Friday, January 7, 2011


Hollywood, Cal., May 1, 1932
By Chapin Hall

Under the title to which rather strenuous objection was made in 1928 when the picture was made as a silent, shooting of “Rain” will begin during the coming week on Catalina Island. Lewis Milestone is directing Joan Crawford and Walter Huston in this audible version of the W. Somerset Maugham story and the Joseph Colton play.

Fresh in the public mind as a play, it was necessary for the cinema to disguise the story as “Sadie Thompson” when Gloria Swanson did it. To that objecting public “Rain” had a sinister meaning. But audiences and censors change and today the title is regarded as perfectly harmless.

Other difficulties, however, have been encountered. Some five years ago Paul Kelly, a rising young actor, engaged in a fist fight with Ray Raymond of the musical stage. Raymond died as a result of the battle and Kelly was sent to San Quentin. Out, rehabilitated, the past forgotten he hoped, Kelly returned to Hollywood. After a struggle to overcome obvious objections to his return to the screen, he was signed by Universal.

Mr. Milestone remembered the actor’s work, liked it, and engaged him to play the part of the marine in “Rain.” Joseph Schenck, head of United Artists, became somewhat fearful, however, and in spite of the attitude of the Hays office, which was that the man’s crime had been expiated, Mr. Schenck ordered him removed from the cast.

The “Rain” company is to shoot at the isthmus on Catalina, where the island village of the story has been built. A camera track runs from the beach around the village, by which outstanding photographic effects will be secured. This is the first time that a company has gone on location to film both interiors and exteriors of a production. A great financial saving will be effected, it being possible to work players and non-union technicians any number of hours without over-time if they are on location. Shooting will take five weeks, inclusive of rehearsals.

The trouble that Paramount is having with Josef Von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich over “The Blonde Venus” is not the first difficulty the studio has had with the pair over stories.

It was necessary virtually to force the director to accept “Shanghai Express,” which is Paramount’s best box office bet this year. After Mr. Von Sternberg agreed to the script, additional friction was experienced when he changed the story during the making.

The history of the present unpleasantness dates back to a script written by the director some months ago. The studio believed it to be unsuitable to the screen, having to do with a woman of the streets who went about her “profession” leading her small child by the hand. The director agreed to a re-writing, and when this was done he refused to accept it, according to the studio.

B. P. Schulberg, Paramount head, then delivered an ultimatum that the pair must begin immediate work on the studio’s version or be subject to legal action, and that night Mr. Von Sternberg left for New York.

According to studio officials, the director has been at loggerheads over stories for some time. He contends that poor stories have been forced on him and that the studio has relied on his directorial ability to turn them into good pictures. The studio says that the director has permitted his temperament to outweigh his story judgment and that the time has come to call a halt to the whole business.

Paramount is credited with having a find in Wynne Gibson, whose first starring picture, “The Strange Case of Clara Deane,” was previewed the other evening. Another find in the picture is Cora Sue Collins, a four-year-old child, and a list of the year’s best scenes will undoubtedly include that in which Miss Gibson parts with the baby in an orphanage as she is sent to prison.

“The Ten Commandments” has been changed in title to “Forgotten Commandments” and will be the first starring picture for Paramount’s recent importation, Sari Maritza. With her will be Gene Raymond and Marguerite Churchill. The new film will use the spectacle of the original as an illustrated lecture by a Russian scientist and a modern portion will be a Russian story.

Today’s best Garbo rumor: Miss Garbo will sign with M. C. Levee in his Screen Guild. Just before Mr. Levee left for New York, Harry Eddington, Miss Garbo’s manager, was frequently in conference with Mr. Levee, and the report is given considerable credence along the boulevard.

With the purchase of “Animal Kingdom” by RKO-Radio for Ann Harding, “Just a Woman” has been switched as a vehicle for Irene Dunne.

“Animal Kingdom” was secured at a reported price of $50,000 and it came with the services of Leslie Howard, who will play opposite Miss Harding.

