Thursday, May 20, 2010
Garbo, Two Barrymores, Crawford, Beery, Stone and Hersholt Seen
No One Dominates
By Maurice Kahn
New York, Apri 23
Garbo, who stands in a class distinctively her own. She gave show business “Mata Hari,” “The Fall and Rise of Susan Lenox,” “Romance” and “Anna Christie.” And before them a long list of superior silent pictures.
Lionel Barrymore. You must remember “A Free Soul,” “Mata Hari,” “Guity Hands” and “Arsene Lupin.”
His brother, John. Long a Warner stellar light. “Moby Dick,” “Svengali,” “The Mad Genius.” Currently co-starring with Lionel in “Arsene Lupin.”
Joan Crawford, improving as a dramatic actress with each succeeding picture. Competent star of “Possessed,” “This Modern Age,” Laughing Sinners,” not to forget the forerunner of the modern day sex-laden, money-laden picture, “Our Dancing Daughters.”
Wallace Beery who did “Hell Divers,” “The Champ,” “Min and Bill,” “The Secret Six” and “The Big House,”
Lewis Stone and Jean Hersholt, distinguished performers in any roles they may essay.
You get them all in “Grand Hotel.” A gilt-edged, platinum-lined array of starring talent such as never before has been assembled for any single picture. A cast you would expect to deliver the caliber of performance such as the established reputation of its members would indicate – and does.
What happens takes place in a trifle over 24 hours.
There is Otto Kringelein, lowly bookkeeper, wage slave, oppressed workman. A bad heart tells him he hasn’t long to live. So to Berlin and the Grand Hotel he comes with savings in his coat pocket, ready to make up for his life’s deprivations in one grand whirl. That’s Lionel Barrymore.
You’ll find The Baron, gentleman and knave, who lives by his wits, but, at that, far more the gentleman than knave, That’s John Barrymore.
Flaemmchen, the stenographer. Pretty, inherently honest, beset by troubles, struggling to make a living and willing, because she finds there appears no other way, to sell herself along with her secretarial talents. Joan Crawford.
Director General Preysing. Prussian to his fingertips. Domineering, bludgeoning, brutal, perspective swollen by the power of money and industrial might. Wallace Beery.
Grusinskaya, the dancer. Theatrical, temperamental, feminine, and vacillating, but stripped of surface shame, a real woman. Greta Garbo.
Fate and Grand Hotel throw them together. Kringelein, pathetic figure seeking enjoyment, buys the best that the hotel can afford. He’s having the time of his life. The Baron, hard pressed by his debts, is angling to steal Grusinskaya’s pearls. The dancer, herself unhappy, is ready to call it a day. Preysing, facing bankruptcy, lying his way through a business merger. Flaemmchen, accepting the Baron’s advances as part of a day’s routine. In the background, the routine of a big hotel, indifferent, unknowing, and caring even less.
The Baron, the dancer’s pearls in his pocket, finds escape from her room cut off. His predicament means saving her from suicide. Mutually attracted to each other, The Baron spends the night there. By morning, both discover love; the real thing for the first time. Ready to go to Vienna the following morning, he spends the day frantically endeavoring to raise the money that will clear his debts. Gambling fails; an effort to steal Kringelein’s pocketbook ends when he discovers that those 14,000 marks mean life to the man who is about to die anyway.
That night, The Baron attempts to rob Preysing, is discovered and is beaten to death by the industrialist’s telephone as Flaemmchen, in the next room, is preparing to spend the night as Preysing’s guest. That disposes of The Baron and Preysing throws Kringelein and Flaemmchen together in a touching scene which is one of the dramatic highlights of the picture, and sends Grusinskaya, her happiness short-lived, on her way to Vienna expecting to meet her lover on the train which he never makes. Lewis Stone, war-mutilated doctor, morose and bitter, bemoans the fate that makes life in Grand Hotel so uneventful, and Jean Hersholt, the head porter, has his own crisis solved in the birth of his wife’s baby.
