Monday, November 30, 2015

Iconic City Hall -- Dirty Harry -- November 30, 2015

The San Francisco Arts Commission sponsors the Art on Market Street Program, which has local artists put up a series of works on bus shelters on Market Street.  Iconic City Hall is a series by Kelli Inouye which depicts movies that have used San Francisco's beautiful City Hall.

Don Siegel directed Clint Eastwood in five movies.  The most famous is probably Dirty Harry from 1971.  I didn't like the politics, but I admired Eastwood's performance and the San Francisco settings, which included City Hall.

I read the Mad Magazine version, "Dirty Larry," before I saw the movie.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanhouser Advocates Nude in Films -- November 29, 2015

Moving Picture World, 13-November-1915

On 04-December-2015 we will mark the 100th anniversary of the closing of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.  It seemed appropriate to mention the short but lively film career of Audrey Munson, who was called the "Panama-Pacific Girl" because she modeled for an important statue by Alexander S Calder, "The Star Maiden."  There were many copies of the Star Maiden and she posed for other statues around the PPIE. 

In 1915, Edwin Thanhouser starred her in Inspiration, which is supposed to be the first American movie with a nude scene. 

Motography, 06-November-1915
Edwin Thanhouser "promises that in 'Insipiratin'' ... he will give the pro-and-con-ers of motion pictures somwthing to talk about. 

Motography, 13-November-1915
"In the photographs which have been given out for publication she appears a number of times not in various stages of dishabille, but altogether in the nude."

Motography, 20-November-1915
"The posing before the Thanhouser cameras was just a job with her and so considered by all who participated in the picture." 

Audrey Munson appeared in a few more movies and then was not needed again.  Perhaps she was not much of an actress. 

She tried to commit suicide in 1922, was committed to an insane asylum in 1931, and died there in 1996.  Sad story. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Beatriz Michelena Studies Hypnotism -- November 28, 2015

Motion Picture World, 16-October-1915

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.

Motion Picture World, 30-October-1915
Salvation Nell was a popular play.  "It is not a drama of the religious type, but the Salvation Army is used as the background for a gripping story of life in a big city."  World Film Corporation was releasing CMPC movies.

Motion Picture World, 30-October-1915

"Miss Michelena, in particular, gives an impressive characterization."

Motion Picture World, 06-November-1915
"Most beautiful and versatile artist appearing in motion pictures..."

Motography, 13-November-1915
This article mentions that she plays a child of wealth rather than a poor woman. 

Motion Picture World, 30-November-1915
The Unwritten Law was being produced "on elaborate scale." 

Friday, November 27, 2015

News of the Week November 27, 1915 -- November 27, 2015

The 27-November -1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Testing funs at a famous American munition plant.  Copyright 1915 by Mutual Weekly."  Perhaps this is the Watervliet Arsenal, where many naval guns were developed. 

"Great Crowds gather in Chicago to Witness 'wet' parade.  Copyright 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  There was a large anti-prohibition parade in Chicago on Sunday, 07-November-1915. 

"Governor Elliott N. Major of Missouri takes flight in balloon.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Elliot W (not N) Major was Governor of Missouri from 1913 to 1917.

"Dario Resta and his mechanician win Harkness Trophy.  Copyright 1915 by Mutual Weekly."  On 03-November-1915, Dario Resta, driving a Peugeot, averaged 105.39 mph for 100 miles at Sheepshead Bay to win the Harkness challenge cup.  I can't find the name of his riding mechanic. 

"Governor Whitman of New York attends christening of the Naval U. S. flying boat.  Copyright 1915 by Mutual Weekly."  This may be the christening by Governor Charles Whitman's daughter Olivia of a flying boat presented by Curtiss to the New York Naval Militia. 

"Mrs. Tom Thumb celebrates her 74th birthday.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  Lavinia Warren Stoddard was the widow of PT Barnum's General Tom Thumb, Charles Stratton.  The general died in 1883. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 -- November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  I'm grateful for health and life, my family, and my coworkers.
The photograph shows red-headed actress Peggy Shannon, who had performed in the Ziegfeld Follies and Earl Carroll's Vanities before going to Hollywood.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bring Home the Turkey -- November 24, 2015

Film Daily, 11-January-1927.

With Thanksgiving coming, I thought I would post this ad for an Our Gang comedy, "Bring Home the Turkey."  Note that it says "Hal Roach presents His Rascals."  "Little Rascals" was an alternate name for the group. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Phenakistoscope -- November 22, 2015

From The Story of the Motion Picture: 65 B.C. to 1920 A.D. By Ben Jehudah Lubschez.  Joseph Plateau was a Beligian mathematician. 

