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From October 6-8, 1921, the Poli ran Lessons in Love, starring Constance Talmadge as Leila Calthorpe and Kenneth Harlan as John Warren. The film was released in May of 1921 at six reels. The Library of Congress has a nearly complete copy, with the third reel missing.

Plot: Leila Calthorpe’s guardian tells her he will leave her his fortune if she marries his nephew, John Warren. Although Leila needs the money, she refuses to marry Warren without having ever met him. Warren comes to visit, and Leila poses as a maid in her own house. She then gets her Aunt Agatha to pose as herself, to test whether Warren is after her money. Instead, Warren falls for Leila and the two get married.

I found plenty of stills, but could not place them in context because all the synopses I found were very brief. So I will just identify the actors were possible.

The still below shows Talmadge with George Fawcett, who plays her grandfather:


The next two show Talmadge with Harlan:



Below are Harlan with Flora Finch (as Aunt Agatha) and Talmadge:


Talmadge is shown below with James Harrison, who plays one of the Calthorpes:


Next are Harlan, Talmadge, Harrison, and Florence Short:


Finally, we have Short, Harrison, Harlan showing off his musculature, and Talmadge:


Exhibitor’s Herald praised the film, writing “it runs the gamut of farcical situations leaving nothing to be desired with the final fadeout.” But Motion Picture News panned the movie, remarking “for the fan who doesn’t worship at a stellar shrine and who likes a little action and incident in his photoplay fare, “Lessons in Love” is apt to be called dull and tiresome and possibly silly.” Motion Picture Magazine added “this is the frailest sort of plot, in such it can be called, with Constance working overtime, in her endeavor to keep some shred of suspense going until the climax.”

Kenneth Harlan was a good-looking matinee idol who was married multiple times. Although his IMDb lists nine wives, I could only confirm seven. On well, what’s one or two wives. His fourth wife, Helen, divorced him in 1946, telling the Superior Court Judge that her husband kept late hours, and every time she asked him where he’d been, his replies were “try and find out,” “none of your business,” and “why don’t you get a divorce?” She added “he’d come in only long enough to change his clothes.” About a month before the divorce was finalized, Harlan was involved in a minor traffic accident in Los Angeles. Dorothy Phelps testified that Harlan’s car had struck hers, and that Harlan had failed to identify himself. Harlan produced three witnesses (all female) who were riding with him at the time; one of them testified that Harlan had given Phelps his business card. Harlan was fined $5. Harlan’s fifth wife, actress/singer Helene Stanton, had kind words for Harlan following their divorce in 1953. “It is just too bad we didn’t get along,” she told reporters outside the courtroom following the decree. “He’s really very nice. Matter of fact, I think I’ll take him out to lunch.” Harlan married wife number six, actress/dancer Rhea Walker, in 1957. Harlan was 62; Walker was 25. Surprisingly, that marriage didn’t last either.

The Poli showed scenes from the opening game of the 1921 World Series between the New York Yankees and the New York Giants, and continued the practice until the series ended, also offering updates during the shows. Famed slugger Babe Ruth was doubtful for Game Four after having a boil lanced from his arm the night before. But in true heroic fashion, Ruth played and hit a home run in the game, albeit in a losing effort. The Giants would go on to win the series, 5 games to 3.

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1 hour ago, scsu1975 said:

The Poli showed scenes from the opening game of the 1921 World Series between the New York Yankees and the New York Giants, and continued the practice until the series ended, also offering updates during the shows.

This was a great promotion, as ladies really wouldn't be seen attending a picture show without a man to accompany them.

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From October 9-12, 1921, the Poli ran Peck’s Bad Boy, starring Jackie Coogan as Henry Peck. The film was released in April of 1921, and is available on YouTube, running around 50 minutes.

Brief Plot: Little Henry Peck gets into a lot of mischief, much to the consternation of his parents. In a subplot, Henry’s older sister Letty falls for the new doctor in town.

Review: This is a pleasantly diverting film. It’s certainly not a classic like The Kid, but it’s impossible not to like this movie. Coogan is adorable and perfectly suited for the role. He is so natural he doesn’t even appear to be acting. There are plenty of humorous scenes, like when Henry is forced to take castor oil after having stuffed himself at a grocery store.



Earlier, his dog tries to eat the ice cream cone he’s stashed in his back pocket.


There is also a very sweet scene where Coogan comes to the aid of a toddler whose ice cream cone has been stolen by two bullies. (No one seems concerned that this toddler is walking the streets alone!)


The chemistry between Coogan and Lillian Leighton (who portrays his mother) is wonderful, despite the fact she appears old enough to be his grandmother.


James Corrigan, as the father, is old enough to be Coogan’s grandfather. Despite these minor flaws, the film works mostly due to Coogan’s performance.

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From October 13-15, 1921, the Poli ran The Sign on the Door, starring Norma Talmadge as Ann Hunniwell, Charles Richman as Lafe Regan, and Lew Cody as Frank Devereaux. The film was released in May of 1921 at seven reels. The Library of Congress has a complete copy.

Plot: Ann Hunniwell works as a secretary to a rich man named Devereaux. Devereaux’s son Frank is a no-account and sets his sights on Ann.


Frank invites Ann to supper at a disreputable resort.


When the place is raided, the pair are arrested, and a photo is taken, but they escape by jumping bail. Two years later, Ann marries Lafe Regan. She then discovers that her stepdaughter Helen is infatuated with Frank.

Frank attempts to silence Ann by threatening to show her husband the photo of the two of them at the resort.




When he arranges a supper at his apartment with Helen, Ann gets there first and confronts him. Lafe arrives to settle a dispute with Frank, and Ann hides in an adjoining room. Frank and Lafe quarrel, and Lafe kills Frank in self-defense. Ann waits for her husband to leave, then phones for help. She then claims she shot Frank to save her honor, knowing a jury would never convict her of murder. In the end, both she and Lafe are cleared of wrongdoing.

