Tuesday, February 28, 2012
FILM STAR, WIFE OF DIRECTOR, INJURED
Sally Eilers and Mrs. Edward Cline in Hollywood Auto Crash
Hollywood, May 9
Sally Eilers, film actress wife of Hoot Gibson, and Mrs. Edward Cline, wife of the director, received slight injuries early today when Cline, swerving to avoid another machine, crashed his car into a telegraph post. He was not injured.
Miss Eilers was treated at a hospital for cuts about the face and head, and Mrs. Cline for bruises.
VON STERNBERG AND MARLENE GIVE IN
Hollywood, Cal., May 9 (UP)
Announcement that Josef von Sternberg, director, and Marlene Dietrich, actress, would return to the Paramount lot at once and continue filming the motion picture over which differences had arisen, was made to-day.
A satisfactory conference was declared to have been held by Von Sternberg and B. P. Schulberg, studio executive, in which the rights of the studio executive to determine the nature of the script of a play were agreed upon.
IAN KEITH TO WED BARONESS FERN ANDRA
Ex-Mate of Ethel Clayton Announces Troth to German-American Actress
San Francisco, May 9
Three days divorced from Ethel Clayton, screen actress, Ian Keith, actor, to-day made public announcement of his engagement to Baroness Fern Andra, German-American actress whose personal adventures would fill a good sized novel.
But the romance of Keith and Baroness Andra must endure a year-long wait before marriage, because the decree granted Keith in Los Angeles last Friday from Miss Clayton is only interlocutory.
“That will give us a better chance to find out all about each other,” said the baroness as she and Keith told their news.
Keith said he proposed to Miss Andra the moment the telegram announcing the granting of the divorce arrived in his dressing room at a local theater last Friday night. And his fiancée interrupted, declaring it was she who proposed first, and he should really grant her the honor, because this is leap year.
“Anyhow,” they compromised, “we proposed to each other and are engaged.”
In theatrical circles the news did not come as a great surprise, principally because of the incident of a telegram received by Miss Andra last September. The missive was addressed to “Mrs. Ian Keith” and she took it, although at the time the Keith-Clayton divorce action was still a mater of doubt in the Los Angeles courts.
Questioned about the telegram at the time, Miss Andra only said: “Ask Ian.”
Condemned As Spy
Miss Andra, American-born but of German rearing, won fame on the European stage, had hectic experiences during the war, including airplane crashes and being condemned to death as a spy, and became generally regarded abroad as a woman gifted in the art of daring and successful adventure. Since the financial collapse of European stage ventures she has been in this country.
She is a baroness through her marriage to Baron von Weichs, a nephew of the former Empress Zita of Austria. The baron, her first husband, was killed in the war. She was divorced from her second husband, Kurt Prenzel, former German middleweight boxing champion.
Keith also has been married twice. His first wife was Blanche Yurka, actress whom he divorced.
ESTELLE TO DISPOSE OF DEMPSEY HOME
The house that Jack built is going under the auctioneer’s hammer. Estelle Taylor, film actress, said today her home constructed six years ago by Jack Dempsey, former heavy weight boxing champion, when he was her husband is to be sold at auction this month.
The lot and house on Los Feliz Boulevard represent an original investment of approximately $135,000 she said. The furnishings will also be auctioned. The building is surrounded by spacious grounds with a large swimming pool.
The home was a point in dispute when a property settlement was being arranged prior to their Reno divorce.
The house is much too large for me to live in alone so I am going to sell it, she stated. It will be difficult for me to leave it but what must be will be.
LILLIAN ROTH SEEKS MEXICAN DIVORCE
Hollywood, Calif., May 9 (AP)
It may be that Lillian Roth, stage and screen singer, is divorcing her husband for “mental incompatibility,” but here is what the husband, William C. Scott, aviator and member of a prominent Pittsburg family said today on his arrival in Hollywood:
“She lives her life at night and I live mine in the daytime. I love airplanes and she hates them, even to the wings. She loves the stage and its life, and – well, she’s a wonderful girl but we just couldn’t make the grade.”
Scott and Miss Roth were married in Atlanta, Ga., last April. Miss Roth will obtain a Mexican divorce.
ACTRESS ACCUSED OF EXCESSIVE DRINKING AT DIVORCE HEARING
Los Angeles, May 9 (AP)
Twelve expensively bound, limited edition volumes of “snappy literature” that he objected to having in the house were introduced as evidence against Helene Costello to-day by Lowell Sherman, actor, in his suit for divorce.
The actress laughed audibly as he described them.
Sherman, twisting his small mustache, then testified that his wife embarrassed him by excessive drinking, threw cocktail glasses at him when he remonstrated, and struck his mother, knocking her across the room and over a table.
He told of an argument when they were in a swimming pool, during which, he said, she struck him with a whip she had been using to train dogs.
Arguments that went on all through the night, preventing him from sleeping, were described by the actor.
MEXICO CITY BANS ‘GIRL OF RIO’ PICTURE
Mexico City, May 9 (AP)
The motion picture “Girl of the Rio,” called in Spanish “La Paloma,” and featuring Dolores Del Rio and Leo Carillo was barred from further presentation here today by order of the Federal district government.
It was charged that the picture, now showing at one of the leading theaters, slurs Mexico and the Mexican people. It was barred recently from Panama and it is reported similar action against the picture has been taken by other Latin American countries.
PARTED BUT HAPPY
Two Talkie Stars Enjoy Perfect Bliss
Separate Homes of Colbert And Foster Make for Happiness, Both Aver
Hollywood, May 9
The marital “five-year plan” of Claudette Colbert, screen actress, and Norman Foster promises to become a lifetime arrangement, the couple said today.
Since their marriage five years ago they have been “separated.” Miss Colbert has maintained her own home here, and Foster has done likewise.
