Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year from Nancy Carroll -- December 31. 2014
I wish everyone a happy and peaceful New Year. 

Nancy Carroll started acting in silent movies, became a big star in early musicals, and developed into a strong dramatic actress. Personality conflicts with Hollywood producers shortened her career on film, but she spent the rest of her life working on the stage and in television.


I hate to close the year on this note, but two people died late in the month. 

Luise Rainer died at 104 years old.  She won best actress two years in a row.  If she wasn't the last pre-war Hollywood star, she was close. 

Edward Herrmann was most famous for playing FDR.  He narrated many Ken Burns documentaries.  He was good at playing old-fashioned East coast patricians. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Zudora -- The Diamond is Discovered in the Cheese -- December 29, 2014

Motography, 05-December-1914

After the successful completion of The Million Dollar Mystery, Thanhouser had another serial, Zudora, or The Twenty Million Dollar Mystery ready for release:

Motography, 05-December-1914
James Cruze, who had been in The Million Dollar Mystery, returned along with popular leading lady Marguerite Snow and Harry Benham.  Benham played John Storm, who was in love with Zudora. 

Motography, 05-December-1914

James Cruze played Jim Baird, a reporter, who sometimes adopted the identity of Hassan Ali. 

Motography, 05-December-1914
"The diamond is discovered in the cheese."  How about that? 

Motography, 26-December-1914

"Scene from Episode 5." 

Motography, 26-December-1914

Zudora tied up. 

Motography, 26-December-1914
"The old miser blackmails the lawyer." 

Motography, 26-December-1914
Fingerprint evidence was still a fairly new concept in 1914. 

Motography, 26-December-1914
"'Zudora' Published as a Song."  "Should it become one of the popular pieces of the day it would indeed be an excellent advertisement for both the film and the story, and Miss Snow, the dainty detective, will be even more endeared to the hearts of her many followers through it." 

Some surviving episodes of Zudora are available from Thanhouser Company Film Preservation:

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Study in Scarlet -- December 28, 2014

Moving Picture World, 19-December-1914

There were two adaptions of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet made in 1914.  The British feature version, directed by George Pearson, is lost and anxiously sought.  James Bragington played Holmes. 

I have not heard of anyone looking for the American Gold Seal two-reeler released by Universal.  Francis Ford directed and played Sherlock Holmes.  Some sources claim that his brother John, who later became a famous director, played Doctor Watson.  I would like to see more evidence. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Rare and Riotous Wholesome Comedy -- December 27, 2014

Moving Picture World, 12-December-1914

Some sources claim that Tillie's Punctured Romance is the first feature-length slapstick comedy, or even the first feature-length comedy. I don't know if that is true, but it is certainly the first one to be a big success, despite being advertised by the ALCO Film Corporation, which released the movie, with taglines like "The First Successful Picturizing of Comedy on a Whole Basis."  I wonder what that means in English.  Notice that the ad contains a photo of Charlie Chaplin dancing with star Marie Dressler, but does not mention his name.  Neither does it mention director Mack Sennett, costar Mabel Normand, nor the Keystone company which produced the film. 

We saw last month that Keystone was selling states rights to the movie:

Moving Picture World, 12-December-1914

This article from the same edition of Moving Picture World says that star Marie Dressler had sued Keystone's parent company, the New York Motion Picture Corporation, to obtain control of the picture, but that her suit had been dismissed and that NYMPC had sold the picture to Alco for $100,000. 

Motography, 12-December-1914

This article from Motography mentions that the "newly organized Alco Film Corporation ... had arranged to release the great comedy, 'Tillie's Punctured Romance,' with Marie Dressler as a regular unit on the Alco program."  It mentions Charlie Chaplin and director Mack Sennett. 

Moving Picture World, 19-December-1914
This ad says that Armbruster and Hock (good name) has states rights for the movie in West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and the District of Columbia.  This ad mentions Mabel Normand and Chaplin. 

Moving Picture World, 26-December-1914

This Alco ad mentions that Marie Dressler is "Supported by Charles Chaplin and Mabel Normand." 

