Victor Jones, an American salesman, finds himself penniless and stranded in London. He meets the Earl of Rochester, to whom he bears a striking resemblance. The Earl is estranged from his wife and family, and owes a great deal of money. The Earl gets Jones drunk, changes clothes with him, and sends Jones home in his place. Jones wakes up in a daze.

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The Earl then commits suicide. Jones only realizes what is going on once he receives a letter that the Earl had written to him before committing suicide. Jones goes through with the charade, saves the impoverished Rochester family, falls for the Earl’s wife, and ultimately confesses to the impersonation. Jones and the widow marry and move to America.

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The film was based upon a novel of the same name, by H. DeVere Stackpole. It was remade in 1941 with Brian Aherne and Kay Francis in the lead roles.

Critics were nearly unanimous in praising the film. Wid’s Daily called it “a surprising treat …  the picture establishes itself as an excellent light comedy with the star doing some wonderful business in a dual role … at least a picture producer has awakened to the fact that Faversham has few superiors in light comedy roles." A critic for Picture-Play Magazine agreed, writing “here is William Faversham displaying his ability as a comedian in the most delightful piece of nonsense I have recently seen.” Photoplay added that the film was “one of the best pictures to be offered for a long time.” They noted that Hedda Hopper’s work “strengthens her claim to a position among the best legitimate women players of the screen world.”

Apparently the film was also a hit with President Woodrow Wilson, who requested a screening at the White House.

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From July 1-3, 1920, the Poli ran The Dancin’ Fool¸ starring Wallace Reid as Sylvester Tibble and Bebe Daniels as Junie Budd. The film was released on May 23, 1920, at four to five reels. A complete 16mm copy is held in the Museum of Modern Art.

Plot: Sylvester Tibble makes $6 a week working as a clerk for his uncle Enoch’s pottery business. He meets Junie Budd, who is dancing at a cabaret. Tibble takes a room at Junie’s boarding house. She teaches him the newest steps and he becomes her partner. The pair earn $200 a week dancing.

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When his uncle discovers Tibble is fooling around on the dance floor at night, he fires the lad (as he had, many times before).

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But Tibble learns that Harkins, a rival pottery producer, has made Enoch an offer for the business. Tibble makes his uncle’s business a success by introducing modern methods, and comes up with an advertising scheme which results in a bundle of orders. Just as his uncle is ready to sell off the business, Tibble produces the orders.

Enoch keeps the business, and Tibble ends up marrying Junie.

The still below could not be placed in context, but I believe it is from one of the dance numbers performed by Reid. He gets to display his agile frame:

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Exhibitor’s Herald gave a positive review, noting that the film was “a vehicle well suited to the genial “Wallie” and by many will be considered his best work to date. … As the breezy six-dollar-a-week office boy in his uncle’s establishment, Reid gives the piece of charlesray touch that is delightful.” Photoplay Magazine wrote “it isn’t easy to accept the wise Wallace Reid as an unsophisticated country youth as it is Charles Ray, but he has enough of the same engaging quality of youthful exuberance to endear him to a large public, and he carries the hero of this story through a series of city adventures with uncommon skill.” The magazine also praised Bebe Daniels, noting the actress was “something more than beautiful. She has that “certain subtle something” that differentiates the real from the merely personable heroine, and her announced elevation to stardom is easy to endorse.” The Film Daily was unimpressed, remarking “casting the slick looking Wally as a rube, strange to the ways of the city, is asking the audience to swallow a little too much … you have to do a lot of excusing to accept Wally as a greenhorn.” However, the journal did praise Reid’s dancing skills. Motion Picture News opined that “Wallace Reid is not entirely at home in his characterization. There is nothing of the homespun about him. To compensate for this the title editor has attempted to make him a son of the soil by having him speak in terms of “B’Gosh.””

Reid’s dancing drew praise from as far off as Sydney, Australia. Anita K. Phail, from that city, wrote to Motion Picture Magazine, gushing “just a word of praise for Wallace Reid’s dancing in “The Dancin’ Fool.” I think he is a wonder. No matter what he tries to do, he is always a success. He has made his name as an actor, but I really believe that his dancing is a thing that will always be remembered, especially by those who love a good dancer. “The Dancin’ Fool was witnessed privately by four of Sydney’s leading teachers and exponents of dancing, and the opinion of each was that his was a wonderful exposition of the art.”

Also on the bill was Hope Eden, held over from the previous week. The Poli showed film of her landing at Lordship (that airport still exists, by the way). In addition to her mind-reading act, Eden claimed to be a spiritualist, and occasionally used a Ouija board in her act. But her skill as an “aviatrix” dominated the news. In an interview with The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, she discussed her aerial exploits. Her tales including landing nose down in a field in Pennsylvania. “I hung suspended by my belt and the oil poured all over my face and I certainly was a sight,” she remarked. On another occasion, she described being in a “side slip” and dropping 1800 feet. She claimed she was unable to straighten out the plane until she was 15 feet above the earth. “That is really too close a margin,” she mused, “because if your motor missed when you tested it, ‘gave it the gun,’ you would certainly have an awful crash.” Apparently embellishment was also part of Eden’s act.

