One hundred years ago this week, Congress finally passed the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution which would eventually allow all American women to vote. It still needed to be ratified by 36 states. Since state legislations weren’t in session year round, it took over a year but the 36th state, Tennessee, approved it on August 18, 1920 and it was signed into law on August 26th, in time for the presidential election
The Australian Mermaid
What she wore to the jewelers, 1919
Grace Kingsley, who’s been able to vote since 1911, didn’t mention the big news for she was too busy on an assignment from her editor: getting Annette Kellerman, the Australian Mermaid, on record about clothing, since she was so famous for not wearing much of it. The two career women did as well as could be expected. Grace Kingsley had some jokes about how with a packed rehearsal schedule it was difficult to find Kellerman in street clothes. Kellerman politely answered her questions, but not without saying “doesn’t it seem a bit ridiculous to ask a mermaid about clothes?” She told her that she mostly wore tailored frocks, because that’s what her husband liked. Her advice to other women was “in general, women should dress to suit their personalities. But some people have awfully funny ideas of what their personalities are!” Happily, she included men in that, too.
Oh well, if entertainment journalists cut out all of the ridiculousness they wouldn’t have much to write about.
This week, Kingsley finally found one profession that doesn’t want to be in the movies. While shooting The Speed Maniac on location in San Francisco, Tom Mix and his director Edward Le Saint needed someone to play the part of a pickpocket, and they decided they wanted realistic casting. So Mix went to his friend, the captain of police Dan O’Brien. They looked in the holding cell and chose a likely candidate, However, when they asked him to be in their film, the pickpocket said “Where do you get that stuff? Mug me, would ye, so that I would been seen by all the coppers in the world. Ruin me in me profession! I should say not! Besides, picking pockets is a good enough job for me. I don’t want to be a picture actor. Picture actor! Hunh!” None of the other crooks wanted the job, so they made the second cameraman, Walter Williams, do the dirty work.
Kingsley mentioned that “the wife of Chaplin’s cameraman, Jack Wilson, on May 28, gave birth to a daughter at the Wilson home on Crenshaw Blvd.” Some months later, both Edith Wilsons got to meet the boss on the set of The Kid:
One hundred years ago this week, the war’s effects were still being felt. Kingsley told the story of a visitor to Charlie Chaplin’s studio who’d suffered more than most, Marcel Dupuys:
the fourteen-year-old French lad who went into action at Chateau Thierry and Pont a Mousson. His mother passed on in 1911 and his father fell in the battle at Verdun.
The authorities placed him in an orphan asylum where restlessness and discontent soon mastered him. One day he ran away, and finally reached the front trenches where he attached himself to the Seventy-Ninth French Infantry. Many stories are told of the ‘handy boy around the front line dressing stations,’ whose particular job was crawling around amongst the wounded, giving them rum. While giving cheer and stimulant to his stricken comrades he was twice wounded. As the ranks of his countrymen grew thin and scattered, the little man was separated from them, and later attached himself to an American unit, the 143rd Field Artillery. The 143rd came home on the transport “Matsonia,” in which Peter B. Kyne commanded Battery A. The soldiers of the 143rd smuggled Marcel aboard the transport, and he turned up two days later at sea, which was Christmas Day. Later he was adopted by Mr. Kyne.
It was mighty good to see Mr. Chaplin and Marcel romping over the studio grounds. The wistful little fellow of sad memories was once again the happy boy.
“Father,” said Marcel whose English is quite good, “you have been nice to me all the time. But when you bring me to play with Charlie—oh boy!—I think you are quite too wonderful.”
Once again, Chaplin’s publicity department was very good at their job. This time (unlike the story of Charlie saving a girl from drowning), I was able to verify some of the story. Marcel Jules Dupuys was born February 21, 1904 in Dangeutin, France, so he’d just turned 15. He really did sail to America from Bordeaux on December 23, 1918, according to the ship’s manifest.
Kyne wrote an expanded version of the story Kingsley was told for Sunset magazine. He explained that his experience as an army commander prepared him for the challenges of adopting a teen that was “equal proportions of angel and devil.” The stories he told about Marcel shooting birds, crashing through the glass roof of the conservatory and getting into fights with neighborhood boys were supposed to be cute, evidence that he was “one hundred and fifty per cent boy.”
By September, 1920 the Kynes had changed their minds. Kyne sent him to the Alameda County Detention Home to await deportation proceedings after Dupuys had run away from home for four days. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Marcel admitted to not always doing what was right, but he was brokenhearted that “Mr. Kyne does not want me any more.” At a hearing, Kyne blamed Helene Kyne, saying “the boy’s actions has so unnerved his wife that she was compelled to go on an extended cruise of the West Indies,” but they found a new foster mother and he left with her. This arrangement only lasted a few days and Dupuys disappeared again. He was found and arrested after he robbed Kyne’s house in Del Mar, California. His deportation hearing was held in San Diego in December, where he was found to be of “constitutional psychopathic inferiority” and was sent back to France.