The California Motion Picture Company had trouble with Alco as its distributor:

Friday, December 26, 2014

News of the Week 26-December-1914 -- December 26, 2014

The 26-December-1914 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"French and Algerian troops advancing near Ypres, Belgium.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Animated Weekly."  The French used many colonial troops in Europe. 

"Scotch regiment in last drill before leaving for front.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Animated Weekly."  The highland regiments seemed to turn up in a lot of newsreels, probably because of their distinctive uniforms.  Kilts were not practical on the cold, muddy Western Front. 

"King George leaving Buckingham Palace to visit Parliament.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Animated Weekly."  We saw the Hearst-Selig version last week.

"T. M. Osborne millionaire philanthropist now Warden of Sing Sing.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Thomas Mott Osborne tried to reform the prison, but was thwarted by enemies who tried to destroy his reputation. 

"German cruiser Leipsig sunk past week by British.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Light cruiser SMS Leipzig was sunk at the Battle of the Falkland Islands on 08-December-1914:

"Wreckage at Seabright, N. J. after big storm.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Animated Weekly."  A major storm on 07-December-1914 destroyed the seawall and flooded the New Jersey town of Sea Bright. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

There Ain't No Santa Claus -- December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas, everyone. 

Producer Hal Roach or Santa Claus brought exhibitors a present in 1926, the two-reeler "There Ain't No Santa Claus," starring dependable Charley Chase.  "Play it for happier holidays, grateful audiences and the gift to yourself of a bigger and better bank balance" says the ad from the 05-December-1926 Film Daily.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

3 Keatons Christmas Greetings -- December 23, 2014

Variety, 25-December-1909

The 3 Keatons, Buster and his father Joe and his mother Myra, wish Christmas Greetings "to everybody except Damar, Fink and Butt"  Damar was the stage manager at London's Palace Theater.  Alfred Butt was the manager.  Herman Finck was the musical director.  I don't know why they didn't get any greetings. 

Update 24-December-2014:
Thanks to JFK at Nitrateville ( I now know that Alfred Butt offered to have the Keatons perform at the Palace, but Joe felt that they were treated badly and left the country. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mae Murray Season's Greetings -- December 22, 2014

Variety, 30-December-1925

Actress and dancer Mae Murray wished season's greetings to "My Friends All Over the World."  Before she became a movie star, she had been a headliner in the Ziegfeld Follies.  Murray is most famous today for starring in Erich von Stroheim's The Merry Widow

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Best Specimen of Virile Characterization Ever Put on a Screen -- December 21, 2014

Motography, 07-November-1914

George Middleton, a San Francisco automobile dealer, married the beautiful and celebrated prima donna (that's how she was billed), musical comedy actress Beatriz Michelena in San Francisco in 1907. She left the stage for a while, then returned in 1910. In 1912, Middleton, son of a famous family in the lumber business, founded the California Motion Picture Company in San Rafael, north of San Francisco. At first he made promotional films for his auto business, but in 1914 he began to produce dramatic features starring his wife. Salomy Jane still survives and is very impressive. Most of the CMPC movies were destroyed in a fire.

Motography, 14-November-1914
Their first feature was an adaption of Salomy Jane by Bret Harte.  "There is not a dull moment in its entire six reels."  I agree. 

Motography, 28-November-1914

Salomy Jane did well at the Portola Theater in San Francisco.  "Strictly High Class." 

Motography, 28-November-1914
ALCO did a bad job of distributing the films of the CMPC.  I believe ALCO went bankrupt soon after. 

