Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy New Year - Jean Harlow


Since I probably won't have the next post up until after the new year, Happy New Year and welcome 2011!

2011 already brings us a new gift, a gorgeous coffee table book on the blonde bombshell Jean Harlow. You can pre-order it here.

The press blurb states:

In these pages, renowned Harlow expert Darrell Rooney and Hollywood historian Mark Vieira team to present the most beautiful--and accurate--book on Harlow ever produced. With more than 280 rare images, the authors not only make a case for Harlow as an Art Deco artifact, they showcase the fabulous places where she lived, worked and played from her white-on-white Beverly Glen mansion to the Art Deco sets of Dinner at Eight to the foyer of the Café Trocadero. Harlow in Hollywood is a must for every film buff, Harlow collector, and book lover. Like Harlow herself, Harlow in Hollywood is irresistible

I am sure this is 100% accurate. Mark Vieira's books are nothing but top drawer productions and his collection is incredible, matched with the collection of the preeminant collector of Jean Harlow, Darrell Rooney, this will be a wonderful book to grace your bookshelves and your coffee table for years to come.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top 5 Hottest Ladies of 2010.


No. 1 - Emmanuelle Chriqui

She starred in the famous "Three' Company" episode of Entourage, starred with three of Hollywood' toughest guys in 13: Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham and Alexander Skarsgard, will play one of the leads in the all-star cast of 2010' Georgia, a film about the war between Russia and Georgia, she speaks both English and French fluently, is a first-generation Canadian, after both her parents immigrated from Morocco.


No. 2 - Marisa Miller.

She was discovered by Mario Testino, one of the most famous photographers in the world, she is currently one of the famous Victoria's Secret Angels, appeared on the cover of the 2008 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition sans bikini top, kept us up-to-date in 2009, thanks to her Sports Illustrated "Best of Marisa Miller" calendar and also ran a surf school in California before becoming a serious model.

No.3 - Kate Beckinsale.

She speaks English, French and Russian; and had us hot for vampires long before Twilight and True Blood by sporting a rubber catsuit in Underworld - also appeared opposite Robert De Niro and Sam Rockwell in 2009' dramedy Everybody' Fine, and of course, was chosen as Esquire magazine' "Sexiest Woman Alive" in 2009. She is rumored to be attached to 2011' Underworld 4.


No.4 - Alessandra Ambrosio

She was famous for wearing lingerie made entirely of candy for the 2005 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, she stayed in Gisele Bundchen's apartment when she first moved to New York, and participated in the 2008 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show just three months after giving birth to a baby girl, also appeared with fellow Victoria's Secret Angels Adriana Lima, Selita Ebanks, Marisa Miller, Miranda Kerr, and Heidi Klum on an episode of How I Met Your Mother and is the National Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

No.5 - Jessica Alba.

She teamed up with writer/director Robert Rodriguez for the assassin movie Machete, gave birth to a baby girl, Honor Marie, in 2008 and still has the same smoking figure she had from the Dark Angel days, made a guest appearance as herself on the 2009 episode of The Office called "Stress Relief", plays a prostitute in 2010's The Killer Inside Me opposite golden boy Casey Affleck and then recently starred in The Lonely Island's I Just Had Sex video ahaha. =)

Those are the TOP 5... but special mentions for two others though...

Cheryl Cole at No.8.

She released her debut album, 3 Words, in October of 2009, she plans to reunite with Girls Aloud in the studio, replaced Sharon Osbourne as a judge on The X Factor, and then she is often referred to in England as "the nation's new sweetheart" - and Lily Allen wrote a cheeky song inspired by Cheryl called "Cheryl Tweedy.


Eva Mendes - No.9

Eva starred opposite Nicolas Cage in Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans in 2009, played Will Ferrell's wife in the upcoming comedy The Other Guys, also starring Mark Wahlberg, teamed up with Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington for the upcoming Last Night, a film that rivals Closer in its portrayal of infidelity and then had an advertisement for Calvin Klein banned because of an exposed nipple and also posed topless for Vogue Italia.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010


Best wishes for the season to the wonderful people who follow, comment and read this very irregular blog. It's been stop and go and intermittant, at best. Thanks for sticking with me.
The number of unfinished posts in the blogger dashboard almost outnumber the live posts. I hope to do better in 2011.

2010 has been a wonderful year for me, seen many good films, some great films and some not so great films. Cinematically it's been fun and I am looking forward to 2011 with renewed cinematic vigour.

On a personal and probably egotistical note it has been a very gratifying year with the publication and warm reception of my long labored over book on Rudolph Valentino. Sales have far exceeded my expectations and reviews from the likes of Leonard Maltin and so many webmasters, fellow Valentino fans and other independent reviewers has given me a rather swelled head. All in all, I still think it was a job well done and I think Valentino would not have minded too much.

Here's to a happy, healthy and wonderful holidays to each one of you. May 2011 be an even more wonderful year and a peaceful year, too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nita Naldi Website



Nita Naldi now has a new presence on the web. The old website run by Gloria Bowman was originally hosted by Yahoo/Geocities. Yahoo killed off Geocities last year. So with the help of some boon companions and friends of Nita, we gathered together some of Gloria's original material and spent the last year hunting Nita Naldi down. Not only did we find out a lot about Nita (who never talked about her personal life) but we found Nita had some living family. They've seen the site and have approved and sanctioned it.


I make no secret Nita is my favorite of the silent vamps and you can find her now at http://www.nitanaldi.com/.
Viva Nita Naldi!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

For the Love of Film - The Sequel

Mark your calendars, get your fingers busy, put your thinking caps on! Film Preservation Blogathon 2011 is coming soon.

I love noir and my head is already spinning with ideas for posts. Most important will be the donation link, let's all beat last years totals!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Paramount Pretties #5

America's Sweetheart
and the first Million Dollar Baby, Mary Pickford.

The film fans of today probably do not recognize nor can they fathom the importance of Mary Pickford to film history. She was one of the very first "movie stars" before the phrase had been coined and before film stars were known by name. She was a tough as nails businesswoman (along with her mother) and negotiated her contracts with an iron-gloved fist. She was the most popular woman in the world, all over the world for nearly 20 years. She is remembered as being typecast as the "girl with the curls" but Pickford's range went far beyond playing children.
Her charm, her spunk and her appealing nature can be seen in countless films like Pollyanna.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire

Been scarce around here lately. Between the Valentino memorial in August and Cinecon over Labor Day, I've been a busy person. I will get a Cinecon review up very soon, even though it's been over for a while and might be a bit stale.


