Tuesday 28 February 2017

This Week in History - Feb 26 to Mar 4

Everything you need to know about the goings-ons and gossip from this week in Precode Hollywood.


Nazimova’s Talker - Indications are that Nazimova will return to the screen after an absence of five years. Eddie Small has her under contract and is understood to be preparing a talking picture which will star her. Word is it will be released through Columbia.

50 Baby Tests - Paramount made screen tests of 50 babies selected in the Los Angeles Express baby contest. Infants who show the best screen possibilities will be given one week’s work in pictures.

Lillian’s Tax - The government had an income tax claim of $54,311 against Lillian Gish based upon her two year contract. She quickly filed an appeal.

No Big Meals - Heavy meals and talking picture work don’t go well together. One director discovered that after lunch actors’ voices have changed considerably. In order to have the same tone, players must eat early in the morning or starve throughout working hours.


Profane Cowboys - Professional cowboys now migrating her for picture work are giving directors plenty of headaches by their habitual profanity. When told to ad lib in mob scenes the mike gets hot with a mixed conglomeration of cowboy vernacular. It would never pass the censor and scenes must be retaken.
Shooting - Actress Vera Gingell and Siguard Bjorne, musician, were shot and killed by the woman’s estranged husband, Augustus Gingell when he found them living together. Gingell was held for double murder.

Rambeau Suit Up - Retrial of the alienation of affection suit against actress Marjorie Rambeau will be sort this week in 1930. The original suit in which Mrs Mabel Manton sought to collect $100,000 from the actress for alleged stealing of William Manton’s affections resulted in jury disagreement. The action grows out of a raid made on Miss Rambeau’s apartment where Mr Manton, an actor, was found. The actress explained that Mr Manton was merely aiding her by the reading of a part.


Not Too Much Mother - “What do you mean, too much mother?” Katherine Roth cracked when she and Lillian arrived for the girl to do her personal appearance turn, referring to a story that Paramount dropped Lillian for that reason. “We get along splendidly, Lillian gives me anything I want. I’ll never try to advise her in love affairs again because she feels so badly over one boy to whom I objected and who died four weeks ago. But maybe she’ll take my advice on financial matters since she lost money on some stocks bought against my advice,” Mrs Roth said. Later Lillian said she and her mother were, “in perfect sympathy” and also denied the “too much mother” yarn.

Del Rio Given Second Chance - Sam Goldwyn thinks Dolores del Rio can be ‘made’ as a talker star regardless of how much a bad one was her Bad One (1930). He will feature her in a piece based on The Dove but vastly metamorphosed in its screen transition.

There’s Rain and Rain - Rain scene for a Pathe picture were postponed because it rained. The rain was the kind they get in California, where everything is bigger and better. Overhead pipes had been installed for the London dizzy kind and the director refused to take what nature supplied.


Screen Novice’s First - Gloria Stuart, screen novice, whom Universal signed after litigation with Paramount, goes to First National on loan for her first picture, Street of Women.

Operator’s Home Bombed - A bomb was thrown through the front window at the home of the operator at the Strand, which was wrecked by a similar explosion last December. Four members of his family, sleeping at the time, were injured but not seriously. The operator was employed by Keraostes Bros who have been rowing with the union over the size of staffs employed in the nabe houses.

Valentino’s Million Shrinks to $130,000 - Albert and Maria Guglieni, brother and sister of late Rudolph Valentino have petitioned the court for a partial distribution of his estate, which is still in litigation. The estate, which was once rated in excess of $1,000,000 has shrink to $130,000 and may be wiped out by income tax claims.
 Rudolph's sister Maria and her husband Alberto


Paramount Abandons Sex - Paramount has abandoned the idea of producing Sex, the Mae West play. The studio had been considering it but decided that critics would dwell on the fact that the show was knocked off in New York. The matter had not been taken up with the Hays office but the studio figured that if the title was change it would go through. 

Backyard Argument - There is an argument between Jack Warner and Sam Goldwyn over the latter’s statement that picture people in Hollywood are incompetent, extravagant and out of step with the times. From the way Warner talkers, it looks as if the boys will stick their tongues out at each other when they meet in New York this week.