The stills below could not be placed in context. The first shows Talmadge with Helen Weir (as Helen Regan):


The second still shows Talmadge with Charles Richman (far right, as Lafe Regan). I could not identify the other actors.

The film was based upon a successful stage play of the same name, written by Channing ****. Another version of the story was filmed in 1929, and starred Barbara Stanwyck.

Wid’s Daily wrote that the film “contains fine dramatic qualities and is well acted,” but added that the “situation in the main is not new.” Motion Picture News wrote “the picture is deserving of praise and will without doubt, especially since it has Norma Talmadge as a star, and a carefully selected and most competent supporting cast, find favor with high class audiences.” Exhibitor’s Herald remarked that the film was “a sure-fire interest holding entertainment.”

Some reviews mentioned a twist ending involving the District Attorney’s identity, but I could not find any information on that.

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From October 16-22, the Poli ran The Old Nest, starring T. D. (“Dwight”) Crittenden as Dr. Horace Anthon and Mary Alden as Mrs. Anthon. The film was released on June 27, 1921, at eight reels. The Cinematheque Francais in Paris holds a complete copy.

Plot: Dr. and Mrs. Anthon raise a large family of children.



One of their sons dies in a train accident.


The others slowly leave “the old nest” and find their lots in life. Tom, the oldest, becomes a successful lawyer. Frank becomes an artist. Jim is the black sheep, always needing money.




Kate and Emily find husbands. They all fail to write home or visit, even forgetting Mrs. Anton’s birthday.



Mrs. Anthon accepts this philosophically, recalling the past. When she sees a mother bird feeing its young, she remarks “feed them now, shove the food down their throats, mother bird, they will soon leave you and fly away!” Then Tom is appointed Attorney General of the United States, and in his happiness, remembers “the old nest” and returns home.


Jim sees the light.



All the siblings eventually return home for a visit.


The still below could not be placed in context. It shows Louise Lovely (as Kate) and Mary Alden:


The second still shows a train scene being filmed, with Helene Chadwick (as Emily) at right, about to fall out:


Although I could not find a description for this scene, one review did mention a “dream sequence” involving a train wreck, so this could be from that sequence. There is another incident involving a train wreck, but that involves the son who is killed earlier in the film.

Every review I read was positive. Wid’s Daily called the film “a splendid presentation of home life and mother love,” adding “the success of this production is due entirely to the happy combination of director, author and players.” Motion Picture News called the movie “a story of richly human episodes which invites us to look in on a typical American family and watch the divine mother love in its eternal song.” Moving Picture World remarked that the film was “real homespun stuff, the kind of a picture that appeals to all that is dearest and most tender, and does it without resorting to time-worn theatrical effects.” Finally, Exhibitor’s Herald called the film “a story of everyday life, filled with incidents so human that each spectator cannot avoid taking one home to himself, now and then.”

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From October 23-26, 1921, the Poli ran a double-feature. The Idle Class starred Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance. It was released in September of 1921. It is available on YouTube, running around 30 minutes.

Brief Plot: The Little Tramp is a dead ringer for a rich man who neglects his wife. After a series of misadventures on a golf course, the Little Tramp ends up at a masquerade party thrown by the couple, with mistaken identities being the result.


Review: This is the perfect length for a Chaplin flick. There are some very funny bits, several of which made me even chuckle out loud.


Charlie gets knocked around a few times (which I never find that funny), but overall this short is entertaining and fast-moving, with some interesting sight gags.

The second feature was The Blot, with Claire Windsor as Amelia Griggs and Louis Calhern as Phil West. It was also released in September of 1921. It has been shown on TCM (which is where I first saw it), and is available on YouTube, running around 90 minutes. I reviewed this film in another thread years ago, so I am supplying an edited version here.

Brief Plot:  The story mainly revolves around the plight of a family in which the father, Professor Griggs, is an underpaid college professor. His daughter Amelia is pursued by wealthy Phil West, who is Griggs’ student.


Review:  After the first fifteen minutes or so, I thought it was going to be pretty dull, but this film steadily engaged me.  Claire Windsor, as the daughter, was a revelation. It was also interesting to see a young and not-bad-looking Louis Calhern as her rich suitor. The film’s charm lies in its characterizations, and the natural acting by the cast. Perhaps it was the talent of the players, or perhaps the directing of Lois Weber, or perhaps both. I felt like I was watching real people, not actors, and I really wanted to see how their lives developed. This is a sweet film and I would highly recommend it.

In an interesting promotion, the Parker Pen Company sponsored an essay contest tied to the film:


The Poli also showed newsreel footage of the arrival, in New York City, of General Armando Vittorio Diaz, Commander-in-Chief of the Italian army. He was given a tour of the Italian districts in the city, and afterwards remarked “it is very significant. It means that these people of my blood have a great affection for their adopted country. Surely, if they regard me so highly, they must have a strong sense of loyalty to America. They live here.”

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From October 27-29, 1921, the Poli ran A Voice in the Dark¸ directed by Frank Lloyd, and featuring Ramsey Wallace as Harlan Day, Irene Rich as Blanche Warren, and Alan Hale as Dr. Hugh Sainsbury. The film was released in June of 1921 at five reels. The film is presumed lost, although the Library of Congress has a fragment.

Plot: Adele Warren becomes engaged to Dr. Hugh Sainsbury, who runs a private sanitarium. Adele’s sister Blanche objects to this, because she has had previous dealings with the doctor. When Sainsbury is found murdered. Blanche is suspected of the crime, since she was last seen with the doctor by a deaf woman.  The district attorney, Harlan Day, who is in love with Blanche, tries to solve the mystery. Day interviews Joseph Crampton, a blind patient from the sanitarium who overheard a conversation beneath his window by a man and woman. Crampton then hears the same two voices in the district attorney’s office. The man turns out to be Adele’s jilted love Chester; the woman is his sister Amelia, who is the deaf woman’s nurse.  Amelia confesses to the murder, and Blanche is cleared.