I've also decided that I have a second book in me and I've chosen a worthy subject. Worthy to me, at least. The peeps I've querried seem to agree.





The person in question and the subject of my second book will be the young lady on the far left, Dorothy Gish. Dorothy always seems to be lost in her more famous sister Lillian's shadow. The time has come for Dorothy to come out from that shadow and shine on her own.

Since this project differs markedly from Rudolph Valentino: The Silent Idol, I've decided to post on the progress of researching a biography here. Like the Valentino website has done over the year, I am hoping that an online presence for Dorothy will bring some information, good leads, material and just what else, who can say?


As mentioned on this blog before, I like Dorothy and I hope in researching her life I will continue to like her. She seems to have been quite a personality and was much beloved. Beloved by her elder sister and a legion of friends.


So here I am, jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. I think it's going to be fun. I'll still be here, taking breaks and watching movies. I'm hoping to track down a few more of Dorothy's films. I've still got that Fifty Years, Fifity Films thing to do...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kevin Brownlow - Honorary Oscar Recipient

Kevin Brownlow (image courtesy www.fiba-filmbank.org)

The news that The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be honoring Kevin Brownlow with an Academy Award for lifetime achievement spread like wildfire all over the internet yesterday. The reaction from film fans, film buffs, authors, filmmakers, historians, preservationists and scholars across the globe was instant and unanimous, that of unbridled joy. I can think of no other figure with regard to silent film, the need for preservation and the recording of its history to be more influential than Kevin Brownlow. I can think of no other historian, documentarian, filmmaker or author, each of which is a hat worn by Brownlow, that is more deserving of such a lifetime achievement award.

The Academy summed up Brownlow thusly:

Brownlow is widely regarded as the preeminent historian of the silent film era as well as a preservationist. Among his many silent film restoration projects are Abel Gance’s 1927 epic “Napoleon,” Rex Ingram’s “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (1921) and “The Thief of Bagdad” (1924), starring Douglas Fairbanks. Brownlow has authored, among others, The Parade’s Gone By; The War, the West, and the Wilderness; Hollywood: The Pioneers; Behind the Mask of Innocence; David Lean; and Mary Pickford Rediscovered. His documentaries include “Hollywood,” “Unknown Chaplin,” “Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow,” “Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius” and “D.W. Griffith: Father of Film,” all with David Gill; Brownlow also directed “Cecil B. DeMille: American Epic” and “Garbo,” the latter with Christopher Bird.

The Academy is correct, but really, Brownlow's influence runs so much deeper, in ways that cannot be counted by the listing as above which feels as dry as the IMDB.

In the cinematic circles in which I travel, I'm fairly confident that if it were not for Kevin Brownlow, not one of us would be here blogging, writing, researching or preserving films. The influence and power of this humble and incredibly generous man is like a force of nature.

Brownlow beguiled us with the "book I did not want to write" The Parade's Gone By. He astonished us with the massive and landmark documentary Hollywood. He brought us The Unknown Chaplin, a key that unlocked some of the mystery of how Chaplin formed and perfected his character of the "Little Tramp" and honed his comedic genius. With D.W. Griffith The Father of Film, he paid homage to one of the earliest pioneers of cinematic language in one of the most moving documentaries I've ever seen. His documentaries on Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd are second to none (and like the landmark Hollywood not on DVD). Not content to focus only on the output of Hollywood, the facsinating Cinema Europe The Other Hollywood tells the story of what fine work was going on across the pond. The founding of Photoplay Productions with the late David Gill and Patrick Stanbury has resulted in preservation and documentary work that is the gold standard. Photoplay strives to present silent films in the way they should be seen, as "Live Cinema."

Brownlow's "trilogy" of books the previously mentioned The Parade's Gone By, as well as The War the West and the Wilderness, and Behind the Mask of Innocence are (to me) three volumes that are required reading for anyone with even the most basic interest in film history and silent film. Do not for a moment think that this "history" is dull. It most assuredly is not. Like the subjects Brownlow interviewed, the words leap off the pages and are as engaging as they are delightful. So, too, are the stories. Brownlow interviewed just about everyone who was still alive and willing to talk about silent films including the larger than life figures Allan Dwan, King Vidor, Gloria Swanson, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Mary Pickford, Clarence Brown and Louise Brooks. He did not stop with the "big names" he spoke with everyone, including family members, stuntman Harvey Parry, editors Grant Whytock and Margaret Booth and to the people who played for the films in the movie palaces like Chauncy Haines and Gaylord Carter and everyone else in between to capture what seemed to be the joy of making these films. All of these interviews have been preserved and that alone is worthy of an Oscar.

Then there is his work on Abel Gance's Napoleon. As a young film collector, a reel of film he picked up sparked a lifelong passion and a lifetime restoration project. His earlier restoration of this film brought acclaim to it's director/producer Abel Gance. His passion and continuing work has resulted in a film that is nearly complete. The latest version of Napoleon is well over 5 hours long.

Brownlow's own films,
It Happened Here and Winstanley add more fuel to the fire of his achievements.

He is a man who is curious about all aspects of film from the film stock used, to the machine that makes it and the machine that screens it. He's a critic, he's a fan and he's a geek in the nicest sense of the word. He is generous to a fault with his material and is always willing to help someone else with their projects. I can attest to this generosity personally with regard to my own book. He's truly humble about his accomplishments and perhaps a little embarassed by the acclaim, veneration and respect with which he is regarded by the film geeks like me. I get tongue tied every time I talk to him and turn into a silly fangirl. He can't know all the personal stories, but he must realize that his work has changed lives. It changed mine and I am profoundly grateful.

That the Academy has chosen to recognize him for his achievements is a wonderful thing. I applaud the Academy and the Board of Governors for this decision. I applaud Kevin Brownlow for all his achievements, past, present and those in the future. Bravo!

