Gallery of Mastheads

Comments related to the operation of NitrateVille.
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silentfilm
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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by silentfilm » Thu Apr 01, 2021 11:29 am

There is an Atwill biography on Amazon.com that seems to cover his stage career as well as his film career.

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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Fri Apr 02, 2021 1:49 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:24 pm
Image

When I had the idea of honoring a silent movie Lincoln, it seemed inevitable that the most recent cinematic one was on the verge of winning the Oscar for Best Picture; that's not so true now (but there's no silent version of Argo) and, unfortunately, the movie this one came from, which at that point you could see at the George Eastman House site, has since ceased to be available online, as this thread discusses. In any case, though, it seems a timely moment to note the most frequently cinematized president; this Lincoln is George Billings, famous almost exclusively for playing Lincoln, most notably in a once-celebrated 1924 film called The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln, which won the most important early film prize, the Photoplay Medal of Honor. (It's lost in its entire form, but Eastman House has two two-reel-ish educational films that were made from it; see this thread.) Though if you've seen him, it's most likely in a more accessible and popular film— Raymond Griffith's Hands Up! (It also looks like he beat Walter Huston to the title of first talkie Lincoln, in a Pathe sound short in 1929.)

Anyway, there have been lots of screen Lincolns, including Joseph Henabery in The Birth of a Nation, Charles Edward Bull (another whose credits are entirely Lincolns) in The Iron Horse, Ralph Ince and Francis Ford both in series of shorts in the teens, Walter Huston for Griffith (just reissued by Kino), John Carradine in a truly godawful scene with Jimmy Stewart in Of Human Hearts, Fonda and Massey in Young Mr. Lincoln and Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Charles Middleton as an actor who walks around in Lincoln costume all the time for pure surreal effect in Stand-In (probably modeled on Frank McGlynn Sr., who played him all through the 30s), and on and on to the present day— when, of course, the definitive Lincoln was portrayed by Rex Hamilton.
Don't know if anyone else has mentioned this, but Walter Huston made a 1929 short, TWO AMERICANS, which is apparently lost. John Huston was in the film, too, and I feel it is a pity he didn't play the young Lincoln in Griffith's movie.

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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Fri Apr 30, 2021 9:25 pm

Image

It's a little surprising to me that Anna May Wong has not been on the masthead yet—she's certainly a bit of a cult figure among NitrateVillains, but there hasn't really been a release that prompted me to spotlight her (the Milestone release of Piccadilly predated the site). Well, now the BFI is putting it out on Blu-ray next month. Wong starred in the first Technicolor feature, The Toll of the Sea, but too often she was reduced to exotic supporting roles, some of which were worthy of her (Shanghai Express) but often not. She also had some lead roles in Bs like Daughter of Shanghai and King of Chinatown in the late 30s, but Piccadilly, made in England, gives her her best showcase as an alluring dance hall temptress.
We need to preserve our old movies so that future generations may continue to misinterpret them. —Dave Kehr

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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Brooksie » Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:08 pm

It's too bad that so few of her B-movies from the 30s are widely available, particularly the ones she made with Robert Florey. Daughter of Shanghai is a bonafide minor classic, and Dangerous to Know is also very much worth seeking out.

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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:15 pm

I'd always been underwhelmed by Florey, but William K. Everson did a weekend of Paramount Bs at the Siskel Film Center once and two of the best were Daughter of Shanghai and King of Alcatraz with Lloyd Nolan and J. Carroll Naish.
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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by missdupont » Sat May 01, 2021 8:56 am

PREVIEV MURDER MYSTERY and HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD are both really good too,

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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by bobfells » Sat May 01, 2021 9:32 am

Nothing to do with Anna May but one of the really neglected Paramounts - not sure if it's a B - is LAST TRAIN FROM MADRID (1937). I once owned a 16mm print but it later had a bad case of vinegar syndrome. At 85 mins and directed by James P. Hogan, and with an "all-star cast" meaning no stars, I assume it's a B. But the Paramount production values are quite good in every department and, to be fair, the cast consists of rising stars and fading stars (who are mostly uncredited like Evelyn Brent). So it's a film buff's delight.

Reportedly, TRAIN is Hollywood's first film about the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and an introductory title makes clear it's not taking sides. Instead, the story focuses on the impact the war has on ordinary people's lives among whom are Dorothy Lamour, Lew Ayres, Gilbert Roland, Karen Morley, Lionel Atwill, Helen Mack, and Robert Cummings. Billed 8th or 9th is a very young Anthony Quinn who is really the star of the film and already has a screen presence. That said, Lionel Atwill ends up with the best role in the film. Reviews on imdb are mixed but I thought it was surprisingly well done as a sort of GRAND HOTEL on a budget.
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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Brooksie » Sat May 01, 2021 2:35 pm

missdupont wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 8:56 am
PREVIEV MURDER MYSTERY and HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD are both really good too,
Ditto to both of those. I think Florey's one of the most reliably good B directors of the 30s and 40s. He got plenty of assignments that would have been purely pedestrian under another director, but almost always brings something a bit different to the table.