However, he didn’t stay there for long. He stowed away on the steamer Westwood and arrived in Baltimore on May 6th, 1921, only to be quickly deported again. So he signed up as a crewmember on a ship bound for Galveston, Texas and he deserted. He enlisted in the army signal corps and even managed to get himself naturalized as an American citizen on June 5, 1922. He got caught at Camp Travis and was ordered to be deported again.
That’s where his trail ends. I can’t find out if he returned to France, because their census information is only available there (it hasn’t even been indexed!). However, given his history, I wouldn’t be surprised if the minute the authorities’ backs were turned, he either escaped in the States or was on the first boat back, this time with a new name.
This week, Kingsley saw a film that finally answered Sigmund Freud’s question:
It was a large order which the Vitagraph undertook when they strove to include in five reels of film the desires of women, as implied in the name of their latest photoplay starring Grace Darmond and which is entitled What Every Woman Wants. All the same the title is a good one and drew a lot of people to Ray’s Garden yesterday—probably the men went to find out what the women wanted, and the women went to find out what they themselves wanted.
Evidently what every woman wants is excitement.
Darmond’s character got plenty of that, what with getting arrested for murdering her husband. Kingsley’s description of what happened next in the now lost film delivered some grade-A snark:
just at the tip end of the last reel, when you’re getting awfully nervous, the little housemaid up and confesses she killed her master because, being on probation from the reform school, he’s threatened to send her back, for no reason which can be found out, as she seems always to be a busy soul and neat and tidy into the bargain. She cries and says she didn’t even know the gun was loaded—and on her unsupported testimony the court lets her go and she walks out happily on the arm of her policeman lover, who tells her not to be a careless little thing with guns like that any more.
Oh dear. This one’s not going to get a remake. Well, they couldn’t all be classics.
It’s interesting who was top-billed in the publicity for an upcoming film from Universal:
T.H. Gibson Gowland, whose characterization in Maurice Tourneur’s production of White Heather is said to be as fine a bit of acting as the screen has seen, has been engaged by Universal to play a leading role in a picture called The Pinnacle, which Erich von Stroheim is directing and in which von Stroheim also plays a leading part, with Francolla Billington and Sam de Grasse featured. Gowland’s three-year-old son also appears in the picture.
Now when the film is remembered, it’s for Von Stroheim. It got a title change, becoming Blind Husbands and it was von Stroheim’s directing debut.
Gowland went on to star in Greed (1924) and he had a long career as a character actor. His three year old son was named Peter, and he became a glamour photographer with a six-decade long career. His web site is here.
“Former Protégé of Kyne Missing,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 24, 1920.
“Former Protégé of Peter B. Kyne Will be Deported,” San Francisco Chronicle, May 29, 1921.
“French Orphan Gets Home in San Francisco,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 11, 1920.
“Marcel Bad But Will Try Again,” Observer (Montague, MI), September 7, 1922.
Peter B. Kyne, “Fathering a War Veteran,” Sunset, pp.17-19, 54-68.
“Peter B. Kyne to Send his War Orphan Back to France,” Chico Record, February 12, 1921.
“Peter B. Kyne’s Protégé Denies Being Bad Boy,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 9, 1920.
“Peter Kyne’s Ward May be Deported,” Riverside Daily Press, December 8, 1920.
“War Waif Adopted by Author Faces Deportation,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 8, 1920.
One hundred years ago this week, world events crowded entertainment news out of the newspaper for the most part. On Monday, November 11th at 12:10 a.m. the L.A. Times announced on its public address system that German representatives had signed the armistice. A special edition of the newspaper quickly followed. Hostilities officially ended at 11 a.m. Paris time, which was 3 a.m. Los Angeles time. Naturally, nobody bothered to go to bed that night or went to work the next day. As the Times’ November 12th article, “Bedlam is the Kaiser’s Dirge As All Los Angeles Celebrates Peace” said, “The war is over. Nothing else mattered.” It continued:
Los Angeles has had many great days. Yesterday was her greatest day. Through the dark hours when enemies sore pressed she maintained her poise and smiled through her tears…All that time her emotions were damming back a great lake of feeling, and when The Times siren roared the news to a waiting city that the war was over the dam burst and out into the glorious morning of Victory Day the people poured to give their outward expression to the joy that came with daybreak.
There were no plans for an official celebration, but the mayor declared the day a holiday and prohibited all alcohol sales. The crowds were amazing:
By 8 o’clock in the morning the downtown streets were jammed and flags were being placed. Everywhere the Stars and Stripes were floating, apparently they had risen with the sun…. Gradually the crowd grew. By 9 o’clock Broadway, Spring, Hill, Seventh and the cross streets were filled.
