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


Recommended Posts


From November 30-December 3, 1919, the Poli ran D. W. Griffith’s The Mother and the Law. The film ran seven reels, but the release date is uncertain. The complete film is held in several archives. This film was essentially a slight expansion of an episode already featured in Griffith’s Intolerance, from 1916. Griffith had begun work on a film entitled The Mother and the Law after he had finished Birth of a Nation. But once the money started rolling in from the latter film, Griffith finally had the resources to make a spectacle he had wanted to make for some time. So The Mother and the Law was incorporated into the larger Intolerance, under the heading “The Modern Story.” Several prints of Intolerance are available on YouTube. It has been some time since I watched the entire epic, so I decided to concentrate on the one story, fast-forwarding often. I will provide a brief plot/review without spoilers.

Brief Plot: The Little Dear One (Mae Marsh) and The Boy (Robert Harron) are married, but have very little. The Boy works for the unsavory Musketeer (Walter Long).


When The Boy quits his job, the Musketeer has him beat up, and stolen goods are planted on him. The Boy is sent to prison. The Little Dear One gives birth, but do-gooders take her child away when they decide she is an unfit mother.


The Musketeer promises the Little Dear One he will help get her child back, but he has an ulterior motive. Meanwhile, The Boy returns from prison. When he finds the Musketeer assaulting his wife, he fights with him. During the struggle, the Musketeer is fatally shot, and The Boy is wrongly convicted of the crime. He is sentenced to hang. Will the real murderer be revealed in time?


Review: This is a decent story, with solid acting all around. I continue to be impressed with Harron the more I see him. In this film, he sports a moustache from beginning to end, unlike several others where he seems to grow a moustache late in the film to symbolize his maturity and/or age. Marsh is very good as the wife, and gives a fine performance during some heartbreaking scenes.

Contemporaneous reports claimed that the story was based upon the real-life case of Charles Steilow, but this is a bit of a stretch. In March of 1915, Steilow and another man were arrested for the shooting deaths of a farmer, Charles Phelps, and his housekeeper, Margaret Wolcott, in Medina, New York. Steilow, who owned a gun, claimed that he had found the body of Wolcott on his doorstep, and had found Phelps, unconscious, but still alive at the time. In an historic use of ballistics, Captain Bill Jones of the New York Police Department used a two-barreled microscope for the first time, to help prove that Steilow’s gun was not the murder weapon. Despite this, Steilow was convicted and sentenced to die in the electric chair. But New York’s Governor Whitman granted Steilow a reprieve when Steilow’s lawyer argued that Steilow had been coerced into making a confession shortly after the crime. Following two more reprieves, Steilow’s sentence was commuted to life in prison. He was eventually freed when someone else confessed to the killings.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites


From December 4-6, 1919, the Poli ran The Undercurrent, starring Arthur Guy Empey as Jack Duncan. The film’s release date is in question; the number of reels was between five and six. The film is presumed lost.

Advertising line: The undercurrent of Red agitation had him in its grip. Then something happened. He remembered that he had pledged himself to uphold the Government.

Plot: Jack Duncan returns from the war in France, and reunites with his wife and child.



He resumes work at a steel mill, where he had been employed before the war. The Bolsheviks, who have agents all over the town, recognize that Jack has leadership potential, and attempt to get him to join their organization. When Jack loses his job at the mill, and payments on his house are due, the “Reds” point out the injustice in his treatment. They convince Jack to join them, with the help of a Bolshevik named Mariska.


But the group is planning to blow up mills, burn the owners’ homes, and wreck the city. On the night of the raid, Jack discovers that one of the gang has invaded his own home. Later that evening when Jack gives a speech in front of the group, he destroys the “Reds’” flag and denounces them. A riot ensues, and Jack goes to the nearest barracks for troops to help out. The riot is put down, and the ring leaders are killed.

The working title of the film was Hell on Earth.

Empey had served in World War I, as a machine-gunner. During a raid on a German encampment, Empey was shot twice in the shoulder and once in the face. He was left with a hole in his face, which a doctor fixed by inserting part of a man’s rib, leaving only a scar. Upon his return, Empey formed his own film production company, Guy Empey Productions. He wrote the book “Over the Top,” based upon his war experiences, which was turned into a starring vehicle for him. (The book is available on googlebooks.) The book was also serialized in newspapers throughout the country. Empey wrote the story for The Undercurrent, as well as several other films.

When the film was shown at the Capitol Theatre in New York City on November 23, 1919, General John J. Pershing was a guest of honor.

Exhibitor’s Herald wrote “the machinations of the Reds can hardly be taken seriously. If the Red menace was as crude and elementary as herein outlined it would not take the police long to cope with it. … However, [the film] will furnish an hour’s enjoyment for those seeing an exciting tale and gives a fairly vivid picture of social unrest in a small manufacturing city.” Motion Picture News concurred, noting “one thing is certain, if the Reds act as stupidly as they do here, the country is not in danger.” They added that Empey “has striven in all sincerity to point a lesson in patriotism for the guidance of the working man, but I doing so he has overlooked an underlying theme which would give his drama a sustaining note.” The Film Daily added “it is a propaganda picture against Bolshevism and the activity of the Reds, but full of punch and entertainment. … It will do much toward counteracting the dangerous and destructive doctrine of the Reds and in addition should be extremely profitable to any exhibitor handling it properly.” The trade journal had at least one criticism, noting “a series of titles were shown pointing out exactly what Bolshevism means. These were shown behind a screen of passing clouds and were exceedingly difficult to read.” Finally, Variety pretty much savaged the whole thing. “Mr. Empey is no artist, although he tried hard to be. For the purpose which he is used there is every reason to believe that if the role were assigned to an actor with better screen features and a little inherent talent for the camera of the stage the part might have stood out. … The photography has little to offer. One scene that might have put an ounce of punch in it, but runs short of that because of poor direction is a free-for-all in a meeting where the soldier turns back to the flag and denounces the red flag. It seemed to be so amateurish that the audience laughed at the efforts of the struggle.” However, the daily did praise the performance of actress Betty Blythe, who played the Bolshevik Mariska. But they added that she was “badly gowned through this picture, excepting perhaps, her last dress of black velvet with a satin waist high neck, tight satin sleeves to the elbow, with long bell shape cuffs of velvet.” You can judge the black velvet gown for yourself in the photo below, which shows Blythe just after she has killed some of her comrades and turned the gun on herself:


Also on the bill was the equestrian May Wirth, who had worked for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Together with her comic assistant Phil (no last name given), they performed a series of amusing stunts. The press report indicated that Phil “rolls a few inches from the path of an oncoming horse’s feet as if he didn’t care a rap about his life insurance premium.”