Morning brings new guests, new interests and another day to Grand Hotel and the end of the picture.
You would imagine that with such an array of talent one personality would dominate, but this is not so. It is difficult to rate one performance above the other, since all of them are executed with an artistry, a finish and an etching in values that come along far too infrequently.
Garbo’s depiction of her unhappiness, her love for John Barrymore, and that one short scene where the mere mention of his name over the telephone lays bare all of her thoughts are magnificently done. Then, too, that scene toward the finish when Kringelein offers protection to Flaemmchen and the latter by her companionship to him with the realization that he is a doomed man is genuinely true drama.
And yet, despite all of its many qualities, Grand Hotel left us far from being enthralled that we were prepared to be. It seemed to us that what happened to the principal actors in this rapidly-shifting drama was too impersonal, too much snowed under the magnitude and general indifference of Grand Hotel and its constantly changing interests to make the story sustainingly warm and human throughout.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Spring Finds Cinema Players Pugnacious
By Chester B. Bahn
April 24, 1932
Hollywood’s way being more or less topsy-turvy, it is not altogether surprising that spring’s advent instead of inspiring thoughts of love, causes certain ladies and gentlemen of the Cinema to turn pugnacious.
On the Warner “lot,” the quarrelsome mood threatens to become epidemic. Thus far, it has claimed James Cagney, Joan Blondell and Marian Marsh, all of whom are in salary rebellion.
Mr. Cagney, who not so long ago started at $350 a week, considers that his present salary of $1,400 is inadequate, and wants at least $3,000 pronto. Miss Blondell, receiving $500 a week, is reportedly sulking because her demand for $1,500 has been rejected by hard-hearted studio chiefs. Miss Marsh, now paid $400 weekly, values her services at much more than that.
It is exceedingly doubtful if the studio will meet the demands. Mr. Cagney has already been withdrawn from “Blessed Event” and Jack Oakie substituted. Similar disciplinary action impends for the Misses Blondell and Marsh.
On the First National “lot,” also Warner-controlled, you will remember, Barbara Stanwyck and director William Wellman have been locking horns over certain phases of “Mud Lark.” It is understood that megaphonist bowed to star in this instance.
In the Paramount studio, there are two controversies in progress. Marlene Dietrich and her favorite director, Josef von Sternberg, are at odds with executives over the choice of a story for the German star’s use. Josef and Marlene concocted “Blond Venus,” and the original synopsis, following approval by the studio, was turned over to scenarists for adaptation. The first screen treatment was rejected by B. F. Schulberg, in charge of production, and the second met a similar fate at the hands of star and director. Being head man, however, Mr. Schulberg has advised Marlene and Josef that work starts tomorrow or weekly paychecks stop. While it may be none of my business, I believe it would be best for all concerned, including Paramount, if Marlene and Josef were caused to go their separate ways.
Gary Cooper and company officials cannot agree over terms of a new contract to succeed the one expiring May 14. Gary wants to restrict his labors to four talkies annually; officials, frankly resenting Cooper’s unceremonious departure for Europe and Africa seven months ago, and his prolonged absence, say he is not a four-picture star. And so do not be surprised if Gary’s alliance with Columbia is announced later.
At Culver City, the combatants have included the M-G-M officials and Madge Evans. The actress has not fancied new terms offered by the studio, but there are hints that an adjustment is in the making.
Al Jolson, who shortly is to go to work for United Artists, will not receive a single penny for his artistic labors.
He, you see, already has been paid in full.
When Al signed that famed paper bag contract with Joseph Schenck some three years ago, the black-face comedian immediately began to draw $31,500 weekly against the stated $500,000 guarantee for his first picture; the pact, incidentally, called for the same sum for three others, and also provided that the star share in the net profits on a 50-50 basis.
Weeks sped along, and the $31,500 payments to Al continued despite the fact that the picture was postponed from time to time. Finally, after he had received $850,000 in cash, the drawing account was suspended.
