On the Set with….the 2017 Edition!

Among our most popular posts here are the “On the Set” series showing legendary figures of Old Hollywood at work on the set of their films. It’s high time we posted a new round of photos – all in living color of course!

On the set of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1923) director/producer Cecil B. De Mille (on the left) introduces the U.S. Secretary of War John Weeks to the Pharoah Rameses aka Charles De Roche:

The original Rin-Tin-Tin (1918-1932) and his owner Lee Duncan enjoy sunset on the beach in 1929:

John Barrymore at his magnificent Tower Road home in the Hollywood Hills circa 1930:

Clara Bow gives some swimming suggestions to her niece and nephew circa 1928:

Bette Davis and her dog do a bit of fishing on the San Clemente River in 1933:

Greta Garbo and John Gilbert join director Edmund Goulding and crew for a picnic lunch during outdoor filming on LOVE (1927):

Marion Davies is directed by Sam Wood on the set of THE FAIR CO-ED (1927):

Douglas Fairbanks Sr. is the center of attention at the Hotel Manila in the Philippines during the filming of AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY MINUTES (1931):

Joan Crawford takes some movies of her own during filming for THE UNDERSTANDING HEART (1927):

Frank Borzage directs Spring Byington and Errol Flynn in THE GREEN LIGHT (1937):

Lupe Velez enjoys the beach during filming for HELL’S HARBOR (1930):

Producer/Star Mary Pickford with Allan Forest and Anders Randolf on DOROTHY VERNON OF HADDON HALL (1924):

Rootin’ tootin’ cowboy Humphrey Bogart (!) plays a Mexican bandit in VIRGINIA CITY (1940):

Glamorous Gloria Swanson is unglamorously washed ashore in MALE AND FEMALE (1919):

Director William Desmond Taylor, whose 1922 murder has never been solved, almost seems to be looking for his killer circa 1920:

Finally, Rin-Tin-Tin again in a stunning pose that feels almost 3-D:

Old Hollywood in Color in 3-D and in HD

If you check on some of our previous posts you will find that we have been experimenting digitally with turning two dimensional images (2-D) into three-dimensional images (3-D). Your blogmeister has been sampling new software developments with the recent advent of VR (virtual reality) and 360 (through headgear you can look around as in real life). My approach continues to be based on the original 19th century stereoscope idea: side-by-side images taken at a slightly different perspective to trick our eyes into seeing the images as 3-D. Admittedly low tech but it works. Now with the use of VR headgear (see Amazon for Google Cardboard headgear for $5) the stereoscopic view is enhanced even more.

The key is using your cell phone to view Youtube videos in VR or, in this case, old-fashioned 3-D. The effect can still be seen with “free viewing” so you don’t need any glasses, headgear or other equipment apart from training your own two eyes to focus on the two images (right eye on the right image, left eye on the left). Once mastered, our brain combines the left and right images into a third “middle” image that’s in 3-D.

At any rate, here is our first Youtube video combining the latest software enhancements by colorizing black & white photographs from the 1920s, then transforming them into 3-D, and finally processing them in HD (High Definition). Whew! I have also added original 1920s music. Enjoy the slide show!

Marion Davies Gallery


Published in: on June 11, 2017 at 11:05 PM  Comments (2)  

A New Gallery of Color Transfers

Here is a new gallery of black-and-white to color transfers that I have made during the past several months. As the software technology improves so does my work.

Alice Joyce in her home circa 1920:Alice Joyce Color Final

Alice Joyce tries her hand at archery c. 1920:Alice Joyce 2 Color Final

Anna May Wong at a movie premiere circa 1931:Ana May Wong color Final

It’s 1928 and the talkies are coming. A rare photo showing a film star being coached on speaking for the microphone – Anita Page at the USC Speech Department:Anita Page USC May 28 1928 Color Final

Rudolph Valentino greets visitors to the set of MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE in 1924. The lady is Mrs. Valentino, Natascha Rambova:Beaucaire Candid 004 Color Final

Carmel Myers snuggles up to Francis X. Bushman in BEN-HUR (1925):Ben Hur Messala adras

Screenwriter Bess Meredyth gets into the spirit of things during the filming of BEN-HUR (1925):Bess Meredyth Color Final

Lon Chaney in makeup for DR. WU (1927) chats with fellow MGM star Col. Tim McCoy:chaney McCoy Color copy

Clara Bow seems displeased with the attentions of Ernest Torrence and Percy Montmart as director Victor Fleming (in white hat) moves things along. Cinematographer James Wong Howe is in the snap cap behind the camera. On the set of MANTRAP (1926):Clara Bow Mantrap Color Final

A radiant Dolores Del Rio in REVENGE (1927):Dolores Revenge FINAL

Norma Shearer and Lionel Barrymore at Half Dome, CA in A FREE SOUL (1931):Free Soul Color Final

Greta Garbo returns to America after a trip to her home in Sweden, 1933:Garbo 1933 Color Final

Gary Cooper and Thelma Todd enjoy the view during the filming of NEVADA (1927):Gary Cooper and Thelma Todd 1927

Gloria Swanson and Cecil B. DeMille on the set of THE AFFAIRS OF ANATOLE (1921). Also left to right are Theodore Kosloff, Elliot Dexter, Agnes Ayres, Jeannie MacPherson, and Wallace Reid:Gloria Swanson Affairs of Anatol 1921 Color Final

Marian Nixon on location for RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE (1925):Riders of the Purple Sage 1925 Marian Nixon

A striking image of Strongheart and Lady Jule in 1924:Strongheart and Lady Jule 1924 Final final

Published in: on March 11, 2017 at 4:23 PM  Comments (5)  

The Nativity Sequence from BEN-HUR (1925)

A Merry Christmas to All!