Pathe News featured highlights of the Army-Navy game played at the Polo Grounds in New York. (Navy won, 6-0.)

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites


From December 7-10, 1919, the Poli ran Crooked Straight, starring Charles Ray as Ben Trimble. Released on November 9, 1919, at five reels, the film is presumed lost.

Plot:  Ben Trimble is a country boy who tries his luck in the bity city and is swindled out of a thousand dollars by a con artist named Larrabee.  This leaves Ben down and out.


Then he is befriended by a man who turns out to be a safecracker. Ben becomes his partner.


While in a cabaret frequented by crooks, Ben runs into Larrabee and gets into a fight with him. Then Ben and the safecracker make plans to rob a bank that night. Larrabee overhears them and tips off the police. In the battle with the police, the safecracker is short and mortally wounded. But Ben manages to drag his partner away, and they escape the police. As he is dying, he tells Ben about his farm and his kids. Ben goes to the farm and runs it, and falls for his neighbor, Vera. Even though he tells her about his past, she returns his love. Then Larrabee again appears and tries to swindle Vera’s father. To stop the con artist, Ben takes all the valuables out of her father’s safe. Vera sees him do this, and mistakenly believes Ben is stealing.


But Ben explains what he was trying to do, and the pair live happily ever after.

The Film Daily wrote “Ray has made better pictures than this one for it has several weaknesses that should not be there, but still the personality of the star may put it over. Somebody blundered most horribly when they made two high-class crooks lay their detailed plans for looting a bank in open booth in a public restaurant. There is no excuse for such stuff.” In commenting on Margery Wilson, who played Vera, the trade journal noted that she “sure had some classy French negligee for a country girl.”

Margery Wilson is not a household name today; her big break in films came when she played the ill-fated “Brown Eyes” in D. W. Griffith’s Intolerance. She did some directing, writing, and producing before retiring from films. She became more famous after retirement, running a correspondence course in “charm.” One of her ads, from 1939, is shown below:



Wilson also wrote several self-help books, with such titles as “Charm,” “The New Etiquette,” “The Woman You Want to Be,” “Make Up Your Mind,” “How to Make the Most of Life,” “How to Live Beyond Your Means,” and “Believe in Yourself.”  In addition, she regularly wrote for magazines and gave speeches. Some of her sayings included “many a good talent has been dissipated because too much time was spent on a desire to get even for some early hurt,” and “people never die from overwork. It is strain, frustration, futility or unhappiness that kills them.” Wilson died from a stroke in January of 1986, while staying at a convalescent home in Arcadia, California.

Also on the bill was a Mack Sennett short, Uncle Tom Without a Cabin, starring Ben Turpin as “the first cross-eyed Uncle Tom in captivity,” according to one trade journal. I could not find much information about this film, other than it may have been about a stage troupe trying to put on a show. Variety called it “a sorry lot of hoakum to be turned out by the Mack Sennett people.” The image below is from a newspaper advertisement:


  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites


From December 11-13, 1919, the Poli ran Turning the Tables¸ starring Dorothy Gish as Doris Pennington. Released on November 2, 1919, the film was five reels, and is presumed lost. I could only find one still.

Plot: Doris Pennington is the ward of her aunt, who uses the girl’s fortune for her own benefit. The aunt has the girl declared “slightly light-headed” and Doris is sent to a private sanitarium.


But Doris changes places with her nurse as they enter the asylum, resulting in the nurse being incarcerated and Doris accepted as the nurse. Along the way, Doris manages to nurse a young man named Monty back to health and marries him. Meanwhile, the superintendent of the sanitarium, thinking the real nurse is the wealthy Doris, marries her.

Motion Picture News described a scene in which Monty and Doris attempt to escape. While Monty holds one end of a long beam outside a third-story window, Doris hangs on the other end, not being able to get up or down. She sways from side to side, while a guard tries to seize her as she swings toward his window.

Motion Picture Magazine wrote “this story started with a good comedy idea, which, unfortunately, got lost in the race and ended in a grand scramble for all concerned. … Five reels of chasing becomes monotonous even when peppy Dorothy is doing the pursuing.”

Also on the bill was comedian/singer/dancer Billy Browning, who did a blackface act. He is pictured below:


Browning appeared in some short silents (IMDb lists him as “Will Browning”). In one comedy, he had to be thrown from a yacht and rescued by a hydroplane. Ironically, the pilot of the plane was later killed while flying for the Lafayette Escadrille. Browning made another film, The Better Woman (1915), in which he had to fall from the Palisades into the Hudson River. He was wearing heavy clothing and heavy boots, and was nearly dragged upon the rocks. “I’ll stick to vaudeville,” Browning later said, “and let the other fellows do the funny falls for the movies.”

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites


From December 14-20, 1919, the Poli ran D. W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms¸ starring Lillian Gish as “Lucy,” Richard Barthelmess as “The Yellow Man,” and Donald Crisp as “Battling Burrows.” Released on October 20, 1919, the film is about 90 minutes long and is available on YouTube. It has also been shown on TCM. Therefore, I will avoid spoilers.

Brief Plot: Battling Burrows, a boxer, brutally abuses his daughter Lucy. She is befriended by a Chinese storekeeper who loves her from afar. When Burrows discovers that Lucy has run away and he staying with the Chinaman, he seeks vengeance.

Review: This simple story packs a powerful punch. Crisp plays one of the most abhorrent characters ever conceived. With his furry eyebrows, he almost appears to be part simian. He sports quite an upper body in his boxing scenes. When Griffith uses a close-up of his face, he is downright scary.


Barthelmess is sensitive and adequate in his role, although a bit slow to respond to situations. “It was my first important picture,” said Barthelmess, “and I was anxious to do it well. Lillian had had six or seven years’ experience, and she was the soul of patience. Lillian, Dorothy (Gish), and Mary Pickford are the three finest technicians of the screen. I learned more from Lillian than from any other person, except Griffith.”

Oddly, in makeup, he looks a bit like Jimmy Cagney.