Not a Bit Bashful - Warner publicity staff had a tough time with the crowd of crashers trying to muscle in on the press showing of the 42nd Street train at the Santa Fe depot. Finally one of the staff asked one of the crashers, “Who are you with?” Proudly he indicated the frail clinging to his arm. “I’m with my girl,” he said.
A scene from the short 42nd Street Special (1933) which featured the films promotional train


Dressler Burns Over Citizenship - Burned at the reports that her name had been included in the list of alien players bandied about during a Congressional hearing, Marie Dressler strapped her six guns on and went into action. In answer Dressler remarked, “I have resided in the US ever since I came from Canada 55-years-ago. I married an American 35-years-ago and that gave me citizenship.” Her final broadside was to the effect that if the matter was brought up again she might “run down to Washington and tell ‘em a few things, too”.

Nudes for Hays - Irony has planted a group of plastic nudes just outside the executive office of Hays’ quarters in the Louis B. Mayer building in Hollywood. Prominence of the plaques is being commented on especially in view of the Hays censorial stress, heavy at this time.

Poor Gilbert - Metro is chastising John Gilbert again. The Queen Christine trailers mention all the feature male support but Gilbert.

Trainer Nipped - An animal trainer was injured seriously when attacked by a bear on the Mack Sennett lot. Had brought the animal from a circus for a Clyde Beatty pic.

Sunday 19 February 2017

This Week in History - Feb 19 to 25

Everything you need to know about the goings-ons and gossip from this week in Precode Hollywood.


Lupe’s Song and Dance: Lupe Velez will sing and dance at the United Artists, Chicago, and the Riato, New York, in conjunction with Lady of the Pavements, the picture in which she is featured. New York engagement starts March 2 or 9.
Lupe Velez in Lady of the Pavements 
Personal Pilot: Director, Clarence Brown, is the first of the picture contingent to own an aeroplane and have his own pilot. Brown has bought a four-passenger Beull closed plane and is using it for social engagements, thinking nothing of flying 300 miles for a weekend. 

Big Wedding: They put it on when Ruth Roland married Ben Bard on February 14. The wedding was the most pretentious held in the film colony with practically everybody of any consequence invited. More than 1,000 guest witnessed the event.
Ruth Roland and Ben Bard
Coquette promotion: What looks like some high powered exploitation and publicity for Mary Pickford and Coquette, her forthcoming release, is her sudden outburst of social activity on the coast. For the past week Miss Pickford has been host to 25 visiting newspaper chatter writers who sponsored a like number of girls selected in various cities in a Coquette contest. Miss Pickford threw a dinner for the newspaper scribes and also sponsored a theatre party.


Dogs talking on the screen has been released: It is an achievement of months of patience as dialog was fitted to each dog and had to be made at the precise instant needed. This required weeks of weary waiting for the dogs to do the right thing at the right time. The title of the short is Hot Dog.
Two canine actors from Hot Dog (1930)
Picture ‘Don’ts’ For ’30: Will Hays put the halter around the necks of the members of the Association of Motion Picture Producers at their annual meeting on February 17. The members agreed to abide by his rules and regulations that will govern the industry in such a manner that censorship measures throughout the country will not be required and will possibly be abandoned. Producers will now have to submit to the association every picture they produce before the negative goes to final printing. If the picture doesn’t conform to the rules, the association with notify the producer and corrections must be made before the picture can be released.

Alice White is requesting a vacation after working in 22 pictures during the past three and a half years. She may have to wait as two new stories are in preparation for her. 
Alice White


Nolan Charged: Mary Nolan was charged last week with petty theft in a warrant issued in Beverly Hills. Warrant was sworn by a film director who alleged that Miss Nolan stole a rug worth $300 from his furnished home which she had leased.
Mary Nolan
El Brendel was taken to hospital with an injured eye. He ducked too late on the set when a Spanish dancer was supposed to kick over his head.

Solo Click by Wheeler or Woolsey Would Kill Team: Whether Wheeler and Woolsey will be re-teamed by Radio again depends on the results from their solo trys. That seems to be the attitude of studio execs who have been trying to find the right medium for the pair. 
Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey 
Husband Swap: Showgirls Edna Hooper and Norma ‘Bebe’ Castillo would like to change husbands but there are a maze of legal technicalities which must first be straightened out. The husbands are equally anxious for the exchange and believe the matter can be smoothed over.