After noon Broadway was a solid mass of color waving north and south like some sublimated ribbon counter on a spree, while at every intersection a cross current of humanity struggled against the tide, finally to be caught up in its flood and carried on whither it flowed and ebbed and flowed again.
The whole police force was on duty, but crowd control was impossible. They estimated that half a million turned up (two years later, the census said that only 576,673 people lived there!)
The streets were so congested that they had to shut down the trolleys in downtown. The noise was astonishing, too. Every car horn was being honked, “tens of thousands of portable horns, rattles, pans, cans, hanging chunks of pig iron, skillets and wash basins from the kitchen pantry added to the tremendous din.”
The Times report concluded:
The wonderful day was so filled with incidents that it was impossible to acquire more than a passing impression. The spectacle was en masse. It had no beginning, no middle, no end. It was unlike everything which ever was before, and its like may never be seen again.
There was one unfortunate consequence of the massive public celebration: it caused an uptick in flu cases, so re-opening the theaters was delayed.
Grace Kingsley did manage to write a few columns this week. She told how one person celebrated:
This is a story of Charlie Chaplin, some hell-bent cowboys and a peace celebration, and it all happened in the wee small hours of Monday morning.
The cowboys had been celebrating peace all Sunday night by shooting up the town and, while tearing down Seventh street, one of them happened to look through the window of a little all-night restaurant. There sat Charlie Chaplin, eating chop suey and cogitating on the success of Shoulder Arms. Those cowboys yelled in chorus—“Oh, you Charlie Chaplin?” but didn’t wait for Charlie to answer. Instead they swung their trusty lassoes, with the result the noose slipped over his famous head and landed him in their midst in a jiffy.
“Well, boys?” demanded the little comedian good-naturedly.
“Speech! Speech!” yelled the boys, and rapidly hoisted Chaplin to the top of an automobile, where he made a speech that ought to rattle down through the corridors of time even if it doesn’t. A crowd speedily gathered, even at 3 a.m. and when it was all over the cowboys heaved the comedian to their shoulders and bore him home.
Kingsley didn’t remark on one reason it might have been odd to find Chaplin alone in a Chinese restaurant in the early morning: two days earlier, news had broken that he’d secretly married seventeen-year-old actress Mildred Harris on Oct 23rd. This was a bad idea for both of them from the start. On November 13th, the Times reported she was in the hospital with a nervous breakdown and Chaplin was once again living at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The two formally separated in autumn 1919 and divorced in 1920.
One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley used her Sunday column (usually devoted to an interview) to write an appreciation of Roscoe Arbuckle in The Sheriff:
Up the street gallops Fatty’s steed with the whooping cowboys close at his heels. They’re gaining on him, and he wants to escape, so he does exactly what you’d never expect a man built like Fatty to do. He makes a flying leap right up the side of a church and bounces onto the roof. After which you realize that Fatty isn’t really fat at all—that he’s made of India rubber. He bounces to the belfry and hangs on to the church spire.
Then you laugh until you weep, probably. For the spire suddenly bends in his grasp, then sways this way and that under Fatty’s weight, while the chubby comedian dodges the bullets from the guns of his pursuers.
And right there is where you “get” Fatty, and realize there are other ways to Boswell a man besides using long words to write about him. For in The Sheriff, Fatty admittedly give us a perfectly delicious and at the same time the most kindly and gentle of satires on the world’s most famous athletic comedian. In fact, Arbuckle takes the ‘ire’ out of ‘satire.’ And to Roscoe Arbuckle’s genius must go a huge share of praise for his radiant and cheerful comedies, in which he provides the warm glow of humor around which humanity eagerly hovers in these stressful days.
Unfortunately, this cheerful comedy can’t help our current stressful days: it’s a lost film. So Kingsley’s description of his impressive stunt work, as well as the publicity and other materials written about the film, are all we have left. It seems that Arbuckle’s sheriff was a Douglas Fairbanks super-fan who must rescue his kidnapped sweetheart. I’m sorry we don’t get to see that!
Kingsley had a point about what makes Arbuckle films so enjoyable: they aren’t mean, the way some slapstick comedies can be (I’m not sure I’ve recovered from a Ham and Bud short I saw a few years ago that involved gassing a houseful of people). I’m glad that Kingsley called the character he played Fatty, but the filmmaker was Roscoe, which was exactly what he wanted.
I have no hesitancy in saying the world is going to pronounce it is the greatest picture comedy that has ever been made. And the preview was perfectly ‘dry’, too! If one were disposed to go into a high-brow analysis of it, one would say that Chaplin has succeeded by his artistry in fairly creating a new art form. For, despite the fact that Shoulder Arms has a ripple of laughter running all through it, which rises to the happy crescendo of laugher in its boisterous moments, it has all the time a resonant undertone of war’s rumblings and war’s mighty pathos.