In the early thirties of the nineteenth century, following some optical experiments by Dr. Roget, Dr. Faraday and others, there was invented independently and almost simultaneously by Dr. Plateau of Ghent and Dr. Stampfer of Vienna, a disc contrivance showing the illusion of motion in pictures and depending on persistence of vision for effect. Plateau called his instrument the Phenakistoscope, and Stampfer called his, the Stroboscope. As Plateau carried his experiments much further than Stampfer, we shall ignore the Stroboscope. The Phenakistoscope consisted simply of two circular discs revolving on a common shaft. The front disc had several phases of a moving object drawn or painted on it, the different drawings being arranged radially near the outer edge. Behind this disc was a larger one with radial slots in it corresponding in number and position with the drawings on the front disc. The Phenakistoscope was held before a mirror and the discs rotated, the observer watching the reflected images of the front disc thru the slots of the back one, and seeing for the first time the illusion of motion in pictures!  Besides being pioneer in showing this illusion, the Phenakistoscope established in its crude form, the principal of the intermittent shutter, used to this day. As the slots in the disc passed before the eye, the space between the slots shut off the light and pictures while they were changing positions, the persistence of one image connecting it to the next. This is one of the fundamental principles upon which both the presentation and taking of modern photographic moving pictures depend. Plateau who was gradually growing blind kept up his experiments, under his direction when he himself was disabled, and in 1849 when totally blind produced with his Phenakistoscope, the "Diable Soufflant" (Devil Blowing up Fire). This instrument was somewhat larger than the original Phenakistoscope, the pictures of the different phases of motion were painted on a transparent disc, and artificial light was made to shine thru it. This disc revolved in front of a screen with an opening in it so that all the radially arranged pictures except the vertical one to be seen, were shut off. A number of people might sit in front of the slotted wheel and watch the pictures. The apparatus only needed the ordinary condensing and objective lenses of the magic lantern to present the pictures on a screen. But this far Plateau did not seem destined to go. His accomplishments, however, certainly entitle him to be always honored as one of the grandfathers of the moving picture.

Friday, November 20, 2015

News of the Week November 20, 1915 -- November 20, 2015

The 20-November -1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"War game on famous Common in which 'foes' are repelled.  Boston, Mass.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Are those quarter staffs?

"Ensign Lee H. Harris, U. S. N., instructor of aerial corps.  Copyright 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  I can't find anything about Ensign Lee H Harris, who poses in front of a flying boat.

"New Junior police force organized in Brooklyn, N. Y.   Copyright 1915 by Mutual Weekly."  I don't know anything about this one.

"Winston Churchill, who inaugurated the fammous Dardenelles expedition.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty, civilian chief of the Royal Navy.  The Dardanelles Expedition is most famous for the debacle at Gallipoli.  Churchill lost his job because of it.

"U. S. submarine E-1 skimming over the water at high rate of speed.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Commissioned in 1912, she was the first submarine to test a gyrocompass.  She also tested making underwater radio transmissions. 

"Chicago Newsboys entertained at Lincoln Park Menagerie.  Copyright 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Many big cities had special days for their newsboys.

Robert Amstrong 125 -- November 20, 2015

I have always been a fan of actor Robert Armstrong, ever since I first saw him in King Kong.  He was born 125 years ago, on 20-November-1891.  He often played slightly shifty characters.  I loved him in Kong, Son of Kong, The Most Dangerous Game, and Mighty Joe Young.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Varioscopes to be Operated at the Corbett-Fitzsimmons Contest -- November 18, 2015

Phonoscope, January-February 1897

Enoch J Rector created the 63mm Veriscope (the article calls it the "varioscope"), which recorded and projected 63mm wide-screen views of the 17-March-1897 fight between heavyweight champion James J Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons at Carson City, Nevada.  Fitzsimmons won by a knockout in the 14th round.  Rector captured all 14 rounds, a prologue with former champ John L Sullivan, and an epilogue showing the arena after the fight, when the crowd stormed the ring.  Much of the film is lost, but the surviving pieces have been transferred to 35mm film.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Chaplin With the Allies -- November 16, 2015

Motography, 20-November-1915

This article states that Charlie Chaplin had been to the front and visited the British trenches.  Of course, he did "wrapped up in film," but the troops welcomed him.

Moving Picture World, 06-November-1915

Motography, 13-November-1915
Both Motography and Moving Picture World printed the same article one week apart, about Chaplin in "A Night in the Show."  Only Moving Picture World included an image.  It remarks that he is not wearing his "old costume" but is still funny.