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I inadvertently switched the last two reviews. The Dancin' Fool  did play from July 1-3, 1920, but the film that played from June 27 -30, 1920 was The Deep Purple. It is  discussed below.

 

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From June 27-30, 1920, the Poli featured The Deep Purple, directed by Raoul Walsh, and starring Miriam Cooper as Doris Moore. The release date is uncertain, but the film was six reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Two crooks named Harry Leland and Pop Clark stop at Doris Moore’s boarding house in the country. Leland receives a wire informing him that a young engineer from the west, William Lake, is en route to the city with a lot of money. Leland promises to marry Doris if she will come with him to the city. When Miriam reaches New York, she meets Kate Fallon, who runs the crooks’ boarding house. Kate tries to protect Miriam, but the crooks succeed in getting Miriam mixed up in a plot to rob Lake.

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However, Kate is able to warn the intended victim, and the tables are turned on the crooks. Leland is killed. Doris and Lake become engaged.

The film was adapted from a stage play of the same name, written by Paul Armstrong. It was first performed on the stage on October 3, 1910, at the Princess Theatre in Chicago. The story had been filmed previously in 1915, but that version is also presumed lost. Interestingly, William J. Ferguson, who portrayed Pop Clark in the 1915 version, played the same role in the 1920 version. Ferguson is shown below, from a 1920 newspaper:

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Wid’s Daily wrote “the idea of the slick crook luring the little country girl to the city so that he can make use of her innocence in pulling off his various stunts is certainly not new and indeed had it not been for the character of “Pop” Clark, played by William. J. Ferguson, there would have been very little left in ”The Deep Purple” to hold the interest.” Motion Picture News also singled out Ferguson, noting that the actor injected “much clean comedy that goes a long way to making the picture an unusual offering.”

Cooper, shown below in a still from the film, was married to Walsh at the time. In an interview, she stated “my husband knows me well enough to get the best work out of me, and I understand him so well that I know what effect he is striving for before he tells me. He is the best director I could possibly have, and of course I think he is the greatest director – he and Mr. Griffith.” For his part, Walsh remarked “she is the easiest person to direct I have ever worked with. She’s not easy to please, though. She is a harder critic of me and my work than anyone else.”

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Walsh is shown below, with Isaac Wolper, President of the Mayflower Photoplay Corporation. The gondola was used in the film, although I could not determine the context:

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Walsh and actor Ferguson shared an unusual connection. Walsh portrayed John Wilkes Booth in D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915), while that same year, Ferguson played Abraham Lincoln in The Battle Cry of Peace. More interestingly, on April 14, 1865, Ferguson was working as a call boy at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., when “Our American Cousin” was being presented. Ferguson was pressed into service after an actor failed to report. He was to do a short scene with actress Laura Keene. “I saw a puff of smoke and a commotion in the presidential box,” Ferguson stated. “With the flash of the pistol Mr. Lincoln’s head sagged forward. Then I saw John Wilkes Booth, whom we all knew intimately, spring to the rail of the box, pause there a second, and then leap to the stage. He landed on his left knee, breaking his leg, as I learned later. He rested a fraction of a second and then quickly stumbled toward the entrance where Miss Keene and I were standing. He lurched past us, brushing us to one side. The bowie knife he carried pressed against my side as he passed and I could feel his hot breath on my cheek.” Ferguson penned a short book entitled I Saw Booth Shoot Lincoln. When Ferguson died in 1930, he was the last surviving member of the cast to have witnesses the assassination.

You can read my brief bio of Ferguson at the IMDb website:

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0272639/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

This movie features the first of only two screen appearances by Bird Millman, a female high-wire artist who worked for Ringling Brothers. She appears in a cabaret scene, performing on a tightrope. The clip below shows her performing in 1931.

 

Also on the bill was Hope Eden, who did a mind-reading act. Eden had appeared elsewhere with her husband, George Frescott, doing a telepathy routine.  When they did their act in Chicago, Variety wrote “the couple are good-looking and have manners, but there is nothing startling in the act. Some publicity was secured by virtue of the fact that the team is alleged to have traveled to Chicago for the date in an aeroplane.” That probably explains why the Poli ad called Eden an “aviatrix.”

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From July 4-7, 1920, the Poli ran Sand, starring William S. Hart as Dan Kurrie. The film was released on January 11, 1920. Complete copies are held in several film archives. The film is available on YouTube (with some very weird music scoring), running just under 90 minutes.

