Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)


Recommended Posts

mvz3xfY.png

 

From February 6-9, 1921, the Poli ran The Life of the Party, starring Fatty Arbuckle as Algernon Leary. The film was released on December 12, 1920, at five reels.  Copies are held in the Library of Congress and a few other archives. There is a short clip on YouTube.

Plot: Algernon Leary is a young lawyer whose business is non-existent. His safe contains an assortment of “beverages.” When his stenographer interrupts him taking a nip, he holds the bottle behind him, with his back to the window. A window cleaner on the scaffold outside then relieves Leary of the bottle. Milly Hollister, a member of the Better Babies League, goes to Judge Voris for advice on how to fight the Milk Trust, who are profiteers. The Judge, who is cahoots with the Trust, sends Milly to see Leary, knowing the lawyer is incompetent. Loris then meets with two members of the Trust, who forward Leary a check for $5000 as a bribe. Leary is in desperate need of funds, and is tempted to take the money, but Milly wins him over. When the case comes to trial, Voris makes Leary look foolish and throws the case out. Leary denounces Voris, claiming the Judge is a tool of the Milk Trust. Since Voris is running for Mayor, the women of the League put Leary up against him. The Trust tries to frame Leary by having him photographed with a vamp named “French Kate.”

96gAuVH.png

Leary then attends a party where everyone is told to wear child’s clothes. He is the life of the party, as he dresses himself as a little boy in rompers. But he leaves the party depressed, since Milly turns against him. On his way home in a snowstorm, he is robbed of his overcoat.

He wanders about in his rompers, until he lands in the apartment house where Milly and Judge Voris both live. French Kate is visiting the judge with some important information. There is a wild chase throughout the apartments, and at one point, Leary disguises himself as a chair. When Leary discovers the Judge with Kate, the young lawyer gets the Judge to resign. Leary then wins back Milly.

Two familiar performers made early career appearances in this film. Julia Faye, who was in many a C. B. DeMille picture, portrayed French Kate. She can be seen in the still with Arbuckle, as the vamp. Character actor Roscoe Karns portrayed Sam Perkins, a character who did not appear in any synopsis I read. He can be seen with Arbuckle in this still:

WnxgSrd.png

The still below, with Arbuckle, could not be placed in context:

JiF8OEA.png

Wid’s Daily praised the film, writing “the situations afford good opportunities particularly suited to Arbuckle’s personality, and he never missed a chance to make good. Perhaps the biggest laugh of the picture comes when “Fatty” as a lawyer who only pretends to be busy, is smitten with a pretty face in such a bad way that he sinks into a swivel chair near a window, the chair includes backward and the hero turns a somersault out the window with the next flash showing him hanging on the ledge for life.” Motion Picture News remarked that the film “certainly gets over with some sure-fire hokum and incident. … This type of picture is just the thing for Arbuckle.” The Moving Picture World wrote that the film was “a gem of its kind, suited to all audiences, high and low, inasmuch as it is pure entertainment of the finest quality.”

At the Rex Theatre in Spartanburg, South Carolina, manager C. L. Henry gave free admission to any patron who weighed more than 225 pounds. He set up scale in the lobby, and crowds gathered to watch some of the town’s heaviest inhabitants seek to gain free entry. A similar stunt was pulled at the Amusu Theatre in Elmira, New York. Manager H. L. Walter, noting that Arbuckle weighed around 300 pounds, put out an announcement which read “Fatty is big hearted enough to allow you the additional handicap of keeping on clothes, while he weighed stripped. No, you can't see him. You’ll have to take his word for it. No bricks or window weights in the pockets will be allowed. Get on the scales at the Amusu or at any Arbuckle weighing station this week.” To increase patrons’ chances of winning, Walter gave men an extra allowance of 50 pounds and women an allowance of 100 pounds.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, scsu1975 said:

At the Rex Theatre in Spartanburg, South Carolina, manager C. L. Henry gave free admission to any patron who weighed more than 225 pounds. He set up scale in the lobby, and crowds gathered to watch some of the town’s heaviest inhabitants seek to gain free entry. A similar stunt was pulled at the Amusu Theatre in Elmira, New York. Manager H. L. Walter, noting that Arbuckle weighed around 300 pounds, put out an announcement which read “Fatty is big hearted enough to allow you the additional handicap of keeping on clothes, while he weighed stripped. No, you can't see him. You’ll have to take his word for it. No bricks or window weights in the pockets will be allowed. Get on the scales at the Amusu or at any Arbuckle weighing station this week.” To increase patrons’ chances of winning, Walter gave men an extra allowance of 50 pounds and women an allowance of 100 pounds.

Another very odd promo! 😄

Link to post
Share on other sites

yQDXXUG.png

 

From February 10-12, 1921, the Poli ran The Village Sleuth, starring Charles Ray as William Wells. The film was released in September of 1920 at five reels. Copies are held in the Library of Congress and several other archives.

Plot: William Wells is a country boy who graduates from a correspondence school as a detective.

sN087db.png

He gets his start by solving the mystery of disappearing watermelons from his father’s patch. Then he applies for a job as house detective at a sanitarium, but instead ends up as the janitor. When a man is reported murdered, Wells suspects the man’s wife. So he dons the dead man’s clothes and visits the woman at night, hoping she will be scared into confessing. The dead man was short, fat, and wore a moustache; so Wells puts a pillow under his vest and puts on a fake moustache.

FaP0mA7.png

G6pa5nW.png

When the woman sees him crouching in the shadows, she leaps out of bed, rushes toward him with her arms outstretched, and exclaims “My darling, so you are not dead!” Wells runs from the room. He falls for Pinky Wagner, who is accused of the murder.

Hx5AuN1.png

Wells manages to clear up the situation when he discovers that the “victim” has in fact not been murdered, but instead, a robbery had been committed.