Unfortunately, the only still I could find was the one below, which shows Wallace and Rich:


The film was adapted from a play of the same name, written by Ralph Dyar. Wid’s Daily described the film as a “first rate mystery drama that creates effective suspense and is logical.” But Motion Picture News pointed out the shortcomings of trying to film the play, remarking “the two principal characters in this unique mystery melodrama are a blind old man and a deaf old woman whose testimony at the investigation of the crime bring light out of darkness. Upon a darkened stage with the voices penetrating the auditorium the effect may well be imagined. Upon the screen this must necessarily be told through the captions. Consequently the punch is missing.” Photoplay echoed those sentiments, but added “fortunately the story itself is interesting and sufficiently plausible to make a good picture.” Exhibitor’s Herald mentioned an “overzealous Chicago censor board who cut the picture from six reels to five.”

Joseph Crampton was portrayed by character actor Alec B. Francis. At one time he hawked a cough syrup called “Ayer’s Cherry Pectoral for Colds and Coughs (Hospital Certified).” After contracting a severe chest cold, he was concerned about coughing and sneezing during the making of a sound film. “A pleasant spoonful of Ayer’s Cherry Pectoral brought almost immediately relief,” he claimed. “Coughing and sneezing stopped and my hoarseness cleared up. That night I slept comfortably without coughing and in just a day or so the cold was completely gone.”

On November 9, 1931, Francis failed to report to the studio, where he was filming Mata Hari with Greta Garbo. He had been last seen a few days earlier, getting out of a taxicab in Hollywood. Police suspected foul play when he did not return home, as he had promised his wife Lucy he would. Francis was found in Ventura, when he walked into a local restaurant and ordered ham and eggs. The manager of the restaurant, John Corey, noticed that Francis was holding his head in his hands and not eating. Then Francis walked out, and it was then that Corey recognized the actor. He called the police, and Captain Joseph Myres found the actor walking along the highway. Francis collapsed in the officer’s arms and said “I am glad you have found me; what are you going to do with me?” “Take care of you, of course,” replied Myres. Francis gave the policeman a fictitious name, but his identity was verified once he reached a hospital. There, he told police and the doctors that he had been working hard at memorizing a part in a film, and then “something snapped” while he had been in a cab in Los Angeles. He had trouble recalling his movements after that. Francis’ manager, George Ullman, told the press “I believe the man is as much physically as mentally exhausted, and after a few days of rest he will probably be back at work on his picture.”  Francis did recover, and finished making the film.

The Poli also showed highlights of the Yale-Army football game, which was played on October 22, 1921 before a crowd of 74,000 at the Yale Bowl. With Yale ahead 7-0 in the fourth quarter, Army drove to the Yale 20-yard line. Yale All-American back Malcolm Aldrich then brought the crowd to its feet, picking off a pass and returning it 74 yards before being caught from behind by an Army defender. From there, Charlie O’Hearn carried three Army tacklers with him as he crossed into the end zone. Yale held off a late Army surge, and won 14-7.

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From October 30-September 2, 1921, the Poli ran The Affairs of Anatol, directed by Cecil B. DeMille, and starring Wallace Reid as Anatol Spencer and Gloria Swanson as Vivien Spencer. The film was released in September of 1921. YouTube has several prints, each running almost two hours.

Brief Plot: Anatol and Vivien Spencer are newly married, but Anatol cannot resist trying to help out women in need. He first tries to assist an old schoolmate, Emilie, whom he thinks is being taken advantage of by an old lecher. This ends disastrously. Next, he rescues a woman who has attempted suicide by drowning. She ends up swiping his wallet, and gives the money to her husband, to replace money she had taken from him. Finally, Anatol assists an entertainer whose husband, a veteran of World War I, has just had a serious operation. All the while, Vivien fumes at these escapades, and starts hanging around with Anatol’s best friend. Will Anatol ever learn his lesson, and will Vivien forgive him?

Review: This film has a great cast. Besides the two leads, the three women Reid helps are played by, in order of appearance, Wanda Hawley, Agnes Ayres, and Bebe Daniels. Daniels in particular looks great, as “Satan Synne,” who keeps a leopard in her apartment:


Good support is provided by Theodore Roberts as Hawley’s sugar daddy (although his trademark cigar-chomping is starting to wear thin). Monte Blue has a small role as Ayres farmer-husband. But despite the cast, the film misses the mark somewhat. The length is a problem; the first segment with Hawley takes up almost half the film, and could have probably been cut down. Ayres appearance is fairly brief, while Daniels gets more screen time. But the film is a tough slog at times, and I had trouble staying interested because the material was just not that compelling. And some of the title cards are paragraphs.

There are some very good scenes, though; one in particular, where Reid blows his stack and trashes Hawley’s things, is pretty raw:


There are also some very weird scenes, like one involving an Indian hypnotist who gets Swanson to remove her stockings, much to her embarrassment:


Reid’s character is problematic. It’s hard to root for him since he keeps messing up. It doesn’t help that his eyebrows appear to be painted on, making them look like caterpillars.

I’d give the film an “eh” overall.

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From November 3-5, 1921, the Poli ran The Sky Pilot, starring John Bowers as Arthur Wellington Moore, Colleen Moore as Gwen, and David Butler as Bill Hendricks. The film was released in April of 1921. It is available on YouTube (with an incredibly bad music score), running around 75 minutes.