The agreement, however, was not nullified, and its terms will govern Al’s relations with United Artists. Whether, under the circumstances, Mr. Schenck will recover the $350,000 above the $500,000 to which Mr. Jolson is entitled through the medium of profits is dubious.
A half million charged against a single picture as the star’s salary is more of a liability than an asset in these depression days.
New York gentlemen associated with the Rialto are advised, in a most friendly spirit, that the surest way to destroy civic good will and invite drastic censorship is to permit nauseous “dirt” to pass for comedy on the stage and suggestiveness to rule in cinema advertising.
Circuits catering to family patronage owe it to their clientele to see that the canons of good taste are not willfully violated by vaudevillians, whether they be headliners or No. 2 spot acts. Turns that attempt to transform theaters into houses of smut have no place on a program designed for juvenile consumption.
By the same token, it behooves those charged with the preparation of advertising campaigns for cinemas to understand that metropolitan tabloids have one standard, local newspapers another.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Critic Finds Strong Press Agent Odor Clings to Filmdom’s Varied Reports
Dietrich, Landi and Bankhead Ready to Contend for Her Throne
By Chester B. Bahn
April 24, 1932
Greta Garbo will –
Sail for a visit to her native Sweden upon the expiration of her contract, returning later to Hollywood.
Not renew her Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer pact unless the studio pays her $15,000 a week salary.
Retire permanently from the screen, and marry Wilhelm Sorenson, Stockholm society man, in Berlin this summer.
Finance her own Swedish producing company, investing in the enterprise a sizable slice of her reported private fortune of $4,000,000.
Return to Sweden in an attempt to salvage thousands of good, American dollars paid over the for so-called Kreuger securities.
Quit M-G-M to ally with M. C. “Mike” Levee’s newly formed Screen Guild.
Take advantage of the six months’ extension of her immigration permit, and remain in the United States until Jan. 1 next.
Forswear her allegiance to the King of Sweden and become a naturalized American citizen.
Be disclosed eventually as having withdrawn from the screen prior to the production of “Mata Hari,” her place being taken by one Jeraldine Dvorak.
Be found interred under her real name, Greta Gustafsson, in an obscure cemetery; this fantastic story, by the way, is a favorite with Continental editors, who insist a double has been substituted for the star.
All of which, humming over the telegraph wires that connect Hollywood with Syracuse, convinces me that –
First, La Garbo has in Br’r Harry Eddington one of the shrewdest managerial exploiters in the Fourth Industry, and
Secondly, that M-G-M contemplates a financial clean-up via “Grand Hotel” and “As You Desire Me.”
I may be wrong – it has happened, that’s admitted – but I have a well-defined hunch that Mr. Eddington’s favorite actress has no intention of permanently withdrawing from either Hollywood or the dear old U. S. A.
Whether inspired directly by her business manager or the suave Howard Dietz, or the fast-thinking Pete Smith, the latter two gentlemen in charge of M-G-M’s publicity, the fact remains that there is a noticeable press agent odor to the reams of “Garbo’s quitting – no, she isn’t” copy flooding cinema editor’s desks these late April days.
Of course, to obtain the desired results, it was scarcely necessary for Br’r Eddington to whisper confidentially to Dan Thomas, Luella O. Parsons, Robbin Coons and others with news service wires at their disposal. He merely had to follow his time-tested policy of saying nothing, and let the guesses fall where they may.
Indeed, I suspect that actually is what has happened; Br’r Eddington remained silent, and La Garbo continued (and continues) inscrutable.
Did it ever occur to you that there is a parallel of sorts between the sensational success of Garbo and the dismal failure of prohibition?
In Greta’s instance, Eddington’s refusal to “humanize” his star whetted fandom’s box office appetite; the “you can’t” of the 18th Amendment was equally potent , as your favorite bootleg cheerfully will testify, if asked.
I digress, however, we were considering the “I-tank-I-go-home” star’s future course, not prohibition. There are four major reasons why I am suspicious of the report that she is through with Hollywood.
