NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

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scsu1975
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

Post by scsu1975 »

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Vanity Fair, directed by Hugo Ballin, starred Mabel Ballin (the Director’s wife) as Becky Sharp, Hobart Bosworth as the Marquis of Steyne, George Walsh as Rawdon Crawley, Harrison Ford as George Osborne, and Eleanor Boardman as Amelia Sedley. The film was released in March of 1923 at eight reels, and is presumed lost. The Library of Congress has an extensive synopsis.

Plot: As Becky Sharp walks towards her home, she is followed by a well-dressed man. At the Sharp home, Mr. Sharp is painting at his easel. The well-dressed man is admitted to the home. Mr. Sharp introduces the man to his family as Lord Steyne. Steyne then tells Mr. Sharp he is anxious to possess one of his paintings – and there may be something else he wants later. Five years pass. Becky’s parents are dead, and she bids farewell to the mistresses of the school she attended. Becky is set to stay a week with her friend, Amelia Sedley, in London. One of the mistresses tells Becky “remember after you have visited the Sedleys, you are to go to Sir Pitt Crawley’s, where you will become the governess of his little girl.” Becky replies “I trust my departure will be as welcome to you as it is to me.”

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As Becky and Amelia sit in the carriage awaiting departure, another mistress gives Amelia a box and Becky a book, saying “sandwiches for Amelia – but a dictionary for you, Becky Sharp.” As the mistress walks away, Becky hurls the book after her. At the Sedley home, Becky meets Amelia’s brother Joseph, an overweight self-conscious lad.

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After dinner, George Osborne calls on Amelia, and he is taken with Becky. Becky leaves to take up her position with Sir Pitt Crawley. Crawley lives in a dismal old house, with his invalid wife and children. Miss Crawley, Sir Pitt’s rich half-sister, arrives and looks Becky over. Becky then meets Captain Rawdon Crawley, who is Sir Pitt’s favorite son. There is an immediate attraction between Becky and Rawdon.

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As time goes by, the scheming and socially ambitious Becky ingratiates herself with Rawdon, his father, and Miss Crawley. “You must live with me in London,” Miss Crawley tells her, adding “You know I’ve always set my heart on Rawdon running away with someone – it’s so romantic!” Meanwhile, in London, the Osborne family has invited Amelia to dinner at their home. While her relationship with George is progressing, his family treats her with disdain. Osborne asks his son “just how far have you become entangled with Sedley’s daughter?” George responds that the pair are practically engaged. Osborne, angered, forbids the marriage and threatens to disinherit George unless Amelia has a dowry of ten thousand pounds. Miss Crawley returns to London, and when she is taken ill, sends for Becky. Rawdon calls on Becky, and she says “Rawdon dear, she doesn’t even dream of our secret marriage.” “I’m afraid to tell my father,” Rawdon replies. “My step-mother is ill and I fear he soon again will be a widower.” Rawdon wonders who the next Lady Crawley will be, and Becky says “Rawdon dear, when do you suppose I shall be Lady Crawley?” One morning Sir Pitt calls, wearing mourning clothes. He tells Becky his wife has died. He asks Becky to return to his house, then falls on his knees and declares “I love you, Becky – I do – come back as my wife, Lady Crawley.” Becky then has to admit she is already married, but refuses to tell Sir Pitt who her husband is. “I can’t be your wife,” she tells him. “Let me be your daughter.” After he leaves, Becky writes a note to one of Miss Crawley’s servants, asking her to tell Miss Crawley that she has been secretly married to Rawdon. It is now the spring of 1805. Europe is on edge at the news that Napoleon has escaped Elba. Amelia Sedley’s father has gone bankrupt, and all his household goods are being sold at auction. Captain William Dobbin, a former admirer of Amelia’s, has returned from duty in India. The following morning, Dobbin and George Osborne are called back to their regiment due to impending war with France. Dobbin gives George a parcel and a letter from Amelia in which he says that she has asked Dobbin to return his gifts. Dobbin, despite his deep feelings for Amelia, says “George, you have treated Amelia shamefully. Her heart is broken. Go to her – war may be declared any moment.” George replies that tomorrow, he will ask Amelia to marry him. The pair are married, and Osborne’s father disinherits his son. The newlyweds go to Brighton for their honeymoon, where Becky and Rawdon have taken up residence. One evening Rawdon is playing cards. George flirts with Becky.

