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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Disney/Whitney/Ford (Patrick) and Buena Vista

Jerry Beck at Cartoon Brew has recently explored the fascinating topic of non-Disney features distributed by Buena Vista during the fifties. Various commentors have added detail since the post went up. This information Jerry has gathered might be better known if more of the films were in circulation today. As it is, most are MIA and likely to remain so. I’ve wondered for years what The Big Fisherman might be like, being a Super Panavision 70mm release that Disney handled in 1959 (but had no producing involvement with). Buena Vista’s commitment to distribution for other than in-house product was short-lived. They’d taken on outside features to keep offices busy between Disney releases. Expensive set-ups for traffiking prints are just that much more so where there’s little merchandise to send out,  Buena Vista incurring overhead same as bigger companies with far more output. Disney’s was thus a boutique studio with a distribution arm crying out for volume. BV salesmen said give us more product. Enter Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney. His family was among those rich beyond the dreams of Midas. C.V. Whitney dabbled in everything big money could buy, thriving at most all his ventures, including business interests, polo ponies, and art patronage. He wrote a number of books and was a major philanthropist. A fascination with motion pictures led to investment in the Technicolor Corporation and Selznick’s Gone With The Wind. Whitney gets a bad rap from writers who’ve characterized him as a dilettante. John Ford regarded him so, but was happy taking Whitney's money to make The Searchers, the first of a proposed "American" trilogy the neophyte producer envisioned. I think the public wants to see this great country in perspective, he said, pledging to avoid those screen subjects that over-emphasized sordid aspects of the present day. Whatever the motive, The Searchers would not have come to term without Whitney, as it was his dollars that pushed the go button on that classic western. Where other millionaires sponsored painters and orchestras, his wealth was sufficient to enable big-budget features with top personnel, and Whitney intended for them to avoid faddism and well-worn paths of crime, violence, and sex. The Searchers was a successful, but Whitney got sticker shock over cost and backed off a proposed follow-up with Ford, The Valiant Virginians, which spent several years in preparation but came to nothing. Whitney’s association with John Ford continued by way of the director’s son, Patrick Ford, being hired to produce a modestly priced Americana subject, The Missouri Traveler, which was filmed at Warners during late Spring 1957. Pat was thirty-six years old and knocking about in his father’s shadow for most of these. The old man treated him badly and made no secret of ongoing disappointment where his son was concerned (Maureen O’Hara remembered him often referring to Pat as a capon --- or "castrated cock") . Pat had tried over and over to prove himself worthy of the Ford name. Toward that end, he’d written screenplays, done stuntwork, and served as John Ford’s "executive assistant." He even received an associate producer credit on The Searchers, and by all accounts acquitted himself well on the job. Still, his father never seemed satisfied. It was Whitney who would now give Pat real opportunity as vice-president in charge of production for C.V. Whitney Pictures, Inc.

Pat’s industry view not unexpectedly mirrored that of his employer. Both he and Whitney saw The Missouri Traveler as an answer to a fashionable formula that has been selling America short. Together they would combat false impressions by substituting correct ones. Pat sounded off for trade reporters thus: Lots of American pictures, including many of the westerns, give the impression abroad that a typical American community, from cow town to modern metropolis, is made up of one strong man who dominates a population too meek to stand up to him. What was he thinking of here? Probably happy enough to be getting such press after years on industry margins, but I suspect Pat was addressing much in his remarks to High Noon, a western disdained by Hollywood’s conservative element. Fed on a picture diet of this kind, it’s no wonder people in other countries get the idea the body of the American population is made up of softies, he said. Adding to daily pressure was Patrick Ford's father on The Missouri Traveler set, and interference attendant upon that. Rumors persisted into June 1957 that The Valiant Virginians (now retitled The Young Virginians) was on again, and would go into production the following April at a budget of four million, with John Ford directing and Pat producing. The reality meanwhile was something else. Whitney was getting fed up with Warners and had decided to take his company elsewhere. Since Walt Disney was looking for producing partners for Buena Vista, why not go there? The Missouri Traveler would become the first domestically produced, non-Disney feature to be distributed by Buena Vista. It was near completion when the deal was announced in early June. As Disney and Whitney were both viewed as apostles of a positive American image, their teaming set a trade press upon wings of praise. The accent on wholesomeness that is basic policy of both the producer and the distributor will prove or disprove the fundamental trade truism that the theatrical motion picture is the world’s best family entertainment, said The Motion Picture Herald, but were families still the bulwark supporting movies by 1957? --- and even if they were, how many cared to look at a picture so laden with doses of correct impressions?

