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Thursday, November 03, 2016

Haines Hanging On

Take Your Pick for Thanksgiving 1930

Remote Control (1930) and Haines' Metro Act Getting Tired

"Wisecracker" (his bio title) William Haines drags contract plow through another lousy vehicle. Seems most Metro talent was as badly served through opener round for talkies. If Chaney had lived, I suspect he'd have been no better off (not that his late silents were great shakes either). Haines was breezier when he didn't talk, obnoxious times two a consequence of handing him speech. The pics were flat programmers too, each less profitable than the last. Remote Control puts Bill to radio announcing, then crime-busting, his guile tendered as equal to tough gang led by John Miljan. Believable? Not for a moment, but then neither was Haines in romance capacity. Did audiences sense the offscreen truth of him? --- because there are  tip-offs in gesture and line readings. The usual cadre of comic support is along for joyless ride --- Ed Brophy, Polly Moran, Cliff Edwards (hog-calling), and Benny Rubin. Were folks laughing at this stuff in 1930, or being force-fed by Leo? Too bad so few survive to tell us. What Bill needed was another red-blood actioner like Tell It To The Marines, but that biggest of his had Chaney to lead. Haines evidently didn't care that much about stardom one way or the other, as outside ventures (interior decorating) engaged him more. I'll bet he cashed bigger checks in that line than what movies had to give, and was the better in long run for not having press/fans poking into his private life. There's a good coffee table book about rooms he designed. Oh, and one more surprise: TCM ran a spanking new HD transfer of Remote Control, so watch for it next time.

5 Comments:

Blogger Randy Jepsen said...

I recorded REMOTE CONTROL off TCM about a year ago. After maybe 15 minutes, I couldn`t stand Haines another second & erased the recording. Only thing I liked about it was the gag with the car. The girl would try to drive-off and Haines would grab hold and pull it back so he could continue talking to her.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Yup, simply blaming Metro for sinking Haines when they stuck him in weak vehicles (which they most assuredly did) is still hitting the nail on the thumb. The real problem, as you allude to, was the likeability gap between silents and talkies, an issue that hit several major stars. The stylized world of pre-sound cinema could give protagonists a slight edge... we tend to see things a bit more more subjectively, usually from the leading character's point of view. The audience cuts slack for the well intended booster or wise-ass with a good heart. Put a mic in front of the same guy, and suddenly that Billy Haines persona sounds like an overbearing jerk. Harold Lloyd had to deal with this too, his relentless go-getter type that was so appealing in the twenties comes off in the more literal minded thirties as a bit of a pill. Both stars were hits in their first talkies, but quickly wore thin. Lloyd hung in longer than Haines and, of course, having more control over his pictures, worked hard to make then better. But even he never quite regained the same level of audience empathy he once enjoyed.

As to another matter you refer to, I think old time movie goers were a shade more sophisticated than we credit them. I'm sure plenty of folks picked up on the real life orientation of their favorite personalities and simply didn't care...that is to say, when they liked what they saw (and, on topic, heard!)

Haines is basically a success story, since he confidently redirected his professional life, without rearranging his apparently happy private life.



12:33 PM  
Blogger radiotelefonia said...

Not much to say about Bill Haines except that I don't like his movies but only TELL IT TO THE MARINES.

Here is a full page for that film from Spain (the title is the same for all Spanish speaking countries, and refers to the Chaney character):

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/1c/a6/97/1ca6975bca36c19c323f6b50ef8d03c3.jpg

I leave you some newspaper ads now from Argentina (some belong to movies to which you have already posted something, but all of them are impossible be located by a non Spanish speaker):

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/33/4d/4b/334d4b973591f6ace0bc5dd1a77a832a.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/94/58/2b/94582bd0e3f3ef97ae1517bc60f00494.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/36/01/51/360151ce23ed617ebd63c70d2036d577.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/bf/b5/0b/bfb50b0c0bfe39ef0387304a5ae073a9.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/09/09/04/090904d3a081e1f1c9ec48053ace7556.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/34/84/bd/3484bd3efda145b6c500f87a463f57a2.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/cf/f7/e0/cff7e0bfda2e95fbecf121ca6711bf2f.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/56/40/e3/5640e32ea94d17ecb20145557592efda.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/7c/b9/cc/7cb9cccefa926e13b3db9c1e73226ab7.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/83/8d/41/838d4188ca7a0fea80c2354f31ce34d5.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/c6/4b/81/c64b813fa245769d7b64246c57def73f.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/3e/01/5d/3e015d76a642aaf7c3bcbe1e2f4f55c1.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/62/65/ee/6265ee8201344b1999c2a4091c0902a5.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/0d/4d/1f/0d4d1f1725487dc38e9d8392cea6d046.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/32/75/5d/32755dbd5e5296777726510e2c2f3f18.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/a5/54/27/a554279d21b6bcdae866226178126002.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/e2/ed/60/e2ed60ad2ebf3839417749b10a07a8c4.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/7d/67/d7/7d67d731b02a34cec344158ab0d4d76e.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/70/1c/5d/701c5d90aa3254c7b48cf369f9f6cab8.jpg

2:39 PM  
Blogger antoniod said...

Maybe Haines is someone else who, like James Whale, suffered a career setback from other factors besides Homophobia(in Whale's case it sounds like it was more about being difficult)

7:25 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

James Whale's biggest problem was that Carl Laemmle, who knew and valued what he brought to the table, lost control of Universal. The new management was clueless as to Whale's value.


I'm with Dave K on the issue of Whale's sexuality. The public cared only that he made good movies. People were a lot more relaxed then than they are given credit for (and also one helluva lot brighter).

I did a 4 act improv of the life of Buster Keaton. Part 3 was MGM Mighty Gawdawful Moments. MGM ruined its stars.

3:52 PM  

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