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Amelia watches from a distance. George tells Becky that at any moment, he and Rawdon may be ordered to Brussels. At Brussels on the evening of June 15, 1815, the followers of the British army dance and feast on the eve of battle.

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The women in the room watch the flirtatious Becky with jealousy, and one says “No man is safe. Amelia Osborne had better look out for her husband.” Amelia, neglected, is kept company by Captain Dobbin. Amelia tells Dobbin she feels ill, and asks him to take her to her carriage. George is too busy drinking to notice her leaving. Dobbin returns and tells George they will march in three hours. Rawdon tells Becky he is joining the regiment.

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As Rawdon rides off, Becky takes off her gown, and a crumpled note falls out. It is from George, saying that he loves her and wants her to elope with him. Becky thinks about destroying the note, then puts it in a drawer. She prepares to return to England.
At Waterloo, Napoleon makes his appearance.

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As the French and English armies clash, George Osborne cheers his men on. After the battle, Joseph Sedley, who lacked the courage to enlist, meets the carts full of the wounded English soldiers. He hears that George is missing. Captain Dobbin searches the battlefield, and finds George’s body. After the war, Rawdon has returning to gambling, while Becky, a new mother, flirts with the Marquis of Steyne. Becky says “Little did I think when we met in my father’s studio, that the great Lord Steyne would one day be my guest.” At Amelia’s home, things are going poorly. Her father is very ill, and she sends her baby to the Osborne’s home so the boy may receive the proper care. With Rawdon away at the club, Steyne visits Becky. He tells her “I could do much for you – but your husband would not understand. It could be arranged to have him sent away – alone.” He hands her a check for 250 pounds, then arranges for her to entertain the notables in London.

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Afterwards, Steyne tells her “well, now that you have been received, I expect you to be very grateful, Becky.” That evening, Rawdon is placed under arrest for his gambling debts. The next morning, he receives a letter from Becky expressing her regret that she is unable to help him. Rawdon then writes to his father asking for help. The next evening, Rawdon is freed. Without telling Becky he has been released, he approaches his home and hears the voices of his wife and Lord Steyne. Becky is terrified to see her husband, and cries “I am innocent before God!” She turns to Steyne and says “Say I am innocent!” Steyne angrily replies “You innocent! Damn you! Why, every trinket you have is paid for by me.”

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As he attempts to leave, Rawdon seizes him, strikes him several times, and throws him to the floor.

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He makes Becky give him all her trinkets, which he then throws at Steyne’s face. Rawdon then finds the 250 pounds, and tells Becky he is through with her.

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Steyne slowly picks himself off the floor and leaves. Captain Dobbin returns to England, and visits Amelia. He surprises her by saying he has brought her brother Joseph, now prosperous, with him. Sometime later, at a resort in Germany, Joseph Sedley sits at a gaming table, when a masked lady sits next to him. When the woman loses most of her money, Joseph reaches into his pocket to help. Then the lady reveals herself to be Becky Sharp. Joseph tells her he is traveling and that Amelia and Captain Dobbin are with him. Later, Amelia goes to see Becky at the inn where she is staying.

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The two women embrace, and Becky says “how things have changed. We are both widows. My husband died on the desolate Isle of Coventry. My boy was taken from me by his people.” Amelia, looking at Becky’s meager surroundings, replies “this is no place for you. I have rooms not far from here. Come to me.” Becky accepts the offer, but when she arrives at Amelia’s apartment, Dobbin says “how dare you come here! A woman of your reputation.”

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Amelia protects Becky and leads her to another room. Dobbin then says to Amelia “I have given up hope that you will ever be mine – the memory of George stands between us.” He returns to England. Becky, having overheard this, searches through her belongings, and finally finds the note that George wrote her long ago – asking her to elope with him. She gives the note to Amelia, who realizes there is nothing standing between her and Dobbin now. The pair are reunited in London, and profess their love for each other. Years later, Becky is living a life of piety. At the Annual Fair for Widows and Orphans in London, she is selling flowers in a booth. The Marquis of Steyne, arm in arm with two women, casts a cold glance her way. Amelia passes with Dobbin. They see Becky, but Dobbin says “Come, Amelia, I prefer that my wife should not be seen speaking to her.”