The Missouri Traveler sat on Buena Vista’s shelf for the remainder of 1957. In the meantime, C.V. Whitney engaged another offspring member of John Ford’s stock company, this time on a seven-year acting contract. Patrick Wayne (son of John) had worked occasionally in films with his father and for Ford. Now he would star in Whitney’s third independent venture. The Young Land might have been called I Was A Teenage Sheriff for youthful Wayne’s role as beleaguered lawman set against malcontent Dennis Hopper, with Yvonne Craig supplying ingenue love interest. Again Pat Ford was producing, and trade reports referred to he and Pat Wayne as perhaps the most successful of Hollywood’s second generation of motion picture personalities (shown here). That Autumn of 1957 looked good for C.V. Whitney Pictures, Inc. Buena Vista was gearing up an aggressive campaign for The Missouri Traveler (trade ad here) with plans for an early 1958 release. A $250,000 advertising and promotional effort would precede the January 29 opening set for two hundred theatres in seventeen heartland states (later amended to February 19). Pat Ford’s seeming rise within the creative community was meanwhile halted by the termination of his contract with Whitney. He was out just as The Missouri Traveler prepared to open and as The Young Land was being edited. It was a sudden parting (trade ads up to this point had emphasized his leadership role with the company) and likely as not Pat’s personal demons played a large part. He’d been weighed down by the same burden of alcohol that hobbled both parents and his sister, and relations between father and son deteriorated further. As startling demonstration of how fleeting Hollywood "success" can be, Pat found himself by 1964 working as a garage mechanic (he’d later be hired by the city of Los Angeles in their probation department). What a remarkable up and down life. I think I’d rather read a biography of Patrick Ford than yet another about his father. As for C.V. Whitney, the business of producing movies and finishing that American trilogy proved more troublesome than it was worth. His financial advisers recommended backing off (too much risk, not enough return after others had siphoned off theirs). The Missouri Traveler was a disappointment for both he and Disney, as Buena Vista’s release failed to crack Variety’s million-dollar rentals list for 1958. The agreement that contemplated a second Whitney production for BV release was abandoned, despite trade ads promising The Young Land along with others from that distributor for the 1958-59 season. Columbia would finally release it in May 1959, well over a year after The Young Land had been completed. By that time, C.V. Whitney was done with pictures , though he’d continue in other enterprise and live to a ripe age of 93 (he died in 1992, and as far as I’m aware, was never interviewed about his sojourn as a film producer). Both The Missouri Traveler and The Young Land are accessible on small label DVD, which would imply they’re in the public domain, a status I question, as one would assume the Whitney estate still owns these negatives. Columbia syndicated The Young Land to television from 1964, and The Missouri Traveler played on Canadian stations into the seventies. I’d like to know where the original elements reside at this point, as neither film seems to be available in a quality (and preferred widescreen) presentation.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What A Lovely Couple!

It wasn’t long after Loretta Young’s 2000 death that her treasures began turning up in Hollywood memorabilia shops. These were personal effects of a long career --- key book stills lovingly preserved in leather albums. Now they were sales fodder among file cabinets bulging with imagery from movies admired, forgotten, or half so. Much of Loretta’s output fell around the half so, or below it. Collectors quickly scarfed those few of greater interest. Career history she’d maintained was thus cherry-picked and ripped asunder. The rest were ignored (any takers for Paula or Mother Was A Freshman?). Wasn’t there family left to care? Grandkids to pass these along to their offspring, even if a greater public had forgotten? Stars who live long enough eventually find themselves sole custodian of legacies the parade has passed by. Their stuff means little more than family histories any of us might be alone in seeing after. Other than precodes lately rediscovered, Loretta Young did (mostly) movies for the moment. She was no bad actress, but neither was she Davis or Crawford. Young protected the image and took few chances with it, being the perfect star face people associate with old (and lightly ridiculed) Hollywood. I figure her to have thrived more on fan magazine covers than films. Once tamed by the Code, at considerable loss to us and Loretta, she became a waxen presence at 20th Fox where entering and exiting cavernous sets (mostly period ones) became stock in trade. Costumes briefer and clinging for early-thirties Warners became long trains following her into pageants not unlike those that swallowed Norma Shearer at Metro. So much was marked disposable, including ones with new to celebrity Tyrone Power, being for the most part modern comedies designed to consolidate fan loyalty for a coming male counterpart to Young’s somewhat empty stardom. Many were (remarkably) made available last year on DVD, nestled among ten so-called Matinee Idol features with Power. Don’t for a moment discount them, for each offer a remarkable summation of what that industry was best at. Nothing puts you further inside the skull of dream merchandisers than these puff balls with sell-by dates clearly marked.