But the film belongs to Gish, who gives a great performance. Her Lucy is a pathetic creature, with no hope, no future. In a recurring theme, she forces herself to smile by pushing her fingers against the sides of her mouth (a bit she invented for the film). Only once in the film does she permit herself to smile spontaneously, and that is during a tender scene with the Chinaman. Remarkably, Gish was recovering from the Spanish influenza, which makes her work all the more incredible. Griffith promised her she would only have to work short hours, leaving her nine hours for sleep at night. But once filming began, that promise fell through. Carol Dempster, who had appeared in Griffith’s Intolerance, rehearsed Gish’s part with Griffith, while Gish rehearsed with Barthelmess. Without spoiling the movie, the scene Gish plays in the closet of her home is one of the most terrifying moments on film. It was improvised, and when it was over, Griffith was shaking and white as a sheet, yelling “why didn’t you tell me you were going to do that?”


The photography is excellent, reproducing the seedy, foggy Limehouse district of London.

This is a film not to be missed.

The movie is based upon the short story entitled “The C h i n k  and the Child,” by Thomas Burke. The story is part of a collection of stories entitled “Limehouse Nights.” The film maintains the gist of the story. However, Lucy is only twelve years old in the story. In addition, Battling Burrrows ultimate end is more terrible in the story than in the film.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

How lucky folks were to get two weeks consecutively of films starring the Gish sisters!

Dorothy Gish was a gifted comedian. I adore Lillian, but wish Dorothy's name was mentioned more often without the addition of "...who was the younger sister of Lillian Gish."

BROKEN BLOSSOMS was one of the very first films I saw on the big screen. I think it forever cemented my love of silent films. Great performances, great cinematography and a swift pace. Also, the print we see on TCM has a spot on soundtrack.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, sagebrush said:


Dorothy Gish was a gifted comedian. I adore Lillian, but wish Dorothy's name was mentioned more often without the addition of "...who was the younger sister of Lillian Gish."


I never knew much about Dorothy until I started this thread. I always assumed she was primarily a dramatic actress, thinking of her being paired with Lillian in Orphans of the Storm.  So it was a revelation to discover she did so much comedy. She was often referred to as "the little disturber."

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites



From December 21-24, 1919, the Poli ran Counterfeit, starring Elsie Ferguson as Virginia Griswold. Released on November 30, 1919, at five reels, the film is presumed lost.

Plot: Virginia Griswold learns after her father dies that she and her mother are practically broke. She sees an advertisement in a newspaper offering a $100,000 reward for the capture and conviction of a gang of counterfeiters, who are dispending the phony money among Newport society. Virginia goes to Newport and becomes a favorite among the exclusive set. She falls in love with Stuart Kent, who returns her affection. Virginia overhears a conversation between Mrs. Palmer and a mysterious man named Vincent Cortez, which leads her to suspect that Cortez is involved with the counterfeiters. Cortez shows an interest in Virginia, and she returns the interest, hoping to get into his confidence.


Later, she is surprised by Kent, who sees her removing counterfeit bills from the Palmer safe. Virginia manages to trick Cortez into supplying her with some of the counterfeit money. She summons detectives and captures the gang by throwing smoke bombs aboard their yacht. Kent then learns the truth about Virginia and their romance continues.

The still below could not be placed in context; the actor could not be identified.


Weirdly, two of the characters in the film are named “Uncle Ben” and “Aunt Jemima.”

The Film Daily took a dim view of the movie, noting “because this is an Elsie Ferguson picture you may get away with it in good shape. …The story is poor, and its weakness is accentuated by other elements of the picture. There are one or two spots that require quite a stretch of the imagination. For instance, it is a question whether the United States Government ever in its history offered a reward of $100,000 for the apprehension of a gang of counterfeiters, and it is likewise a question as to whether the United States Secret Service would take on an untrained girl and give her the responsible position such as the story makes out.” Exhibitor’s Herald disagreed, writing “Elsie Ferguson fans will be well pleased with the picture. The general public will receive it in like manner.” Variety gave the film a good review, but added “the photography by Arthur Miller falls short of the Paramount standard, but Miss Ferguson’s gowns and hats do not. One of them is an evening dress of white satin with a beaded girdle and panels that fell from the shoulder, forming a train. It was very effective.” Regarding the fashion, however, a different critic for Variety wrote “disappointed in the gowns worn by Elsie Ferguson.” While agreeing that the evening dress was wonderful, the critic noted that “a tennis costume, white serge skirt and black satin blouse, was very unbecoming, and the same might be said of the hat. Her grey georgette gown with black beaded trimming was ruined by the grey fringe panels.”

Also on the bill was a two-reel Mack Sennett comedy, Back to the Kitchen, which was released on September 14, 1919. The short starred Louise Fazenda. I could not find any information about the plot. However, the cast included Pepper the Cat, pictured below:


In an exclusive interview with Picture Play Magazine in 1920, the female feline stated “I was born of poor but honest parents – father was a traveling man, so I saw very little of him, but mother thought I had a good figure, and that I would do well in the movies. …I’ve been starring with Mack Sennett for three years. … I strayed into the studio … and Mack Sennett saw me and recognized my screen talents. … Then he used me in almost every picture he made.”

Others in the cast included Teddy the Dog and Don Marion as the baby. Both are pictured below. Neither was available for an interview.



  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

Also on the bill was a two-reel Mack Sennett comedy, Back to the Kitchen, which was released on September 14, 1919. The short starred Louise Fazenda. I could not find any information about the plot. However, the cast included Pepper the Cat, pictured below:

In an exclusive interview with Picture Play Magazine in 1920, the female feline stated “I was born of poor but honest parents – father was a traveling man, so I saw very little of him, but mother thought I had a good figure, and that I would do well in the movies. …I’ve been starring with Mack Sennett for three years. … I strayed into the studio … and Mack Sennett saw me and recognized my screen talents. … Then he used me in almost every picture he made.”

Others in the cast included Teddy the Dog and Don Marion as the baby. Both are pictured below. Neither was available for an interview.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Merry Christmas!


From December 25-28, the Poli ran The Lottery Man, starring Wallace Reid as Jack Wright. The film was released on October 12, 1919, at five reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Jack Wright, a reporter and a gambler by nature, loses $500 that he borrowed from a college friend named Foxhall Peyton. The city editor fires Jack.


But Peyton owns the newspaper for which Jack writes, so to cover the loss, Jack comes up with the idea of a marriage lottery, with himself as the prize.


At $1 a ticket, the idea goes over big, and money comes pouring in.


Jack meets Helen, Peyton’s cousin, and falls for her.


But he can’t marry her because he is obligated to marry the winner of the lottery.  Meanwhile, every woman in town seems to be buying a ticket for a chance to marry Jack, which could lead to some interesting matchups.