In the three stills below, Director Hugo Ballin is shown setting up scenes. In the first photo, Mabel Ballin is at right, while Eleanor Boardman is at left:

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In the next still, Mabel Ballin is at right:

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In the final still, as Ballin directs his wife, Edsel Ford (far left) looks on:

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Motion Picture News called the film “a thoroughly high class picture, transplanting to the screen in admirable style one of the classics of English literature. It is a succession of massive sets, of glowing color, of charming costumes of another day, of excellent characterizations, of dynamic spectacle. … Mabel Ballin as Becky is simply great. She makes the character live. It seems to step from the screen in its realism. This picture, by the way, is the making of Eleanor Boardman. She screens unusually well and is a striking beauty as well as a clever actress.” Moving Picture World noted “it is a picture that will appeal strongly to discriminating audiences, and to the many who love the book; the higher class the audience, the greater will be the appeal.” Exhibitor’s Trade Review wrote “Hugo Ballin has directed the feature with praiseworthy skill and good taste, its photography is exquisite and the work of both principals and supporting cast highly to be commended.” But The Film Daily was not impressed, noting “the story development lacks a sustained interest, contains little or no dramatic incident and resolves itself into a series of pretty pictures in which Becky Sharp holds the center of the stage and carries on her vanities to her heart’s content. … “Vanity Fair” fails to impress other than for its pictorial appeal.”
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Dargo
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

Post by Dargo »

scsu1975 wrote: August 26th, 2023, 9:51 am
In the final still, as Ballin directs his wife, Edsel Ford (far left) looks on:

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So Rich. Any guess as to why Edsel Ford would've had any connection to this production?
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scsu1975
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

Post by scsu1975 »

Dargo wrote: August 26th, 2023, 12:26 pm
So Rich. Any guess as to why Edsel Ford would've had any connection to this production?
None at all. Unless the film turned out to be a lemon at the box office.
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Dargo
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

Post by Dargo »

scsu1975 wrote: August 26th, 2023, 3:28 pm
Dargo wrote: August 26th, 2023, 12:26 pm
So Rich. Any guess as to why Edsel Ford would've had any connection to this production?
None at all. Unless the film turned out to be a lemon at the box office.
LOL

Good one, although I hope you know the Edsel (car) really wasn't a failure in the marketplace because it was a "lemon", and even though as you might know, its front end design was often derisively referred to as "an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon".

Nope, It really was more a case of it being introduced during an economic recession and with the sales of mid-level cars suffering the most during that time period.

And re his possible involvement in this film or in filmmaking in general, I couldn't find anywhere on the internet where it said he was ever involved in the movie biz, and so I can understand your lack of even a guess in this regard.

(...and so perhaps this was just a case of him being a friend of director Ballin's or one of the cast members, and so just happening to drop by the set that day)
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scsu1975
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

Post by scsu1975 »

Dargo wrote: August 26th, 2023, 4:43 pm
scsu1975 wrote: August 26th, 2023, 3:28 pm
Dargo wrote: August 26th, 2023, 12:26 pm
So Rich. Any guess as to why Edsel Ford would've had any connection to this production?
None at all. Unless the film turned out to be a lemon at the box office.
LOL

Good one, although I hope you know the Edsel (car) really wasn't a failure in the marketplace because it was a "lemon", and even though as you might know, its front end design was often derisively referred to as "an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon".

Nope, It really was more a case of it being introduced during an economic recession and with the sales of mid-level cars suffering the most during that time period.

And re his possible involvement in this film or in filmmaking in general, I couldn't find anywhere on the internet where it said he was ever involved in the movie biz, and so I can understand your lack of even a guess in this regard.

(...and so perhaps this was just a case of him being a friend of director Ballin's or one of the cast members, and so just happening to drop by the set that day)
That image was from Photoplay, and the accompanying caption mentions that Ford was a guest of the Ballins during filming. I found some other photos of Edsel Ford with Charlie Chaplin, Mae Murray, James Cagney and Margaret Lindsay, so maybe he often hob-nobbed with the stars.
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scsu1975
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

Post by scsu1975 »

Coming in September:

A Man of Action, with Douglas MacLean and Marguerite De La Motte

Paddy The Next Best Thing, with Mae Marsh

Suzanna, with Mabel Normand

Trailing African Wild Animals, with the husband and wife exploring team of Martin and Osa Johnson
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scsu1975
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

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A Man of Action, directed by James W. Horne, starred Douglas MacLean as Bruce MacAllister, Marguerite De La Motte as Helen Summer, and Raymond Hatton as Harry Hopwood. The film was released in May of 1923 at six reels. The Eye Film Institute in Amsterdam holds a copy.