Such froth was designed to tide us over to the next big ticket Power show. They were modest accompaniment to copies of Photoplay a girl fan might pick up going to or from the theatre, product made specifically for those who loved movies and just everything their favorites did. Whereas money was short in 1937 (sorta like today), it’s worth considering how much followers invested in stars they embraced. To see Power/Young at your venue might cost fifteen to twenty-five cents during matinee hours, a time many regulars chose as a hedge against cumulative expense of seeing multiple features in a given week. Photoplay was an additional quarter per month, that in addition to whatever you’d spend on rival publications. To be a serious fan was to surrender most disposable earnings to newstands and boxoffices. Films like Love Is News, Café Metropole, and Second Honeymoon (all 1937 releases) collected monies from those sufficiently enthusiastic (and indiscriminate) as to situate movies at the head of leisure time priorities, while larger ventures like Suez and In Old Chicago cast nets to wider audiences more selective. Fan comedies (or romances) were generally modern dress, thus less expensive. Love Is News had a negative cost of $371,000 and domestic rentals of $762,000. Profits were $361,000 and helped Tyrone Power gather momentum from his debut in Lloyds Of London and follow-up In Old Chicago. Cunning was Fox’s way of following expensive shows with several of modest means and beneficiaries of interest and good will generated. In fact, these saw greater profits than big-budget Suez, which came along in 1938. I’m happy to finally see such in-betweeners at optimum quality befitting care with which they were directed and photographed. Here is the truest eye candy of a vanished era, and most have been shelved for many years. Going to them with unrealistic expectations is to court disappointment. They are comedies only in the sense that you wouldn’t classify them as anything else. Tyrone Power and Loretta Young are not Cary Grant and Carole Lombard. They’re not screwy enough to be screwball, and too timid to be farce. They are girl meets boy, girl misunderstands boy briefly, then succumbs to boy plus viewer desire and expectation. Femmes probably attended in groups, mooned over Ty, then bought dress patterns in hopes of duplicating Loretta’s wardrobe. Men likely took in Power/Young less out of choice (which dates made for them), but with undoubted hopes that running times might be taken up taking liberties where possible in crowded balconies. Couples could do worse yet for enjoying these together, as all three are agreeably unisex in appeal and happily brief in duration (the longest is just 84 minutes).

Newspaper stories seem dated as madcap heiresses that intruded upon so many of them during the thirties. Both are endangered species now. Seems the only news we read nowaday is accounts of staff being laid off as more papers go broke and films like Love Is News retreat further into a never-land modern viewers find so remote, if not peculiar. This is a sort of show the uninitiated might surf by on a classic movie channel to confirm suspicion that none of it has anything to do with life today, and indeed, nothing about Love Is News parallels modern experience. Where was audience identification even in 1937? Power and city room rival Don Ameche trade socks in the jaw and work innumerable double-crosses throughout. Everything’s ramped up in that foolish manner latter-day filmmakers occasionally emulate, always with disastrous result (seen Leatherheads?). We accept behavior in 30’s comedies for being well enough removed to imagine (some) people actually comported themselves such ways. I take these things too much to heart, but it gave me jitters seeing Loretta Young stage a road crash (with herself as injured party) just to get Tyrone’s attention, a gag befitting anything-for-a-laugh abandon fashionable then. Love Is News and kin are like cannonballs rolling faster and louder as they go downhill. You’re willing to spot them twenty or thirty minutes before exhaustion grabs hold (in fact, I fell asleep in the second half last night and had to go back today for the rest of it). Ever notice how often characters get mad and quit jobs in 30’s comedies? Was that wish fulfillment on the part of writers depression-bound to studios? Love Is News posits its romantic escapade as one that engages an entire country, headlines screaming of each encounter between Power and Young, a conceit at least marginally believable as both are larger-than-life attractive in ways surpassing even glamour thresholds prevailing at the time. These two really were almost too good –looking for their own good. Power especially suffered when some of that faded, as advancing years dictated it must. A 1949 remake of Love Is News called That Wonderful Urge finds him trying again with comic instincts sharper but freshness sufficiently diminished as to make you sorry he’s being put through such tired (and by then old hat) paces. Love Is News benefits from the enthusiasm of an actor in quest of stardom and imagining that parts will surely get better if he just pitches in now with all he’s got.

