Friday, January 7, 2011
GLIMMERINGS FROM THE CINEMA CITADEL
Hollywood, Cal., May 1, 1932
By Chapin Hall
Under the title to which rather strenuous objection was made in 1928 when the picture was made as a silent, shooting of “Rain” will begin during the coming week on Catalina Island. Lewis Milestone is directing Joan Crawford and Walter Huston in this audible version of the W. Somerset Maugham story and the Joseph Colton play.
Fresh in the public mind as a play, it was necessary for the cinema to disguise the story as “Sadie Thompson” when Gloria Swanson did it. To that objecting public “Rain” had a sinister meaning. But audiences and censors change and today the title is regarded as perfectly harmless.
Other difficulties, however, have been encountered. Some five years ago Paul Kelly, a rising young actor, engaged in a fist fight with Ray Raymond of the musical stage. Raymond died as a result of the battle and Kelly was sent to San Quentin. Out, rehabilitated, the past forgotten he hoped, Kelly returned to Hollywood. After a struggle to overcome obvious objections to his return to the screen, he was signed by Universal.
Mr. Milestone remembered the actor’s work, liked it, and engaged him to play the part of the marine in “Rain.” Joseph Schenck, head of United Artists, became somewhat fearful, however, and in spite of the attitude of the Hays office, which was that the man’s crime had been expiated, Mr. Schenck ordered him removed from the cast.
The “Rain” company is to shoot at the isthmus on Catalina, where the island village of the story has been built. A camera track runs from the beach around the village, by which outstanding photographic effects will be secured. This is the first time that a company has gone on location to film both interiors and exteriors of a production. A great financial saving will be effected, it being possible to work players and non-union technicians any number of hours without over-time if they are on location. Shooting will take five weeks, inclusive of rehearsals.
The trouble that Paramount is having with Josef Von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich over “The Blonde Venus” is not the first difficulty the studio has had with the pair over stories.
It was necessary virtually to force the director to accept “Shanghai Express,” which is Paramount’s best box office bet this year. After Mr. Von Sternberg agreed to the script, additional friction was experienced when he changed the story during the making.
The history of the present unpleasantness dates back to a script written by the director some months ago. The studio believed it to be unsuitable to the screen, having to do with a woman of the streets who went about her “profession” leading her small child by the hand. The director agreed to a re-writing, and when this was done he refused to accept it, according to the studio.
B. P. Schulberg, Paramount head, then delivered an ultimatum that the pair must begin immediate work on the studio’s version or be subject to legal action, and that night Mr. Von Sternberg left for New York.
According to studio officials, the director has been at loggerheads over stories for some time. He contends that poor stories have been forced on him and that the studio has relied on his directorial ability to turn them into good pictures. The studio says that the director has permitted his temperament to outweigh his story judgment and that the time has come to call a halt to the whole business.
Paramount is credited with having a find in Wynne Gibson, whose first starring picture, “The Strange Case of Clara Deane,” was previewed the other evening. Another find in the picture is Cora Sue Collins, a four-year-old child, and a list of the year’s best scenes will undoubtedly include that in which Miss Gibson parts with the baby in an orphanage as she is sent to prison.
“The Ten Commandments” has been changed in title to “Forgotten Commandments” and will be the first starring picture for Paramount’s recent importation, Sari Maritza. With her will be Gene Raymond and Marguerite Churchill. The new film will use the spectacle of the original as an illustrated lecture by a Russian scientist and a modern portion will be a Russian story.
Today’s best Garbo rumor: Miss Garbo will sign with M. C. Levee in his Screen Guild. Just before Mr. Levee left for New York, Harry Eddington, Miss Garbo’s manager, was frequently in conference with Mr. Levee, and the report is given considerable credence along the boulevard.
With the purchase of “Animal Kingdom” by RKO-Radio for Ann Harding, “Just a Woman” has been switched as a vehicle for Irene Dunne.
“Animal Kingdom” was secured at a reported price of $50,000 and it came with the services of Leslie Howard, who will play opposite Miss Harding.
However, immediate production of the play is improbable, as an untitled story by Humphrey Pearson is now being prepared for Miss Harding to be directed by Gregory La Cava, who did “Symphony of Six Million.”
Considerable secrecy surrounds “The Eighth Wonder,” now being made on the same lot.
It is from a story by the late Edgar Wallace and is being shot on a locked stage to which no one but technicians have thus far been admitted. The little information available indicates it will be a mechanical mystery thriller of some sort depending largely on trick photography.
RKO still pursues the younger and reputedly wilder generation. Eric Linden and Arline Judge have been cast in “Crossroads” by Martin Flavin, which is to be filmed as “Fraternity House.”
Rufus King has arrived on the same lot to write the script for “Mysteries of the French Secret Police.” There is still talk on the lot of a “super-duper” production with John Barrymore and Dolores Del Rio. The indications are now that “Moon and Sixpence” will be the vehicle for the pair, with George Archainbaud directing.
The Fox company on location at Santa Cruz, 400 miles north of here, has completed the exteriors of “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.” This is the picture Janet Gaynor walked out on when she decided she wanted more worldly parts than the sweet things the studio had been giving her. Marian Nixon was not adverse to taking Miss Gaynor’s place, for the saccharine road of unsophistication in the films is paved with sugar, as Broadway understands the meaning of the word.
While Miss Nixon is making the world sweeter with Aunt Jane and other Kate Douglas Wiggin characters, Miss Gaynor is in rehearsal with “The First Year,” her initial sally into the grown up ranks.
The difficulties over “Red Headed Woman” seem to be nearing the ironing-out stage at MGM with indications that Jean Harlow will be given the part. Miss Harlow has specialized on the screen in distasteful women and the fear of the average star that she will suffer from an unsympathetic part is just so much cream in Miss Harlow’s coffee.
She says that wives don’t like her anyway – professionally speaking, of course – and even if she played the orphan in “Daddy Long Legs,” they would still suspect her, so why not “Red Headed Woman?”
“Prosperity,” the Marie Dressler-Polly Moran comedy, is nearing completion on the same lot, as is the all-time record breaker, “Strange Interlude.”
The same concern has engaged Ralph Graves to act, write and direct, an unusual contractual combination. Helene Barclay, wife of McLelland Barclay, the artist, has arrived on the lot from New York.
At Universal, five pictures are in work and eight are being prepared. Those on which shooting is still taking place are “The Good Bad Man,” Tom Mix’s second; “Back Street,” the Fannie Hurst Yarn with Irene Dunne and John Boles; “Brown of Culver,” on which the company has just left for location scenes at the Culver Academy in Indiana; “The Old Dark House,” by J. B. Priestley, featuring Boris Karloff; “Heroes of the West,” a serial with Noah Beery Jr., Diane Duval and Onslow Stevens.
Hollywood is still quite upset by the defy hurled by Howard Hughes over “Scarface” when he said he would show it in spite of the censors. Now word comes from Ohio that Colonel Jason Joy of the local Hays office has secured the approval of the film in that State.
Local wiseacres point out that while Mr. Hughes did the defying the Hays office representative went into Ohio with a smile on his face and sweetness in his heart and got the film O. K.’d.