The winning ticket is claimed by two girls; one who bought it and one who found where it was hidden. Neither will give Jack up, so half the lottery money is divided by the two, and the other half, $150,000 is given to Jack, who starts his married life – with Helen.


The film was based upon a stage play of the same name, written by Rida Johnson Young. The play opened on March 16, 1910. A previous film version was released in 1916, in which Oliver Hardy plays a woman!

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

A previous film version was released in 1916, in which Oliver Hardy plays a woman!

That is an interesting casting choice! 😄

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/10/2019 at 10:33 AM, scsu1975 said:

A bizarre act rounded out the bill. “Resista,” a 98-pound girl, supposedly could not be lifted off the ground by even the strongest man. “If you think you can lift her, by all means come to the theatre and try it,” declared the Bridgeport Times. The newspaper described how the girl left the stage, walking through the audience inviting anyone to try to lift her. She started this act around 1916; an early advertisement for her act is shown below:


In a New York City show, “Babe” McDonald, a policeman who also held the amateur hammer throwing record, tried to lift Resista when, according to Variety, “she suddenly put on some mysterious brake, for there she remained as if stuck to the floor.” Professional wrestler Frank Gotch also failed at the task. Resista took her act to England, where, in 1922, Edward Ashton, billed as Britain’s strongest man, could not lift her.

Where is Tor when you need him?

  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites



From December 29-31, the Poli ran John Petticoats, starring William S. Hart as “Hardwood” John Haynes. Released on November 2, 1919, at five reels, a complete 35mm copy is held in the Library of Congress and other archives.

Plot:  “Hardwood” John Haynes works as a lumberjack at a camp in the northwest. He gets a letter stating an uncle has died and left him a modiste shop.


Not knowing what kind of shop that is, Haynes packs up and heads to New Orleans to claim his inheritance. He discovers he now owns a women’s dress shop.


Rosalie Andrew, who manages the shop, is kept in charge, while Haynes keeps his ownership a secret. Haynes is befriended by Judge Meredith, who has a pretty grand-daughter named Caroline. But the Judge is in a weak financial position, so Haynes boards with him, paying him two months in advance. Haynes falls in love with Caroline.


But there is a rival for Caroline, Wayne Page, whose father is very wealthy. Page has had an affair with Rosalie. Rosalie attempts suicide, rather than face her family’s disgrace.


This causes complications for Haynes, Page, and Caroline.


Then Rosalie dies. However, Rosalie had written a letter, explaining her situation. The Judge reads it, and all ends well for Haynes and Caroline.

The film did generally well with critics and audiences, who liked the change-of-pace role for Hart.

Winifred Westover, who portrayed Caroline, was a singer, and had been discovered in San Francisco by D. W. Griffith. He had described her as a “cross between Blanche Sweet and Mary Pickford.”  Though much younger than Hart, she married the western star two years after John Petticoats was released. But after a few months, they separated. During their separation, it was stipulated that Westover could not work in films or use their son, William S. Hart Jr, in any way for publicity. Otherwise, she would forfeit a $100,000 trust fund Hart had set up for her. Six years later they were finally divorced, and she was able to return to work. But by 1930, her film career was over, even though she had the starring role in Lummox – a role which won her critical acclaim. When she died in 1978, several newspapers erroneously reported that Westover had been nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in that film. Westover was briefly in the news in 1940, when she testified for the prosecution in the Los Angeles murder trial of Dr. George Dazey, her former neighbor. Five years earlier, Dazey’s wife had been found dead in their garage, overcome by carbon monoxide. Westover, whom the Los Angeles Times unkindly described as “considerably plumper than when she was a star of silent days,” testified that she heard screams coming from the direction of the Dazey home. “It sounded like a boy being teased – boys used to play in a vacant lot next to us – and after a while I got up and shut the window and turned up the radio.” Westover also testified that she had received threats. Dazey was eventually acquitted.

The movie was filmed largely in New Orleans, which gave local theaters ample reasons to promote it.  The Saenger Amusement Company, which owned the Trianon Theatre produced a cover on their magazine, ”The Saengerette,” showing Hart superimposed over a map of the city, and highlighting the locations used in the film:


Also playing on the bill was a two-reel comedy short entitled The Yellow Dog Catcher, produced by William Fox as part of his “Sunshine Comedy” series. It was released on October 26, 1919. I could not find any information about the plot. However, the short did feature “Duke,” a 100-pound dog who had appeared in several Sunshine comedies, along with more than forty other dogs. Director Jack Blystone placed a want ad in a newspaper, looking to cast “dogs and goats,” but through an error, the phrase was followed by “etc.” Soon, the street in front of the Fox Studio was crowded with people bringing in their birds, dogs, cats, rabbits, and goats, all hoping to turn their pets into stars.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy New Year!



The Poli rang in 1920 by showing The Loves of Letty, starring Pauline Frederick as Letty Shell. The movie ran from July 1-3, 1920.  Released on December 7, 1919, at five reels, the film is presumed lost. I could only find two stills, without context. Both show Miss Frederick:



Plot: Letty Shell works for Bernard Mandeville. She meets Neville Letchmore, a London man-about-town. She attempts to win him over because of his high standing in society. She starves herself in order to buy pretty clothes to win him over. Meanwhile, a young artist named Richard Perry, who lives in the same building as Letty, is in love with her. Letchmore confesses to Letty that he is married, and his wife refuses to divorce him. He suggests Letty marry Mandeville instead. But at a dinner party to celebrate the upcoming marriage, Mandeville is so repulsive that Letty breaks off the engagement and goes back to Letchmore. She finally leaves him when she realizes she loves Perry.

The film was based upon a play entitled “Letty,” written by Arthur Wing Pinero.

A critic for Motion Picture News slammed the production, stating “back to the tried and true subject of a woman’s search for wealth and social position, with its attendant sobs and sighs and occasional flashes of humor, have the producers gone to collect material for “The Loves of Letty.” The hinges of the ancient formula creak as loudly as ever despite the fact that it has received capable treatment from the director.” The Film Daily was not kind either, writing that the “effort to point a moral falls flat mainly because one of the characters is so ridiculously far-fetched.” No doubt the character referred to was Letchmore, played by Lawson Butt. “He declares his love for Pauline, a shop girl,” the review continued, “but advises her to accept the marital offer of her impossible “boss” because he is already married. Then on top of this he later begs her to accept the comforts of his home and almost in the same breath condemns his married sister for running away with another man, comparing her to a “shop girl.”” The paper also slammed the character of Mandeville, noting “the character was certainly overdrawn and at one time particularly the actions of the “boss” bordered almost on the slap-stick.” Still, the paper noted that “the star’s name will probably carry it (the picture) through.”