Brief Plot: Arthur Wellington Moore arrives in the small Canadian town of Swan Creek. When the locals discover he is a preacher, or “sky pilot,” they mock him. Bill Hendricks, a ranch hand, sticks up for Moore. However, when Moore gives a sermon, Hendricks also mocks him. The two have a fistfight, in which Moore bests Hendricks. Hendricks’ friends ride Moore out of town. Hendricks, chastened, goes after the preacher, and the two shake and become best friends. Hendricks gets Moore a job at the Ashley ranch. A rival rancher named the Duke is after Ashley’s herd. When Moore is shot off his horse, he is rescued by Gwen.


But Gwen’s father is an old-timer who has rejected God and is in cahoots with Ashley. When Gwen and her father discover Moore is a preacher, they reject him. Later, during a cattle stampede, Moore saves Gwen’s life, but she is unable to walk. The townspeople build a church for Moore and surprise him on Christmas Day. But the Duke has plans for the church. Will the Duke and his gang be brought to justice? Will the old-timer see the light? Will Gwen ever walk again?

Review: This is a fine film with a lot going for it. The acting is good across the board (especially by Butler), and the outdoor photography is first rate. The fight between Bowers and Butler is vicious and realistic. Moore makes a cute and spunky heroine. The stampede is well-staged, with Bowers standing astride the prone Moore, waving away the cattle. According to one trade magazine, Bowers eschewed a stunt double for this scene. “I’m so dead tired of being an ice cream hero,” he complained, “I’d take any risk.” After the scene was shot, the rancher who had supplied the cattle said to Bowers “young man, I don’t know whether you’re the bravest many alive – or you don’t know a thing about cattle!” In watching the scene, it does appear to be Bowers sticking his neck out.


In between the dramatic scenes, there is some welcome humor, with Butler falling backwards off his chair, and Bowers attempting to ride a bucking bronco. I highly recommend this film.

Director King Vidor claimed this was the first film in which tints were used to reflect nature and suggest moods. He used soft violet for early dawn, pale yellow for post-sunrise, amber for noon and evening, and deep blue for moonlight scenes. To express joy and sorrow, he used pink and green respectively. Unfortunately, the print I saw was lacking the tinted scenes. However, there is a short clip on YouTube which does feature some of the tinted scenes. You can see the dramatic difference below. In the first shot, Bowers is riding into town at night. In the second, he and Butler make up after their fight:



The still below shows Vidor with Moore having some fun on location in northern California:


The second still shows Vidor directing a scene with cameraman Gus Peterson:


E. R. Rogers, manager of the Rialto Theatre in Chattanooga, built a church inside his lobby to promote the film. The construction only cost him $35, and he reported that business increased by twenty percent:



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From November 6-9, 1921, the Poli ran Why Girls Leave Home, with Anna Q. Nilsson as Ann Hedder and Maurine Powers as Madeline Wallace. The film was released in September of 1921 at seven reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Anna Hedder, a sales lady, works in a store owned by Mr. Wallace. She is persuaded by her friends to take an expensive evening gown from the store and charge it to their account. Anna’s old-fashioned father refuses to let her own the dress, thinking people would believe she was “that kind of woman.” Wallace encourages Anna’s father to toss her out of the home and the girl leaves.




She moves in with two women who have questionable morals. While attending a cabaret, she observes Madeline Wallace, daughter of the store owner, flirting with an idler named Reynolds.


Mr. Wallace decides to accompany his daughter to dances, to protect her from Reynolds.


But Madeline steals away and meets Reynolds in Anna’s room. When Anna’s mother becomes seriously ill, her father refuses to let the girl see her. After Anna’s mother dies, she sends Madeline back home. Wallace and his daughter are reconciled.


Anna and her father are also reconciled.

The still below could not be placed in context, although it is likely from the sequence where Anna is told to leave the house. The actor at the far left could not be identified, but the others are (from left to right) Claude King (as Wallace), Kate Blancke (as Mrs. Hedder), Nilsson, and George Lessey (as Mr. Hedder):


The film was based upon a stage production of the same name. An earlier film version was made in 1907, which is presumed lost.

Wid’s Daily remarked that the film was “not nearly as sensational as it may sound,” but added “the director has done very well with a story that might have been made into a lurid, distasteful piece. There are no objectionable moments.” Motion Picture News wrote “this is a picture that we approached rather skeptically, with the idea that it might develop into a hackneyed, “sob-sister” composition of scenes. We even thought that we were in for a moral lecture – that a pictorial preachment would be offered with a deal of maudlin melodrama. However, it is quite a feather in the respective caps of Harry Rapf, the producer, and William Nigh, the director, that they have made a first rate entertainment from a play, the theme of which has been worked to death upon stage and screen.” Exhibitor’s Herald noted that “while not produced on an elaborate scale, it drives home its point well and leaves a lasting and pleasing impression.”

Songwriters Gus Edwards and Will D. Cobb composed the song “Why Girls Leave Home” to be featured with the film, and the record, along with the sheet music, were published to coincide with the film’s opening.

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From November 10-12, 1921, the Poli ran A Wise Fool, starring James Kirkwood as Jean Jacques Barbille, Alice Hollister as Carmen Dolores, Ann Forrest as Zoe Barbille, and Alan Hale as George Masson. The film was released on June 26, 1921, at six to seven reels. The Library of Congress holds a complete copy.

Plot: Wealthy Jean Jacques Barbille lives in a small Canadian village. He goes to Europe, and returns with a Spanish wife, Carmen. They have a daughter named Zoe:


But after seventeen years of marriage, Carmen yearns for some adventure in her life. She takes up with the village carpenter, George Masson:


Barbille attempts to drown Masson, but the carpenter convinces Barbille he will bring shame upon his daughter if he commits the crime. Masson calls off his affair with Carmen, Carmen refuses to stay with her husband and runs away. Impoverishes, she enters a convent where she is cared for by nuns. Zoe announces to her father that she plans to marry an Englishman:


When he objects, the couple elope. Tragedy strikes when Barbille’s mill burns down, and his father-in-law steals his savings. To settle his financial accounts, Barbille auctions off all his possessions, except for the canary which Carmen owned:


Barbille, unaware that Carmen in is the convent, goes there to sell his wares. He offers the canary:


Carmen hears about the bird, and she and her husband are reconciled. Zoe learns of her father’s misfortune and returns home with her husband, who has prospered.