1. Greta is at what one writer has termed “the very zenith of her career;” pride in that career and in her art cannot be other than a powerful factor in influencing her to carry on. I do not think Miss Garbo is a quitter.
2. A prolonged absence from the sound-screen would be dangerous, if not fatal; it has beeen repeated – and painfully – demonstrated, that fandom is short of memory.
3. The exercises to which the writers of “Garbo’s leaving” stories have gone. Ignoring the fact that “Grand Hotel” is set for showings in principal cities, one story, published recently, read:
“The company has prepared two versions of “Grand Hotel,” it’s all star copy of the stage play by Vicki Baum. In one Joan Crawford is said to have romped away with all the honors. In the other more footage was centered on the great Garbo.
“If Garbo signs that new contract, all well and good. But if she doesn’t – not so well and not so good, for Greta. Metro may decide to let loose the first version and permit Joan to steal the whole show.”
4. Failure of the studio to deny the flat statement, printed in the Detroit Free Press a week ago today, that “Greta Garbo has applied for citizenship papers.”
The reported salary controversy between M-G-M and its ruling queen is an intriguing subject in itself. You read that the studio, pleading poverty and inaugurating salary cuts, insists that it cannot pay Greta more than $10,000 a week, which figure would supposedly represent a $3000 or $4000 advance. Greta, however, presumably thinks $14,000 or $15,000 weekly would be about right.
If the star is as potent a box office factor as M-G-M has led the Fourth Industry to believe in the past, paying her $15,000 would be a fair gamble if not a gilt-edged investment. I suggest the former alternative because popularity is still a perishable quantity.
Witness, if you please, the sensational toboggan slide of another one of M-G-M’s prize packages, Jack Gilbert, who if I recall correctly, was under Br’r Eddington’s management at the time his $10,000 a week contract was negotiated. That was prior to the birth of the talkies.
Other studios flirted with Jack, United Artists particularly, and M-G-M raised the ante to something like $500,000 a year. Then came “His Glorious Night,” his talkie debut, which was anything but glorious for Jack, and still worse for his employers.
Since October, 1929, when the picture was released, M-G-M has paid Gilbert approximately $1,250,000, and if you think that investment has netted anything but grief for the studio you had best consult an alienist pronto.
Garbo, of course, successfully passed the exciting “mike” test, and seemingly there is no stumbling block in her cinematic path. But who thought, back in 1929, that Gilbert, a veteran of dramatic stock, would not qualify for the sound-screen because of his voice?
The supremacy that Greta enjoys in her studio is as absolute as her screen, or box office reign. Norma Shearer to a lesser degree has matters much her own way at M-G-M; being the wife of Irving Thalberg, this is not surprising. Marie Dressler might make it a threesome if she so desired, which she does not.
Garbo counterparts on other “lots” number: Marlene Dietrich, Sylvia Sidney and Tallulah Bankhead at Paramount, Ruth Chatterton and Barbara Stanwyck at Warners, Ann Harding and Constance Bennett at Radio, and Janet Gaynor and Elissa Landi at Fox.
They are studio queens who, by their employers’ tacit admission, can do no wrong; their whims beomce laws. Sometimes their regal path is paved with the heartaches of other players. An example: Sally Eilers was scheduled to play in “The First Year.” Janet Gaynor considered the Frank Craven comedy a suitable vehicle for herself. So Sally lost it, and now is trying to forget in the wilds of Manhattan. That’s that.
Hollywood being Hollywood, it, of course, is speculating upon Garbo’s successor, should she pull up stakes and seek a clime where there is more rain. The leading nominees to date are three: Marlene Dietrich, German star; Elissa Landi, English actress, and Tallulah Bankhead, from down Alabam’ way.
Introduced as a Garbo replica by Paramount, Miss Dietrich physically is far more alluring; she noticeably has shapely legs which the Swedish star has not. Neither, of course, urgently needs them as artistic props; on the other hand, Marlene has not found hers exactly a handicap in the talkies.