When the film played in Ohio, a local theater hooked up with Ahman’s Ladies Shop in the city of Hamilton. The store displayed stills from the film, along with hats and gowns:



  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites



From January 4-7, 1920, the Poli featured Flame of the Desert¸ starring Geraldine Farrar as Lady Isabel Channing, and her then-husband Lou Tellegen as Sheik Essad. The film was released by Goldwyn on October 26, 1919. The number of reels is in question, and will be discussed below. A five-reel copy is preserved in the Library of Congress and the Cineteca Nazionale in Rome.

Advertising line: She fell in love with a Sheik of the desert. And followed him to Egypt. What happened? See “Flame of the Desert,” a picture of the Orient.

Plot:  At a London ball, Lady Isabel Channing meets Sheik Essad and is immediately attracted to him.


However, she thinks he is an Egyptian and is beneath her. In reality, Essad is a British army officer whom the Bedouin think is one of their own people. Isabel’s brother Charles, who has difficulties with gambling, is given a secretarial post in Cairo. Isabel accompanies him. Aboul Bey, the leader of a gang, plans a rebellion, whereby he will take the city. Bey succeeds in getting Charles under his spell, and Charles gives Bey decoded messages sent from England. Meanwhile, Isabel continues to run into Essad and her love deepens for him. When Charles confesses to his sister what he did, Isabel rides to Aboul’s tent. Aboul demands the code from Isabel, and she is seized by the rebels. Aboul attempts to have his way with Isabel.


In order to save his sister, Charles tells Aboul that the British government knows of the planned rebellion. Essad arrives just as Isabel saves her brother and stabs Aboul in self-defense.


She then learns that Essad is one of her own countrymen, and their love is complete.


Some sources say the film was five reels; others say seven. In a letter to Motion Picture News in 1920, W. B. Allen, (who was either a projectionist or exhibitor) laid the blame squarely on censors, and emphasized their incompetence. “The first half of this week I had the pleasure of running Goldwyn’s Flame of the Desert.” This subject was originally in seven parts but the censors saw fit to cut out about 1500 to 2000 feet (closer to 2000  than 1500) now this film was in a frightful condition, the splices were enough to burst the gate open and give the Projectionist heart failure. Upon examining this film carefully (as I have done with others) I could see that the splices were certainly not made by a competent Projectionist and by comparing scenes I found that a portion of the scene had been deleted, unquestionably by the censors, and in place of the deleted portion, something objectionable I suppose, we find a “splice” that is a ____ sight more objectionable to the projectionist, projector and the audience than the scene on the film. … I will swear on a stack of bibles as high as “Pike’s Peak” that they are censor splices.” Such butchery of films was not uncommon in the silent era. Censors, theater managers, and other officials would routinely cut films to suit their audiences, with total disregard for the filmmakers’ work.

The reviews I found seem to discuss the five-reel version. Motion Picture News was not thrilled with the film, writing “the author would have us believe than an English spy can successfully masquerade as an Egyptian and hoodwink not only the wily natives of the Nile country but his own people. For the purposes of the story the Englishwoman is made to fall in love with him and you don’t doubt for a moment that he will eventually reveal his identity and marry her. … This picture is slow in development and when it does gain momentum it has nothing to offer.” Motion Picture Magazine was less kind, noting the film “must have cost a mint of money and is a tremendous spectacle, but which bores one extremely.” The magazine ripped into Farrar as well, stating “she is so sickly sentimental, and smilingly the ingénue, that she annoys … countless closeups of Farrar smiling a love-sick smile are the most tiresome details of the piece.” But they did throw her a bone, noting that “her gorgeous gowns are the best.”

The tempestuous marriage between Farrar and Tellegen, as well as Tellegen’s bizarre suicide, was described in an earlier post on The World and its Woman. Macey Harlam, who played Aboul, made a career out of playing villains who met grisly ends. Besides being shot, stabbed, poisoned, strangled, electrocuted, drowned, and hanged, his characters were also devoured by wild African beasts, guillotined, dragged to death between wild horses, dropped over a cliff, killed on the rack, tied under dripping acid, dynamited, and tortured to death by a red hot scimitar. But his favorite role was that of the Yogi in the stage production of “The Eyes of Youth,” in which his character was one of purity.

Director Reginald Barker said “I am a great believer in the power of music to help the director and actor portray emotion. … I should like to give credit to Bert Crossland, my musical director, for the help which he gives me in direction. Before producing any part of a play I outline to Mr. Crossland the effect which I want to obtain, and I can always depend on him to provide suitable music. During the filming of “The Flame of the Desert,” Mr. Crossland composed several numbers which exactly fitted the theme of the story.”

The American Theatre in Denver promoted the film by renting a camel from the circus, placing banners on it, and parading it up and down the street:


The Poli also ran a Mack Sennett two-reel short entitled Up in Alf’s Place. The film was released on October 12, 1919. I could find little information beyond what is listed in the IMDb database. However, in a 1921 article written by Mack Sennett for Exhibitor’s Herald, the producer made a point of discussing the film, and how audience reaction could differ depending upon how the film was presented. He noted that when the short was shown in a theater in Mississippi, the manager there called it a “screaming comedy.” But when it was shown at a theater in Illinois, the manager said it was no such thing. “Either a picture is funny or it isn’t,” claimed Sennett. “If one audience finds it funny, another audience will if the conditions surrounding the successful presentation prevail.”

Another act on the bill featured Mademoiselle Vera, who was described as “a remarkable pretty girl snugly ensconced in a beautiful rose embowered basket, strikingly illuminated by scores of electric globes.” She was “projected out over the audience by an electrically controlled mechanical contrivance which permits her to rise and dip exactly like a bird.”

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

Another act on the bill featured Mademoiselle Vera, who was described as “a remarkable pretty girl snugly ensconced in a beautiful rose embowered basket, strikingly illuminated by scores of electric globes.” She was “projected out over the audience by an electrically controlled mechanical contrivance which permits her to rise and dip exactly like a bird.”

Thanks for going a little in depth on this side act. I was going to ask you about it, as I was intrigued by the ad line "Vaudeville's Latest Electrical Novelty."

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Thanks for going a little in depth on this side act. I was going to ask you about it, as I was intrigued by the ad line "Vaudeville's Latest Electrical Novelty."

