Silent Film Quarterly Issue 7

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The Silent Film Quarterly ——————————————————————————

Volume II, Issue 3 Spring 2017

Table of Contents Editor’s Message

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Lewis Walker

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Lea Stans

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Annette Bochenek

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What’s the Deal With Louise Brooks Anyway?: Steven Suttle

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Departments: Coming Attractions

A Roundup of New Releases

Silent-ology

Ballyhoo!: The Colorful Era of Movie Theater “Exploitation”

Hometowns to Hollywood

Colleen Moore: A Flapper and Her Fairy Castle

Original Features: The Cult of Lulu

Bringing Silents Back to Life:

Charles Epting

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Claire Inayat Williams

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An Interview with Accompanist and Historian Ben Model

Roscoe:

The Great Injustice of “Fatty” Arbuckle

What’s In a Name?:

Kevin John Charbeneau

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Who Was Matilda Fernandez Who Became Dora Rogers a.k.a. Fontaine LaRue?

Walking in Chaplin’s Footsteps:

Charles Epting

The Essanay Studios in Niles and Chicago

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Classic Features: World War I at 100:

Various authors

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Firsthand Accounts of David Wark Griffith’s Time in the Trenches

Editor’s Message First and foremost, I’d like to apologize for the delay in getting Issues 7 and 8 in the hands of subscribers. This spring was particularly busy in terms of my full-time job, and by the time the beginning of summer rolled around I realized it would be more efficient and practical to ship both the spring and summer issues at the same time. In the future, I will do my best to ensure that such delays are prevented. I find myself saying this with each new issue—and I have no doubt I will continue to say it in the future—but Issue 7 contains some of my favorite content yet, thanks to an incredible slate of authors. Steven Suttle, Kevin John Charbeneau, and SFQ’s regular columnists all return with fascinating articles that perfectly represent the wide variety of articles I strive to bring together. Mr. Suttle’s unorthodox take on Louise Brooks is something I am particularly proud to publish; if someone would like to counter his claims, I would welcome a follow-up submission. I also am excited to feature a series of articles about D.W. Griffith to commemorate the centennial of the United States’s involvement in the Great War. This is a momentous anniversary that I feel has received far too little fanfare; I hope I am doing some small part in ensuring that this conflict is not forgotten by highlighting Mr. Griffith’s historic filmmaking efforts. The lengths he went through are truly remarkable, and I hope that everyone who reads of his time in the trenches finds it as fascinating as I did. Now that Issues 7 and 8 are in the books, it’s time to look forward to the third year of Silent Film Quarterly. Expect a second hardbound volume in the near future, as well as several other exciting publications and promotions. And as always, I thank you for your continued support. Your editor, Charles Epting

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Write for Silent Film Quarterly! Want to write for Silent Film Quarterly? The magazine is always looking for interesting original content about the silent era, including feature articles and reviews of silent films. Please contact the editor at charleseptingauthor@gmail.com if interested or for more information.


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Coming Attractions: A Roundup of New Releases by Lewis Walker As I predicted in the last issue of SFQ , 2017 looks to be shaping up very nicely for silent film fans wanting home video releases with many films being both released and announced in the first 5 months. I’m going to start with Kino Classic’s release of two Rudolph Valentino films that caught my eye immediately. The great people over at Kino are putting out The Sheik (1921) and The Son of the Sheik (1926), two films that will interest any silent film fan interested in the big stars of the era. Both releases star Valentino playing an irresistible lover, a character and title that will follow him throughout his career. From the early reviews its easy to see that that both films look stunning, and the restoration process looks meticulous and both films have some fantastic special features that are worth the money alone. T he Sheik includes a commentary by Gaylyn Studlar, footage from Valentino’s funeral and an original trailer, The Son of the Sheik includes an introduction from Orson Welles, some documentary shorts from the era focusing around Valentino and newspaper headlines

when Valentino fell ill, and eventually passed away. I am very excited to get my hands on both of these and I know from previous Kino releases they will be worth every cent. Another release from Kino Classics, with no release date as this goes to press, is the Gloria Swanson film Stage Struck (1925) directed by Allan Dwan, fresh from directing Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood (1922). Having loved the majority of Dwan’s previous directorial work this is very exciting, also seeing one of the great screen beauties Gloria Swanson in anything is a reason for celebration. The major selling point for me however is that this release will be the first time it has been available on DVD and B l u - R ay. I fi n d t h i s s o encouraging because as more films like this are released we will have a wider catalog of silent films to discover and add to our catalog. Flicker Alley have released Beyond the Door (1919) a revenge film that has been described as incredibly


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shocking even to todays numbed audience. Again Flicker Alley have loaded this release with a great selection of special features and a exclusive booklet. Kevin Brownlow was very complimentary about this film, and the edition even includes a spotlight on the director Irvin Willat by Brownlow himself. Grapevine Video continue the tireless releases, announcing new films to both DVD and Blu-ray every month. Most recently they have announced Miss Lulu Bett (1921), The Cowboy and the Flapper (1924), The Street (1927) and The Thrill Seekers from 1927. As I’ve mentioned before these films are great to fill in gaps for actor/director gaps in libraries and to just discover new and overlooked films. They have a huge catalog online and is worth a look for anyone looking to delve deeper into some unknown silent cinema. Finally, due to the sheer size and excitement this release has created, is Flicker Alley’s long-awaited Early Women Filmmakers boxset which includes films from

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1902 to 1943. As any fan of silent cinema will already know, the silent era was incredibly progressive and accepting of women both behind and in front of the camera which sadly can’t be said for cinema of any era after. This boxset is set to include a treasure trove of features by women that include some previously unreleased films that wont be available anywhere else. I feel that following on from the Kino Lorber release of The Pioneers of African American Cinema boxset this is essential to any film library. Being able to acquire these films in such a beautiful and well made way is just outstanding, and vital to the history of silent cinema. Clocking in at a impressive 652 minutes, this boxset is a steal at (current price) $54.95. I urge everyone to purchase this collection and appreciate the undervalued and overlooked history of women in cinema. This concludes this edition’s round-up of “Coming Attractions” and it seems that releases of silent films are in no danger of slowing anytime soon.


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Ballyhoo! The Colorful Era of Movie Theater “Exploitation” by Lea Stans M ov i e g o i n g t o d ay i s a p re t t y straightforward experience. A preview piques your curiosity. At the theater, you buy your ticket at the counter. Maybe you skip the counter and swipe your credit card at a computer. As you walk through the lobby you pass a couple of cardboard displays for the latest blockbusters, filling a bit of space. Simple, just like you’ve always known. But what if I told you that your greatgrandparents might’ve heard about the latest film by seeing a Model T drive by covered in ads? Or by watching a parade come down the s t re e t i n t h e fi l m ’s honor? Or by seeing the whole theater facade decked out in cowboy decorations for the latest Wester n picture, or sporting palm tree and camel cutouts for the

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newest “sheik” romance? Today’s theater displays are arguably small, modest remnants of the grand displays of the 1910s and 1920s. And previews? They were only one of a thousand ways that overly-creative theater owners attracted their customers. Welcome to the age of crazy publicity stunts—or, as exhibitors called them back then, “ballyhoo” and “exploitation”!

Our Hospitality (1923)


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In its earliest days, movie theater advertising was similar to publicity for circuses and traveling shows. Nickelodeons would put out a few easels with brightlycolored posters (lobby cards became available around 1908). Some places had barkers to help draw attention. Programs of several two- to tenminute films would often b e s u p p l e m e n t e d by singers and small-time vaudeville acts. The film tur nover rate was incredibly high--less than 10% of nickelodeons would show a film for an entire week, and the majority changed their programs daily. In the 1910s, as the little nickelodeons gave way to “respectable” theaters with increasingly e l e g a n t f a c a d e s, t h e

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variety show trappings began to fade. Film was no longer a novelty but an established form of entertainment. Audiences were growing more enthralled with the actors

The Mark of Zorro (1920)


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they saw on the screen. Cutouts of early stars like Charlie Chaplin and Roscoe Arbuckle were being displayed alongside theater posters, often with the sign “I Am Here To-day.” Exhibitors faced the challenge—how could they keep one step ahead of the competition?

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When once a couple posters would do, now many theater owners were practically wallpapering their lobbies with posters, lobby cards, and eye-catching banners. Cutouts were especially popular. A display for the latest Chaplin film might have a large cardboard Charlie on top of the


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Clockwise from top left: The Pilgrim (1923), Smilin’ Through (1922), The Toll Gate (1920), Grumpy (1923), and The Cradle (1922)

theater’s facade, flanked by two smaller Charlies, with several little Charlies peppering the walls around the doors. Some cutouts were supersized, making a smiling Madge Bellamy or Mary Pickford head visible from a couple blocks away.

Ambitious exhibitors with an artistic streak would transform their whole lobbies for some films, temporarily turning them into Arctic tundras for polar exploration dramas or quaint woodlands in the honor of frontier flicks. A feature about the sea was a good excuse to have a real rowboat sitting in the middle of the lobby, and anything that involved trains often resulted in a faux locomotive decorating the entrance. Mechanically-minded exhibitors might rig up a mechanism to make the boat appear to rock, or to make steam come out of the locomotive’s smokestack. For one 1922 revival showing of Cabiria, a Pittsburgh theater owner put model of Moloch in his lobby. The Exhibitor’s Trade


The Silent Film Quarterly・!9 Review reported: “The great god emitted fire and smoke from the cavity in its midsection at the discretion of the manager. It created talk, all right.” But it didn’t stop there—theater decorations were only the tip of the iceberg of ways to fill those theater seats. “Coming attraction” slides were part of the program at every theater, and of course newspaper ads were common, but exhibitors also swore by an endless series of “exploitation campaigns,” each more creative than the last. Some were relatively simple. Newsboys might pass out special flyers advertising an upcoming picture, or postcards might be mailed out. A beauty contest might be held at a film’s opening night, or children might

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be invited to win tickets by submitting their best drawings of a famous animal star. Prank calls were also fairly common. One exhibitor, looking to publicize Harold Lloyd’s Why Worry?, had a boy call everyone in town and say, “Pardon me. Wrong number. Sorry, but why worry?” And then there were Willy Wonka-esque stunts like the one pulled by a theater in Colorado Springs for the film Man Power, where thousands of coupons were inserted into loaves of bread, each inscribed with one of the letters of the film’s title. Whoever collected all eight letters would get a free ticket. Equally important was “ballyhoo,” the slangy term for the lost art of drawing attention out in the streets. Ballyhoo might


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Clockwise from top left: Saturday Night (1922), Pop Tuttle’s Lost Control (1923), Love’s Redemption (1921), a Baby Peggy lookalike contest, Circus Days (1923), and Orphans of the Storm (1921)

be as modest as having a man walk around in a sandwich board or as eye-catching as a parade (complete with musicians and clowns). The theater might send out a Model T covered in posters and cutouts do laps around town, or local actors might be hired to dress up as film characters and stroll the streets. Turning an automobile or horse-drawn wagon into a themed float was also popular. Exhibitors were especially eager to pounce on unique personalities. To publicize Michael Strogoff, a drama based on the Jules Verne novel set in Russia, a theater in Bridgeport, Connecticut

borrowed two Cossacks from the Ringling Bros. circus to hand out calling cards (Cossacks were independent Russian military warriors who fascinated folks in the early 20th century). They wore authentic Russian uniforms and rode beautiful Arabian horses, also courtesy of the famous circus. To advertise a Tom Mix picture, another Bridgeport theater invited R.E. Madsen, the “tallest cowboy in the world,” to make personal appearances. (Bridgeport, Connecticut was apparently a creative place to be.) A few people seem to have made a living doing stunts and campaigns for film corporations. “Exploitation man” Hal