Her studio has insisted that Miss Dietrich adhere closely to formula in her American pictures, and not until she is given a different type of story and perhaps a director other than Joseph Von Sternberg will it be possible to really pass upon her claim to the Garbo throne.
Miss Bankhead has been treated even worse than Marlene in the matter of screen vehicles; one trashy plot has followed another. Given the same scope that she enjoyed on the London stage, and Tallulah would be very much in the running.
As for Miss Landi, she too obviously has been handicapped by vehicles allotted her by Fox. Nevertheless there have been scenes which have revealed her dramatic talent.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
By Harrison Carroll
Hollywood, Cal., April 23, 1932
Now it comes out why R-K-O wouldn’t hear of Irene Dunne signing up with Mr. Ziegfeld.
She is to play the lead in “Nurse Smith,” a screen original by one of Hollywood’s veteran scenarists, Carey Wilson. Around the studio they are particularly keen on the story, which is about the pretty assistant of a fashionable baby doctor.
There’s a romance with a married man (his wife’s an unpleasant person, of course,) a renunciation episode and, to top it off, the happy ending so much desired by screen fans.
In all probability, “Nurse Smith” will go into production as soon as the star finishes her Universal engagement in “Back Streets.” At most, she will be given a short vacation.
Al Cohn loves to recall the squelch that Big Boy Williams gave to Spencer Tracy.
Spencer was showing off the stills from the new Flagg and Quirt picture in which he and Ralph Bellamy snarl at each other.
Big Boy considered them calmly.
“Skippy and Sooky, huh?” he flipped.
HERE’S LOWDOWN GOSSIP
A person who might know tells me that Greta Garbo wants to produce two pictures on her own, one of them “Salome.”
Remember the Nazimova version? It cost her thousands and she never got them back.
The Marx Brothers’ picture will take a six-week layoff due to Chico’s fractured knee-cap. There remains about two weeks’ work on the film, but this includes a rough-and-tumble football game. During the layoff, director Norman McLeod and his wife will go east. They may take a quick trip to Europe.
Ran across Bebe Daniels lunching with Ben Lyon at Fox. Bebe is now reading the sixth script submitted her by Warners. Chances are she’ll turn it down. In this event Warners have the right to pick any story they want. Bebe has only one more picture there. She and Ben may still appear on the coast in “There’s Always Juliet.”
George O’Brien, Cecilia Parker, director Dave Howard and the rest of “The Killer” troupe left for Arizona yesterday. They’ll live in a town perched on a hillside.
Joan Marsh has her blonde hair all fuzzed for her new picture.
Helen Twelvetrees’ mother, Mrs. William Jurgens, is out here from New York for a month’s visit.
Gwili Andre, R-K-O’s latest charmer and one of the prettiest girls to reach Hollywood in a long time, always lunches alone.
Martha Sleeper and Randolph Scott are making eyes at each other these days.
JOB FOR MARGUERITE
Marguerite Churchill has been in town only a few days, but she’s already landed a job. Paramount expects to sign her today to play the feminine lead in the new version of “The Ten Commandments.” This is the role that Sidney Fox was to have had if Universal hadn’t asked so much money for her.
There are several interesting features to this picture. Three reels of the original version – The Biblical sequence – will be retained in the talkie. They will contain no dialogue, of course, but sound effects will be added. The remaining reels will have a modern Russian background. Gene Raymond and Marguerite play the sympathetic leads. Sari Maritza is the vamp and Irving Pichel, Dwight Frye and Harry Beresford have character parts.
The picture will have two directors, Louis Glasnier and William H. Schorr.
Report has it that Paramount paid De Mille $50,000 for the right to use the Biblical sequence.
DID YOU KNOW
That Ann Harding made her stage debut as Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice”? The production was at a girls’ school.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
GRETA GARBO’S ENGAGEMENT REPORT MEETS WITH DENIAL
Hollywood, Cal., April 23 (UP)
Greta Garbo, Hollywood’s most mysterious figure, who came from her native Sweden to reach the heights as a film star and then lead a hermit-like existence, found herself projected today into two events that held the interest of the movie colony.
