Thursday, December 30, 2010
Harold Lloyd in “Movie Crazy,” His First in Two Years
New York, May 1, 1932
Harold Lloyd’s first picture in nearly two years is nearing the end of its production grind in what, for Mr. Lloyd, is jig time. “Movie Crazy” has been shooting at the United Artists studio for eight weeks, and the spectacled one, who is producer as well as star, expects to be able to start assembling and cutting his comedy this week.
It is not unusual for him to take as long as six months to shoot one of his films. He explains his present celerity on the ground that he is working for the first time from a script that outlined each day’s work.
“Movie Crazy” shows what can happen to a timorous laddie between the time he breaks into the picture industry and the time he finally comes out on top of the pack. It may be another month before Mr. Lloyd gets a first preview of his film, but he is in no special hurry, as he does not plan to release “Movie Crazy” until September.
The latest of the New York young women to adopt the screen is Irene Ware, who leaves for the Coast this week with a Fox contract under her arm. Miss Ware is strictly a local product. She left Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx in 1929 for a part in the “Sketch Book” and then went on to a place in the “Vanities,” When the Carroll show closed she took a talking-picture test with Fox and the contract resulted.
Leslie Banks, the Broadway player who has been drawing laughter on behalf of “Springtime for Henry,” consigned his destiny to films last week by signing a contract with RKO Radio Pictures. If his plans have not changed since Tuesday, he will be leaving New York today for Hollywood.
A native of Liverpool, Mr. Banks was a passably familiar sight to road-show audiences in Canada and the United States before he ever appeared on the London stage. New York had its first look at the young Englishman in 1924 as Captain Hook in “Peter Pan.” Mr. Banks is equally at home in light comedy and the more ominous roles of the drama. Last season he played on Broadway in “The Man in Possession” and, before “Springtime for Henry,” he was in “Lean Harvest.”
Genevieve Tobin, last seen in “One Hour With You,” has been engaged by Columbia for the feminine lead in its “Hollywood Speaks,” the behind-the-scenes narrative which will shortly go into production. Eddy Buzzell will direct the film, from the story by Norman Krasna and Jo Swerling.
When First National puts “Life Begins” into production, Herbert Mundin will be on hand to take a part in the film. Mr. Mundin is the British comedian who made his American debut in the first of the imported “Charlot’s Revues.”
Loretta Young and Eric Linden are to have the featured roles in this production, which is scheduled for early shooting.
On the same lot Edward G. Robinson’s new venture, “Tiger Shark,” is ready to begin work after a short delay.
A burst of cooperative speed has resulted in the completion of “The Jewel Robbery” at the Warner plant some ten days ahead of schedule. Kay Francis, who is featured in the picture with William Powell, is off for a brief vacation before turning her attention to “S. S. Atlantic,” which will be her next endeavor. James Ashmore Creelman and Robert Lord collaborated in this latter story.
Edmund Goulding, director of “Grand Hotel,” will next take charge of Marion Davies and cast in “Good Time Girl.” Frances Marion wrote the scenario for this one, and Anita Loos, the “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” author, has penned additional dialogue.
Back from a lengthy vacation of bearding African big game with gun and camera, Gary Cooper left Manhattan for Hollywood last week. His first role will be with Tallulah Bankhead in a romantic adventure called “The Devil and the Deep,” which has a submarine disaster for a background. Benn W. Levy, who writes plays between scenarios and scenarios between plays, is at work with Harry Hervey on the script.
PICTURES AND PLAYERS
Douglas Fairbanks and his South Seas expedition are on the bounding blue Pacific at this minute, one day out from the shores of California. The picture they have been making around Tahiti has been appropriately christened “Robinson Crusoe of the South Seas,” and is all finished except for the tie-in shots which must be made in Hollywood.
An unusually healthy demand for tickets to the opening of “State’s Attorney” at the Mayfair this Thursday evening will be for the benefit of the Emergency Unemployment Relief Committee, has made it advisable to hold twin premieres for the John Barrymore RKO picture.
The benefit showing, at 9:30, will be followed by an 11 o’clock performance, when the theater will be opened to the general public. The relief committee reports an encouraging advance sale of seats for its showing. Mrs. Kermit Roosevelt, chairman, has arranged for distribution of tickets in Washington under the supervision of Mrs. Ogden L. Mills and Congresswoman Ruth Pratt, and a goodly delegation from the capital will be on hand.
