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Saturday, July 28, 2012

20th Fox and Boy On A Dolphin --- Part Two

Trade unions got up in arms over so much overseas lensing. The A.F.L's Hollywood Film Council spread incendiary word, according to The New York Times, that a number of motion pictures being produced by American interests or with American financing are employing Communist union members in preference to members of anti-Communist unions. Dynamite charges these were, but times were desperate (October 1956 saw just over 12,000 US pic industry workers drawing a check, down 1,700 from the previous year).

Loren Sketches at Right by Jean Negulesco

Word got out that Fox planned to roadshow Boy On a Dolphin after producing same in 55mm, this traced to West Coast personnel, but met "with surprise" by New York's home office. The sales department said the plan was news to them, and so did Fox's technical division, reported Variety, one exec adding that it's doubtful many exhibitors would go for the extra cost. 20th had used 55mm for Carousel, 35mm release prints thereby benefiting from greater clarity. Fox tech wizard Earl Sponable acknowledged that 55mm would add somewhat to the quality of the picture, but it would mean really dressing up the house, with special sound presentation, etc. What went unsaid, but appeared clear enough, was that Boy On a Dolphin didn't merit anything like deluxe unveiling such as these rumors promised.

Director Negulesco Offers Up-Close Guidance to Sophia Loren
Jean Negulesco wrote a book wherein he colorfully described Boy On a Dolphin's production. Even from twenty year hindsight, it read as though the director had a distinct crush on Sophia Loren, judging by playful images of them together and drawings he made of the actress. Negulesco handed Loren Boy On a Dolphin with an intro scene where she emerges like a robust Aphrodite from the sea, a bountiful body-slam to US viewers, particularly male ones, who'd word-of-mouth and repeat attend Boy to $2.2 million in domestic rentals. Alan Ladd saw the attraction(s) and boiled, his wife further stoking flames of resentment. Not-knowing-better Loren told interviewers of mirth doing love scenes stood in a trench so as to avoid dwarfing Ladd, relations between the two becoming cool as if on Arctic location.

Ad For Boy On A Dolphin's Hollywood First-Run
Ladd had surprised his crew by showing up ravaged for the wear of travel (he wouldn't fly, so passage was by ship, then train, clothing and other valuables stolen en route). His alcohol excess and weight gain obliged Negulesco, who never wanted Ladd in the first place, to cover with protective set-ups in addition to ones even-ing height vis-à-vis AL and SL. Compensation for all this was worth-the-trip Grecian backdrops that dominate Boy On a Dolphin, interiors kept to a minimum so that even when dialogue's dull, there's something at least to look at. Scenery alone might have justified 55mm and roadshowing had Boy come off a better movie. Still, there was enough to merit a New York Roxy open with on-stage performing by Louis Armstrong for a four week run begun April 19, 1957.

Fox had made what Variety called a "Wallopy" season preview called The Big Show, which among other things, announced fifty-five features for the coming year. The 110-minute trailer cost a quarter million and would run throughout the country to exhibitors, press, radio/TV reps, and "community leaders." 2,500 Fox stockholders attended the Roxy's morning premiere of The Big Show, and were invited to remain as guests for Boy On a Dolphin. 20th's grand gesture was seen as a frontal assault to competing television, but TV would win. Beyond The Big Show's push would come retrenchment and more lay-offs, salary cuts, and reduced production at Fox. Boy On a Dolphin, a hit for the Roxy, drooped elsewhere. From $3.3 million spent on the negative, $2.2 came back in domestic rentals, $2.4 foreign, with a final loss of $1.1 million.

From here came a half-century's (and counting) oblivion for a show that needed every inch of wide screens. Boy On a Dolphin went to NBC for new-minted Monday Night At The Movies, one of sixteen Fox titles leased to the network for two runs at $175,000 for each, the series to premiere February 4, 1963. Later in that decade (1968) came The American Cinema, a book by Andrew Sarris wherein he ranked directors, Boy On a Dolphin's helmsman among "Miscellany." Jean Negulesco's career can be divided into two periods labeled B.C. and A.C., or Before Cinemascope and After Cinemascope ... Everything After Cinemascope is completely worthless, said the critic. Sarris applied a finishing thrust thus: Negulesco's is the most dramatic case of directorial maladjustment in the fifties. Query to Sarris: Had he screened Boy On a Dolphin and others Negulesco wide-directed in their original Cinemascope format? To have done so would be at the least difficult in the late-60's when these films had long vacated theatres and were playing solely pan/scan on television. Boy On a Dolphin remains compromised in a transfer that is wide, but badly in need of remastering. What we occasionally see on TCM and The Fox Movie Channel does little credit to one of the 50's most striking travel folders. Suggestion to Screen Archives' Twilight Time DVD series ... give us Boy On a Dolphin on Blu-Ray with Hugo Friedhofer's fine score on an isolated track. There would be a must-have disc for 2012.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Another Great Book