Plot: Bruce MacAllister is a pampered son of wealth. His girlfriend, Helen Summer, chides him for his lack of manly worth. “I won’t ever marry a mollycoddle like you,” she declares.

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So Bruce sets out to prove her wrong, with the aid of his friend Spike McNabb, a boxer.

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Meanwhile, Eugene Preston, the crooked trustee of the MacAllister estate, has his eyes on Helen, and is anxious to get Bruce out of the way in order to steal a shipment of diamonds from the MacAllister mines. Bruce tells Helen he is going with her father on a trip to the city.

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But Bruce sends Spike in his place, and travels incognito to experience life. To keep up the charade, he gives Helen’s father a batch of letters to mail to Helen. He then poses as “The Chicago Kid.”

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In tough surroundings, Bruce meets up with a weird gang that includes the “Deacon,” “Frisk-o Rose,” and Harry Hopwood.

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Hopwood spends his time attempting to build a noiseless explosive.

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During a fight, Bruce is knocked unconscious.

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When he regains his senses, he discovers he is part of a plan to rob his own house. Preston appears on the scene to direct the robbery of the diamonds. At first, he thinks he recognizes Bruce, but is persuaded he is mistaken. When the diamonds are delivered, Bruce slips in a substitute package. But then the real diamonds are stolen from him by a crook who turns out to be the genuine Chicago Kid. During the confusion, Preston insists that everyone remain in the house until the situation is cleared up.

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The Deacon, who has a mania for secret passageways, cuts holes all over Bruce’s home so he can attempt a quick getaway. But others keep falling into them.

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Helen, from her home, sees the lights on in the MacAllister house and comes to investigate. She first believes Bruce had changed his mind about going to the city with her father, and that the crooks are government agents. The crooks have cleaned the house of valuables.

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Helen calls the police.

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Bruce foils the escape of the gang but is himself arrested.

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After strenuous explanations, he manages to clear himself. Helen is convinced that Bruce has become “a man of action” and agrees to marry him.

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Motion Picture Magazine called the film “a made-to-order story for Douglas MacLean which stretches the imagination but due to its rush of action is liable to please those who are not too exacting. …The merriment keeps it moving.” Motion Picture News wrote “while the story compels the observer gifted with a bit o’ gray matter to stretch the imagination as it gets under way, we presume most folks won’t complain of this. In fact they’ll probably overlook it in the rush of action once the plot really starts to unwind.” The Film Daily called the story “highly improbable but good amusement if not taken seriously.” Exhibitor’s Trade Review called the film “a lively comedy, mixed up generously with underworld stuff, mystery, and melodrama.” Exhibitor’s Herald noted the film “keeps you stepping to keep up with the complications and the thrills come thick and fast toward the end.” Photoplay was less enthusiastic, calling the movie “a family picture, but the family is likely to find it full of incongruities.”
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scsu1975
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

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Paddy The Next Best Thing, directed by Graham Cutts , starred Mae Marsh as Paddy Adair, Darby Foster as Lawrence Blake, Lillian Douglas as Eileen Adair, and George K. Arthur as Jack O’Hara. The film’s release date is uncertain, but it was seven reels and is presumed lost. In 1933, the story was filmed again, with Janet Gaynor and Warner Baxter in the lead roles.

Plot: Paddy Adair is the son that her father, General Adair, never had, but he accepts her as the next best thing.

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A tomboy, she leads young Jack O’Hara by the ear and teaches him how to woo her sister Eileen.

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But Eileen tells Paddy she is in love with Lawrence Blake, a dreamer and student of Irish folklore.

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Lawrence tells Eileen he does not care for her in the same way.

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Paddy then calls Lawrence a cad for having led his sister on. Lawrence tells Paddy that she is the girl he really loves.

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Angered, Paddy drives him away. Jack O’Hara goes to South America to make his fortune. General Adair dies suddenly. Paddy discovers that her country estate in Ireland is swamped in debt. Paddy goes to London to make her living, leaving Eileen with their two aunts.

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The old estate is sold. Lawrence follows Paddy to London. Paddy spurns him, until he performs an act of gallantry on behalf of a stranger. Paddy then falls for him. Jack O’Hara unexpectedly returns the old estate, and Paddy goes to her old estate to meet him. She takes him to Eileen where the pair pledge their love. Paddy wanders off to be alone with her memories on a mountain top. A dense fog rolls in from the lowlands and Paddy becomes lost. She blunders into a swamp and is mired in the bog. She is sucked into the mud. Lawrence leads a search party.

