Saturday, May 29, 2021

BYTES & PIECES: CONTINUING HOLLYWOOD'S GOLDEN YEARS (1915 - 1963)

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The popular silent movie stars were idolised by millions, all over the world - silent movies held no language barriers.

The most popular stars of the silent movie era, both silent and talkies in that period (talkies staring with Jolson’s The Jazz Singer in 1927) were:


Marlene Dietrich


Mary Pickford


Douglas Fairbanks


Clara Bow


The Marx Brothers


Tallulah Bankhead

(This gives me an opportunity to resurrect an item from the Bytes vault:

In an interview with Dick Cavett, which appeared in a 1993 television documentary “The Unknown Marx Brothers”, Cavett told of Bankhead meeting Chico Marx at a party. This was before she had become famous, and when she was still prominent for being the daughter of William B Bankhead, Alabama politician, member of the US House of Representatives and Speaker of the House.

Marx had been cautioned to not display any of his typically crude comments and behaviour. The two met over the punch bowl and exchanged greetings:

Chico: “Miss Bankhead.”

Tallulah: “Mr Marx.”

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Chico: “You know, I really want to fuck you.”

Tallulah: “And so you shall, you old fashioned boy.”


WC Fields pictured above with John Barrymore on the right)


Lillian Gish


John Barrymore

(When the filming of A Bill of Divorcement was complete, Katharine Hepburn turned to co-star John Barrymore, saying “Thank God I don’t have to act with you anymore.” “I don’t know you ever had, darling,” he replied.)


Norma Shearer


Joan Crawford


Charlie Chaplin


"Fatty" Arbuckle.
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"Fatty" Arbuckle was involved in one of the most famous scandals in Hollywood which involved the alleged rape and murder of actress Virginia Rappe. After 3 trials Arbuckle was found not guilty and was acquitted, but his career was left in ruins.


Fatty Arbuckle, Virginia Rappe

He made a comeback of sorts with some short films. In 1933 he went out with friends to celebrate his first wedding anniversary and the new Warner Bros. contract when he reportedly said: "This is the best day of my life." He suffered a heart attack later that night and died.

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In 1921 Rudolph Valentino created a sensation starring in the major movie role as "The Sheik". The film was made for under $200,000 and exceeded $1 million in ticket sales.


The movie studio tried to squash a scandal that would erupt due to rumours that their most popular movie star was gay or bi-sexual. Biographers Emily Leider and Allan Ellenberger generally agree that he was most likely straight.

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Clara Bow, "The It Girl" was one of the first sex sirens silver screen. Clara Bow won a photo beauty contest which launched her movie career in Hollywood. She was the epitome of the 1920s Flappers and made 58 films.


Her life was surrounded by scandal and controversy. She retired in 1931, when she was just 28 years old, amid a tangle of scandals surrounding numerous love affairs, money and her addiction to alcohol. The scandals earned her the nickname of "Crisis-a-Day-Clara".

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In 1922 the first all-color movie was produced in Hollywood, called 'Toll of the Sea', starring Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong. The plot was a variation of the Madama Butterfly story, set in China instead of Japan.



United States actress Anna May Wong holds Priscilla Moran in the 1922 Hollywood film The Toll of the Sea. Beatrice Bentley sits to the left.


The film was the second Technicolor feature (after 1917's The Gulf Between), the first colour feature made in Hollywood and the first Technicolor colour feature anywhere that did not require a special projector to be used for screenings.

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In 1922 the first 3-D movie called 'The Power of Love', starring Noah Beery, was shown in front of an audience when it was premiered at the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel


The film utilised the red-and-green anaglyph system for the 3D experience and also gave the audience the option of viewing one of two different endings to the film (in 2D) by looking through only the red or green lens of the spectacles, depending on whether the viewer wanted to see a happy or tragic ending.


The Power of Love is the only film released in the two-camera, two-projector Fairall-Elder stereoscopic format developed by Harry K. Fairall and Robert F. Elder.

The film was not a success in 3D and was only screened one time again in this version for exhibitors and press in New York City.

In July 1923, the film was acquired by the new Selznick Distributing Corporation and widely distributed in 2D as Forbidden Lover in 1923–24.

Both the 3D and 2D versions are lost.

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