Sunday, June 13, 2010

April 24, 1932


Lips of Players Will Remain Motionless as They React to Their Thoughts Which Will Be Heard

By Dan Thomas
Hollywood, April 23

How will the “asides,” or audible thoughts, be handled in the filming of Eugene O’Neill’s “Strange Interlude”?

For weeks that has been the leading topic of conversation around Hollywood. It was more than a year ago that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer purchased the screen rights to the O’Neill play. Production was scheduled to start immediately but had to be postponed because of the difficulties encountered in working out a plan for the handling of the “asides” – which after all are the important part of the play.

On the stage this was accomplished by having the characters pause in mid-action and speak their thoughts to the audience.

For instance, one character might smile and extend his hand to another in greeting.
“How are you, old chap?” he would say with obvious cordiality.
Turning aside to the audience, he would speak his thoughts:
“Insolent fool… I’d like to throw him out on his head.”

Obviously some other means for handing the “asides” had to be devised. The play ran five hours and audiences just won’t sit through a picture of that length.

The picture actually is in production now with Norma Shearer and Clark Gable playing the leading roles. But since considerable secrecy is being maintained, there is still plenty of speculation as to how the “asides” are being handled.

After considerable sleuthing, I managed to get some first-hand information about the intricate process being used although I can make no report about its effectiveness.
The handling of the “asides” will be done in this manner. The players will speak their regular lines and then react to the thoughts which will be heard, although the players’ lips will remain motionless.

To accomplish this, two recording systems must be employed throughout the entire production. And each scene is actually filmed twice.

First the scene is shot with the players speaking the oral lines and the thoughts as well and acting accordingly. The dialogue is timed to a fraction of a second. The recording is done on film and also on a wax disc.

Then the scene is remade, this time the players speaking only the oral lines. During the period when the “asides” are to be expressed, the actors simply pantomime. The thoughts recorded on the wax disc then are reproduced through a loud speaker and re-recorded.

The disc is perfectly synchronized with the sound recording apparatus and is playing all the time the scene is being recorded for the second time. However, the director can eliminate all but the “asides” by means of a cut-out button. But everything must be perfectly timed so that the “asides” will come in at the proper moment.


Star of “The Mouthpiece” Is Greatly Interested in Politics

Staccato vignette of Warren William, soon in “The Mouthpiece” at Warner’s Strand:

Born Warren William Krech in Atkins, Minn., in 1896. His father sprang from German parentage and his mother from English. Earliest ambition was to be a sea captain. He still has this ambition, owns a small schooner and hope to sail it to the South Seas.

Decided to become an actor when he came to New York on a visit and saw the plays and the Great White Way; later he returned to New York and enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Art.

First play was “Mrs. Jimmie Thompson,” in which he played the role of a pickle salesman. Shortly after, he scored in “Expressing Willie.”

Made his celluloid debut in a serial, playing the hero to Pearl White.

Favorite screen actors are Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and John Barrymore.

Favorite playwrights are Ibsen, Sir James Barrie, Ferenc Molnar and Phillip Barry.

Likes good music and favors Wagner and Puccini, intensely dislikes jazz bands. Favorite authors are Dickens and Conrad. Enjoys travel.

Happily married for a number of years and declares that marriage is no actor’s handicap.

Greatly interested in politics; is a great admirer of Al Smith and favors him for the Presidency.

Dislikes interviews and crowds. Does not like to play cards and is not interested in indoor sports. Dislikes seeing an “s” on the end of his last name.

During his early days in New York was often mistaken for Georges Carpentier. Now his appearance is often compared to John Barrymore’s. While William disagrees, this comparison does not bother him.


Hollywood, April 23
Flying over from Reno while awaiting her divorce, Paulette Goddard, former actress, ultimately landed a Hal Roach contract. She left the stage about two years ago.

Miss Goddard is the first member of a potential stock company at the Roach studio.