The film was based upon the novel The Money Master, by Sir Gilbert Parker. Parker adapted his novel for the screen.

Exhibitor’s Herald called the film “entertaining, wholesome and above the average in production, but above all its theme is worthwhile both in scope and the moral it points out.” Wid’s Daily wrote that the film, “after an interesting beginning and promises of good things to come, resolves into a series of character studies, and an atmosphere of unhappiness which keeps piling on to the very end, until the final scene, when a canary bird is the means of bringing together the estranged husband and wife.” Variety praised the outdoor sets and interiors, but canned the film, noting “realistic settings and convincing types and atmosphere do not alone constitute a screen drama. There should be some sort or orderly progress of happenings somewhere and leading to a goal more or less definite and significant. A record of a haphazard life may make a readable novel, illuminated by the story teller’s interpolated comments, but stripped to its elements for screen pantomime it does not sustain interest.” Photoplay was even more disenchanted, writing “it is high time that someone stepped in and saved James Kirkwood from any more stupid and badly written stories. Here is one of the fine actors of the screen being made a catspaw to pull involved and uninteresting scenarios out of the cinema fire. “A Wise Fool” is the latest – and if Sir Gilbert Parker made his own adaptation for the screen, as it is said he did, he had better turn the next one over to the hired men at the studio.”

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1 hour ago, scsu1975 said:




I want to know about these Berlo Sisters who were on the bill for an entire week! Where did they perform their diving act at Poli's?

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1 hour ago, sagebrush said:

I want to know about these Berlo Sisters who were on the bill for an entire week! Where did they perform their diving act at Poli's?

Thanks for asking. Although the Bridgeport papers did not mention this, I would assume the diving tank was onstage, as it was for other appearances the girls made across the country. (When there was a swimming act, the tank would be placed below the stage, and a large mirror was placed above it, enabling the audience to see what was going on.)

The Berlo family consisted of ten girls and one boy, although I am not sure how many were involved in the act. Their mother, Elizabeth was also an expert swimmer and diver. The girls performed across the country during the 1910s and 1920s. Elizabeth traveled with them, and became an amusing part of the act. As a stunt, theater managers would plant her in the audience, unbeknownst to the spectators. At the conclusion of the act, Elizabeth would rise and start towards the stage, yelling “that’s her! That’s her! That’s my long-lost daughter, Mary! You get your clothes on this minute and come home with me to your poor old father!” She would then rush onto the stage, seize “Mary,” and the two would struggle, eventually falling into the water tank as the curtain came down in the stunned patrons. When the curtain rose, mom and her daughters took a bow, and she was introduced to the audience. This gag went over very well, until an evening in Indianapolis, when a cop on the theater beat, unaware of the stunt, rushed to intercept “Mom,” thinking she was unbalanced. “Mom” and “Mary” still managed to fall into the tank, while the other girls blocked the police officer. Later, when he was informed of the gag, the policeman begged the manager not to print the story, for fear he would he laughed off the force.

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From November 13-16, 1921, the Poli ran Bob Hampton of Placer, starring James Kirkwood as Bob Placer, Marjorie Daw as The Kid, Pat O’Malley as Lieutenant Brant, and Wesley Barry as Dick. The film was released in May of 1921 at seven reels, and is presumed lost. Fortunately, I was able to find plenty of stills.

Plot: Bob Hampton is a gambler in the town of Placer.


While en route to another town, Bob joins a caravan which is attacked by Indians.



Bob and an orphan girl, whom he calls “the kid,” are the only survivors. In reality, Bob was formerly Army Captain Robert Hampton Nolan, who had served under George Armstrong Custer, had been unjustly convicted of murder, and had escaped from prison. When Bob sees a picture that the orphan girl carries, he realizes she is his daughter. But he does not want to reveal the truth to her until he can clear his name.







The girl falls in love with Lieutenant Brandt, son of the man Bob supposedly killed.




A waif named Dick is befriended by Bob, his daughter, and the lieutenant.



Bob finds a clue to the identity of the real murderer. Meanwhile, Custer is preparing to fight the Indians, and allows Bob to join his company in a civilian capacity. Dick accompanies him. During Custer’s Last Stand, Bob and Dick perish in each other’s arms.



After his death, Bob is cleared of murder. He has left a note for his daughter, confessing that he is her father, and giving his blessing to her marriage to Lieutenant Brandt.


The following stills could not be placed in context. The first shows Frank Leigh as a character named Silent Murphy:


The second shows Marjorie Daw:


The third shows Daw with two unidentified actors:


The film was based upon a novel of the same name, written by Randall Parrish.

Picture-Play Magazine raved about the film, writing “it is just the kind of picture that the whole neighborhood turns out to see,” adding that the movie had “romance, pathos, thrills, and plenty of action … the Indian fights are enough to drive a small boy crazy with joy.” Motion Picture News wrote “men will like this picture, the boys will eat it up and the women will accept it because of the comedy and clever work of Wesley [Barry].” Wid’s Daily remarked “the entire atmosphere of the out-of-doors is no small factor in the entertainment which the picture affords. The long shots of the battle formation and the troops in the distance have been excellently photographed. There are many unusually pretty scenes and the western locations all told are the real thing.”