The Silent Film Quarterly・!11 Olver achieved modest fame from his impressive “ballyhoo,” such as the stunt he staged in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1921. As reported by the Exhibitor’s Herald: “At an hour when Broad and West Jersey streets are most densely thronged with pedestrians Olver, encased in a white straightjacket, was raised, feet first, to the fifth floor level of a corner building. While the curious looked on, he disengaged himself from his trappings and, it is natural to assume, u n f u rl e d t h e b a n n e r which gave out information of the picture engagement." Trade magazines such as Exhibitor’s Trade Review, Exhibitor’s Herald, and The Film Daily were aimed at theater owners eager for fresh ideas on “selling the picture.” They overflowed with advice on everything from engineering the perfect moving cardboard display to ste p-by-ste p instructions on crafting a lucrative newspaper campaign. Some of the advice was practical, like this Exhibitor’s Trade Review tip: “…I think that mail exploitation is the very best of all…Of course, to make it really effective you must vary it with almost every picture —a herald for one, a letter for the next, a novelty card for the next, then a contest announcement, then on through the many, many novelties which can be printed at a nominal cost in your own city.” And some advice, like The Film Daily’s idea for turning January into a “Laugh Month,” was nicely c re at i ve : “ D re s s u s h e r s i n c l ow n costumes…Stage Laughing Contest, offering awards to folks who can sit through your show without laughing…Try

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The Freshman (1925)

‘planting’ one of those high-pitched, shrieking laughers in the audience.” And then there were ideas like this one from Exhibitor’s Trade Review, which had Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman in mind. Under the headline “Any Weddings Nearby?” it advised: “Find out who is to have a wedding a day or so before the opening of the picture. Send the blushing bride a ‘Freshman Corsage’—with a little note telling her what it is. Tell her that a similar corsage was given to a ‘girl who understood’ and that you hoped that she too would have the courage and strength of character to understand when things were not exactly right. Then include an invitation to the whole wedding party to see the picture…And also, don’t forget (or you might just as well dispense with the whole idea)…to let the newspapers know about the whole affair.” One wonders how many brides were sent these slightly ominous corsages. In Exhibitor’s Trade Review in particular, films considered shoo-ins for the box office might receive several pages of tailored exploitation tips. For the Johnny Hines


The Silent Film Quarterly・!12 comedy T he Live Wire, the Review recommended: “A little fellow well padded, and a big fellow who knows how to use a pair of stilts are all you need to provide your theatre with a street ballyhoo. These two, carrying on a conversation about The Live Wire by means of a telephone, would attract a lot of attention.” It also had a rather alarming suggestion for a lobby display: “There are any number of electrical contrivances on the market which, though no doubt of some material use, can be used to astound and shock the viewer…You can get some sputtering wires and mark them ‘Live Wires—Danger’ for display in and near your lobby…” The magazine helpfully added: “…But make certain that you don’t get too much juice shooting through them, or your ‘shock stunts’ might prove disastrous.” Exhibitors wrote in to these magazines and swapped exploitation tips like trading cards. There seemed to be no end to their creativity: “I ran Discounted Wives and advertised ‘Married Women Free.’ Not so many married women came, but men and children were curious to see why married women got in free.” “Engaged services of a clown to do ball walking stunt. With his back plastered with advertising matter, clown walked through streets followed by crowds.” “Held a Buster Brown impersonation contest at each Saturday matinee for five weeks with the store in tieup offering a pair of shoes to the boy and girl winners each week.” One report casually stated: “A mother popularity contest was staged in cooperation with the Denver Post and two Shetland ponies were awarded to the two most popular mothers in that city.” One hopes the mothers who entered the contest knew what they were getting into! Exhibitors also liked to boast about their lobby decorations. One Ohio theater owner wrote proudly: “Sending you a photo of a Golden Rod lobby which I think must hold the record for a cheap lobby. We always decorate in Golden Rod

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once a year and follow it up with a trim from the oak and apple trees, on lattice. The leaves are dead swell this year and make a dead swell lobby.” He added as a near-afterthought: “Also have a shoe store tie-up with a pair of shoes worn by Gloria in Don’t Change Your Husband, offering a pass to the picture to any lady, 130 pounds who will come in, try them on, and be able to wear them.” Tie-ups, as they were called, referred to collaboration with local businesses to help advertise the latest picture—which was a standard part of a theater’s exploitation campaign. Stores would create themed window displays and lend their products to street ballyhoo and lobby decorations. And yes, these decorations could be gleefully creative. For the drama The Cradle, a theater in Fort Worth, Texas apparently talked some parents into letting their baby be displayed in the lobby (with a nurse “in constant attendance”). Its cradle was loaned from a local store, whose placards were proudly on display alongside the infant. What with all the stunts and contests and streets full of children’s parades one day and sandwich board-wearing clowns the next, theater exploitation of the silent era certainly had no limits to its creativity and innocent fun. And when you consider the many timeless movie stars and irreplaceable films all that ballyhoo was about, it’s no wonder that the 1920s were a golden age of moviegoing. Quotes from exhibitors and information on their exploitation campaigns were found in 1910s and 1920s issues of Exhibitor’s Trade Review, Exhibitor’s Herald, and Moving Picture World and 1920s issues of The Film Daily. Lea Stans is a film historian who runs the blog Silent-ology. She credits the films of Buster Keaton with sparking her passion for silent cinema. https://silentology.wordpress.com


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Colleen Moore: A Flapper and Her Fairy Castle by Annette Bochenek One of the most memorable flappers of the 1920s was actress Colleen Moore. In fact, beloved writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote: “I was the spark that lit up Flaming Youth, Colleen Moore was the torch. What little things we are to have caused all that trouble.” Moore was born Kathleen Morrison in Port Huron, Michigan, to Charles and Agnes Kelly Morrison. Moore’s family moved frequently, residing

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in cities like Hillsdale, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; Warren, Pennsylvania; and Tampa, Florida. Additionally, her family would typically spend summers in Chicago, where Moore’s Aunt Lib and Uncle Walter Howey lived. Howey, in particular, was well connected, as he was the managing editor of the Chicago Examiner, owned by William Randolph Hearst. At age 15, Moore already had dreams of starring in films. Moore kept a scrapbook in which she would paste various pictures of her favorite actors after clipping them from motion picture magazines. However, Moore kept a page


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blank, reserved for when she would one day become a star. Reportedly, she and her brother began their own stock company, performing on a stage created from a piano packing crate. Incidentally, Chicago’s Essanay Studios was located fairly close to the Howey residence. Moore appeared in the background of several Essanay films, typically as a face in a crowd. Since film p r o d u c e r D . W. Griffith was in debt to Howey for helping him get both The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance through the Chicago censorship board, h e w a s a bl e t o secure a screen test for Moore. Her contract with Griffith's TriangleFine Arts was conditional, as Moore possessed one brown eye and one blue eye. Her eyes photographed favorably, so Moore left for Hollywood

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with her grandmother and her mother as chaperones and began her film career. Two of Moore’s key passions were dolls and fi l m s ; e a ch o f t h e s e interests would become prominent throughout her life. Though approximately half of her films are now lost, Moore is, remembered as a delightful silent film a c t r e s s b y fi l m aficionados. Moore’s films would often feature her as a good girl putting on a bad girl façade, and always carrying out her roles with panache. Her aunts, however, took care to indulge her in another great passion, which is the focus of this article: dollhouses. They frequently brought her miniature furniture from their many trips, with which she furnished the first of a sequence of dollhouses. Interestingly, a few of these dollhouses exist to this day. Moore’s first dollhouse was


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fashioned from a cabinet, which initially held her collection of miniature furniture, and a cigar box. It was purchased by a woman named Oraleze O’Brien, who sold it again after her pet cat had kittens in it. Moore’s third house was allegedly given to the daughter of Moore's good friend, author Adela Rogers St. Johns. A fourth dollhouse survives and remains on display in the living room of one of Moore’s relatives. In 1928, Moore enlisted the help several professionals to help build a massive dollhouse for her growing collection of miniature furnishings. The professionals included Moore’s father as chief engineer, set designer Horace Jackson, and interior designer Harold Grieve. Cameraman Henry Freulich worked on the lighting, which was installed by an electrician. This dollhouse has an area of nine square feet, with the tallest tower standing several feet high and the entire structure weighing one

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ton. The dollhouse boasts many intricacies and challenges, as the electrician had to devise a lighting system that would fit minuscule light bulbs produced by a light company that made globes for surgical instruments; furthermore, a plumber had to ensure that running water would be accessible to all water fixtures in the dollhouse. Workers even wore masks to prevent them from inhaling some of the diminutive furnishings. This particular dollhouse was dubbed the Colleen Moore Dollhouse, on which Moore worked from roughly the Great Depression until her passing. It made its debut at Macy’s in New York and traveled throughout the nation, raising approximately one half-million dollars for children’s charities. The dollhouse showcases ornate miniature furniture and art as well as the work of beyond 700 different artisans, and has been a featured exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry since the 1950s.


The Silent Film Quarterly・!16 T h e C o l l e e n M o o re Dollhouse or “Fairy Castle” possesses thirteen key rooms, including: the Magic Garden, Library, Small Hall, Chapel, Great Hall, Drawing Room, Dining Room, and Kitchen on the first floor; Ali Baba’s cave, the Prince’s Bedroom, the Princess’ Bedroom, and Royal Bathrooms on the second floor; and an Attic on the third floor. None of the rooms have actual dolls in them; visitors are to imagine their own fantasy residents. The Magic Garden features the rocking cradle of Rock-a-bye Baby, which is in perpetual motion. The golden cradle is bedecked with pearls made from the jewelry of Moore’s grandmother, who believed that more people would visit the dollhouse than her grave. There is also a replica of Napoleon’s carriage in the garden, which was gifted to Moore by automobile designers from Detroit. When the dollhouse first debuted, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s mother presented Moore with a gold plaque for the castle, which is still affixed to the dollhouse. The outside of the dollhouse is decorated with reliefs from

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stories such as The Wizard of Oz and Aesop’s Fables. The Library is decorated with undersea motifs and features 65 miniature books from the 18th century, including a small Bible from 1840 that was presented to Moore by actor Antonio Moreno. In order to grow her collection of petite books, Moore commissioned modern printings of them. They were designed as one-inch, leather-bound squares with gold accents. Moore also invited authors of her day to sign the blank pages. She secured signatures from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Noel Coward, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edna Ferber, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anita Loos, John Steinbeck, and many more luminaries beyond just writers. The most valuable miniature book in the house features the signatures of Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Tr u m a n , D w i g h t D. E i s e n h owe r, L y n d o n B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon. The Small Hall links the Library and the Chapel, with a mural portraying Noah relaxing after bringing the ark to land. The Chapel features


The Silent Film Quarterly・!17 designs inspired by the Book of Kells and possesses an ivory floor. Stained glass windows, a gold altar, and a miniaturized silver throne modeled after the throne at Westminster Abbey all decorate the Chapel. Handwritten musical manuscripts from Stravinsky to Gershwin are piled near a beautiful organ with gold pipes, not far from a Russian icon detailed with emeralds and diamonds from a broach Moore purchased. A vigil light is showcases a d i a m o n d f r o m M o o r e ’s m o t h e r ’s engagement ring. Moore’s parents also gave her a small vial containing a crucifix that is over 300 years old. Playwright and congresswoman Clare Booth Luce gave Moore a gold medallion which possesses a sliver believed to be from the true cross. A stained glass screen also stands in the Chapel, taken from Lambeth’s Palace after a World War II bombing raid. The Great Hall continues the fairytale theme of the dollhouse, featuring paintings of various fairytale and folktale characters. The Great Hall displays items from fairytales like a museum of sorts. Moore commissioned a retired glassblower to fashion Cinderella’s tiny glass slippers for the dollhouse. The chairs of the Three Bears are also showcased in the dollhouse under a glass bell to prevent them from being inhaled. All paintings in the Great Hall are miniature versions of actual works of art. Additional art decorating the Great Hall includes 2000-year-old Egyptian statues, a Roman bronze bust from the first century, and many more treasures given to Moore. Two silver and gold knights from Rudolph Valentino guard the entrance to the Great Hall. The Drawing Room contains a chandelier made from Moore’s diamond and emerald jewelry, shining over two artistic contributions: Los Angeles architect George Townsend Cole’s “Cinderella” mural and illustrator James Montgomery Flagg’s portrait of Moore. Nearby, the Dining Room possesses a medieval theme with extremely detailed miniatures.