Culver City, Calif., April 23
Harry Lucan and his circle-eyed dog Pete, are leaving Hal Roach after having been under contract for five years. Financial disagreement caused the separation.


Sickness of Vaudeville Actor Led Film Star to His First Stage Job

An accident took Warner Baxter, seen in “Amateur Daddy,” from the business of selling plows to becoming an actor. As a youngster he had harbored the idea of becoming a thespian but his mother persuaded him to go into business.

His first job was as salesman for a farm implement concern. Dorothy Shoemaker, who was doing a vaudeville act, had the accident. Her partner became ill and she was about to cancel her engagement. Another salesman who knew of Baxter’s ambitions heard of it and persuaded her to substitute his friend.

Baxter remained in the act for four months before again going into business. He made little money and eventually joined a stock company which was headed for Hollywood.

Baxter failed to get into the movies and turned seriously to stock company work. For seven years he stayed at it, the majority of the time appearing in Oliver Morosco’s shows. While he was playing on the Los Angeles stage Elmer Harris saw Baxter and got him to appear opposite Ethel Clayton.

He had only average success in the movies until the talkies came along. Then he got the opportunity to play the part of the Cisco Kid in “In Old Arizona,” and had his popularity redoubled.


Hollywood, April 23
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s successor to “Grand Hotel” as an all-star production will be a Foreign Legion story which may have the title, “The Bugle Sounds.”

It will be Raoul Walsh’s first directorial assignment on the M.-G.-M. lot, and the picture, it is said, will be made on a scale of magnitude approaching the seven-star “Grand Hotel.”Production is expected to start in June.

Walsh is working over the script, which has been in the studio’s possession for a long time but held until it could be given proper attention and production.

“The Bugle Sounds” is the title which M-G-M originally announced for a picture starring the late Lon Chaney. Later, it was reported Wallace Beery would be shown in the story.


By Harrison Carroll
Hollywood, April 23, 1932

If you can believe Eddie Cantor, the strangest will on record has been drawn up by his friend and fellow-comedian, George Jessel.

This whole thing is an elaborate gag.

Under its terms, Jessel disposes of some $75,000,000, many times his actual fortune.

He leaves million dollar bequests to every actors’ fund, $50,000 to a head waiter, several hundred thousand to each of Cantor’s five daughters and dozens of other staggering sums.

The details of the bequests are worked out with elaborate care. For instance, the head waiter must not touch the principal of the inheritance and the future husbands of Cantor’s daughters are not to share in their good fortune.

Says Cantor:
“The thing is so funny, everybody will laugh for a week after George dies.”

Your Daily Gossip:

Harold Lloyd is using Gloria Swanson’s old make-up table. The central mirror is encircled by tear-drop clusters of lights. On Harold’s dressing table is an autographed picture of Alfonso of Spain. Harold, by the way, has hundreds of autographs from celebrities.

During his vacation, Lionel Barrymore has done paintings of the oil dock at San Pedro, the desert flowers near Mojave and a scene from the Verdugo Hills.

Ted Fiorito, the music maker at the Frolics here, may be going to the Hotel St. Francis in San Francisco before long. Madge Evans and Tom Gallery were dancing to his music again the other evening. They were chaperoned by her mother and brother. This supper club is building a large open-air garden in preparation for the Olympic games’ visitors.

Ronald Colman is roughing it on a ranch near here.

Ran across Jack Oakie at 4 a.m. in the Brown Derby. He was with a willowy brunette and wore a cutaway and top hat. Very fancy.

Hollywood’s central casting bureau boasts of being able to supply any type of help needed at the studios. R-K-O almost stopped them with its demand for a man who could rattle off baby-talk in Chinese. He was needed on “The Roar of the Dragon,” set where they’re using ten slant-eyed infants. The casting bureau finally made good.


Carl Laemmle, Jr., has just taken up Lew Ayres’ third option which promotes the young star into the large salary class.