I’m actually sparking up to the Tyrone Power fan base with today’s post. Plenty are out there, as witness this site and that, both among the best tributes to any past luminary. One has a particularly lively and informative discussion group I enjoy following, this and other online evidence causing me to wonder if Tyrone Power isn’t indeed top man among leading men of the Golden Age. Fox must have realized meaningful sales on two volumes (so far) of Power DVD’s (there’s enough left, by the way, for a third). Women still go for him in a big way. His appeal is very contemporary. There’s a sensitivity about Power even when he double–deals a leading lady, an assurance that it’s all in service to silly plots he’d never take seriously. What also works is the voice … seemingly a lost art (if not a discarded tool) of the acting profession. By way of unfavorable comparison, I watched a film the other night with Edward Burns, a contempo name with looks and no small ability, but couldn’t someone teach him to speak? I’d read of weak-toned Clark Gable being perched at cliff sides to yell himself hoarse, emerging from that wilderness only after necessary deepening of vocal range (they even used the device with Lauren Bacall!). Power had at least that (and from the beginning), even if he occasionally mis-stepped otherwise. Café Metropole opens with a drunk scene, always a caution light no matter who’s enacting same, to which still inexperienced Power falls victim, with another trap door opening just afterward when he’s obliged to fake a Russian accent for nearly the rest of 83 minutes. Power’s best at earnest love scenes with Loretta Young, raison d’être for all three comedies. Their coupling in fact takes precedence over moral and ethical considerations that might otherwise dictate actions of less beautiful people. When the divorced pair reunite in Second Honeymoon, it’s a given they’ll consummate attraction shared by an audience quite willing to overlook the fact that Young’s character is now married to hapless Lyle Talbot and Power’s on a campaign to break them up. I’m frankly surprised the PCA let this scenario pass. Were they so smitten by the two as to ignore such blatant moral trespass? Maybe there is a different set of rules for Gods and Goddesses.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Going When Movies Mattered Most

Where did it all begin for those consumed by the moviegoing experience? I mean consumption not limited to mere watching, but of anticipating weeks or months ahead, then reading magazine reviews and pondering ads from larger towns opening the film ahead of your own. My immersion by 1968 was near complete, one-sheet designs being stamped upon consciousness from first lobby sightings and never to be forgotten after. What recess of the brain makes such things vital to us but inconsequential for casual watchers? The Thomas Crown Affair was a big deal for me at fourteen. It was Suggested For Mature Audiences and I was particularly ripe for those. Everything this show did was hip and cool and modern. It forecast possibilities of adult living that suited me fine. Might any boy evolve into Steve McQueen? I saw The Thomas Crown Affair twice and wondered. Here was a virtual how-to manual for man-woman relations, with Steve holding all the trumps. He calls a girl early in the film, saying only 9:00 when she answers, that being the time he’ll pick her up … all it takes for him to get the date, and of course she’s gorgeous in that perpetual state of readiness women maintained when cast opposite Steve McQueen. If this was life as experienced by Mature Audiences, by all means cut me off a slice. To be McQueen was to be laconic. Girls came first to those who cared less, but would that work in real life? I’d be years getting a resounding no to that, but for the meantime, Thomas Crown raised hopes if not possibilities. Among these: Cigars in bed as post-coital ritual. Really? Maybe it got by in a few 1968 cribs … there’d likely be none such in 2009. Steve disdains protective helmets except for polo, which reminded me of one theory as to what killed him later, the asbestos in his racing headgear for Le Mans. There’s also belief he was doomed from early on thanks to toxic exposure during youth, which makes The Thomas Crown Affair all the queasier for seeing an expiration date stamped upon McQueen’s otherwise vital presence.