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Moore’s charm bracelets were repurposed to create a collection of gold teapots arranged on a shelf. In fact, details on the dinnerware are so fine that many were painted by the use of a single-haired brush. The entire table service is gold, with halfinch knives bearing Moore’s initials. The Kitchen features the lone surviving piece from Moore’s first doll house: a purple wine glass. Moore’s house becomes all the more fantastic as visitors examine the upper levels. Ali Baba’s Cave boasts gems from Moore’s collection, while the nearby royal bedrooms complete the fairytale theme. There is a bedroom for the Prince, and one for the Princess, with each being equally ornate. The Prince’s Bedroom contains a polar bear rug, which was fashioned by a taxidermist out of ermine and the vicious teeth of a mouse. The Princess’ Bedroom houses a collection of Bristol glass, with many pieces having been contributed to Moore from strangers. The Royal Bedrooms are near the Royal Bathrooms, decorated in alabaster and diamonds. The silver spigots are functional and able to produce a fine stream of water. Extra pieces of furniture are situated in the Attic to avoid clutter in the main rooms. Though Moore is noted as a silent film heroine, she especially impacts young and old to this day through her Fairy Castle. The Fairy Castle is visited by a constant stream of awestruck children and details about the dollhouse are shared over speakers in the exhibit hall. According to the museum, it is seen by 1.5 million people annually and is worth roughly $7 million. If you are ever in the Chicago area, Moore’s Fair Castle is well worth a visit. The Museum of Science and Industry is located at 5700 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL. Visit Annette Bochenek’s Hometowns to Hollywood at home2hollywood.wordpress.com.


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What’s the Deal With Louise Brooks Anyway? The Cult of Lulu by Steven Suttle “THERE IS NO GARBO, THERE IS NO DIETRICH. THERE IS ONLY LOUISE BROOKS!” —Henri Langlois, 1953. By implication then there is no Mary Pickford, no Clara Bow, no Mabel Normand, no Lillian Gish, no Eleanor Boardman, no Betty Compson, no Gloria Swanson, no Constance Talmadge, no Marion Davies, no Colleen Moore, no Bebe Daniels. I could go on. In fact, I think I will. No Janet Gaynor, no Lois Wilson, no Rene Adoree, no Bessie Love, no Jobyna Ralston, no Asta Nielsen, no May McAvoy, no Dorothy Mackail, not even Virginia Cherrill. The Louise Brooks cult perplexes me. Last year in anticipation of the screening of Beggars of Life at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, I re-watched every extant Louise Brooks movie from Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em through Prix de Beauté and the well-known documentaries. I also re-read every article and book from Kenneth Tynan through Barry Paris and Peter Cowie as well as Lulu in Hollywood. I was trying to figure out what the big deal is. Now, the SFSFF presentation was wonderful—a beautiful print and a beautifully executed score. On screen Brooks was a natural beauty even in tramp clothing. She was luminous and convincing. This was especially t r u e i n B i l l We l l m a n ’ s superimposed flashback that rings so true because it was probably partly autobiographical for her. In Beggars, she gives a

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glimpse of the nuance and underplaying that G.W. Pabst was eventually to pull out of her in Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl. These were great performances to be sure, but in them did she really eclipse every other actress of the 1920s? Hardly. Along with her admirers Brooks has also garnered many apologists over the years. They who willingly pass over her incredible career mistakes and her thenunconventional life-style. Was she courageous or simply spoiled? In her later interviews and writings, she was frightfully honest about her personal life. Brooks is frequently labeled a “hedonist.” But there are surely other applicable descriptions of her appetites and escapades which are largely left unspoken. For example, there is the story of her two month romp in New York with Charlie Chaplin for which she acknowledged unabashedly, she accepted a generous cash gift. She was also consistently the play-thing of wealthy men a n d re a d i l y a c c e p t e d t h e i r k e e p. Unconventionality aside, this was not a good retirement plan. Although she always asserted that all she ever wanted to be was a dancer, she threw that career away. After being fired,

Beggars of Life (1928)


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mainly because of attitude, from the Denishawn dance troupe, she moved on to stage revues and then to films in a sort of a drift. But, no matter what she took up, she was always described as “difficult.” What is certain is that Brooks simply didn’t like her job. She didn’t like the hypocrisy and fuss of Hollywood; she suffered no fools. In her essays and interviews she paints an unglamorous, probably accurate, and unjaded portrait of Hollywood life in that era. Although fame was apparently of no importance to her, having money was. At least during her marriage to Eddie Sutherland, she seemed to enjoy the trappings of the Hollywood life-style: a Lincoln town car, a big house in Laurel Canyon and so forth. The problem seems to stem from not wanting to play the game or to actually earn the money. By selfadmission she was impulsive and

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temperamental. It is also hard not to view her as simply self-centered. She, like many do, found film work tedious and boring. A voracious reader and autodidact, Brooks always had a book on the set. But one is under the impression that working at her craft didn’t really interest her much. She later complained of the earlier roles she was given, apparently unable to understand the idea of paying her dues on the way up. Most are in agreement that refusing to do retakes on The Canary Murder Case even when the ante was upped several times, rightfully killed her career. Acting is a job, just like any other job. Part of being an actor is acting and that means fulfilling the obligation of performing. The show must, you know, go on. Her refusal is difficult to understand. Not only was she likely contractually obligated to do the retakes, it was for her own benefit that it be done.


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That episode and she didn’t speak her subsequent G e r m a n , n eve r rejection of the read the script, part of Gwen in initially spent her The Public Enemy, a evenings and early role that launched morning hours on J e a n H a r l o w, the town in sealed her fate. decadent Weimar, Her only excuse, pre-Hitler Berlin to was wanting to be the point where in New York with she was eventually George Marshall, more or less her then-current imprisoned by a rich playboy of chaperone. There interest. Her is no indication of subsequent flight the usual give-andto Kansas and the take between an rest of her story is actor and director, tragic to be sure. It no story was certainly not conferences, no unique, however. collaborative Some slides from rewrites, and none Lulu in Hollywood (Louise Brooks, 1982) fame were cushioned of the nuts and bolts by investments or second careers, e.g., of putting the character of Lulu together. Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. or Billy Haynes. For the most part, as she acknowledges, she Others literally ended up in the gutter like just did what Pabst told her to do. It is a Anita Stewart. That is practically where shame that the release of Pandora’s Box in James Card found Brooks on Manhattan’s the States was hampered by the advent of Lower East Side in the 1950s. talkies, censorship, and poorly chosen edits. As part of the legend and the cult, It went largely unnoticed and was quickly there is the glossy notion that Brooks forgotten. That it enjoyed no wide abandoned Hollywood out of sensitivity for circulation here kept it from the public her art, but nothing substantiates this. consciousness for over two decades. All in There is a far greater sense that she was all, however, Pandora’s Box is certainly a not an introspective, troubled artist; she magnificent film and Brooks’ performance was actually a self-absorbed, spoiled brat. deserves all of the accolades and praise it Perhaps the most autobiographical scene has garnered over the years. Some of this she ever played was backstage at the revue might also be said of Diary of a Lost Girl in Pandora’s Box when Lulu throws a fullalthough there is no consensus on this blown childish tantrum followed by a sly point. But the question remains: Was it she sexual conquest. When one watches this or was it Pabst? Who really deserves the particular scene, one wonders if Pabst credit here? merely said, “Loueess, be yourself.”1 No doubt Louise Brooks was a great That takes us to Brooks’ triumph in beauty who moved with grace and who Pandora’s Box. Her own account reveals that authored these two German roles with This might be a good place to note that Brooks’ recollections in Lulu in Hollywood were so flawed that Barry Paris felt the need to correct them at the end of his biography of her. 1


The Silent Film Quarterly・!21 understated excellence. In her earlier films, she was always stylish and exuded all t h e e l e m e n t s we t o d ay associate with the Jazz Age. But is she any more deserving of cult status than Mary Pickford—the most popular woman in the world—or a serious, dedicated actress like Lillian Gish or Betty Compson? Film history is replete with bravura performances by otherwise average performers. Shirley Booth was brilliant in Come Back, Little Sheba and deservedly won an Oscar for that role. No one can say she won it on glamor. If the reader will fo rg i ve t h e e a rl i e r fl i p reference to Virginia Cherrill, consider her outstanding showing under the direction of Chaplin in City Lights. How many other Cherrill movies can you name? Our collective memories of great moments on film include Eleanor Boardman screaming out of an open window, Janet

Louise Brooks and G.W. Pabst

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The Canary Murder Case (1929)

Gaynor’s confused, troubled face in a pastry shop, Clara Bow in a Paris café, Lillian Gish on an ice flow, Mary Pickford with her sparrows, and Greta Garbo smoldering (pick a film). Indeed, there was Garbo and there was Dietrich and there were many, many others. In the end of the end maybe it does come down to the auteur after all. Instead of “there is no Garbo, no Dietrich” wouldn’t it be fairer to say “there is no Louise Brooks” except in the hands of a brilliant director? Steven Suttle is an author, actor, and enthusiastic silent film fan who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


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Bringing Silents Back to Life: An Interview with Accompanist and Historian Ben Model by Charles Epting I can guarantee that the majority of people reading this right now are familiar with Ben Model’s work in some form or another. Whether you’ve attended a screening where he has played piano, heard one of his scores on a DVD, or even helped support one of his crowdfunded restoration projects, it’s difficult not to have felt his impact on the silent film community. Silent Film Quarterly recently had a chance to speak to Model about both his musicianship and his restorations, which serve as a perfect model for other silent film fans looking to put rare films back into the hands of a widespread audience. • • • What factors go into deciding the films you screen? It depends on the situation. When I do a school show, that’s a thing where you sometimes get people who aren’t doing it voluntarily. A lot of the time they’re in school, and they have no choice. When I teach my class at Wesleyan University, it’s deliberately taught through the film department, and students who sign up have deliberately signed up. Even though the way Wesleyan works is that students don’t declare a major until the middle of their first semester of sophomore year. I’ve only taught my class twice now, and my first semester the students in my class were trying to figure out, “Is this what I want to major in?” What is the reception like from people who might not have seen a silent film before? The response is great, regardless. Every year I play at a silent film festival in northern Norway. The festival is in its 11th year, and for the past seven or eight years

they’ve brought in sixth graders. The response is always the same, it’s always positive. Regardless of what the teachers may think that 11 or 12 years old will do when they’re shown a film with no sound and no color, it’s always the same. It’s always positive. At the festival in Norway, we typically show the same films for the school groups. We show them The Cook, because it turned up in Norway, and we show them One Week. One Week is a film that I show to a number of different kinds of audiences here in the U.S., and what’s been interesting for me is that the laughs are identical everywhere. The kinds of laughs, the strength of it, the timing of it. It’s exactly the same everywhere. If you could watch any silent film that’s been lost, what would it be? There are certain films that would be great to see. I think that right now, me and a lot of people are interested in Marcel Perez. There’s so few of them, and people are discovering his work and finding just as funny and relevant as some of the other comedians like Charlie Chase or Raymond Griffith. But most of his films are so hard to find, and he’s so forgotten. So much of my mission statement is becoming more about finding material and getting it to an audience. Over the last couple years, it’s really more about that. Even my choices in terms of programming


The Silent Film Quarterly・!23 are more about what audiences have seen, and what have they not seen. What we can show them so that they will enjoy this and want to come back. I’m interested in audience preservation. So if a particular film or genre will bring in more families and kids, or just a general audience, then let’s show that. That’s where my priorities are. We’re all looking for Hats Off, the Laurel and Hardy short, and there are a number of Raymond Griffith features that are lost, even though they were released by Paramount and were popular at the time. But they’re just missing. Those are things that we would like to see more of. You’ve been involved in a number of crowdfunded silent film projects. Can you talk a bit about that? It’s been great finding that there’s a fanbase for these films, who want to not only see them but want to be able to participate in making the films available to other fans. I think that’s really empowering. In the time we’re living, there are buzzwords like “crowdfunding” and “crowdsourcing,” but we do live in a time when the consumer as a fan can really participate in the distribution of films that companies like Kino and Flicker Alley and Criterion might not be that interested in. W h i c h i s fi n e , i t ’ s c o m p l e t e l y understandable if you need to guarantee

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that you’re going to sell a certain number of units. But for things where you don’t care how many copies are sold, they still deserve to be seen. So this business model of crowdfunding through Kickstarter or Indiegogo or GoFundMe, is a way to release a manufactured-on-demand DVD. It allows people to see things they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It’s great that we live in this time where people can participate. One of my catchphrases is, “Be part of the ‘somebody’ in ‘Why doesn’t somebody put that out on DVD?’” People used to feel, “I’m over here, and there’s this company that puts stuff out on DVD, and they won’t put anything out unless it has Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd in it.” Now there is a mechanism so that if Lloyd Hamilton is in it, or Marcel Perez, or Marion Davies, they can be released. What are some of the challenges faced when releasing a film on DVD? We’re working with the Library of Congress, or the UCLA Film and Television Archive, or working with collectors to make stuff available. An archive’s mandate is not to put out DVDs, it’s to preserve and take care of the films. So when someone independently comes along and starts a crowdfunding project to release these films, then it’s great and more stuff gets out.