Picture Play Magazine wrote “the sleuth, as vitalized by Mr. Ray, is as lovable as he is ridiculous. Winifred Westover plays his sweetheart, an ex-chorus girl. I can’t imagine where she chorused. Judging by her demureness, it must have been a Methodist church.” Motion Picture News remarked “of course the story is weak and ridiculous, but there is such an abundance of amusing incidents, such unadulterated hokum, that the average audience is certain to like it.” Exhibitor’s Herald noted “it will take no sleuth to detect the drawing power of Charles Ray in this picture. And, once drawn, patrons are going to spread the tidings that Charles Ray is herewith to be seen in one of his best pictures to date.”

The story was written by Agnes Christine Johnson, who wrote the scenarios for several of Ray’s pictures. In the 1930s and 40s, she wrote several screenplays for the Andy Hardy series. Married to fellow screenwriter Frank Dazey, the pair retired in the 1950s and opened a free clinic in Mexico. They continued to write on occasion for magazines. Their daughter, Ruth Dazey, was an officer in the United States Navy.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

pdbOwmI.png

 

From February 13-16, 1921, the Poli ran Godless Men, featuring Russell Simpson as Captain “Black” Pawl, James Mason as “Red” Pawl, Helene Chadwick as Ruth Lytton, and John Bowers as Dan Darrin. The film was released in November of 1920, and is available on YouTube, running around 72 minutes.

Brief Plot:  Captain “Black” Pawl and his son “Red” run a schooner. Pawl is a bitter, angry man, who has brought up his son to hate everyone. The two are constantly at each other throats. When the schooner arrives at a tropical island, Pawl agrees to give passage to a missionary and a young woman, Ruth Lytton.

QhNcUy4.png

Dan Darrin, who is the schooner’s second mate, falls for Ruth.

oWVYn8e.png

Meanwhile “Red” eyes the girl with lust.

QXdAHzw.png

Pawl confides in the missionary that he has abandoned God. In a flashback, we learn that years ago, shortly after Pawl went off to sea, his wife gave birth to a daughter and ran off with another man. Pawl and his son eventually found the man, and Pawl killed him in a fistfight. Now, a new conflict and a revelation await the Captain. How will it be resolved?

Review: This is an entertaining but entirely predictable film. The big reveal towards the end is something anyone could have seen coming once the schooner had left the island. Yet, the film did keep my interest, partially because of the completely rotten characterization of “Red” Pawl by James Mason (not the James Mason, of course). Character actor Russell Simpson also does a fine job as the Captain, although a few of his scenes are overblown. Most of the scenes are filmed aboard the ship, so we get some fine views and a wonderful shot of sunrise on the ocean. The print I watched was deteriorated in a few spots, but overall, it was very watchable. Guinn “Big Boy” Williams, in one of his earliest film appearances, has a bit part as one of the crew (front, second from left):

UJVvUix.png

The film was adapted from a Saturday Evening Post story entitled “Black Pawl,” by Ben Ames Williams. A few years after the film was released, Williams published a novel entitled “Black Pawl.” Williams might best be known for his 1944 novel “Leave Her To Heaven.”

Partial spoilers: Despite two murders at the end of the film, the movie was passed by the National Board of Review, and also listed first on the board’s list of exceptional photoplays. In watching the film, one might say that one of the murders was “justified.” But an unusual incident occurred when the film was screened for a group of two hundred clergymen at the California Theatre in Los Angeles. At the conclusion of the film, one minister stood up and asked indignantly “Is it true that we are to sanction murder in this country? This picture should be stopped this very hour!” Most of the ministers in attendance did not agree.

The pairing of John Bowers and Helene Chadwick is a bit eerie. Bowers, whose career was pretty well washed up by the advent of sound, drowned himself in 1936. Bowers is thought by some to have been the inspiration for the Norman Maine character in A Star is Born. Chadwick was married to William Wellman, the director of A Star is Born, and has a bit part in the film. That was her last film appearance.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

cyz1snR.png

 

From February 17-19, 1921, the feature at the Poli was She Couldn’t Help It, starring Bebe Daniels as Nance Olden. The film’s release date is uncertain, but it was five reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Nance Olden, an orphan, is trained in the art of theft by Tom Dorgan, an experienced crook. During one heist at a railroad station, Nance pretends to faint in front of a man who has just shown her a diamond necklace. While the man assist her, Dorgan takes the necklace from the man’s pocket. Ramsey, the victim of the theft, discovers the necklace is missing and connects the robbery with the girl. Nance hides in a carriage.

JpU5Ukq.png

When the occupant returns, he is Bishop Van Wagenen. Nance pretends to be mentally unbalanced, and calls the Bishop “papa.” He pities the girl, and takes her to the home of his friend, who happens to be Mrs. Ramsey.

68C3PMz.png

There she meets William Latimer, who is engaged to Nellie Ramsey. Dorgan trails Nance to the home, but is arrested. Latimer learns the truth about Nance, and encourages her to pursue a career in art. Nance is accused of theft, but she has been framed by the jealous Nellie. Dorgan, just escaped from jail, sees Nellie’s deception and clears Nance. “Brace Up! Be a regular fellow” Nance tells Dorgan, who is on his way back to prison.

nY7iZea.png

Nance and Latimer find happiness together.

The film was adapted from a novel entitled In The Bishop’s Carriage, written by Miriam Michelson. The novel was also turned into a stage play.

Exhibitor’s Herald wrote “here is a pleasantly presented picture in society setting that brings Bebe Daniels to the front in a role of which she makes a great deal. …Bebe Daniels is a favorite with picture patrons and her good looks, smartness of costuming and skillful work will carry the feature’s popularity far.” Wid’s Daily remarked that the film was “first of all a crook story but there are some rather good bits of comedy that register and make you wish there were more.” The daily added “there are some matters of detail which may be criticized. The star is taken from the orphan asylum and she’s close enough to the camera for the makeup to be plainly visible. Not likely they allow such things in orphan asylums.” Motion Picture News was unimpressed, writing “the chief fault of the picture is its lack of action. Once the characters and their motives are planted, there is nothing to do but wait for the orthodox conclusion with suspense relegated entirely to the background. It will surprise many to see Bebe Daniels in legitimate drama and those who appreciate her comedy talent will find occasion to be dissatisfied with her present vehicle.”