“It’s a blessed arrangement,” the actress enthused. “I come home and go out when I wish and with whom I desire. My husband is privileged to do the same. We have implicit trust in each other, and the years have proved we are right.”
“There’s nothing that I know that has done more to preserve our happiness,” Foster agreed. “We are still head over heels in love with each other. To my mind, married couples lose their enthusiasm and love that first led them to the altar, because they become bored by constant companionship. This leads to petty quarrels, then serious disagreements, and finally, in many cases, to the divorce courts.”
The couple “drop in” on each other regularly, go to the theater, on yachting trips, dances and enjoy other diversions “without the sometimes oppressive knowledge that we’ve got to be together,” as Foster pointed out.
They embraced for the newspaper cameraman just to prove that their affection is more real than reel.
ACTOR’S WIFE GIVEN DIVORCE
Los Angeles, May 9 (AP)
A divorce from David Dunbar, forty-five years old, stage and screen actor, whom she charged with cruelty, was granted today to Mrs. Margaret Dunbar, twenty-five years old, by Superior Judge C. L. Shinn.
Dunbar had filed an answer denying the charges, but failed to appear in court. An attorney represented him and agreed that two minor children should be given into custody of Mrs. Dunbar.
Mrs. Dunbar testified that on one occasion Dunbar threatened her with a razor and she “screamed and begged for mercy.” She also charged Dunbar failed to support her and that he was abusive when she was unable to provide him with funds from her earnings.
DIVORCED PAIR BACK AGAIN IN MOVIE COLONY
Hollywood, Cal., May 9 (AP)
Ann Harding and Harry Bannister, who profess they still love one another although they were divorced last Saturday, took separate paths today in order that Bannister might “regain his lost identity.”
Miss Harding and Bannister yesterday flew back from Reno, where the divorce hearing was held. The actress traveled in her private plane, and Bannister followed, piloting his own ship.
It was because he had become known as “Mr. Ann Harding,” Bannister said, that the couple decided to divorce. He said he wanted to pursue his screen career as an individual apart from Miss Harding.
Miss Harding returned to her Hollywood home in the hills, while Bannister took an apartment at a Beverly Hills Hotel.
“I do not intend to return to the stage, but will continue my work in motion pictures,” said Bannister. “Several offers have been made to me. As yet, I have not made a decision on any of them.”
CAREWE FACES U.S. COURT IN TAX QUIZ
Los Angeles, May 9 (AP)
Edwin Carewe, once noted as a motion picture director, was due in federal court today to enter plea in a charge of income tax evasion over a four-year period.
Carewe, now retired from films, allegedly failed to pay proper taxes in the years of 1926 to 1929, inclusive. The amount involved approximates $108,000.
RENALDO FACING TRAFFIC WARRANT
Los Angeles, May 9, (UP)
Duncan Renaldo, motion picture actor, was in difficultly today over a traffic charge in Merced County.
A bench warrant for Renaldo’s arrest was in the hands of county traffic officers, together with a letter from Justice of the Peace Osborn, of Atwater, Calif.
Osborne asserted Renaldo failed to appear in his court to answer a traffic charge, and agreed to plead guilty and pay a $30 fine. Renaldo sent $15 and Osborne claimed that $15 bail money posted by the actor does not apply to the remainder of the fine.
SEE HOLLYWOOD FIRST, IT HAS EVERYTHING
On Studio Lot Are to Be Found Manchuria, Jungles, New England, Switzerland
By Jesse Henderson, Special Correspondent
Hollywood, May 9
See America First is a pretty good slogan, but if you see Hollywood first, you don’t need to go anywhere else. Everything’s here at the present moment; on one studio lot there are Manchuria, the South Sea Islands, an American penitentiary, a tropical jungle, a New York newspaper office, a slice of New England, a chunk of Switzerland, and a cross-section of Hollywood itself.
Nothing takes the place of actual travel in this country or to countries afar, but just now a tour of Hollywood is a pretty good substitute for a world cruise. It gives you at least a blimp’s eye view of the globe plus the realization that while the telegraph, the radio and the airplane have made the world smaller, Hollywood reduces it practically to a capsule which you may swallow and digest in a day. Not that you can swallow everything in Hollywood, or digest it, either.
Geared To Progress
Just the same, the big motion picture studios are geared to the progress of the world which they entertain. They keep up with the times and delve back into ancient eras through their imposing lineup of artists internationally known, of their great industrial plants, their research departments, and their experts in every line of creative effort.
If you want a glimpse of King Tut playing Egyptian pinochle in something or other B.C., or at the young Chinese emperor Pu-yi trying to rule his new kingdom of Manchuko, a major studio can arrange this for you within a few days.
They could have been burned as wizards in the 1600s for the things they do in Hollywood now.
Modern organization and far flung resources spell versatility here. For example, a stroll through the RKO-Radio lot this morning is a journey from China to New England, with side trips to New York and Honolulu.
In one corner of the lot, Constance Bennett is making a picture about Hollywood. It shows not only the life of the film colony, but also the secrets involved in making pictures.
On another stage, the final scenes of a south sea island romance are in full swing with Dolores Del Rio and Joel McCrea as the central figures. For two months this company was in Hawaii where most of the scenes were photographed and now Hawaii has been brought to a section of stage for the indoor shots and one or two extra, outdoor sequences.
Less than a hundred feet away, Richard Dix, Edward Everett Horton and others are ensconced amid Oriental splendor in a picture about Manchuria.
Complete and accurate in each detail, a segment of Manchuria has been built for the story after weeks of research and the labor of hundreds of highly specialized workers. Among the players are two hundred Orientals. Native Manchurians are employed as advisers to Wesley Ruggles, the director.