However, immediate production of the play is improbable, as an untitled story by Humphrey Pearson is now being prepared for Miss Harding to be directed by Gregory La Cava, who did “Symphony of Six Million.”

Considerable secrecy surrounds “The Eighth Wonder,” now being made on the same lot.
It is from a story by the late Edgar Wallace and is being shot on a locked stage to which no one but technicians have thus far been admitted. The little information available indicates it will be a mechanical mystery thriller of some sort depending largely on trick photography.

RKO still pursues the younger and reputedly wilder generation. Eric Linden and Arline Judge have been cast in “Crossroads” by Martin Flavin, which is to be filmed as “Fraternity House.”

Rufus King has arrived on the same lot to write the script for “Mysteries of the French Secret Police.” There is still talk on the lot of a “super-duper” production with John Barrymore and Dolores Del Rio. The indications are now that “Moon and Sixpence” will be the vehicle for the pair, with George Archainbaud directing.

The Fox company on location at Santa Cruz, 400 miles north of here, has completed the exteriors of “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.” This is the picture Janet Gaynor walked out on when she decided she wanted more worldly parts than the sweet things the studio had been giving her. Marian Nixon was not adverse to taking Miss Gaynor’s place, for the saccharine road of unsophistication in the films is paved with sugar, as Broadway understands the meaning of the word.

While Miss Nixon is making the world sweeter with Aunt Jane and other Kate Douglas Wiggin characters, Miss Gaynor is in rehearsal with “The First Year,” her initial sally into the grown up ranks.

The difficulties over “Red Headed Woman” seem to be nearing the ironing-out stage at MGM with indications that Jean Harlow will be given the part. Miss Harlow has specialized on the screen in distasteful women and the fear of the average star that she will suffer from an unsympathetic part is just so much cream in Miss Harlow’s coffee.

She says that wives don’t like her anyway – professionally speaking, of course – and even if she played the orphan in “Daddy Long Legs,” they would still suspect her, so why not “Red Headed Woman?”

“Prosperity,” the Marie Dressler-Polly Moran comedy, is nearing completion on the same lot, as is the all-time record breaker, “Strange Interlude.”

The same concern has engaged Ralph Graves to act, write and direct, an unusual contractual combination. Helene Barclay, wife of McLelland Barclay, the artist, has arrived on the lot from New York.

At Universal, five pictures are in work and eight are being prepared. Those on which shooting is still taking place are “The Good Bad Man,” Tom Mix’s second; “Back Street,” the Fannie Hurst Yarn with Irene Dunne and John Boles; “Brown of Culver,” on which the company has just left for location scenes at the Culver Academy in Indiana; “The Old Dark House,” by J. B. Priestley, featuring Boris Karloff; “Heroes of the West,” a serial with Noah Beery Jr., Diane Duval and Onslow Stevens.

Hollywood is still quite upset by the defy hurled by Howard Hughes over “Scarface” when he said he would show it in spite of the censors. Now word comes from Ohio that Colonel Jason Joy of the local Hays office has secured the approval of the film in that State.

Local wiseacres point out that while Mr. Hughes did the defying the Hays office representative went into Ohio with a smile on his face and sweetness in his heart and got the film O. K.’d.


Kori said...

Great post! So much information. I don't know if you follow me or not, but I have a lot of old Hollywood stuff on my blog and facebook pages. Have a great weekend! Kori xoxo

Clarissa said...

Interesting to hear Jean Harlow's statement on the Redheaded Woman. Women and girls get influenced by that behavior, if they watch it all the time. So I guess Harlow was just the stuff for convinced 'naughty girls' and the 'nice girls' hated it. As naughty girls often despise nice girls -- they hate each other. A very old conflict between different girl's morals -- probably as old as mankind.

Of course the so-called 'nice girls' aren't stainless, if they behave arrogantly. It seems to me Harlow was kind of black sheep.