While James Cagney and his employers continue to stand adamantly on their respective sides of the salary question, Mr. Cagney’s latest picture, “Winner Takes All,” is awaiting a New York showing, probably at the Winter Garden. The ex-public enemy is a professional fighter in the new film. Marian Nixon, Dickie Moore, Guy Kibbee and Alan Mowbray are in the cast of “Winner Takes All.”
The title for the new Jackie Cooper-Chic Sale film which began as “Limpy,” and was converted last week into “When a Feller Needs a Friend,” has undergone a second operation. Now it is “Limpy Makes Good.” This will probably be the final, as the picture is just around the corner from the Capitol and likely to set up shop in that theater very shortly.
Sally Eilers is back in California after a two weeks’ vacation in this fair city. Her next picture will get under way at once, with James Dunn once more teamed with Miss Eilers.
Among other things, the young woman returned with some early-morning snapshots of the local skyline photographed from her hotel windows and a fresh picture of the theatrical district which she obtained first hand by the simple process of walking up and down Broadway. This incidentally was combining business with pleasure, as her new film will be intimately related to the Broadway scene.
“New York Town,” Ward Morehouse’s unproduced play, has been completed in film form at the Warner studios. Joan Blondell is the star, with Eric Linden, Inez Courtney, Evalyn Knapp and Guy Kibbee in the supporting cast. Mr. Morehouse was on hand during the production to take care of the Manhattan atmosphere. Mervyn LeRoy, the director, will sail shortly for his first look at Europe after a busy season on the Warner sets.
“Brief Moment” is preparing to make its introduction to motion pictures without the assistance of Alexander Woollcott, who was in its New York stage engagement. This is the S. N. Behrman comedy about a night club queen who loses her heart to an idealistic young Manhattanite of conservative pedigree. The script is being mapped out at the moment, while Columbia executives are searching for a suitable cast.
Edmund Lowe and Constance Cummings are ready to lead a production before the Columbia cameras. The name of the film is “Attorney for the Defense,” formerly identified as “Criminal Court.”
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
May 1, 1932
Production has been started at the Paramount shop on Maurice Chevalier’s next film, “Love Me Tonight,” a musical romance, with lyrics and music by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart.
The screen play represents a collaboration by Samuel Hoffenstein, Waldemar Young and George Marion, Jr. from the original Continental play by Leopold Marchand and Paul Armont.
Supporting M. Chevalier are Jeanette MacDonald, Charles Ruggles, Charles E. Butterworth, Myrna Loy, C. Aubrey Smith, Elizabeth Patterson and Blanche Frederici. Rouben Mamoulian is in charge of the film.
Isabel Jewell has arrived in Hollywood to play in the approaching screen version of “Blessed Event.” She is the third member of the Broadway cast to be summoned to duplicate their original parts in front of the talking cameras.
Milton Wallace and Allen Jenkins preceded her by two weeks. Lee Tracy, who will play the lead in this comedy of a tabloid columnist, has signed a new contract with the Warners and seems likely to continue in pictures for some time.
Larry Baretto, author of “Children of Pleasure,” is now on the Coast collaborating with Courtenay Terrett on the screen adaptation of his book. This script will soon enter production, under the same title, as Ruth Chatterton’s second film for First National.
In addition to Miss Chatterton, George Brent and Paul Cavanaugh have already been announced for the cast.
Frances Dee, one of Paramount’s comely young women, has signed a new contract with the company. Her next appearance will be with Wynne Gibson and Pat O’Brien in ”The Strange Case of Clara Deane,” which is awaiting release.
Miss Dee is preparing to begin work with Stuart Erwin in “Merton of the Talkies,” an up-to-date microphonic version of Harry Leon Wilson’s romance of Hollywood. This will probably be one of the Summer releases.
Norma Shearer’s next enterprise will be “Smilin’ Through,” an up-to-date version of Allan Langdon Martin’s stage piece. The film will go into production at the MGM studios as soon as Miss Shearer completes work in “Strange Interlude.” Sidney Franklin, who supervised Miss Shearer in “Private Lives” last Winter, will make “Smilin’ Through.”