Not far from the Manchurian town there rises an up-to-date American penitentiary, in which Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey will serve a term on celluloid. The construction of this pen is authentic – the builders had technical advise from an anonymous group who know their pens from the inside.
A short walk from the penitentiary is a menacing jungle. It is made up of living ferns, interlaced branches and brush, and Fay Wray is going romantic in it while jungle animals prowl about.
Jungle animals of a different species are likewise prowling about the newspaper office a block or two distant, where Ricardo Cortez enacts the character of a wisecracking columnist. His daily routine takes him out into the various pits and palaces, skyscrapers and scrapes, which make a modern city what it is.
And it is only a step from the skyscraper to the Swiss chalet, the lovely New England countryside, the frisky continental cities whither Ann Harding travels in her latest scenario.
AL’S LITTLE JOKE
Al Jolson heard that Harold Lloyd was shooting some water scenes for his current picture a few days ago so he appeared on the set with a bucket full of fish.
“Just to make you feel more at home,” said the comedian to the comedian. Then he added, “Don’t be a sucker – take them home. I just caught them.”
Which, perhaps, is one of the reasons little Sidney Fox is doing so well. The other day Sidney was discovered in the studio hairdressing department. Her head was incased in a drying machine. She was eating lunch spread out on a little table in front of her. A book was propped against the teapot.
And ontop of all that, she was posing for pictures.
‘HIGHBROW’ MOVIES SHOWING REALISM GO BETTER WITH WOMEN
Hollywood, Cal., May 9 (AP)
So-called “highbrow” films, those depicting realism, find greater popularity among women than among men, a preliminary analysis of a national film poll by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America indicates.
Kathleen Norris, the author, expressed what the film people said represented the typical feminine viewpoint when she wrote she “likes photoplays that depict real life that is lived and the real problems people have to face.”
George Ade, the author wrote: “I like nonsense on the screen if it is sheer nonsense and not nonsense trying to be a carbon copy of reality.”
Will Durant, also an author, replied: “I am as sentimental as Charlie Chaplin.”
From Louella O. Parsons
Los Angeles, May 9
Three more Tarzan stories for Johnny Weissmuller, whose splendid physique was the subject of much discussion after he appeared in “Tarzan, The Ape Man,” has had three stories written especially for him by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
W. S. Van Dyke, who does nobly with these epics of South Africa and other remote regions, will again direct.
“What other thrills,” we ask “remain after the ones in the first Tarzan story? And now, will Weissmuller wear more clothes and will he speak lines? And if he does, will he be the coming screen sensation?”
Looks as if he will soon establish a Gable following, that will make his prowess as a swimmer come second – how that lad does the Australian crawl!
Wonder if Carmelita Geraghty’s new blonde hair had anything to do with getting her the job of heroine in “Jungle Mystery,” Universal’s next serial.
Carmelita’s dark tresses have always been very becoming but these movie girls will tell you that blonde hair photographs much better.
“Jungle Mystery” has been adapted from Talbot Mundy’s story The Ivory Train, and it has all the thrills of a Pearl White mystery yarn plus modern dialogue and sound.
Pat O’Brien and Slim Summerville are two other Universal recruits. They emote in the airmail story which is to go into production as soon as a leading man is available. Carl Laemmle, Jr. has decided that Lew Ayres is too young to play the seasoned flyer.
Talk around Hollywood is that Gary Cooper is about to do a little Marlene Dietrich-Josef von Sternberg on his own at Paramount.
He is not satisfied with the story of “The Devil and the Deep,” and he is refusing to play the lead in it opposite Tallulah Bankhead.
Gary came back from his journey to Africa much improved in health, and with a new slant on life. One idea being that he won’t play in any story that he feels is bad for him.
At the present he is devoting himself to the Countess Frasso, who seems to have followed Lupe Velez rather successfully in his affections.
Douglas Fairbanks may have to share the spotlight when he is telling fish stories with his son. Young Doug and Robert Montgomery have chartered C. B. DeMille’s yacht and yesterday they betook themselves to Mexico to do a little fishing.
Doug and Mary returned home to find the house filled with flowers sent by friends. What a lot of stories Doug has to relate on Tahiti. Some day, perhaps, he will write a book on his adventures in foreign countries, many of them encountered while he was making pictures.
Screenshots of Hollywood collected at random:
Donald Cook more seriously hurt in an automobile accident than anyone knew, now convalescing.
John Wray getting ready to leave for New York for personal appearances; Neil Hamilton arriving in state at the Brown Derby on a bicycle.
Hoot Gibson in a bright red tie presented to him by Eddie Hillman.
Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks celebrating their return home with a party at the Mayfair. Marlene Dietrich escorted by her husband, Rudolph Sieber, and Josef von Sternberg, creating a mild sensation when she walked into the Mayfair dance. Ernest Vajda entertaining the Adolphe Menjous.
George Archainbaud, Richard Barthelmess and Watterson Rothacker given a joint birthday party by the Archainbauds. Numerous and humorous gifts were given the boys.
Joan Crawford getting her Sadie Thompson clothes together for “Rain.”
LAST MINUTE RIALTO NEWS -
John Wayne will star in a series of Westerns for Warners.
Betty Davis replaces Marian Marsh on the Warners program; Marian is expected to ally with Fox.
Jack Oakie, completing that Olympic games comedy for Paramount, will be seen with Jimmy Gleason in “Madison Square Garden.”
Paramount will co-star Carole Lombard and George Raft in “Hot Saturday" and “Pick-Up.”
Virginia Bruce will be opposite Jack Gilbert in “Downstairs.”
Renee Adoree is now expected to have her old role in the talkie version of “The Big Parade.”
Cary Grant, who left Broadway musical comedy a few months ago for film work, today was selected to play the juvenile lead in Tallulah Bankhead’s next Paramount starring picture, “Devil and the Deep,” in which Gary Cooper and Charles Laughton, the English actor who recently joined the Paramount group of film players, appear.