Friday, August 13, 2010

San Francisco Silent Films Festival Winter Event - Save the Date


Save the date! February 12, 2011 has been announced for the San Francisco Silent Film Festival Winter Event.
No, the program has not been announced. We can speculate and I hear some whispers, but nothing concrete.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Charlie Chaplin Musical to premiere in La Jolla

Robert McClure and Ashley Brown (photo by Chris Schwartz)

La Jolla Playhouse will present the world-premiere musical Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin, music and lyrics by Christopher Curtis, book by Christopher Curtis and Thomas Meehan and directed by Michael Unger, from September 7 - October 17, 2010 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre. Opening night is scheduled for Sunday, September 19 at 7:00 pm.


Playing the role of "Charlie Chaplin" will be Robert McClure, who recently starred as "Princeton" in the Broadway and national touring productions of Avenue Q. Ashley Brown, who originated the title role in the hit Broadway musical Mary Poppins, will portray "Oona." The full cast includes LJ Benet (You Again, Diary of a Wimpy Kid) as "Young Sydney," Jenn Colella (Broadway's Urban Cowboy, The Times They Are A-Changin') as "Hedda Hopper," Eddie Korbich (Broadway's The Drowsy Chaperone, The Little Mermaid) as "Karno," Janet Metz (original company of Falsettoland, Playhouse's Harmony) as "Hannah," Brooke Sunny Moriber (Broadway's Follies, The Wild Party) as "Mildred," Ron Orbach (Broadway's Chicago, Laughter on the 23rd Floor) as "Mr. Chaplin," Roland Rusinek (Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera, A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden) as "Alf," Jake Schwenke (title role in Broadway's Billy Elliott) as "Young Charlie/Jackie," Matthew Scott (Broadway's Jersey Boys, A Catered Affair) as "Sydney" and William Youmans (Broadway's Wicked, Playhouse's Dracula the Musical, Randy Newman's Faust) as "Older Charlie." The ensemble includes Aaron Acosta, Courtney Corey, Matthew Patrick Davis, Justin Michael Duval, Sara Edwards, Ben Liebert, Alyssa Marie, Jennifer Noble, Kürt Norby, Carly Nykanen, Jessica Reiner-Harris and Kirsten Scott.

The creative team includes: Christopher Curtis (Dave the Musical), composer, lyricist and co-librettist; Thomas Meehan (Tony Award winner for Hairspray, The Producers; Playhouse's Cry Baby), co-librettist; Michael Unger (world premiere of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), director; Bryan Perri, music director; Warren Carlyle (Broadway's Finian's Rainbow, A Tale of Two Cities), choreographer; Alexander Dodge, scenic designer; Linda Cho, costume designer; Paul Gallo, lighting designer; Jon Weston, sound designer; Douglas Besterman (Playhouse's Dracula, the Musical), orchestrator; Gabriel Greene, dramaturg; Frank Hartenstein, stage manager; and Dan Kamin, Script Consultant and Physical Comedy Specialist.

Charlie Chaplin came to America an unknown and left amidst scandals and controversy. In between, he became one of the best-loved and most famous entertainers in the world. From the gritty streets and smoky music halls of London to movie screens across the globe, Limelight goes behind the camera to show how a comic genius found soaring success and later fell from grace. This thrilling world-premiere musical provides a captivating close-up on the man who changed motion pictures forever.

Tres interesting, no? Thanks to Tref for the heads upon this!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Early Warner Brothers Studios

I make no secret of the fact that my favorite studio producing films in the 1930s and 40s was Warner Brothers. They certainly made some damn fine silent films, too! Warner Brothers have more films in my personal top twenty than any other studio. Even the lamest programmer has something to recommend to me. The look, the feel, the grit and the snappy dialogue of a Warners film is unmistakable, as unmistakable as a Max Steiner or Erich Wolfgang Korngold score.

An important new book on the studio covering the early years of the brothers Warner from the early silent days on up to through the 1950s is covered in Early Warner Bros. Studio by E.J. Stephens and Marc Wanamaker.

Since 1928, Warner Bros. has produced thousands of beloved films and television shows at the studio's magical 110-acre film factory in Burbank. This collection of evocative images concentrates on the Warner Bros. legacy from the 1920s to the 1950s, when timeless classics such as Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and East of Eden came to life. It also looks at WB's earlier homes along Hollywood's "Poverty Row," the birthplace of Looney Tunes, and the site of WB's pioneering marriage between film and sound in the 1920s. Early Warner Bros. Studios also tells the tale of four brothers--Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack Warner--scions of a Polish Jewish immigrant family who rose from the humblest of origins to become Hollywood moguls of enormous and lasting influence.

The authors will be signing copies of the book at Larry Edmunds Bookshop which is the oldest remaining movie book store on Hollywood Boulevard.


Thursday, August 12- 7:00 p.m.
Larry Edmunds Bookshop

6644 Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood
, CA 90028

(tel) 323-436-3273

Info@larryedmunds.com

More than just a book signing, part of the evening plans will include a slide show of photos of Early Warner Bros. Studios as well as a discussion with the authors about the book.

Rudolph Valentino Visits Disneyland

Thanks to the blog Main Gate Admission, we've got evidence of Rudolph Valentino and Vilma Banky at the Main Street Cinema at Disneyland. I remember going to the Main Street Cinema when I was a kid, but all I can remember seeing are the cartoons (and that it was usually nice and cool in there). Rudy and Vilma did not play the Main Street Cinema for long, we'll save that story for another blog post one of these days.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rudolph Valentino The Silent Idol in Hollywood

Be there or be square!

It's a thrill to be able to announce that I will be signing copies of Rudolph Valentino the Silent Idol
at Larry Edmunds Bookshop on Hollywood Blvd.


If you can make it, I'd love to meet you. Always a pleasure to meet "rudyfans" old friends and new.

August 21, 2010 at 7:00pm
Larry Edmunds Bookshop
6644 Hollywood Blvd.

There will also be a short screening of some Valentino rarities in the shop and I understand some very wonderful memorabilia will also be on display.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

2010 San Francisco Silent Film Festival Roundup


The 15th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival started with President of the Board of Directors Judy Wyler Sheldon welcoming the audience and opening the festivities with her pick for some highlights over the weekend. As the crowd roared in appreciation, the first reel began to spool.