Lew has done extraordinarily well in Hollywood. When he made “All Quiet on the Western Front,” both Louis Wolheim and John Wray were billed above him. Now he is one of Universal’s two official stars. (Tom Mix is the other.)

During the young actor’s stay at the Laemmle studio he has never had two similar roles. In a couple of instances, “All Quiet” and “The Doorway to Hell” he was killed at the end of the picture.

Universal now plans to use him in only four pictures a year. They already have six stories planned ahead of him. “Shanghai Interlude” will be his first, and, following that, “Laughing Boy.”


That Boris Karloff once worked in a flour mill at Vallejo, Cal.?


Veteran New York Stage Actress Has “Broken Lullaby” Role

A veteran New York stage actress and playwright, vacationing in California, recently figured in “one of those things” that happen in Hollywood.

Ernst Lubitsch, Paramount director, after a week’s futile search for the exact type of actress he had in mind for the part of the mother in “Broken Lullaby,” heard of Louise Carter, invited her to make a test, and two hours later notified executives that she was the player he wanted in his first dramatic talking picture.

With 33 years’ stage experience, Miss Carter has played hundreds of roles. She is author of more than a score of plays, three of which were produced on Broadway. She starred in her production of “Clouds,” Taylor Holmes, father of Phillips, the boy in “Broken Lullaby,” was co-starred in Miss Carter’s most recent play, “Joy of Living.”

One of Miss Carter’s best known roles on the New York stage was in “The Dybuk.” She played an 80-year-old Jewish woman. When Miss Carter, born in Iowa of French ancestry, made up in character to convince Lee Shubert she looked the part, he signed her with the exclamation: “You’re a picture of my grandmother.”


Heather Thatcher and Nora Gregor Seen in Montgomery’s Support

Two actresses new to the American public make their debuts in support of Robert Montgomery in the latter’s new starring film, “But the Flesh is Weak.”

The two newcomers are Heather Thatcher, a popular favorite with English theatergoers for years, and Nora Gregor, who was a stage player with Max Reinhardt’s Vienna company before coming to this country to work in pictures.

Miss Thatcher has been an outstanding footlight favorite in England, where she appeared in “Oh Daddy,” “Sally,” and other notable successes. She was born in London, and first attained fame on the musical comedy stage.

Nora Gregor, who has the other feminine lead, originally came to this country several years ago to appear in foreign versions of talking pictures for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Born in Gorizia, Italy, the daughter of an artist-jeweler, she finished her education in Vienna. There, too, she made her motion picture debut in “The Man Who Laughs.”

In Hollywood she played Norma Shearer’s part in the German version of “The Trial of Mary Dugan.” She also appeared in “Olympia,” the German version of John Gilbert’s “His Glorious Night,” and in “Seeing Hollywood,” an original German talking picture.

Alice White, blonde screen star, appearing in person, is the topliner of a triple headline show.

It was a year ago in June that Alice, with some misgivings, left Hollywood for a “brief” tour of personal appearances in the East. At that time, personal appearances by stars were looked upon doubtfully by theatrical managers, for many of the “silent” film crop had tried their hands at it and proved themselves ornamental, but not entertaining.

However, Alice made her bow and proved that she could do something. Her dancing with William Moffa, still her partner, was such a sensation that she has been in vaudeville ever since and is having a hard time breaking away to return to the Coast for some film engagements this summer.


Blood Told, However, and Actor Turned to Footlights

The stage beckoned… the prize ring as well… but blood has a way of telling, and so Conway Tearle, seen in “Vanity Fair,” became an actor.

Tearle was born in New York City, but went to England, his parents’ native land, for his education. He attended Carlisle and Winchester schools. His early ambition was to be a pugilist, and he followed the ring for two years before taking up acting.