Judith Wood
Freaks Has Censor Trouble: City censors in Georgia forced Freaks from the Fox theatre screen on February 20 because of its gruesomeness. The theatre tried to score an injunction against the removal order but was unsuccessful.

Wood’s nose trouble: Judith Wood is in for a nose operation for the second time in two months. The second is to correct the first. 

Edna Purviance’s Heart: Edna Purviance was stricken with a heart attack on February 20. At the Hollywood hospital it is stated her condition is slightly improved.   

Moran’s Molars: Metro execs are reported to be protesting Polly Moran’s new set of store teeth. They claim they are too perfect and take away facial comedy value. So Moran went back to the dentist to get a not so perfect renovation. Apparently, her revamped nose some time ago was similarly protested on the grounds that she was making a funny face foolproof.
Polly Moran gets a secret from Marie Dressler 


Two Accidents on Location: Columbia has encountered hard luck on making Murder of the Circus Queen, having two bad accidents. One was on February 17 when a man was thrown from his horse and his legs badly injured and another when another man suffered severe injuries to his back. Both are in hospital. 
A scene from Murder of the Circus Queen aka The Circus Queen Murder (1933)
Mae’s Cuts for Paramount: Paramount is re-editing Mae West’s flicker She Done Him Wrong for Pennsylvania following first submission to state’s censors. After cuts necessary are made, the picture will again be shown to the scissor brigade with passage assured. Reports that Pennsylvania had banned the West picture entirely created some furore in Paramount.
She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Marie Dressler Needs Minor Operation: Marie Dressler, dissatisfied with the opinion of her local physicians as to her condition, is in New York to consult her doctor there. She was operated on yesterday, February 19 with the surgery not of a serious nature. 


Dressing at Sea: Paramount’s We’re Not Dressing company is at Catalina Island on location for sea stuff. The unit comprises 80 people including Bing Crosby, Burns and Allen, Carole Lombard and Leon Errol.
The cast from We're Not Dressing (1934)
Screen Actors’ Guild Committee: Nominations for the many Screen Actors’ Guild committees were revived with 700 proxies on hand. For the 5-5 actor-producer committee were chosen - Robert Montgomery, Ralph Morgan, James Cagney, Kenneth Thomson, Richard Tucker, Chester Morris, Claude King, Mary Astor, Pat O’Brien, Ann Harding and Paul Muni. 

Betty Boop Doll Case: Fleischer Studios producer of cartoons for Paramount release will be enriched by over $100,000 as a result of the decision just handed down by Judge Woolsey holding that a doll manufacturer had infringed Fleischer’s Betty Boop cartoon character. The figure is based on damages of $10 per doll. The suit was against Ralph Freundlich, who is alleged to have manufactured Betty Boop dolls without a licence. 
The playful Betty Boop

Monday 13 February 2017

This Week in History - Feb 12 to 18

Everything you need to know about the goings-ons and gossip from this week in Precode Hollywood.


Lily Langtry Dead - Lady De Bathe, 77, professionally known as Lily Langtry died at Monte Carlo on February 12 of heart failure.
Hell’s Angels at 17 Reels - James Hall and Ben Lyon were recalled last week for flying inserts in Hell’s Angels taken at Caddo Field in Van Nuys. The production is now down to 17 reels, leaving but five to cut out.

Assumed Charms of 50 Show Girls Classified - An acute examination of the assumed charms of 50 leading Broadway showgirls reveals sad deficiencies. Despite propaganda, the publicised “beauties” do a tailspin upon analysis point by point. Of the 50 girls:
- seven are knock-kneed
- eight wear glasses to read
- 18 have astigmatism
- two are actually pigeon-toed
- nine have scars on their faces
- 16 have dyed hair
- only seven have a genuine rosy complexion
- 22 are undeniably pasty-faced
- 14 are unusually round shouldered
- 27 are either too fat or too thin
- 17 have oversized shoulders
- 19 are flat chested
- 35 own from one to 12 false teeth
- eight have one or more gold teeth
- only six are distinguished looking in evening clothes
- 29 are common appearing in street wraps
- 12 have extremely large mouths
- 15 have razor edge lips
- 28 have ungainly torsos
- 11 have exceptionally long arms
- seven have short arms
- 10 have very large necks
- 25 have naturally wavy hair and
- 19 have facial birth marks, freckle or moles