Three interesting additions to the cast of “The Million Dollar Legs,” the Olympic games film farce being directed by Edward Cline, were announced today. They are Hugh Herbert, Lyda Roberti and Susan Fleming who join a cast headed by Jack Oakie and including W. C. Fields, Ben Turpin, Hank Mann, George Barbier, Ben Taggart and little Dickie Moore, the child actor.
Charlie Ruggles, Maurice Chevalier’s military pal in “The Smiling Lieutenant,” combines his comedy talents with those of the Continental star in “One Hour With You.”
Ruggles has the comedy lead in which the feminine parts are played by Jeanette MacDonald, Genevieve Tobin and Adrienne Ames.
‘IMPATIENT MAIDEN’ AT ORPHEUM WITH AYRES
Lew Ayres is at the Orpheum theater this week as a handsome young medico in the film, “Impatient Maiden,” from the pen of Donald Henderson Clarke, dean of modern novelists of the more “daring type.”
Supporting Ayres are such featured players as Mae Clarke, John Halliday, Una Merkel and Andy Devine. James Whale, creator of “Frankenstein,” directed.
A short screen comedy and a Pathe News review of current topics complete the screen fare.
AMERICAN SHOWS ‘BEHIND THE MASK’
Jack Holt and Boris Karloff co-star in the current American theater attraction, “Behind the Mask.”
The story is one concerning the mysterious leader of a dope ring, who by force of will dominates his hirelings and directs the importation and sale of narcotics.
As the story goes, no one has ever seen him and no one dares to apprehend him. The secret service fathoms the depths of the mysterious “Mr. X” hoax, but manages to pin the crimes and sorceries which accompany his notorious career only at the risk of several ace operatives.
Constance Cummings plays an important part in this newest of shudder films.
Andy Clyde is seen in a Mack Sennett comedy, while Eddie Buzzell and a newsreel complete the program.
LEWIS STONE, HUSTON STAR IN ‘WET PARADE’
Neil Hamilton’s Study Of Blind Youth Best Of Imaginative Work
By Wood Soanes
The evils of alcoholism, both licensed and illegal, are presented with fervor on the screen this week in “The Wet Parade,” a melodrama that becomes distinguished more through its presentation and interpretation than its subject matter.
In "The Wet Parade” Upton Sinclair undertook to prove that conditions have gone from bad to worse in the liquor traffic since the constitution was amended to curb it, and voices the faint hope that some day they will get this thing figured out.
But in the fashion of the pamphleteer, Sinclair is forced to use short cuts for his arguments, and, as usual, these short cuts lead to illogical conclusions. As a debate for or against prohibition, “The Wet Parade” is merely good melodramatic entertainment.
In the first period we have the Old South with hospitality, bourbon and graceful Southern gentlemen taking their juleps in major portions. One of these, Lewis Stone, becomes so engrossed with the convivial business that he gambles his fortune away, gets the d. t.’s and finally slashes his genial but worthless throat in the hog sty.
In the second period, a disreputable Northern gentleman, who also has as much character as an alley cat, moves from the pre-prohibition days into the new era, seeks to console himself with bootleg liquor, which so affects his brain that he slays his faithful wife when she tries to curb him, and goes to the penitentiary for the balance of his life.
The younger generation is also affected. The Southern gentleman’s dashing son inherits his father’s taste for rum, samples a bad bottle or two, and becomes permanently blind; The Northern gentleman’s son, disgusted with drink, becomes a prohibition agent and finds that the way of the law enforcer is not strewn with freshly cut roses.
The two families are joined by this time and a new generation is uttering his infant cries of hope that some day everything will be lovely.
Victor Fleming, the director, was undoubtedly faced with a considerable chore in translating the Sinclair novel into terms of cinema, but he did a magnificent job. Unable to soften the hokum melodrama to any extent, he exercised intelligence in his selectiveness of the players and in his presentation of scenes. The results take two hours of screen time but they are eminently satisfactory.
First to come forward for honors is Lewis Stone, with white hair and goatee to match, who paints a delightful picture of the Southern gentleman with the unquenchable thirst; next is Walter Huston, whose characterization of the Northern toper is a masterpiece of caricature, proving anew that he is one of our major actors, and third on the list is Dorothy Jordan, playing the Southern girl with understanding and charm.
But these players have roles that play themselves without much guidance. For sheer invention, the palm must go to Neil Hamilton, whose study of the Southern boy who goes blind is one of the most carefully conceived and executed screen portraits to pass in review in a long while. Hamilton peered beneath the surface of his blind man and found drama of the most compelling sort.
There are certain characteristics that go invariably with the blind but are never captured in interpretation – the spirited attempt of the new afflicted to discount the loss of sight, false tone of enthusiasm that marks their speech, the guarded speed of movement. Hamilton not only perceived these items but he projected them naturally and credibly.
If prizes are distributed for inventive work of this sort, Hamilton deserves a hearing.
A smaller touch, but one that also deserves commendation, is Jimmy Durante’s picture of the wise-cracking prohibition agent, whose death scene is affecting.
“The Wet Parade” can otherwise take its place with the alcoholic dramas of other years, notably “The Drunkard” and “Ten Nights in a Bar Room.” In fact Sinclair borrowed too liberally from this honky-tonk school for complete comfort and were it not for the items listed above, this new addition to the shelf might have become richer in travesty than in drama.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Strange Films – Children and the Cinema – Need for More Intelligent Subjects
By Mordaunt Hall
May 8, 1932
Several peculiar stories reached the screens last week and one of them, “Letty Lynton,” is being held over at the Capitol.
In this film a stunning but tarnished girl is responsible for her objectionable former lover drinking poison.