Opening Night – Thursday July 15th

The Iron Horse 1924 John Ford, George O’Brien, Madge Bellamy

I feel in some respects this film is slightly better than James Cruze’s 1923 The Covered Wagon for Paramount. Both films take very seriously the history they are presenting. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve seen The Covered Wagon, but my recollection is that its overlong and a bit dull. Equally so with The Iron Horse. I found it very title heavy and overlong without the leading man showing up until well into the second half of the film. This was History 101 and, boy oh boy, John Ford sure let you know it. Once the grown up George O’Brien showed up in the film, the pacing as well as the action picked up appreciably. Dennis James played the original score on the Mighty Wurlitzer and was as he always is a terrific showman. I’d give it a solid **** for George O’Brien with a ripped shirt and ripped muscles (hubba hubba) and the rest of the film a solid ***

Saturday July 16th

Amazing Tales From the Archives #1

This is always a program I look forward to. Without the work of the archivists, we’d have no films to see. I missed the early half of the program and came in the middle of the presentation by Paula Felix-Didier and Fernando Pena from Argentina who were explaining Mr. Pena’s journey of twenty years to view the version of Metropolis that was lodged in the Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires. It was fascinating and only served to make my mouth water to see the restored film later this evening. I understand I missed some splendid fashion reels earlier in the program, damn. Piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin.

A Spray of Plum Blossoms 1931 Bu Wangcang, Jin Yan, Ruan Lingyu

Author and President emeritus Richard J. Meyer introduced what is becoming an annual event, a Chinese silent film for the festival. A Spray of Plum Blossoms is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona with a little bit of The Mark of Zorro thrown in for good measure. Most of the films from this era that have been presented in the past have been sad, romantic tales, often with tragic endings. Plum Blossoms was a delightful alternative. It starred Jin Yan (the Rudolph Valentino of Shanghai as Meyer stated) and the tragic and stunning Ruan Lingyu. While some of the comedy was a tad forced, I had no trouble immersing myself in the unfamiliar and rather strange military lifestyle. Lin Chuchu played the love interest for Jin Yan and I found her to be quite naturalistic and fun. Jin Yan showed much charm (What a smile!) and an appeal reminiscent to Rudolph Valentino in his swashbuckler of a film, The Eagle. The print featured dual language titles which I thought was unusual. I quizzed Mr. Meyer after the film wondering if this was common. He said it was done in only three films he knew of. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it and now I’m going to have to read the two bios authored by Mr. Meyer. Donald Sosin offered appropriate and some frothy music on the piano.

Rotaie 1928 Mario Camerini: Kathe von Nagy Maurizio D’Ancora and Daniele Crespi

Artistic Director, Anita Monga introduced this film and likened it to F.W. Murnau’s 1926 film Sunrise. To many silent film fans Sunrise is one of the greatest, if not the greatest silent film of the era. I would not go so far as to say Sunrise is the greatest film. It is, however, among my top 10 favorites. Her comparison perhaps resulted in my being unfairly harsh on this beautifully shot film. The first 10 or 15 minutes of the film sucked you in, it built slowly and there was great tension and curiosity once you got what exactly was going on. Then, after a twist of luck for the pair of protagonists the film dropped for me. The characters were all too human and not terribly likeable. I found myself squirming in my seat wondering why this woman would stay with her husband, who had been correctly described by her parents as “no good.” The character who proved wisest and most compelling to me was the rich playboy played by Daniele Crespi. He was subtle and while his character was a bit of a cad, in the end he proved to be a very decent fellow. I will give props 100% to the beautiful camerawork of Ubaldo Arata, some gorgeously lit and composed shots. In the end, it fell flat for me. Ably accompanied by Stephen Horne.

Metropolis 1927 Fritz Lang: Gustav Frohlich, Birgitte Helm

The film was introduced by Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation and Paula Felix-Didier and Fernando Pena. The compelling story of Mr. Pena’s twenty year journey to see this version of the film was no less compelling that when I heard it earlier in the day. Loads of cineastes stick their collective noses in the air when referring to the Giorgio Moroder version of the film, I quite liked it. It had been that long since I’d seen this film and I was very much looking forward to seeing after so many years in a nearly complete print. The film was digitally projected and I heard many complaints about it from various people I spoke with later on. That did not bother me so much. What can one say about this landmark film? It’s Metropolis, after all. Visually stunning, the design is overwhelming. The acting was abysmally over the top. I’d forgotten what a terrific beating Birgitte Helm takes in the film, it’s a wonder she survived. What really made the experience for me and the 1400+ people in the audience was the score composed and performed by The Alloy Orchestra. This was my first time hearing them play a silent film live and it was an E-V-E-N-T in every sense of the word. Their massive, percussive score moved the film along and underscored and overscored the action. The rousing Standing O they received was richly deserved. I have to laugh, in speaking with Kevin Brownlow about it later on, he acknowledged their score and still sniffed “I saw it with the original score in Italy.” Here’s hoping the KINO DVD release has the option for both. That said, for me Alloy really made the film.

Saturday July 17th

The Big Business of Short, Funny Films hosted by Leonard Maltin and Pete Doctor and Variations on a Theme: Musicians on the Craft of Composing and Performing for Silent Film. Sadly, I missed these two programs due to a lovely brunch at the home of author Matthew Kennedy. I have seen The Cook and laughed uproariously and would have again. Hopefully I made up for that with the Sunday morning breakfast, eh Rodney?

The Flying Ace 1926 Richard Norman: Laurence Griner, Katherine Boyd and Steve Reynolds.

I’ve long wanted to see one of the few surviving films produced by Norman Films. I had done no homework and was really surprised to discover that producer/director Richard Norman was not an African American. I thoroughly enjoyed the introduction to the film by Ann Burt and Caroline Williams of the Norman Studios Museum. The film was not an action film, at least not in the sense I thought it might be given the title. Aerial footage was kept to a minimum. This was not a large budget feature, nor was it an action film in the strictest sense. It was more of a detective film. Low budget or not, I found it to be rather enjoyable. Kathryn Boyd did not have a lot to do, but she was lovely just the same. The star of the film may have been Laurence Griner, but the person whole stole the picture was Steve Reynolds “Peg” a veteran who lost a leg and did the most amazing stunts in the film. Donald Sosin provided the music.