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DVDs that Model has produced or scored can be found in nearly every silent film fan’s library.

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If there’s a donor restriction, it’s very frustrating. Not just the Library of Congress, but all of the archives face the same thing. They’re taking care of the films that the studios made themselves. Now they’re taken care of, but the studios will be enforcing a restriction about using their content. Meanwhile, there’s no money to be made in this. I always think of a quote by Ernie Kovacs. In his show he’d take a piece of classical music that he loved, and illustrate it or bring it to life. He said, “I’m doing these shows for the love of it. The money means nothing. The money is nothing, consequently it means nothing.” There is no money to be made anymore. There really is no money to be made on these projects. You’re going to sell a few hundred units at the most. It gets frustrating, because it is easier for a studio to just say “no.” Because if they say “yes” to one person, then several requests will come in, and it’s just easier. I’m not into archive-bashing or anything like that, you have to figure out where they’re coming from. But wrong or right, it’s still what they can make money off of, versus a Bebe Daniels film from 1918. How important is it to them? What I’m hoping will happen in the next few years is that gradually people at the studios will realize that there is no money to be made, so why try to make money off of these 95-year-old films? Hopefully they will relent just so people can see them. So that the 380 people who want to see it can see it. We’re not talking about lost episodes of Three’s Company, or Who’s the Boss, or Cheers. The thing with donor restrictions is that it’s a business model that made sense until the 1990s, but the game has completely changed. I’m hoping that people who have all this content and control it will realize that there is no point in trying to control it. The money is nothing, therefore it means nothing. For more information about Ben Model, visit www.silentfilmmusic.com


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Roscoe: The Great Injustice of “Fatty” Arbuckle by Claire Inayat Williams “Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel that a great injustice has been done him.” The fervent jury statement that took all of five minutes to arrive at aimed to absolve one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood of one of the highest profile murder trails of the century. While he was acquitted of all charges, the incident effectively and irreparably destroyed Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s career. His reputation fared just as badly and is still under fire even today.

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When we see Arbuckle represented in media it is as a big, clumsy, drunken, buffoon; a far cry from the impossibly graceful, shy, generous man his friends and family knew him to be. As recently as 2006 a documentary about the film rating system, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, implies that Arbuckle was guilty of rape and manslaughter. In the fall of 1921 Arbuckle had completed three films back-to-back and was looking forward to a weekend getaway with friends at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. A few days into the soirée, a young would-be actress by the name of Virginia Rappe died of a ruptured bladder and peritonitis, very likely caused by excessive drinking which irritated her

Roscoe Arbuckle with Buster Keaton in Good Night, Nurse.


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chance to make a buck off of Hollywood’s favorite class clown. By the time it was finally over three court trials had been held, none of which manifested any evidence against Arbuckle (in fact no evidence of foul play of any kind was found). The the damage had already been done. One week later, Will Hays (the ch a i r m a n o f t h e Production Code) would ban Arbuckle from appearing on screen, and even though Hays retracted the ban nearly a year later it was too late, the public had already turned on him. Broken in spirit and Arbuckle and Chaplin in 1915. bank, Arbuckle changed his screen chronic cystitis. Another partygoer, Maude name to William B. Goodrich and began Delmont, who had already established a working behind the scenes writing and reputation for herself in Hollywood as a directing short films for the friends who blackmailer, was Arbuckle’s primary remained loyal to him...there were many. accuser. While she claimed to be the only In the late 1910’s he was brought into “witness” to the crime, the prosecution Keystone Studios by Mack Sennett where decided not to call her to the stand due to he would frequently work with Harold her constantly changing story and a Lloyd, Al St. John (his nephew), and Mabel teleg ram she sent to two friends Normand (who would often be his onimmediately after Rappe’s death. It read: screen sweetheart). He is the only person to “We have Roscoe Arbuckle in a hole here. have had three of the greatest film Chance to make some money out of him.” comedians in history—Charlie Chaplin, Delmont was not the only one who Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton—all saw opportunity in the scandal. A flock of appear in supporting roles in his films power hungry prosecutors and endless (Chaplin in The Knockout, Lloyd in Miss bloodthirsty journalists (largely working for Fatty’s Seaside Lovers, and Keaton in too lord of the press newspaper tycoon, many to name). He’s credited with William Randolph Hearst) jumped at the discovering Bob Hope and Buster Keaton,


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the latter of whom was his greatest ally and most out-spoken s u p p o r t e r throughout the entirety of the Rappe case and for the rest of both of their lives. He began the way most did then: pounding the stages of Vaudeville by the time he was eightyears-old as an actor, singer, and dancer, making his way up the entertainment food chain. His Arbuckle and Mabel Normand in the Fatty and Mabel Adrift. background and the way the camera goes out of focus in experience radiate in every remaining relation to what is happening to his frame we have of his work. Arbuckle character in Good Night, Nurse), and was understood comedic timing; how to move fond of using unconventional angles to within a scene and use props with all the emphasize a joke. effortlessness of a master who has In 1932 Arbuckle signed with Warner rehearsed the sequence hundreds of times. Bros., under his real name, to star in a His characters are endearing but cheeky, series of six two-reel comedies. By June often irreverent, with even the most clumsy 1933 he had finished filming the last of this and awkward of them demonstrating his series, and Warner Bros. drew up a meticulously deliberate intention (watch contract for him to make a feature-length him deftly swing a massive butcher knife film the very next day. He suffered a heart around like it’s a feather in the 1917 short attack later that night and died in his sleep, film The Butcher Boy). after telling his wife and friends, “This is One of the things that makes film the best day of my life.” He was 46. history so exciting is we are offered the The “great injustice” that was done to opportunity to see where techniques began Roscoe Arbuckle is unconscionable. It cut and watch them evolve and improve. short the career of a man who had much Arbuckle consistently grew as both a more to do and share with the world, and filmmaker and a performer during his by all accounts extinguished the light of a short screen career, beating Chaplin kind and genuinely brilliant man. It is time himself by a few months as the first we put the rumors to bed and celebrate the comedian in America to direct his own life and work of a man who deserves his work. He helped (with Mabel Normand) to place among the greatest comedians in film develop the mismatched domesticity that is history. now a hackneyed gimmick in television sitcoms and loved the kind of violent Claire Inayat Williams will resume her regular comedy that would later become the festival coverage next month with a review of the standard for cartoons. He experimented 2017 San Francisco Silent Film Festival.
 with points of view and technology (note


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What’s In a Name? Who Was Matilda Fernandez Who Became Dora Rogers a.k.a. Fontaine LaRue? by Kevin John Charbeneau There is an old adage “hook, line, and sinker,” that works well when discussing film research. Take the names Gladys Smith, Ramon Sameniego, Lucille LeSueur, or Ehrich Weiss. These are all their real names, whether you know them as that or, their more familiar screen names, as Mary Pickford, Ramon Navarro, Joan Crawford or Harry Houdini. Stars changing names is nothing new. Often the names were changed by the studio to help in recognition and publicity. Sometimes theses name changes are understandable. Once you got your new name, you weren’t likely to change it. Even in the case of Joan Crawford, she reportedly hated it, but kept it throughout her life, to the very end. What’s in a name? While the actress in this article is not as well known as her counterparts above, she was none-the-less fairly well received in her day, even if she is mostly forgotten today. Who was this person? S h e w a s M a t i l d a Fe r n a n d e z , supposedly born in 1897. Other dates listed are 1892, and some sources state 1879. Maybe she was born in 1890, if we take her stated age from an announcement in a newspaper, about her engagement to be married. In that same brief statement, she was born in Mexico, and resided in Los Angeles. So, begins the finding and unraveling of facts in telling about her life. According to the Blue Book of the Screen, 1924, she is a “real native daughter, being born in Los Angeles twenty-five years ago. She received her education in her home city, attending the Sacred Heart Convent six years and later going to the Hollywood High School.” Other sources state she studied at the New York School of

Dramatic Art, and performed professional dancing in Chicago for two years, before entering films, in 1915. Prior to working in films, an announcement, dated April 25, 1909, in the Los Angeles Herald finds Victor G(arcia) Rojas, age 29, obtained a marriage license to wed Matilda Fernandez, age 19. Both were natives of Sonora, Mexico, residing in Los Angeles. Both Victor and Matilda immigrated to the United States in 1907, and classified as ‘Aliens’ on the census, it was also noted they lived at 768 Ottawa Street. His occupation was listed as m a n a g e r fo r a re s t a u r a n t . O t h e r information for Victor Rojas, shows he was born on December 13, 1887, and died April, 1, 1949, at the age of 61. He enlisted, in the U. S. military on June 28, 1918, and was discharge the following December 16, of that same year. He served as a private with the 12th Squadron, 1st Provincial Regiment, as detailed in paperwork for his burial marker at the Veterans Administration cemetery, in West Los Angeles. At the time of his death, he was married to Helen. His mass was held at St. Augustine’s church in Culver City.


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The Blue Book of the Screen (1924)

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La Rue in Screenland magazine

Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual (1920)

Glass slide for His New York Wife (1926)

The end of June 1914 we find another announcement, this time in the Oakland Tribune, dated the 29th, which stated “Miss Dora Rogers, the attractive Los Angeles girl whose engagement to Irving Au g e r o f P i e d m o n t w a s re c e n t l y announced.” Did she divorce Victor Rojas? This new marriage was slated for “late in the fall.” However, I find no notice for

marriage, or subsequently, any further news of the engagement. I guess it was called off. This is a loose end, one of many, in the seemingly never ending saga, of names, events, and relationships. She entered films with an uncredited role in Fatty and Mabel at the San Diego Exhibition, as a street crowd participant. Either during, or shortly after, that film she


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Dora Rogers in Cleopatsy (1918)

was billed under the theatrical name Dora Rogers (sometimes listed as Rodgers). She continued acting in some thirty films, when in 1918, in the feature Borrowed Clothes, directed by Lois Weber, starring Mildred Harris and Lew Cody, she appeared under another name, this time as, Fontaine La Rue (sometimes with variations as Fantine or Fontine, even Fountain, which, I believe, are more likely errors in print than of her choosing). One has to wonder why the name change, as she seemed to be doing rather well with Dora. Yet, making some forty films as Fontaine, on two occasions switched back to using Dora, as was the case with A Prohibition Monkey and Oh, Mabel Behave,

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both in the 1920s. Some films mentioned in assorted articles don’t appear in filmographies. Pearls and Perils, Too Many Nieces, or Soul of a Plumber, are three such films, another was difficult to find in any film trade journals. The film in question was titled in The Motion Picture Studio Directory, of 1919, as “His Disgusted Passion.” In actuality it was His Disguised Passion, from 1917. She is listed, again, as Dora Rogers, with Claire Anderson and Joseph Callahan also in the cast. At last, in the Salina Journal, of October 29, 1921, we finally shed some light as to her reason of a name change from Dora Rodgers to Fontaine La Rue. We learn she was a character actress, and a former Mack Sennet Beauty, according to the article. It seems that as Dora, she “used to be a very naughty girl-that is while the camera was turning.” It is explained “she wrecked many a home and caused many a poor comedy husband to sleep standing up because of the beatings he received from his irate wife.” Therefore “decided that she was tired of leading a terrible life on the screen. She reformed, changed her name to

Boots (1918) with Dorothy Gish


The Silent Film Quarterly・!31 Fontaine La Rue and deserted the comedy lot for the field of dramatic character acting.” While much of the above article is ‘Hollywood Hype,’ when one digs a little deeper it seems the name change could be related to another marriage listed in the 1920 census, showing she was married to Louis Larue. Louis LaRue (Larue) is aged 38 (born 1882), and a native of California. Her age is stated as 23, putting her birth as 1897. As to when they actually got married, and for how long, has yet to be determined. I have other thoughts on this, but this case needs far more investigation and evidence, before any deductions can be made. A vastly different story that ran in the Los Angeles Herald, was dated January 8,