Frank Browne, The manager of Clune’s Broadway Theatre in Los Angeles took advantage of an incident involving Bebe Daniels to promote the film at his theater. Daniels was pulled over for speeding, just outside Los Angeles, and the case drew coverage in the Los Angeles newspapers. So Browne made up a card which read “Bebe Daniels Arrested for Speeding but She Couldn’t Help it,” with all the words except “but” being in boldface. Under the announcement, in small type, was printed “is the name of her latest photoplay to be shown at Clune’s Broadway starting Sunday, March 13th.” (Daniels was given a short jail sentence.)

Tom Dorgan was played by prolific character actor Wade Boteler, who was nicknamed the “No. 1 cop of the movies.” In his later years, Boteler served as Community Air Warden in the War Activities Office in North Hollywood. He once tried to explain, in vain, to a woman, that she could not hang Japanese lanterns in her backyard, not because of cultural bias, but because lanterns of any kind were prohibited during blackouts. Boteler also served as President of the North Hollywood Rotary Club. Upon his death in 1943, the North Hollywood Chamber of Commerce issued several resolutions, citing Boteler’s civic work and generosity. Boteler had three sons, each of whom served in a different branch of the armed forces.

Here is Boteler as the train conductor in a funny scene from Hit The Ice, at the 23:50 mark:

 

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

Here is Boteler as the train conductor in a funny scene from Hit The Ice, at the 23:50 mark:

😄

 

19 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

Frank Browne, The manager of Clune’s Broadway Theatre in Los Angeles took advantage of an incident involving Bebe Daniels to promote the film at his theater. Daniels was pulled over for speeding, just outside Los Angeles, and the case drew coverage in the Los Angeles newspapers. So Browne made up a card which read “Bebe Daniels Arrested for Speeding but She Couldn’t Help it,” with all the words except “but” being in boldface. Under the announcement, in small type, was printed “is the name of her latest photoplay to be shown at Clune’s Broadway starting Sunday, March 13th.” (Daniels was given a short jail sentence.)

Wow, a jail sentence for speeding?

Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

 

Wow, a jail sentence for speeding?

Yes, she was given ten days. She was convicted of driving around 56 mph. She appealed to the LA Superior Court, but lost. In a statement, Daniels said "I am not going to do any more speeding.  I yearn for the big outdoors, unconfined by four walls and black bars."

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

5CA0k4H.png

 

From February 20-23, 1921, the Poli ran Bunty Pulls the Strings, starring Leatrice Joy as Bunty Biggar, Russell Simpson as Tammas Biggar, and Raymond Hatton as Weelum. The film was released in January of 1921, at seven reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: In a Scottish village, Bunty Biggar keeps house for her father Tammas ever since his wife died. One of Bunty’s brothers is in the city, while the other is still at home. Susie Simpson, a widow, has designs on Tammas. She places some money in his care to win his favor. Susie’s nephew Weelum is in love with Bunty, but he hasn’t enough money yet to marry the girl. When Tammas discovers his oldest son has stolen some money, he gives the boy the money that Susie left with him. Tammas’ childhood sweetheart, Eelen Dunlop, appears at the Biggar home. When Susie learns who she is, she asks Tammas for her money back. Then Bunty “pulls the strings” to save the situation. She gives her father the savings that she and Weelum had accumulated, to replace the debt. It is then discovered that Susie had cheated Weelum out of his inheritance. Susie is forced to make restitution and a double wedding takes place – Weelum and Bunty, and Tammas and Eelen.

The only stills I could find are scenes with Leatrice Joy and Raymond Hatton:

hY5YJqZ.png

RJFnbsd.png

MBABtbk.png

The film was based upon a successful stage production of the same name, written by Graham Moffatt.

Critics generally praised the movie. Picture-Play Magazine wrote that the film was “so pretty, so genteel, and refined that it could be shown at any church on a Sunday night.” Motion Picture News noted “the selection of exteriors or rather the building of exteriors is a revelation in detail and correct atmosphere. The incident provided is excellent, with many a good, clean comedy bit, captioned by clever titles, some from the original play. Acting honors and opportunity in the various roles are pretty equally divided.” Photoplay remarked “come awa’ to this quaint little Scotch village (nestling perhaps in the Hollywood hills though you’d never suspect it) and forget modern mysteries and problem plays and sex trash. … it is an appealing story, well directed and convincingly portrayed by an excellent cast.” Wid’s Daily added that the film was “really pleasing entertainment” with “fine Scotch atmosphere and some good touches of humor.”

Some of the exterior shots are shown below:

JhZl9Gb.png

Vv3KWLA.png

4toYci7.png

Also on the bill was the team of Sam Dody and Henry Burman, performing a musical skit entitled “Italian Topics and Tunes.” They were described as having “one of the best w o p acts in vaudeville.”

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

cIbD0rW.png

 

From February 24-26, 1921, the Poli ran The Blooming Angel, starring Madge Kennedy as Floss Brannon and Pat O’Malley as Chester Framm. The film was released in February of 1920, at five reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Floss Brannon has been expelled from college for mischievous behavior. Her aunt wants her to marry a lawyer.

kZwdP7i.png

But Floss marries Chester Framm, a struggling student who wants to be a public speaker.

QBh1j0v.png

tmQM9jn.png

gTAARji.png

To earn money, Floss creates a complexion cream called “Angel Bloom” and goes into business. Framm is not impressed.

c5Nbs6M.png

She rents an elephant from a circus and colors it pink; the same color as her cream. The elephant is led through the streets attracting large crowds. Then the elephant plays dead. Floss is arrested and charged with animal cruelty. But the judge releases her when the animal shows up alive. The judge then invests money in Floss’s business. Floss’s cream is successfully launched on the market.

