Welcome 2022 with our Selection of Old Hollywood Wall Calendars/Bookmarks!

This year we welcome in the New Year by focusing on many of the great Stars of the Silent Screen. How do you obtain any (or all) of these? That’s easy – just print them out on your favorite printer. At full size they make nice wall calendars or shrink them down a bit and they work very well as stylish bookmarks. And they’re also neat just to look at! Enjoy and please accept my best wishes for a wonderful 2022.

Now here they come!

By the way, the reference to “Silent Films Today” is the name of my Facebook group. Membership is by request so if you’d like to join please search FB for our group by name and ask to join. Thanks.

Finally, the 12-month template I used here is from an original vintage calendar for 1927. Why 1927? Because the days of the week in ’27 were the same as 2022. Think of it as recycling Time.

Happy 2022!

Just in Time for Halloween – Outtakes from Classic Horror Films

If there’s one thing that is more indestructible in film history than Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Phantom of the Opera, it has to be the films themselves. With every innovation in home entertainment, these Universal Pictures monsters were in the forefront – from the old days of broadcast TV, then VHS, and then DVDs, more recently Blu-ray, and most recently, 4K transfers, not to mention video streaming – these guys just won’t go away.

And as familiar as many of us are with these classics through repeated viewings, it may come as a surprise that there were some scenes filmed but left on the proverbial cutting room floor. For this Halloween I thought we would marvel and be mystified with these “orphan” sequences that were deemed unsuitable for the finished product for one reason or another.

Alas, the sequences themselves no longer exist but a number of 8×10-inch stills have survived to hint at what was deleted. Our tour begins in 1923 and ends in 1935. I have taken the liberty of creating color version of these great B&W photos much in the same way that the old Hollywood studios themselves turned their b/w photos into the glorious colorized lobby cards.

[SUGGESTION: if you are viewing these photos on an iphone or ipad, I urge you to switch to a full-screen monitor to fully appreciate the clarity and detail of the images.]

Let’s began with a curious scene from Lon Chaney, Sr.’s THE HUNCHBACKOF NOTRE DAME (1923), based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo. This film has been recently restored by Universal on Blu-ray and 4K. This scene was included in the original “Road Show” exhibitions in major cities when the film was first released. Later, when released to local neighborhood theatres, the movie was shortened and among the excised footage was this touching scene where Quasimodo (Chaney) attempts to buy some clothes for Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller). His efforts don’t go well with the shopkeeper and he ends up attacking the man:

Next we return to 1925 and the film that many regard as the granddaddy of American horror films: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Again, Lon Chaney, Sr. created an unforgettable character that, like HUNCHBACK, was based on a hugely successful novel by another Frenchman, Gaston Leroux. The filming was a muddle and many scenes were discarded after preview audiences reacted unfavorably. Among the deleted scenes is this one below where Christine Daae (Mary Philbin) and Raoul (Norman Kerry) meet secretly in a cemetery. Things do not go as planned as you can see, and we know that eventually even the Erik the Phantom (Chaney, of course) shows up:

It seems that there were problems in deciding who the Phantom’s victims should be. In this discarded scene, Erik strikes among the opera patrons as one of the stagehands, Simon Buquet (Gibson Gowland), is found dead on the Grand Staircase in the lobby. In the finished work, Simon not only survives, but leads the angry mob to invade the Phantom’s underground lair and force him out to a watery grave.

 

On a lighter note, scenes showing playboy Raoul De Chagney (Norman Kerry) flirting with the ballerinas were likewise cut:

Even creating a satisfying ending for PHANTOM proved difficult. The two photos below show the unused ending, inspired by the novel’s ending, where poor Erik dies of a broken heart. An action ending was substituted:

MGM gave the nascent horror film genre a try during the silent era with LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (1927), perhaps the most famous “lost film” of all time. This film was a vehicle for Lon Chaney. Sr. who plays a dual role in this murder mystery where one of the suspects is a vampire(!). Since the film can no longer be viewed, we have as a guide the existing continuity script that showed film editors how to assemble copies of the film back in ’27. Only shots that actually were used in the final edit are listed in the continuity script so photos of scenes not listed were likely cut. Here’s an atmospheric photo of Chaney as the vampire (aka “the man in the beaver hat”) and Edna Tichenor as a “bat girl,” which may simply be a posed photo or an actual scene that was cut:

American “horror” films of the silent era – the genre really was not established during that time – always explained away the supernatural events as caused by scheming humans. But the late 1920s play, DRACULA, based on the 1897 novel by Bram Stoker, didn’t flinch and insisted right to the end that vampires were real. With Bela Lugosi in the title role, American audiences needed very little convincing. The 1931 Universal film followed this construct and the first genuine American horror film dealing with the supernatural was created. A number of scenes were filmed but not included in the final cut. Among the most interesting are detailed sets, or likely scale models, of Castle Dracula and a nearby village that were not used in the film:

Perhaps this is a way station near the Borgo Pass for the coach that is taking poor Renfield to meet the Count, likewise cut:

Boris Karloff soon joined Bela Lugosi as a major star of the horror genre as the result of his playing the Monster in FRANKENSTEIN (1931). Karloff’s follow-up film for Universal was THE MUMMY (1932), which seemed to combine the ideas of DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN to create an entirely new story of a long-dead Egyptian mummy who is restored to life by a magic incantation. Again, the audience was not spared by a last-minute “explanation” and the film created some real controversy in its depiction of reincarnation. The revived Karloff, after being dead for 3700 years, only wanted to find his lost love from antiquity, played by Zita Johann. In this photo from a scene cut from the film, we see Karloff and Zita in the throes of passion in ancient Egypt. It would end badly for them:

Our final film for this Halloween review is one of the finest – and abundantly edited – among all the classic horror film. It is a sequel that is generally considered superior to the original film, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). There are many, many production stills suggesting many cut scenes. Most involved subplots that Universal decided to drop because they only complicated the plot line and added unnecessary footage to the film. Here’s an assortment among many deletions. First, here’s a nice portrait of Ann Darling, the shepherdess who is barely seen in the film. She is almost frightened to death by the Monster until two hunters drive him away:

In a jettisoned subplot, after the Monster escapes from jail and runs amuck, a little girl is found slain, among others. Suspicions fall upon the Monster. Indeed, the audience is left to assume that too. But the real killer is Karl, played by Dwight Frye, for reasons never made clear because the subplot was dropped:

Another dropped subplot involved the idea of using Elizabeth’s heart (Valerie Hobson), the fiance of Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive), to implant in the Bride. It sounds absurd but this photo shows the kidnapped Elizabeth (to secure Henry’s cooperation) being approached by Karl with a very visible knife in his hand. This idea was dropped but in the finished film Karl murders an unfortunate young woman to obtain her heart:

Finally, here is a unique photo of the Bride herself, memorably played by Elsa Lanchester. Obviously, this is not a cut scene but I included this not only because it has Elsa’s autograph, but because it also has her sketch of her character.

I hope you enjoyed this tour in a true “cinematic crypt” of unseen scenes from these classic films.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN 2021!

A Video Tour of the Souvenir Program from BEN-HUR (1925) with Musical Accompaniment from the 1931 Reissue

MGM spared no expense in producing its massive silent film version of BEN-HUR and, frankly, the story behind the making of this film is a great tale in its own right. Filming began in Italy with different actors in the lead roles, except for Francis X. Bushman playing the villain Messala. He remained in the role despite everybody else being replaced including the director. All told, Bushman worked on the film for about two years!

Constant labor strikes in Italy created huge cost overruns, so the studio decided to shut down filming, scrap most of the Italian footage, and start over again in Hollywood. It turned out to be a wise move. The massive production was eventually completed and had its astounding premiere in December 1925. It was a massive success following in the wake of the best-selling novel by Gen. Lew Wallace, and the ever-popular stage version that brought real horses onstage for the chariot race.

Without further ado, let’s enjoy a video tour of the original souvenir program from BEN-HUR‘s roadshow engagements. I added original color lobby cards and photos colorized by yours truly. To top it off, I added music from the soundtrack of the film’s reissue in 1931.

An original glass slide that was projected onto movie theater screens to promote BEN-HUR:

DON JUAN (1926) – A Video Tour of Two Original Souvenir Programs

Souvenir movie programs have always been highly collectible items. In fact, the more vintage the program, the more expensive they tend to be, especially if the item is in top condition. Among my personal collection I have two souvenir programs from DON JUAN (1926), the first feature film to have a synchronized music score (with a few sound effects).

Here is the cover of the deluxe American program that was sold at the special “road show” engagements of the film.

This is the cover of the German program that was printed on such thin paper that I immediately digitized the pages before they crumbled.

And now, please take a video tour of both programs accompanied by musical excerpts from the film’s original score.

Lon Chaney – Just in Time For Halloween 2019

I used a variety of software applications to put together this short video dedicated to the Man of 1,000 Faces, Lon Chaney (Sr.).  While I barely made a dent in reviewing Lon’s incredible number of faces, at least it’s a start. I used Photoshop to restore dingy old photos to a like-new B/W sheen, and then turn them into color images. Each finished color image was then sent to the Motion Portrait software demo to create the illusion of movement from still photos. As a finishing touch, I used Magix Audio Lab to clean up and restore the sound quality to a 1922 acoustical record of Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette,” more popularly known as Alfred Hitchcock’s theme from his TV series.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Lost Films We’d Love To See

There’s a special cache that lost films seems to have in our minds, a sort of unattainable treasure just beyond our grasp. Looking at surviving stills, posters and lobby cards tend only to increase our longing to view the movies. The fact that a number of “lost” films have surfaced in the last ten years or so, and some have even made it to home video DVD or Blu-ray, only increases our hopes that more of these elusive antiques will be found.

