Tuesday, March 30, 2010


April 19, 1932

Robert Young and Maureen O’Sullivan have been added to the cast of “Strange Interlude” at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. Norma Shearer and Clark Gable head the cast of this picturization of the Eugene O’Neill stage play, under the direction of Robert Z. Leonard. Alexander Kirkland, Ralph Morgan, Henry B. Walthall and May Robson are also among the players.

“The Strange Love of Molly Louvain,” recently completed at the First National studios, has had its preview at the Eastern offices of the company. The leading roles in the photoplay are taken by Ann Dvorak, Lee Tracy, Richard Cromwell, Leslie Fenton, Guy Kibbee, Frank McHugh, Donald Dillaway, Thomas Jackson and J. Farrell MacDonald.

Lewis Milestone, the director, who arrived recently in Hollywood after a sojourn in New York, will direct several new pictures for United Artists. Among these are “Rain.” Another will be an Al Jolson picture from an original story by Ben Hecht.

“The Devil and the Deep,” described as a “story of love and adventure woven into the background of a submarine disaster,” is announced by Paramount as a vehicle for Tallulah Bankhead and Gary Cooper. The picture will introduce to the screen Charles Laughton, London actor, who recently appeared in “Payment Deferred.” The screen play is being prepared by Harry Hervey, author of “Shanghai Express,” and Benn W. Levy, English playwright and author of “Springtime for Henry.”

Elissa Landi has begun work for her next Fox picture, “Burnt Offering,” following the completion of “The Woman in Room 13,” which is soon to be released. The new picture, which will be directed by Frank Lloyd, will also be a vehicle for Alexander Kirkland.

A French-language version of “High Pressure,” in which William Powell took the main part for Warner Brothers, has started production under the direction of Henry Blake. The part taken by Mr. Powell has been assigned to André Luguet. The French title of the picture is “Le Brasseur d’Affairs.”

Columbia Pictures closed negotiation last week for the distributing rights to “The Blonde Captive,” a picture of the more remote parts of Australia.

Chester Morris and Richard Arlen will be seen together in “Come On, Marines,” and have reported to the Paramount Hollywood studios for film tests. The film play is based on a story by James K. McGuinness and Thomas Boyd.

A warning to would-be motion picture actors who have neither stage training, screen personality nor money has been issued by B. P. Schulberg, director of productions for Paramount. “Disillusionment and heartbreak,” says Mr. Schulberg, “are apt to be the sole rewards for those whose only qualifications for film work are good looks and ambition. Those qualities counted a few years ago, but talking pictures have placed greater demands on actors and actresses.

How do motion picture actors and actresses memorize their lines? Hollywood gossip has it that some need seclusion and quiet and others crave music or companionship. Warner Baxter, according to Fox Film officials, likes music with Spanish rhythm while studying his lines. Joan Bennett writes her lines out in longhand. With Will Rogers matters are somewhat simplified, for his is given considerable latitude for improvisation; but he is one of the few who are allowed such liberty. Another of those few is Marie Dressler.


The most “rumored” person in town at the moment is Greta Garbo. She will sign with M-G-M; she will not sign; she will go back to Sweden; she will go to another organization; all these and more, all with the explanation that they are “inside tips,” float up and down the boulevard.

The best of the rumors and facts, with no indication of which is which, seem to be these: She has asked for an extension of her passport until next year; her manager, Harry Eddington, has resigned from M-G-M to be free to negotiate with some other company; if M-G-M does not meet her terms she will go elsewhere; when she is through with her next contract she will make a two-year tour of the world making personal appearances which, she believes, will net her a million dollars a year; then she will retire.

A record for prolonged shooting is being established by “Strange Interlude” at M-G-M. It is now in its tenth week, with at least two more to go. This is because of all the asides. For the first two weeks all scenes were shot four times. Then a plan was devised so that they are shot but twice. But, with retakes and all, it still runs each scene up to four to six takes.