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He rescues Paddy, and the pair are reunited.

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The still below shows Mae Marsh between scenes with cinematographer Rene Guissart:

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Motion Picture News was impressed, writing “here is one of the most beautifully photographed film plays it has been our pleasure to view. We have seldom seen such crystal-clear work, while some of the sepia printing is highly artistic. … As the vivacious, mischievous, fun-loving little Irish hoyden, Miss Marsh contributes to screen literature one of its most appealing characterizations.” Moving Picture World also praised the film, calling it “good, clean fun, irresistibly funny, with one event coming so quickly on top of another that the audience will be carried along with the verve and rush and fun of the thing. And coupled with the splendid acting of Mae Marsh and the excellent support given by George K. Arthur, Darby Foster and Lillian Douglas, as well as the rest of the well picked cast, each of whom make their own bit worth while, is some of the most exquisite photography ever put on the screen. The picture was taken in London and Ireland and the scenic effects of the great rugged cliffs and dashing sea are most beautiful. They make the picture a keen pleasure from the artistic standpoint.” Exhibitor’s Trade Review wrote “the story is clean, wholesome, combining delicious bits of comedy with a dual love romance, a generous amount of real human interest and winding up in a climax which imparts a genuine and convincing thrill to the on-lookers.”

Mae Marsh performed several stunts in the film, and in an interview stated that her role “was as strenuous a performance as ever I was called upon to give. Even the leap from the cliff in “The Birth of a Nation” was no more difficult than several things I felt necessary to do in ‘Paddy.’ This ‘Paddy’ was an electric creature, who wouldn’t be still for a minute, as I visualized her. So I put into the part all the nervous force that I have observed among young women who are so constituted that they can’t be still. Some of the more athletic feats seriously alarmed me, as I never have pretended to be much of a genuine athlete, but they seemed to go off all right.”
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

Post by sagebrush »

I love Mae Marsh. She is very seldom mentioned today, but was a lovely and natural screen actress.
When she made the transition to character roles, she was just as lovely. I only wish she had had bigger parts in her later films.
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scsu1975
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

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Suzanna, written and produced by Mack Sennett, directed by F. Richard Jones, starred Mabel Normand as Suzanna, Walter McGrail as Ramon, Leon Bary as Pancho, and Winifred Bryson as Dolores. The film was released in January of 1923 at eight reels. A complete copy is held in the Gosfilmofond in Moscow.

Plot: Don Fernando and Don Diego have adjoining ranches. Ramon is Don Fernando’s son; Dolores is Don Diego’s daughter. The pair have an arrangement to be married. Suzanna is the daughter of Ruiz, an old family servant in the Fernando household. She lives a carefree live.

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There is a strong attraction between her and Ramon.

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Don Diego and his daughter have been away for several years, with Dolores attending a school in Mexico. Don Fernando, aware of the building relationship between his son and Suzanna, cautions Ramon about carrying on with a peon’s daughter. Dolores is expelled from school because of a clandestine love affair with Pancho, a toreador. Her father decides to return to the ranch and sends word to Don Fernando saying Dolores is ready to marry Ramon. Meanwhile, Pancho has met Ramon and Suzanna, and accepted Don Fernando’s hospitality. He then flirts with Suzanna.

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Don Fernando thinks it best to send Suzanna away, and starts her on her way to the Mission school. En route, Don Diego’s carriage passes Suzanna. He recognizes her and takes her back to become Dolores’ maid. When Don Diego’s carriage arrives at Don Fernando’s ranch, Dolores recognizes Pancho but keeps his identity secret. That evening Dolores and Suzanna are in Dolores’ room when they hear the strumming of a guitar. Dolores sends Suzanna from the room, and goes outside to meet Pancho. Suzanna hides in the storehouse to get out of their way, but Pancho and Dolores, fearing discovery, also hide in the storehouse. Suzanna sees the pair embrace.