Tearle’s family has been on the stage since 1712. One of his ancestors played in support of Mrs. Sarah Siddons. Another, William Augustus Conway, was a famous Shakespearian actor. His father, Osmond Tearle, was a noted classical actor of the English stage, and his brother Godfrey Tearle, was long one of the most popular figures before the footlights of England. Conway’s own first appearance on the stage was at the age of 5 at the Academy of Music in New York City.

His pugilistic career was terminated when he accepted an engagement at the Drury Lane Theater in London. Later, he was leading man at the Garrick and Imperial Theaters. His London experience was in support of such famous stars as Sir Charles Wyndham, Mary Moore, Ellen Terry and Lena Ashwell. In 1907 he appeared with Ethel Barrymore, Billie Burke, Julia Marlowe, Viola Allen, Emily Stevens, Helen Mencken – in fact, he has played in support of every outstanding woman who has graced the American stage in the last two decades.

In 1915, Conway made his great hit in the film world with his interpretation of the hero in “The Common Law,” in which Clara Kimball Young starred.

This was such a success that he was soon signed to play the leading roles in other motion picture productions. His best known early efforts were in “The Foolish Virgin,” “The Reason Why,” “She Loves and Lies” and “The Way of a Woman.” Mr. Tearle was leading man for most of the popular film stars, appearing in support of Mary Pickford, Anita Stewart, Constance Talmadge and Norma Talmadge.


For the first time since the Technicolor musical – “Follow Thru,” Nancy Carroll sings in her Palace picture, “Wayward.”

The name of the song, the only one in the picture, is “What’s the Difference?” It was written by John W. Green, Paramount’s New York studio staff composer, author of “Body and Soul” and other song hits.

A sun parlor, beautifully decorated with flowers and ferns, is the setting for the song. A negro orchestra in the background plays the accompaniment.

“X Marks the Spot,” with Lew Cody is also shown.


What is a Hollywood stunt man’s greatest fear? Sounds rather silly to ask such men who daily laugh at fate by crashing airplanes and performing suicidal stunts for the camera a question like this. Dick Grace, ace flier and author of “The Lost Squadron,” a story of the making of movie thrills, confided in Richard Dix, star of the picture, that these hardy men do have fears.

“The greatest fear I have,” said Grace, “Is driving an auto in traffic. And I knew one fellow in our group who slept on the floor because he was afraid he’d fall out of bed and get hurt.”

On the same program is Conway Tearle, Carmel Myers and Frances Dade in “Pleasure.”


A said...

Wonderful post! I adore Warren William so it was wonderful to hear about him.

Can't believe that Pete the dog was involved in a labor dispute

GAH1965 said...

Thanks! And sorry for the long delay between posts. I cut my finger and couldn't type for the longest time.

I've always thought Warren William looks like John Barrymore myself. Guess I'm not the only one.

I never realized that Paulette Goddard had a Hal Roach contract. I wonder if she ever came close to showing up in an Our Gang comedy?

Philip Mershon said...

Absolutely terrific! And I'm glad to hear about your finger. Wait, that didn't come out right. What I mean is, due to the uncharacteristically long absense, I was worried that something was really wrong. Now I'm sure a cut severe enough to keep you from typing so long was no picnic, but I'm glad that's all it was. Been thinking about you.

You sent me on a google hunt about petey and the lil rascals. What fun.

Really fascinating about Goddard's begining.

I've always regarded Warren as being in the William Powell mold. I just wish he had climbed the star ladder as high as Powell.

GAH1965 said...

Felix - Glad you stuck around and kept checking in. And glad to be back, too.

The Petey item had me googling Our Gang stuff as well, and now I have the "complete collection" of Our Gang sound shorts at home via Netflix. Not as good as I remember them from childhood, alas.

To me, Warren William lacks Powell's debonaire quality - but William does 'sinister' well as a result. Although I just watched "Employee's Entrance" this week, so perhaps my judgment's clouded by that role in particular. He did seem to play that "type" a lot though.