Now Thomas Crown’s another sixties antique that youngsters either laugh at or are bored by. I didn’t dream of such happening when it was new … evidence again of how passing years date us and shows we liked. I’m defensive of Crown and certain others though, for attacking such a relic reflects upon tastes I thought sophisticated, if not rarified, at the time. Steve McQueen’s appreciation for Mustangs and motorcycles holds up better than his movies, it seems. They're still using him to sell both, plus watches, sport pants, etc. He’s sacred object to men of a certain age who wish they could jump barbed wire on two-wheels. You Tube demonstrates modern uses Steve’s image serves. I’ve read that his is the most lucrative. Sheryl Crow sings about McQueen, but her video had no clips. Clearance problems maybe? There’s a snippet from a modern TV program where a veteran fireman slaps a rookie for not knowing who Steve McQueen is/was. You wouldn’t think anyone would be unfamiliar with him, but assuming such just shows how removed I am from today's mainstream. Everyone gets forgotten eventually, and McQueen’s been gone for nearly thirty years. Well, The Thomas Crown Affair is itself just past forty now, and viewing it again revealed at the least how bulky life was in days before life went digital. Clunky might be the better word. There are noisy computers more primitive looking than ones Spencer Tracy consulted in 1957’s Desk Set, while Faye Dunaway brandishes a movie camera (hand-held by design) that looks like something you could shoot 70mm with today. All this made me recall what effort our long ago miracles of technology required and patience it took to get reel-to-reel tape, television antennas, phonographs, and cameras (especially sticky Polaroids) to work. I might comment on how things have improved but for fear my computer will freeze up or break down in retaliation. The Thomas Crown Affair calls up much unexpected nostalgia beyond the obvious clothes and cars. Men still wore hats in 1968. They wouldn’t much longer, more’s the pity (I still do). Faye uses mascara that looks to have been dipped in chocolate syrup. The chess-playing scene was something a lot of people talked about then. To have missed The Thomas Crown Affair first-run is to never know how such a moment could define this movie for its public. The shock for me was less suggestiveness than robust open-mouthed kissing the sequence leads up to. Again I wondered if McQueen’s ardent slurping might be a technique worth emulating. Possibly no, as I’ve (thankfully) not witnessed screen osculation quite like his since.

Certainly by the late sixties, it was enough to oppose "the system" and what villainy that implied. Being no longer necessary to identify corrupt elements within that system, the thing itself was regarded as sufficiently corrupt and beyond redemption. Formerly anti-social behavior such as bank robbing became righteous means of sticking it to the Establishment. Bonnie and Clyde had made crime chic a year before, even if those two didn’t get away with it as Thomas Crown would. McQueen makes larceny a glamorous enterprise. He and this movie would have been the recently discarded Production Code’s worst nightmare. We could laugh off an opening heist easier but for a guy who’s shot in the leg and writhes painfully on the floor (that portion plays especially quaint beside hold-ups elaborately staged in the later Heat and recent The Dark Knight). Thomas Crown is smug and modern reviewers find him unsympathetic (I suspect 1968’ers dug his sensibilities more). Moral issues arising out of what he does are not even addressed. It’s understood that Faye Dunaway’s a chump for not helping him steal more money and running away with him. I wish I could remember better what I thought about all this back then (would a younger kid conclude stealing was OK?), but chances are it was that chess game distracting me most. This and such attractive leads do make crime seem to pay. McQueen was trying something new for an image and played elegant for the first time. Toward charting said horizons, he breaks into startling guffaws (often) that I must assume someone (Norman Jewison?) talked him into (ill-advisedly). Dunaway anticipates Network and on-set tantrums we’d hear about with readings unusually strident for an actress just getting a start in major leads, a plus she always had over conventional actresses. I don’t wonder that Dunaway and McQueen never got close. The picture mopes along as they loll about beaches and steam rooms, a complaint again filed by youngsters not around in 1968 who couldn’t know that at that time, these were enough. Multiple split screens borrowed from Expos and World’s Fairgrounds were new to movies then, as was Michel LeGrand music that probably had as much to do with the film’s success as its stars. The Thomas Crown Affair earned domestic rentals of $6.2 million and $5.3 foreign. Interestingly, United Artists’ bigger hit of that year would be an ultra-square Establishment comedy, Yours, Mine, and Ours, which did a whopping $11.6 million in domestic rentals, but lost ground with a far lesser $1.9 foreign.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Awards Weekend at Greenbriar

