Monday, April 30, 2012

Suds


About two weeks ago, I saw Suds at the Redford. That was the weirdest movie, I must say. Out of all of Mary's movies, I don't know why they chose that one to show. I mean, it was cool to be able to see more of her work, but the film was just odd. I mean, Mary's character was just goofy. She wasn't as lowly as her character, Unity in Stella Maris, but she was homely. And she wasn't dumb, but she was, and it was just hard to get a grasp on her character. It seemed more like a really elongated short.

The funniest part of the movie for me was the horses, and that is kinda sad. But, like I said, it is worth checking out to see more of Mary's work. We have to appreciate every available silent film that is out there.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Plastic Age


Last night I watched the cutest movie, The Plastic Age, starring Clara Bow. I adore these kind of silents. It had fun flappers, speakeasies, college life in the 1920s, and just focused on youth during the Roaring Twenties. There are a couple of interesting things I wanted to point out about this film, so when YOU have a chance to see it, you can look for yourself!

Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, and Janet Gaynor appear in the film as college students. Unfortunately, the only one I was able to spot was Clark. He is spotted up on a bridge having some one on one time with a female friend. He is also in the locker room scene. The ears give him away. I tried rewinding and pausing to try and spot Janet and Carole, but I couldn't find them.  I've seen Carole in an earlier silent, and she looks different than in her talkie years, so that wasn't helping. Let me know if you happen to spot them!


This film marked Gilbert Roland's first big role in a film. He was a mighty fine looking man, if I may say so. But, is it just me, or are Gilbert Roland and John Gilbert the same person?

Gilbert was of course one of Clara's many beaus, but they were pretty serious. At one point, he asked Clara's father for her hand in marriage, but SHE was the one who said no. She would frequently tell people, "Nobody's gonna own me!" Rex Bell apparently knocked down that independent, care free attitude.

There is one point in the film when the football team scores a touchdown, and the camera cuts to the team celebrating on the bench. There is this one moron who throws himself on the ground repeatedly to "celebrate." I was watching it just in complete WTF...


One kinda confusing part of the film was during the big dance and couples keep sneaking off into a secret room and coming out all loopy, and in one case, crying. We never get to peek behind the curtain though, we just have to gauge the people's faces coming out. Ummm, were they doing crack? They would only be in the room for a few minutes and come out acting goofy, and since you can't get immediately drunk...Who knows?! Like the song goes, ANYTHING GOES!

This was the movie that helped make Clara Bow famous. Of course, her biggest film was 1927's It, but this film put her right in the public's eye.

The film was based off the book of the same name by Percy Marks, a professor at Dartmouth.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!

So, the place where I get my photos from switched servers a few weeks ago. I didn't think this was going to be a big deal, until I went and looked through previous blog entries and saw that the pictures were now blank squares. Needless to say, I was not in a good mood.

I was going to do a few new posts, but first, I need to replace the pictures and make sure everything looks nice and pretty. I am maybe halfway done right now, so it should all be up and working soon.

Won't get much of anything done on it tonight though. I am going to the Redford Theatre to see Mary Pickford in Suds tonight. Pretty excited. Since my last silent film screening just pissed me off, I am ready to have my faith in projectors renewed.

But, is it just me or does Mary look like Lon Chaney in this movie poster?



Yeah...not the best picture.....

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Miss Dorothy Gibson



I figured that this would be the perfect time to write an entry about Dorothy Gibson, an actress who survived the sinking of the Titanic. I am going to see Titanic 3D tomorrow after class, so I am in a very historical state of mind.

I am not a big fan of the love story in the movie, but rather the historical aspects of the film. What a beautiful ship they recreated and what a beautiful time they took the audience back to. I loved how we were able to "meet" Molly Brown, Isidor Strauss, Thomas Andrews, etc.

Shall we?


Dorothy Gibson was born Dorothy Winifred Brown on May 17, 1889 in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Her father, John, died when she was three years old. Her mother, Pauline, remarried soon after to man named Leonard Gibson.

When she was around 17 or 18, she began appearing on stage singing and dancing on the vaudeville circuit. She even appeared on Broadway and at the Hippodrome in New York City.

Her other job was as a model, and she sat for such famous artists as Harrison Fisher. For a few years, you could see Dorothy's face on book covers, postcards, and various advertisements.

In 1911, she made her film debut in A Show Girl's Stratagem. She appeared in comedy shorts, and her acting was praised.


Now, to the aspect of Dorothy's life that made her memorable even now. She and her mother sailed on the Titanic after taking a vacation in Italy. They were playing cards in the lounge when the ship struck on iceberg on April 14, 1912. Dorothy and her mother secured seats on lifeboat #7 , which was the first lifeboat that was launched.

Almost right away after she landed back in New York City aboard the Carpathia, her manager wanted her to make a film about the sinking. So, she wrote and starred in 1912's Saved from the Titanic. She even wore the clothes she had worn the night of the sinking! Not surprisingly, the film was a big hit. Sadly though, it is considered a lost film. The only known prints were destroyed in a fire in 1914. It was destroyed before it could even be lost!