Back to our masthead star ... May also happens to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, so she's an extra good choice.

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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Agnes » Sat May 01, 2021 5:13 pm

Wow , she looks so determined & powerful in that pic.
Great Anna May Wong picture.
Agnes McFadden

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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Frame Rate » Sat May 01, 2021 9:32 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:15 pm
I'd always been underwhelmed by Florey, but William K. Everson did a weekend of Paramount Bs at the Siskel Film Center once and two of the best were Daughter of Shanghai and King of Alcatraz with Lloyd Nolan and J. Carroll Naish.
Love ya, Mike, but virtually all of Bill's Chicago appearances, including that great Paramount "B" weekend, were actually at the old Midwest Film Center, on the grounds of the Art Institute, several years before the Siskel Center opened on State Street. And all nit-picking aside :wink: have you ever seen Florey's PREVIEW MURDER MYSTERY and HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD? Terrific "insider" fun for Nitratevillains indeed.

For an interesting and not-too-pretentious take on the director's eclectic oeuvre you might want to check out:

https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Florey-Fr ... 1593937628
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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Arndt » Sun May 02, 2021 8:18 am

Anna May Wong is one of those actors who always stand out and who can lift the films they appear in a notch or two all by themselves. She has such presence.
It is great that we can witness this in the HD restoration of PICCADILLY. Unfortunately the other silent films Anna May Wong made in Europe are not widely available at the moment. I have seen SONG/SCHMUTZIGES GELD (1928) and GROSSSTADTSCHMETTERLING (1929). Both are German-British co-productions directed by Richard Eichberg. In SONG Anna May plays an exotic carnival dancer opposite Heinrich George. In GROSSSTADTSCHMETTERLING her role is similar, but this time Alexander Granach is infatuated with her. These are two of the biggest names of Germany's stage and screen in the 1920s, but it is Anna May you remember long after the films have ended. Wim Wenders pointed that out in his essay on SONG on the occasion of the 2018 Berlin Film Festival retrospective and it prompted the quotation I have since used under my posts here.
Both films are nothing short of glorious. Seek them out if you can.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by boblipton » Sun May 02, 2021 8:53 am

Arguably the best cinematographer ever, James Wong Howe was her cousin, and in charge of the camera on four of her pictures: Shanghai Express, Peter Pan, The Alaskan (1924), and Hollywood Party.

Bob
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Mike Gebert
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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sun May 02, 2021 9:20 am

Love ya, Mike, but virtually all of Bill's Chicago appearances, including that great Paramount "B" weekend, were actually at the old Midwest Film Center, on the grounds of the Art Institute, several years before the Siskel Center opened on State Street.
Yeah, I know, but it's the same organization and it seemed pedantic to spell out The Film Center of the School of the Art institute. (I never heard anyone call it the Midwest Film Center; is that an even older name no longer in use by the time I was there?)

I believe both Preview Murder Mystery and Hollywood Boulevard were shown that some weekend, at The Film Center of the School of the Art institute.
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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Jim Roots » Sun May 02, 2021 10:56 am

Mike Gebert wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 9:20 am
Love ya, Mike, but virtually all of Bill's Chicago appearances, including that great Paramount "B" weekend, were actually at the old Midwest Film Center, on the grounds of the Art Institute, several years before the Siskel Center opened on State Street.
Yeah, I know, but it's the same organization and it seemed pedantic to spell out The Film Center of the School of the Art institute. (I never heard anyone call it the Midwest Film Center; is that an even older name no longer in use by the time I was there?)

I believe both Preview Murder Mystery and Hollywood Boulevard were shown that some weekend, at The Film Center of the School of the Art institute.
I prefer missdupont's spelling of the former title, Previev Murder Mystery. Is it available in physical media?

Jim

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Mike Gebert
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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sun May 02, 2021 10:58 am

No, not officially, but easily found online, as is Daughter of Shanghai.
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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Frame Rate » Sun May 02, 2021 2:44 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 9:20 am
...it seemed pedantic to spell out The Film Center of the School of the Art institute. (I never heard anyone call it the Midwest Film Center; is that an even older name no longer in use by the time I was there?)
In the early years that was the official name used on their printed schedules and program notes -- probably a requirement of a long-ago government grant that originally provided funding for multiple "regional film centers" in different parts of the country.

And here's more history than you'll currently find on the Siskel Center's website:

Back about 1965, a young graphic designer in Chicago named Camille Cook had ambitions to "move up" from merely creating static, printed-media advertisements to the world of television commercials. Friends advised her to prepare for such a career change by undertaking a close study of "the greatest achievements in classic cinema".

Rather than just rely on what perchance might be screening at the Clark Theater (Chicago's beloved and quirky "revival house" of that era) or on campus at local colleges, Cook decided to form her own study group, which soon blossomed into the legendary "Magic Lantern Film Society," which she led for the next five years. Its offerings drew heavily not only on the "certified classics" from the MOMA rental catalog, but also extended to the loan of prints from (sometimes quite eccentric) private collectors and avant-garde filmmakers -- to showcase what she proudly proclaimed to be "the unknown, the unusual and the uncommercial".