I don’t know where The Dardos Awards began, but Greenbriar Picture Shows has recently won three of them from fellow bloggers and is most pleased and proud. According to what I’m told, The Dardos Award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. The object is to promote fraternization between bloggers (and) gratitude for work that adds value to the Web. I’m all for open lines among bloggers. A lot of them have been kind and helpful to me by way of links and favorable mentions. None of us get read lest someone spreads the word, and I’m grateful to those who’ve plugged Greenbriar at their own fine sites, many of which I check daily and much enjoy. Winning a Dardos means spreading the award to favorites of your own, per these rules: 1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog.

Greenbriar’s awards came from three varied locales who’ve served the blogging community with perceptive writings and arresting imagery. All are experts in their respective fields of interest and I admire (and envy) their knowledge and erudition:

1): Frankensteinia … is just what the name implies. A history and ongoing celebration of all things Frankenstein, and goodness knows how Pierre Fournier comes up with such rarities! He recently found a comic book Son Of Frankenstein (published 1939) that I never knew existed and followed that with a thoughtful career overview of main man for many of us, Colin Clive. I love his site’s design and presentation as well.

2): Operator 99’s blog is dedicated to The Screen Stars Of The Twenties and Thirties and Their Alluring Images. In fact, his banner reads simply Allure, and is surely that for me and all fans of a great era in movie history. He writes about people I like (especially precode ones!) and has an unerring eye for gorgeous photos culled from magazine covers and collectibles of the day. I’ve saved lots of Allure from this wonderful site --- in hopes perhaps that some of it may rub off on me?

3): One Way Street is Alan Rode’s Sporadic Takes on Film Noir and Other Aspects of Pop Culture, but there’s nothing sporadic about Alan’s talent for ferreting out jewels concealed along darkened byways of Noir. His favorites are mine as well, and what a gift he has for appreciating them! Alan’s writings are second to none, as witness a recent biography of actor Charles McGraw that is a must for all students of Noir. Oh, and he recently interviewed Ernest Borginine … and paid tribute to Ricardo Montalban … and … well, just go there!!

OK, back to The Dardos Rules:

2) Pass the award to another five blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award. I’m going to bend policy here by naming sites a bit outside the strict blog category, but ones I find invaluable and clearly products of intensive effort and enthusiasm on the part of those who administer them. I’ll try contacting who I can, even as identities among some winners remain a mystery while others are products of group effort. Anyway, here goes my five:

1): The Classic Horror Film Board: This is the Miracle Mile of online discussion groups. Sometimes I'll go down that rabbit hole and not come out for hours. It’s like stumbling across a thousand issues of Castle Of Frankenstein you never knew existed. All the big name monster experts are here. I learn lots from them every time I visit, often emerging bleary-eyed from spirited debates as to who actually wore the Gill-man suit for underwater as opposed to dry land sequences in Universal’s three Creature (From The Black Lagoon) features, or say, why was there cardboard on that lamp shade during a bedroom scene in Dracula? Some might think we're plain nuts to care. Those who understand are likely reading the CHFB at this moment. Bravo to them and this paradise for monster mavens!

2): Nitrateville: Bless you, Mike Gebert, for giving silent and early sound enthusiasts such a warm place to hang their coats. I feel positively Lilliputian beside the assemblage of masterminds who contribute here. Where did they learn all this stuff? Yesterday, I got immersed in speculation over something Norma Talmadge might have said to a fan outside a restaurant back in 1934. You see, this is just the sort of thing my girlfriend’s been complaining about! Someone might better do a Nitrateville intervention on me, but in the meantime, and after the fashion of Will Hays at the Don Juan premiere, I offer my felicitations and sincerest appreciation to the silent era’s most generous and accomplished latter-day friend.

