Friday, January 22, 2010

April 16, 1932


Rumors are about in Hollywood saying Greta Garbo may not re-sign with Metro or give any indication of her future choice of film producer until after she had a vacation in her native Sweden. That vacation is apt to start before the summer.

Stories are that other proposals are before Garbo. These offers, it is said, cannot be offered by the producers’ recent arbitration agreement on contractual adjustments of talent, since back of the proposals are independents not aligned with the Hays’ organization.

It’s said Metro’s possible money offer has had no influences on Garbo since the new proposition under consideration by her is reported to contain an equal partnership deal by its producer. Garbo’s current Metro contract at $7000 weekly runs out May 1.

Wash-up of Harry Edington, Metro associate producer in charge of foreign production, whose contract was completed March 31, strengthens the reports that Garbo may not re-sign with this studio. Edington is Garbo’s manager and personal adviser. Jack Cummings and Fred Pelton will probably take over Edington’s foreign duties.

Edington will leave Hollywood shortly for Japan and China, thence to his villa in Italy where Mrs. Edington is studying music.


Lewis Milestone, director, is in Hollywood to begin production in about two weeks of the first of several pictures. Accompanied by Chester Erskin and H. D’Abbadie D’Arrest, directors, and Charles Lederer, writer, Milestone spent several months in New York.

While in the East he signed contracts with Schenck under which he will supervise at least four pictures for the forthcoming Untied Artists program.

First of these doubtless will be “Rain,” an adaptation of the Jeanne Eagels stage play, upon which Maxwell Anderson, playwright, had been working for several weeks. Another will be an Al Jolson picture from an original story by Ben Hecht, and Jolson will close his run of “Wonder Bar” at San Francisco this week in order to prepare for it. Erskin is expected to direct “Rain” and D’Arrast probably will handle the Jolson assignment.

Meanwhile other member producers of United Artists are busily engaged in the preparation of their programs. Samuel Goldwyn already is at work on “The Brothers Karamazov” for Ronald Colman and “The Kid from Spain” for Eddie Cantor, and shooting on these two is expected to be started before the first of the month. Goldwyn also has “Cynara” for Colman and “Ballyhoo” for Cantor, those to be made after the first two named pictures.

Douglas Fairbanks is now in his third week of shooting “Robinson Crusoe of the South Seas,” most of his camera work being done around Papeete. Mary Pickford will get to work with Frances Marion in New York in about two weeks upon her story.

From Luella O. Parsons

My congratulations to David Selznick and his Radio associates. He has purchased the screen rights to Moon and Sixpence, one of the few really good books that have not been grabbed by the movies. When Somerset Maugham wrote Moon and Sixpence (in my opinion his best novel,) every film company put in a bid but Mr. Maugham refused to sell.

Through some sorcery David Selznick persuaded him to part with what I am told is his favorite novel. Perhaps he was influenced when he heard that John Barrymore will play the artist. What a part! Do you remember Strickland, who leaves a conventional wife and two children to go to the South Seas to spend his time painting at will? Mr. Barrymore should be superb at that role.

Someone has to take Clara Bow in hand. Turning down four or five marvelous offers on the screen, she has taken herself to Rex Bell’s ranch in Nevada to write poetry. She just won’t listen to any of her well-meaning advisers; and here is another thing, Clara must not put on any more weight.

Conrad Nagel, who has been addressing clubs and congressmen on behalf of the movies, has been absent from Hollywood for five months. He is one of our best speakers.

Tay Garnett’s first directorial job at Universal City is “Men Without Fear.” It’s an original by Tom Gilpatrick and Martin Brown is writing the adaptation. Tay says he hears from Patsy Ruth Miller every day and it is his personal and private opinion that she is homesick for Hollywood. She is appearing in a play with Charlie Ray.