Sometimes these side acts sound more interesting than the film. The Poli, unlike most of the other theaters in Bridgeport, showcased quite a variety of acts, with the feature film often being listed as secondary to these acts.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites




From January 8-10, 1920, the Poli ran L’Apache, starring Dorothy Dalton in a dual role. Released on November 2, 1919, at five reels, the film is presumed lost. I could only find a few grainy stills from newspapers, along with some production cuts. I tried to place them in context.

Plot:  Helen Armstrong, daughter of a college professor, comes to Paris to study music. She becomes the mistress of a wealthy American, Harrison Forbes.



French-born Natalie, who looks exactly like Helen, has married the King of the Apaches, Jean Bourget, in order to save her brother from prison.


Helen’s grandfather is coming to visit Helen, but her life has been so dissipated by her affair that she does not dare see him. She persuades Natalie to take her place. Shortly afterwards, Helen, dressed in Natalie’s clothes, commits suicide by jumping into the Seine. Bourget visits Helen’s apartment and kills Forbes. Natalie has fallen in love with Otis Mayne.


But she is arrested when the police believe she is Helen. She is charged with the murder of Forbes. At her trial, she refuses to defend herself. At the last moment, Bourget is captured by police and is shot attempting to escape. Before he dies, he confesses to Forbes’ murder. Natalie is set free and finds happiness with Mayne.

The Film Daily noted that Dalton “did a fine and impressive piece of work handling the dual role of Natalie and Helen. She differentiated sharpely [sic] between the two characters causing each one to stand out as a separate and distinct personality.” Of the film itself, the trade journal stated “this picture should go fairly well down in the down town houses and those in which the audience demands a more or less sensational sort of entertainment and does not care whether the subject material of the picture deals with the seamy side of life or not.” Macey Harlan, who played the villain in the previously reviewed Flame of the Desert, drew some critical praise for his work as the Apache.

The manager of the Family Theatre in Cincinnati, I. Lisbon, found an interesting way to promote the film before it was scheduled to be shown. He had the Cincinnati Post run a photograph of a film star holding a black mask before her face. Lisbon offered a ticket to anyone sending in the correct identity. In the first mail that arrived after publication, about 150 out of 200 readers correctly identified the woman as Dorothy Dalton. Lisbon was forced to end the contest earlier than planned when he got swamped by hundreds of letters. The photo is shown below:


Also appearing on the bill was the comedy team of Murphy and Lachmar. The Hartford Courant described the act as “the large size of the woman of the team furnishing her partner many opportunities to poke fun at her that is thoroughly appreciated.” But Variety was not as kind, stating that “some of the talk is rough and should be eliminated … He also slammed her on the leg at one time, said slamming also being unnecessary.” Somehow, I don’t believe this act would be successful today.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites



From January 11-14, 1920, the Poli featured Red Hot Dollars, starring Charles Ray as Tod Burke. The film was released on December 28, 1919, at five reels. A complete 35mm copy is held in the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY.

Plot:  Tod Burke works at Peter Garton’s iron foundry.



One day, Tod is hurt while saving Garton from being crushed by a falling crane. Garton nurses Tod back to health, adopts the lad, and makes him an executive. Garton’s snobbish sister attempts to introduce Tod into high society, with comic results. Tod falls for Janet Muir.


But Janet’s father Angus and Garton are deadly enemies. Angus’s small foundry has been “crowded out” by Muir’s.


Tod gets Janet a position at Garton’s office. But Garton, not approving of the relationship between Tod and Janet, fires her. Tod denounces Garton and quits. When Angus learns what has happened, he decides to have it out with Garton. Tod and Janet arrive in time to put a stop to it. Tod berates the old men for their prejudices against each other, and the two enemies reconcile. Tod and Janet happily kiss.


Motion Picture News called the film “a lively photoplay from start to finish with never a lagging moment. There are several high spots in the comedy that will bring hearty laughter and the star is surrounded by a good cast and favored with splendid direction.” Motion Picture World also praised the film, and singled out the performance of Charles Mailes, as Angus Muir, noting “honors in the support go to Charles Mailes for his forceful impersonation of a hard-headed old Scot … it is one of those rare impersonations that stick in the memory, a gem of its kind.”

Gladys George made her film debut, in the role of Janet. Around the time of filming (the reports are not clear), she suffered severe burns on one arm, which forced her off the stage and screen for a year. Fortunately, the burns left only a faint scar, and she did not require any surgery. There were also unfounded rumors that her face had been mysteriously injured and was remade with plastic surgery. In a 1937 interview, George spoke very kindly of Jean Harlow, saying the platinum blonde “was kind and helpful to me,” and “didn’t look down her nose at me and seem to resent my being here. … Jean had many big warmths in her to have any room for petty rivalries. She offered to show me the ropes. All of them. And did. I miss her.”

An added attraction was the Wilson Aubrey Trio (pictured below), who did a comedy gymnastic and burlesque wrestling act. The act was successful enough that the trio were still performing into the 1930s.


Also on the bill was a 1919 Charlie Chaplin short entitled A Day’s Pleasure. The film is available on YouTube, and runs about 20 minutes

Brief Plot: Charlie takes his wife (Edna Purviance) and two sons on a pleasure boat ride. Things don’t work out so well.

Review: OK comedy, but not exactly a knee-slapper. Charlie has trouble starting his car, and he experiences multiple mishaps on the boat, followed by multiple mishaps with his car. Highlights include Charlie getting seasick,


Charlie getting into a fight with a big guy (Tom Wilson),


and Charlie getting into trouble with traffic cops.


Notable for an appearance by Jackie Coogan as one of Chaplin’s kids, but you can barely see him for most of the film.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Thanks for elaborating on the Wilson Aubrey Trio, "the world's nearly greatest wrestlers."

I'd also be curious to see "The Distinguished Artist Don Alfonso Zelaya -in- Wit, Music & Philosophy."

Zelaya was a pianist who delivered monologues on music as well. One of his talks was on the "Psychology of Jazz," in which he claimed that 60% of performers resorted to "humdrum" jazz in their acts, while the remainder tried to be more artistic and failed miserably at it. He felt that music was "vibratory," affecting the brain and spine but not the hearing. Zelaya died of a heart attack in  Hollywood on December 14,  1951. He was 57. According to Variety, his father, Jose Santos Zelaya, was once President of Nicaragua. Zelaya also appeared in some films and TV shows. and has an IMDb entry.  I remember him in an episode of The Abbott and Costello Show where the boys go west.  He shows up in a bit at the five-minute mark:


Link to post
Share on other sites



From January 15-17, 1920, the Poli featured Anne of Green Gables, starring Mary Miles Minter as Anne Shirley. Released on November 12, 1919, at between six and seven reels, the film is presumed lost. However, I did find a large number of stills, and others are available at the IMDb website.