Here to tantalize us is artwork of some of the better known “lost” films beyond the obvious ones such as LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (1927) or CONVENTION CITY (1933). Well, we can dream, can’t we?

I decided to choose one particular year – in this case 1928 – and focus on notable films by big stars that are gone.

I have confirmed the “lost” status of each title with the 2018 listing of “7,200 Lost U.S. Silent Feature Films” by the National Film Preservation Board. You can access this document at https://www.loc.gov/static/programs/national-film-preservation-board/documents/SFF-LostFilmsList050118.pdf

Clara Bow has an unfortunate run of four lost films from this one year:

THREE WEEK ENDS (1928)

THE FLEET’S IN (1928)

LADIES OF THE MOB (1928)

RED HAIR (1928)

There exists a few bits of RED HAIR that only make it more tantalizing:

 

Next, let’s take a look at a couple of Gary Cooper‘s lost films:

THE LEGION OF THE CONDEMNED (1928) with Fay Wray getting top billing over Coop

BEAU SABREUR (1928)

The films of Greta Garbo enjoy a high survival rate except for this 1928 MGM film:

THE DIVINE WOMAN (1928)
About nine minutes were found in a Russian archive but the rest of the film is considered lost at this time:

 

Considering John Gilbert‘s legendary status as one of the greatest stars of the 1920s, it’s surprising that one of his 1928 films is among the lost. This film is also one of his most intriguing:

THE MASKS OF THE DEVIL (1928)

We’ve only scratched the surface of reviewing important lost films. Sadly, there are many more so perhaps we might do a “Lost Films 2” in the near future.

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:

A Colorful Super Star: Douglas Fairbanks in ROBIN HOOD (1922) and THE BLACK PIRATE (1926)

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.

One of Doug’s earlier films, the now-lost KNICKERBOCKER BUCKAROO (1919) with Marjorie Daw:
Fairbanks (11)_edited Final

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!
Robin-Hood

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:
Robin German Transparencies 4

A rare still with another view of the castle:
Robin-Hood 3

Robin Hood with Maid Marian, played by Enid Bennett – another German color transparency:
Robin German Transparencies 3_edited-1

That castle set was huge!
Robin-Hood 1

Fencing expert Frank Cavens designed the sword stunts as he would for many later swashbucklers including the Flynn ROBIN HOOD:
Robin German Transparencies 2

Fairbanks as Robin Hood is the master of all he surveys:
Robin German Transparencies 1

Sheet music was published for playing the love theme at home on the piano:
Robin Hood Sheet Music001-1

Not to mention a book version of the film’s story:
Robin Hood Cover 1 copy

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:
Black Pirate

These are original color plates from the rare Photoplay Edition novelization of the screenplay:
Fairbanks (5)

Fairbanks (4)

Fairbanks (7)

Fairbanks (6)

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!

THE LOST WORLD (1925) – The Original Continuity Script

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 —
Herald 5

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.
LOST WORLD 1925

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:
Lost World Cover Photoplay

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:
Lost World copy_edited-1

An original color lobby card with Bessie Love and Lloyd Hughes:
LC

The film offered comedy relief from these characters that, even in 1925, was considered the weakest part of the movie:
LC 3

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!
LC 2

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:
Lost World Still 2

Two sides of a movie “herald” to alert the town to the forthcoming attraction:
Herald 4

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.
New001

A vintage Swedish poster. THE LOST WORLD became an international hit!
Lost World Swedish_edited-1

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

London After Midnight – The Original 1927 Continuity Script

Chaney London Final_edited-1
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!
Click here:
London After Midnight LOC Script copy

Chaney3
Lon Chaney plays Professor Burke, a detective/hypnotist who is investigating the “suicide” of Roger Balfour:
London 4
There are strange goings-on in the old Bafour Mansion, and some mighty strange creatures too:
London 2
A curious inhabitant seems to have supernatural powers:
Chaney Midnight_Final
Burke questions the various suspects and uses hypnotism too:
London 5
Looks like it’s going to be a long night at the Balfour Mansion:
London 8
London 1
London 6
Burke eventually proves that Bafour’s death was murder and collars the killer:
London 3a
But what about those strange creatures? We suggest you read the script if you’re not able to see the movie!
london novel old 2

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