First was a denial of reports from Stockholm that she was to marry Wilhelm Soerensen, reputedly wealthy society man of that city.
Through her manager, Harry Eddington, Miss Garbo let it be known that she consideres Soerensen anything but a friend, much less a husband-to-be.
Soerensen was a visitor in Hollywood 18 months ago. Following his departure, an unauthorized life story of Miss Garbo by a woman writer was published. Studio officials said the actress traced its origin to Soerensen, and has never forgiven him.
“It is not only false, but absurd,” Eddington said in commenting on the reported engagement.
Then there was the reported refusal of the actress to sign a renewal of her contract with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. Her current picture, it was reported, will be her last. Her present agreement with the studio expires in June.
Acquaintances recently quoted Miss Garbo as saying: “I think I go back to Sweden.”
Miss Garbo is perhaps the industry’s biggest box office attraction. Yet she has intimated she considers Swedish farm life preferable to life in Hollywood.
Although she has no close friends in Hollywood, acquaintances say she is worth more than a million dollars.
GARBO’S REPORTED FIANCE IS A FRIEND OF PRINCE
Stockholm, Sweden, April 23 (AP)
Whether Greta Garbo is to marry Wilhelm Soerensen, son of a wealthy Swedish financier, this summer remains a mystery, the Svenska Dagbladet said today.
The Stockholm correspondent of the London Daily Mail said yesterday the famous movie star would wed Soerensen, a close friend of Prince Sigvard, second son of the Swedish crown prince, later this month.
The Dagbladet said Miss Garbo was going to Berlin in May to be present at the wedding of a young man prominent in Stockholm society.
Captain Soerensen, father of Wilhelm, said the report of his son’s impending marriage to Miss Garbo was “without doubt completely unfounded.” He said he talked with his son by telephone at Berlin yesterday and the latter said nothing about marriage.
THEY PICNIC ON HER LAWN
Hollywood, April 23
Reason why the actors endeavor to keep their addresses and telephone numbers a secret was manifest by Marlene Dietrich’s recent experiences.
As a sideline to the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, a local paper ran a story on the precautions being taken by colony members against any similar abduction of their children. Picture was run showing Miss Dietrich’s home, with windows barred, and the address was given.
Since then an average of sixty telegrams a day have been received by the star from salesmen and racketeers trying to interest her in every conceivable bargain or opportunity to make money.
More than this number called at the home with similar propositions while hundreds of others, mostly hinterlanders, have paid visits to the home to get a look at the player in person. Several times Dietrich’s lawn was cluttered with picnickers who brought along their lunches realizing their vigil might be a long one.
She is now looking for another house.
MARY NOLAN WILL RETURN TO STAGE
Hollywood, April 23 (AP)
Once a star of the New York musical comedy stage under the name of Imogene Wilson, Mary Nolan, who of late has had many differences with the law, is returning to the stage. She was reported today as having signed with Joe Tenner to appear in several productions as the Duffy theater in Portland, Ore. Her first probably will be “Rain,” the vehicle which brought Jeanne Eagles international fame.
The appearance of Miss Nolan on the stage depends on the result of her appeal from a conviction of violating the state labor law. She had operated a gown shop which went “broke,” wage claims having been filed by former employees. She is under sentence of 30 days in jail.
LISTEN TO THIS ABOUT GEO. RAFT
George Raft, whose dramatic talents were born in New York’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” but who possesses a cigarette lighter presented to him by the Prince of Wales for teaching his Royal Highness the latest dance steps, has just been placed under long-term contract by Paramount. The contract came as a result of his unusual performance as the menace of “Scarface” and of “Dancers in the Dark.”