Two directors will guide the destinies of “Forgotten Commandment,” Paramount’s drama of modern Russia, in which Irving Pichel, Gene Raymond and Sari Maritza will appear.
Louis Gasnier, one of the pioneer directors of the films, and William W. Schorr, Russian stage director, will divide the supervision of the new picture.
Episodes from Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” are to be incorporated in “Forgotten Commandments,” which is from a story by James B. Fagan and Agnes Brand Leahy.
Ralph Graves is the latest of the screen players to take up writing and directing as a sideline. Under his new contract with MGM he will distribute his talents in three directions. For this company Mr. Graves has already completed roles in “Huddle,” with Ramon Novarro, and in Jackie Cooper’s new film, as yet un-titled.
Bing Crosby, who has taken his croon to the Paramount lot for a series of features, will probably get started on his first full-length picture in the next fortnight. In these anxious times, the company intends to make as few commercial mistakes as possible with their pet songbird.
Milton Feld, of the releasing organization has been assigned to bring the theater point of view to the Crosby set. The plan now is to feature Mr. Crosby in five pictures over a period of three years.
“Merrily We Go to Hell” is the frisky title for the Paramount version of “Jerry and Joan,” the college prize novel which originally went under the title of “I, Jerry, Take Thee, Joan.” Fredric March and Sylvia Sidney will be the principal personages in the story, and Florence Britton, who was a co-ed at the University of California not so long ago, has also been enrolled in the cast.
The “Scarface” situation is still bristling. Howard Hughes, militant producer of the gangster picture, believes that an organized conspiracy is on foot to keep the film out of those states with censor boards. He announced from his Hollywood mélange last week that his attorneys will fight the censors in the courts, and added that he has invited Clarence Darrow, Samuel Untermeyer, Garfield Hays and Morris L. Ernst to help in the battle for motion-picture liberty.
The young producer is now exhibiting his film in some of the States that are without censorship boards. The Ohio board broke the ice a fortnight ago by passing “Scarface,” but the remaining groups, led by the New York and Pennsylvania bodies, continue to frown on some of the more spectacular phases of the film.
Mr. Hughes issued a statement on the situation last week which read in part:
“It becomes a serious threat to the freedom of honest expression in America when self-styled guardians of the public welfare, as personified by our film censor boards, lend their aid and influence to the abortive efforts of selfish and vicious interests to suppress a motion picture simply because it depicts the truths about conditions in the United States which have been front-page news since the advent of prohibition.
“In order to obtain justice in the case of ‘Scarface’ I intend to file suit immediately in the New York State courts to restrain the New York censors from further interference with the exhibition of the picture in its original version. Similar action will be taken in other States and cities if necessary.”
Paramount will take advantage of the Olympic Games festivities to make a comedy with the international contests for a background. Jack Oakie will be the leading fun-maker and W. C. Fields, who hasn’t been on a motion picture set since he appeared with Marilyn Miller last year in “Her Majesty, Love,” was engaged last week to help matters along.
This production is still in the tentative stage, with not even a working title to guide it.
When he has completed “Revolt,” Mary C. McCall’s story of the Russian Revolution, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. will be featured in a film to be titled “Some Call It Love.”
Rian James is writing the story. Mr. James has already supplied the younger Fairbanks with one picture, “Love Is a Racket,” which is to be released shortly. “Some Call It Love” is about an aviator and a parachute jumper and will probably go into production in June.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Drive For Recruits Is Pressed
Producers Also Move to Train Newcomers for Stellar Honors
By Chester B. Bahn
May 1, 1932
Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea – that is to say, between the Dickstein bill which would ban further importation of other than exceptional foreign players, and demands by established stars for increased salaries and the right to dictate vehicles – Hollywood’s major studios today are engaged in an unprecedented talent recruiting drive.
Coupled with it, and perhaps of even greater importance, is the almost universal decision by producers to train the more promising of the newcomers for future stardom.
A telegraphic survey by The Herald resulted in the disclosure that there are no less than 63 actors and actresses regarded by the six major film companies as star material. Here they are:
Virginia Bruce, Mary Carlisle, Madge Evans, Nora Gregor, Joan Marsh, Karen Morley, Maureen O’Sullivan, Margaret Perry, Robert Young, William Bakewell and Kane Richmond.
