John Ford established himself as a major film director during the silent film era with classics such as THE IRON HORSE (1924), 3 BAD MEN (1926), and FOUR SONS (1928), among others. Then Ford made some of the finest films of the talkie era such as THE INFORMER (1935), THE PRISONER OF SHARK ISLAND (1936) and GRAPES OF WRATH (1940), and many, many others. This book takes us behind the scenes of one of his best films – THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945) – using unpublished photos that only today are being seen for the first time in 70 years.
Author Lou Sabini and photographer Nicholas Scutti have provided a major addition to the John Ford Bibliography. This volume will continue to be a unique and important account of the filmmaker’s art and skill for many years to come.
Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939) was one of the first movie super stars long before that term was ever coined. A young “juvenile” actor on the stage, Doug gave early films a try in 1915 in a series of popular modern dress comedies. He added some incredible athletic stunts that left movie audiences amazed. By 1917, he was one of the highest paid stars but Doug wasn’t content and decided to produce his own films. He became a partner with his pal Charlie Chaplin, the great director D.W. Griffith, and Mary Pickford (whom he married in 1920) to form United Artists. This company is still in business today.
Doug Fairbanks literally invented the “action” film genre that remains extremely popular – think Jackie Chan. In 1922, Fairbanks began his most ambitious production yet, a swashbuckler chronicling the legends of Robin Hood. No, it wasn’t a primitive version of the later Errol Flynn film, but a fully developed saga of how the Earl of Huntingdon went from being one of the noble Knights of the Realm to the hunted outlaw Robin Hood rebelling against the unscrupulous Prince John. Fairbanks wanted his film to have the look and feel of old illuminated manuscripts that recalled the glorious Age of Chivalry – and he got it!
No expense was spared as Fairbanks literally built a full-scale castle on the studio lot. He recruited top art directors Wilfred Buckland and William Cameron Menzies, and costume designer Mitchell Leisen (later a major film director). This original color German transparency gives you a good idea of the magnificent sets:
In 1926, four years after the tremendous success of ROBIN HOOD, and two more epics, Doug was ready for a new challenge: he wanted to be the first major star to produce a film entirely in Technicolor. The result was THE BLACK PIRATE:
THE BLACK PIRATE has been restored to its original Technicolor brilliance and is available today on DVD and Blu-ray. Likewise, Douglas Fairbanks in ROBIN HOOD is restored and available on DVD. Both films can also be viewed on streaming video. Fairbanks would no doubt be pleased that his productions continue to delight viewers well into the 21st century!
There are a number of talented modern-day artists who have turned their skills to the Classic Horror Films of Hollywood’s Golden Age. These individuals have made their works available on the Internet so what follows is a Halloween roundup with credit given where it is properly deserved.
We can’t equal our recent post here where we provided the complete continuity script for LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (1927), perhaps the most famous “lost film” of all time. However, we’re not being too shabby by providing the script for the granddaddy of all dinosaur films —
THE LOST WORLD was based on the best-selling 1912 novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A corking good adventure yarn, this 1925 film version ran ten reels and was booked at special “road shows” prior to its general release. But for decades, the only surviving version was a truncated 16mm edition that ran about half the length, or 50 minutes, of the original.
You know you’re dealing with a prestige film when a special “Photoplay Edition” of the novel is published with photos from the movie. Here is a worn but surviving dustjacket showing the romantic couple Bessie Love and Lloyd Hughes:
This glass slide was projected onto gigantic screens of movie palaces of the day as an advertisement. Perhaps we’re jaded now, but at the time audiences were amazed to see humans and dinosaurs together:
A love triangle with Lewis Stone (later “Judge Hardy” in Mickey Rooney’s ANDY HARDY films) playing Bessie Love’s fiance. In the 1920s, Stone was a popular leading man and certainly a better actor than Mr. Hughes!