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When Dolores sees Suzanna, she berates her. Ramon overhears this, and Don Ruiz, Suzanna’s father, sees Dolores physically attack his daughter.
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Don Ruiz, angered, tells Dolores she is not Don Diego’s daughter, but his own. He then explains that Suzanna is really Don Diego’s daughter; Don Ruiz had switched the two infants in their cribs. Pancho hears this, and now realizes Dolores is not the wealthy woman. Don Ruiz tells his secret to Alvarez, who advises the man to keep silent. Pancho urges Dolores to marry Ramon, and turns his attentions to Suzanna. But Suzanna has another suitor named Tomas, son of Alvarez, who also has his eye on Don Diego’s fortune. On the day of a big fiesta, Suzanna is called to dance. Various hats are tossed her way, but she disregards them all until Ramon tosses his hat in. Then she dances with him. Pancho advises Dolores to get Don Diego to announce her engagement to Ramon. The wedding day for Ramon and Dolores arrives. Alvarez tells Suzanna her father’s secret, and she decides to make it known she is Don Diego’s daughter. But when she sees Ramon and Dolores standing together, she realizes all the unhappiness her revelation would cause, so she renounces her love for Ramon and returns to wed Pancho.

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Ramon sees them as they start for the shrine. He leaves Dolores, seizes Suzanna, and they ride away on his horse. Don Fernando chases after Ramon. Don Ruiz, who has told Don Diego the truth about Suzanna, joins the chase. Arriving on the scene as Ramon and his father struggle, everyone is amazed when Don Diego takes Suzanna in his arms. Another wedding day is set, and Ramon and Suzanna are happily united in marriage.

The publicity stills below show Normand with a bear, which appears in the film (although I could not determine in what context):

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Moving Picture World gave a positive review, calling the film “a sure fire comedy drama with a smack of O’Henry’s great construction of a sob with a laugh immediately following. …Mabel Normand never appeared so beautiful nor gave us such splendid dramatic work. Her work probably surpasses anything she has ever done.” Screen Opinions wrote that the picture was “indeed one of artistic excellence, and together with a delightful vein of comedy of a more or less quaint character in which the star excels, the director has succeeded in developing human interest situations to their fullest, and has also paid attention to the composition of individual scenes.” Exhibitor’s Trade Review wrote “it is excellent Mack Sennett stuff of the brand for which that astute producer has become famous; love interest worked up to a high temperature, then a sudden flash of humor, a hint of burlesque, with sensational punches seasoning the whole, and not a dull moment from the start to an eventual climax.” Exhibitor’s Herald noted “while the plot is old and the situations contain much that is not fresh, yet it is well acted and Mabel Normand’s eyes make it a picture that is sure to satisfy her many admirers.” But Motion Picture Magazine was not impressed, writing “it’s hard to determine just what Mack Sennett was up to when he put over this ancient bit of hokum. The Sennett responsible for making light of time-worn material has fallen into the trap and becomes an imitator or uninspired directors. … Mabel Normand is the peon and not a very colorful senorita either.” And Photoplay added “just why the comedy talents of Mabel Normand are hidden beneath all these hackneyed melodramatic trappings is beyond us. Now and then her humor does creep out – but the plot always rushes back to the center of the screen.”
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Dargo
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

Post by Dargo »

scsu1975 wrote: September 23rd, 2023, 7:54 am
...The publicity stills below show Normand with a bear, which appears in the film (although I could not determine in what context):
About three-quarters of the way through, there's scene in which while Suzanna and Ramon are dining alfresco out in the Sonoran Desert, the bear comes in and swipes their pic-a-nic basket.

(...this of course being a few years before the bear would begin sporting his trademark pork pie hat in later film productions) 
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scsu1975
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

Post by scsu1975 »

Dargo wrote: September 23rd, 2023, 11:38 am
scsu1975 wrote: September 23rd, 2023, 7:54 am
...The publicity stills below show Normand with a bear, which appears in the film (although I could not determine in what context):
About three-quarters of the way through, there's scene in which while Suzanna and Ramon are dining alfresco out in the Sonoran Desert, the bear comes in and swipes their pic-a-nic basket.


Are you sure it's Sonora and not Jellystone?
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Dargo
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

Post by Dargo »

scsu1975 wrote: September 23rd, 2023, 2:58 pm
Dargo wrote: September 23rd, 2023, 11:38 am
scsu1975 wrote: September 23rd, 2023, 7:54 am
...The publicity stills below show Normand with a bear, which appears in the film (although I could not determine in what context):
About three-quarters of the way through, there's scene in which while Suzanna and Ramon are dining alfresco out in the Sonoran Desert, the bear comes in and swipes their pic-a-nic basket.


