Thursday, December 3, 2009

April 10, 1932


Hollywood, Cal., April 9 (UP)
“Chico” Marx, 44, one of the Four Marx Brothers of stage and screen popularity, was injured late today in a collision of two automobiles at a Hollywood intersection.

According to police reports, Max Holcomb, Hollywood real estate man, brought his automobile to a boulevard stop and the car driven by Marx crashed into the rear of the Holcomb machine.

Marx was taken to the Hollywood emergency hospital where it was said he had received a broken rib, fractured knee and possible internal injuries.


Hollywood, April 9
Nobody at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios suspected that the dignified Lionel Barrymore possessed such a thing as a family nickname until brother John arrived on the set and astonished all the onlookers by slapping the elder member on the back and calling out, “Hello, Mike.”

The secret was out, and now all those who dare to (but not many have the courage) call the elder brother by the appellation that some one attached to him during his boyhood.

When the filming of “Arsene Lupin” was completed – and studio executives had put the name of the two brothers on the dotted line for “Grand Hotel” – some official asked the pair to appear in a short publicity trailer that had been prepared to advertise “Lupin.”

The Barrymores agreed, looked at the rather vacuous lines they were supposed to say and then without a word disappeared from the lot. The next day they came around with a “trailer” which they themselves had written and which contained a number of genuine laughs without being in the least pretentious. Studio officials were taken aback by this unorthodox donation of services, but they accepted the new script gratefully.

John likes to tell about the Barrymore baby – and Lionel always listens with the same quiet smile. Lionel is proud of the baby, and John is equally proud of the fact that his brother won the 1931 Academy of Motion Picture Arts award for the best acting performance of the season (in “A Free Soul”).

John’s favorite anecdote about Lionel concerns the days when the latter was putting on weight to such an extent that it began to be noticeable.

“You know, he was actually fat,” John likes to comment. “That was in New York, I told him that if he didn’t do something about it he’d be no good for anything but burlesque parts. Finally, the son-of-a-gun began to agree with me. He took up Vance Thompson’s ‘Eat and Grow Thin’ diet, ran around the Central Park reservoir with four sweaters on, and preserved himself for a future career in the movies.”

When John tells his anecdote too often, Lionel has one in return. It has to do with the time when John was hustled out of bed at 6 in the morning when an earthquake hit town, and was pressed into service by army guards, shoveling bricks from the sidewalks. At the conclusion of the story, Lionel pauses a moment with a twinkle in his eye, and then repeats the late John Drew’s comment on the incident:

“It took an earthquake to get him out of bed, and the United States Army to make him go to work!”


Hollywood, March 26
For the last several weeks James Cagney has been leading the life of a prize fighter at the Warner studios. His routine included sparring, jumping the rope, shadow boxing and punching the bag, part of the time in the presence of the camera and microphone, at other times merely for the purposes of rehearsal. All this was preliminary to the process of production of his latest picture, “Winner Take All,” based upon Gerald Beaumont’s story, “One Thirty-Three at Three.”

Seasoned followers of the prize ring will recognize the meaning of the Beaumont title. For the benefit of the uninitiated, “One Thirty-Three at Three” means 133 pounds upon weighing in at 3 o’clock the afternoon of the fight, and harks back to the days of Ad Wolgast, Willie Ritchie and Battling Nelson.

Boxing, as conducted for such a picture as “Winner Take All” has its fine points, some of which are unknown to the professionals. For one thing, the kind of blows delivered have an important bearing on the way the fighting scenes will look on the screen. Short, quick jabs are effective in a real match, but jabs are delivered so quickly that the camera is likely to miss them.

Round-arm blows are much more effective photographically, and therefore in staging a fight for the films hooks and swings are favored by directors and camera men. In some of the most famous battles of the prize-ring the knockout was unnoticed in the pictures because of the speed with which it was sent over.

Cagney has refused to have a double appear for him in any of the scenes. Before going on the stage he was interested in amateur boxing in Yorkville and other sections of New York.

By Luella O. Parsons

Gloria Swanson has written some of her friends that she expects to return to the United States in June. As soon as the new daughter is old enough to travel she and the new husband, Michael Farmer, and three children, Gloria II, Joseph and the baby will take a boat back to the United States.

While in London, Miss Swanson purchased a story from John Farrow, which she plans to make as one of her first United Artists pictures. Johnny Farrow has been taken up by the elite in London and is said to be having a great time. There is little chance that Lila Lee, former fiancé of Mr. Farrow, will go to London. She started to work here and George Hill has been very devoted to her. In fact, it looks like a romance.