Just had thirty or so pages of Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Have Known Them by Frank Langella with chicken/dumplings at Hadley's. It would have been as easy to sit there all afternoon reading. The book arrived this morning and it'll be finished by nightfall. I found out about Langella's memoir at Cinema Retro, that dependable signpost to best reading/viewing in addition to marvelous articles/reviews generated by moderator Lee Pfeiffer and staff members. Retro's coverage of Dropped Names steered me to Amazon and a bargain-priced copy for $13.98 (just pages at lunch were worth that). Part of reason for buying was longtime conviction that Frank Langella is about the best actor working. His are among select contemporary pics I try never to miss.

Yvonne Criss-Crossed Burt in 1948 --- She'd Do As Much for Frank in 1974

What Langella does here is profile the famous names he's encountered over a long career, these including many Golden-Agers headed for the barn. And it's not just ones you'd expect. FL does pungent looks-back at Gilbert Roland, Oliver Reed, Yvonne DeCarlo (a notably saucy section) --- he doesn't spare barbs, but Langella views each with understanding and appreciation for greatness they once had, whatever trying times were upon them by 70's and afterward occasion when the young actor worked with, and learned much, from said seasoned pros (the Jo Van Fleet reflect is sheer spun gold for Langella finding humor and pathos in a grand old actresses' approach toward the finish line). The Oliver Reed portion is both celebration of an all-time great immoderate and scathing indictment of 90's Hollywood waste and ego-excess, the movie being execrable Cutthroat Island, from which Reed was summarily removed after drunkenly suggesting what seemed an outrageous change to his character/cameo (to which you may say --- if only they'd used it).

This is Pret-Near the Oliver Reed That Frank Langella Encountered When They Met in 1995

The photo at left shows Langella with his yellow pad on the beach, proof enough for me that he, not a ghost, wrote this book. The perspective is just too individual for any stand-in to have penned. Each chapter is bite-sized, tasty, insightful. I laughed enough to attract Hadley's waitress attention (young Langella meets Bob Mitchum on The Wrath Of God --- expected howl-arity ensues). This is no casual star-tour, though. Langella observed these people with a laser. I don't wonder for the knowing and masterful performing he's done since the first thing I saw him in, a fairly wretched ABC-TV remake of The Mark Of Zorro in 1974 (which he covers nicely in Stars Dropped). Miraculous was Langella's portrayal of Richard Nixon in 2008's Frost/Nixon --- he makes the character perhaps more sympathetic than writing/directing intended --- made me sure enough root for Dick! Then there was Starting Out In The Evening (2007) where he was a J.D.Salinger'ish writer recluse. Frank Langella's at least as accomplished a scribe as actor, that amounting to considerable, with Names Dropped work of a hugely entertaining piece with the best this artist has given us.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Greenbriar Won't Let Errol Go!

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Errol and Patrice on Errol's Yacht After Their Wedding
I have to break in line before Part Two of Boy On A Dolphin (which goes up Saturday) to post a couple of blue-ribbon comments from GPS readers who generously took time to further expound on Errol Flynn and Hello God. Craig Reardon is a name familiar to us --- his points are always well-taken, informative, insightful (remember Craig's reminiscence about outdoor Cinerama?). Here are thoughts from him about Errol Flynn I sure enjoyed --- and suspect you will too. Also there is first-time correspondent (hope it won't be the last) Ralph Schiller, who really knows his Flynn, tendering data likely new to all of us. Thank you, Mr.Schiller, for getting to the bottom of Hello God's fate. What a story! There's also more conversation between reader Brian (who supplied the ultra-rare Hello God, or is it?, image in the first place) and Mike Mazzone, co-author with Robert Matzen of Errol Flynn Slept Here, in the original comments section of the Hello God post (these were submitted over the last six or so days, so you may not have seen them). Overall, a great couple of weeks for Errol excavations in general and Hello God in particular, thanks to this expert panel of reader/participants.