Brief Plot: Dan Kurrie takes a job on the railroad to help out Margaret Young and her father, Pop. Villainous Joseph Garber wants to marry Margaret, and, knowing Kurrie is his rival, gets him fired. Kurrie goes to work for the Kirkwoods. Margaret mistakenly believes Kurrie is in love with Josie Kirkwood, so she consents to marry Garber, not realizing he is a crook.

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Garber and his gang plan to rob a payroll from a train. It’s Kurrie to the rescue.

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Review: Of all the Hart films I’ve seen, this is probably my least favorite. It’s not horrible by any means, but it just didn’t capture my interest and it’s probably too long. There is virtually no action until the train holdup, and by then I was getting a bit bored. As a horse lover, I can appreciate the affection shown between Kurrie and his equine pal, aka “The Boss,” but it was overdone to the point of corniness. I suppose the film is worth a look, but you can find better Hart films out there.

Patricia Palmer, who portrayed Josie Kirkwood, began her film career by appearing in dozens of shorts, under her real name, Margaret Gibson. In August of 1917, Gibson found herself in trouble, after being arrested for “vagrancy.” Two policemen, one of whom was named Trebilcock (you can’t make this stuff up), raided a house of ill repute in Los Angeles, and arrested Gibson and two other women. The house had been under surveillance for several days. According to the police, at least seventy Japanese had entered the premises over a three-hour period one afternoon. Several of the Japanese men pleaded guilty to “resorting to a house of ill fame” and were fined $25 each. For her part, Gibson claimed she had merely gone to the house to gather “local color” for a part she was going to play, and vowed to fight the charge. The trial had its salacious aspects. In one exchange, Officer Trebilcock testified that Gibson tried to kiss him, and he told her to go away and not try to “love him up.” A witness for the prosecution told the jury “I met Miss Gibson in the hall of the rooming-house … while I was working there. We sat on chairs in the hall. Japanese men entered the hall. They would tap us on the shoulder or motion to us, and we would accompany them to a room.” The presiding Judge blew his stack at Margaret Gardner, who was the Deputy City Prosecutor. He had cautioned her against any more attempts to establish that the house in question was of ill repute. While she stood and smiled at him, he admonished her, exclaiming “Miss Gardner, if you don’t sit down immediately and proceed with the cross-examination of the witness I shall fine you for contempt of court!” When the case went to the jury, it took all of fifteen minutes before Gibson was acquitted.

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45 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

The presiding Judge blew his stack at Margaret Gardner, who was the Deputy City Prosecutor. He had cautioned her against any more attempts to establish that the house in question was of ill repute. While she stood and smiled at him, he admonished her, exclaiming “Miss Gardner, if you don’t sit down immediately and proceed with the cross-examination of the witness I shall fine you for contempt of court!” When the case went to the jury, it took all of fifteen minutes before Gibson was acquitted.

A woman prosecutor in 1920; that's an achievement in itself, even though she lost the case.

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3 hours ago, sagebrush said:

A woman prosecutor in 1920; that's an achievement in itself, even though she lost the case.

That's probably why she lost the case.

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From June 8-10, 1920, the Poli featured A Double-Dyed Deceiver, starring Jack Pickford as The Llano Kid. The film’s release date is uncertain, but it was five reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: After killing a young gambler in Texas, The Llano Kid flees to South America. There he meets a man named Thacker at the American Consul. He confesses to Thacker that he is a killer. Thacker notices a strong resemblance between the Kid and the long lost son of Senor and Senora Urique. Thacker convinces the Kid to pose as the Uriques’ son in a scheme to rob the couple. Thacker reproduces a tattoo of the Urique coat of arms onto the Kid, to match the one their son had on the back of his hand.

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The Uriques are overjoyed when they find their “son,” and he goes to live with them in their beautiful home. But slowly the Kid is reformed by the affection of Senora Urique, and also falls in love with their niece, Estella.

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The Kid takes the Uriques’ money from their safe, but then changes his mind and returns it. He backs out of the crooked plan, and confesses to Estella. She forgives him, and he continues to live as the Uriques’ son, so as not to break Senora Urique’s heart. The Kid also silences Thacker by threatening to kill him if he ever reveals the truth.

The film was based upon a story written by O. Henry. The story was filmed at least three more times. In 1930, Gary Cooper played The Llano Kid in The Texan. In 1939, The Llano Kid was released, with singer Tito Guizar as the title character. Finally, in 1950, a television production entitled “A Double-Dyed Deceiver” featured Van Heflin as The Llano Kid.

Photoplay gave a generally positive review, while noting that “it is a little difficult to accept Jack Pickford as a bad young man of the West, abnormally quick on the draw and a terror among his kind.” Wid’s Daily added “there is something about “Double-Dyed Deceiver” that isn’t just right. And it’s the fact that the story doesn’t suit the personality of Jack Pickford. Once fans have seen him in such pictures as “The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come” and “Huckleberry Finn,” roles of the country boy type, it’s just a little difficult to imagine Jack as a “gun fightin’ kid.”