The still below could not be placed in context. It shows Madge Kennedy with Arthur Housman, who later became famous for playing drunks:

iY1CHSE.png

Motion Picture News gave a mixed review, writing “this picture is neither farce, comedy nor drama. It has a farce comedy idea which should have been developed along farce comedy lines, even going the limit with “hookem.” Instead it is played with an evident attempt at injecting heart interest and a rather   far-fetched idea of pointing a moral, not to put a “square peg in a round hole.” … The picture will amuse Miss Kennedy’s admirers, but will not make her many new friends.” Wid’s Daily wrote “the story quite fails to get over as a comedy. There is nothing to it but some co-educational college comedy and a lot of action circulating around a publicity stunt of the “It Pays to Advertise” school.” But Photoplay called the film “a nice little picture,” adding “you will enjoy seeing one of your favorite romances brought to life by Madge Kennedy, who is a delicious farceuse if there ever was one.”

To achieve the pink effect on the elephant, the crew covered it with flour. The elephant (whose name was Eno) took a liking to the flour and kept sucking it off with her trunk. The crew had to keep applying fresh flour. Eventually she lost her appetite for it, and filming could proceed.

Also on the bill were the Four Marx Brothers. (I wonder how their careers turned out.) Their act, which ran around 45 minutes, was entitled “On the Mezzanine Floor.” As Variety wrote, “in the opening section the one lone man is seated in “one” as a theatrical manager awaiting answers to an advertisement inserted in a local paper. The quartet of brothers apply for the position individually, each offering a brief sample of his ability, followed by the appearance of Hattie Darling, the featured woman. … During one section of the turn, one of the brothers plays the character of father in order to acquire some insurance money. This bit brought frequent outbursts of laughter.” Darling, incidentally, was married to the show’s producer. The reviews mention “Leo Marx,” whom I assume was Chico (his real name was Leonard). One character is referred to as “Red,” which may have been Harpo, since he wore a red wig early in his career.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, scsu1975 said:

Also on the bill were the Four Marx Brothers. (I wonder how their careers turned out.) Their act, which ran around 45 minutes, was entitled “On the Mezzanine Floor.” As Variety wrote, “in the opening section the one lone man is seated in “one” as a theatrical manager awaiting answers to an advertisement inserted in a local paper. The quartet of brothers apply for the position individually, each offering a brief sample of his ability, followed by the appearance of Hattie Darling, the featured woman. … During one section of the turn, one of the brothers plays the character of father in order to acquire some insurance money. This bit brought frequent outbursts of laughter.” Darling, incidentally, was married to the show’s producer. The reviews mention “Leo Marx,” whom I assume was Chico (his real name was Leonard). One character is referred to as “Red,” which may have been Harpo, since he wore a red wig early in his career.

I'll bet the folks in Bridgeport who saw this act loved to tell the tale of "the time they saw the Marx Brothers before they were famous"! :D

  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Tm9y06U.png

 

From February 27 – March 5, 1921, the Poli ran The Kid, starring Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan, and Edna Purviance. The film was released in February of 1921, and is available on YouTube, running around 68 minutes.

Brief Plot: A single mother (Purviance) places her infant son in a car, with a note hoping someone will care for him. The car is stolen, and when the thieves discover the baby, they leave him in an alley. Along comes a tramp (Chaplin) who discovers the child and tries to hand him off, to no avail. He then takes him in, and five years later, the kid (Coogan) and the tramp have a nice racket going, with the kid throwing stones through windows and the tramp conveniently showing up to get the job fixing the glass.

97MrmYL.png

Meanwhile, the mother has become a famous singer, and does charity work around the tramp’s neighborhood. Will she eventually figure out the kid’s identity? (Hint: of course.)

Review: I haven’t seen all of Chaplin’s features, but this is certainly the best of those I have seen. While there are plenty of amusing scenes, it is the serious ones that carry the film. The scene in which the kid is taken from Chaplin is one of the most heartbreaking ever filmed. Chaplin shows rage combined with fear, in a rare showing of his dramatic ability, and Coogan is absolutely wonderful, sobbing real tears as he is separated from his “pal.”

Hu9a1EL.png

X539ZKW.png

Purviance is lovely as always. In a dream sequence, Charlie is tempted by the Devil (played by Jackie Coogan Sr.) and a vamp (Lita Grey).

ia1fViV.png

Since Chaplin married Grey a few years later, perhaps he had a delayed reaction to her “seduction.”

A charming film, this gem is not to be missed.

 

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Always enjoy popping in to see what your are posting Mr. SCSU.  Just wanted to say,   very good post on The Kid, sir.  And you are one hundred percent spot on in your review (especially regarding the "serious" moments.. they do carry the film.. but yes,  the amusing moments are great too) :) Thanks for posting! 

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, scsu1975 said:

I haven’t seen all of Chaplin’s features, but this is certainly the best of those I have seen. While there are plenty of amusing scenes, it is the serious ones that carry the film. The scene in which the kid is taken from Chaplin is one of the most heartbreaking ever filmed. Chaplin shows rage combined with fear, in a rare showing of his dramatic ability, and Coogan is absolutely wonderful, sobbing real tears as he is separated from his “pal.”

 

There really was nothing Mr. Chaplin couldn't do. I'm constantly amazed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

mhqnvGB.png

 

From March 6-9, 1921, the Poli ran Madonnas and Men, with Anders Randolf, Edmund Lowe, and Gustav von Seyffertitz all playing dual roles. The film was released on June 13, 1920, at eight reels. A complete copy is held in the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY.