A bearded Wallace Beery on the right played the fiesty Professor Challenger, leader of the expedition to a mysterious plateu in the South American jungles to prove his theory that dinosaurs still exist:
The special effects work by Willis O’Brien won much praise with the monsters even appearing to breathe. O’Brien would later animate KING KONG and SON OF KONG (both 1933) and MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949). O’Brien’s protege, Ray Harryhausen, brought a new generation of monsters to screen life beginning in the 1950s.
Restored editions of THE LOST WORLD have been available on DVD for several years now, and a Blu-ray version is apparently in the works. But alas, there is much missing footage gone from the film since its 1925 release. However, you can “see” the complete film by reading through the script here:
LOST WORLD 1925_Complete Script
Who knew that all these years the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. held a shot-by-shot cutting continuity made from viewing an actual print of LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT? This Lon Chaney Sr. vampire tale is perhaps the most famous – and most eagerly sought – lost silent film. The last known print was destroyed in a vault fire in 1967, and intensive searching of the world’s film archives has so far failed to locate another print.
But now you can “see” LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT simply by reading this 38-page document (it’s a quick read) and using an average amount of your imagination. We are supplying you with a series of photos and lobby cards below to assist you. Enjoy!
London After Midnight LOC Script copy
Lon Chaney plays Professor Burke, a detective/hypnotist who is investigating the “suicide” of Roger Balfour:
There are strange goings-on in the old Bafour Mansion, and some mighty strange creatures too:
A curious inhabitant seems to have supernatural powers:
Burke questions the various suspects and uses hypnotism too:
Looks like it’s going to be a long night at the Balfour Mansion:
Burke eventually proves that Bafour’s death was murder and collars the killer:
But what about those strange creatures? We suggest you read the script if you’re not able to see the movie!
Today Conny seems best remembered for one of his last films, CASABLANCA (1942). As the Nazi villain Major Strasser, Conny was fourth billed behind Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henried, and Claude Rains, but he was the highest paid actor on the film:
Visiting film star Constance Talmadge seems to strike the same pose as Conny on the set of THE BELOVED ROGUE (1927), Veidt’s first American film. He played France’s King Louis XI to John Barrymore’s Francois Villon:
Conny starred in several films for Universal in the closing days of the silent film era. Here makeup artist extraordinaire Jack Pierce, who later made up Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster and Lon Chaney, Jr., as the Wolfman, applies finishing touches to Veidt for THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928):
By 1933, Conny was making films in Britain as well as Germany and worked hard to master English. Here Veidt sits with pal Peter Lorre as they work on F.P.1 (Floating Platform 1), a science-fiction tale that anticipated aircraft carriers. Filmed in three languages, Conny played the hero in the English-language version, but not in the German or French versions. Lorre appeared only in the German version:
Conny poses for his bust by sculptor Felix Weiss in Germany, circa 1935. With the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party, Germany became an “unhealthy” place for Veidt to live. He listed himself as a Jew although he wasn’t. However, his wife Lily was Jewish so they decided to relocate to Britain in the mid 1930s:
This production photo from THE THIEF OF BAGDAD shows Conny on the left on the floor. The massive Technicolor camera holds three rolls of film that were photographed simultaneously through one lens. A prism split the image into three that was photographed on each of the three rolls sensitive to red, blue and yellow respectively:
Back in America by 1940, Conny donates much of his salary to the British and U.S. war effort, and adds radio broadcasting to his activities. Here on April 19, 1942, he reenacts his role in the 1941 MGM film, A WOMAN’S FACE on Screen Guild Theater. The stars who appeared on this show donated their fee to the Motion Picture Relief Fund:
Listen to Conny on the actual live broadcast of April 19, 1942, with co-stars Bette Davis and Warren William:
Conrad Veidt would be surprised to know that his films are popular with new generations of the 21st century. Most of his top films are available on DVD, and a growing number on Blu-ray including THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS (a pioneering film on homosexuality), WAXWORKS, THE BELOVED ROGUE, THE MAN WHO LAUGHS, THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, ESCAPE, A WOMAN’S FACEand CASABLANCA. But Conny held no exalted view of himself: when invited to write his autobiography, he dismissed the suggestion by stating, “Who would be interested in my life? I’m just an actor.”