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1916, it details Dr. James N. MacDowell (a dentist, author and lecturer), being sued for divorce by his wife, of fifteen years, Mrs. Sophie L. G. MacDowell. It seems Mrs. MacDowell “named Dora Roger s, beautiful dancer and actress, as the woman who had broken up her home.” Maybe some of the acting on screen, as a vamp, was brought forth in real life. It looks, as if the husband fell hard for the woman on the screen, and the wife was not amused. These are just a few of the conundrums in the varied aspects to the lives of Dora Rogers and/or Fontaine LaRue. As an actress, her screen appearances number approximately seventy-five films, including the few that she is either uncredited, or unconfirmed. Nearly forty of those were in short features. She played

Fontaine La Rue in The Faith Healer (1921)


The Silent Film Quarterly・!32 everything from a manicurist to sweetheart, and even stenographer, rival, wife, daughter, as well as, vamps. In the film The Man Beneath she acted with Sessue Hayakawa. She played the “heavy” role opposite Dorothy Gish in Boots, directed by Elmer Clifton. In The Lost Romance she portrayed a 40 year old spinster. While, in The Faith Healer, she played Mary Beeler, an invalid. In Cleopatsy she does a spoof/ send-off of Cleopatra. The Adventuress, finds her acting with Julian Eltinge and Virginia Rappe. In Blind Bargain, she plays Mrs. Lamb, the wife, of Dr. Lamb, a mad surgeon, portrayed by Lon Chaney. Throughout her many films, she also acted in no less than a dozen Westerns with Roy Stewart, Hoot Gibson, Esther Ralston, William Fairbanks, Bob Custer, Bill Cody, even Harry Carey. In her last film, she plays, a daughter, and the love interest of Bob Strong (portrayed by actor Art Mix). This film was a part-talkie, and is “lost,” it is the only talkie, in which Fontaine acted. In the Bismarck Tribune an article dated July 25, 1923, that mentions Blind Bargain, we get additional information regarding her dancing career. It reads in part “a screen recruit from the Orpheum vaudeville circuit, where she was noted as a toe dancer,” also “suffered an accident to her right foot, which made it impossible for her to continue dancing…”. Of course, this same article adds wrong information, stating, “Miss La Rue is as French as her name, with all the artistic expression for which the French are noted.” The Blue Book of Screen, does denote “She is a fluent linguist, speaking French, Italian and Spanish.” They forgot to mention she spoke English too. Among her hobbies they listed “astronomy,” and that she is “fond of wild animals and nature study.” A sports enthusiast she loved driving, swimming, hunting, fishing and diving. Supposedly, one year, won the Venice championship for high and fancy diving.

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In 1924, on April 12, Miss LaRue, from the Oakland Tribune, was reportedly mugged in Los Angeles, and found unconscious in the streets. “She had been attacked by a man, she told the police. She blew a police whistle, then fainted. Miss La Rue was not injured.” Her stated age in the article was 19 (which would put her birth in 1905). Another article, from a motion picture trade journal, in 1929, had an interesting, if not humorous article pertaining to Dora Rogers. It reads, “It wasn’t her real name, because she was either Spanish or Mexican with the most adorable accent you ever heard,” according to someone named Miss Fuller. “She worked frightfully hard, but never got anywhere…” As the story further reveals she announced to Universal that she was “Fontaine La Rue, fresh from Paris.” Laughingly, it says the “Universal heads didn’t know French from the Icelandish lingo.” She was offered “leading parts with a big salary…” Then a distinguished visitor from Paris visited. The studio brought forth their “French acquisition.” As the article ends, “…she couldn’t understand a word of the language. They fired her that day.” This is typical publicity that all tradepapers, regular newspapers and magazines spun, day after day. In truth, Fontaine had already worked for Universal beginning in 1918, in both feature films, and shorts. She had made a total of eighteen films with the studio. The brass definitely knew who Dora and Fontaine were. She left Universal, in 1923, and continued to make nine more films during her career. A cute story at best, but typical hype to sell any story, to the public. After having, disappearing from film records, after 1929, one issue of Hollywood Filmograph, dated July 18, 1931, not only featured her pictured on the cover, but in a small article stated she “Returns to Hollywood to win new laurels after successful Eastern stage trip.” I can find no mentions of her appearing in any


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Fontaine La Rue (on the couch) in Beyond (1921)

productions on the East Coast, or anywhere else in the country. As for her reappearance in motion pictures, that doesn’t seemed to have happened either. Matilda, aka Doris, aka Fontaine, may have had yet, ‘another’ name. Articles from various papers, list that a Fontaine LaRue was also known as Ruth Madonna, and married a cosmetics dealer named Albert Antonelli, becoming Ruth Madonna Antonelli. One article claims “her husband beat her, drove to a police station and dared her to tell officers about it.” In another Associated Press blurb “Ruth Madonna Antonelli, who is a dancer in the movies under the name of Fontaine la Rue [sic], has filed for divorce from Albert Antonelli, cosmetic merchant, to whom she was married five months ago, it was learned last night.” The reason for divorce was listed as cruelty. These articles

appeared in the August 2, 1932 issue of Daily Variety, (page 39), also in the Los Angeles Times (page 21) and San Bernardino County Sun (page 2), both dated September 22, 1932. Is this the same Fontaine? It’s yet another shade of gray, with more questions than answers. I have been unable to find any other information regarding Albert Antonelli or Ruth Madonna. Then, again, how many dancers named Fontaine La Rue were, in Hollywood, being written up in Variety? More misinformation can be found on IMDb (Internet Movie Database) which has her mistakenly identified as being married to Roy E. Root, and passing away on November 20, 1976. I don’t know where this information came from, no source is stated. Fontaine seems to have vanished in the news. But records show her daughter,


The Silent Film Quarterly・!34 named Matilda Garcia Rojas (born May 23, 1911), according to public records, was married on March 31, 1940, at the Old Mission Plaza church, in Los Angeles. She married an Alan Jay Bradshaw, of Los Angeles, who was previously married, but divorced. He was nine years older than her. At the time of their marriage she was listed as being as usherette. She worked in the movies, under the stage name, Rita Gordon, as a dancer/extra in Flying Down to Rio, 1933 and Under the Pampas Moon, 1935. I find no other film work listed, unless she also used another name. She died on June 25, 1999, at the age 88. The name on her tombstone reads Rita M. Bradshaw. Victor and Matilda had two other children. Their first, a son, was born Victor on June 22, 1910, and died on December 14, 1994, in Nevada, at 84 years of age. Another daughter, their third child, named Victoria was born on October 17, 1912. Victoria married Edgar Lloyd Marshall on May 27, 1933. She died, at the age of 101, on December 15, 2013, and is buried is Whittier, California. There is some uncertainty about Fontaine’s death. Supposedly, she died at 72 or 73 years of age, in Los Angeles, in 1964, from Leukemia. There is the possibility, again, of another name, that she was married, yet again, and died under the name Doris R. Hancock? Doris died August 13, 1964, in Los Angeles, and according to records, was born either, July 18, 1892, or July 25, 1891, in Mexico. Her mother’s maiden name was Monreal. All of this information, basically adds up. It seems this Doris R. is actually Fontaine. If so, why the name change to Doris R., and when? While some light has been shed, there are still shadows in her life. Relating to the above paragraph, the Federal Census for 1930, shows a real estate broker named, Wayne Hancock being 34 years of age, from Iowa, with a wife named Fontaine (age 30, which means she is claiming to be

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born in 1900). And, a “sister-in-law,” (age 17), named Mathilda Rodgers, living in the same household. This relative would seem to be Fontaine’s daughter (from her marriage to Victor). After all, She was born Matilda (Mathilda) and using the same last name, as one her mother used. Although, her birth would have been 1911, as opposed to the listed 1913, in the records. This isn’t the first time Hollywood folks fidgeted their age(s) and/or names, seemingly with the drop of a hat. This marriage also did not last, as the late 1930s show Wayne returning to his native Iowa, without Fontaine, and he died before the decade ended. If it is not her, there are quite a number of uncanny coincidences. Yet, the simple facts that her date of death, place of burial and ‘other’ information as mentioned by some relatives, it seems certain that this Doris, is in fact, Fontaine La Rue and Dora Rogers. Fontaine, as a person and actress, despite being all over the name boards, and appearing in numerous films, does not have a lot of biographical information available on her. Perhaps, she would be better known today, if she had used just one name. Was she trying to reinvent herself ? If so, why does she disappear after the 1930s. Also, why so many different names? Back to the adage of “hook, line and sinker.” It can also used to emphasize that someone has been deceived or tricked. Whether, partly, totally or ‘lock, stock and barrel,’ one hundred percent. There’s a lot more than meets the eye regarding Matilda Fernandez, and her screen names, of Dora Rogers and Fontaine LaRue. This story is far from over. The research has only just begun. Los Angeles, La Reina, Hollywood, LaLaLand, whatever you call it, has always been a place to invent or reinvent yourself, or also to hide. Like a detective, I’m interested in uncovering more, and finding the hidden facts. After all what’s in a name, and who is the real Matilda Fernandez, better known as Fontaine LaRue?


The Silent Film Quarterly・!35

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The three following pages contain the most complete filmography ever assembled for Fontaine La Rue. For each film the year of release, studio, and name used are given (DR for Dora Rogers or Rodgers, FLR for Fontaine La Rue). This table is the result of exhaustive research by Kevin John Charbeneau, and will certainly prove useful for future generations of silent film researchers. Year

Title

Studio

Name Used

1915

Fatty and Mabel at the San Diego Exhibition

Keystone

Unknown

1915

Peanuts and Bullets

Keystone

DR

1915

The Home Breakers

Keystone

DR

1915

Ambrose’s Sour Grapes

Keystone

Unknown

1915

Droppington’s Family Tree

Keystone

DR

1915

Love, Loot and Crash

Keystone

DR

1915

Mabel Lost and Won

Keystone

DR

1915

The Battle of Ambrose and Walrus

Keystone

DR

1915

Stolen Magic

Keystone

DR

1916

A Modern Enoch Arden

Keystone

DR

1916

Gypsy Joe

Keystone

DR

1916

A Love Riot

Keystone

DR

1916

Bucking Society

Keystone

DR

1916

His First False Step

Keystone

DR

1917

Dodging His Doom

Keystone

DR

1917

Soul of a Plumber

Keystone

DR

1917

Pearls and Perils

Keystone

DR

1917

Too Many Nieces

Keystone

DR

1917

His Disguised Passion

Keystone

DR

1917

Dodging His Doom

Keystone

DR

1917

A Maiden’s Trust

Keystone

Unknown

1917

His Naughty Thought

Keystone

DR

1917

Cactus Nell

Keystone

DR

1917

His Precious Life

Keystone

DR


The Silent Film Quarterly・!36

.

1917

An Ice Man’s Bride

Keystone

DR

1918

His Hidden Shame

Keystone

DR

1918

Dimples and Dangers

Keystone

DR

1918

Wronged By Mistake

Keystone

DR

1918

Did She Do Wrong

Keystone

DR

1918

A Playwright’s Wrong

Keystone

DR

1918

Who Killed Walton?

Triangle

DR

1918

Cleopatsy

Rolin

DR

1918

After the War

Universal

DR

1918

Borrowed Clothes

Universal

FLR

1918

The Wildcat of Paris

Universal

FLR

1919

Boots

New Art/Paramount

FLR

1919

The Man Beneath

Haworth/RobertsonCole

FLR

1919

The Woman Under Cover

Universal

FLR

1920

The Fatal Sign

Arrow

FLR

1920

An Adventuress

Herald Prod./ Republic Dist.