3): Silent Comedians. Com: Here is comedy’s glorious counterpart to Nitrateville. I go here for any and all questions about the greats of voiceless clowning. These people always have the answers. For those who’d claim knowledge of Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, etc., it’s a mightily humbling address, but they don’t call (most of) this crowd The Silent Comedy Mafia for nothing. Just mention one of Buster’s leading ladies you thought everyone had forgotten and an hour later one of these folks will have produced her birth certificate (if not dental records!). There’s no richer soil to till than that of a slapstick era a lot of us grew up collecting. Here is its clubhouse we always dreamed of joining.

4): Those Who Toil At The IMDB: Well, maybe toil is a misnomer. These people, and I don’t know who they are, clearly love to write and are often brilliant at it. Some post multiple comments throughout a day, with inspired observation seeming to roll off tips of their quills … dispensing insight while a schlub like me barely manages once a week appearances. Their identities are perhaps as guarded as that of masked heroes at Republic, but I salute them and you might too upon introduction to such prodigious output: ecarle, telegonous, majikstl, swanstep, and artihcus022 are just a few voices amidst the IMDB universe. There are undoubtedly lots of others, maybe some (lots?) as good as these, but where does one get the time to keep up (hundreds contribute at IMDB)? Suffice to say they write for the joy of expression and I’m always happy to revisit them.

5): DVD Savant: F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that not a half dozen men have been able to keep the whole equation of pictures in their heads. Well, here’s one DVD reviewer who can and does. Glenn Erickson’s twice weekly coverage of disc releases (mostly vintage ones) is always original, sometimes provocative, and never less than the best of any and all DVD critiquing on the Web. I go to Savant's archive to get his slant on whatever pic I’ve just watched, and never come away shy of insight I’d not considered. He’s prolific and been at it a long time, thus a mile-high backlog with just about all the essential titles. You never get the sense of his having to look things up. He just knows. Not many have that depth of knowledge nor ability to mine background and context so adroitly. Savant should write a book (wait a minute, he has --- and it’s terrific).

Numerology and bouquet tosses behind me, I’d now submit images shown here which have turned up since earlier postings on various features, some dating back a year or two, and others more recently. Do click on these titles in case you missed the past stories, and consider what’s here as supplement … footnote … whatever.

1): Psycho: This is the New York first-run ad I hoped I’d come across eventually. Notice Hitchcock’s personalized policy statement for these two Manhattan venues. This was a make-or-break engagement for the great gamble of AH's career up to that time. You really get a sense of his showman’s genius here, and one can imagine newspaper readers’ excited response upon checking this out in June 1960.

2): The Maltese Falcon: This was a splashy first-run at the famed (and still there) Chicago Theatre. Did (undoubted) throngs crowd in to see Bogart, or live wire on-stage Martha Raye? Note the Cappy Barra Boys also billed. They were a harmonica act that earlier did a specialty in 1938’s Mad About Music with Deanna Durbin. One of them actually called me years ago in response to an ad I ran in the old Film Collector’s World paper (he bought my 16mm film and assured me that Deanna was a sweetheart).

3): Dr. No: These are the ads for New York’s Premiere Showcase opening and subsequent wide saturation that I referred to in recent James Bond posts. This was how the city first came to know 007 on movie screens (and yes, ads for Irma La Douce were lots bigger).

The Marx Brothers: Here’s an article you must click and enhance. It’s news coverage about material for Go West being tested on patrons at the Chicago Theatre in May 1940. The Marxes did a seventy-minute act for those coming to see Warners’ It All Came True. I’d heard Go West was road-tested prior to production. Here is confirmation.The remaining stills are various Academy Award recipients you’ll recognize. Laurel and Hardy are holding an Honorable Mention certificate from the Academy for The Music Box, which I don’t quite get, as I’d always understood it won for Best Short Subject that year (1932). This photo of them is one I’ve not seen before and came from a British publication of the time. Kirk Douglas receiving his award is actually a scene deleted from The Bad and The Beautiful prior to release in 1952.
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