Plot: In ancient Rome, Emperor Turnerius, accompanied by his son Gordion, his soothsayer Grimaldo, and his favorite dancer Nerissa, sit in the arena watching human sacrifices. One gladiator has already slain another, while Nerissa performs in the fresh blood. Now a Christian girl is about to be fed to the lions. Grimaldo holds up the proceedings and tells Gordion a story of the future. A capitalist, Marshall Turner, kidnaps Laura Grimm, the daughter of a woman who had jilted him, with the vengeful goal of marrying her and committing her to a loveless life. Gordon, Turner’s son, wants to put a stop to his father’s plan. At the moment of the wedding, the girl’s father, John Grimm, tries to stop the proceedings, but is killed by the Turner, who subsequently dies of a stroke. Then Gordon takes Laura in his arms. Back in ancient Rome, Gordion now realizes the brutality of Rome, and his interest in a better future is aroused. He jumps into the arena to save the Christian girl. Turnerius, enraged at his son’s actions, orders his guards to kill him. But Turnerius collapses before the order can be carried out. Gordian is crowned as his father’s successor.

The stills below could not be placed in context. The first shows Gustav von Seyffertitz with Evan Burroughs Fontaine:

nmfgesi.png

The second and third show Fontaine in the modern-day story (don’t let the costume fool you), preparing for a modeling session. Kudos to the costume designer:

eDvsHlh.png

AncNU4L.png

Wid’s Daily wrote “this is one of those “yes and no” pictures. You can easily sit down and rip the whole story to shreds from start to finish, prove the drama utterly unconvincing and the characters altogether unreal. And then you can throw your frame of mind into reverse and dwell on the extravagant production values with which the picture is endowed … after the shouting is all over and the dust has cleared away, you come to the conclusion that the latter argument gets a shade the better of it.” The Moving Picture World gushed that the film was a “fascinating compound of spiritual beauty and purely sensuous charm. It is as romantic as a night dream of dark centuries long passed which takes on new meaning in the clear light of the modern day. Into this dream-like fantasy there is woven an up-to-date motive in favor of splendid womanhood.” Motion Picture News noted that the film “starts off at a mile a minute clip. They don’t even stop to introduce the characters, but just make you sit bold upright and take notice by flashing some wonderful shots of the Coliseum of Rome during a pagan holiday in the year 27 A.D. … Speaking from a standpoint of drama, it is too long, and if it were not for the elaborate production the interest would lag.” Picture-Play Magazine remarked that the film had “the identical number of holes you’d find in a large sieve. No one knows the number of holes in a sieve and no one knows the number in this story.” However, the reviewer did praise a number of scenes, and the performance of Evan Burrows Fontaine, noting “spectacular is the scene of Miss Fontaine undressing behind a translucent screen. I fear that this delightful bit will come to grief at the shears of heartless censors.”

Evan Burroughs Fontaine only made three films, but stayed in the spotlight over the years. She began dancing in the mid-1910s, and according to one report, her feet were insured for $10,000. She performed on Broadway and in the Ziegfeld Follies. In 1922, she filed a paternity suit against playboy Cornelius “Sonny” Vanderbilt Whitney, claiming he was the father of her child. She also claimed that the couple would have been married save for the interference of Whitney’s mother, who felt Fontaine was from a lower class. “Really, I can’t see how Mrs. Whitney can object,” Fontaine fired back. “Sonny’s great grandfather and her grandfather was a ferry boatman and his wife was a tavernkeeper at New Brunswick, New Jersey. Is there any reason why I, with the illustrious Patrick Henry and the famous John C. Calhoun as my ancestors, should acknowledge the social superiority of a family descended from a boatman with a tavernkeeper wife?” Things got even messier when Fontaine, who was married to a sailor at the time, claimed her marriage had been annulled. But a judge ruled the annulment had been obtained by fraud. Meanwhile, Whitney got married and headed for a honeymoon in France (that marriage didn’t last). The paternity suit was dismissed. Two years later, Fontaine tried to sue again, and again the case was dismissed. In 1932, Philadelphia police raided the Friars Club, which was used as a speakeasy. Several people were arrested, including a female entertainer who gave her name as “Mary Thompson.” Thompson turned out to be Evan Burroughs Fontaine. She was held on $500 bail. Despite all these scandals, Fontaine kept working. In 1934, she performed at the Hotel Walt Whitman in New Jersey, to celebrate Franklin Roosevelt’s 52nd birthday, and to raise money for infantile paralysis. Her son Neil became a bandleader, and reportedly passed a screen test for United Artists. However, I could not discover if he ever made any films.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

zFqeW2D.png

 

From March 10-12, 1921, the Poli ran The Woman and the Puppet, starring Geraldine Farrar as Concha Perez and Lou Tellegen as Don Mateo. The film was released in April of 1920 at seven reels. Complete copies are held in two foreign archives.

Plot: Concha Perez, the daughter of a cigarette maker in Seville, appears at a flower carnival. Don Mateo Diaz, a young nobleman, passes through with Bianca Romani, who is in love with him. The pair ask a gypsy to dance for their entertainment. When the girl says she cannot dance without music, Concha steps forward and offers to snap her fingers and sing for the gypsy so that she may dance. Diaz quickly becomes infatuated with Concha.

h52ZB5D.png

But she laughs at him and tosses her head. Then Concha insults the gypsy’s dancing and a fight breaks out between the two.

ObzdkEI.png

Diaz separates them and prevents the police from arresting Concha. Concha flirts with Diaz while Bianca looks on in despair. Several days later, Bianca goes to Concha’s home and begs her to give Diaz up. Concha treats her derisively. Diaz arrives and the two girls compete for his affection. Concha is the winner, and Bianca leaves. Concha and Diaz plan to leave the city. While Concha is packing her bags, Diaz offers Concha’s mother a large sum of money. When Concha discovers this, she is enraged. She promises to meet Diaz at the appointed time, but has no intention of keeping her word. Diaz searches for her for six months, and finally finds her in Cadiz, where she is entertaining in a sailor’s dance hall.