Flynn Greets Acting Colleague Paul Henried During Euro Stop

Errol Relaxes at Cannes Film Festival
From Craig Reardon: Just an email is to say "Thanks!!" for the recent articles about one of my favorites, Errol Flynn. I still think he was one of the undervalued actors in all movie history. I also acknowledge that you are a big supporter and fan, as this latest couple of posts continues to prove. The closest I ever came to the great Errol was first of all my dad's recollection of installing a telephone (when he began with 'Ma Bell' in the mid-1940s out of their Gower Street station in Hollywood) at Flynn's hilltop home, albeit admitting the legend was not home, much to his disappointment; however, he remembered seeing a mirror on the ceiling in one of the bedrooms! (This I believe was supposed to have been a two way mirror, enabling observation or even photography of what transpired in the sack, below!).

Oh, Yeah? Sez You! Flynn Confronts Customs Staff at Rome Airport

Then, briefly meeting his daughter Rory, a rather glamorous lady, on a very low budget film she was working on as a still photographer back in 1988 or so. Finally, years earlier in 1976, meeting a couple of sound men (mixer and boom man) on one of the earliest movies I ever worked on, also VERY low budget, who---the sound guys---both knew Flynn and both agreed he was a great guy. When people volunteer opinions like this, I always think they must have some basis in fact! (The same two guys had worked at Paramount and had less than complimentary things to say about some other big names of that I didn't get the impression they were the sort to hand out encomiums with indifference.)

Fashion Plate Flynn Makes Selection at Favored Haberdashery

Errol and Patrice Greet Fans on the Banks of the Seine
Then again, some of these older movie vets---and I met a lot of them in my own earlier days, as many of them---some of whom had actually started as kids in the silent days!---were still working---anyway, this is a typically-tortured sentence by me!----these guys were tough cookies with a rough and ready sense of humor. I remember one of these guys saying, either from personal experience or having heard tell, that you might arrive at a party at Flynn's house and his butler (perhaps hired for the evening) would collect your clothes at the door! Yes, he pointedly said your clothes, not your hat and coat. This reeks a little of limburger cheese to me, like this guy might have read it in an old dog-eared copy of Confidential--- but on the other hand, how would I know?

Professor Theodore Thomson-Flynn Flanked By Bad Boy Son and Even Worse John Decker, Whose Own Exploits Made Errol Look Like Lord Fauntleroy By Comparison 

A Jaunty Flynn Receives the Press on Eve of British Start on
The Master Of Ballantrae
Flynn seemed to conduct his entire life like an ongoing adventure and party. He seems to have been a real promethean character. I don't know if you recognize or remember the name Tony Thomas (?). Thomas loved film music, for one thing, and wrote two books about the great Hollywood composers of the golden era. I once met him and he was a most gracious, handsome little guy. Sad that he died really way too young, though in fact he might have been around the age I am now (59.) I don't know. Thomas began, I believe, as a mellifluous-voiced radio journalist from Canada who practically worshipped Errol Flynn.

Another of Those Screwy Star Benefits, This Time Joined by George Jessel, Betty Hutton,
Van Johnson, and Harpo Marx

He once put out a personal tribute to Flynn on an lp record, which I think he entitled "Tribute to a Cavalier." It consisted of a spoken docu-biography of Flynn (by Thomas), highlighted by a brief interview he himself conducted with Flynn ca. 1959 when the actor briefly portrayed Rochester in a stage production of "Jane Eyre" in Hollywood, almost at the end of his life. Flynn's remarks seemed philosophical and true, and I remember him saying, "I've had a great life, and I've had a hell of a good time." It's nice to think he felt that way on the eve of eternity. The lp was rounded out with a delightful old radio production/promotion for the contemporary '38 "Adventures of Robin Hood," which features a suite of themes from the score, which I believe were conducted live by the composer Korngold, and narration spoken by Basil Rathbone.

One-Time Close Friend Bruce Cabot --- They Fell Out In The Wake of William Tell

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> </> <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> </>
Even Robin Hood Sometimes Needed His Reading Glasses
From Ralph Schiller: I do not believe the remarkable photograph in question is from "Hello God" or even taken on the set during the making of the film.

Everyone knows that Errol Flynn is playing an American soldier on the beach in WW2. Beards, to anyone who has ever served in the armed forces, are strictly non-regulation. A battle-weary soldier (with no time to shave in combat) might be sporting a rough stubble across his entire face but never a neatly-trimmed goatee beard!