The Strong Man 1926 Frank Capra: Harry Langdon Priscilla Bonner

Kevin Brownlow and Patrick Stanbury of Photoplay Productions were on hand to receive The Silent Film Festival Award. Richly deserved and long overdue for all of the beautiful and hard work Photoplay Productions has done over the years with restorations and their documentary films. I lack the slapstick comedy gene. I love Buster Keaton, Chaplin and Harold Lloyd. Laurel and Hardy never fail to make me laugh. I can take it all in small doses. I confess, the artistry and humor of Harry Langdon escapes me. Perhaps I am being unfair, I've only seen this one film of his. Yes, I've seen clips of many bits, but I do not get it. While there were moments of mild amusement, I came away from this film wondering why he is considered the “Fourth Great Comedian” of the silent era. Much of the film was, to me, really unfunny and, frankly, downright creepy. I’ll chalk this up to my lack of slapstick gene LP14-IL.

Diary of a Lost Girl and Haxan were missed due to having to prepare for an early breakfast I was hosting the next morning. No snubs were intended, I had bacon to cook and had seen both films before.

Sunday July 18th

Amazing Tales From the Archives #2

I missed out on the first half of this program and came in time to see the presentation by the National Film Preservation Foundation giving us the lowdown on the remarkable re-patriation of 75 formerly lost films discovered in New Zealand. I was doubly proud and chuffed to see on the big screen an early Vitagraph film entitled The Better Man. This film is one of the films that was preserved with the help of bloggers Marilyn Ferdinand (Ferdy on Films) and Farran Smith Nehme (Self Styled Siren) who organized the Film Preservation Blogathon in February. The credit card for the blogathon made me cheer loudly and clap hard. The Better Man was a good little film and had the unusual twist of portraying the “bad guy” Mexican bandit as, truly, the better man in a most flattering light. Yay for the good guys!

The Shakedown 1929 William Wyler: James Murray, Barbara Kent and Jack Hanlon.

This was the best film of the weekend for me. This was a small film, a programmer and William Wyler’s second film. It was, in short, a revelation. That Wyler could pretty much come out of the box and give us a film that moved at breakneck speed and tell a story with such slim and easily hackneyed material in such an entertaining fashion shows what a raw talent he was. The film also showcased what a tragic loss was the career of James Murray. I’d only seen him in King Vidor’s 1928 film The Crowd. He’s affecting in that film. In The Shakedown he is even more moving, more natural. This illustrated to me all the more how tragic that his career was so short and his end so swift. Murray’s scenes with young Jack Hanlon as the orphaned boy are great, very natural camaraderie between the two and blossoming into a very heartfelt father and son-like affection. Murray and Hanlon’s tears were real, so too were mine. Barbara Kent, who is one of the few silent players still with us, had little to do but to look pretty. She did that well. Harry Gribbon mugged and did his scenes with the boy to great effect. I came away so pleased with the film. It’s a sleeper and was my favorite of the weekend. A programmer that hit a home run out of the ballpark and into McCovey Cove.

Man With a Movie Camera 1929 Dziga Vertov

This film can easily be identified as one of the “arty farty” kind of films that could bore the pants off you and give you a headache. Frankly, after reading the program notes by Hell on Frisco Bay’s Brian Darr, I thought I’d be doing just that, snoring through the movie. I could not have been further wrong. As much as I did enjoy this film, I have to give props to Alloy Orchestra for making this movie for me. I can appreciate the rapid cutting and endless montage, but without Alloy’s score, I think I would have headed to the nearest bar for a pick me up. Instead, I was cheering at the end, it was splendid seeing it this way.

The Woman Disputed 1928 Henry King and Sam Taylor: Norma Talmadge, Gilbert Roland and Arnold Kent.

No question this is a star turn by Norma Talmadge. I’ve long wanted to see one of her films on the big screen. This was a special treat because it was not only Norma, it was Norma in the midst of her torrid affair with the tremendously yummy Gilbert Roland. Yes, I am exactly this shallow. This is a film that was made during the bridge of the silent to talkie era. The production values were rich, the camera work was glossy and the story a little over the top. Talmadge was in her element, her large expressive eyes really did emote in a subtle and devastating fashion. In only one instance would I say Talmadge appeared uncomfortable on screen. That was during the kitchen scenes. I can’t believe she ever, in real life, hoisted a skillet to so much as fry an egg. I showed. The sparks between she and Gilbert Roland were obvious. The ending was over the top as every report I’ve read has stated. Nevertheless, this was a FUN film, all Hollywood gloss and that’s what I expected and that’s exactly what I received.

L’Heureuse Mort 1924 Serge Najadene: Nicholas Rimsky, Suzanne Bianchetti

This film was probably my second favorite of the weekend. It was so reminiscent of the light touch of Rene Clair, it was funny, a bit silly and in the end totally enjoyable. Props must be given to the witty score by the Matti Bye Ensemble. It fit the film like a glove, this was the dessert that ended the festival on a light and fun note. Nicholas Rimsky shined in his dual role and Suzanne Bianchetti reminded me so much of Edna Purviance. She had the same easy charm, the same delightful personality and she stole the film as she retold the tale of the storm at sea. The animated sequence of the duel was so cleverly done, I totally loved it.

Upon Sleeping it Off
I must admit, when I first read the schedule for the festival I felt some disappointment. I thought it was far too heavy on arty films. I had expected that for the 15th Anniversary the Board of Directors, Stacey Wisnia and Anita Monga would pull out all the stops for some great silent film blockbuster hits. They didn’t and regardless of my silent inner grumbling, I have to give it to them, I really enjoyed the films far more than I’d expected. That said, I think it is time to bring back some of the big guns like a Mary Pickford, a De Mille, a Clara Bow, a Chaplin or a couple of westerns. There is plenty out there to choose from. I'd like to put in yet another plug for the Festival to bring back Photoplay Productions and have them bring along their legendary print of The Eagle with Valentino. It's off a 35mm camera negative for pity's sake. In the Castro this will shine and Valentino will draw a nice crowd, too.

This brings up another complaint, print quality. I bitched and moaned about the prints in the 2009 festival. I applaud heartily the SFSFF's attention to screening the films with terrific live music. I wish they'd pay a little more attention to the quality of the prints that are getting screened. I know it (1) costs money and (2) sometimes there is a SNAFU. With the great reputation the SFSFF has, I would think going after the primo prints would be a natural.

I loved the Melies films and think that it would be great to showcase some more short films. A program of some early situation comedies would bring down the house, especially if your able to program some Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew comedies. Just my 2 cents!