Are you sure it's Sonora and not Jellystone?
I'll now let the bear in question answer this...

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"Nope, Jellystone is WAY north of the Mexican border, Boo-Boo!"

("...ahem, I mean Rich.")
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scsu1975
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Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

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Trailing African Wild Animals was produced and directed by the husband and wife explorers Martin Johnson and Osa Johnson. The seven-reel film is presumed lost. The release date is uncertain; although some sources say October or November of 1923, the film was being shown in Bridgeport CT in September of 1923. As a documentary, there is no plot per se. However, the Library of Congress contains a narrative written by Martin Johnson, which I am quoting below (it is in the public domain). I have maintained his spelling of all terms. Where possible, I have interspersed stills where they seem appropriate. Be aware that some of the narrative (as well as stills) may be disturbing.

“We started from Nairobi, in British East Africa, in search of the lost Lake Paradise. In our ‘safari’ were Jerrymani and Ferrigi, our gun bearers; K’Lawait, Mrs. Johnson’s pet monkey; and over one hundred and ten natives. Oxcarts, mule teams, tents and necessary equipment made an impressive company, and in the rear trailed our camera car, a faithful “Henry”.

Travelling northeast across the equator, we pitched our first camp near the Thika River. Here we caught a glimpse of the Chacma Baboons crossing the trail, and in the dark saw hordes of wild beasts across the river.

We broke camp and early morning found us tramping through the slopes of Mt. Kenya with its gleaming snow peaks. We had travelled for hundreds of miles when Mrs. Johnson’s gunbearer sighted lions in the tall grass. It was a most unusual sight – those enormous lions trotting along – and we considered ourselves lucky when we realized that hunters have gone years without seeing a herd of lions together. One after another they went by, until ten had passed and then Mrs. Johnson decided to get the eleventh. She took aim and brought down the last of the herd with a perfect shot.

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All during our trip we got seven lions between us. Of course we saw many more but killed only when it was necessary.
Early the next day Mrs. Johnson went looking for excitement again, and found it in the shape of a big, snarling leopard. She held him with her rifle long enough for me to get a few photographs of him, although it was very risky to keep a leopard quiet for any length of time.

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For many days we travelled through the park-like forest and at last found a waterhole in the Choba Hills. We decided to camp here and with stones built a blind for the cameras and adjusted them for closeups of the animals we hoped to get. We were so close to the waterhole where the animals had to come to drink that the nervous Zebras held off for days. Finally their thirst overcame their fear and they came as close to our camera as one hundred yards.

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However, they always remained jumpy at the click of the camera. The Grevy Zebras have neat stripes, perfectly matched, while the Common Zebras have loud, broad stripes. Although they do not live in the same regions we were fortunate in getting photographs of both varieties together.
On the banks of the Ol Garyi River we first saw the Gnus, one of the homliest of animals. They have manes like horses, tails like cows, and bodies like antelopes – sort of a combination of spare parts.

Stately Elands, Impala, Waterbucks, Grants’ Gazelles, herds of Oryx, a species of African antelope with long painted horns, all came to drink and to be photographed. An Ostrich and his wife strolled by one day, and we got some interesting closeups of Hyenas, Baboons, and Warthogs.
At night, in the delightful peace of the African woods, we lit enormous camp fires and flares to keep the lions away, and rested for the next day’s adventures.

Early one morning we saw a herd of wild Buffalo pass by. A little calf was left behind and one of our partners ran after it and caught it – another pet for Mrs. Johnson.

Again we broke camp and started off in search of our Never-Never Land. We came to the Guaso Nyero River, and our safari waded across – the boys carrying their packs on their heads. We pushed the Ford across, waded over ourselves and on the other side settled for the night. The boys built their straw huts in an hour, and Mrs. Johnson, to work up an appetite, went out and shot a 35 pound Bustard. This tastes like turkey and she felt rather festive as she ordered an Ostrich Omelette with it.

We camped here only a short time, part of which we spent in exploring the river and the beautiful Falls. Mrs. Johnson went fishing and got a good catch of catfish. We also entertained some of the wild Turkano tribe and saw the desert people on the other side of the river.