Marcel De Sano has sailed for Europe, broken in health and facing a nervous breakdown. His case is one of the strangest on record. The scenario of “The Red-Headed Woman” was all ready with Marcel chosen as the director. He had been preparing for this job for seven months when he left town suddenly. He felt that he could not go through with the responsibility. This is the second or third time De Sano was ready to direct a picture when his nerve left him. There is a report that he and his wife, Arlette Marchal, are to be divorced. She is a French actress who was first brought to this country by Gloria Swanson.
Jack Conway has been assigned to direct the much-discussed “Red-Headed Woman.”

Chatter in Hollywood:
Believe it or not (apologies to Ripley,) Grace George went to the Cocoanut Grove to try to find some film stars the other night. Unfortunately, she didn’t choose a Tuesday night so there weren’t many of the favorites present. Kay Johnson and John Cromwell escorted her, Mary Phillips and Jimmy Townsend.

I can remember W. A. Brady telling me that his wife, fine stage actress, didn’t care so much for the movies. Well, she has changed and so have they.

Harpo Marx went to the circus and stole the honors away from clowns with his own brand of comedy.

Mary Brian and Ken Murray will be together again at Warner Brothers studios. They have been vaudevilling and doing well. Reports have continually reached here that he was interested in little Mary. We cannot blame him. We know others who feel the same way.

Adrienne Ames is expecting a visit from her millionaire husband. In this case, my friends, he is the real and genuine thing and not a P.A.s dream. Friend husband arrives Sunday and Miss Ames is going to Barstow to meet him.

Here is where they are: Billy Bakewell is on the Universal lot, so is Doris Lloyd. They have checked in for “Back Streets.” Charlie Bickford is also at Universal City. He has just been put on a long term contract. Spencer Tracy is at Fox, and what a time we have getting Spencer and Lee mixed. He is emoting in “After the Rain” opposite Peggy Shannon. Mary Phillips, a New York stage actress, has cast her lot with Warner Brothers. She plays one of the important parts in “Woman’s Day.” Fred Kohler, bad man of the screen for a long, long time, and at one time considered a worthy rival of George Bancroft, is in “Good Bad Man,” Tom Mix’s next picture. Willard Robertson, who won fame as Skippy’s father, likewise is in the Mix cast.

Snapshots of Hollywood:

Lila Lee, in a smart black outfit, getting a big play for her autographs.

Elissa Landi moving into a new home at Palisades Del Rey.

Colleen Moore on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lot, giving rise to the rumor that she has been talking shop.

Mitzi Green visiting Grandma in Flushing. She writes to say she is well, but homesick for Hollywood.

Janet Gaynor taking tennis lessons each day.

George O’Brien dancing with Marguerite Churchill at the Frolics. Claudette Colbert and Norman Foster at the same place.

Wallace Beery, suffering with tooth troubles, traveling to the dentist every day.

Mae Murray, in dark blue pajamas, at the Brown Derby.


By: The Looker On
Fifteen years or so ago every fence would carry a big poster asking: “Have you a little fairy in your home?” It showed a picture of a little girl with long golden curls and who carried a muff and sat on a cake of soap. That little girl was Madge Evans and now she has grown up. Tomorrow she will be seen at the Majestic in “The Greeks Had a Word for Them,” and those who recall the poster will be able to compare the little girl in it with the tall, slim blonde who plays the role of a gold-digger – one of the gold-diggers, to be exact. She plays the part of Polaire and, though the principal part is Ina Claire’s as Jean, Madge Evans’ work is that around which much of the interest turns.

Ina Claire was a headliner in the Ziegfeld “Follies” before the dramatic stage or pictures had ever heard of her, and she was a feature of musical shows like “The Quaker Girl” and “The Belle of Bond Street” previous to the “Follies.” It was her singing of a song about a Belasco play in the “Follies” which moved the late David Belasco to take her in hand and put her on the legitimate stage and “Polly With a Past,” “The Gold Diggers,” “Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife” and “Grounds for Divorce” were some of the hits she played for Belasco. Her most notable stage successes were “The Last of Mrs. Cheney” and in a revival of W. Somerset Maugham’s “Our Betters.”