James Neill and Edythe Chapman, who played the Uriques, were married in real life. Marie Dunn, who portrayed Estella, had a very short film career. She made her first (and only) feature film appearance in this story. Her other credits consisted of a series of shorts based upon a character named Edgar, in which she played Edgar’s sister. Those stories were written by Booth Tarkington.

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From July 11-14, 1920, the Poli ran Scratch My Back, starring T. Roy Barnes as Val Romney. The film’s release date is uncertain, but it was five to six reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot:  Val Romney thinks he can get what he wants whenever he wants it. He thinks “scratch my back” every time he is at a social function, but no one ever does it for him. One night he attends the opera and notes the lovely bare back of the woman in front of him. She reaches in vain to scratch an itching spot. Romney cautiously scratches the spot for her, and the woman sighs in relief. Between acts, she writes him a note, asking to meet him the next day at her house. He accepts the invitation, learns her name is Madeline Loton, and discovers she is in trouble. Earlier in life, she had run away from a convent school in France with the idea of becoming a professional dancer in London. She studied under a teacher named Jahoda, who had made advances towards her. She left him, and returned to her father, who was living in Paris. Along the way, she met a young American diplomat and married him. Now Jahoda was blackmailing her, threatening to expose her past to her husband. Romney is disappointed to discover she is married, but he gallantly agrees to help her. The two meet secretly, which arouses the jealous of her husband. Romney and Madeline confront Jahoda, who surrenders posters showing himself and Madeline in a ballet dance. Then Romney and Madeline are confronted by Loton at his house. Jahoda appears on the scene to expose Madeline, but Loton states that he already knew about Madeline’s past. Jahoda is kicked out of the house and all is forgiven. Romney’s reward is to have his back scratched by Madeline when he develops an itch.

I could only find on still (below,) without context. The actress is Helene Chadwick (as Madeline) but I could not positively identify the actor.

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The trade journals were unanimous in their opinions. Motion Picture Classic wrote that the story was “shrewdly adapted to the screen and possesses delightful subtitles, captions which “kid” the action without hurting the story. The result is something new in film technique – a sort of after-dinner story told with dry celluloid humor. T. Roy Barnes, a former “nut” comedian in the varieties, stands out of “Scratch My Back” like a house afire.” Photoplay added that the story was “something new. It is told with a combination of artlessness and sophistication that is enchanting. The subtitles win the floral horseshoe that goes to the person who can write captions that are funny without being obnoxious.” Picture-Play Magazine heaped additional praise, remarking that the film “introduces a vaudeville player and vaudeville methods of “kidding the show.” T. Roy Barnes is the player, and he puts over his suave gusto as effectively from the screen as the stage. The subtitles do the kidding with such lines as “Now we must do something to bring our hero before the heroine.” This style of comedy shatters illusion, which is the purpose of drama. Finally, Motion Picture News wrote “it is the subtitles which bring out the values of the offering. No finer sample of wit and satire has ever flashed on the screen. Each caption is a gem.”

T. Roy Barnes (pictured below), a native of England, was a vaudeville star. He made his screen debut in this film.

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Before making it in films, he used to incorporate a shotgun into his act, threatening his audience if they did not applaud the American flag. I don’t know how well this act would go over today.

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10 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

The trade journals were unanimous in their opinions. Motion Picture Classic wrote that the story was “shrewdly adapted to the screen and possesses delightful subtitles, captions which “kid” the action without hurting the story.

 

10 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

Finally, Motion Picture News wrote “it is the subtitles which bring out the values of the offering. No finer sample of wit and satire has ever flashed on the screen. Each caption is a gem.”

It's interesting that the intertitle cards should get the recognition in this film.

I'm always interested by these cards. I never see anything in the credits of silent films that gives acknowledgment to whoever wrote them. Are they screenwriters? Are they assistant directors? Are they script men/women?

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3 hours ago, sagebrush said:

 

It's interesting that the intertitle cards should get the recognition in this film.

I'm always interested by these cards. I never see anything in the credits of silent films that gives acknowledgment to whoever wrote them. Are they screenwriters? Are they assistant directors? Are they script men/women?

I've always been confused by this as well. Perhaps someone with more knowledge will weigh in. I am pretty sure I've seen some silents where the opening credits list "Titles by ..." However, I believe this  would be a different person than the writer. It's quite possible the director may have done some of this, as they were also involved in the editing process.

In the silent days, I think the screenwriter was referred to as the "scenario writer," which could be different from whomever wrote the original "story."

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From July 15-17, 1920, the Poli ran The Valley of Doubt, starring Arline Pretty as Marian Hilgrade and Thurston Hall as Jules Bonnivet. The film was released on May 24, 1920, at five reels, and is presumed lost. Very little was written about this film in the trade journals.