FLR

1920

Human Stuff

Universal

FLR

1920

A Prohibition Monkey

Universal

DR

1920

The Sins of Roseanne

Paramount

FLR

1920

Body and Soul

Metro

FLR

1920

Two Kinds of Love

Universal

FLR

1921

The Faith Healer

Famous Players/ Paramount

FLR

1921

The Lost Romance

Famous Players/ Paramount

FLR

1921

Beyond

Famous Players/ Paramount

FLR

1921

The Great Impersonation

Famous Players/ Paramount

FLR


The Silent Film Quarterly・!37

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1921

Exit the Vamp

Famous Players/ Paramount

FLR

1922

Oh, Mabel Behave

Triangle

DR

1922

The Further Adventures of Yorke Norroy

Universal

FLR

1922

The Dangerous Little Demon

Universal

FLR

1922

The Bearcat

Universal

FLR

1922

The Radio King

Universal

FLR

1922

A Blind Bargain

Goldwyn

FLR

1923

The Social Buccaneer

Universal

FLR

1923

The Love Letter

Universal

FLR

1923

One of Three

Universal

FLR

1923

The Two Twins

Hunt Stromberg/ Metro

FLR

1923

Under Secret Orders

Universal

FLR

1923

The Secret Code

Universal

FLR

1923

The Radio-Active Bomb

Universal

FLR

1923

The Showdown

Universal

FLR

1924

Daughters of Today

Selznick

FLR

1924

Unseen Hands

Encore Pict./Assoc. Exhibitors

FLR

1924

The Torrent

Phil Goldstone/ Truart

FLR

1924

Trigger Fingers

Independent Pictures/ FBO

FLR

1925

Love on the Rio Grande

Independent Pictures

FLR

1925

Flyin’ Thru

Al Wilson Pictures

FLR

1926

His New York Wife

B.P. Schulberg/ Preferred Pict.

FLR

1927

Gold from Weepah

Bill Cody/Pathe

FLR

1929

West of the Rockies

J. Charles Davis Productions

FLR


The Silent Film Quarterly・!38 Afterword After this article went to press, there were still those lingering “facts” about Fontaine La Rue and her alleged affair that ruined the 15 year marriage of the dentist Dr. James N. MacDowell (born Greenfield, Missouri) and his wife Mrs. Sophie L.G. MacDowell. Then, that other nagging question in the U.S. Census of 1920, about Louis Larue and Fontaine La Rue being “husband and wife,” yet no records could be found, of any engagement or marriage. So, I continued playing Sherlock Holmes, and as I deduced, the dentist did leave his wife, and used the fake name of Louis La Rue. In actuality, he became the actor Nelson McDowell, beginning his career in 1917. Simple enough, new career and a name change. Remove James, use your middle name as your first name, and drop the “a” from your last name, changing MacDowell to McDowell.

.

The evidence: first, the original 1920 Census shows “Mr. Louis La Rue” living with “Mrs.” La Rue at 1802 N. Van Ness Avenue in Hollywood, California. Further research shoes in the Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, 1920, on page 241, that the action Nelson McDowell (born Greenfield, Missouri) registered with the Willis & Inglis agency in Los Angeles while reciting at the same 1802 N. Van Ness address. Furthermore, on page 271, under actresses, is Fontaine La Rue, listed with the same agency, and the same address as shown on the Census and Nelson’s listing in the same trade directory. This affair, however, seems to be relatively short-lived, lasting less than five years, as the Los Angeles City directory for 1921 shows the actor now living at 1549 Western Avenue. Nelson lived until November 3, 1947, when he died at 77 years of age from a self-inflicted gunshot would after finding out he had cancer.

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The Silent Film Quarterly・!39

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Walking in Chaplin’s Footsteps The Essanay Studios in Niles and Chicago by Charles Epting There are an incredible number of Charlie Chaplin-related landmarks around the globe—certainly more than any other actor or actress from the silent era. From his birthplace in London, his home in Corsier-sur-Vevey, his studio in the heart of Hollywood, the rolling hills of Santa Clarita at the end of Modern Times— Chaplin fans are able to walk in the Tramp’s footsteps many different places. There are two sites related to Charlie Chaplin’s early career, however, that I believe rank near the top of the list in terms of importance. Last November, in the span of a week, I was fortunate enough to visit both. The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum is something of a Mecca for silent film fans. Their collection of vintage movie cameras, props, posters, and other memorabilia is breathtaking—not to mention the fact that none other than

Recreating the final scene of 1915’s The Tramp.

The author speaking about Bebe Daniels at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum.

Chaplin himself starred in five short films just blocks from the museum. It was while working in Niles that Chaplin began acting alongside Edna Purviance. This pairing, I believe, was the single most significant development of Chaplin’s entire career. The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum recently underwent a significant expansion, increasing not only the amount of space for public exhibits, but also their resources dedicated to the preservation and study of silent films. The museum was already on the radar of many silent film buffs around the globe; with these recent developments, a visit proves even more rewarding for aficionados and casual fans alike. My reason for visiting Niles was quite humbling; I was presenting two films starring Bebe Daniels, about whom I had just completed a biography. While Chaplin and Daniels never shared the screen together, they did enjoy a lengthy friendship with one another (an oftcirculated image shows the two playing ping-pong together). To be speaking at such an important site in silent film history was nothing short of an honor. The following weekend, I found myself in Chicago for a stamp exhibition (I often joke that half my life is dedicated to silent film, and the other half to stamps). While there I made a point of getting in


The Silent Film Quarterly・!40

Essanay Studios in Chicago.

touch with Annette Bochenek, a fellow film fanatic who I had gotten to know online. (As an aside, Annette’s website Hometowns to Hollywood is exceptional, and I am thrilled that she agreed to be a regular columnist for this publication.) After deciding upon dinner at the Palmer House—birthplace of the brownie in 1893—she suggested that we explore the other Essanay Studio. Today, the former Chicago Essanay Studio is a part of St. Augstine College. The beautiful doorway—featuring the studio’s iconic Indian head logo—still greets visitors to the building, while the back of the studio features a larger-thanlife mural of the Little Tramp. A security guard, impressed by our passion for silent films, allowed Annette and I into the school’s auditorium, where a shot from The Kid covers an entire wall. A short walk down a narrow hallway brought us to the original storage rooms, where a door is still clearly stenciled “STORE SAFETY FILM ONLY.”

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It sounds cliched, but both the Niles and Chicago studios are—in my mind— hallowed ground. Both locations played such critical roles in the early development of Chaplin’s career, and despite the fact that they are thousands of miles apart, I got the same sensation standing at both of them. At both sites I closed my eyes, breathed in the same air that Chaplin had breathed more than a century ago, and I could picture the Little Tramp—still a bit rough around the edges in those early days —honing in on his impeccable comedic timing that would make him the most famous man on the planet in just a few short years. If you ever find yourself in the San Francisco area, I urge you to pay a visit to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. For those of us who appreciate the early days of cinema, there is no other museum anywhere in the world quite like it. The Niles Essanay Museum is located at 37417 Niles Boulevard, Fremont, California, 94536. The museum is open every Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 4 P.M.

The author and Annette Bochenek.


The Silent Film Quarterly・!41

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World War I at 100: Firsthand Accounts of David Wark Griffith’s Time in the Trenches The following articles were written in the midst and immediate aftermath of “The Great War.” As the United States commemorates the 100th anniversary of its entry into this unprecedented conflict, Silent Film Quarterly would like to remember the contributions of D.W. Griffith to the war effort. Griffith’s stories of life amongst the soldiers are as vivid and captivating today as they were to readers a century ago. May they serve as a testament to the role Hollywood played in bringing the harsh realities of war to a larger audience than had ever before been possible. ————————————————————————————————————
 gaze of the curious by canvas reflectors. Griffith—and the Great War: There I found David W. Griffith, America’s foremost producer is preparing a film shortly after his return from Europe’s battlefields, directing a scene in the shadow spectacle, based on the world contest, which is of Babylon’s wall. With him were Lillian expected to eclipse his past masterpieces. and Dorothy Gish, apparently none the By Paul H. Dowling worse in youthful sweetness, health, and charm for their experiences in bombOriginally published in Picture-Play frightened London and amid the shattered Magazine, March 1918 ruins of Belgium and France, and with • • • them Bobby Harron, camera-genius Bitzer, George Siegmann, and others. It was just a The massive walls of the lath-andsmall particle of a scene; but the plaster Babylon were crumbling away production of which it was a part is slowly or being razed to the ground by expected to be greater than the story of scores of workmen. A fighting tower, swayed by the combined strength of half a hundred ar ms, bearing away at tackles and pulleys, toppled and crumpled into bits on the brown field of stubble, raising into the clear air a cloud of dust and plaster and fine-chopped splinters. Babylon had fallen for the last time. In the shadow of a city wall, where men had fallen in the battles of Intolerance, a small band of players were enacting a scene from a great drama. There were only a few in the group, and they—already hidden away as if in a corner of the ruins of some old Pompeii, were D.W. Griffith—at the right—with an army officer guide, at work, further protected from the somewhere at the front, gathering material for his next photo drama.


The Silent Film Quarterly・!42 Babylon, greater than The Birth of a Nation, for it was a bit of Griffith’s forthcoming production based on the most stupendous drama of all history—the present war. After eight months spent at the front, after hours and days in the very front-line trenches, Mr. Griffith returned to Los Angeles a few weeks ago to complete his undertaking. He was a more rugged Griffith than the man who went over to London nearly two years ago to stage Intolerance there. He was more serious. Having done what he modestly calls his “bit,” Mr. Griffith came home, bringing with him the precious prize of eighty thousand feet of film, the only motion pictures taken at the fronts with the exception of the official war pictures taken by the allied governments and preserved for a permanent record of the events of the struggle. Mr. Griffith went to England to stage his Intolerance with no thought of the work he finally undertook. It was at the request of titled personages who saw Intolerance and suggested that he might do something to aid in the world’s charity work that turned his attention from private business, and, armed with unheard of

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passports to the front, set forth on his greatest venture. Not primarily for personal gain were those pictures taken. They will form the background of a great photo drama—or perhaps several photo dramas, a part of the proceeds of which are to be donated to the allied relief funds. “The man who sees the war at first hand,” declared Mr. Griffith, “forgets that he ever had any petty ambitions of his own. He feels that this is the one great thing which is going on in the whole world. Beside that, nothing much matters now.” It is, in fact, with great difficulty that one can get the noted film director to speak of his own work, in which he is now so engrossed. It developed, withal, that he was the first American to get into the first-line trenches in France. “I was within fifty yards of the boches on the Ypres front at one time,” he said. “How did I feel? Well, I was so frightened I didn’t realize what was happening. Yes, I was actually under fire, and men were killed within a few feet of me. At one time we were inside a dugout with a big gun, and even as we were leaving the long range guns were trained on the spot, and the gun was shot to pieces in a few Griffith, with Lillian and minutes. One of our own cameras, in Dorothy Gish, and their fact, was standing in a position mother, standing in the exposed to fire when a shell exploded, shadow of the ruined towers and—but that is a story which will be of Babylon, shortly after their told later. I wore the war helmet and return from the front. the gas mask, for we were within reach of the poison-gas grenades of the enemy. We witnessed and barely missed personal contact with the horrors of liquid fire; we passed hours among bursting shells, and had on eight occasions experienced the dangers of German aerial raids in London. Four of these times we were caught in the street in great


The Silent Film Quarterly・!43

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peril of the rain of fire. Only a few weeks ago I was on the firing line in F landers, where the bloodiest of the recent furious fighting took place, and it will give you some idea of the intensity of the contest to know that in the short space of time since I left it is estimated that in the small sector where my headquarters were established there have been between sixty and a hundred thousand casualties. Griffith and a guide, near the ruins of a French cathedral. “The man who sees the war at first hand,” said Griffith, “forgets his own petty ambitions.” “It is very difficult getting into the front-line trenches, not so much from physical as great ones in England to the great ones in from official obstacles. But letters from the France made our path comparatively smooth.” Mr. Griffith had the honor of being summoned to appear before the King and Queen of England, but he was in the midst of operations in France at the time, and could not leave. On his return to England, however, he was presented to the queen. Mr. Griffith’s position in England was unusual. He was given the assistance of the British government in making his pictures, and he and his camera man were permitted in territory denied to all correspondents. In London, he had the cooperation of the most distinguished women of King George’s court, many of whom have played an active part in his big charity production. Such notables as Lady Diana Manners, daughter of the Duchess of Rutland; Miss Elizabeth Asquith, daughter of the late prime minister, and the Princess of Monaco are all seen frequently in the film, their work gladly offered because the ultimate purpose of the film was for war-relief funds. England’s women of title volunteered to act in Griffith’s Mr. Griffith’s own perspective, after forthcoming spectacle. Two of these notables, shown here seeing so much of the actualities of war, with the producer, are Mrs. Burrough and Lady Diana includes both the awful elements and the


The Silent Film Quarterly・!44

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Every detail of Belgian village life was carefully studied. Griffith is shown here at the left, with members of his party.

hopeful significances which are to arise. But let him give his impressions of the throbbing march of events in his own words: “Vimy Ridge in the spring, Ypres on that memorable September 19th, Arras—I saw those. What I saw in detail, I cannot tell, for my pledged word forbids. Without that restriction, I would not want to tell. “My ‘close-up’ of the war front is a blur of conflict, horrors, heroism, terror, sublimity—and promise. When you see the physically half dead, the mentally obscured thousands of men from the cities and slums who are shortly transformed into real men with real minds by the process of discipline and the implanting of the consuming lesson of devotion, courage, and true patriotism, you see that the war is not all unblessed. This war will, in many ways, liberate the world from itself—its worst self. “Speaking of the salvage of war, we may consider the fact that the death rate is

now five per cent. What then of the ninetyfive per cent of the men who return home? These are the men who have been through the fusing process of the melting pot of trench life. We may expect these men to retur n to their homes and their governments demanding a more sensible world, and being big and strong enough to make their demands respected.” In the film production which he has made in the past, Mr. Griffith has proven to be a master of dramatic technique, which includes the handling of that difficult attribute—suspense. It is extremely fitting, therefore, that he should realize the dramatic values of this, the greatest drama which has yet happened. “It is a drama at the front,” he said, “for suspense is the keynote of all dramas, and the suspense at the front makes it the drama of dramas. It gives you a dry, nervous choking; you are taut, strung tight with intricate emotions, your whole being involved at every move.”