Director Marshall Neilan used a blimp to film overhead scenes at Glacier National Park, Montana:


To film one sequence, Neilan, along with his cameraman and some actors, flew to a mountain ledge which was inaccessible by foot. There, the actors were dropped on the ledge, and the blimp flew about 200 feet away, at which time the engine was stopped. With the blimp stationary, Neilan and his cameraman filmed the scene on the ledge. While on the ground, Neilan (shown below in center foreground) used an ex-sailor to transmit directions to the blimp:


Neilan recruited members of the Blackfeet nation, and used 1,000 of them to film the Little Big Horn sequence:


Pictured below are three members of the tribe who were used in the film. From left to right, they are Chief Two Guns White Calf, Medicine Owl, and Chief Eagle Calf:


Some trade journals reported that it is Chief Two Guns White Calf whose likeness appears on the buffalo nickel. Even the Chief’s obituaries in 1934 make this claim; however, other sources cast doubt upon this.

In the still below, Pat O’Malley talks things over with Chief Two Guns White Calf in between scenes:


T. Dwight Crittenden portrayed George Custer:


According to some trade journals, the actor was the nephew of Captain J.J. Crittenden, who fought alongside Custer at the Little Big Horn. (I could not confirm the relationship, although I did find a Lieutenant J. J. Crittenden who died at Little Big Horn.) The actor later became a deputy in Los Angeles. In 1938, he and another deputy were shot and killed in the line of duty while trying to enforce an eviction order.

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Too bad no part of BOB HAMPTON OF PLACER survives. The photos of the outdoor scenes look like they were well done.

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34 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

Too bad no part of BOB HAMPTON OF PLACER survives. The photos of the outdoor scenes look like they were well done.

Yes, this is a film I would have liked to have seen. I may read the book when I get a chance.

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From November 17-19, 1921, the Poli ran The Witching Hour, starring Elliott Dexter as Jack Brookfield, Ruth Renick as Viola Campbell, Robert Cain as Frank Hardmuth, and A. Edward Sutherland as Clay Whipple. The film was released on April 10, 1921, at seven reels. The Library of Congress holds a complete copy.

Plot: Jack Brookfield is a professional gambler.


His niece, Viola, is engaged to Clay Whipple. Whipple’s mother, a widow, was Brookfield’s former love. Frank Hardmuth, the District Attorney, is Whipple’s rival for Viola’s affections. Whipple has inherited a fear of a particular cat’s-eye jewel. At a party, a drunk named Tom Denning taunts Whipple with the jewel, causing Whipple to strike and kill him.


Hardmuth prosecutes the case, and gets Whipple convicted. Behind bars, Whipple has a dream of his wedding day, seeing himself and Viola at the altar; then a rope falls from above and encircles his neck. Whipple’s mother remembers that Judge Prentice, who is on the Supreme Court, was once in love with her own mother. She appeals to him to intercede, and he recalls an incident involving the jewel which caused him to fight over Mrs. Whipple’s mother, who also had a reaction to the jewel. The Judge secures a new trial for Whipple, and testifies on his behalf regarding the jewel. Whipple is acquitted. Brookfield exposes Hardmuth, who had been seeking the Governor’s office, in a murder plot.


The stills below could not be placed in context. The first shows Elliott and Winter Hall (as Judge Prentice):


The second shows Robert Cain, Mary Alden (as Mrs. Whipple) and Elliott Dexter:


The film was based upon a stage play of the same name, written by Augustus Thomas. A previous version, starring C. Aubrey Smith, was filmed in 1916; that version is presumed lost. Another version was filmed in 1934.

Exhibitor’s Herald wrote that the film was “interesting, but it has not all the gripping qualities that made the stage play one of the most intense and compelling of its day. As unfolded on the screen, the story at times becomes complex and confusing … but though not as clearly told as it might be, the story has so much impressive dramatic incident that the interest is fairly well sustained throughout.” Motion Picture News remarked that the film was “poorly adapted for the screen. It seems hurried, careless – the possibilities of the original have not been grasped – not even suggested.” Visual Education noted a bizarre sequence in the movie, writing “a disproportionate amount of footage is given to the negro servant’s account of the “hoodoo” laid upon him at a cake-walk festivity. The wild dancing and ogling of the colored belles and beaux is decidedly amusing, but utterly extraneous to the plot.” However, Wid’s Daily declared this was a “well constructed photoplay with an atmosphere of the mysterious that will please.”

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From November 20-26, 1921, the Poli ran Thunderclap, starring Mary Carr as Mrs. Jamieson, Paul Willis as Tommy, J. Barney Sherry as Lionel Jamieson, and Violet Mersereau as Betty. The film was released in August of 1921 at seven to eight reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Lionel Jamieson is a wife-beating gambler. He has crippled his wife.


They have a daughter named Betty and some twenty years pass. With Mrs. Jamieson helpless to stop him, Jamieson takes Betty to a gambling house so that her looks will bring in customers.




Tommy, a youngster who is employed by Jamieson, is training a horse named “Thunderclap” for a race.


Jamieson does not want Tommy’s horse to win, so he plots to do away with the animal. But Thunderclap wins the race. Meanwhile, Betty is kidnapped by a Chinaman named Wah Leong but is rescued by Tommy. After Jamieson is shot in the back by a victim he had fleeced, the shock brings about a miraculous recovery in Mrs. Jamieson.

Wid’s Daily panned the film, describing it as a “very wild melodrama of the old school variety that can never be accepted seriously,” adding that the film was “a disconnected lot of sequences, poorly constructed and full of weak sentiment.” Photoplay was in agreement, writing “if you consider “Thunderclap” as a weird burlesque of a ham melodrama, you will get a good laugh out of it; if you take it seriously, however, you are in for a bad evening. It is appropriately equipped with an incompetent cast, absurd scenery and photography that is reminiscent of the animated daguerreotype era.” But Motion Picture News wrote “every stock trick of stage and screen has been employed to make this a smash-bang melodrama.”