“The Trial of Vivienne Ware,” is principally concerned with an attractive girl being tried for a murder committed by a gangster.
“Roadhouse Murder,” tells of a cub reporter who, for the sake of contributing a series of sensational articles to his newspaper, poses as a man hunted for two killings.
And “Behind the Mask,” is a vain attempt to spread horror by showing a fiendish individual disposing of his enemies on an operating table.
The sole wholesome production, aisde from the foreign works, was the new version of Edna Ferber's novel, “So Big.”
Unfit for Youngsters
As one examines the plots of these effusions one appreciates the attitude of many parents toward motion pictures, for, with the exception of “So Big,” none of these attractions is fit for children to see.
In the suburbs and even in New York City one hears on all sides fathers and mothers deploring the fact that there are no pictures suitable for their youngsters to attend, and the result is that not only the children are kept from the cinemas but the parents also stay away.
These were the days when such worthy diversions as “Tom Sawyer,” “Skippy,” “A Connecticut Yankeee” and “Ambassador Bill” not only offered excellent entertainment for the young but also for adults.
One father, whose home is in a New Jersey town, said the other day that it was harmful for his children to attend local cinemas and had therefore decided to give them screen entertainment at home. It is quite likely that other parents are doing the same thing, or will do so, but it is an idea that is costly.
Mary Pickford is one of the few producers who have urged making films that will bring the children into the film theaters, she being wise enough to realize that if the picture is suitable for the youngsters it is highly probable that they will be accompanied by their parents.
Adults as well as youngsters have enjoyed “Peter Pan” and “A Kiss for Cinderella” on the stage and the screen, and in the old days a film of Stevenson's “Treasure Island” proved to be quite popular.
Who knows but that there may be a fortune in store for the producer who concentrates on making pictures for the young, not silly sentimental tales, but really good ones like those enumerated. For while there naturally must be a preponderance of mature subjects turned out in Hollywood, there is no reason why there should not be a certain percentage of productions that would find favor with parents for their offspring.
Sorry Studio Ideas
A mother complained the other day that producers appeared to delight in emphasizing distasteful ideas, so as to appeal to a certain element.
These film tales, this woman thought, might have been acceptable for both adults and children if they had been pictured in a more rational and restrained fashion. This is true, for many a good story comes to the screen with the earmarks of a dime novel.
If the same thing were set forth in a book as it is on the screen, it would in many instances be considered silly by the very persons who are moderately interested in such film ventures. To appeal to children in a wholesome fashion, motion pictures actually need to be less childish than many of them are at the present.
B. O. Shelton, manager of the RKO Pickwick Theater in Greenwich, Conn., shows a picture every Saturday morning for children, the subjects being sponsored by a joint committee on motion pictures, made up of members of women’s clubs of the town.
Mr. Shelton exhibits pictures such as “The Big Trail,” “Cimarron,” “City Lights,” “Forward Pass,” “Skippy,” “Sooky,” “Tom Sawyer,” & c. Would there were more films like them.
A Tarnished Heroine
Letty Lynton is a picture with many implausible – in fact, impossible – ideas. The spectator’s credulity is strained by the first scenes, for Letty Lynton, in the person of Joan Crawford, is a wealthy girl who has apparently fallen from grace because of the glib talk and good dancing of a man named Emile Renaud.
Letty has been more or less hypnotized by Emile, but finally she leaves him, going by steamship from Montevideo to New York.
The first glimpse that Hale Darrow, a rich young man, gets of Letty aboard the ship, he evinces a marked interest in her. He requests that the steward put her at his table. This is the first sight Letty has of Hale and results in a similar reaction, and in a short time they are in love with each other.
One suspects that the path of this true love is not going to be smooth, and soon the notion is confirmed, for Emile has traveled by airplane to New York and is there to meet Letty when she disembarks. She is naturally averse to having Emile and Hale meet, and therefore she asks Emile to attend to her customs declaration while she hurries to her home.
The more one learns of Emile’s nature, the more one is astonished at Letty's having been infatuated with him. She hopes to go to meet Hale's family, but Emile, threatening to publish some of Letty's affectionate epistles to him in the newspapers, causes the girl to postpone her departure for the Adirondack home of the Darrows.
This blackguard insists that Letty must come to his apartment at 8 o'clock one night and she, hopeing that Emile will give her the letters, decides to go. She turns up in a charming gown of metallic cloth, looking more attractive than in any previous scene. In her handbag she has a vial of poison, which, it is presumed, she intends to take if she fails to gain possession of the missives. While Emile's back is turned, Letty pours the poison into a glass containing some champagne.
After a heated discussion during which he embraces Letty against her will, Emile drinks the poison, finds his sight going, and eventually dies. The circumstantial evidence before a jury would not leave Letty with much chance of going free, but the picture producers have a good-natured District Attorney, who after giving Hale Darrow credit for quick thinking, in saything that he (Hale) was with Letty that night, permits the girl to go on her way.
Imagine a District Attorney in real life saying to a young man in such circumstances:
“Darrow, I've got a girl about half that age, but she has not brought anyone around yet who thinks as fast as you do, young fellow.”
It should be stated, however, that Joan Crawford delivers an admirable portrayal and Robert Montgomery is quite clever as Hale. Nils Asther does as well as possible with the part of Emile and Louise Closser Hale furnishes a certain amount of amusement in the role of an elderly maid to Letty.
Shades of Old Serials
“The Trial of Vivienne Ware,” which hails from a radio entertainment, is another shamelessly implausible affair.
A man throws a knife at a witness testifying in a murder case and has little difficulty in escaping. Later, after he is apprehended by the police, he is himself fatally shot while on the witness stand.