Gary Cooper is due in New York any day now. He may even be there by the time this is written. Wagers are about fifty-fifty as to whether or not he will marry Bert Taylor’s sister, the society girl, in whom he showed such interest, or whether he will return to Lupe Velez. The Mexican firecracker is said to still have a warm spot in her heart for Gary and as for Gary, he was cra-zy about her before she decided to call it a day.


No one was more surprised than Natalie Talmadge when the story of Buster’s escapade reached the newspapers. Buster and Natalie had had a little family argument. The kind that occurs in the best of regulated families. It wasn’t serious, but it was hectic while it lasted. Buster had been coaxing to take the boys for an airplane ride for weeks. Natalie didn’t want to risk their lives and she absolutely refused. Then when they had a disagreement Buster took matters into his own ands and decided to let the boys have a sky ride. He is back home now probably sorry and wishing he hadn’t acted so hastily.


The house at the beach recently occupied by Marlene Dietrich has an interesting history. So many celebrities have occupied it from time to time. It’s a small place, not much more than a cottage, but it faces the ocean and has an unusually good beach.

Buster Keaton lived there first, then Bebe Daniels, then George Bancroft, then Pola Negri and later Marlene Dietrich. It is owned by Miss Daniels who bought it several years ago as a summer home. Later she built other beach houses, but this one has always been her favorite.


The good old movie fans have added to the shekels taken in by Leslie Howard and Helen Hayes at the legitimate theaters where they are playing. Robert Montgomery says Mr. Howard told him the balcony is always filled for “Animal Kingdom” these days. Miss Hayes says she believes that many of those who buy those balcony seats are movie fans. “They saw me on the screen,” she said, “and they come to the matinee and evening performances of “The Good Fairy.”

Lawrence Tibbett supplements this by saying for the first time since he has sung in opera there is a line of people waiting at the stage door. This, he attributes, to the good old movies. Maybe the movie fans are becoming stage fans.


Looking over the morning mail I had this letter:

“Dear Miss Parsons: And this is straight goods. If you don’t know it already Greta Garbo did attend the Kreutzberg recital last Tuesday night. She sat third row center in mock turtle back sweater and an older gray coat, accompanied by an older woman and man. And the piece de resistance is that Marlene Dietrich sat just four seats away, same row, with Von Sternberg. Don’t you love it?”

It was signed “A too, too thrilled fan from San Pedro.”

I also find a telegram saying that Gilbert Roland has been signed to play the lead in “Gigolette,” directed and written for Beaux Arts Productions by Alphonse Martell. This is Gilbert’s first independent.


By Luella O. Parsons
Hollywood, April 9

Comedy, pie-throwing, slapstick comedy of the type that made Mack Sennett famous, is what the dear public craves. Surprising that in the national poll conducted by the Hays organization an overwhelming majority voted in favor of low comedy.

Sex and problem plays come last on the list of preferred films. Serious drama, dealing with political intrigue, governmental activities or important social problems, is popular with only a few of the picture-going public. The voters, in other words, would rather see a Mickey Mouse, a silly symphony, a Charlie Chaplin, a Harold Lloyd film than a suggestive play in which the alluring heroine obviously seeks the easiest way or a gangster shoots down his pal.

Travel films with adventure as the attraction, wild animals in jungles and mystery dramas are second in favor with Westerns a close third. Irvin Cobb, author, registers his choice for melodrama, mystery detective and cinema tales of adventure.

The caustic H. L. Menken says in his usual manner, “If I had to go to the movies regularly I think I would prefer low comedy to anything else; after that travel films.”

The Hays organization, in conducting this canvass, was undoubtedly motivated by the success of the poll for prohibition, which the Literary Digest conducts each year. Personal letters sent out by Mr. Hays to prominent men and women brought a variety of answers.

Richard Washburn Child desires more realism. He would have the films tell the story of life as it is, not as it is fancied by some scenario writer.

Cleveland E. Dodge, philanthropist, is for the whole range of biographical, patriotic, religious and exploration films. In addition to an admitted liking for historical pictures he says that he is a “fan” for adventure films.

Wallace Irwin, author, comments thusly: “More and better comedies is my slogan. Perhaps I love comics because they so frankly and honestly represent life as it ‘ain’t’ They dwell in the never never land where anything can happen and usually does.”