I am convinced the photo is from the making of "Kim". In fact the two other people in the photo look decidedly British in appearance to me.

Is Murder At Monte Carlo Really Gone Forever? Ralph Schiller Thinks So

Errol Welcomed Back to Hollywood for Istanbul by John Bentley
and Jane Russell
I went to a 'Hollywood Collector's Show" in March 2011 where I had the great pleasure of meeting the still gorgeous-looking Sherry Jackson, who was in the cast of "Hello God." I asked her about the film and her first words to me were "Have you seen it?" She remembered that the film was shot in California at Santa Barbara, and that Errol Flynn was very nice to her. In fact, she said he gave her a dime and said "Promise to call me after you turn eighteen!"

Sherry Jackson said she had a B&W still taken on the set of "Hello God" somewhere in her vast collection. I gave her my E-Mail address and phone number and promised to purchase the still if she could locate it. A few months later I received an E-Mail from her manager asking me for the
exorbitant price of $150.00 for the still because of its rarity. I agreed to the price and still heard nothing for several months. I again contacted her manager and a few weeks later Sherry Jackson left a voicemail on my phone saying she was still searching for the still through several storage bins. I have heard nothing since, so I am assuming she was unable to locate the still with her and Errol Flynn.

7/26/12 --- 8:55 A.M. --- Robert Matzen answers Ralph Schiller's comment and speculates further as to the mystery of the Hello God still:

The questionable still is highly intriguing, so much so that even the experts disagree on what they're looking at. I do not buy Ralph's assertion that this is a still related to the production of dust-bound Kim. It doesn't ring true for me, especially if they're all posing with a process screen depicting an ocean. It could be a publicity photo taken at the kickoff of HG production, for all we know. I also thought about what Ralph said regarding EF portraying a soldier and hence not having whiskers, and I wondered if perhaps in addition he played God or a representative of heaven, a la Mr. Jordan, and this was why he wore the fancy get-up. I'm just not familiar enough with Hello God to know what might have been depicted.

At any rate, these posts have been a blast, and I love your choice of Flynn candids, some of which I've never seen before. The Flynn-Wymore-Cabot shot looks like it must be from right around the time of the falling out over paychecks Cabot was owed from William Tell.

7/26/12 --- 10:06 A.M. --- Mike Mazzone takes up the Hello God topic again and wonders if Flynn may have played a bigger role than we imagined:

Looking closely at the Hello God still, Errol's goatee looks to be applied makeup. It's thicker and darker than Errol's natural goatee as seen with Princess Irene or even in the Kim stills. It also has two pronounced points on the beard part. Could Errol have played God? In The Films Of Errol Flynn, the cast listing refers to him as "the man on the beach," not as a soldier.

7/27/12 --- 1:20 P.M. --- And Ralph Schiller has more ...

Robert Matzen is certainly right in that the still in question with Errol Flynn was taken in front of a studio process screen.

Mike Mazzone also has a valid point in that Flynn's beard is a make-up job.

Flynn appears to be noticeably older in the photo. My guess is that this photo still was taken inside a soundstage at
Bray Studios, near Windsor outside of London in 1956. Errol was making "The Errol Flynn Theatre" television series. That could very well be the beard he wore in the episode with Patrice Wymore "A Wife For The Czar"!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cinemascope's Tour Ends Here --- Part One

A lot of 20th Fox Cinemascope was travelogues that only incidentally told a story, to which novelty besotted customers responded Give Us More! as record hits were made of Three Coins In a Fountain, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing and others that saved them air fare to places gloriously captured on newly-wide screens. Cinemascope avoided 3-D's flame-out for being not such an obvious gimmick, but like anything shiny and new, wore down as movies again were judged for content rather than size. Best Picture-winning Marty bespoke patronage done with vistas and little else, its award less recognition for modesty than rebuke to Hollywood's over-size to fit all. Fox began losing money on Cinemascope from a first anniversary of the process and The Egyptian celebrating same. 1955 would be back to business as usual of grosses made on merit, Cinemascope's crutch having been snatched from the patient.