It is a picture in which the prosecutor thunders at the witnesses and in which the lawyer for Vivienne War, impersonated by Joan Bennett, actually believes she killed Damon Fenwick in self-defense.
Of course, in the end, Vivienne is found guiltless, and the real murderer is pursued and dies by plunging from a skyscraper.
In the opening sequences one finds that Vivienne is in love with Fenwick, who looks the villain from the moment he appears. John Sutherland is in love with Vivienne, Dolores Divine, a cabaret dancer, is infatuated with Fenwick and the sinister Scarface Parone looks upon Dolores as his property.
It is a tedious bag of tricks, but the flashbacks of the testimony during the murder trial are set forth interestingly.
Miss Bennett is attractive and as capable as the demands of her role permit.
Richard Skeets Gallagher appears as a radio announcer who is broadcasting the trial, there being a glass partition to facilitate such work. Zasu Pitts is a feminine radio expert who concentrates on the appearance of the fair Vivienne. Donald Cook gives an ingratiating performance as John Sutherland.
A Dangerous Idea
So far as “Roadhouse Murder” is concerned, it has a good basic idea which with more experienced principals and better written dialogue might have been excellent diversion, As it is, it emerges as mild entertainment.
Here the young reporter, after having been upbraided by his city editor, goes for an automobile ride with his sweetheart. During a storm thy seek refuge in a lonely looking road house.
Two murders occur while they are there and the newspaperman, Chick Brian, decides that it will make an excellent series of articles under his own name if he assumes the role of the man hunted for the crime and narrates his experiences. He has proof of his innocence, but when that is snatched from him by interested parties, it looks rather black for Brian; in fact the jury finds him guilty of the crime.
But Brian is not executed, for the real criminals finally are discovered. It proves that pretending to be a muderer is a risky matter, even though it may result in some sensational newspaper articles.
Many of the scenes in the audible picturization of Edna Ferber's novel, “So Big,” are nicely filmed and efficiently played by Barbara Stanwyck.
It is a work with a good deal of wholesome sentiment and restrained scenes, but a lifetime in an hour or so on the screen is too much.
The cheery Miss Stanwyck starts life as a girl and ends up an elderly woman. Selina Peake (Miss Stanwyck) lives for her son, So Big as she calls him, and he does not come up to expectations until the end.
Humdrum though this tale is here it is at least free from murders, women falling in
love with lounge lizards, and mysterious doctors deriving pleasure from using the knife to kill.
In the Secret Service
Secret Service agents are pitted against members of a drug ring in “Behind the Mask,” a story based on one by Jo Swerling.
The man who causes all the trouble is known to friends and enemies as Mr. X. His underlings communicate with him by telephone and their reports are recorded on wax cylinder.
Nobody is supposed to know who Mr. X is and yet he succeed in running things very much as he wishes. Sometimes you want to know how he pays off his henchmen or how he gets the money from them, but this film is not concerned with simple events; it dilates upon picking up packages of drugs from a vessel 200 miles at sea and landing them in New York by seaplane.
Parts of this offering recall old-time serials that were written in the studio a few moments before they were photographed.
Mr. X likes nothing more than to have his victims on an operating table. He delights in killing these enemies slowly. Where he buries them is not revealed, for in the one coffin that is brought on the screen it was disclosed that instead of containing a body it was filled with drugs.
There are all sorts of queer ideas in this film, and in one of the closing sequences Jack Holt, who plays Hart, a secret service agent wizard, is trapped by Mr. X and is about to have all kinds of forceps, scissors and little knives used on him when the heroine, Julie Arnold, creeps in the room and kills Mr. X with a well-aimed bullet.
Jack Holt and Constance Cummings serve their parts, such as they are, well.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
May 8, 1932
The motion picture rights to “The Barretts of Wimpole Street” have gone to Joseph M. Schenck and his Art Cinema Corporation after what was characterized as spirited bidding.
Katharine Cornell, who has appeared in Rudolf Besier’s play nearly 500 times on and off Broadway, will be headed with her company next week for engagements in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Lest Miss Cornell’s proximity to the Hollywood scene give rise to the not unnatural suspicion that she plans to enact her Elizabeth Barrett Browning for the cameras, her representative wants it known that she has no such thoughts.
There have been the usual importunities, but Miss Cornell is quite firm about her decision to remain in the theater.
As for the play, it will be converted to the uses of the cinema by Lewis Milestone, as producer for Mr. Schenck, and will be included in next season’s United Artists program. The release date is scheduled for February, 1933.
Anna May Wong, the lovely Chinese girl who returned to the American screen last year, has been engaged by Columbia for one of the leads in the appropriately Oriental “Bitter Tea of General Yen.”
Herbert Brenon will direct the film from Grace Zaring Stone’s novel.
Miss Wong was in the recent “Shanghai Express” and before that in “Daughter of the Dragon,” both for Paramount.
Ben Hecht, who has his moods when it comes to writing for the films, has turned around after his recent disagreements with Samuel Goldwyn and prepared a story for Joseph M. Schenck.
Garnished with music and dialogue by Irving Caesar, the narrative will serve as a film for Al Jolson, who is now in Hollywood and ready to start work.
The title to begin with was “Happy-Go-Lucky,” but a wire from the Coast last week announced that this had been changed to “Heart of New York,” There will be still another change when United Artists recalls that the Warners used that title two or three months ago on the last Smith and Dale feature.
As for the peripatetic Mr. Jolson, that illustrious mammy-singer plans to make two pictures for Mr. Schenck and then embark on a European concert tour.
Mr. Jolson announced upon his arrival in Hollywood that he had “quit the stage for good.”
Tala Birell, Universal’s new leading lady from the other side of the water, is to be presented next in a Hobart Henly production entitled “Broken Dreams of Hollywood.”