Plot:  Anne Shirley, an orphan, goes to live with her Aunt Marilla and Marilla’s brother Matthew. She arrives at their home carrying a large wicker basket containing all her worldly possessions – which consist mainly of a black and white chicken.




Matthew takes a fancy to Anne, and on one occasion when she is locked in her room for punishment and given only bread and milk, Matthew drops a bag of food outside her window. But Marilla catches her brother holding the bag up to the window at the end of a long pole. Mrs. Pie, the village gossip, takes a dislike to Anne and tries to make things unbearable for her. Her daughter Josie attempts the same. Meanwhile, Marilla sings the praises of Anne, telling everyone how quiet and refined the young girl is becoming. But then Anne chases a boy who had dropped an apple on her head. She catches him and pummels him as much as she can. This shocks the village minister and gives Mrs. Pie more ammunition to spread her gossip.


One day, Anne cannot find her Aunt’s cameo pin, which she had played with while “dressing up” like a lady.


She is punished by not being allowed to go to the Sunday school picnic. However, Anne escapes from her window and manages to go. Along the way, she runs into what she believes is a cat, and pets it.


But the animal turns out to be a skunk, which causes everyone to run away from her. Then Anne sells the neighbor’s cow by mistake. During her early years, Anne meets Gilbert Blythe, and love slowly blossoms.


Anne eventually graduates from high school and is about to go to college when her benefactors lose the money that was to be used for her education. So Anne becomes a teacher in the village school. She is then accused by her nemesis, Mrs. Pie, of beating up Mrs. Pie’s son and breaking his arm. Eventually, Matthew dies and Aunt Marilla is going blind, but an operation saves her sight. Anne finally is happily united with Blythe.


The images below could not be placed in context:







The film had a great opening, no doubt bolstered by Minter making personal appearances at several theaters. Theatre owners and managers sent telegrams to J.S. Woody, General Manager of Realart Pictures, expressing their delight. Some of the telegrams are reproduced below:



In Los Angeles, Roy Miller, manager of Miller’s Theatre, gave a free showing of the film for around six hundred children from an orphan’s home. After viewing the film, the children were given large apples by Mary Miles Minter and singer Ellen Beach Yaw.  Yaw (at left) and Minter (at right in black) are shown below with some of the children:


In Denver, the American Theatre hooked up with local stores to promote the film. An elaborate display was set up in Herrick Book and Stationery Company, and is shown below:


The American also set up a display in a department store, showing stills from the film and books in the “Anne of Green Gables” series:


The theater itself packed in the patrons, as can be seen below:


Exhibitor’s Herald praised the film, writing “the narrative which is laid in the small town or village must be very, very good or it will be judged very, very poor by those who see in it entertainment. “Anne of Green Gables” wins a place in the former classification by a wide margin.”

Motion Picture News opined that “there are some very good characterizations in this picture and it is the array of excellent types that registered best with the reviewer. The continuity, the mountings, and the photography are all up to present day standards but after an auspicious  opening the director evidently believed that he should inject the so-called “punch” in the action and possibly “forced” his performers to “act” and thus destroyed some of the naturalness  of the later scenes.”

Motion Picture Classic was not kind, stating that the film “belongs to the sugar-coated Pollyanna school of realistic literature. … Miss Minter is a pleasant little person, but of limited technical equipment. Hence, “Anne of Green Gables,” centered wholly upon her, moves along a monotonous level of conventionality.”

Minter, a rising star, was heavily promoted by Realart, with color spreads in many magazines, and posters in newspapers. In addition, a Curtiss airplane, part of the U. S. Army Service All-American Pathfinders and Recruiting Unit, was named after her.

Paul Kelly, who had a long career in Hollywood, portrayed Gilbert Blythe. He had already appeared in some shorts, but this one was of his first feature films,

Also on the bill was violinist Ota Gygi (pronounced “gee-gee”), accompanied by dancer Maryon Vadie. Gygi is shown below:


In the 1930s, Gygi teamed up with Ed Wynn to form the radio chain entitled the “Amalgamated Broadcasting Company.” “It is an idealistic venture,” claimed Wynn. “There are now more than 27,000 actors out of work in this country and if I do no more than to help some of them get employment I shall be satisfied. I have all the money I want. I believe the time for a new deal in business has arrived – a policy of live and let live and I propose to follow this. … It may not be a big network, but it will grow.” The venture bombed, costing Wynn his investment of $250,000.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites



From January 18-21, 1920, the Poli ran A Regular Girl¸ starring singer/dancer Elsie Janis (in a rare film appearance) as Elizabeth Schuyler. The film was released on November 30, 1919, at five reels, and is presumed lost. The working title for the film was Everybody’s Sweetheart. I could only find a few stills.

Plot:  Elizabeth Schuyler is the daughter of a wealthy man, and is spoiled by him.


But then the war comes and she goes overseas as a nurse. She returns to her former life as a changed woman. She decides to help out returning soldiers who are looking for jobs. Her father promises to give her $10,000 if she can raise the same amount on her own. To win the help of the returning soldiers, she poses as a “slavey” at Mrs. Murphy’s boarding house, where many of them are staying. She gains their trust, then puts on a circus, in which she rides a horse bareback and does stunts. The circus raises more than $10,000, so her father honors his part of the bargain. With the additional money, she sets up an office and devotes her energies to finding jobs for the servicemen.


Photoplay praised the film, writing “this picture is a series of entertaining episodes in which Miss Janis humorously scrubs floors, sings to and with soldiers, cooks, waits on the table, goes to Coney Island, gives a circus, and cheers everyone with the exception of her father.” Other reviews were rather lukewarm. Motion Picture News wrote “Elsie Janis is a charming girl and known as an accomplished actress, but she does not photograph well. And while there is a sweet thought in the picture the photoplay does not register as one of our leading productions.” The Film Daily noted that the idea of trying to find employment for returning soldiers was a bit outdated.