KfB7zKy.png

She appears in a revealing gown, which infuriates Diaz. She mocks him, and accepts the attention of El Morenito, a long-time suitor.

fvYXQXV.png

Diaz rushes to the stage, throws his cloak over her, and forces her to leave. Concha confesses that she loves him and that she has remained pure for him. He takes her back to Seville, but she continues to abuse him. Finally, he has had enough and leaves her. After he suffers a physical collapse, Concha comes to him. She agrees to treat him with love and devotion, and the two are married.

The story was re-filmed several times, including some foreign versions.

Motion Picture Classic summed up the film by writing that Farrar “flirts with a conceited fop who is adulated by less desirous senoritas, taunts him and snaps her fingers in his face until, enraged, he becomes a caveman. Then he slaps her face – and no mild slaps they are – until the tears come. After which she willingly gives him her lips.” Photoplay Magazine likened the film to Farrar’s 1915 vehicle of Carmen, remarking “the story of “Carmen” will probably be rewritten several times for Geraldine Farrar before she quits the screen. The current version is called “The Woman and the Puppet,” with the fiery prima donna swaying with happy grace through a series of attractive Goldwyn sets. … She is a saucy vamp, is Geraldine.” Wid’s Daily wrote “the picture is entirely too long for the amount of story material contained in it although it has been well dressed with elaborate sets and highly colored Spanish atmosphere which helps to make up for the weakness of the story. The interest is very slight and at times slumps badly but picks up again well enough to get it over.” Motion Picture News added “Miss Farrar’s tempestuous methods are entirely suitable here because she is cast as one of those fiery cigarette girls of Spain. The weak action revolves around her efforts to ensnare the male of the species by teasing him … it takes her five reels to rouse the caveman in him.”

Some theater owners also were not impressed. “I had a hunch this was a poor show, and it sure was terrible,” said W. L. Uglow, of the Crystal Theatre in Burlington, Wisconsin, adding “I would rather forfeit the deposit than play it.” Walter Carroll, of the Royal Theatre in Fullerton, Nebraska, said “very poor. Heard many unfavorable comments on this one and no good ones, and many walked out during the show.” P. G. Held, of the Sterling Theatre in Fairmount, Nebraska, complained “the poorest picture I have ever played during the five years I’ve been in the picture business. Geraldine Farrar may be a singer, but sure is no actress. My patrons walked out on this one. Seven reels of trash.” C. S. Ford of the Pastime Theatre in Reinbeck, Iowa, was the most succinct: “No good. Stay away from it.”

In an earlier post, I described the tempestuous marriage between Farrar and Tellegen, as well as Tellegen’s bizarre suicide, so I won’t repeat that here. Australian-born Dorothy Cumming, who portrayed Bianca, was involved in her own strange scandal several years after this film was released. In 1927, she appeared as The Virgin Mary in C. B. DeMille’s The King of Kings. The contract she signed for the film was unusual, to say the least. It stated she was to “conduct herself with due regard for public convention and morals, and at all times must observe and act in entire accord with Christian conduct and behavior.” The contact further stipulated that “during this seven-year period Miss Cumming is not to become involved in any scandal or incident against her character. She is restrained from being divorced from her husband, regardless of whether she considered herself entitle to do so.” In addition, she was “to refrain from doing anything which might give her husband grounds for divorce, to fight any possible suit, and to allow the Cecil B. DeMille Corporation to defend her in such action.” At the time, Cumming was married to British actor Frank Elliott Dakin. But their marriage was falling apart. In June of 1927, Cumming filed for divorce, charging that her husband would come home late, refuse to explain his whereabouts, and then would kick her. She also claimed he did not contribute to the support of their two children. Dakin, who claimed he was unaware of the divorce action until the suit was filed, stated “I don’t understand the grounds of the decree. The complaint said that Dorothy suffered mental anguish because I stayed out at night. Isn’t that flimsy ground? The truth is, I used to sit up a lot with Charlie Chaplin at late supper, chatting about this and that.” In December, the divorce was agreed to, but then Cumming moved to have the divorce annulled. Eventually, the couple parted ways, with DeMille not enforcing his contract.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, scsu1975 said:

Australian-born Dorothy Cumming, who portrayed Bianca, was involved in her own strange scandal several years after this film was released. In 1927, she appeared as The Virgin Mary in C. B. DeMille’s The King of Kings. The contract she signed for the film was unusual, to say the least. It stated she was to “conduct herself with due regard for public convention and morals, and at all times must observe and act in entire accord with Christian conduct and behavior.” The contact further stipulated that “during this seven-year period Miss Cumming is not to become involved in any scandal or incident against her character. She is restrained from being divorced from her husband, regardless of whether she considered herself entitle to do so.” In addition, she was “to refrain from doing anything which might give her husband grounds for divorce, to fight any possible suit, and to allow the Cecil B. DeMille Corporation to defend her in such action.

Wow, those are some constraining contract clauses, especially for Hollywood!

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, sagebrush said:

Wow, those are some constraining contract clauses, especially for Hollywood!

DeMille couldn't even have lived up  to such a contract.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

rCSJuzK.png

 

From March 13-16, 1921, the feature at the Poli was Prisoners of Love, starring Betty Compson as Blanche Davis. The film was released in January of 1921 at six reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot:  Blanche Davis is berated by her father for a seeming indiscretion.

qJrsjHV.png

 

nnr0IDA.png

LbEI95Y.png

a0W0onp.png

She then learns that he has been supporting a chorus girl, so she leaves their home. She goes to San Francisco, and, using an assumed name, goes to work for Martin Blair and James Randolph. While both men are interested in her, she falls for Randolph and becomes engaged.