Plot:  Tom Hilgrade is sent by his parents to the North woods to work, to get him away from his life of gambling and womanizing.

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Accompanying him are his sister Marian and a family friend, William Macy. While Marian is exploring, she is saved from serious frost bite by Jules Bonnivet, a woodsman with whom she falls in love. Macy, who is in love with Marian, seeks revenge upon Bonnivet by defaming him. Bonnivet is accused of carrying on with Annice DuBois, a halfbreed, when, in fact, it was Hilgrade who disgraced her.

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Dubois’ father forms a posse with the intent of hanging Bonnivet. During an encounter between Bonnivet and Macy, the posse arrives, but Marian intervenes and saves Bonnivet. She forgives Macy for his treachery, and gives her heart to Bonnivet.

No reviews were available, but there were some additional scenes mentioned. One involves a fight between Bonnivet and Macy atop a snowy cliff. Another scene involves a dog carrying an important piece of information to Dubois’ father, which helps clear Bonnivet:

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Robert Agnew, who played Tom Hilgrade, had a modest career as an actor but achieved greater success as an assistant director for many popular television shows of the 1950s and 1960s. Anna Lehr, who portrayed Annice, was one of eight children, the daughter of an Austrian tailor. She began as a singer and dancer in vaudeville. She married actor Edwin McKim, and the couple had a child, Anna. Anna later changed her name to Ann Dvorak, and carved out a pretty good film career for herself. Lehr and McKim were divorced, and, as far as I can tell, their daughter was estranged from McKim. Lehr eventually remarried, to a Californian named Arthur Pearson. She then retired from the screen.

Also on the bill was a 1915 Charlie Chaplin short entitled By The Sea. This film is available on YouTube and runs just under fifteen minutes. It’s a quick-moving farce, with Charlie getting involved in an altercation at the shore right off the bat. After he and his opponent (Billy Armstrong) agree to end hostilities, they get some ice cream, then start fighting again over who is going to pay for it (that’s Snub Pollard behind the counter).

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Another man (Bud Jamison) gets hit with ice cream in the crossfire and more fisticuffs ensue. Meanwhile, Charlie flirts with Jamison’s wife (Edna Purviance).

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Later, he flirts with Armstrong’s wife (Margie Reiger). Fun to watch, this movie is (thankfully) shorter and more to the point than some of Chaplin’s other efforts.

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From July 18-21, 1920, the Poli ran Children of Destiny, starring Edith Hallor in the dual role of Isabelle and Rose Hamlin. The film’s release date is uncertain, but it was six reels, and is presumed lost. Reconstructing the plot was difficult, since I could not find a synopsis anywhere, not even in the trade journals. Thus, I tried to piece the story together from bits and pieces I found in contemporaneous newspapers. I also discovered a few grainy newspaper stills.

Plot: The film begins in Italy. Isabelle Hamlin is married to the brutish Richard Hamlin. Hamlin gambles with the Italian Count di Varisi, and, after losing all his money, puts up his wife as a stake.

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Isabelle overhears this plan. Hamlin eventually wins, by cheating. He then goes off and attempts to assault a flower girl. The Count and Isabelle fall for each other, and have a daughter together.

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However, Isabelle remains with her husband, who, by now, is a paralytic. Eventually, Hamlin dies and Isabelle is free to marry the Count. Meanwhile, the daughter, Rose, has her own adventures, becoming a gambler and leading a wasteful life. A lawyer, to whom she is engaged, attempts to “buy her for a night.”

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Finally, Rose settles down and marries an artist.

This sounds like a wild film. The Maryland Film Board originally condemned it, then passed it once changes were made. The Pennsylvania Film Board approved it after making some forty-one changes to the original film.

The film was based upon a play by Sydney Rosenfeld.

The IMDb reports that William Courtleigh Jr. portrayed Richard Hamlin, but this is probably an error. Courtleigh died in 1918 from influenza. According to several sources, his last film was By Right of Purchase, released in 1918. Most likely the part of Hamlin was played by Courtleigh’s father William, who made just under a dozen films.

The William Wrigley mansion in Pasadena was used for an exterior shot, to depict a gambling house in France. The Gillespie estate in Santa Barbara was used to represent an Italian villa.