Dorothy, in the clothes she wore when the Titanic sank

Dorothy appeared in a few more films, and was becoming as famous as Mary Pickford. But, even so, she retired from her film career in mid 1912. Her reason for leaving the screen was so that she could enjoy a singing career on the stage, where she first began her career.

Around 1919, she moved to Paris. She lived a quiet life, until the start of WWII when it came out that she was in fact a Nazi sympathizer. She renounced this fact in 1944, but was still arrested and jailed in Italy. She managed to escape with two other men.


Dorothy Gibson passed away on February 17, 1946 of a heart attack. She was 56 years old.

She was buried at Saint Germain-en-Laye Cemetery.

Dorothy was married twice. First to a pharmacist named George Battier Jr. in 1909. They divorced in 1916, but had been separated for years. Her second marriage was more well known. It was to the co-founder of Universal pictures,  Jules Brulatour. The two began having an affair during the making of her Titanic picture. The problem? Brulatour was married to his wife, Clara, and they had three children. And although technically they were separated, they were still legally married.

In 1913, Dorothy was driving Brulatour's car when she hit and killed a pedestrian. During the court case that followed the accident, it was revealed that she had been driving Brulatour's car because they were having an affair. This embarrassment caused Clara Brulatour to finally divorce her husband once and for all.

Fearing an even bigger backlash, Jules Brulatour felt he had no other choice but to marry his mistress in 1917. Shockingly (sarcasm, can you feel it?) the union did not last, and was declared invalid two years later. Neither of her marriages produced children.


Out of all her films, there is only one that is known to survive. The Lucky Holdup (1912) was found in 2001 and is now stored at the Library of Congress.

Apparently the lifeboat that Dorothy was on had missing plug, so as soon as it hit the water, water came flowing in. The ladies (and a few gentlemen) on the lifeboat volunteered their undergarments to help stop the leak.


Now, here are some facts about her most famous film:

      President Taft received a personal copy of the film. He lost his friend and military aide,
      Archibald Butt, in the sinking.

      Jules Brulatour sent cameraman to film the arrival of the Carpathia to use in the film. He
      also used film footage of the ship's captain, Edward J. Smith.

      The entire film was shot in a week, and was only 10 minutes long.

      Not surprisingly, Dorothy was still quite shaken from the whole ordeal. Shooting was often
      delayed because she would breakdown crying. She could still hear the sound the ship made
      as it broke apart and sank, and also the screams of the 1500 in the ocean who were freezing
      to death.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ooh la la! Anna Held!


"For a generation America succumbed to the Anna Held craze. There were Anna Held corsets, facial powders, pomades, Anna Held Girls, Anna Held eyes and even Anna Held cigars. She toured the country like a conqueror and no matter where her private car stopped, she had to step out on the observation platform and greet laborers and shop girls who waited since daybreak to catch a glimpse of her before reporting for work. Anna Held was the most buoyant and cheerful spirit that ever swept across the stage. To this day stage hands throughout America doff their hats at the mention of her name." ~~ Eddie Cantor in 1934


"The season before last it was Maude Adams; last season it was Mrs. Carter; and now it is Anna Held...Hitherto she has been regarded as a petted and spoiled child of the music hall - a piquant feather brain with no deep emotional substrata. But presto change! All at once she reveals herself as an artist of wide range and admiral skill!" ~~ newspaper critic in 1899


"Anna Held was a woman's favorite from the start. She was soft and winsome, with...the exuberant spirits and harmlessness of a playful white kitten. The harshness, audacity and strident assertiveness of the typical chantant singer did not enter into her method." ~~ newspaper critic in 1901


"I love to see 'Anna Held' in the papers. I read them every day just to discover if one mentions Anna Held. And if I do not find it I am no longer interested. The papers seem very dull if I do not see my name in them." ~~ Anna Held


"One moment I am all emotion, another is all sympathy, and then again I am just gay, and I am Anna Held." ~~ Anna Held


"There are few actresses of the day who understand as well as she how to get the best possible results from any given pose. Again and again she makes a posture of herself that an artist would be only too glad to paint could be have the opportunity." newspaper critic around 1905


"Stop crying hard times - get busy and you will do as well as Anna Held!" ~~ St. Louis newspaper  in 1907


"[Anna was] as piquant as ever, and as she was in splendid voice all her songs went with a vim. It is worth going miles to see her alone, but thanks to her liberal ways of doing things, she allowed others to share in the honors." ~ newspaper critic in 1908


"It seems to me that the whole tendency of modern fashion is not to make women beautiful, but only to martyr them. Big hats are not comfortable. Yet all women wear them. I myself have worse hats than anybody." ~~ Anna Held


"Why be jealous? It makes a woman ugly. If there is one who loves you truly he will love you without giving you anxiety; and if he is not of that sort...why give yourself trouble about him?" ~~ Anna Held


** All of the above quotes were taken from the book Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway  by Eve Golden **

Miss Phyllis Haver


And on to another Sennett Bathing Beauty, one with a not so happy ending.