WQKEkKM.png

She agrees to postpone the marriage at the request of Randolph’s mother. Unknown to Blanche, her father has come to San Francisco, as a client of the firm for which she works. Randolph meets Clara, Blanche’s sister, and falls for her. Blanche’s father encourages the romance. Randolph agrees to return east with Clara and her father, but simply tells Blanche he is bettering his position. Blanche then receives daily telegrams saying her wedding day is near. But the messages are being sent by Blair, who is touched by Blanche’s devotion to Randolph. Eventually Blair takes Blanche to New York, where they arrives on the eve of Randolph’s wedding to Clara. Randolph has received a large check from Blanche’s father to clear up some old indiscretions. Blanche and Randolph meet privately, and he produces the check intending to buy her silence. Humiliated, Blanche takes the check to her father, but the two manage to reconcile. Blanche allows the wedding of Randolph and Clara to take place, for the sake of her sister. Then, she turns her affections to Blair.

ZuQqnTC.png

The movie garnered some good reviews. Motion Picture News described the film as “an interesting, excellently produced drama that gives the star an ideal role and will probably fully establish her as an actress of stellar dimensions, if that has not already been fully accomplished.” Photoplay Magazine wrote “the story of the “prisoners” is one twisted rather deliberately to meet what is generally accepted as a demand for sex themes, but it is handled with reasonably good taste.” Exhibitor’s Herald remarked that “in less capable hands, the story of the deceived heroine might have fallen into the average picture class. But Miss Compson and her associates, with Arthur Rosson directing, have handled it with such good taste and with such a keen sense of artistry that the picture is absorbingly interesting.” Moving Picture World wrote that the film “moves slowly at times during the earlier scenes, but it gathers strength during its progress, and there is very little intimation as to the final development until interest has been strongly enlisted in the outcome. That it gathers force toward the conclusion and presents some tense moments, as well as furnishing exceptional opportunity for the star is greatly to the credit of Director Arthur Rosson and all other concerned in the visualization.”

Among the side acts on the bill were “The Unusual Duo,” who were “as fine a pair of exhibition roller skaters as you would want to see.” The team of Allman and Mayo performed in “Broadway Gossip,” described as “a Jewish comedy act that brings forth many a laugh.” Finally, “The Creole Cocktail” consisted of a jazz performance. As The Bridgeport Times put it, “the participants are colored, and put it over as only a colored combination can.” Whatever that means.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, scsu1975 said:

Finally, “The Creole Cocktail” consisted of a jazz performance. As The Bridgeport Times put it, “the participants are colored, and put it over as only a colored combination can.” Whatever that means.

Sounds like maybe the Bridgeport Times intended that as a compliment.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, sagebrush said:

Sounds like maybe the Bridgeport Times intended that as a compliment.

I'm sure they did. I'm just not sure what it meant.  😃

Interesting to read these old "descriptions" which would horrify the woke mob today. I love it.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

3rDxpjd.png

 

From March 17-19, 1921, the Poli ran All Souls’ Eve, starring Mary Miles Minter in the dual role of Alice Heath and Nora O’Halloran, and Jack Holt as Roger Heath. The film was released in February of 1921 at six reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Nora O’Halloran, an Irish girl, spends All Souls’ Eve along in her cottage. Her mother is in America, and Nora is about to join her. Nora watches people leaving the church, and looks for the spirits of her deceased father and brother. They appear to her, but when she tries to embrace them, they vanish. A few days later, she sets out for America. She arrives in the United States to discover that her mother has just died. She goes to work for Roger and Alice Heath, as nursemaid to their son Peter.

zBDbBl3.png

Roger is a sculptor, and is working on a statue of his wife.

XnaUBbZ.png

KRx8zxS.png

Olivia Larkin, an adventuress, has her sights set on Roger.

HCZCXvP.png

She approaches “Daddy” Lawson, a crazed old man who lives in the woods.

Jsxbqdx.png

Olivia plants the idea in Lawson’s head that Alice is preventing the bank from paying him money that he feels he is due. Lawson kills Alice. Roger descends into grief and cannot complete the statue of his wife. For a time, he joins the “fast set” with Olivia. One evening, Roger returns home drunk, and falls onto the couch in a drunken stupor. It is now All Souls’ Eve. Peter has been taken seriously ill. Alice’s spirit returns to comfort her son and husband, but she is helpless to act. Instead, she transfers her love to Nora, who is able to save Peter’s life. A doctor arrives and announces that Peter is out of danger. Roger begins to notice that Nora, in manner and appearance, has begun to resemble Alice. He asks her to pose for him so he may complete his statue. Feeling that Alice has returned to him, he asks Nora to marry him.

9lmJdag.png

During filming, Minter was visited on the set by the Reverend Paul Mansfield Spencer, pastor of the Church of the Strangers: OGvcQ9g.png

(The church was housed in a 16-story apartment building on West 57th Street in New York City. The building is still there, and appears to have been converted back to apartments.  The ground floor is now occupied by Dunkin’ Donuts.)

Wid’s Daily praised the film, and especially Minter’s work, writing “the star gives a splendid performance. She has a chance to contrast two characters in her dual role, and her work in both will be a pleasurable surprise to her admirers, and should prove really entertaining to almost anybody. The double exposure scenes have been most carefully done. As Alice Heath, the star displays a dignity and beauty, for which she hasn’t been called on before, and as Nora, she has the kind of a part in which she has become popular.” Motion Picture News was not as kind, remarking “the spectator who is inclined to fairy stories will find it highly imaginative, but if he is looking for realism he will be compelled to shut his eyes. … The acting is first rate except for the wooden performance of Jack Holt.”

Harold F. Wendt, of the Rivoli Theatre in Toledo, Ohio, devised a publicity stunt when the film was shown at his movie house. He announced that every set of twins in the city (or any two people who bore a close relationship to each other) could apply to the manager’s office for a pair of free tickets.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

During filming, Minter was visited on the set by the Reverend Paul Mansfield Spencer, pastor of the Church of the Strangers:

That sounds like a shady congregation...