Dot Mackaill’s Loss - Dorothy Mackaill escaped serious injury when the Sunset Limited from San Francisco struck a gasoline line truck on February 10. She lost two trunks in the fire which destroyed part of the train.
Revising Bill for Federal Censorship - Warning of an impending fight to establish national censorship of pictures is given by the Federated Motion Picture council in an announcement that they are at work revising the Hudson bill for reintroduction into Congress. This measure will provide for a federal commission to regulate pictures subject matter and its treatment.

Campaign on Garbo has Coast Steamed Up - “Greta Garbo is the greatest living actress,” is the billing being given for that star for Anna Christie in 24 sheets plastered all over the town. Fox West Coast publicity department was behind the extravagant placarding that created comment. Meanwhile, Elsie Adair and Mable Lash, studio doubles for Greta Garbo, worked as a lobby plug for Anna at the Criterion. The girls appeared in a frame in the lobby dressed in the clothes worn by Garbo in the picture. The gag tied up sidewalk traffic during their appearance. 


Radio Stars Dorothy Lee Despite Her Objections - Radio will star Dorothy Lee despite her objections. Studio offered a starring contract a month ago, which she turned down claiming she wasn’t ready for the big leap. Miss Lee was then assigned to the femme lead in Too Many Cooks opposite Bert Wheeler. After the completion of the picture she will be assigned to one with her name above it.
In anticipation of her first European vacation, Norma Shearer, Canadian by birth, is now a naturalised American citizen.

Brutal Censoring Burns Press and Fans - Pennsylvania censors are certainly getting tough these days. They butchered The Blue Angel so badly Paramount refused to release it there and Greta Garbo’s Inspiration was chopped to 60 minutes. The latest to get the axe is Nancy Carroll’s Stolen Heaven. The board refused to okay it in present form and it may have to be shelved entirely in this state, like Blue Angel.


Mickey McGuire Legalised - Judge Gates ruled Mickey McGuire (who became Mickey Rooney) had a right to use that cognomen as his legally changed name. Judge dissolved an injunction by Radio Darmour Productions and Fontaine Fox against the boy’s taking it.

Tarzan’s New Finis - Owing to audience reaction at the preview of Metro’s Tarzan, the picture is having a new ending supplied. In the original a monkey protecting the heroine was killed by a gorilla. At the tryout there was such evident disapproval of the incident that a new tag will be made of a happy ending for the monk. Figured the same reaction would obtain on general release.

Tom Mix to Wed - Tom Mix was married on February 15 to Mabel Hubbell, circus
aerialist, known as Mabel Ward. It is is third marriage. The bride was with the Sells-Floto circus of which Mix was also a headline member. 
No Hooey Or Else - Hal Roach contracts with kids now bing them to study their lessons and regularly attend school classes arranged for them. It’s the first time in the history of children in pictures that playing hookey from school is made a breach of contract. 


George Raft in Wrong - Paramount is ready to put George Raft under suspension upon his refusal to play a part in Case of Temple Drake. Jack La Rue starts instead today. Raft is insisting the company give him $2,500 a week or he will go to Europe. Now drawing $750 weekly. It’s understood a producer associated with Paramount told Raft to stand put on the demand and that the company with come through. The officials here are burned over it. 

Marlene’s Pants Give LA Stores a Break - Department stores here are viking with one another in pushing sale of male attire for women or mannish femme outfits, and are tying up picture star names as added lure. Marlene Dietrich gets the biggest plug in the drive, with ‘Marlene’ trouser suits; ‘Marlene’ hats and mannish suits, and ‘Marlene’ severely tailored coast suits. Other femme outfits of the mannish type are labelled ‘Kay’, ‘Marian’, ‘Norma’, ‘Joan’ and ‘Helen’. 