When the marvelous Clark (which had specialized in a different-and-often-strangely-paired double feature every day!) finally shut down its arc lamps for good and rewound its final reels, Cook (who by now had shifted her sights from the making of TV spots to the full-time promoting of cinema study) was inspired to try and fill the void left by the Clark's demise, converting her small private operation into a much more public venue. She succeeded "magically," and in 1972 the Midwest Film Center was born, under her supervision -- screening its wide variety of what-you-can't-see-elsewhere. Her "new" venue was the ornate, vintage main auditorium of the Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Avenue. (Non-Chicagoans who've never visited might still recognize photos or film shots of its huge, elegant front steps, graced by the statues of some definitely Potemkin-reminiscent stone lions!)

Four years later, and with the generous sponsorship of the School of the Art Institute, Cook relocated her operation to the school's newly constructed in-house theater just off Grant Park, on Jackson Boulevard, and it was there that the "Film Center of the Art Institute" really grew and matured during the following quarter-century, masterfully becoming a major part of the Windy City's arts-and-culture scene.

During the years before Cook's retirement, the Film Center was often a showcase for entire series of long-unseen silents, including the first Chicago screenings in many decades of the Harold Lloyd features, the many "fashion spectacles" of C.B.DeMille, and (in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his passing) the surviving starring roles of Rudolph Valentino -- with capacity crowds densely populated by "blue-haired" ladies who had, in their youth, swooned over "their Darling Rudy".

In the capable hands of, among others, veteran programmers Ian Christie, Richard Pena and Barbara Scharres the Film Center, both before and after its June 2001 re-location and re-christening, has continued to show silent features on occasion (and that's where Dave Drazin got his start as "house pianist") -- but never has its commitment to silents been as intense and overflowing with discovery as it was during those wonderful, bygone "Cook Years".
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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sun May 02, 2021 2:56 pm

Wow, very interesting—and very much how film organizations tend to get born. I moved here around the time Peña left for NY and Scharres took over. The Clark was long gone, but I know a little about it.

Do you know about this young adult book? A thinly disguised version of the Clark called the Snark is its partial setting. Imagine a time when you could sell a book for kids about sneaking out late at night to catch double bills of Laurel and Hardy and Ingmar Bergman...
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The Pre-Siskel Film Center— CAMILLE COOK B RUBY RICH BARBARA SCHARRES IAN CHRISTIE

Unread post by Fred M. Stevens » Sun May 02, 2021 6:14 pm

Frame Rate wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 2:44 pm

We’ve inadvertently neglected to mention B Ruby Rich, who was an associate director during the Camille Cook regime. This may have been at, or slightly after, the time the Center reintroduced Chicago to the Buster Keaton silents in the early 1970s. Maybe Ed Watz can supply the exact dates. Anyway, I acquired the complete program notes for the series -powder blue sheets folded to create four pages- but they’re hidden somewhere in a box or envelope, returned to me by a Keaton writer who’d wanted a peek at them.
During his residency, Ian Christie might have been at the Center — I can’t recall — to host an event, as part of a Michael Powell series, featuring Martin Scorsese and Michael Powell, both then in town during the filming of The Color of Money. Copies of Christie’s Arrows of Desire signed by Powell were available for purchase. Perhaps Tom Cruise — an attendee at least one of the films — bought one.
Jackie Chan appeared at the Film Center at least twice during just-retired Barbara Scharres‘s tenure. At his 1996 tribute, Chan snuck into the darkened Center a few rows behind me, just before his Bronx film unspooled. All else I seem to remember about that night is getting into an argument and beating the stuffings out of him. If Mr Gebert was also in attendance that evening, maybe he can fill in the details

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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sun May 02, 2021 8:35 pm

The only Chan event i remember was a gala at the Playboy Mansion (owned by the SAIC by then) and expensive, so we passed. But we did see Chow-Yun Fat come out on stage in a white suit and sunglasses, to an audience half young Asian people screaming like he was all four Beatles, and half gringos like myself, nodding "That must be him."

Christie I only ever saw at Telluride, where he introduced two Boris Barnet films by talking about Barnet's troubles with Soviet authorities and his ultimate suicide, which is a great way to set up the audience for a couple of comedies, I must say.
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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Tue May 04, 2021 10:54 am

Various images of Anna shown with the music "Dinah" by Fats Waller. (For some reason)

“The past is never dead. It's not even past” - Faulkner.

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Re: Gallery of Mastheads

Unread post by daveboz » Tue May 04, 2021 12:36 pm

boblipton wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 8:53 am
Arguably the best cinematographer ever, James Wong Howe was her cousin, and in charge of the camera on four of her pictures: Shanghai Express, Peter Pan, The Alaskan (1924), and Hollywood Party.

Bob
==============

Lee Garmes is the credited cinematographer on SHANGHAI EXPRESS. Only the rear-projection plates (seen through the train windows) were by Howe.
yer pal Dave

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