A former boxer, ball player with the Eastern league and dancer at Rector’s, Churchill’s and in Ziegfeld productions, Raft went to Hollywood a year ago to play his first dramatic role in a motion picture. He had been urged to try the screen some years before by his good friend Rudolph Valentino, whom some say he resembles, but he refused to do so at that time.
Raft was born on Forty-first street, between Ninth and Tenth avenues, at the time one of the toughest districts in New York. His German grandfather introduced the merry-go-round to this country and later prospected for gold in the early days in California.
After trying various professions Raft became a dancer, then acted in several stock companies in the East, returning to New York City to dance with Elsie Pilcer in “City Chap,” “Gay Paree,” “Manhatters,” and Ziegfeld’s “Palm Beach Nights.” An European tour followed, during which he met the Prince of Wales and taught him to Charleston.
Raft was one of the first entertainers signed when the Publix theaters circuit was formed. Rowland Brown, film director, brought him West for a role in “Quick Millions.” Later he played in “Hush Money” and several other underworld stories.
M-G-M PAYS RADIO
Metro paid Radio to lay off one day on “State’s Attorney” so it could have John Barrymore back for a day’s retakes on “Grand Hotel.”
HOLLYWOOD HUNTS NEW FACES AND STARTS SCHOOL TO FIND FRESH CROP OF FILM HITS
By Dan Thomas
Hollywood, Cal., April 23
Make way for some new faces among the ranking stars of filmdom.
At least studio executives are beginning to give a little thought to other things than financial troubles. As the result, those financial troubles may diminish in importance.
What movie business has needed for some time and still needs is more constructive work in the actual preparation and production of pictures. And one of the most important factors in picture-making is the development of new talent, an element woefully neglected by studio heads during the last year or two.
The mahogany desk boys are beginning to realize that neglect now. And they are taking definitive steps toward the building of new stars. Leading in that movement is the Paramount studio, with Universal and several others following close behind.
Several years ago Paramount conducted a school for beginners at its Long Island studio. Out of that school came one real “find.” Buddy Rogers. He was “hot” while he lasted.
Today they are going about the development of new talent in a little different way. Stuart Walker, film and stage director, who is credited with having sent more stars to Broadway than any other stage director, has been given the official title of maker-of-stars. His job is to take the young Paramount players under his wing – coach them, fight for them, make them stars.
There are no real new-comers in this group. Each one has been before the cameras enough to feel at home. All are under long-term contracts and are rated as featured players. But all need an intensive course of training if they are to become stars. They are getting this training from Walker, not as a class but individually.
“I haven’t yet worked out a definite plan as to just how I will handle these youngsters,” Walker told me. “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 coaching as I believe will be 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 local stage plays.”
At present eight young players are working under Walker’s direction. They are Adrienne Ames, Frances Dee, Randolph Scott, Claire Dodd, Kent Taylor, Cary Grant, Florine McKinney and Sari Maritza.
Naturally all eight will not taste stardom. That would be too much to expect. If three or four of them attain that goal the studio will be repaid in its investment hundred times over. And the others probably will develop into more or less valuable supporting players.
Walker declares that all of the youngsters have excellent prospects and that three of them are decidedly of starring material. But he declines to name the three.
One of the biggest handicaps a real “find” in the picture business has to face has been too rapid advancement. One of Walker’s duties will be to prevent this. He knows how a good actor can be ruined by being pushed too fast. And he also knows how an apparently negative actor can be developed into a player of real value.
From Luella O. Parsons:
Los Angeles, April 23
What next to talk about once “The Red-Headed Woman” is put into production?
For months, who to play who not to play the vixen who wrecks a home and then tosses her victim lightly away, has been the chief topic of conversation in Hollywood. So much time has been spent in discussing the girl best suited to play the lead that we have entirely eliminated Bill, the man who is the center of the small town warfare.
Pretty important character, Bill.
Irving Thalberg, in looking ‘em over, has decided that Chester Morris best fits the description. Yesterday he was borrowed from Paramount to play the part.