Carole Lombard, Sylvia Sidney, Miriam Hopkins, Sari Maritza, Fredric March, Randolph Scott, Adrienne Ames, Frances Dee, Claire Dodd, Kent Taylor, Cary Grant and Florine McKinney.
Warner Baxter, Sally Eilers, Peggy Shannon, Marion Nixon, Elissa Landi, Joan Bennett, Charles Farrell, John Boles, George O’Brien, James Dunn, Ralph Bellamy and Spencer Tracy.
Andy Devine, June Clyde, Russell Hopton, Tom Brown, Arletta Duncan, Gloria Stuart, William Daly, Onslow Stevens, Diane Duval and Margaret Lindsay.
WARNERS – FIRST NATIONAL
Joan Blondell, George Brent, Loretta Young, Warren William, Betty Gillette, Gloria Shea, and Sheila Terry.
Ricardo Cortez, Irene Dunne, Eric Linden, Joel McCrea, Jill Esmond, Laurence Olivier, Arline Judge, Gregory Ratoff, Bruce Cabot, Gwili Andre and Phyllis Clair.
Of course, many of those whose names are accorded the dignity of stellar candidates are familiar to fandom; the Fox list especially runs to well-known players, while the others all include some actors and actresses who have made distinct progress during the last year.
Universal has the largest percentage of so-called “unknowns,” with Paramount probably rating second in this respect. These two studios, incidentally, are leaders in the present movement to develop stars, not merely by means of ballyhoo, but through the medium of careful schooling.
The concept of a “stardom school,” to be sure, is not exactly new. Paramount in the comparatively long ago conducted an “academy” for beginners; it lasted a single “semester” and its graduation class had Charles “Buddy” Rogers as valedictorian.
A year or so ago, Warners adopted the plan, but with some changes, and appointed George Jenner, I believe, as coach. Fox, too, took a fling at it in a more modest way, assigning Minna Gombel to “polish” some of its younger “rough diamonds.”
Radio, while not exactly conducting a school, does have a new course of sprouts for worthy candidates as a preliminary to camera tests. Albert Lovejoy, dramatic coach, gives the youngsters intensive training in diction, reading, and poise. Ern Westmore, head of the make-up department, studies their facial contours to arrive at the best make-up possible, then Lynn Shores, director, and head of the new talent department, takes them in hand for instructive dramatic training.
Universal’s present idea is a “junior stock company” rather than a school, whereas Paramount prefers the latter format, but it will differ widely from the original model. Experienced players rather than verdant newcomers will receive a “P.G.” course, as ‘twere, under “Prof.” Stuart Walker, stage and screen director. His assignment is to see that they earn diplomas as full-fledged stars.
Not all of Paramount’s potential luminaries will receive individual coaching from Walker; Carole Lombard, Sylvia Sidney, Miriam Hopkins and Fredric March are considered beyond the need of such tutoring. This leaves Walker with the Misses Ames, Dee, Dodd, McKinney and Maritza and the Messrs. Scott, Taylor and Grant.
“I haven’t yet worked out a definite plan as to just how I will handle these youngsters,” Walker writes. “In fact, judging from past experience, there isn’t any definite plan that would prove suitable. Each individual requires training of a special nature. I intend to give each one such coaching as I believe will be the most beneficial.
“Of course, all will continue their work in pictures. Occasionally I may be able to help them develop their characterizations. And whenever any of them have sufficient time between pictures I will attempt to secure suitable roles for them in Los Angeles stage plays.”
Failure to develop adequate stellar material has been a fundamental weakness of the Fourth Industry in the past. Ballyhoo rather than painstaking training has been depended upon to establish players as outstanding “names;” there are notable exceptions, of course, but that statement generally holds true, I believe.
For that matter, the selection of stellar candidates itself has been haphazard; directorial “hunches,” likes and dislikes frequently have been ruling factors in determining players’ fates. Establishment of cinematic/astronomical observatories on every “lot,” large and small, really deserves serious consideration in home offices.
Of the M-G-M stellar candidates, six are essentially newcomers. Virginia Bruce is the lovely blonde whose beauty first attracted the expert eye of Florenz Ziegfeld, the producer of the Ziegfeld Follies.