Still there was hope that lightning could be pushed back in wide bottles. A short novel revolving around Greek treasure hunts was bought by Fox in mid-1955, this just off euphoria Three Coins and its Rome locale excited. Boy On A Dolphin was among ideas seemingly good at the time. Why not an exotic adventure filmed on sites not before captured, let alone by anamorphic cameras? Tense, lively, and good-humored was the book, said reviewers, so approach to its content seemed wide-open. Initial casting of Bob Hope suggested the humor, but that may have been more a joke on trades. By July '55 and serious reflection, there was Clifton Webb for menace with Joan Collins the menaced, then months-later possibility Robert Stack to romantic lead. How Boy On A Dolphin bloated from said manageable beginning was a saga typical of stars and expense frittering hope of Fox's eventual $3.3 million (over) investment coming back.

So many bad decisions came in the wake of Darryl Zanuck leaving Fox to pursue independent production. That happened in 1956, just as Boy On A Dolphin hoisted anchor on what would be six months spent shooting in Greece, then Rome, under direction of Jean Negulesco, whose previous trip to the latter yielded Three Coins In A Fountain. 20th production management now vested in Buddy Adler, his look and carriage ideal for studio chiefdom, even if he'd prove, in modern putdown terms, to be All Hat and No Cattle. Veteran producer/writer/directing talent saw Fox as treading water after Zanuck's departure. Few or none had confidence in Adler. East coast commander Spyros Skouras, kept at bay by DFZ, now moved in to implement his notions of pic making, creative walls easily breached with on-lot leadership now in a vacuum.

As was often case with shaky propositions, Boy On A Dolphin took out policies of star insurance. Director Negulesco was already filming Greek backgrounds when Alan Ladd was signed back home to play Dolphin's lead. Fox had scotched Gina Lollobrigida for fresher pasta Sophia Loren, proof if nothing else of inroads foreign pics had made since the war. Loren's casting promised a bonus of infatuated-with-her Cary Grant, willing to do another bad picture, it seemed, so long as it was with Loren (their just previous together was The Pride and The Passion). Grant's sudden withdrawal necessitated but-quick signing of Ladd, it being felt that Boy On A Dolphin needed top marquee bait to justify $ already splurged in Greece.

Ladd was paid, perhaps overpaid, with $275K up front (some put it at $325K), plus a percentage. Either way, Fox's largesse overlooked reality of Ladd's decline. Would Zanuck have approved this gift? Negulesco thought it crazed that Adler and administrators would pair 5'6'' (if that) Ladd with strapping Loren, 5'8'' or better stripped. Leading men were in any case interchangeable for much of what Fox shot wide during the fifties. Boy On a Dolphin might have seen profit had a cheaper-bought Dick Egan or Victor Mature paired with Loren. Either would certainly have been more credible in the clinches than a Ladd she could as readily toss over either shoulder.

There was an unfinished script, by-now customary for on-location Fox, Ivan Moffat being flown over to continue the writing barely ahead of cameras. Meanwhile, Fox was laying off employees at home. Projects scheduled for summer '56 had been postponed, leaving little to do on the lot. Department heads were told to trim staff, beginning on back-lots not being used thanks in part to Boy On a Dolphin's interiors being filmed in Rome, funds frozen by the Italian government thawed by virtue of shooting there.

Part Two of Boy On A Dolphin HERE.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book Choice(s) --- A One-Two From William Drew

Early last-century play-acting (as in legit) was still wild and wooly enough for an actor to emerge onstage with blackened eye just got in dressing room fisticuffs, this and more theatrical lore explored by William M. Drew in his newest, Mr. Griffith's House With Closed Shutters, which as you'll gather, is about lots more than a to-be director and his board-troddings prior to immortality directing flickers. In fact, it's the best summation so far of DWG's massive input to narrative pics and how he brought them out of primitive state. Never has been served such detail surrounding one filmmaker's climb from cross-country barnstorming (and poverty attendant) to glories of a H'wood Griffith helped invent. So much Drew uncovered is new --- nothing rehashed here. You'd think no one had told the titan's tale before based on revelation piled one atop other, and boners Drew exposes from previous Griffith tomes will inspire many to lay these aside and focus henceforth on final and authoritative word this author supplies.

Never Knew What Radical Content Lurked
in Griffith Features Till Reading Drew's Book
As referenced in sentence one, Mr. Drew gets into thick of vagabond performing way back, and taught me much of how grassroots patronage reacted to troupes strutting and fretting their hour upon local stages. An acting Griffith could get raves in one burgh, then mere miles away at a next stop, they'd shout "You stink!," or 1901 words to that effect. Never did I realize how gossipy large and small press was about offstage travail of visitor stock companies --- stars, it seems, were born earlier than we knew insofar as having their private lives poked into. That, by ways, is a hint as to the big reveal of Drew's 575 page odyssey (D.W. had his Intolerance ... this is Drew's). Seems Griffith harbored a major-to-him secret of past life throughout a long career that no one till Drew got to bottoms of. Even Lillian Gish wondered for most of her 99 years what the master was hiding. Too bad she couldn't be around long enough to read this book ...