Phyllis Haver was born Phyllis O'Haver on January 6, 1899 in Douglass, Kansas.

Her early life was quite like her fellow Bathing Beauty actress, Juanita Hansen. When she was younger, she too moved with her family to California where she attended school in Los Angeles. And then right after she graduated, she got into the picture business.

Before she was IN the films, Phyllis played piano for them at local movie houses. My grandmother had a lot of movie sheet music that we found later in our attic. I thought someone told me before that she played along with silents, but I can't remember. I know someone in the family did. I still have the sheet music of hers with Valentino on the cover. I will never get rid of that one.

Phyllis must have really caught the bug because she decided to try out for Mack Sennett, why not? He liked her, and she became one of the original Bathing Beauties. And she too must have been quite a favorite of Sennett's because she had a leading role in a few of his two reelers. (They were all cute, how could he favor just one? Can't blame the guy).


Her next venture was in the role of Roxie Hart in the first film version of Chicago in 1927. Her performance was praised by audiences and critics alike.

Her last two films were 1929's Thunder, which ended up being her and her costar, Lon Chaney's last silent film role. And her last was a talkie called She Couldn't Say No in 1930 with Sally Eilers and Louise Beavers.


Phyllis Haver passed away on November 19, 1960 in Connecticut at age 61. She died from an overdose of pills. Whether it was intentional or not, who knows, but the former seems more likely. She apparently had made suicide attempts in the past.

She was cremated and her ashes were scattered over New York City. How that works, I do not know...

Phyllis was only married once. In 1929, she married millionaire William Seeman. The ceremony was performed by the New York City mayor himself. The couple divorced in 1945. They never had children.



"If marrying a millionaire isn't an act of God, I don't know what is!" ~~ Phyllis Haver

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Miss Juanita Hansen


Blah. One of those days/weeks so far. I was up until 2:00 am last night trying to figure out my math homework. Thank goodness for smart friends with Skype! I have the day off tomorrow, so that is a plus...get a little sleep in time.

I figured hey, since I am in a melancholy mood, why not talk about some beautiful blondes. That always livens up things. And the fact that they were both Sennett Bathing Beauties makes it even better!

 First off is Juanita Hansen.

 
Juanita Hansen was born on March 3, 1895 in Des Moines, Iowa.

When she was still a child, she and her family moved to Los Angeles where she attended school. It was after high school that she landed her first acting job in The Patchwork Girl of Oz, based on the book by L. Frank Baum. She appeared in two of Oz's adaptations.

After this, she appeared in a few films here and there, nothing big. She then joined up with Mack Sennett and became one of his famous Bathing Beauties. Apparently she told people that she liked working for Sennett, but didn't really like doing slapstick comedies. So, she left the studios and went to Universal in order to make more serious pictures.

Her films and serials were pretty successful, but the problems weren't with the material, it was with Juanita herself. She had become addicted to cocaine, and it was starting to interfere with her work.

 
In 1921, Juanita was injured in an accident when she was scalded with hot water. She won a legal battle over the case and took a break from films. (Unfortunately though, she was given morphine for her pain...which she then became addicted to).

She tried to come back two years later but only found bit movie roles. Lack of work and her drug addiction caused her to retire from films in 1923. She was only 28 years old.

Her life was spiraling downward and quickly, so, she decided there was only one thing to do...kill herself. She took an overdose of sleeping pills, but unfortunately/luckily, she did not succeed. Being given a second chance helped point Juanita in a more positive direction, and she decided to use her negative life experiences to help make a positive life experience for others who were struggling with addiction. She started the Juanita Hansen Foundation, and also wrote a book arguing that drug addicts should be treated as sick patients rather than as criminals.

 
Juanita Hansen passed away on September 26, 1961 from heart failure in her Hollywood home. Her maid found her and stated to officials that the actress had been suffering from a heart ailment.

She was interred at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Juanita never married, but I am sure she had a few boyfriends. One of said boyfriends was married to former showgirl and scandal figure, Evelyn Nesbit. Evelyn was married to dancer Jack Clifford, and when she divorced him in 1933, she cited Juanita as a factor in the break-up.

She was arrested on drug charges in 1937, but got out of the ordeal when she told the officers that the pills found in her purse were prescribed for medical reasons, not recreational use. She had just gotten herself clean, and was not relapsing. In fact, after she was released from jail, she went on a speaking tour talking to people about the dangers of drugs.

 
Reportedly Mack Sennett favored Juanita above his other Bathing Beauties, and so he put her front and center for many of his films. Did the other girls get jealous and angry? You're darn right they did! Silent film cat fight? Awesome.

Juanita seemed to love living dangerously. Along with having a penchant for drugs, she loved fast cars and was often arrested for speeding.

According to a Photoplay article from 1920, she was 5'3'', blue eyed, and very blonde.

In 1923, Juanita spoke to a newspaper about her drug addiction which was a pretty big deal at the time. If actors had any kind of scandalous behavior going on, it was hushed up. I am linking the article here because it is LONG, but it is definitely worth reading. Juanita Hansen Article

 
                      "The Queen of the Thrills"