Some newspapers reported that in the film, Edith Hallor wore a “stunning evening wrap of blue and gold brocade, edged with heavy gold fringe and trimmed with long, important tassels of gold cord.” Hallor is shown below, in her dual role as mother and daughter:

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Hallor was primarily a stage actress. In 1916, she appeared with W. C. Fields in the Ziegfeld Follies. She also performed alongside Eddie Cantor, Fannie Brice, and Will Rogers. In January of 1919, she married movie producer L. Lawrence Weber, and the couple had a son, L. Lawrence Weber Jr. But by June of 1920, the marriage was in the dumper. Weber sued for divorce on the grounds that his wife was unfaithful. Weber hired a detective to tail his wife, and discovered she was seeing Jack Dillon, who, at the time, was Mary Pickford’s director/manager. Several witnesses came forward and claimed they had seen Hallor and Dillon kissing and hugging. Hallor did not contest the divorce, and the marriage was ended. In May of 1921, Hallor married Dillon. A year later, newspapers reported the couple had separated, but they were soon back together. However, Hallor and her former husband battled over custody of their son. In August of 1922, Hallor, along with a few friends, went to Central Park and “kidnapped” Weber Jr. while he was strolling in the park with a nurse. Weber immediately got a court order, and the child was returned to him. Hallor claimed it was “her turn” to care for the boy. In a court hearing, Weber fought back by impugning Hallor’s reputation. He produced the night manager of a New York City hotel, who claimed he had seen Hallor drunk on several occasions. After warning her about her drunkenness, the manager stated “then one morning after she had been warned about her conduct, she threw an inkwell at me. I kept a piece of the broken class as a souvenir of the battle.” While the case was being heard, temporary custody of the child was given to Buffalo Supreme Court Justice Louis Marcus, who just happened to be a guest staying at Weber’s apartment. A short time later, a former maid of Weber’s claimed that Marcus was holding alcohol parties with chorus girls in Weber’s home. The maid, Anna Cannon, took the witness stand and stated “I fixed luncheon for Judge Marcus and a tall, heavy blonde. There was another girl who used to come all the time to see him. She was a blonde or red headed.” When asked if Weber Jr. was ever present at these parties, Cannon responded “he usually was put to bed early, but I remember one night the baby picked up a cocktail glass and raising it said: “Here’s to the beautiful ladies.”” Marcus then testified he had never seen anyone drunk at Weber’s apartment and that he had never seen a man and a woman enter a bedroom at the apartment. Marcus resigned as guardian, claiming the job was interfering with his “court duties.” He was replaced by John Delahunty, a local attorney. In a bizarre twist, Delahunty was stricken three days later with apoplexy and died. In November of 1920, Weber was awarded custody of the child, with the understanding that Hallor could visit the boy three times per week. L. Lawrence Weber died of a heart attack in 1940. Hallor died in 1971. That same year, L. Lawrence Weber Jr. starred in the Broadway musical Applause.

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Too bad a film was never made about the life and times of Weber and Hallor . Sounds like a good foundation for a melodrama!

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54 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

Too bad a film was never made about the life and times of Weber and Hallor . Sounds like a good foundation for a melodrama!

I know. This side-drama is usually better than the film being shown.

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From July 22-24, 1920, the Poli ran The Desperate Hero, starring Owen Moore as Henry Baird. The film was released on June 7, 1920, at five to six reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Henry Baird is forced to leave town to escape from a tailor who is suing him. He drives to the country, where his car breaks down. He raffles off the auto at a church fair, giving $300 to orphans and keeping $300 for himself. He pays off the tailor with the $300. Some boys set fire to the auto before the new owner can claim it, so Baird offers his services for two weeks to the holder of the winning ticket. The winner turns out to be Joe Plant, Baird’s arch enemy. Baird is compelled to act as Plant’s gardener, housemaid, and man-about-the-house on Plant’s estate. But Baird starts paying attention to Plant’s wife, who is Baird’s former sweetheart.

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Plant is happy to release Baird. Baird begins a love affair with Mabel Darrow.

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But an unscrupulous rival tries to frame Baird, and hires a vamp. The vamp claims that Baird has fathered four children. Eventually Baird is cleared.

The still below, showing Owen Moore, could not be placed in context.

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Exhibitor’s Herald praised the film, calling it a “first-class summer attraction, light and airy … that mixes love, laughter and limousines into a cocktail of joy.” But Wid’s Daily savaged the film, writing “this picture doesn’t contain the necessary vital spark of comedy to register it a success. … What there is of real plot fails to put in an appearance until the third reel and even then it isn’t briskly developed. … The star is catered to in almost every scene and he doesn’t show much. … Really it looks as if Owen Moore had just been too lazy to get up and do something in his role in this.”

In related news, Poli’s announced that a new hardwood stage was recently installed, described as “one of the best stages of any theatre in the country.” Also, “the lobby has been redecorated with Hawaiian ferns and the woodwork has been restained.”

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From July 25-28, 1920, the Poli ran Homer Comes Home¸ starring Charles Ray as Homer Cavender. The film was released in July of 1920, at five reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot:  Homer Cavender is regarded as a failure by the people in his hometown.

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He has been fired from just about every job. In his latest fiasco, he tries out a non-skid device on his boss’ car.

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While he is driving his boss to a reception, the car skids through a fence and crashes. Homer is again fired and heads for the city. The only person sorry to see him go is Rachel Prouty, daughter of one of the town’s leading citizens. He goes to work as a clerk for Bailly and Kort.