Paramount is preparing Marlene Dietrich’s new film, untitled, for early production. It will differ from recent Dietrich roles in that it will be a Cinderella type of New York story, except that the transformation will take a period of time rather than be an overnight affair. It is the plan to vary her program from time to time and show that she can do other things. The studio says she will be “unrestrained” in the coming one.

RKO began shooting “The Truth About Hollywood” and “Is My Face Red?” – their two most important productions at the moment. Constance Bennett was switched to the Hollywood yarn after some studio executive read “Unmated,” which was cast and in rehearsal. After spending some $20,000 on the yarn, as happened in “Once in a Life Time,” some one read the script and found that it couldn’t be shown in any State having censorship. So, with the explanation that Adele Rogers St. John’s story is “more timely” and that “Unmated” was being held for future release, the studio asked everybody to just forget about it and please not mention the matter again.

The studio is most optimistic about “Is My Face Red?” Written by two boys in the RKO publicity office, Ben Markson and Allen Rivken, a rapid script is being prepared about a broadcasting New York columnist.

Announcement of a number of adventure pictures and continued activity among the independents is another item of the week’s news. Major studios are sending companies to Iceland, Greenland, the South Seas, the Straits Settlements and Africa to film blood-and-thunder yarns; independent leasing lots buzzed with activity as new deals were made public.

Hope, that is reputed to spring eternally but which has been in a dormant state in Hollywood for some time, again has reared its head.

Carl Laemmle, Jr. says that adventure films are the mode for the coming season. He is sending Dr. Arnold Fanck, maker of “White Hell of Pitz Palu,” “White Frenzy” and “Avalanche,” to film “Iceberg in Greenland” in a hitherto unphotographed locale.

“Early sound problems prevented us from sending companies outside the studio,” Mr. Laemmle said. “Out of 500 pictures not more than fifteen or twenty were made off the Hollywood lots. Sound is now a stable thing and we are having little trouble in photographing with portable equipment.

“We have almost ready for release “The Doomed Battalion,” made in the Austrian Tyrol. The Greenland picture, one in the Straits Settlements, one in Shanghai, another in Africa, and one in Yellowstone National Park will complete Universal’s globe trotting for the year.

“Sound put the studios in a story rut, but with its perfection and with an understanding of it the curse that has been on us for three years is lifted. Dialogue, of course, will continue to make talkers a national proposition, but American can again enjoy a universality of locale.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is sending W. S. Van Dyke of “Trader Horn” to Iceland for an untitled yarn. Douglas Fairbanks will arrive within a few days with his stuff from the South Seas. Sol Lesser is editing a number of travel and adventure films from far places.

The spurt in the independent market is interesting. Groups are being formed admittedly to make pictures for the major companies. There are two reasons for this. First, some of the majors are having difficulty getting enough money from the bankers to make their complete program and independents with angels or with other banking connections can provide product; second, independents are being encouraged so that their costs may be compared with major costs, with a possible revision of the latter as a result.

One of the major concerns frankly says that it is buying twelve pictures from an “indie” with the idea of comparing costs with their own. And if what the major suspects is true, the unemployment situation will be even more acute.

The week’s most interesting independent announcement came from M. C. Levee, until recently with Paramount. He has formed the Screen Guild, which is to make pictures probably for United Artists, and it will be done on a cooperative basis. Writers, directors, artists and technicians will be paid a small amount of cash for their efforts and will then share in the profits. This has been attempted in Hollywood before in that section known locally as “Poverty Row,” where pictures are made without money with quite disastrous results to the contributors, who, it developed, knew little of book-keeping. However, no one of Mr. Levee’s standing has ever offered a profit-sharing plan before on a legitimate basis, and people not under contract are quite hopeful.


A said...

Another wonderful post. Great job!

GAH1965 said...


All the Garbo buzz I'm coming across recently makes me wonder how close she really was to retiring at this time. Interesting.

Lesley Ann said...

I really enjoy your blog! I learn a great deal about film and I have learned about so many actors/actresses that I knew nothing about! Wonderful read!

Will said...

excellent work