Thomas McCann, a young black actor, played a character called Gunga Din. Apparently this was his only film role.

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From November 27-30, 1921, the Poli ran The Hell Diggers, starring Wallace Reid as Teddy Darman and Lois Wilson as Dora Wade. The film was released on September 4, 1921, at five reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Teddy Darman works as a chief engineer for “The Hell Diggers,” a group of gold miners who buy up large sections of California, dig for gold, and ruin the land for farmers.  Darman has invented a dredge. Dora Wade, who is Teddy’s sweetheart, and whose father John is the leader of the farmers, asks Darman why he hasn’t invented a machine which would preserve the soil after the gold has been removed. Darman creates a new machine, and joins forces with John Wade.



But the Hell Diggers hold mortgages on the farmers’ land and plan to foreclose and dredge the entire valley as soon as Darman’s machine fails. When the machine proves to be a success, the gold company’s manager plants explosives and destroys it. Darman and the farmers then get into a battle with the company men.


The farmers win, and justice triumphs. Darman also wins the hand of Dora.


Wid’s Daily seemed relieved that the star was doing something else besides making car-racing films, remarking “at last Wallace Reid has left his regulation auto-race production behind and has taken a plunge into the rough and ready role of a mining engineer. The story too provides a theme that is different and away from the usual run.” Exhibitor’s Herald called the film “a rather mechanical drama in which Wallace Reid is at all times the center of such interest as is created.” Motion Picture News wrote “not Reid’s best, but a satisfactory offering nonetheless.”

A two-reel short entitled The Toreador, starring Clyde Cook, was shown on the bill. This film is apparently lost. Exhibitor’s Herald called it “one of, if not his best comedy to date.” Motion Picture News wrote that the film was “one of the comedian’s best. And his comedies are way above the ordinary brand.” While I could not find a synopsis, some of the reviews mention Cook dodging cannon balls in one sequence, and besting a bull in another. The bull ends up with bandages. In the final shot, Cook is shown operating a meat market. I did find one still. Cook is in the center. The actor at left could not be identified. The actors at right are probably Edgar Kennedy and Lois Scott:


Also on the bill were the dancing Cansino Brothers. One of the Cansinos, Eduardo, had a daughter named Margarita, who eventually took the screen name of Rita Hayworth.

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From December 1-3, 1921, the Poli ran A Midnight Bell, starring Charles Ray (who also directed) as Martin Tripp and Doris Pawn as Annie Grey. The film was released in August of 1921 at six reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Martin Tripp, a salesman, loses his job selling rubber heels. He joins forces with Abner Grey, who owns a general store in a small town.



Tripp boards with Gray and his daughter Annie. Stephen Laboree, another boarder, dares Tripp to spend the night in a haunted church. Tripp agrees, and spends a harrowing night, but doesn’t tell anyone what happened. He decides to investigate further, and discovers a gang of crooks, led by Laboree, have dug a tunnel from the church to the bank and are about to rob it. Tripp is bound and gagged, but manages to ring the church bell and arouse the citizens. Annie, who works in the bank, is kidnapped by the crooks, who are after the combination to the safe. Tripp saves the day, and marries Annie.


The stills below could not be placed in context. The first shows Pawn and Ray:


The second shows Ray with an unidentified actor:


The film was based upon a stage play, written by Charles Hoyt.

Wid’s Daily called the film “a good picture, though somewhat out of the ordinary for Charles Ray.” Exhibitor’s Herald wrote “throughout the mystery element is well sustained and because Ray is the center of the action most of the time, it will doubtless more than please this popular screen idol’s followers.”

Also on the bill was New York Yankees pitcher Waite Hoyt, who appeared on stage three times per day, in a comedy bit with Tommy Gordon entitled “A Battery of Fun.” Ads described Hoyt as the “hero of the World Series,” even though the Yankees lost that year. However, when digging into the statistics, Hoyt pitched extremely well in the Series, starting three games, winning two, and losing the deciding game 1-0. In his 27 innings pitched, he allowed no earned runs. In 1969, Hoyt was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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From December 4-7, 1921, the Poli ran Disraeli, starring George Arliss as Benjamin Disraeli, Florence Arliss as Lady Beaconsfield, Reginald Denny as Charles, Viscount Deeford, and Louise Huff as Clarissa. The film was released in August of 1921 at seven reels. Complete copies are held in foreign archives.

Plot: France has built the Suez Canal, but needing financial help, gave controlling shares to the Khedive (Viceroy) of Egypt. Russia wants the canal to cut off England from India. The Russian Ambassador in London employs Lady Travers to spy on Benjamin Disraeli, the Prime Minister of England. Disraeli, who knows of the scheme, hires Mr. Foljambe (who is Lady Travers’ husband) as a clerk, to work at Downing Street. The Duke of Glastonbury holds a party at Glastonbury Towers, and invites Sir Michael Probert (Governor of the Bank of England) and Lady Travers. Also on hand are Charles, Viscount Deeford, Clarissa (the Duke’s daughter), Disraeli and his wife, Lady Beaconsfield.








Disraeli confers with the Duke and brings up the subject of the purchase of the Suez Canal, but the Duke waives the matter aside. When Disraeli returns to Downing Street, he sends for Hugh Meyers, a private banker. Meyers promises to obtain the money required to purchase the canal. He receives a cable from Argentina that gold is being shipped to cover his cheque to the Khedive, so he sends Charles to Egypt to close the deal.


Foljambe, who has discovered the plan, heads to Egypt on behalf of Russia. But Charles arrives ahead of him and is successful. The Khedive accepts the cheque and the deal is closed. However, spies succeed in scuttling the ship bearing the gold. Lady Travers spreads rumors which cause a run on Meyers’ bank. Meyers is left bankrupt. He informs Disraeli of the disaster, who goes to work to undo the damage. Lady Travers calls on Disraeli, who feigns illness but sees her.