VP81955 said...

In late January of '32, it was reported that MGM was considering borrowing Carole Lombard from Paramount for "Red-Headed Woman." Have never seen that anywhere else, and at that stage of her career, it's uncertain whether Carole could have pulled it off (but at the time, you might have been able to say the same thing about Harlow!). Find more on this, and a similar item on Phillips Holmes, at

GAH1965 said...

Thanks for the nice words Blondie. I do read your blog as well.

Clarissa - interesting thoughts on "good girls" vs. "bad girls." What struck me most about the Harlow comment was that "wives" are the ones who supposedly don't like her, but of course in 1932 adult women, (wives, mothers) more than any other demographic determined the movie going choices of the household and probably had more to do with which stars were catapulted to success, so of course Harlow was the woman they LOVED to hate. The comments also reminded me of just how close this all was, really (just 15 years or so,) to the era of Theda Bara leading husbands astray, and how Harlow was just a streamline moderne vamp successor to her.

GAH1965 said...

VP - Interesting about Carole being considered for "Red Headed Woman." It got me doing some digging on the casting of that film overall and I put together a little chronology you might find interesting. I'm going to post it here, and then in the comments on Carole & Co too, if you don't mind.

GAH1965 said...

November 2, 1931
“Jean Harlow may have the feminine lead in “Red Headed Woman” which M-G-M will do.”

December 8, 1931
Ginger Rogers of the flaming locks being talked of to star in “The Red Headed Woman.” [from Luella O. Parsons]

January 20, 1932
“Barbara Stanwyck, Keith bound in “Forbidden,” may play “Red-Headed Woman” for Metro.

January 30, 1932
MGM is reported trying to borrow Carole Lombard and Phillips Holmes from Paramount. Carole is wanted for “Red Headed Woman” and Holmes for the cast of “Wet Parade.”

February 5, 1932
“Joan Crawford will star in Dora Macy’s “Promiscuous” and, if Gene Dennis’ psychic powers are working these days, will also be seen in “Red Headed Woman.”

February 9, 1932
Ginger Rogers selected as the ideal type for “The Red Headed Woman” by Grace La Rue. [from Luella O. Parsons]

February 10, 1932
If Irving Thalberg wants my honest opinion about “The Red Headed Woman,” and he said he did, I can tell him that Clara Bow, up to now, leads in the number of votes. He asked me to invite the fans, in my column, to come to his aid with suggestions for the lead and Clara is the favorite. [from Luella O. Parsons]

February 15, 1932
Marilyn Miller will not play the lead in “The Red Headed Woman” for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, but her tests did one thing for her. It gave some of the executives on the M-G-M lot the bright idea that “The Merry Widow” ought to be produced this coming year with Marilyn Miller as the dancer. [from Luella O. Parsons]

February 22, 1932
“… and it looks as though Margaret Perry, daughter of Antoinette Perry, once David Warfield’s leading lady, will be “The Red Headed Woman” for M-G-M.

February 29, 1932
“Red Headed Woman,” the Katherine Brush novel, threatens to turn into a platinum blonde in the movies. The latest of several to be considered as a leading woman is Jean Harlow.

GAH1965 said...

March 6, 1932
Clara Bow has not determined her course of action as far as pictures are concerned. She will not, however, play “The Red Headed Woman” for M-G-M. Hollywood believes that she will eventually elect to make a series of personal appearances.

March 10, 1932
Jean Harlow is now a candidate for the lead in “The Red Headed Woman,” M-G-M’s casting headache.

March 15, 1932
Pretty Mrs. Raoul Walsh being suggested for the role of “The Red Headed Woman.” [from Luella O. Parsons]

March 21, 1932
It’s all up to Katherine Brush now. She has already turned thumbs down upon Joan Crawford, and, if Hollywood gossip can be credited, dozens of others in the film colony because, to her, they just don’t personify “The Red Headed Woman.”
But when titian-haired Nayan Pearce, appearing at Keith’s this week, reaches Hollywood, Miss Brush will interview her, then, if Nayan’s hopes are realized, the contract in the R-K-O office between Miss Pearce and the circuit will be automatically cancelled and one more little girl will have made a sizeable start up the film ladder.