Chris Snowden posted on his Silent Movie Blog listed some valid complaints about the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. I'd tend to agree with items #5 and #7. Most of the notes in the program book were, to me, snobby film school speak. The notes did little in giving some history of the making of the films and in some cases really did nothing to encourage me to even want to see the films. I do not pretend to be a great writer, but I know enough about some film history that you can write entertaining and informative notes and not make it read like you've got a broomstick up your backbone. I'd like to add another complaint. Not a big one, but, if the festival is going to continue to be spread out over 4 days with fewer films per day, can you schedule some of the in between times to be a hair longer? We found ourselves rushing back to the theatre more than once as the break time was not long enough to acommodate a meal.


More Lucid Voices From the Peanut Gallery
Other fine reports of the festival can be found at San Francisco Silent Film Confidential. Michael Guillen at The Evening Class has written way more than I've been able to between the end of the festival and now. I've hardly recovered! Brian Darr of Hell on Frisco Bay has done his wrap up here. Brian thanks for stopping by the book table to say hello, it was great to meet you face to face. Thomas Gladysz of The Louise Brooks Society offers his thoughts on Louise at his blog as well as at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival blog which links to other blogs with their roundups.

I may be tired after a whirlwind weekend of movies and social events, nonetheless, I am already looking forward to next year.


The Daughters of Naldi
Joan Myers, Greta de Groat, Karie Bible, Donna Hill, Mary Mallory

Monday, July 12, 2010

Photo of the Month #1


Anna May Wong photographed by Nikolas Murray

There never was a more glamourous Asian movie star than Anna May Wong. In an age when many ethnic roles were played by actors in "yellowface" or "blackface" Anna May Wong was a rare bird and a standout. She began in bit parts before starring in the 1922 technicolor film Toll of the Sea directed by Chester Franklin (brother of Sidney). A delicate retelling of Madam Butterfly except now in China rather than Japan. Her portrayal of the young girl Lotus Flower is still very moving today and the early Technicolor process is spectacular.


She was not the first great Asian star, in that she followed in the footsteps of Japan's Sessue Hayakawa. She was, however, just as much of a pioneer. She was classically beautiful as the stunning Nikolas Murray study above shows.

There is a beautiful documentary entitled Frosted Yellow Willows which will be available on DVD in a limited edition. If you are attending the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, producer Elaine Mae Woo will be on hand to sign copies.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

San Francisco Silent Film Festival - 2010




The 15th annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival is almost upon us! I, for one, can hardly wait.

Here’s the lineup!

Thursday, July 15th


The Iron Horse (USA, 1924, 150 mins, 35mm)
Directed By: John Ford Cast: George O'Brien, Madge BellamyAccompanied By: Dennis James


Friday, July 16th


Amazing Tales from the Archives 1 (60 mins)
Lost Films from the Silent Era:
Presentations by Joe Lindner of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Paula Félix-Didier and Fernando Peña of Museo del Cine, Buenos Aires (the archivists responsible for finding the lost Metropolis footage). Accompanied By: Donald Sosin

A Spray of Plum Blossoms (China, 1931, 100 mins, 35mm)
Directed By: Bu Wancang Cast: Ruan-Lingyu, Jin YanAccompanied By: Donald Sosin
Presented with both Mandarin and English intertitles.

Rotaie (Italy, 1929, 74 mins, 35mm)
Directed By: Mario Camerini Cast: Käthe von Nagy, Maurizio D'Ancora
Accompanied By: Stephen Horne
Presented with Italian intertitles accompanied by a live English translation.

Metropolis (Germany, 1927, 148 mins, Digital)
Directed By: Fritz Lang Cast: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Brigitte Helm
Accompanied By: Alloy Orchestra
Special Guests: Paula Félix-Didier and Fernando Peña of the Museo del Cine, the pair who found the lost footage!

Saturday, July 17th


The Big Business of Short, Funny Films (62 min)
Director Pete Docter presents a selection of hilarious short films — some of the funniest moments in cinema — all in 35mm! Program includes The Cook (USA, 1918, 22 min),Pass the Gravy (USA, 1928, 22 min), and Big Business (USA, 1929, 18 min)

Variations on a Theme:

Musicians on the Craft of Composing and Performing for Silent Film (70 mins)
Chloe Veltman, Bay Area culture correspondent for The New York Times and producer and host of public radio’s VoiceBox, will moderate a discussion with the musicians participating in the 2010 Festival.

The Flying Ace (USA, 1926, 65 mins, 35mm)
Directed By: Richard E. Norman Cast: Lawrence Criner, Kathryn Boyd
Accompanied By: Donald Sosin Special Guest: Rita Reagan from Norman Studios Silent Film Museum

The Strong Man (USA, 1926, 75 mins, 35mm)
Directed By: Frank Capra Cast: Harry Langdon, Priscilla Bonner
Accompanied By: Stephen Horne

Diary of a Lost Girl (Germany, 1929, 116 mins, 35mm)
Directed By: Georg Wilhelm Pabst Cast: Louise Brooks, Kurt Gerron
Accompanied By: Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (Sweden , Denmark, 1922, 90 mins, 35mm)
Directed By: Benjamin Christensen Cast: Maren Pedersen, Clara Pontoppidan, Elith Pio, Oscar Stribolt Accompanied By: Matti Bye Ensemble

Sunday, July 18th


Amazing Tales from the Archives 2 (60 mins)
Presentations by Annette Melville (National Film Preservation Board) and Mike Mashon (Library of Congress, Moving Image Section) Accompanied By: Stephen Horne

The Shakedown (USA, 1929, 70 mins, 35mm)
Directed By: William Wyler Cast: James Murray, Barbara Kent, Jack Hanlon
Accompanied By: Donald Sosin
Leonard Maltin will interview the children of director William Wyler onstage

Man with a Movie Camera (USSR, 1929, 70 mins, 35mm)
Directed By: Dziga Vertov
Accompanied By: Alloy Orchestra

The Woman Disputed (USA, 1928, 110 mins, 35mm)
Directed By: Henry King, Sam Taylor
Cast: Norma Talmadge, Gilbert Roland
Accompanied By: Stephen Horne
Introduction by Kevin Brownlow

L'Heureuse mort (France, 1924, 83 mins, 35mm)
Directed By: Serge Nadejdine
Cast: Nicolas Rimsky, Lucie Larue Accompanied By: Matti Bye Ensemble
Presented with French intertitles accompanied by a live English translation.



