Sunday, November 30, 2008

February 28, 1932


Future Co-Dictator of Russia Cast in Early Series of Vitagraph Pictures Recently Compiled in Album Form, Soon to Be Released as Historical Relics

New York, Feb. 27
Leon Trotsky, red army war lord, had no sex appeal in the “movies.” He had no “It,” says Harey T. Morey, the Clark Gable of his day and fellow actor of Trotsky in “My Official Wife.” Shots of this old-time film showing Morey, Trotsky and Clara Kimball Young, the leading lady, are soon to be released in local theaters as part of “The Movie Album” series which Vitaphone has assembled from old prints of early Vitaphone silent pictures.
“He was an extra getting $5 a day and he also supervised the Russian “atmosphere,” for the story was laid in Russia and he was supposed to know what was right and what wasn’t,” Morey said. “I remember him as a retiring, almost shy man, who seemed out of his element. As an actor he was a washout because he didn’t have any particular personality.
“But once you’d get to talking to him, he didn’t seem so ordinary – his wide knowledge, his manner of speech and his individual ideas struck you. He spoke good English with a slight foreign accent. He talked about commonplace things, never about socialism, or even about politics, as far as I can remember. And he wasn’t in the least aggressive or what you’d call the flaming type.”


Hollywood, Calif. Feb. 27
The film colony raised its voice to-day to answer the charges of Senator Smith W. Brookhart Jr., (Rep.) Iowa, that the industry went goggle-eyed last year over gangster pictures and was headed this year toward a run of productions dealing with indecorous women.
The reply was framed from a survey of 550 pictures released in the 13-month period between January, 1931 and January, 1932. It disclosed that only about three per cent of those films portrayed the story of the gangster and slightly more than two percent were based on shady women.
In an analysis of the survey, Joseph Breen, assistant to Will H. Hayes, president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc., said that only 19 of the 550 films were gangster pictures and only 13 dealt with women.
The cycle of the gangster film has passed definitely for the present. In the future the police will be the heroes and racketeers the villains, executives have decided.


Hollywood, Feb. 27
To get the desired crowd action and outwit “lens hogs,” mostly Oriental extras with an uncontrollable penchant for staring directly into the camera while scenes are being filmed, Josef von Sternberg, director of “Shanghai Express,” had to set up a dummy camera and microphone for certain sequences in his current picture.
More than 1000 men, women and children of many ages and races, were recruited for “Shanghai Express,” the story of which is set in the present war-torn area in China, with Marlene Dietrich starred, and Clive Brook, Anna May Wong, Eugene Pallette and Warner Oland in supporting roles.
When Von Sternberg started work on location at San Bernardino, where the Santa Fe railroad station, main line tracks and adjoining streets had been transformed into the Peiping, China terminal, many of the extras, who had never worked in pictures, insisted on peeping into the camera lens during filming. Von Sternberg kept admonishing them, through interpreters, to pay no attention to the “evil-eye,” but they could not resist the temptation to steal an occasional peak.
The dummy camera ruse finally was adopted, with the director conducting rehearsals from beside it. Ready for action, he would saunter away, leaving an assistant to keep the attention of the Orientals, and then shoot the scene from another angle.
Some of the older Chinese, men in their seventies and eighties, believe it is impossible for the camera to register their images unless they gaze into the lens, an interpreter explained to Von Sternberg.


A motion picture company came to her home town, Tampa, Florida, and Ruth Hall played an extra role. A few weeks later she packed her bags and went to Hollywood. Now she is a featured player.


Raymond Hatton of the Wallace Beery-Raymond Hatton comedy team, has been signed by Mack Sennett for “Divorce a la Mode,” with Harry Myers, Vivian Oakland, Dorothy Granger and George Sherman. Leslie Pearce will direct.


Maureen O’Sullivan has been signed by Universal to play opposite Tom Brown in “The Jockey Kid,” racetrack story by Earl Snell. Adaptation and continuity have been provided by James Mulhauser. It will be directed by Kurt Newmann. Mickey Maguire is the only other member of the cast mentioned so far selected.


Sally Blane and John Darrow have the leading roles in Chesterfield’s new release, as yet untitled, with J. Farrell MacDonald, Eddie Phillips, Clara Kimball Young, Betty Grable (through the courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn), David Rollins, Mary Jane Irving, Matty Kemp and David Durand. bis directing at Universal studios.

The most important item in Elissa Landi’s hillside home, so far as she is concerned, is a hanging bookshelf with space to accommodate 15 or 20 books.
The English star hopes some day to have the shelf filled with books authored by herself. Already it contains two volumes, and in March a third, “House for Sale” will be added. A fourth volume, yet untitled, is already begun.


A room in Ann Harding’s home is filled with trophies, banners, decorations and weapons her father gathered during his many years as a general in the United States Army.
Her father, Gen. George Grant Gatley, became reconciled to Ann’s stage career shortly before his death, a year or so ago.
Miss Harding will be official hostess to the Rainbow Division’s convention in July. General Gatley was second in command of the division during the war.


Big gesture of the week. Bert Wheeler, Robert Woolsey and Edna May Oliver, stars in their own right, consented to play bits in another star’s picture. They impersonated themselves in a premier sequence of RKO Radio’s “The Lost Squadron,” starring Richard Dix. Dix says he’ll return the compliment on request and play an extra for them any old time.


There was a time when an extra’s face was her fortune. That is true yet, to some extent, but with the present styles in evening gowns, the backs of society type extras have become of almost equal importance.
Backless dresses will stay in for some time to come, studio designers have proclaimed.
As a result, casting bureaus have a new listing to add to the several hundred already included in their records of types. It reads something like this:
“Society extras – pretty faces – nice backs.”


The wrecking of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria is said to have suggested the new flicker “Hotel Continental,” although the idea is greatly like one that made Vicki Baum a fortune.


Sunday will bring to the National Theater Charlotte Greenwood and Bert Lahr in the feature comedy “Flying High.”
Charlotte Greenwood plays Pansy Potts, an amorous waitress who desires to marry an aviator. Lahr is “it,” and their rough and tumble courtship is carried out in an aviation show at an airport and thousands of feet in the air.

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