Is That Guillotine For Orphans Of The Storm Characters or Extras Failing to Follow Griffithian Instruct On 1921 Epic Show?

I'll withhold further spoiling. Suffice to say, what Drew dug up (and he dug lots) will change forever perceptions of Griffith and his work. Research done here is awe-inspiring. Talk about an artist influenced by events ... what DWG did reveal about said storm in his life was there all along in shorts/features gone back a century, the missing piece (a large one) being what William Drew supplies in Mr. Griffith's House With Closed Shutters. If you want to "get" where Biograph's chief helmsman and creator of long-form triumphs was coming from, begin here.

Griffith and Crew Face Wintry Mix to Stage Ice-Flow Sequence in Way Down East

Youthful and Future Directing Fan Robert Florey Sees Dreams
Come True When He Meets DWG
To the fascinating foregoing is added what amounts to a bonus book wherein Drew explores Griffith's legacy in print and research since the director's peak and later decline. The author reveals fallacy in much of what has passed for Griffith bio, understandable as the Great Man buried all aspects of private life deep as Egypt tombs (for much good reason as revealed by William Drew). Thanks in large part to internet resources, Drew has accessed newspapers/periodicals unseen since cover dates --- certainly these went un-consulted by previous historians --- and who among them had Drew's remarkable tenacity? Most compelling is delve into hasty conclusion and myths propagated to date, several DWG books having moved from my library into cold storage as result. Oh, and Drew takes dead aim at political correctness gone amok to disadvantage of Griffith's reputation and The Birth Of A Nation in particular. And who knew a grisly trunk murder figured into these pages? Yes, I was hooked and you'll be too. Mr. Griffith's House With Closed Shutters resolves me to watch Intolerance, Birth, Way Down East, and much of the rest again, now that William Drew has opened eyes to truth of what made the enigmatic Mr. Griffith tick.

Romantic Rudy Gets a Fresh Coat Of Paint in 1938 Revival of Past Hits

The perfect addition to Griffith's House is another of William Drew's to savor, especially if, like me, you're into the afterlife of film beloved. The Last Silent Picture Show, published in 2010, was a book concept I wish I had dreamed up. Subtitled Silent Films on American Screens in the 1930's, the content covers just that. So what were attitudes toward silent movies after they disappeared? Turns out not so good. Yesterday's fish gone bad sums up how many felt --- I don't wonder at all those negatives getting junked. Neither does author Drew, as he covers an industry ringing out an old art form to ring in newness of sound. What was revived after coming of talk were as many tin lizzies so far as a disrespecting public went. Even gilt-edged hits like Ben-Hur and The Big Parade saw hard times before noise-accustomed patronage. Was ever a broom so thorough at sweeping off a discarded era? Made me think of the bum's rush 35mm is getting now that digital is here to stay --- modern parallel of which makes The Last Silent Picture Show strikingly relevant.

Misguided Mary Was For Junking Her Inventory After Sound Came In --- Wiser Heads Luckily Prevailed

So many arresting topics here --- "Old Time Movie Shows" (they couldn't even wait until the end of the silent era to laff at oldie pics), final stand of unwired houses (you want to cry at fates of these), a chapter called "Mary and Charlie vs. The World" (he kept making non-talkers and she wanted to burn hers), continued silent filmmaking out of Europe and the Orient, founding The Museum Of Modern Art (Iris Barry and I would not have hit it off), plus isolated moments when a single night or week's triumph made it look like silents might rise again (not). As to latter, there is Drew's coverage of Paramount's socko 1938 bring-back of The Sheik --- Valentino was hot again! --- followed by Bill Hart's return with Tumbleweeds. These subjects have been touched before, never with such detail as here. The Last Silent Picture Show plows fresh along ground barely grazed before. It's the kind of book I get busy reading seconds out of the mail box. Whoever goes for what Greenbriar generates will flip for The Last Silent Picture Show. It alongside Mr. Griffith's House With Closed Shutters amount to a pair of aces dealt by a writer/historian second to none.

Go HERE to check out William M. Drew's website and much more silent era content.
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