Throughout the weekend there will be many authors on hand to sign their books and DVDs. Here's that lineup.

THURSDAY JULY 15

9:30 pm David W. Menefee – George O'Brien: A Man’s Man In Hollywood
9:30 pm Ira Resnick – Starstruck: Vintage Movie Posters from Classic Hollywood

FRIDAY JULY 16

12:30 pm Diana Serra Cary – Whatever Happened to Baby Peggy?

4:00 pm Richie Meyer – Ruan Ling-Yu: The Goddess of Shanghai
4:00 pm Elaine Mae Woo – Anna May Wong, Frosted Yellow Willows: Her Life,
Times and Legend (DVD)

7:30 pm Eddie Muller – Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir
7:30 pm Scott O’Brien – Ann Harding - Cinema's Gallant Lady
7:30 pm Sarah Baker – Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell

SATURDAY JULY 17

11:15 am Leonard Maltin – Leonard Maltin's 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen
11:15 am Pete Docter – The Art of Up, Moster's Inc (DVD), Up (DVD),

1:30 pm Festival musicians signing their CDs and DVDs

3:30 pm Robert Dix – Out of Hollywood
3:30 pm William Wellman Jr. – The Man and His Wings: William A. Wellman and
the Making of the First Best Picture
3:30 pm Jeffrey Vance - Douglas Fairbanks

5:30 pm Kevin Brownlow - The Parade's Gone By, along with his DVDs

8:45 pm Thomas Gladysz – The Diary of a Lost Girl (Louise Brooks edition)
8:45 pm Samuel Bernstein – Lulu: A Novel
8:45 pm Ira Resnick – Starstruck: Vintage Movie Posters from Classic Hollywood

SUNDAY JULY 18

11:15 am Gregory Paul Williams – The Story of Hollywood: An Illustrated History
11:15 am David Kiehn – Broncho Billy and the Essanay Film Company
11:15 am David Shepard – Chicago (DVD)
11:15 am Elaine Mae Woo – Anna May Wong, Frosted Yellow Willows: Her Life,
Times and Legend (DVD)

1:30 pm Anthony Slide – Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazine
1:30 pm Lucy Autry Wilson (with David Kiehn) – George Lucas's Blockbusting
4:00 pm Donna Hill (with Emily Leider) – Rudolph Valentino, The Silent Idol: His
Life in Photographs

6:30 pm Kevin Brownlow - The Parade's Gone By
6:30 pm Jeffrey Vance - Harold Lloyd: Master Comedian
6:30 pm John Bengtson – Silent Traces: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the
Films of Charlie Chaplin
6:30 pm David W. Menefee – Sarah Bernhardt in the Theatre of Films and Sound
Recordings

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rescue the Hitchcock 9 - The BFI Needs Our Help!

The British Film Institute needs our help! The 9 surviving silent films of Alfred Hitchcock need restoration and preservation. The blogoshpere came together in in February For the Love of Film and helped raise money for the National Film Preservation Foundation. Can you spare $1, $5, $10, or more to help save these important films?

The BFI site has a lot of information and has posted this fabulous commercial on their youtube channel and I encourage you to watch it and please make a donation. It made me want to give some filthy lucre.

What are The Hitchcock 9?

The Pleasure Garden (1925)
The Lodger (1926)
The Ring (1927)
Downhill (1927)
Easy Virtue (1927)
The Farmers Wife (1927)
Champagne
(1928)
The Manxman (1929)
Blackmail (1929)
In a perfect world someone would also turn up a print of The Mountain Eagle. Yeah, you know why I wanna see that, yes it's Hitch and YES, it's Nita Naldi.

We've done it before! Let's do it again! Help spread the word about this worthy cause.


Artistry of the Credit Roll #4

The Maltese Falcon
1941
(Warner Bros. Pictures Inc.)












Thursday, July 8, 2010

Inside Dope on Mary Astor



No, don't misread me, Mary Astor was not a dope fiend! My favorite blogger just posted a wonderful interview with Mary Astor's daughter, Marylyn Roh. Wonderful insight to Mary Astor and some great photos, too! Her daughter at 20 was almost the spitting image of Mom. Reading her comments and responses is a delight.

I can't add to the Siren's post, but it's a must read. Do it, go here now.

The divine Mary Astor is well loved by this film fan both on film and in her two wonderful books, My Story and A Life on Film. Curmedgeonly or not, in the end I would have loved to talk to her, it seems there was not a lot of BS-ing around, she called a spade a spade and how can you not love that? She was also stunningly gorgeous and that throaty voice gets me every time.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Paramount Pretties #4

Nita Naldi
The favored co-star of Rudolph Valentino, Nita Naldi reigned as one of Paramount's featured vamps for a very short period from 1922 to 1924. During her short and potent film career Nita vamped with and for the best of them. A pitiful number of films in which Nita was featured survive. Happily one of her very best is Blood and Sand with Valentino. Her deliciously wicked turn as Dona Sol is ever delightful, she chews up the scenery and Valentino with relish.
A new website devoted to Nita Naldi will be going live very soon and will be found at http://www.silent-vamp.com/.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rudolph Valentino The Silent Idol


The month of May birthday celebration for Mr. Rudolph Valentino sort of ended before it began and died without so much as a whimper from me. Insert sad cheese face here. No slight to the divine Mr. Valentino was intended.

My time and energy over the last several weeks has been sucked up in getting the last details of Rudolph Valentino The Silent Idol - His Life in Photographs finished and the book uploaded for publication. It's amazing how the little niggly details and corrections/changes/additions are huge time suckers. At the end of the day, it was all for the greater good and the book has finally been put to bed.

I'm pleased, a little proud and very humble to be able to announce the publication of my tribute to Rudolph Valentino.

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1439029

The widget from blurb keeps crashing blogger, so the link above will take you to the preview.

I had originally planned, hoped and struggled to have the book live during the birthday month of May. A little late and I hope worth the wait in the end.

