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Monday, 13 March 2017

This Week in History - Mar 12 to 18

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

1929:

Booth for Trader: Final section of Edwina Booth to play the lead in Trader Horn was made after many weeks of search for a lead who had to meet many rigid requirements. Foremost of these was the willingness to undergo the hardships of 28 weeks in Africa. Another was that of natural long blonde hair. Heat prevailing at this time in Africa would not permit the use of wigs and or a staff hairdresser. 
Providence Protests: The Catholic population in Providence was up in arms over the religious ritual in The Redeeming Sin (1929) which played last week. The row started over a dialogue scene between Lionel Barrymore and Dolores Costello in which Barrymore, as a French Catholic priest, recites the Lord’s prayer with the Protestant ending. Local newspapers were flooded with complaints. The ruckus was started too late to have any effect on businesses but it’s doubtful if the feature will be booked for a second run.

Phipps Suing Parents: Sally Phipps, 17, has filled suit asking to have a guardian appointed. Miss Phipps alleges her mother and stepfather have misused the money she earned and that her stepfather mistreated and slandered her, injuring her position at the Fox studio. She asks that her attorney be made guardian of her estate.


1930:

German Girl ‘Discovered’: Marlene Dietrich, who plays in Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel, has been engaged by Paramount for America. Sternberg reportedly found her a very original type, full of European sex appeal. She is sailing for New York on April 2.


Wealthy Actor Disobeys MGM: Charles Bickford, who owns several gas stations, whaling boats, markets and what not in Hollywood, and doesn’t have to worry about his career as an actor, is causing some irritation to MGM because of his stubborn refusal to work nights on The Sea Bat. When they pointed out that his contract called for such work, Bickford offered to buy back his contract for $100,000. MGM said there was no chance of selling the contract and letting him go elsewhere. 

Mayor Bans FilmParty Girl, which is supposed to show what happens to young girls who go out with merchants, has been banned from Somerville by Mayor John Murphy. He bids fair to establish a ‘banning’ rep for himself. This is the second time he has exercised his censoring power.  

1931:

No More Silents: Reaction from the Chaplin silent City Lights in the US and abroad so far is that the silents are thoroughly through. Expectation was prior to the films release that it might bring about a revival of the silent film. That is more remote now with the Chaplin films reaction.
Nearly Loses Sight: Henrietta Nichols, Hal Roach’s sister-in-law, narrowly escaped losing her sight when a prop man cut a golf ball and acid from the centre squirted onto her face.

Montana Moon Makes Crawford: Exactly how or what made Joan Crawford in talkers seems immaterial with the large role played by Montana Moon (1930). A pretty bad picture and Miss Crawford couldn’t rise above it. The studio noticed the badness of the picture but noticed Miss Crawford wasn’t that bad. One exec called a conference with the result either Miss Crawford was to be given proper stories or given the air. The film proves what a little personal attention by the proper authority in a studio can do when the talent or personality is there.


1932:

Red-Headed Bluebird: Title role in Red-Headed Woman must now be able to sing, making it tougher than ever to find the right gal. (The role of course went to Jean Harlow and thankfully wasn’t a singing role.)
Wardrobe Thieves: Ancient petty larceny stunt being revived in which thieves call at an actor’s home, represent themselves as from the studio, and ask for part or all of his wardrobe. Phoney credentials from dry cleaners is another variation, thieves making away with garments.

Bit Player’s Break: With only a small bit in Sky Devils to his screen credit, Randolph Scott has been signed by Paramount for a series of westerns. First film to be made on the James ranch in Montana will be Lone Cowboy by Will James, author-cowboy, who owned the ranch. Paramount purchased the first story and has options on seven more James’ books. (FYI Scott never actually appeared in the film Lone Cowboy (1933) which was taken by Jackie Cooper. Scott, however, appeared in several western films written by Zane Grey).


Rejuvenation: A producer reading a script came across the word ‘slut’ used in describing a character. ‘I don’t care for that word’, he said, addressing the writer. ‘Change it to waif.’

1933:

Wellman Out $30,000: Marjorie Wellman made a $30,000 property settlement with William Wellman and immediately afterward filed suit for divorce. Ground was the usual mental cruelty. 


Chevalier Perturbed: Maurice Chevalier is worried. He’s becoming so Americanised that he is losing his French accent, which is his greatest asset. It has reached a point where he now has to put the accent on.

Constance Has Own Ideas on Renting Clothes: The RKO studio crowd was burned at the conduct of Constance Bennett in refusing wardrobe made for her for Our Betters. They made a dress which cost $600 which she refused to wear. Another cost $700. Finally, she appeared on set in a dress of her own, which studio people said was not as expensive as those made and charged the studio a rental of $100 for its use. On a previous picture studio people claim she insisted on wearing her own ermine coat which she said cost $20,000 and demanded $1,000 rental. Studio people are reported to have checked this and found the coat was appraised at $3,800.  


Bennett Marriage: Musician, Charles Bennett, filed a declaratory relief action in LA asking that his marriage to Boots (Mallory) Bennett be declared valid, following the actresses asserted attempt to get a Mexican divorce. Legality of their marriage was questioned because of the actress being only 26 at the time of the ceremony.

1934: 

Guarding Mae: With Mae West still receiving threat letters, Paramount had considerable difficulty last week in getting Miss West to attend rehearsals. Finally Emanuel Cohen agreed to seal up the stage where It Ain’t No Sin is rehearsing, with cops guarding all exits and entrances. It was even necessary for the director and producer of the picture to get the okay from Cohen before the cops would pass them.


Napoleon Off: Warners has shelved Napoleon in which Edward Robinson was meant to have starred, for this year. Likely that a new player will be in the name part when it finally is made. Studio has been trying to talk Robinson out of the assignment for three months. (Napoloen would have been a great role for Robinson no matter what Warners said).


Fight Raft Suit: George Raft isn’t going to collect damages for the theft and wrecking of his auto on New Year’s Day without a legal battle with insurance and indemnity companies. A demurrer to Raft’s action has been entered by the defendants. In his original complaint, Raft charged that the defendants disclaimed liability, asserting that his policy covered collision only. 

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