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But after two years he finds he is not progressing rapidly enough. He has an idea of creating a factory in his hometown. But the venture requires money to get off the ground. His bosses refuses to finance the venture. However, Homer has managed to save $300. With his cash, he returns home on the Lightning Express, which carries only important people. The whole town turns out to see him return, sporting his new suit. Homer takes the best room at a local hotel.

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He hires the local taxi for two weeks. He spends money recklessly.

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He wants to propose to Rachel, but is afraid to let her know he really has no money.

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Then he secures the capital to carry out his venture by offering the citizens stock in the enterprise. But Arthur Machim, a jealous rival of Homer’s finds out that he is only a clerk, and spreads the news that Homer is dishonest. When Homer fails to appear at work after receiving the financial backing, it appears to everyone that Machim is correct. Then Homer’s venture comes to pass, and he is named the boss of his factory. In so doing, he also wins the hand of Rachel.

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Though lost, some fragments exist. There is a three-minute clip on YouTube, created by the Silent Hall of Fame. The scene shows Homer working in the garage. Interestingly, he addresses his leading lady as “Milly,” although all sources I checked list her as “Rachel”:

 

In addition, there is a brief scene in the 1931 film The House That Shadows Built. Ray appears around the 7:25 mark, in what appears to be his triumphant return to his hometown:

 

Motion Picture News praised the film, noting “if other stars, who cater to one character studies, tire their following occasionally, it is because these same studies are not so richly endowed with humanity. There is nothing new ever presented in a Ray offering. But that is not important. What is important is the fact that one is looking at life every time he is flashed on the screen.” Wid’s Daily added “Ray is one of the few stars who can really subsist on a meagre fare of plot. As long as he gets the opportunities to inject his distinctive business and as long as the director gets the chance to put over some small town atmosphere and detail the picture can quite surely be chalked up a winner.”

Priscilla Bonner, who portrayed Rachel, made her film debut in this movie. In a 1921 interview, she discussed working in the film. “They couldn’t find an experienced actress who was free at the time, so they decided to gamble on me. I was exactly the type they wanted.” She had high praise for her leading man. “Charles Ray was lovely … he took me aside, and talked to me a long while before we started work. He said, ‘Now, Priscilla, if by any chance you shouldn’t make good in this part, you mustn’t worry. It means little to fail on a first attempt. But you’re not going to. We are all going to pull for you.’ Bonner had been discovered by Jack Pickford while waiting outside a casting director’s office. When the casting director interviewed her, he told her “Mr. Pickford likes you and we’re going to give you the part of his leading lady. He knows that you don’t have any experience, but you’ve got the face that he wanted.” Indeed, she was cast in The Man Who Had Everything with Pickford after making Homer Comes Home. Bonner pretty much retired from acting in 1928 after marrying a Beverly Hills physician. She was a strong believer in telepathy and the survival of human personality after death. The silent star died in Los Angeles in 1996, at the age of 97.

In Los Angeles, Sid Grauman arranged for a Charles Ray double to appear live at his theatre, and recreate a scene from the film. Grauman had used this stunt before to promote a previous Ray film. Apparently the double was so convincing that Motion Picture News remarked “the deception may be referred to as about ninety-nine and forty-four hundredths per cent pure.”

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From July 29-31, 1920, the Poli ran The Paliser Case¸ starring Pauline Frederick as Cassy Cara. The film’s release date is uncertain, but it was five reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: The setting is Portugal. Cassy Cara, daughter of a crippled violinist, earns a meager living by singing. She meets Keith Lennox, who is engaged to Margaret Austen, a society girl. When Margaret sees Cassy emerging from Lennox’ apartment, the engagement is broken off. What Margaret does not know is that the pair were having a business meeting. Cassy sings at a formal party, and catches the eye of Monty Paliser, a wealthy but highly undesirable person. Cassy consents to marry him, to relieve her father’s financial burdens. But then Cassy discovers she is the victim of a mock marriage ceremony. She tells Lennox what has happened.

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She also tells her father. Cassy plans to kill Paliser that night at the opera. Unknown to her, Lennox has developed a similar plan. That evening during the performance, Paliser is stabbed in the back. Lennox, who was seated in the box next to Paliser, is arrested, but Cassy confesses to the crime to save him.

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But the actual killer turns out to be Cassy’s father, who had made his way to the opera house and committed the crime, unseen by anyone. He confesses, then dies of a heart attack. Cassy and Lennox find love together.