After a time glorifying the American girl on the stage, Miss Bruce went to Hollywood where her success has been as consistent and steady as it was in front of the footlights. She was loaned to Paramount for “Sky Bride.”
Mary Carlisle, one of the youngest players in the ingénue class, brings a new type of charm to the screen. She fairly bubbles with youth and animation, being a dancer of fine talent in spite of her extreme youth. Miss Carlisle, who comes from Boston, has been loaned out lately for short subjects but has found time enough to appear in bits in some recent productions, among them, “Grand Hotel,” in which even Garbo commented on her youthful charm.
Nora Gregor, who came to America originally to play in foreign versions but wound up, finally, as leading lady to Robert Montgomery in “- But the Flesh is Weak,” is one of the few foreign players now at the Culver City studio. Miss Gregor is Viennese with brown eyes and blonde hair, an unusual type of beauty.
One of the most surprising things about that outstanding picture, “The Sin of Madelon Claudet,” was the fine acting of Robert Young in the part of the doctor. Overnight people were talking about him and if he keeps up with the splendid performances he gave in “The Wet Parade” and “New Morals for Old,” he certainly is on the road to stardom.
In Ramon Novarro’s latest picture, “Huddle,” a story of the gridiron, Kane Richmond makes his debut to the screen. He is tall, dark and handsome in a rugged fashion and a football picture is believed to be ideally suited to his talents.
Margaret Perry played the same role on stage that she does on the screen in “New Morals for Old,” the picture from the play, “After All.” So fine was her acting in the play that she was immediately drafted to Hollywood. You’ll see her in Radio’s “The Most Dangerous Game; that studio’s borrowing her from M-G-M.
I shall tell you something about the other newcomers among the 63 another Sunday.
BRENT, NEW FILM “FIND,” SEEN IN STANWYCK TALKIE
Actor’s Early Screen Tests Failed to Attract Attention
Out at Burbank, Calif., not so long ago, they took a test of one George Brent, Irish, young, tall and handsome. Ruth Chatterton, newly a Warner star, viewed the test film, was amazed, gasped the Chattertonian equivalent of “Where has that actor been all my screen life?” and waved her stellar wand.
And Brent becomes her leading man in “The Rich Are Always With Us” – but only after he did similar honors opposite Barbara Stanwyck in the current “So Big.” Now there’s an auspicious beginning for a new leading man in pictures. Playing opposite two such stars as Barbara Stanwyck and Ruth Chatterton almost guarantees attention from fans.
But this same George Brent, a year or so ago, was at Fox, an inconspicuous contract player, brought from the stage for a trial. If he did any camera work it was too little for general notice. He was soon released.
Several months ago he was at Universal. He had the brief part of the police chief’s son in “The Homicide Squad” – a character murdered in the first reel. Another lapse of time, another test at another studio, and presto! George Brent is “a new sensation.”
Brent’s case is typical of many that emphasize how frequently the process known as the screen test fails to reveal what the talent seekers crave even when it is there. Greta Granstedt, the little “May Jones” of “Street Scene,” knocked around Hollywood as a bit-player and extra, little more, for two or three years before this part brought her conspicuously to the fore.
Frances Dee, the extra, had had an unsuccessful screen test before a second started her career auspiciously. Clark Gable had tests, too, during his extra days and was told to quit trying. Elda Vokel had a bit in “The Vagabond King,” but it took a test at Fox to win her a contract and new opportunities. But Sylvia Sidney actually played a part there without result, and left Hollywood – permanently, the thought.
Barbara Stanwyck failed at one studio before being “rediscovered.” And Greta Garbo was poorly regarded, even laughed at, at M-G-M for months before it was startlingly apparent that this “little Swede” was going to mean a flood of gold for them.
Yes, there are tests, and there are tests – and no wonder players are superstitious.
YOU ASKED IF –
The Herald Dramatic Editor Answers the Questions of Curious Fans
Vera Axtman – Johnny Weissmuller is married; his wife is Bobbe Arnst, dancer.
Harry Thomas – June Knight was born Rose Vallihette
James R. Martin – Phillips Holmes’ middle initial is “R.”
Western Fan – George O’Brien was born in San Francisco, Cal., during the month of April, 1900. He is 6 feet ½ tall.