Lady Travers sees a cable from Charles, which reads “The celery is ripe to cut.” Next to the cable are the directions to decode the message. Lady Travers takes the message, but Clarissa stops her from decoding it. Disraeli recovers the cable, and decodes it as “The Suez Canal purchase completed and cheque accepted.” Lady Travers laughs and tells Disraeli that Meyers is broke. Meanwhile, Disraeli has sent his wife to get Sir Michael Probert. When he arrives, Disraeli explains what has happened and asks Sir Michael to endorse a note for the amount  of the purchase price of the canal. Sir Michael refuses, but when Disraeli threatens to close the Bank of England, Sir Michael relents and signs the note. The Queen gives a reception in honor of Disraeli.


But his wife, under doctor’s orders, cannot attend the reception. The doctor promises to send Disraeli a telegram if there is any change in his wife’s condition, and he waits with Clarissa:



The Queen bestows honors on Charles, Meyers and Probert. At the moment the Queen is about to receive Disraeli, he receives a telegram and fears the worst. At that instant, his wife appears, having left her sick bed. With his wife by his side, Disraeli passes before the Queen and bows.


The film was based upon a stage play, first performed on January 23, 1911, at the Princess Theatre in Montreal. Margaret Dale portrayed Lady Travers in that first production, and reprised her role in the film. George Arliss starred in the play for six years. The film was remade in 1929, with Arliss and his wife reprising their roles, as well as Henry Carvill, as the Duke of Glastonbury.

There are some errors in the IMDb entry for the 1921 film. Frank Losse, and not E. J. Ratcliffe, portrayed Hugh Meyers. Ratcliffe portrayed Sir Michael Probert, a character not listed in the IMDb entry.

Wid’s Daily called the film “a master-work from practically every angle,” adding praise for Arliss, writing “here is a star who plays with his whole mind. The closeups reveal, not so much Arliss in is perfect makeup of Disraeli, but a picture of the inner workings of his brain, all the delicate quick changes of thought revealed in unmistakable action.” Exhibitor’s Herald called the film “a picture to delight the heart of everyone.” Motion Picture News wrote that the film was “just as high class a piece of work on the screen as it was on the stage. It is, without doubt, far different from ninety-nine per cent of motion pictures.” Photoplay remarked “George Arliss … makes Disraeli, the wily British statesman, the most perfect reproduction of a historical character that has ever been made.”

To film exteriors at Glastonbury Towers, the producers used the George D. Pratt estate in Glen Cove, Long Island. The estate occupied more than a thousand acres, and the home, built in Tudor style, sat on forty-six acres. Director Henry Kolker and the cast spent over a week on the estate filming scenes. The lawn in front of the house was used for the scene in which Lady Travers spreads gossip which causes a run on Meyers’ bank. To film Disraeli’s country place (which was named “Hughenden”), the estate of Allen Lehman was used. This property was in Tarrytown, New York, on the Hudson River. Three peacocks, obtained from Darien, Connecticut, were taken to the home to film scenes. For the film’s finale featuring the Queen’s reception, a massive set was built at the studio, which required tearing down three side walls of the studio itself.

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From December 8-10, 1921, the Poli ran God’s Country and the Law, starring Fred Jones as André, Gladys Leslie as Marie, and William Tooker as Jacques Doré. The film was released in June of 1921 at six reels. The Library of Congress holds a complete copy.

Plot: Jacques Doré, a French-Canadian, is wanted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for selling contraband whiskey.




He escapes, and hides out in a cabin owned by an old violinist named Poleon and his half-breed daughter Oachi. Doré attempts to have his way with Oachi.


Poleon drives him out. Doré then seeks refuge in the cabin of André and Marie, a young married couple.


While André sleeps, Doré turns Marie’s head with tales of the “big city.” Andre wakes up before Doré can make his move. When André goes hunting, Doré makes a play for Marie. André rescues her.


He then beats up Doré. While in hiding, Doré sees André going for a doctor from the Mounted Police, so he kidnaps Marie. When André and the doctor return, they find Marie missing and begin a search. The doctor enters the camp of Poleon and Oachi. Marie fights off Doré, and rather than let him touch her, she jumps off a cliff.


Oachi finds Marie, and with the aid of her father and the doctor, they return the girl to André. Meanwhile, Doré, now delirious, wanders in the woods, pursued by visions of his crimes.


He eventually returns to Andre’s cabin, and upon seeing that Marie is alive, collapses and dies.

The stills below could not be placed in context. The first shows Gladys Leslie. The second shows Hope Sutherland (as Oachi) playing with a bear:




I could only find one review in the trade journals, and it wasn’t good. The reviewer for The Photodramatist emphasized the more lurid aspects of the film, writing “a young married woman – very, very sixteenish and very, very pretty – is seen disporting with wanton abandon through beautiful groves and on the marge of a woodland lake. Her apparel is very abbreviated, displaying to consummate advantage delicately formed bare legs; this little married elf’s flimsy bit of dress is of postage stamp proportions, perhaps covering slightly more of her anatomy than a one-piece bathing suit would have covered.” In discussing the scene where Doré attempts to have his way with Marie, the reviewer adds “we see wifey coquettishly swishing her abbreviated skirt, much to the visible agitation of the stranger. She stands on a chair to reach for something, disclosing much more of her delightfully formed limbs; the stranger’s significant glances at this point leave little doubt as to what he is thinking of.” Finally, the reviewer notes that the film’s appeal is “essentially sensual, especially in the scene where the heroine is poised on the chair. The significant glances of the villain are, and are meant to be, carnal. They are also – ridiculous.” A review like this probably increased attendance.

Scenes were shot in the Sebago Lake region of Maine.


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