What do you think Texas Guinan, queen of the night club life and widely publicized as the originator of “give the little girl a hand” prefers? Here is a surprise. Miss Guinan, who apparently has her serious moments, prefers inspirational pictures and classical dramas.


Recklessly adventurous rather than romantic, Ronald Colman comes to the Granada theater Wednesday in “The Unholy Garden” as Samuel Goldwyn’s first screen presentation of the year.

For the first time in two years, Colman is no longer the suave polished English gentleman. Instead, he is an outcast and a renegade hiding out with a dozen other refugees from the law in a strange outpost at the edge of the Sahara. Disheveled and unshaven, hair touseled and clothes mussed, he is a sharp contrast to the immaculately groomed hero of “The Devil to Pay,” “Raffles,” and “Bulldog Drummond,” his earlier pictures for Mr. Goldwyn.

Estelle Taylor and Fay Wray have the principal feminine roles. As the wanton voluptuary part of the story, Miss Taylor has the biggest part since her memorable appearance in “Cimmaron.” Miss Wray is the protected daughter of the embezzling recluse, hiding at the Inn.


Lola Lane has discovered how to become a screen star overnight. Recently she accepted an engagement to play the role of Letta Larbo, famous film luminary, in Universal’s rollicking comedy “Ex-Bad Boy,” and you can tell for yourself by going to the Rialto Friday where she is appearing, along with Robert Armstrong, Jean Arthur, Jason Robards, George Brent and other fun-makers.


Howard Hughes, who is recognized as filmdom’s outstanding movie-maker because of his production of superior pictures, will present his latest film-play, “The Age for Love,” at the State theater, starting today.

“The Age for Love,” a United Artists picture, was produced after nearly a year of preparation and metropolitan critics have praised it as one of the outstanding pictures of the year.

It was directed by Frank Lloyd, who was recently voted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as the outstanding director of the season.


A riotous laugh picture showing the inner workings of Hollywood studio and social life.

This aptly describes the “Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood,” which is featured this week at the RKO Majestic theater.

The picture presents as its stars George Sidney and Charlie Murray, the screen’s oldest team of stars from the point of pictures made together. In this picture Kellys’ daughter becomes a featured screen player during the silent picture days, and when the Cohen’s follow their Irish friends to the film capital they find the Kellys have “gone Hollywood” with tremendous enthusiasm. The Kellys find enjoyment in “high-hatting” their Jewish friends.

Subsequent events find the Cohens successful through the song-writing proclivities of their son when theme songs were a necessity for every picture. And the advent of the talking pictures proved to be the downfall of the Kelly girl because her voice failed to register. This situation gives the Cohens an opportunity to high-hat the Kellys.

The capable supporting cast includes Norman Foster, June Clyde, Esther Howard and Emma Dunn.

Earl Abel’s organ program has been titled “U Auto No,” and includes popular and comedy song numbers accompanied by screen slides.


The first picture ever to deal with the fate of the beauty contest winners will be shown under the title of “She Wanted a Millionaire,” at the Empire theater starting Thursday. This production is the Fox picture which Joan Bennett was making when she was seriously injured by a fall from a horse.

It is the story of a small-town girl who is entered in a bathing beauty contest by her sweetheart. She wins over international contestants and is wooed by a middle-aged millionaire. In this marriage she hopes to help her destitute family, but the attendant inconveniences of such a union reveal the secrets of unfortunate girls who marry for money.

The cast includes Joan Bennett, Spencer Tracy, James Kirkwood and Una Merkel.


Tallulah Bankhead, star of “Tarnished Lady” and “My Sin,” in both of which talking features, she scored individual triumphs far beyond the plot opportunities, has a role minutely fitted to her enigmatic, excitement-craving self in “The Cheat,” a modernized Paramount edition of Hector Turnbull’s famous box-office leader of silent days. She has the role created then by Fanny Ward.

With Irving Pichel, gifted character artist most recently featured in “An American Tragedy” and “The Road to Reno,” in the “branding” role originally done by Sessue Hayakawa, there is no reason to believe that this feature, to be headlined at the Granada theater beginning today, will not prove as popular as its non-voice predecessor.


A said...

Fantastic! I love your blog.

Judy said...

Great selection of items. I was especially interested in the background about Cagney training for 'Winner Take All', which I watched not so long ago.

GAH1965 said...

I saw Winner Take All not too long ago too and really liked it. Glad you enjoy the blog.