The Silent Film Quarterly・!45 T h e p ro d u c e r d e s c r i b e d w i t h picturesque vividness an experience on one of the fronts where he had journeyed to take pictures: “There was a shell-broken forest where we were to meet some men at the edge of the woods. We went by the sixteen-inch guns; then the nine-inch, the six-inch, and the eighteen-pounders, the latter, of course, the nearest to the first line. Over our heads was a British plane, and the batteries were going like the furies of hell. As the day passed, we saw countless thousands of men spread over the fields as thick as the grass would have been had there been any grass. Suddenly where the men were there were no men; they had disappeared in the trenches and communications. “We advanced to a position where there had been a crossroads and farm, but now all was obliterated in a mass of shell holes, bricks, and dust. As the shells fell, and we made slow time, there came an awful feeling of fear and a desire to go back. But no one went back, for that would have required even greater courage. On the other side of the wood, a party, including our friends, advanced. When the shells

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came faster, we broke for an old pill box. It was hit, and some of our party were hurt, but the shelter held. “Then a shell broke back of the other group. A rain of shrapnel came down, and the little group divided for greater safety. We had a desire to shout at our friends to go back, but a shout could not be heard amid the awful scream of the shells. The men in the little party continued to advance. Half a dozen big shells broke, and suddenly men and battery were all obliterated. The rest was like a nightmare, with the awful sickening feeling of death near at hand. We mourned our two men. “When we had returned later to the rear, the discovery was made that our two men had been warned against going out with the party. An old war-worn captain exclaimed: ‘I told you this morning that your people should not have gone into that wood. The boches do not like any one to walk in that wood.’” After Mr. Griffith had talked of the war, his party moved to a little house across the street from the Intolerance settings, where the producer, together with several Frenchmen, Austrians, and Germans, who of necessity are engaged in completing the war productions, pored over hundreds of war photographs taken by a Los Angeles correspondent who had spent much time in Ger many, Poland, and Russia during the early periods of the war. This study of the enemy is of extreme importance, in view of the matter of costuming of accurate details of rank, and a thousand and one All the methods of modern warfare were recorded for the coming production. other things which Griffith, at the left, is watching the operation of a camouflaged field piece. must be taken into


The Silent Film Quarterly・!46 consideration in the completion of a tremendous spectacle of gripping realism such as the material of this conflict must furnish. Then the party again took up its work of making pictures, this time at a pretty little garden exterior, constructed on one of the gently sloping hills a few hundred yards back of the Babylonian elephants and tottering walls. A crew of carpenters and scenic artists were removing from the vast wreckage of the time-worn settings bits of plastered boards and canvas and fastening them up to complete the exterior of what might pass for a charming little country house in Belgium. Here Dorothy and Lillian Gish shortly appeared, to sit down on the sunburned slope of the hill and wait for their scenes, which were to match up with pictures made in a ruined city of Flanders. Dorothy sighed a sigh of complete peace and relaxation as she sat with her sister and the mother of the celebrated actresses, Mrs. M.R. Gish. “Oh, isn’t it good to be back here again!” the little lady exclaimed, with a genuineness of expression which revealed her true feelings at being able to sit down, safe and sound, on a sunny hillside in California and never have to go back again to the terrifying air raids in London and the pitiful sights in the towns of Belgium and France. “I want to settle down on a farm in southern California,” was Dorothy’s heartfelt wish. Lillian spoke up and told of Dorothy’s fright during the air raids in London. “We were on the third floor of a family hotel,” said Lillian, and every time there was an unusual commotion outside or in the hotel, the people in adjoining apartments declared they could hear Dorothy’s knees shaking above the din and clatter of the bombing. “No book that I have read,” declared Lillian, “has portrayed the full horror of war. It would take a superhuman writer to picture it.

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“The English did nothing but threecheer the American boys who first arrived, from start to finish. Naturally, as we were among the few Americans in London at this time, we were wildly excited, but those English folks showed ever bit as much enthusiasm as we did. We were in London on the day of a parade by the first contingent of American soldiers, and the feeling displayed by the English people disproved all that has ever been told of the staid and unsentimental English.” “It was that way in Paris, too,” Mr. Griffith added. “While a year ago Paris was a gloomy place, filled with mourners, yet at the time of our later visit, the arrival of the American soldiers had had the effect of making every one cheerful again.” “London displays considerably more of a war spirit than does Paris,” Lillian continued. “In both cities, however, it is considered rather poor taste to wear fine clothes, or to display luxury. We did not see a really well-gowned woman throughout all our travels about Europe. In Paris, every third woman wears mourning, while in London nearly every man is in uniform. They are using men that you would think had passed the age for military service. These middle-aged men, of course, are not sent to the trenches. The only amusement in London is the theater. There are no dances or society dinners.” Dorothy Gish described the return of their party on a camouflaged ship; one, she says, “daubed with every color of paint you could think of. Several times on the return trip over the Atlantic we were ordered to dress and adjust life belts, but nothing happened in the way of a U-boat attack. Of course the very thought of submarines was terrible, but after going through the air raids in London nothing was as bad, even being within range of the guns, as it was in Belgium.” Lillian Gish, with a far-away and wistful look in her eyes, expressed her sympathy for the soldiers of America and the Allies who are now going into those


The Silent Film Quarterly・!47 shell-torn areas which she saw on the French and Belgian front. “I never thought or dreamed of the actuality of warfare, and I hold the hope so often expressed by the English people, that America’s entrance into the war spells an early victory.” While the scenes were in preparation, Mr. Griffith moved about among the ruins of Intolerance, not unlike the devastated cities of Belgium and France, and again reflected over his experiences of the past ten months. “My most dangerous moment,” he said, “was at a time when I was under the guidance of a young British officer who was extremely proud of the lacquer on his boots. He wanted to avoid the mud in the trenches, so we walked outside, and ultimately had occasion to examine a map of the district we were in. This evidently attracted the attention of the Germans, who supposed we were deciding upon a site for a gun, for they at once began ‘strafing’ us. A ‘dud’—that is, a shell which doesn’t explode—dropped within five feet of us, and then the rattle of artillery came with deafening proximity

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until we found our way back to the trenches and rolled in, boots and all, glad to seek safety in the mud.” Though Mr. Griffith did not disclose the exact nature of the films which are now being completed, it is evident that they will furnish a valuable record; for they will contain views of every kind of mechanical device used in the present war. The spectator will know everything there is to know about the fighting devices of this war; aeroplanes, tanks, blimps, and trenches. Every position of danger, every vantage of attack, will be presented in the first production, which is to be for charity. A part of the proceeds, by the way, will go to blind soldiers and to sailors injured in the trawlers, who, Mr. Griffith declares, have one of the nastiest, meanest jobs of the whole war, taking their lives in their hands every time they venture half a mile from shore, and seldom receiving relief money for their wounded. While the work of completing the film spectacles goes on at the romantic old spot where Babylon fell, the film producer walks among the ruins which recall those of the actual fighting front. And he is glad to have returned. But there is ever present a spirit of abstraction—a thought of what is going on over there, and a dream of what is going to come out of it all. “There can be but one result,” he asserted, with intense earnestness. “It may be a long war. It promises to be a long war. But the Ger mans are defeated now, and will ultimately be conquered. It will be Griffith did not wear the helmet for looks or comfort. His two years’ work in the beginning of the Europe took him many times into places of danger. birth of a new world.”


The Silent Film Quarterly・!48

Griffith in His New Spectacle to Bring “Over There” Here By Mae Tinée Originally published in The Chicago Tribune, October 31, 1917 • • • David Wark Griffith is back from the war minus some flesh but plus a lot of experience. He is accompanied by some 80,000 feet of film taken on the scene of the world war and will in about three months, he says, release a picture which will do for the world something neither newspapers nor official war pictures have been able to do—namely, show us an actual pictoral plan of modern battle. “Maneuvers, instruments of torture, and all that,” he says, and adds quickly, “But don’t get it into your head that the picture’s going to be all about war. No, dear lady, the people are tired of the just war pictures.” “Some experience for you and these who were with you,” I ventured. “Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, and Bobby Herron were all, weren’t they?” “And Mrs. Gish,” Mr. Griffith said, smiling. “Poor Mrs. Gish! She lost thirty pounds. Dorothy, who has been bewailing her fate of prospective fat for the last three years and dieting by fits and starts, is slim as a weed, and Lillian—well, Lillian was never heavy, and she’s no headier now, I can tell you.” “Do they constitute your entire company of principals?” “No, O no. George Fawcett will play the villain. Then I shall present a couple of French artists, Mlle. Georgette and Monsieur Ger-Ger-Oh, Gerard—I never can remember that man’s name—and a Mr. Elliott. Then, too, Lady Diana Manners, Elizabeth Asquith, the Princess of Monaco, and the Countess Dougherty have all parts to play.”

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“They have——?” I began, in some surprise. Mr. Griffith forestalled my query with quick explanation: “You know, all the profits of this film are to be given to the Allied charities.” I hadn’t known. Good idea, isn’t it? “And do you mean to tell me,” I asked, “that these people all worked with you right on the firing line?” He shook his head. “Not often right on the firing line, but always within the sound of cannon. The women, of course, we protected as much as possible. The photographers and myself had some pretty narrow escapes. Once a piece of shrapnel hit me, in the shoulder— O no, didn’t damage me once. “Once, on the St. Julien road, a battery where we had just been taking pictures, joking and laughing with the men, who felt fairly secure, so well was it camouflaged, was blown to pieces before our eyes, and we, my heaven, only a few yards away! “Then, once, while we were lying in a sap out of one of the trenches, the boches decided to what they call ‘scour’ the trench —and we were just out of that. And once we had just fallen into a trench when a bomb exploded on the place from where we had fallen. O yes, we had some escapes, all right.” “I suppose, though,” I ventured, not supposing so at all, “that after a time one grows used to the fear and become sort of —well—comatose, as ’twere?” “No,” he disagreed, “not that. But the people over there become great actors. They talk and laugh and act much like the people over here, but it is acting, for the Great Fear is over everybody and everything.” According to this major general of directors, Europe is vitally interested in the cinema. The people want the really big and good things, and he says the allied governments offered him every assistance in their power—that, in fact,


The Silent Film Quarterly・!49 representatives of the various governments called upon him and told him they had wanted to present such a picture but had not known how to go about it. They said: “You know how. You do it!” As I was leaving, I spied some pictures of Mr. Griffith shaking hands with Queen Alexandra and also clasping the hand of Lloyd George. I begged for them—but nothing doing. All he would give me was a picture of himself with Lady Diana Manners and Elizabeth Asquith. (At that I bet they won’t use it. I have went and gone and written too much!)