Still, the film was apparently a hit with audiences. When it ran at the Broadway Theatre in NYC, it broke all previous box office records, and during its second week there, ticket lines stretched for three blocks down Broadway. Part of the crowd is shown below, along with a female rider who rode up and down Fifth Avenue promoting the film:




According to some of the trade journals, the Prince of Wales viewed the film during his stay in the States, pronouncing it “all sorts of a good show.” The film was shown aboard H.M.S. Renown, which was the lead battleship in the Royal Navy.

In Atlanta, the film was shown at the Criterion Theatre. Local newspapers sponsored a contest entitled “How can a girl earn $10,000 in thirty days if thrown on her own resources.” Some of the ideas submitted by contestants included the invention of ripless silk hosiery, and posing as a French countess to collect a large dowry from an eligible millionaire. In a more philanthropic gesture, a special performance of the film was given to wounded soldiers stationed at nearby Fort McPherson. Over three hundred veterans were transported to the theatre in trucks and ambulances. The crowds of servicemen are shown below:



Ladies of the Federate Woman’s Club and delegates from the Overseas Club were also on hand, passing out cigarettes and candy to the men (see below):


During one of the days the film played at the Criterion, the Ringling Brothers circus happened to be in town. During the circus parade, several men carrying “A Regular Girl” banners marched along with the circus performers, giving more free publicity to the film.

In Colfax, Illinois, H.A. Arnold, manager of the Colonial Theatre, paid Select Pictures $100 for a one-day showing of the film. This was quite a gamble – because the population of Colfax at the time was around 100 people. However, Arnold did make money, then sent a telegram to Select asking if they had any more $100 pictures.

In an exploitation stunt, Paul Gerard Smith, publicity man for Randolph Theatre in Chicago, sent off balloons from atop the Consumer’s building, carrying tags which entitled the finder to a photograph of Elsie Janis. Smith claimed that one of his balloons traveled across Lake Michigan to Hammond, Indiana, where it was retrieved by a Miss Edna Borchardt. Smith was arrested for his trouble. However, Frank Cook of the Strand Theatre in Milwaukee, did Smith one (or more) better, as he was arrested four times for pulling the same stunt.

Also on the bill was a Mack Sennett short entitled Salome vs. Shenandoah. The two-reeler was released on October 19, 1919, and is presumed lost. This appears to have been a send-up of two stage plays. In “Salome,” Ben Turpin plays John the Baptist, Charles Murray plays King Herod, and Phyllis Haver plays Salome. Turpin loses his head, but still manages to act as its bodyguard, telling the audience “the King thinks he’s got my head but he’s wrong.”  Murray is attached to wires offstage, which keep yanking him around. When he gets a little too close to Haver’s knees, the man controlling the wires is unable to pull him away. Turpin comes in and declares that he is “every inch a ruler,” causing Murray to leave. A water tank is overturned from above, and a stagehand yells “my mistake.” In “Shenandoah”, there are dummy soldiers and horses everywhere. Turpin leads the Northern army to slaughter. He is about to be executed when Little Nell arrives on horseback to announce that the Civil War is over. The still below, from “Salome,” shows some of the craziness. From left to right, the actors are Heinie Conklin, Ben Turpin, Charles Murray, and Phyllis Haver. No idea who (or what) is portraying the head.



  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites



From January 22-25, 1920, the Poli ran Piccadilly Jim, starring Owen Moore as the title character. The film’s release date is uncertain, but it was five reels, the film is presumed lost.

Advertising line: Can you imagine a pretty girl telling a man to his face that she hates a certain fellow and in the end finds that he was the one she hated?

Plot: James Braithwaite Crocker, aka “Piccadilly Jim,” was once a star newspaper reporter in New York. He goes to London to visit his father, Mr. Bingley Crocker, and his step-mother. He runs wild through the cabarets, attends theater parties, and generally has a good time.


The New York papers get wind of his activities and write stories about him. His aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Pett, read the articles, and feel the stories are a detriment to their social standing. The Petts visit England with their son Ogden, and try to persuade Jim to return to America.  Mr. Petts’ pretty niece, Ann Chester, meets up with them. She has never met Jim, but apparently she has a score to settle with him for some unknown reason. Jim gets wise to their plan, and when he hears Ann tell the Petts she will secure passage on the Acquatania, he makes a reservation as well. Ann meets him on the boat and romance slowly develops.



Not knowing who he is, she mentions that Jim Crocker is no good; meanwhile, Jim has assumed the name of Bayliss. By the time the boat arrives in America, the two are deeply in love, but complications arise.



Ogden becomes unbearable, so Ann tries to have him kidnapped. But all ends well, as Jim reveals his identity to Ann, and Ann forgives him for something he did to her once – criticizing her poetry when he was a reporter.


The story was based on a serial written by P. G. Wodehouse, and published in The Saturday Evening Post. Wodehouse later adapted the story into a novel. The film was remade in 1936, with Robert Montgomery and Madge Evans in the leading roles. Another version was released in 2004.

Zena Keefe, who portrayed Ann, worked in films until the mid 1920s. When she died in Massachusetts in 1976, The Boston Globe carried a brief obituary, sadly not even mentioning her work as an actress. British-born Reginald Sheffield, who played Ogden, was the father of Johnny Sheffield. Reginald had a long career in films, and had the distinction of being the first actor to play the young David Copperfield on screen. He also appeared in both versions of The Buccaneer. He died in his sleep in 1957.

Reviews were lukewarm at best, with some critics dismissing the film as dull. The Film Daily wrote “the story is a rather listless affair and without plot of any substantial consequence, attempts to get by with a lot of foolishness, only little of which registers. In fact one of the biggest laughs in the entire production comes when a fat boy’s trainer lets loose on the punching bag and sends it sailing across the room to connect with the lady’s face, spreading pie all over it incidentally. And when an old gag like this is the outstanding feature in an intended polite comedy its general character can best be imagined.” However, Exhibitor’s Herald bucked the trend, writing “sumptuously mounted, with beautiful photography throughout, the picture is bound to please the most fastidious. … As the society “dandy” he (Moore) is at all times fascinating and convincing.”

Some of the trade journals played up a bathtub scene with Moore. The scene is shown below, followed by a behind-the-scenes shot showing Moore with director Wesley Ruggles (wearing the white shirt and tie) and producer Lewis Selznick:



In Buffalo, the Strand Theatre promoted the film by hiring two men to portray Piccadilly Jim and his valet. The pair walked the downtown streets for almost ten hours a day, stopping in offices asking for James Braithwaite Crocker. The valet had a sign on his back reading “I’d rather be a valet and see the world series than be a lord and not see it.” The two men are shown below:



  • Like 2
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
© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
  • Create New...