Nearly all of the major companies seem to have a behind-the-scenes romance tucked away on their schedules someplace. Miss Birell's first picture, “The Doomed Battalion,” is playing an extended run in Washington.
Mary Pickford, who has been in New York since Douglas Fairbanks went away on his South Seas adventure, returned to Hollywood last night to meet the homecoming warrior of the cameras.
Her cinematic plans have had to be postponed because of Frances Marion's illness. Miss Marion was to have come on to New York and work out the star's new story with her.
Universal has arranged for the manufacture of a series of twenty-six short subjects which will present some of the popular radio features of the day under the blanket title of “Down Memory Lane.”
Louis Sobol and Nick Kenny will share the master-of-ceremonies burden between them.
The list of participants includes Kate Smith, the Street Singer, the Rise of the Goldbergs, Major Stoopnagle and Bud, Texas Guinan, the Boswell Sisters, Morton Downey, Art Jarrett and Sisters of the Skillet.
The series will be made in New York.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Hollywood, Cal., May 8
The year 1932 may go down in cinematic history as the Year of the Rebellion. Revolt after revolt has been staged, with more failures checked against the insurgents than victories. Most of the insurrections have been of a personal nature, some of a mass.
Of the latter, that of the screen writers is regarded as the most important.
After some months of arguing and conferring, the writers this week succeeded in securing from the producers a “code of practice” regulating the terms of employment of free lance writers and screen credits for the authors.
The scenarists believe that they won; the producers say the studios were beaten, observers feel that the concessions made by the companies were so slight as to be worth little.
Under the agreement, writers who have worked for ten weeks at less than $500 a week must receive a week's notice of termination of employment; where more than two writers have worked on a story, they may decide among themselves who is to get the credit and that credit must appear in dignified and important fashion on the screen.
These two concessions were worked out by a committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The inside story seems to be that when the negotiations were first started the studios which had always refused to deal with the writers were reluctant to do so at this time, but under implied threats that the authors would withdraw from the academy, virtually the companies' union, and affiliate with the Screen Writers' Guild, a branch of the Authors' League, the producers agreed to discuss the matter.
The producers were represented by B. P. Schulberg and Irving Thalberg, and at this week's meeting the picture they painted of the future was none too bright. They declared the industry was in a critical condition, that better stories must be found, that talent's benefit from the industry is many times greater than capital's.
But through it all, the authors seemed to feel that, as the agreement meant nothing financially to the studios, much ado was being made about comparatively nothing.
However, the evening was brightened by Mr. Schulberg's remark that the writers were very thoughtless in making their demands at a time when all the ability of the industry was being centered on “making the world safe for von Sternberg.”
The producers were defeated in another case, however, when the member branches of the academy rejected a “code of practice” governing the studios' relations with technical help. The technical men, having somewhat of a union attitude, were more rebellious than the writers and they have thrown their controversy back into discussion with a chance of getting what they want.
A personal rebellion and victory is that of Clarence Brown, MGM director. For years, Mr. Brown has been regarded as the “safe and sane” director of the lot. He has been more consistent with successes and has taken a number of pictures which were shelved and made them screenable. “This Modern Age” is the most noticeable example. The picture and story gathered dust around the studio for two years when he resurrected it, reshot some scenes, recut and turned out a money-maker.
When “Grand Hotel” went to another director, Mr. Brown was secretly annoyed. It was the plum of the year, and he felt he should have had it.
When the director’s contract came up this week he declined to sign until certain concessions were made. And at a time when nearly all renewed contracts are being written at a substantially reduced figure, Mr. Brown demanded and got a most satisfactory increase.
At the same studio Clark Gable has staged two insurrections in the past year and has been successful in both.
Ruth Chatterton left Paramount in a spirit of rebellion and got all she asked for at Warner Brothers, including the absolute choice of her stories.
Barbara Stanwyck lost to Columbia. Edmund Lowe lost to Fox in a salary controversy. Janet Gaynor won her war for sophisticated parts on the same lot. Gary Cooper beat Paramount on more money and fewer pictures, as did Dick Arlen.
Three of the current losers are James Cagney, Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich.
Mr. Cagney gets $1000 a week and is admittedly the biggest attraction on the Warner lot. He told the studio that, as he was making the most money for the company, he thought his salary an injustice when two other stars whose drawing power is less were each getting $7000.
The studio declined to see the logic of his position and he has been suspended. Under the producers’ agreement, he cannot work elsewhere.
Most of the arguments between artists and producers are of a deadly nature.
It remained for Arthur Caesar to laugh his way off the Warner lot, however. When his contract came up for renewal, they asked him to take a cut. When he refused the executives told him that he did not show the proper spirit , that he should cooperate.
“Cooperate?” yelled Arthur, “Can you cooperate with an electric chair?” The next day he was under contract to Paramount.
Warners have announced they are to star Warren William, following his performance in “The Mouthpiece.” His first picture is to be a story based on the life of Ivar Kreuger, as yet untitled.
Studios are following the news these days. This is but one example. Within a week after the Kreuger suicide and financial crash, RKO received one hundred stories based on press dispatches.
The Lindbergh kidnapping brought a deluge to every studio. They are still fighting off stories on the Olympic Games, and Boulder Dam has brought dozens.
With much flitting and conferring, Clara Bow has been signed by Fox, and after her first story, “Call Her Savage,” was announced, A. C. Blumenthal wired from New York in an attempt to get her for “Child of Manhattan,” claiming it would be a better vehicle for a come-back.
Fox is reported to have declined to loan her.
The cast of “Red Headed Woman,” the Catherine Bush story, has been chosen at last by MGM.
Jean Harlow, as predicted, is in the title role, while Chester Morris is Bill Jr. and Lewis Stone is the father. Leila Hyams is Irene, Una Merkel is Sally, May Robson and Charles Boyer complete the principals.