Published in: on December 24, 2016 at 1:21 PM  Leave a Comment  

Christmas with Lionel Barrymore

Merry Christmas, folks. I am reposting this from my Facebook group, Silent Films Today. Enjoy!

Christmas with Lionel Barrymore
– Mr. B’s many versions of “A Christmas Carol” are all over the Internet (thankfully) but here are two commercial recordings of less well-known performances he made in 1950:

lionel-b-ad-copy

Published in: on December 23, 2016 at 6:55 PM  Leave a Comment  

Halloween 2016

Among the finest Golden Age films are the very first horror films of the sound screen. Later films were more gory, and had more shock and slasher violence, but in terms of sheer romantic Gothic style these first films have never been equaled. Your blogmeister has been busy making color transfers and searching his files for photos to demonstrate the lyricism of DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN (both 1931), and the most impossible sequel that was better than the classic original, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). Let’s begin!

Two scenes from DRACULA say it all in terms of pictorial composition. The later British Hammer horror films of the 1950s and 60s have many admirers but the sets were small and lacked this type of poetic grandeur:
dracula-8x10-1931-3-color-final

dracula-8x10-1931-2-color-final

FRANKENSTEIN continued in this vein and, if anything, improved on it. This is a half-sheet poster, that is, 22×28 inches:
frankenstein_r51_22x28

Original color lobby card that captured the Gothic tone:
frank-lc-6

Many credited the influence of the German expresssionist movement of the 1920s for the artwork in these films. The fact that Universal Pictures at the time was owned by German immigrant Carl Laemmle suggests that this influence was no coincidence:
frank-lc-3-copy_edited-1

We don’t think of sadism being in these films but the evidence proves otherwise:
frank-lc-2

Original color title lobby card:
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But FRANKENSTEIN’s director, James Whale, achieved the impossible when four years later he created even even better sequel. Here is another half-sheet poster:
bride_of_frankenstein_22x28_style_b

This is a two-page exhibitor trade advertisement. I added color:
bride-4-color-final

These are a series of posed shots that are not scenes from the film itself. Lovely Valerie Hobson plays Elizabeth, Baroness Frankenstein, and Ernest Thesiger is the unforgettable Doctor Pretorius. I added color:
bride-2-color-final
bride-1-color-final

But of course nobody but Boris Karloff as the Monster could really menace a damsel in distress:
bride-3-color-final

Let’s conclude our homage to Gothic horror with a 3-D finale:
dracula-3-d

and of course the most iconic image of all:
bride-in-3-d-1

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Published in: on October 29, 2016 at 11:55 PM  Comments (3)  

Fantastic Camera Shot from THE EAGLE (1925) – Rudolph Valentino

This superb costume adventure of Old Russia set during the reign of Czarina Catherine the Great offered an eye-popping camera shot as it traveled down a huge banquet table. Here is an on the set production photo showing how it was filmed. Seated on the right looking into the camera are Rudolph Valentino and Vilma Banky. Seated on top of the bridge is director Clarence Brown. Color is by yours truly:
rudy-on-the-set-color-final-final

And here is the shot as it appeared in the film:

Published in: on October 11, 2016 at 8:11 PM  Leave a Comment  

Rarely-Seen 1915 William S. Hart: THE SHERIFF’S STREAK OF YELLOW

The survival rate of Bill Hart’s westerns is impressive. A stage actor from New York, Hart’s love of the American West transformed his career in 1914 to starring, directing, and in some cases writing, a classic series of films. Hart managed to capture the “Old West” just before it faded away forever and his films seem more like documentaries than dramas. Our film here is one of the most rarely-seen and has been preserved by the Danish Film Institute in its original color tints. The main titles and intertitles were in Danish but I translated them and substituted English versions using vintage title cards. Finally I added music, which no silent film should ever be without. Enjoy!

william-s-hart-44

“Silents Please” – the Legendary 1960 TV Series – BLOOD AND SAND (1922) starring Rudolph Valentino and Nita Naldi

In 1960, the baby boomer generation got a real treat when Paul Killiam produced his legendary television series, “Silents Please.” After decades of ridicule and jokes by Hollywood itself, Mr. Killiam showed the younger generation what silent films were really like and the series became a surprise hit! Long-forgotten stars, some of whom were still living in 1960, suddenly became familiar names to the boomers: Mary Pickford, Buster Keaton, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, and others found themselves in demand to discuss their silent film work.

silents-please-screen-cap

The image quality of these films back in the day can’t compare to the clarity and sharpness of their 21st century Blu-ray editions – not to mention the addition of color tints and stereo scores absent from 1960s TV broadcasts. But seeing one of these episodes again today recalls the excitement of discovering these films for the first time over a half century ago.

Here is Paul Killiam’s expertly edited and narrated (by himself) edition of the 1922 blockbuster, BLOOD AND SAND, starring Rudolph Valentino, Nita Naldi, and Lila Lee. In 26 minutes Killiam wisely lets the images speak for themselves and limits his commentary to just the essentials. The story is a faithful adaptation of the best-selling novel by Vicente Blasco Ibanez. The Spanish title is translated as BLOOD IN THE ARENA. I added a color tint just for fun:

blood-and-sand-26ebbc50

Behind the scenes with director Fred Niblo:

Valentino B&S Final_Final-1_edited-1.jpg

Rudy’s costume as it exists today:

rudy-costume

Great Poster Art:

val-blood-sand

 

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