I will be back to regularly scheduled posts shortly. All I can say right now is I am ecstatic to have this project behind me and am anxiously awaiting my own copy to hit the mailbox so I can hold it in my hands.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Valentino's Scandalous Beard


Bewhiskered Valentino in New York, November 1924

I have a rather silly obsession having to do with Rudolph Valentino and this has everything to do with Rudolph Valentino sporting that beard for a project that was never filmed, The Hooded Falcon. People call me a heretic to cover up that gorgeous face with whiskers, so what? Personally, in my humble opinion, I don't think it detracts by covering up. It adds to an already very handsome countenance. Other "rudyfans" may disagree with me but I think he looked awfully dashing in that beard.


The fans of the time may have been dismayed since facial hair at that time was not common (Doug Fairbanks’ moustache being an exception to that rule). This was as true in real life as it was on the screen. Villains were traditionally those wearing the moustaches and beards. This was done often to distinguish them from the clean shaven, 100% all-American heroes who populated the screen. No upright young man would be seen in a moustache or beard, but to be a “baddie,” you just had to have a brush! The only other exception to that rule would be in the case of a period or historical film, case in point, the 1924 epic The Sea Hawk with Milton Sills bewhiskered as the hero.

Valentino in An Adventuress

The fuzzy Rudolph Valentino seen on this chilly November day was not the first time Rudolph Valentino wore a moustache or a beard. In private life, his face was no stranger to a little hair before he was famous. Several early photos of the young Valentino, still reasonably new to American shores, show him with a jaunty moustache. Once he began working in pictures on a regular basis, since he was often cast as a villain, moustaches and/or beards (of varying styles) could be seen such films as Stolen Moments, The Wonderful Chance and An Adventuress. In many cases, the facial hair was quite fake, applied by the make man or Valentino himself. The styles varied from a dapper handlebar to a small “Chaplin style” moustache. As shown above, he also sported a monocle to great effect!

Even though Valentino had been off the screen for some time, he was still a man of great influence in style and taste judging by the reaction to his appearance in New York. The public (and news hounds it seems) had short memories. Perhaps it was because Valentino was not the influential star in 1920 he was in 1924, his beard and moustache in the last portion of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were forgotten. They also failed to put two and two together and remember he sported some stubble in The Conquering Power, and came back at the end of that particular film with a very distinguished Van Dyke beard.

A relaxed Valentino on the Leviathan

As was the usual custom, the press saw him on the S.S. Leviathan before disembarking. Valentino returning in 1924 was news. Valentino wearing a beard was BIG news; more than that, this beard was revolutionary! Posing on deck with Natacha and alone (with his beard and a winning smile) Valentino’s image made the pages of virtually every metropolitan newspaper across the country, from New York, to Chicago, to San Francisco, to Los Angeles. The headlines made note, Rudolph Valentino had returned to U.S. shores, triumphant with a new contract, en route to his Hollywood home with a little more than his wife and the beautiful Nita Naldi in tow. Along with his new cars (which he had ordered the previous summer), trunk loads of antiquities, gifts for friends, costumes for The Scarlet Power (later retitled The Hooded Falcon), Valentino came home with something the Barbers of America would not stand for, a fashion revolution, a mustached and bearded face! Why if even 1/3 of the young males in America followed suit, the business of barbering would be ruined!

* * * *

Valentino Back With Whiskers—Don’t Want Foliage—Too Much Trouble—but it Grows on Rudy Tells Girls at Pier

New York November 10 (by Universal Service)

The Sheik came back home today looking more sheikish than ever. “Come out from behind that foliage Rudolph. We know you,” said a bevy of girls when Valentino and his wife tripped down the gangplank of the Leviathan.

“I can’t, it’s grown on,” said the sheik. It was a reddish black hirsute growth on chin and lips that gave the Valentino countenance a decidedly Moorish cast. “Don’t want it—too much trouble. But, can’t help it. New picture you know. After that, back to the barber shop,” declared Rudy.

The Valentino’s have been summering on the Hudnut Estate in Nice and are now back for work. “When we were in Spain, I was taken for a Moor, with no end of trouble,” said the sheik. “I don’t want to be a sheik.”

A few old timers standing by looked at Rudy’s whiskers and signed. They seemed to remember a time when two whiskered lads were just starting out in the cough drop world. “Maybe they’ll come back in style now,” they said.

* * * *

The Movie Sheik’s New Moorish Beard

Rudolph Valentino, the movie sheik, returned from Europe to the United States this week wearing a Moorish beard of reddish hue. He also wore cerise suspenders to match the whiskers. He has been in Spain in search of “color” for a picture in which it is said he will play the part of a Moor.

* * * *

When the Valentinos and Miss Naldi left New York they were hounded by a curious public and press, when they reached Chicago, more of the same. They were obliging as they posed before leaving Chicago, Rudy always dapper, tipping his hat, Natacha looking slightly bored and Nita, enjoying herself, looking at Rudy! Days later they finally reached their destination, the West Coast, they were greeted rapturously at the Santa Fe train station by hundreds of friends and fans. Newsreel footage shows Valentino laughing and smiling, waving to well wishers and shouting greetings to friends he spies in the crowd surging about the train. The Valentinos and Miss Naldi posed for the cameras, for the newsreels and were loaded with flowers. Through the crowds came the official greeting in the form of acting Los Angeles Mayor, Boyle Workman. Accompanying Mayor Workman was a representative of the Barber’s of America, armed with a straight razor poised for Rudolph Valentino’s throat! It was a publicity stunt, and several photos exist of Valentino laughing as the razor gets close to his beard! Rudy was obviously enjoying himself this day. He was back in California, about to begin work under the banner of Ritz-Carlton Productions, shooting a story penned by his lady love and co-starring his favorite leading lady Nita Naldi.

Valentino about to get a close shave

The good times continued to roll and Hollywood also took a few jibes at the bearded Rudy and the effect his whiskers would have on the film industry. Natacha may not have enjoyed it, but I suspect Rudy, eager to rid himself of the beard, likely laughed long and hard with one look at the editorial cartoon in Photoplay Magazine.

Doug Fairbanks, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Pola Negri, Charlie Chaplin,
Jackie Coogan and William S. Hart as shown in Photoplay Magazine's
scathing (and hilarious) commentary on the publicity
surrounding Valentino's bearded state.


The Hooded Falcon was not meant to be. All that survive are tantalizing costume shots of Valentino posing as the Moor. No costume tests appear to have survived of Nita Naldi. Rudolph Valentino wore a beard in his next film, Cobra, in the flashback sequence. This beard, however, was applied by the makeup man as Rudy had finally shaved.