Yes, I guess it’s decided that Jean Harlow removes her platinum tresses and dons a red wig for “The Red-Headed Woman.”
“A glorious entertaining novel,” said Carl Laemmle, Jr., in describing Number 55, Louis Bromfield’s coming Cosmopolitan serial which he purchased yesterday. “It has everything I have been looking for to star Paul Lukas and I was fortunate to be able to buy it with all the companies bidding for it.” The decided note of victory in young Laemmle’s voice is indicative of the struggle to get good screen material. He bought the Bromfield story from the galley proofs because as he said, he had been reading himself nearly blind to get the right screen play for Lukas.
Lupe Velez has so carried the old town of New York by storm that Florenz Ziegfeld seldom lets a week pass without sending a telegram to one of our movie girls offering her a job. Ziegfeld has learned that motion picture stars are much more popular than stage favorites can ever hope to be for the reason out in Podunk they know the movie girls while the name of the stage favorite is limited to Broadway and the big cities.
Irene Dunne has been carrying around a telegram from Ziegfeld asking her to play the lead in “Show Boat,” which will be revived. Her contract with Radio, of course, makes this impossible.
Chatter in Hollywood:
A hurried trip to Washington by Duncan Renaldo and his lawyer, a secretive one, causes much speculation. Renaldo, who seems to be one of the unlucky ones, is having troubles with his immigration permit and unless he gets it straightened out he will be forced to leave the country. He was recently sued by his wife, naming Edwina Booth as correspondent, and one thing or another seems to have followed his luckless trail since he played in “Trader Horn.”
The meeting of M. C. Levee and Harry Eddington has given rise to the rumor that Greta Garbo may make a picture for the Screen Guild. Mike denies that he has ever talked to Miss Garbo or that any negotiations are under way. He admits it would be nice for his company to have the Garbo, but he says so far there is nothing to report the that she is to return in the fall and make a picture for him.
The outcome of the Dietrich-Von Sternberg-Schulberg battle is being watched by everone in the film business. I learned yesterday that there is nothing in Marlene Dietrich’s contract which specifies that Joseph Von Sternberg must direct her. Up to this time Paramount has been willing to let Von Sternberg direct her, but since the trouble arose on her story Schulberg thought it better to put her into another story with another director. Von Sternberg has confided to some of his friends that he is leaving for New York and letting his difficulties with Paramount simmer in this absence. Both he and Marlene will be handed suspension notices today which means they are off salary until they return to work. Up to now no notices have been given them, merely the threat of such a notice.
Snapshots of Hollywood:
Paul Stein, back for England where he directed Corinne Griffith.
Lottie Pickford lunching at the Brown Derby and being given the glad hand by old friends in the picture business.
Harpo Marx whispering a few compliments in Billie Dove’s shell-like ear.
Sid Grauman unfolding one of his most unique ideas for the gala “Grand Hotel” premier.
Dorothy Jordan looking chic and, as an admirer expressed it, “kinda’ cute” in a blue and white sport outfit.
Barbara Bebe Daniels adopting a mongrel that walked in unannounced and uninvited.
DOUBLE BILL AT FOX-SENATOR
Another big double feature program will begin a three-day engagement at the Fox-Senator theater tomorrow. Charles “Chic” Sale in “The Expert” will be screened for the last time today.
Tomorrow, Will Rogers in “Business and Pleasure” and Helen Twelvetrees in “Panama Flo” begin their three-day engagement.
Rogers is seen as the witty sheik of Oklahoma who goes hobnobbing in harems among the sultan’s favorite flappers in “Business and Pleasure.” He and his family take an ocean voyage presumably for pleasure, but really on very urgent business that constantly keeps Will in “hot water.”
There are many spots where Rogers was allowed to leave the script and supply his own brand of humor which accounts for much of the hilarity that predominates from beginning to end. Jetta Goudal is prominently cast.
A strong supporting cast is grouped with Helen Twelvetrees, the star of “Millie,” who is seen in the title role of “Panama Flo,” on the double feature program.