Moving Picture World, 06-November-1915
Essanay complained that people were releasing "conglomerations" put together from older Chaplin movies.  This is interesting because Essanay would later do the same thing with its Chaplin movies. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Grauman's Chinese -- The Four Marx Brothers -- November 14, 2015

The Four Marx Brothers were working for Paramount when they left their hand and footprints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese on 17-February-1933. The photo is a little hard to make out, but starting in the upper left corner and going clockwise, we see Groucho's footprints, then Harpo's (he appears to have been barefoot), then Chico's, then Zeppo's. Youngest brother Zeppo left the act after their next movie, Duck Soup.

I took this on 18-July-2009.  DSCN4143.

Photoplay, August, 1929

Motion Picture Daily, 12-October-1933

Friday, November 13, 2015

News of the Week November 13, 1915 -- November 13, 2015

The 13-November -1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Luther Burbank, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford meet at San Francisco Exposition.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  Inventor Edison met botanist Burbank for the first time in October.  Henry Ford often vacationed with Edison.  Here they pose at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. 

"Great quantities of opium are destroyed in San Francisco, California.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Smugglers found a good market for opium smuggled from China. 

"C. A. Youngren, inventor of a new life saving garment.  Copyright 1915 by Mutual Weekly."  I can't find anything about him.  An O. A. Youngren received a patent for a "life preserver" in 1921.  It may be the same person. 

"Mexican Bandits wreck train at Olnite, Texas.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  A Saint Louis, Brownsville and Mexico got derailed by Mexican bandits and looted on 18-October-1915.  The engineer died in the crash and the fireman was scalded.  One rider was shot and killed while the bandits robbed the passengers.  

"A scene from the Hearst-Selig News Pictorial showing conspirators who plotted to destroy U. S. ships carrying arms to Allies.  Copyright 1915, International Film Service Inc."  German agents tried to plant explosives on ships carrying war materials. 

"A scene from Hearst-Selig News Pictorial showing the U. S. S. "Nevada" making its first trip.  Copyright 1915, International Film Service Inc."  USS Nevada (BB-36) went to Ireland to protect convoys during World War One.  She was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked in 1941.  She was damaged, but was repaired.  She was at Iwo Jima and D-Day and again protected Atlantic convoys.

Fantasia 75 -- November 13, 2015
75 years ago today, on 13-November-1940, Walt Disney released his unique animated feature Fantasia.  I first saw it on a rerelease at the Ghiradelli Cinema in Ghiradelli Square.  A little kid in front of us kept asking his parents when the cartoon was going to start. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Princess Theater, Dever, Colo. -- November 12, 2015

Motography, 20-November-1915
The accompanying story says that HE Ellison, proprietor and manager, used decorating color schemes to let patrons know was playing.  Baby blue indicated Mary Pickford.  Blanche Sweet was yellow and Marguerite Clark was "deep purple."  My eyes aren't good enough to spot it, but apparently in this photo there is a large gold ring around the box office because they were showing a Blanche Ring movie. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Best Years of Our Lives -- November 11, 2015
Happy Veterans Day, everyone. Veterans of the Second World War thought very highly of The Best Years of Our Lives, which was produced by Samuel Goldwyn and directed by William Wyler. 

Three men meet while returning home after separation from the service.
Frederick March played Al, a middle-aged banker who joined the army to do his part.  He wound up as an NCO.  His wife Milly was Myrna Loy, a favorite of mine and his daughter Peggy was Theresa Wright.  I don't remember much about his son.  Al felt out of place at home and at work.  He made a loan to another vet who had little collateral and got shot down for it.
Dana Andrews was Fred, who had been a bombardier in the Army Air Force.  He found that his wife was no longer interested in him, and he suffered from nightmares caused by PTSD.  He was a soda jerk before the war and wanted something better after.  Fred and Peggy were attracted to each other.  Al told Fred to leave her alone.
Harold Russell was Homer, who had lost his arms while serving in the Navy.  He went through a long period of rehabilitation before he got home.  His parents didn't know what to do and he tried to push away his fiancee Wilma, who was played by Cathy O'Donnell.  Cathy persisted in wanting to stay.  The hooks are real. 

Fred encouraged Homer to marry Wilma, and he won the love of Peggy.  The marriage scene makes me cry. 

Fred gets a job building housing out of salvaged aircraft aluminum.
And the movie has Hoagy Carmichael as Homer's Uncle Butch, a bar keep.  Any movie is better with Hoagy Carmichael. 

The movie won nine Academy Awards and was nominated for one more. 

Harold Russell made only two more movies and appeared in a couple of television shows, but was very active in AMVETS, serving as National Commander. 

In 1992, to raise money for his wife's medical expenses, he sold his Best Supporting Actor Oscar.  This was controversial, but I understood.  I remember when he died in 2002.