Week of July 22nd, 1916

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley reported that D.W. Griffith was starting work on a new film, and it might be about the Holy Grail. He was definitely staying in California, despite the rumors that he was moving to New York. However, none of this happened: he never made a Holy Grail film, and his next release, Hearts of the World, was mostly shot in England and France. He did eventually move to Mamaroneck, New York, in 1919.

(I’m going to leave this here, just in case seeing the words “Holy Grail” affects you like it does me)

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No one film stood out as her favorite this week, but she thought that Lionel Barrymore was brilliant as a devil-may-care young prospector in The Quitter, “a comedy of supremely piquant quality.” She seemed equally appalled by and interested in The Little Girl Next Door, that week’s film about sex trafficking: “Luridly sensational as to incident, oft-times improbably, yet possessed of a certain gripping power because of its peculiar appeal, the picture is supposed to reveal the methods of ‘white slavers.’ She noted the opulence of William Hart’s latest, The Captive God, and reported that the Ince Company’s sculpture department had used 300 tons of plaster. And she mentioned that Chaplin’s The Vagabond was held over for a third week.

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Fred Held

Kingsley admired the photography of Fathers of Men, which was shot in Northern Canada “under extreme hardship,” particularly the “wonderful frozen waterfalls, huge glaciers, vast snow plains, hoary rocks and, most beautiful of all, the fairy-like frozen webs which Jack Frost weaves on tree top and shrub.” Fred Held was the cinematographer who managed to capture it all and keep the camera from freezing. He was a pioneer in the New York film industry; according to a short 1913 profile in Moving Picture World he’d been working in film manufacturing for 15 years. His feature credits ended in 1920, but his occupation in later censuses was always listed as photography. Fathers of Men is so lost that it doesn’t even have a listing in the FIAF database.

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Roy Fernandez

In a slow week for film news, Kingsley reported that newly-minted actor Roy Fernandez had the only dog in the world with gold tooth, a bulldog named Peter. Fernandez was an artists’ model who had won Universal’s most handsome man contest. He was cast in Lois Weber’s next film, Idle Wives, but he didn’t appear in it. In September, Variety reported that he had returned to modeling. This sort of contest rarely produced stars (Francis X. Bushman seems to be the only exception) and the studios gave up on them.

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Dora Mae Howe

The most alien-to-2016 story of the week was the report that stage ingénue Dora Mae Howe had gained ten pounds since she joined the Burbank Theater company. She told Kingsley that it happened because every role had required her to eat something on stage. In her next play, The Fibber, it was candy and she wanted chocolate almonds. Now it’s impossible to imagine an actress admitting to eating candy, let alone gaining weight. Howe’s stage career lasted for a few more years; she married film character actor William Austin in 1929.

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