Can’t Can Cantway - Warners can’t get away from Maxine Cantway. Four years ago the studio removed her from the chorus ranks and gave her a contract, later dropping her. This week contracts were handed out to 12 of the 20 chorines in 42nd Street and among the names was Miss Cantway. 


Hays Better - Leaving Queens of Angels hospital where he had been taking a rest cure for several days, Will Hays, left for the east on February 9. Accompanying him to New York was Mrs Hays, Mr and Mrs Harry Warner, Patterson Rothacker and George Northwick.

472 For Awards - Members of the Academy have 472 pictures to choose from in picking the winners of the awards, which will go respectively to the best male and female acting of the year, best writing, best directing and to the production company for the best picture. Ballots have been mailed calling for nominations of three names for each class. The final awards will be made at the Academy banquet March 16.

Astaire Due in April Despite Divorce Ban - Radio Pictures is in trouble with the Hays organisation over Gay Divorcee. It was intended to do the musical with Fred Astaire in his original role by Hays ruled it out, claiming the subject was not suitable picture material. Radio is arguing the matter, but also looking for another vehicle for Astaire. Whatever the result, Astaire closes with stage production Gay Divorcee in April and will present himself in Hollywood in June. It is practically set that Ginger Rogers will be his leading lady.

Monday 6 February 2017

This Week in History - Feb 5 to 11

Everything you need to know about the goings-ons and gossip from this week in Precode Hollywood.


Sound Coquette Made - Having completed the sound version of Coquette, Mary Pickford has gone into retirement until director, Sam Taylor, can complete the script for the silent version.
Young Must Stand Trial - Noah Beery’s larceny charge against his representative, Felix Young, is assuming serious proportions. The judge stated that he would not allow the court to be used as a collection agency and that the charge must stand. Beery wanting to withdraw the charge, cannot change his mind at this date, it was intimated. Young was charged with selling Beery's services for two days for $2,500 and giving the actor but $1,000 was extradited from New York.  

Greta Garbo Back - Great Garbo has settled all her difference with MGM and is reported arriving at the Culver City plant in March. 

Gouda Damage Case - Characterising Jetta Goudal as a headache, but a marvellous actress, C.B. DeMille recited his experiences with the temperamental actress as a defendant in a suit brought by her for $101,000 for breach of contract. The actress asserted that DeMille abruptly terminated her five-year contract with three more years to go. Several other directors substantiated DeMille’s testimony that in several instances she refused to take direction and would cause considerable delays and loss of money due to her temperamental outbursts.


Young-Withers Won’t be Talked Out of Marriage - Grant Withers and Loretta Young, who eloped last week, have decided not to let the family talk them out of their romance or into an annulment. As the couple refuse to consent to nullification proceedings, the court is helpless in the matter.
Grant Withers and Loretta Young in 1930
Strange Skin Disease From War Uniforms - Mysterious skin infections attacked 23 members of an American legion doing extra work as French soldiers in All Quiet on the Western Front. Men were wearing French government uniforms used during the war. Doctors didn’t know whether some germs had lain dormant in the uniforms since the war or whether a particularly virulent chemical disinfectant may have been used on the uniforms. The afflicted reportedly suffered large skin peels and severe pain.

Mabel Normand’s Transfusions - Mabel Normand is in a serious condition due to tuberculosis. Blood transfusions are being made once a week.

Mabel Normand in 1927, aged only 35, following her diagnosis with tuberculosis


Arliss Won’t Pash - George Arliss’ “The Millionaire”, formerly titles “The Ruling Passion” probably explains by its former title why the director in one scene beseeched the dignified English actor:
“Please, Mr Arliss, a little more passion.”
In another sequence, the star objected to a swimming pool sequence with girls splashing about, stating he wasn’t making a Sennett comedy.
Evelyn Knapp and George Arliss in 'The Millionaire'
Kay Francis Grows Ill When Given Maid Role - At Paramount last week, Kay Francis, was assigned to a maid’s role in a feature. Miss Francis suddenly became ill and later produced a doctor’s certificate that she was unable to appear. Miss Francis has entered into an agreement with Warners following her Paramount term shortly expiring. 