 

33 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

Motion Picture News was not as kind, remarking “the spectator who is inclined to fairy stories will find it highly imaginative, but if he is looking for realism he will be compelled to shut his eyes. …"

😄

Link to post
Share on other sites

IALvtxv.png

 

From March 20-23, 1921, the Poli ran The Last of the Mohicans, with Wallace Beery as Magua, Barbara Bedford as Cora Munro, and Alan Roscoe as Uncas. The film was released in November of 1920, and is available on YouTube, running around 70 minutes.

Brief Plot: During the French and Indian War, Cora Munro and her sister Alice attempt to reunite with their father, who is a Colonel in the British Army. They are aided by the Mohican Uncas and the scout Hawkeye. But the treacherous Magua whips his Huron tribe into a drunken frenzy, and they commit a massacre on the British. Then Magua sets his sights on Cora, setting up a confrontation atop a cliff.

Review: This one is a close call for me. The action scenes are spectacular, and the massacre sequence is incredibly savage.

1xPPnV7.png

The exterior shots are beautiful, particularly during the climax.

vnwUzvC.png

My main issue is with the characterizations. It’s easy to hiss at Beery and root for Roscoe, but I found their performances just adequate. Bedford appears to be in a trance for most of the film, staring blankly at nothing.

IlZI828.png

Theodore Lorch, as Hawkeye, is given next to nothing to do. The British officers, with their powdered wigs, look so much alike that it is impossible to tell who is who. Still, the film is worth a look, if only for those action scenes. The 1936 version, which is the only other adaptation I’ve seen, is better.

Barbara Bedford had an interesting relationship with her two “Indian” co-stars. She married Alan Roscoe (also known as John Albert Rascoe) two years after the film was released. By 1928, the marriage had hit the skids, and ended in divorce. “He was never home during the weekend,” Bedford complained. “He would never take me anywhere unless I insisted.” She added that Roscoe made her “stay at home, vegetate and get ready for another job. … Mr. Rascoe had the old-fashioned idea about marriage – that a wife should be kept under her husband’s thumb. Finally he began leaving me alone to go to his ranch in Mexico on hunting trips. I was the slave and he was the driver.”  Eventually, the two remarried, but the second marriage ended with Roscoe’s death in 1933. That same year, Bedford filed suit against her other co-star, Wallace Beery. Roscoe had left an insurance policy worth $10,000 to Beery, with the understanding that Beery would use the money to care for the couple’s daughter, Barbara Edith Rascoe. Beery wanted to send the child away to school, but Bedford wanted to keep her at home. The suit was dismissed after Beery had paid off Roscoe’s debts and funeral expenses, and agreed to give $8500 to Roscoe’s daughter, to be kept in a trust fund.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

54bpwkA.png

 

From March 24-26, 1921, the Poli ran Worlds Apart, starring Eugene O’Brien as Hugh Ledyard and Olive Tell as Elinor Ashe. Released in January of 1921 at six reels, the film is presumed lost. Unfortunately, I could only find two stills.

Plot:  Hugh Ledyard, a wealthy young man, is engaged to Phyllis Leigh. Peter Lester, who wants Phyllis, arranges to have her find Ledyard in a compromising situation.  Phyllis leaves Ledyard and marries Lester. Ledyard, disillusioned, wanders the slums, and rescues Elinor Ashe, who has attempted to drown herself. He then recklessly marries her, even though she is “worlds apart” in social status. Eventually he falls in love with her, but she does not return his affections. They live in separate apartments. He tries to get her to attend a fox hunt with him but he refuses.

o9Tjcqi.png

kXNO47Q.png

The Lesters come to the Ledyard home, along with Harley and Marcia Marshall. Ledyard does not know that the Marshalls are under financial obligations to Lester, and also aided Lester in his plot to frame Ledyard. Elinor has also hired a servant, who in reality is her father, an old man once unjustly imprisoned because of Lester’s crooked dealings. Lester is shot to death, and Elinor’s father is accused of the crime. Eventually, the real killer is revealed to be Harley Marshall. He is captured in a Chinese opium den and confesses to the crime. Ledyard then finds that his love for his wife is reciprocated.

The film hunt scene was filmed in Warrenton, Virginia.

Exhibitor’s Herald wrote “the mystery is so well sustained up to and through the climax that it is a regret to have it flatten out so badly with its sudden ending. However, the picture’s entertainment value will redeem it to a great extent. The settings are highly attractive and the women players are pretty and wear charming gowns.” Wid’s Daily remarked “good direction and realistic atmosphere produced by some extravagant sets raise this above the average.”

A few years before beginning her film career, Olive Tell appeared onstage in “The King of Nowhere,” at the Thirty-Ninth Street Theatre in New York City, playing the leading lady opposite Lou Tellegen. Tellegen, at the time, was married to actress and opera singer Geraldine Farrar. Farrar had gone to Boston to sing in “Madame Butterfly.” Shortly after her arrival, she came down with a sore throat, and her voice became hoarse. A physician diagnosed tonsillitis, and advised isolation. Meanwhile, her performance was cancelled, as well as another engagement in Atlanta, costing her around $6000. She returned to New York, where she told her husband what was wrong, and suggested he stay in a hotel. Tellegen disregarded the warning. And every night he would continue to kiss Olive Tell as part of the performance. Apparently the two really put their hearts into it, as can be seen in the still below:

I1FT7fO.png

Several days after Farrar returned, Tellegen came down with a sore throat, but continued to act. Eventually he consulted a doctor, who diagnosed tonsillitis. Tellegen followed the doctor’s orders, and isolated himself. The theater was shut down for four days, costing Tellegen about $2500 in his share of the receipts. With both Farrar and Tellegen recovered, the show reopened. A few days later, while Tellegen was in his dressing room, a messenger arrived saying that Olive Tell had a sore throat. An understudy took over her part.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
© 2021 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...