Miriam Hopkins is a Georgia girl who made a hit on the stage after a struggle. She was a consistent players always from her first small role, but when she played in “Lysistrata,” the Greek play that Los Angeles police recently objected to without avail, she brought Broadway to its knees. She knew more about what Aristophanes meant to say than most people and she got away with the prize and her name in electric lights. In the talkies she has appeared as the plain princess who went jazzy in “The Smiling Lieutenant,” and also as the cabaret singer in “Twenty-Four Hours,” before her appearance in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

Francis X. Bushman returns to picture work in “For Hire,” which Irwin R. Franklyn wrote and will produce in New York. It’s the former matinee idol’s first job in some time. Production will be at the Ideal Studios. Norma Talmadge also has a deal on with Franklyn.

Joel McCrea, who plays opposite Constance Bennett in “Born to Love,” is one of those rare animals, a boy who made good in his own home town. It took him two years to rise from the extra ranks to leading parts, but he has arrived. He was born in Pasadena, not many miles from Hollywood, and all part of the same settlement around Los Angeles as a center, and he graduated from Pomona College, in the same county. He had the lead in “The Silver Horde,” and the juvenile lead opposite Will Rogers in “Lightnin’.” His father retired recently after serving many years as secretary of the Los Angeles Gas and Electric Corporation. Just the contrary to Constance Bennett, his early days had absolutely nothing of stage life about them and his acting is a natural gift. In “Girls About Town” he shows his versatility as the hero in an entirely changed scene.

Ken Murray hasn’t seen a baseball game for fifteen years, though he is a fan…

In “Ladies of the Jury,” two of the cast, Edna May Oliver and Roscoe Ates, were in “Cimarron” together…

George O’Brien’s father is director of penology in California and was once chief of police in San Francisco.

Ruth Chatterton began her stage career as a chorus girl in musical comedy, but by the time she was eighteen she was the leading woman in “Daddy Longlegs,” with Henry Miller. She first starred in “Come Out of the Kitchen,” but she also made the main hit of “The Green Hat.” Her first motion picture, made under Jannings, was “The Sins of the Fathers.”

Helen Hayes, seen in “Arrowsmith,” has had a successful stage career despite her youth. She starred in “Coquette,” which Mary Pickford afterward filmed, and this is her second picture. She is now playing on the Broadway stage in “The Good Fairy,” and will continue to carry on her stage work despite her few but well-paid excursions to the screen. Despite this, her first screen appearance was in the old Vitagraph studio in Brooklyn as an infant, when John Bunny, Mabel Turner and Maurice Costello were Vitagraph stars, which was some time ago, please. Even then she was playing as a child in Weber and Fields shows.

Boulder Dam as a film topic looms again with Universal readying a script titled “Reclamation” around the project. Martin Mooney, returned to Hollywood from a few days’ jaunt to the scene of operations with the germ of an original story, with the dam as the scene.


Universal’s English contingent was increased by the arrival of Ernest Theiseger and Eva Moore for “Old Dark House” and R. C. Sheriff to adapt “The Road Back.” Leads in “House” are Boris Karloff and Lillian Bond, also Britishers.


By Dan Thomas
Hollywood, April 16

Now that songs are returning to favor in motion pictures, it is interesting to note a few of the things that are being done differently than they were back in the original “Tin Pan Alley” regime out here.

Songs came in with a bang and went out just as rapidly during the early talkie days. Producers are still a bit scared that the same thing might happen again. So they are handing musical numbers with kid gloves.

One of the things being done now, which was overlooked before, according to Nacio Herb Brown, formerly with the team DeSylva, Brown and Henderson, is the writing of songs especially for those who are to sing them.

“Whether or not a song fits the person who introduces it is of tremendous importance,” Brown declares. “For example, Norma Shearer might put a number over with a bang, But Lupe Velez would be a total loss with the same song.”