Beerys Adopt - Wallace and Rita Beery have filed papers for adoption of 16-month-old Carol Ann Priester, orphaned daughter of Mrs Beery’s aunt.
Wallace Beery and Carol Ann
Radio Trains Andre with Bible - When Gwili Andre completes her preliminary training for her picture role, she will be placed in a John Barrymore picture. Meantime, Gwili, is being coached by Irving Pichel who has her reading aloud daily from the Bible.


California Sun Melts Hitches - California’s liberal divorce laws of 1933 were just the right kind of meat for eastern couples who dive into Hollywood’s swimming pool as a two-act and come up far apart. Of the 102 marriage meltings in the past two years, 40% consisted of pairs who moved themselves westward since talkers began to blare. Hollywood gets ‘em, just as it splits the regular run of film couples, with five-sixths of the legal separations due to ‘That Hollywood Influence’. This was described as:
1) One of the parties becoming a success
2) Gossip ribbing and chattering of columnists 
3) California’s liberal divorce laws
4) Propinquity of Nevada and Mexico
5) Picture grind, which leaves the non-working mate idle.
6) Clare of publicity to which every celeb marriage is subject.
Joan Crawford testifying in court for her divorce from Douglas Fairbanks Jr in 1933
Women’s Secret Society - Local branch of the 100% Americans, a secret National Woman’s organisation, formed last week in 1933. Trying to get petitions signed locally for national motion picture censorship.

Exploiting Employee’s Entrance - One house was all ready for Employee’s Entrance when it cam along. Will all have a special ticket booth in the form of a doorway lettered ‘Employees Only’ and will sell tickets at a 10% reduction. 
An advertisement promoting 'Employee's Entrance' 


Hays on Legs - Chiselling on the Hays edict concerning leg publicity stills current on at least two Hollywood lots. Magazine people looking for such material are told they cannot be supplied inasmuch as the ban is on. “However,” say the P.A.s, “there’s nothing said about pictures being taken by outside photogs, so if you want to send a cameraman we’ll supply the girls. 
Joan Blondell and her famous legs
Gilbert Sues Metro - Contending that a contract entered into late last fall between John Gilbert and Metro is inequitable while it gives the studio an option on the actor’s services over a period of seven years, and also stipulates salary to be paid if and when using him in a production, or in a directorial capacity, Gilbert, has filed a new complaint for declaratory relief. Gilbert contends that there is nothing in the contract that stipulates Metro will utilise his services at any time during the contract period.

Warner Brothers fashion designer, Orr Kelly, took off for Paris this week for research on Napoleon for a picture of that title.

Nabe Mammas Cause Bow Pics Yank-Out - The first instance on record here of a nabe house yanking a picture before end of its run because of complaints from family trade to which it caters took place in Pittsburgh last week. The film was Clara Bow’s ‘Hoopla’, booked for a full week. At the end of three days it was pulled, not because business wasn’t satisfactory, but because no end of mothers had protested against sending their kids to see Bow. 
Not appropriate for children - Clara Bow in 'Hoopla' 

Thursday 2 February 2017

18 Precode Bathing Beauties

With Precode films you can expect a little (sometimes a lot) almost-nudity. From suggestive silhouette shots to nude swimming scenes to copious views of undressing leading ladies, Precode directors always broke the boundaries. One technique often used to titillate the audience was bath scenes. Sometimes including undressing scenes and always including a nude actor, these images broke the boundaries of the The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 or Hays Code which stated:
“1. Complete nudity is never permitted. This includes nudity in fact or in silhouette,    or any lecherous or licentious notice thereof by other characters in the picture.
2. Undressing scenes should be avoided, and never used save where essential to plot.
3. Indecent or undue exposure is forbidden.”

These images would be completely banned in mid 1934. But, thanks to DVD and the internet, modern audiences can view and enjoy Precode films. Below I have included the best images of bathing scenes in films used, clearly, by the director to attract audiences rather than to advance the plot. Some of the images come directly from films whilst other were used to promote certain movies, actors or studios.
Claudette Colbert in 'Sign of the Cross' (1932)
James Cagney and Joan Blondell from 'Blonde Crazy' (1932)
Lilyan Tashman
Jean Harlow in 'Hold Your Man' (1933)
Dorothy Lee
Carole Lombard