Moving Picture World, 26-December-1914

This ad announces that the next CMPC production, an adaption of Alice Hegan Rice's Mrs Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch would be release in January by Lewis J Selznick's World Film Corporation. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Majestic and Komic Guide for Exhibitors -- December 20, 2014

Moving Picture World, 05-December-1914

After leaving the Biograph, DW Griffith formed Reliance-Majestic with Harry Aiken. Griffith brought along most of his Biograph stock company, including Mae Marsh, Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish and Miriam Cooper.  I read Miriam Cooper's autobiography, Dark Lady of the Silents; My Life in Early Hollywood

Moving Picture World, 19-December-1914
Mary Alden played Austin Stoneman's mulatto mistress in Birth of a Nation

Moving Picture World, 26-December-1914
I don't like that photo of Dorothy Gish. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

News of the Week 19-December-1914 -- December 19, 2014

The 19-December-1914 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"King George en route to open Parliament.   Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  The opening of Parliament used to take place in November or December.  The monarch or a representative gives a speech.  King George V opened Parliament on 11-November-1914. 

"Steamer 'Hanalei' wrecked off San Francisco.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  The steam schooner SS Hanalei, en route from Eureka to San Francisco, ran aground on Duxbury Reef near Bolinas on a foggy day, 23-November-1914.  23 passengers and crewmen died. 

"The 'Old Guard,' New York's veteran battalion.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Animated Weekly."  The Old Guard of the City of New York is a ceremonial battalion which was formed in 1824. 

"King Albert and President Poincaré at Furnes, Belgium.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Albert, King of the Belgians refused to surrender even after the Germans had overrun most of his country.  Albert and French President Raymond Poincaré reviewed the troops in Furnes on 02-November-1914. 

"U. S. troops from Vera Cruz land at Galveston, Texas.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  The United States invaded and occupied the port of Vera Cruz, Mexico because of the Tampico Affair. 

"Richard Croker and his bride, who was an Indian princess.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Croker had been the boss of Tammany Hall.  He was 71 and his second wife, Beulah Benson Edmondson, was about 30.  She was allegedly a member of the Cherokee tribe. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Grauman's Chinese -- Norma Talmadge -- December 18, 2014

I recently finished my series of photos taken at Grauman's Chinese. I started it on my other blog in 2009-2010, then picked it up again after a visit in 2012 ( I moved it here when I started this blog in 2014, and finished it in September, 2014. In October, 2014, I thought I would start rerunning the series, adding photos of the people honored in the forecourt.

Sid Grauman was a San Francisco showman who came to Los Angeles and built three major houses, the Million Dollar, the Egyptian, and the Chinese. The theater has hosted many film premieres, but is most famous for the hand and footprints (and hoofprints and nose prints and other types of prints) in the forecourt.

Some accounts say that Norma Talmadge started the tradition of leaving hand and footprints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood when she accidentally stepped in wet cement. Her current set of footprints is dated 18-May-1927, while those of Mary Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks, a partner in the theater, are dated April, 1927. DSCN4151.
Norma Talmadge was a popular actress who is not well remembered today. She was mean to her brother-in-law, Buster Keaton.

I took this photo on 18-July-2009.
Joseph M Schenck was her husband. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Clutching Hand -- December 17, 2014

Motography, 26-December-1914

The Perils of Pauline was a big hit in 1914. The 20 chapter serial was not the first movie serial, but it was one of the big ones. It starred Pearl White, the first serial queen. The Eclectic Film Company distributed Pathé movies in the United States. The film exists only in a mutilated form, based on a copy exported to France. The subtitles had been translated into French, then translated back into English. Be sure to click on this image from the last episode to see a larger version.  Note the dog. 

Motography, 05-December-1914

Pathé announced that they would "release another serial with substantially the same cast, but showing adventures of a different sort."

Moving Picture World, 19-December-1914
"The biggest and best serial yet" starred Pearl White as the alliterative heroine Elaine and Arnold Daly as the scientific detective Craig Kennedy.  Arthur B Reeve wrote 26 novels and many short stories about Kennedy.  Elaine and Kennedy were looking for the man who killed her father, a disguised villain known as The Clutching Hand. 

Moving Picture World, 26-December-1914
The villain's name often appeared as large or larger than the name of the movie.  I like the image. 

Moving Picture World, 26-December-1914
The all star cast appears on the left-hand page.  Author Reeve and director Leopold Wharton appear on the right.