Griffith Plans Great New War Thriller By Grace Kingsley Originally published in The Los Angeles Times, April 28, 1918 • • • Trying to prognosticate what a new Griffith picture will be be like, or when it will come, is like trying to date up an earthquake! Nevertheless, it is certain that, right on the heels of his late gigantic success, Hearts of the World, the noise of whose triumph has been heard round the world, D.W. Griffith plans to launch another huge war drama. The new picture will present an entirely different angle, however, from that of Hearts of the World. For instance, it is not intended to have in it a single battle scene —it will merely use the world war as its background—and quite likely it will have a psychological aspect. But the fans need feel no fear at this announcement, since its outstanding feature will be a poignant love story. As near as now known many of its scenes will be laid in France. But Mr. Griffith has three distinct stories under consideration for the first of his Artcraft releases following Hearts of the World, so that

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his next may be a blending of the three plots. In fact, he is now rehearsing three plays at one and the same time, in an endeavor to pick out the most available material in each plot. His scenario editor is now working on high in an endeavor to keep up with Mr. Griffith in the development of the three plots. A fact of much interest to film lovers is that Henry Walthall, beloved of the whole world by reason of his characterization of the little colonel in The Birth of a Nation, has been engaged for the cast. And of course, there will be Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, George Fawcett and perhaps others who appear in Hearts of the World. Dorothy Gish may later appear as the star of one of the three remaining Artcraft features which Mr. Griffith will make. The settings for the three plays vary widely, and with one opening in Canada, another in Hawaii, and the third with either England or Scotland as the background, George Siegmann, Griffith’s assistant, is having his troubles trying to provide the settings for the three different locations. He says he is only hoping that Griffith doesn’t finally decide on still another story with the location in Iceland! Mr. Griffith said yesterday that perhaps before he gets through with the rehearsals he may take the meat of the three different plays and weave an entirety different fabric. It is not known at present what length the picture will be, as Mr. Griffith declares he always lets the projection room decide on the length. Hearts of the World started out as a six-reeler and ended up by being twelve. Intolerance began as a modest fourreel melodrama and ended by being a t h i r t e e n - re e l s u b j e c t o f u n i ve r s a l significance. Meanwhile, for the first time since Lillian and Dorothy Gish first braved the terrors of the submarines to help Mr. Griffith make the greatest picture the world has seen, these fair heroines of Hearts of the World are having a breathing spell. For the


The Silent Film Quarterly・!50 first time since the Gish sisters first heard the boom of cannon and the roar of aircraft in the world war, a year and a half ago, they are spending a few hours daily in recreation, playing tennis on the pretty grounds of their Westlake home or taking auto trips to the mountains and sea. “Yes, I suppose it is a vacation,” said t h e i r r e p r e s s i b l e D o ro t hy, w h o s e characterization of the little street girl of Paris is destined to place her in the highest category of screen stars, as she flew into the living room of her home following a game of tennis. Dorothy’s hair was flying— somehow one retains the impression of a Dorothy who is always running with her hair flying in the breeze—and she had on —whisper it soft— a child’s gingham apron and a 25-cent sunbonnet. “But to tell you the truth,” chimed in Miss Lillian, whose hair was smooth and whose white collar and cuffs on her black gown were immaculate—I think Lillian could go to the north pole without getting mussed or ruffled—“to tell you the truth, we’re working harder than when we’re s u p p o s e d t o b e w o r k i n g — i f yo u understand.” “Yes,” went on Dorothy, “we’re taking lessons on the piano an din French, and we’re going to the dentist and the dressmaker, as we are learning to knit, and we play tennis every day to keep in condition. And we’re buying a new car. Maybe you know what that means! Those demonstrators take pride in telling you their old car can climb a mountain at a forty-five degree angle—as if you felt the least curiosity about that feat! But they don’t care. The demonstrator will look round at you in fiendish glee—and up that mountain you go! Also you tell them that you care not at all that their car can go eighty-five miles an hour. In fact, you lose all interest in life when you think of its doing such a thing when you’re in it. But apparently desiring nothing but death and a happy release from selling cars, he

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straightaway plunges ahead, leaping his car from crag to crag:” “But there’s one thing,” sighed Miss Lillian, “while we wouldn’t have missed our trip to France for the world, we’re very glad we don’t have to go back.” “Do you know,” said Dorothy, “what I intended saying to a submarine in case I was captured by it? I Intended to tell those Germans—‘Well you know I played in Old Heidelberg.’ Do you think then they would have let me off ?”

What Next? Ask Griffith By Grace Kingsley Originally published in The Los Angeles Times, December 29, 1918 • • • What is David Wark Griffith going to do next? Every once in so often the stream of motion-picture production, running along calm as a summer brook, breaks with a swish, splash, into a little whirlpool of excitement. Directors and actors whisper, and the news hounds sharpen up their pencils and romp round to see what it’s all about. “What’s D.W. got up his sleeve?” we ask, feeling a new Griffith picture coming on. Because the great point is, you see, no matter how well others do things, Mr. Griffith has a habit of always thinking of those things first! And now, even while other directors are blowing up papier-mâché bridges and setting off fire crackers in the trenches, D.W. Griffith announces he won’t make any more war pictures. “War pictures are dead for the time being,” said Mr. Griffith the other day. “Five years from now, perhaps when we shall have a fresh perspective on the world struggle, yes—but not now.”


The Silent Film Quarterly・!51 “But how about pictures dealing with after-the-war problems?” “Ah, that’s different!” Which reminds us— It is rumored Mr. Griffith is shortly to go to Europe to make a picture based on reconstruction and the present plight of nations, with mayhap an international love story. One can imagine the tremendous human appeal the world’s master director would put into such a tale. On this, however, Mr. Griffith refused to commit himself. “Oh, I may go some time,” he evaded. While nobody could have foreseen that the powers that be would suddenly hold up their hands like a traffic cop, as they did, and stop the war; still, Griffith’s strong good sense—and what is genius after all, except good sense and keen perception, plus the golden gift of imagination?— prompted him to intersperse his war pictures with others or a different nature. So he made Romance of Happy Valley, a tale of the South with no battle stuff whatever in it. And a few weeks ago, just before the armistice was signed, he began work on a Chinese story, which promises a wonderful study of oriental character. Speaking of character study, more and more of Griffith’s pictures are becoming that. Even though The Greatest Thing in Life is superficially a war picture, yet, what you will remember longest is not the exciting battle stuff, but maybe a glimpse of the wistful clodhopper lover from Brittany, so admirably played by Dave Butler, who tried hard, but at the end could see naught in Rostand’s rooster but a “chicken,” and so voiced his realization of the whole gulf that lay between him and the dainty Lillian. Witness, too, Bobby Harron’s subtle delineation of the development of the Harvard exquisite—at Harvard, they tell you, the students consider themselves too good to speak to each other—into the fighter who pillows the dying negro’s head on his breast.

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And no character is too trivial to be treated with the human touch; who will forget the vivid picture Elmo Lincoln gives of the joyous doughboy? We must know more of that doughboy, we feel! “Of course, that’s what picturemaking is coming to,” said Mr. Griffith. “Character study.” When Griffith returns to Europe, and he’s certain to go sooner or later, he will find a host of famous friends awaiting him. And, while no doubt the friendship of the great English and French statesmen is very precious to him, still, one somehow gets the impression that closer yet to his heart are the memories of his companionships with the literary folk who became his friends during his sojourn abroad. A delightful raconteur is Mr. Griffith, and he repeats in inimitable fashion the story which J.M. Barrie, with characteristic good humor and whim, tells on himself in regard to the plunge which he and Bernard Show made into the motion-picture producing business. “‘We thought,’ said Barrie, ‘that picture-making would be easy. It looks so simple! So Mr. Shaw and I wrote the story, and to were sure it was a noble story. We knew it was well produced, for we used all the famous actors in London in it. Sir Charles Wyndham, Charles Hawtrev, Forbes Robertson. and all the rest, and in order to give the people an extra treat Mr. Shaw and I appeared in a special scene of it ourselves “‘We wanted to uplift the people—and we did, we uplifted the audiences right right out of their seats. “‘We tried to think where we should put that important scene in which we both appeared. We put it in at the beginning of the picture, but it somehow didn’t fit. We couldn’t put it in the middle, because that interrupted the continuity. Finally, we decided to put it in at the end. “‘Naturally I wanted to see how I’d look in a picture. So one day I dropped into the theater where the photoplay was


The Silent Film Quarterly・!52 running. But it didn’t look a bit, that photoplay didn’t, as I had thought it was going to. The story just seemed to run on and on—that seemed to be the only place it was going, was on and on—and pretty soon that audience began going on and on! I thought I’d stick it out in order to see myself on the screen, but I never had that privilege—people around me began to look at me so reproachfully, as the story ran on and on and never got anywhere. I just had to get up and go on myself !’” A very clever, a very adroit man is that D.W. Griffith! While we thought he was merely making war pictures and romances, here he has been busy with “something else again,” as Mr. Potash says. Now it is announced for the first time that the Babylonian episodes of “Intolerance” have been expanded into a seven-reel feature. Terrific drama and a smash you could fairly hear were in that wondrous Fall of Babylon, and despite its remoteness from our period, it somehow managed to be the most human of all the stories that make up Intolerance. As an eastern critic wittily said, “The ancients in Intolerance forgot to behave like ancients.” Everybody went to see it, from college professors, who went, they said, because it was such a marvel of historical and archeological accuracy, to Ziegfeld Follies experts; I know one man who went twice to see Intolerance, and on the second showing went to sleep throughout the other periods, demanding he be awakened whenever Babylon came round again! It is the love story which has been expanded. I think all of us who saw the lovely Seena Owen as the ill-fated Princess, true to the last to her kingly husband, have wanted to know more about them, and as for the fiery little Constance Talmadge as the Mountain Girl, with Elmer Clifton as her bucolic lover, we never did get over the fact that they died! Here’s a pleasant surprise for you! In the new story, the little Mountain Girl and her lover live!

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“You see, that’s how the original story was made. Then we changed it. But we kept that film. I’ve allowed the lovers to live this time,” he smiled, “and they go away into the desert together. No, I really don’t know that becomes of them after that, but it must be a very fascinating thing to do, mustn’t it?—going away into the desert with one’s lover!” Intolerance is still running in Europe, where it was received with tremendous acclaim, and has been the big success of screen history, its keen satire, its pitiless logic, its philosophy, meeting with greater response than was the case in this country. It had tremendous vogue in England, and In Italy an American manager who thought he was very shrewd sold the film to a national exhibitor, who got his money back in two cities alone. It is about to be shown in France at present. The Babylonian story is remarkable not only for its tremendously-spectacular features, but for its authenticity and accuracy from the standpoints of history and archeology, on which phases, in fact, no less a person than Rev. A.H. Sayce, head of the British Museum, wrote a long discourse, while Prof. Jastro, head of A s s y r i o l o g y i n t h e U n i ve r s i t y o f Pennsylvania, also wrote concerning these matters, and sent Mr. Griffith a relic from one of the excavations of Babylon—a brick showing the record of a sale of barley to Belshazzar. “And seeing barley to Belshazzar does make him seem so human, doesn’t it?” I interposed frivolously, “like Cleopatra scolding the laundress, or Helen of Troy shopping for fresh eggs!” “But be careful how you put that in— about the brick!” warned Mr. Griffith, “because, of course, you know there were other sorts of bricks handed and even thrown at me—especially by the bearded old ladies on the censor board of a certain straight-laced eastern town.”



Read our interview with Ben Model on page 22!

www.undercrankproductions.com Undercrank Productions DVD releases have brought silent film comedians Marcel Perez and Harry Watson (as “Musty Suffer”) back to screens for the first time since their films were in release 100 years ago. Both these releases were produced in a collaboration with the Library of Congress, with whom we have a co-branding agreement. The Marcel Perez Collection was the recipient of the “Special Mention” award at the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival’s 2015 DVD Awards. Other releases, such as our Accidentally Preserved series, have brought 27 different rare/lost comedy shorts from collectors’ unique 16mm prints made in the 1920s-40s to home video, as well as a feature starring Monty Banks that had been unseen for over 80 years which was sourced from a unique 35mm nitrate print. Undercrank Productions is quite literally a “collector’s brand” as most of our releases are funded by silent film fans. Each DVD is produced for video and scored by renowned silent film accompanist/historian Ben Model, is in most cases crowd-funded by fans through Kickstarter, and is then distributed via Amazon’s CreateSpace disc-on-demand service. The films on the DVDs are presented in new digital scans in either HD or 2K, feature new musical scores on piano or theatre organ by Model, and each has professional case artwork designed by Marlene Weisman.


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