Once more we started in search of ‘the great adventure’ and crossed thousands of miles in the desert. We took about 200 miles by foot because the sand was so soft and deep it was impossible to travel otherwise. Oases were rare and we had to dig wells for water and wait hours until the water started to come up. Weeks later we came to the wild Marsabit country, and saw our first ‘Farn-Farn’, or black rhinoceros. They stole through the grass and we decided that Mrs. Johnson was to shoot at the base of their horns – a shot which stops them without injuring them seriously – if they came for us while I was photographing them. Her rifle went off by accident and it seems as if every animal in Africa rushed through the forest in fear and rage. One of the rhinos suddenly turned and made straight for the camera and for me. Mrs. Johnson cried out a warning, and I got him just in time – before he got me.

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Of the 120 rhinos that we photographed, we killed only four, because we were out primarily for pictures. We got a closeup of a baby rhino – that weighed as much as a load of coal. Fortunately these animals cannot see for more than 35 yards, which makes photographing them a little less dangerous.

Off again! This time we tramped 20 miles a day across the desert with the temperature at 115 degrees in the shade. We passed some Boran caravans in the deep white sand and added some camels to our safari.

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Waterholes were infrequent, and the water unpleasantly warm. Days later we came to wooded country again and the hope that this was our Lake Paradise. We found sweet water and had our first real drink in weeks. Our guides cheered us with the news that we were close to our goal, so through the jungle we went until at last we found it – Lake Paradise, the most beautiful spot in the world, about 14005 miles from New York.
Here we pitched camp and here we had the biggest thrill of our expedition. We saw elephant tracks across the lake, and followed their trail deep into the forest one day. We came upon one ugly brute in his bath – perfumed with water lilies and with swarms of white butterflies around him. This made an interesting photograph and then we came face to face with the stately grandmother of the herd; and got the reward of two years’ adventuring – a wonderful closeup of the beast. The African elephants are often three feet taller than their Indian relatives and really very vicious.
We were soon surrounded by a whole herd, moving slowly and clumsily. Suddenly one detected our scent and came toward us. I shot four times in rapid succession but the shots were ineffective and I was in grave danger. Mrs. Johnson had been handling the camera while I was close to the elephants, but with her usual pluck she picked up her Winchester and aimed for his heart. Fortunately for us both she got him – just six feet from the camera!

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This was our last thrill and ended our adventuring in British East Africa – but we intend to go back to our Lake Paradise some day very soon."

The stills below show some of the locals being filmed:

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The next still shows Osa Johnson posing with elephant tusks:

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The final stills show some of the wildlife:

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Motion Picture Magazine was impressed, writing “photographically the picture is a rare treat … the suspense is terrific. You are brought face to face with realities. The camera is forgotten and you are deep in the jungle. You wonder if you’ll come out alive. When a picture makes you forget your environment, it carries real entertainment values. The Johnsons are performing a real service.” Motion Picture News wrote “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have a remarkably fine screen record of wild animal life in British East Africa. It is distinctly worth while and entertaining as well as instructive. The ideal way to present it, however, will be with another feature, preferably a subject of a light comedy nature. … Offered alone it tends to become monotonous because of the sameness throughout.” Moving Picture World wrote “the entire film is entertaining to a superlative degree, holding the interest tensely and at the same time the educational element, while not obtrusive, is high. As a result this picture is one that should afford exceptionally fine entertainment for any audience. A feature in this connection is the fact that the authenticity of the scenes has been vouched for by Dr. Carl Akerley of the American Museum of Natural History, who is himself an explorer of note and an authority on wild animal life.” Exhibitor’s Trade Review wrote that the film “contains some of the finest living pictures that have ever been made and only in cases of absolute necessity in safeguarding life have the animals been brought down by the gun. There are thrills aplenty scattered throughout the reels and some good laughs, too. … We think it is far better than a day at the Zoo, and so will you and so will the kiddies.” The Educational Screen praised the animal scenes, but noted “there is throughout too much effort constantly to impress the audience with the danger which many of the scenes involved – a hazard which is sufficiently evident to the observer with a grain of imagination to his credit. One cannot resist the wish at times that the humans in the picture would step to one side that one might better observe the more interesting animal subjects. Miserable titles – too often meaningless and characterized by a forced humor – seriously mar the film.”
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Dargo
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Joined: October 28th, 2022, 10:37 am

Re: NOW PLAYING (100 YEARS AGO)

Post by Dargo »

Hooray for Martin Johnson

And his young wife Osa

The African explorers

Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

(...although and I hate to point this out here Rich, but there was no mention at all of shooting any elephants in pajamas...that's always the best part of these kinds of stories, ya know)
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