H. K. B., Liverpool – Tom Brown, who will be seen in “Tom Brown of Culver,” has been an actor since he was 2 years old. He is the son of professionals.
Maryann – Joel McCrea was born in Los Angeles, Nov. 5, 1905
Inquisitive – Ricardo Cortez was born in Vienna. He is 6 feet 1 inch tall; has black hair and brown eyes; weighs 175 pounds. His hobbies are beach and gymnasium sports, horseback riding and polo. Mr. Cortez began his career as a contract player with Paramount.
Dora Peterson – Leon Janney was born in Ogden, Utah.
SPEAKING VERY CANDIDLY---
By Chester B. Bahn
May 1 –
You safely may add a Russian story cycle to those enumerated in the Herald a few Sundays ago.
Paramount, with “The World and the Flesh” completed, during the week announced a successor in “Forgotten Commandments.” The former, as you know, serves George Bancroft as a starring picture; Miriam Hopkins is the feminine lead. The latter will introduce Sari Maritza to American talkies; Irving Pichel and Gene Raymond will have the principal male roles.
M-G-M, already having spent $100,000 upon the preparation of an untitled Soviet story, will start production within two months, George Hill directing. Wallace Beery and Clark Gable are slated to team, with the feminine lead yet to be chosen. The frequently revised script is now being completed by Boris Ingster and John Monk Saunders.
United Artists will picturize “Way of a Lancer,” starring Ronald Colman. Opposite him will be Anna Sten, Russian star. It is a vivid story of a Polish cavalry regiment that fought for Russia in the World War.
Universal has two stories with a Russian background – “Moscow,” by Elynore Dolkart, and “The Red Terror” by Allen Rivkin and P. J. Wolfson.
Fox has “Red Dancer,” but reports in this case conflict. One affirms it is to be a talkie version of the silent film of that title; the other says that it will be an adaptation of a German play by Victor Keleman.
If Broadway and Main Street are a million or so miles apart in their amusement tastes, as leaders of the Fourth Industry affirm, why are quotations from the New York critics stressed in trade journal advertisements designed to “sell” to hinterland exhibitors?
If you have been moved to the verge of tears as you contemplated the cinematic exile of Colleen Moore, Norma Talmadge and Clara Bow, it may interest you to know that the young women are not exactly candidates for the bread line.
I base that on their pick-and-choose attitude, as expressed when film contracts are tendered.
Miss Moore, who retired from the screen at the expiration of her $12,500 per week First National contract three years ago, is cold to a reported offer by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to substitute her for Jean Harlow in “The Red Headed Woman,” and this despite the fact Chester Morris will be the male lead.
Miss Talmadge, who faded as a United Artists star in 1930, is not adverse to another screen try via an independent studio, but insists that she rule the production with an iron hand; even to re-takes. The studio has conceded supervisory rights on a story, director, cast and cameraman.
Miss Bow, who departed from Paramount studio after a spectacular career, refused to consider “The Red Headed Woman” as a Metro vehicle, and she has been deaf to several other offers. She may sign with Fox, but is said to be insistent that the studio also hand her husband, Rex Bell, a contract.
There is, it seems to me, at least a chuckle in the fact that the picture chosen by Warner Brothers to replace “The Mouthpiece” last week was another with a hero obviously derived from real life.
Presentation last week of “It’s Tough to be Famous,” starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., serves to direct attention to anew to Hollywood’s growing practice of blending newsreel footage with the studio variety. Obviously, the welcome parade shots, highly important to the story, were gleaned from the newsreel libraries.
There can be, of course, no objection to that. Re-staging such scenes for a picture would be exceedingly difficult, if not wholly impossible, and the cost would be almost prohibitive.
If expertly done, I favor this fusion of real and synthetic drama; it seems to me that there is a neat gain in authenticity.
Incidentally, if Hollywood gossip can really be relied upon, Douglas Faribanks Sr. in much the same fashion will introduce Guatemalan footage in his South Seas picture. There is more than a suspicion, too that he was not above embroidering his “Around the World in 80 Minutes” with library footage.
Use of stock scenes, for that matter, is as old as the Fourth Industry itself. In the past, however, the practice has been more or less restricted to the smaller studios.