He Stayed Overtime

Incidentally, Brown had such a good time last summer while he was in Reno getting his divorce that he stayed five months instead of the required three.

This Is New One

Publicity note from RKO Studio. In order to take off weight, Joel McCrea has been wrestling every day with Pansy, gigantic turtle brought back from Honolulu by “The Bird of Paradise” company, with the result that the turtle has lost ten pounds while Joel has gained five.

And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

Did Irving Muff One?

Irving Thalberg has been considered just about perfect in Hollywood, but now he has chosen Buster Keaton to play the leading role in Clarence Buddington Kelland’s “Footlights.” Maybe it will go and maybe it won’t, but if it doesn’t, Hollywood is going to wag its head wisely and say: “Now I would have given that role to Edward Everett Horton and what a picture it would have been.”


Hollywood likes to think that its public is just a lot of dumb morons, but the fans have better taste and filmland will have to change its opinion, says Robert E. Sherwood, pioneer film critic.

Declaring that movie patrons are through with the old hokum and are showing real discrimination, Mr. Sherwood writes in McCall’s:

“By all in Hollywood – directors, stars, screen writers and those beings known as ‘supervisors’ – it is agreed that the average film fan is incurably dim-witted lacking utterly in the capacity to appreciate the finer and better things which are occasionally conferred upon him. Ask any of the more articulate of Hollywood’s inhabitants what he thinks of his patrons and you will gather that every cinema palace is just another home for the feeble-minded. If you demand proof of this melancholy belief you are shown plentiful statistics which indicate that the most artistic pictures are spurned by the mob, whereas the most shameless specimens of hokum are handsomely supported. In other words: ‘The customer is always wrong – so what’s the use?’

“This is an effective means of shifting the responsibility for the generally low quality of Hollywood’s products; it is not, however, an entirely legitimate one. It may have been valid back in the Cecil B. DeMille era, but today the ratio existing between artistic merit and commercial value is not nearly so inverse as is generally imagined. Indeed, if hokum were still infallibly profitable, there would be no shadow of excuses for the present meagerness of box-office returns. The old sure-fire formulas are still available – but alas, they are no longer sure. This is not to be blamed upon the public’s lack of appreciativeness, but upon the public’s newly developed critical sense.


Louise Fazenda and James Gleason have been engaged by Warren Doane to make a series of two-reelers for Universal. Doane is producing twenty-four two-reel comedies for U, working at the studio.


Paramount studio office and maintenance workers took a cut last week, most dramatic for femme secretaries and stenos, whose checks have been dropped from $55 to $30.


The much talked of comedy, full of comical scenes and withal so sophisticated that it leaves “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” weeks behind, this comedy, no less than “The Greeks Had a Word for Them” is the bill at the Majestic for tomorrow and until Tuesday, inclusive.

It is the tale of three gold-diggers, as Broadway calls girls who are huntresses of millionaires, with the curious complications of their personal friendship and the undercover war they make against one another when a man appears in sight. There is a real plot. The girls, called on Broadway “The Three Musketeers,” are Ina Claire, Joan Blondell and Madge Evans. The principal men’s roles are taken by Lowell Sherman, David Manners and Phillips Smalley. The screen version of the play is from the hilarious stage success of the same name.


Amanda Cooper said...

It's a lot of fun reading about the old days of Hollywood and what was going on then. Reading this blog is a lot like what I'd imagine looking through a 30's gossip column would be like.

I especially enjoyed the paragraph about Joel McCrea wrestling with the turtle. Who knew?

GAH1965 said...

As the article says, if you'll believe the story about Joel and the turtle, you'll believe anything!

So glad you enjoy the blog. I go through 8 different newspapers for each day's items. Needless to say, as I read them I get very caught up in all the goings-on of the day. The Lindbergh kidnapping is particularly engrossing right now - it's about 6 weeks into it - and depressing to read since I know the outcome despite the optimism in the news stories.