On the same lot “Good Time Girl” is announced as the next Marion Davies picture, an original by Frances Marion, with dialogue by Anita Loos and direction by Edmund Goulding, his first since “Grand Hotel.”
Saturday, February 11, 2012
May 8, 1932
Universal’s Iceland Production – Jack Holt in “The Thirteenth Man”
Dr. Arnold Franck and the Universal expedition which is to make “Iceberg” in Greenland this Summer are on the high seas bound for Germany.
In Hamburg the company will be joined by Leni Riefenstahl of the German screen, who will be the heroine of “Iceberg.” The party then shoves off for Compenhagen, and so, about the end of May, to Greenland.
European actors who are also expert mountain climbers and the ice enthusiasts will also join the company before it leaves for Germany.
Filming “Iceberg” will require six months of the Arctic's long days and two months of long nights.
“Iceberg” will relate the story of white men and women stranded in the barren wastes of the frozen area. Dr. Franck is an old hand at making Alpine films, “Storms Over Mont Blanc” being his most familiar picture on this side of the water.
A schooner nosing mysteriously about in tropical waters will provide the setting for Jack Holt's next venture into two-fisted melodrama in the great outdoors. Columbia is preparing to make the film, which has the title of “The Thirteenth Man.”
Henry B. Walthall, whose Little Colonel in “The Birth of a Nation,” may still be recalled, has been engaged by First National. The veteran actor will appear with Richard Barthelmess in “The Cabin in the Cotton,” Henry Harrison Kroll's novel of the deep South, which Paul Green adapted for the screen.
Mr. Walthall was a star back in the old Griffith days when a lad named Barthelmess broke into pictures. Their joint appearance will mark the first time the two have played together since those days.
Bing Crosby's first feature-length film in the series he is to make for Paramount will be, not inappropriately, about the radio – an adaptation of “Wild Waves,” William Ford Manley's satiric picture of the goings-on in a broadcasting studio.
Burns and Allen, the popular vaudeville and radio team, will be in the film.
Production on “Wild Waves” has been postponed until the beginning of June, which will give Mr. Crosby an opportunity to finish his round of theatrical appearances in New England and Chicago.
The production of “Horse Feathers,” the new Marx Brothers frolic, is temporarily stalled while Chico, the loudest of the brothers, recovers from a fractured knee-cap. Chico was hurt in an automobile accident three weeks ago, and has now left the hospital.
It will be several weeks yet before the production can resume and the three other members of the clan are enjoying vacations in the meantime.
William Wyler and a number of the company making “Tom Brown of Culver” left Universal City for Culver, Ind., where they are now engaged in making scenes of that military prep school.
The picture, both in its studio and location phases, is enjoying the cooperation of the school authorities, and Colonel Robert Rossow, commandent of cadets is acting as technical advisor.
Included in the company of actors who made the trip are Tom Brown, who has the title role; Slim Summerville, H. B. Warner, Eugene Pallette, Ben Alexander and Richard Cromwell.
The most interesting feature of the cross-country expedition was Universal’s famous camera crane, built originally to obtain unusual angle shots for the production of “Broadway,” which was loaded on a flat car and taken along. The massive instrument, mounted on its own auto truck chassis, is capable of elevating camera, camera men and director to a height of fifty feet.
Ben Turpin is coming back to the screen. The celebrated strabismic comedian has joined up with Paramount to appear in a comedy, which is soon to be produced with Jack Oakie and W. C. Fields in leading roles.
Except for a brief appearance as the cross-eyed lackey in “The Love Parade” a couple of years ago and another in “Cracked Nuts,” Mr. Turpin has been missing – and missed – from the scene.
Constance Bennett will begin work in a few days on “The Higher Ups” in which she will appear as a gallant daughter of wealth who gets mixed up in a scandal in high society. Neil Hamilton will have the lead opposite her.
James Gleason, who has not found much time for the stage since Hollywood took him and his colorful slang under her capacious wing, is now located with Paramount for a role in George Bancroft's “The Challenger.”
The Gleason family seems to get along well with the films. Lucille Webster Gleason recently appeared in “Girls About Town,” and Russell Gleason, their son, has a part in “The Strange Case of Clara Deane.”
Appearing opposite Mr. Bancroft in “The Challenger” is Wynne Gibson.
Metro has acquired the motion picture rights to “The Devil Passes,” the play by Benn W. Levy.
William Faulkner, the widely discussed author of “Sanctuary” and “As I Lay Dying,” has been engaged for motion-picture work by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Under the terms of the agreement the novelist will write originals for the screen as well as adaptations and dialogue. Whether he will adapt any of his own novels for the company is a matter of doubt.
“They Call It Sin,” adapted from a novel by Alberta Steadman Egan, will be produced by First National with Loretta Young and George Brent in the leading roles when Miss Young finishes work on “Life Begins.”
The two have already made a picture together, “Week-end Marriage,” which is scheduled for a June release.
The Warners have assembled a cast to support Barbara Stanwyck in “The Mud Lark,” and the film version of Arthur Stringer's novel will soon be entering production.
Snub Pollard, the mustachioed comedian of dozens and dozens of the old silent funny pictures, will have a part. There are, in addition, David Landau, Leila Bennett, George Brent and Hardie Albright.
Henry Armetta, whose face is probably more familiar to cinema audiences than his name, has been rushed into the cast of Edward G. Robinson's “Tiger Shark.”
Mr. Armetta is the apoplectic man who gave the M. G. M. pictures some of their most hilarious moments last year. Being a free agent, he has let himself out to Warners for this film.
Two of the principal roles in “Tiger Shark” are being interpreted by Richard Arlen and Zita Johann.
Miss Johann, whose interests hitherto have been mainly theatrical, was in D. W. Griffith's “The Struggle” last Fall.