Wid’s Daily gave the film a mixed review, calling it “a murder mystery which consumes much space leading up to the murder, in fact quite too much. Inasmuch as the title completely gives away the character of the production as soon as the villain is introduced it is a matter of sitting back and waiting for the scene in which he receives a sword thrust in the back. And this scene is a long while in coming.” The daily did praise the sets, and added that “Pauline Frederick makes a striking figure, wearing a bobbed wig, and plays her emotional scenes with fine effect.” The Moving Picture World wrote “the story has nothing new to offer. The plot, if handled less skillfully, might assume the outlines of cheap melodrama. … But the production shows a logical arrangement of incidents, an admirable management of surprises, a profusion of invaluable details and evidences of skillful direction. … Pauline Fredrick, already listed among the most distinguished screen artists, gives a performance remarkable in its reality and picturesqueness. Sensitive, magnetic, vital, this Goldwyn star fulfills every requirement of her role.” On the other hand, Motion Picture News remarked “this is the murder mystery at its best, with the vital question of who is the guilty person carefully concealed until the climax of the picture is reached.”

The Pennsylvania State Board of Censors initially banned the film, as they had done with a previous Frederick movie, The Woman in Room 13.

Pauline Frederick, like her character, began her career as a singer. She was a mezzo soprano; her mother wanted her to study opera. But Pauline opted for the stage, working her way up from chorus girl to musical comedy star to dramatic actress. She was already widely known when she hit the film world. Her greatest triumph may have been her starring role in the 1920 version of Madame X¸ a film which does survive. You can see a still below:

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She had played the role in stage productions in London and Australia. During one of her performances in San Francisco, a young actor named Clark Gable played the role of a prosecutor. In 1917, at the height of her popularity, she received a letter from a young fan which read “Dear Miss Frederick: You are my favorite of all actresses. I think that you are wonderful. Will you please, please send me a picture of yourself. Lovingly, Lucille Le Sueur.” Seventeen years later, Le Sueur, who had changed her name to Joan Crawford, played Frederick’s daughter in This Modern Age. Frederick made a successful transition to the sound era, playing character parts. Her final film was Thank You, Mr. Moto, opposite Peter Lorre. In one scene, Lorre was supposed to slap her, but was reluctant to do so. Only after he was encouraged by Frederick did Lorre finally manage to perform the act. Frederick suffered from asthma late in life. That disease, along with an internal obstruction caused by an accident several years earlier, finally took the life of the velvet-eyed beauty in 1938.

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From August 1-4, 1920, the Poli ran Sex, starring Louise Glaum as Adrienne Renault. The film’s release date is uncertain. Complete copies are preserved in several archives. There is a washed-out print available on YouTube, running just under 80 minutes. The stills are taken from trade journals.

Brief Plot: Adrienne Renault is a stage performer at the Frivolity Theatre in New York City. She is carrying on with Philip Overman, a married man. Daisy Henderson, a young dancer in the act, is naïve in the ways of romantic affairs, so Adrienne takes her under her wing.

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Overman’s wife confronts Adrienne, and while they are talking, Overman shows up to bring Adrienne flowers. The Overman marriage quickly goes into the dumper. Adrienne now sets her sights on rich Dick Wallace. She marries him, and discovers she actually has fallen for him. She is ready to settle down to a life of wedded bliss.

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Daisy, now a star at the theatre, begins to carry on with Dick. Adrienne finds out.

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Adrienne then takes a good hard look at her life.

Review: This is a pretty entertaining film. There are so many places where this movie could have devolved into parody, but Glaum really holds this together. Her transformation from vamp to the wronged wife is quite remarkable. She gets to wear some nice outfits (not including her spider-woman outfit in the opening scenes of her act), and is very attractive.

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In the closing shot, there is little doubt that the audience feels great sympathy for her.  I didn’t find Irving Cummings (as Dick Wallace) particularly good-looking, but there was certainly nothing wrong with his acting. (Although IMDb lists the character as “Dave,” he is clearly listed as “Dick” on the title cards.) It’s a shame I could not see a better print. In addition to some scenes being difficult to see, several of the title cards were almost impossible to read. Many of these title cards had some interesting art work on them, to reflect the “mood” of the dialogue or narration – but the art work was barely visible in some cases.

The Pennsylvania Board of Censors demanded that several changes be made to the film before it could be shown in that state. In addition, they changed the name to Sex Crushed to Earth, and that is how the film was advertised in Pennsylvania.

Also on the bill was a Mack Sennett two-reeler entitled The Quack Doctor, released July 4, 1920. In one scene, a man loses his balance on the edge of a fountain, falls over, and manages to support himself on a rock in the center of the water. But he is stuck there. Along come Billy Bevan and Louise Fazenda who attempt to rescue him. Bevan walks on top of the stranded man while pondering how to save him. He gets over to the rock and lifts the man up. Then the rock starts to move out and the two men are now trapped in the same position. Fazenda arrives with a board and the men rest on it. But when she steps on it, it breaks and all three get a dunking. Billy Armstrong plays the title character, but I have no idea how he figures into the film. The Moving Picture World called this “a slam bang set of incidents attached to a thin thread of story, some of them amusing, but the whole hardly up to the Mack Sennett standard.”

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