March 30, 1932
The bewildering answer to the fans’ demand that Clara Bow play “The Red Headed Woman” is that Miss Bow has never even been on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lot. “The Red Headed Woman” is apparently not as much in Miss Bow’s thoughts as it is in the minds of the public. I have never known so many letters to demand that one person play a part. I don’t see how M-G-M , in view of this, can have the platinum blonde, Jean Harlow, make the picture. If they cannot get Clara, at least the heroine should have red hair. [from Luella O. Parsons]

April 5, 1932
…Many leading and lesser lights have tested for the part, and rumor has had every actress in Hollywood, save probably Marie Dressler and Mitzi Green, under consideration. Joan Crawford and Clara Bow have been prominently mentioned, although at the moment, Margaret Perry, newly from the stage, seems to have the call. Miss Perry, incidentally, is one of the least enthusiastic about playing it.

April 23, 1932
Virginia Bruce, obscure young actress in a film stock company is now scheduled to get one of the year’s best breaks for an unknown. Broadway information has it that this newcomer will have the leading role in “Red Headed Woman.”

April 25, 1932
I guess it’s decided that Jean Harlow removes her platinum tresses and don’s a red wig for “The Red-Headed Woman.” [from Luella O. Parsons]

May 1, 1932
Miss [Colleen] Moore, who retired from the screen at the expiration of her $12,500 per week First National contract three years ago, is cold to a reported offer by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to substitute her for Jean Harlow in “The Red Headed Woman,” and this despite the fact Chester Morris will be the male lead.

Clarissa said...

I experienced the 'pleasure' of the unintentional fact, that I began to copy Harlow's "Oh goody" after one week DINNER AT EIGHT daily -- in the same nasty tone. I couldn't get that ear-worm out for days, although I hated it. Well, I'm always trying to 'teach' myself good manners.... But women can be influenced by female film characters (as men probably by male ones).

It's an old cliché, that the married girls are good girls, while sinners are unmarried. Of course this isn't always true. But frankly I personally like wifes much better than vamps myself. I guess this is because I'm afraid of 'the wicked' in the world. It fascinates people alright.... but it's dangerous as well! So the Red Haired Women really frightened me on YouTube. No, I don't like to look in such a scary mirror, being too much Jean-Arthur-like indeed.

At least I liked Harlow in Bombshell. ;)

Ginger Rogers in The Red Haired Woman? Well, Ginger actually is a rather 'nice' type -- above all very religious... and what might her mother have said about that offer?! Well, Lela Rogers wasn't ruling her daughter, she was probably the best friend Ginger ever had. Frankly I'm really happy Ginger never played that Red Haired Woman. But this is very interesting; Huey (Gingerology) is supposed to read this...

VKMfanHuey said...

...and Huey has done so! Thanks for the link, CS... I will watch this one soon, but it sounds as if the role was not quite what Ginger was looking for then...although, yes, she played a few 'saucy' roles in her 'salad days', most notably 'Professional Sweetheart', she overall played the 'good girl'.
And great site, 'HH'!!! Any blog that has Clarissa AND Kori (Blondie) commenting is 'aces' in my book! :-] Count me as a 'follower'! And, let me extend an invite to 'Gingerology', my 'all things Ginger' blog! - the link:

Keep It Gingery (KIG)!


VKMfanHuey said...

whoops - didn't see that 'VP 81955' is here too! 'Carole and Co.', indeed! AWESOME!!!



GAH1965 said...

VKM - Glad you're enjoying what you're reading here. I'm already a fan of Gingerology myself. I added a link to it on HH today. Don't know how I missed doing that previously.