Chaplin was clever to let her see it early – he thought she was important, even if her editors didn’t let her review the big films. Kingsley was one of the first critics to call Shoulder Arms great, but other film writers at the time admired it nearly as much. Peter Milne in Picture-Play Magazine said it was “proof conclusive that Charles Spencer Chaplin is the king of all comedians” (February 1919) while Film Daily gave it the highest praise possible from a trade paper: “if you don’t clean up with this Chaplin, you should get out of show business.” (November 17, 1918)
Kingsley’s favorite film in the theaters this week was yet another re-release. The intervening three years had turned it into an unusual film for its leading lady:
My goodness, how we used to sob over the sorrows of those lovely and hapless virgins, The Two Orphans, in the good old days of beer-barrel thunder and paper snowstorms! But there was something vital and fascinating in the old drama, else it never would have played all through the years. And now screen magic has touched it, as it touches so many of the beautiful old stories, and has turned it into quite a fresh new play by reason of the showing of the scenes that heretofore we’ve been obliged merely to conjure up in our imaginations, due to the limitations of the stage. The Two Orphans is on view at Miller’s this week, with no less a persona than Theda Bara in he leading role. The story is beautifully played—even if it is hard to imagine Miss Bara an orphan after the opulent orgies of Salome.
Orphans was made a few months after Bara made such an impression as a vamp in A Fool There Was in 1915, but before her studio typecast her. This lost film was based on the same play as Griffith’s Orphans of the Storm (1921); Bara played Henriette, the sighted orphan who gets kidnapped. The blind orphan, Louise, was played by Jean Sothern, who’d already quit acting in films by 1918. Bara’s popularity in 1918 must have been immense, because the film hadn’t done well at the box office when it was originally released, so it’s a little surprising they’d try it again. Maybe wartime austerity was another reason Fox mined their back catalog. Bara’s next picture in 1915 was a return to bad women with Sin, which was a great big hit and sealed her fate as a vamp.
Kingsley mentioned an unusual contribution to the war effort:
That athletic hero, Douglas Fairbanks, set a wartime example of abstemiousness by disposing of his automobile, and will be the first star in Los Angeles to go riding in his own handsome carriage. He has a fast trotting and racing pony, which will draw his equipage down Broadway.
It’s a shame that they didn’t print a picture of him and his carriage, navigating the streets of downtown Los Angeles. But here’s a nice one of Fairbanks in 1918 with the car he wasn’t using instead.
One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley took another trip to Charlie Chaplin’s studio to watch him at work. She happened to be there for when he was drinking tea and brainstorming a name for his next film. She recorded the scene:
All the name had to suggest was patriotism and fun, and drama and punch and a few other things like that. Of course, the christening wasn’t effected without a lot of skirmishing. Syd Chaplin must have his joke, for one thing.
“Call it The Bums of Berlin!” he suggested.
But Brer Charlie wasn’t going to have any low-comedy names, because his bright necklace of laughter is really strung on a stout little thread of seriousness.
The Fat Comedian, who is inclined to be sentimental, suggested it be called Hearts of Fate. [this was probably Henry Bergman]
“Hearts of Lettuce.” parodied Syd Chaplin.
“Why not call it Charlie Carries On, suggested the thin heavy, which sounded reasonable, too. [Albert Austin, perhaps]
But the comedian took a reflective munch on his third slice of cake and a quick glup of tea, got up and walked into the door of a set, emerged on the other side and triumphantly announced:
Which you must admit has punch in its sound, suggests either comedy or pathos, and altogether, like the mother hubbard of the senator’s speech, ‘covers everything and touches nothing’.
Chaplin, Bergman and Austin in Shoulder Arms
Bergman talks to Chaplin and Purviance in The Immigrant
Austin and Chaplin with a different meal in The Immigrant
And that was that. Maybe if we all eat more cake, we can have Chaplin-caliber ideas, too!
However, the film was far from finished. A bit later, this happened:
“And now, Syd,” said Charlie, “tell this lady the plot!”
Syd looked perplexed.
“Don’t you just wish you could!” laughed Charlie. “The story is a sketchy thing,” explains Charlie seriously.
Eventually they did figure it out, and the film came out in October. I imagine there was more cake and tea involved.
Kingsley’s favorite film this week was a two-reel comedy.
Fay Tincher, glory be, has returned to the screen, with her professional chewing gum and her trade-mark stripes. Filled with all her old pep and drollery she is appearing at Miller’s this week in a whimsical little comedy entitled Main 1-2-3, in which she is a shop girl, who, longingly gazing into a furniture shop window showing a furnished flat, is hired to live in the window for advertising purposes.
Fay Tincher, 1915
Fay Tincher, 1916
Tincher had been away from the screen for over a year. In 1916, she starred in Triangle two-reelers, wearing her trademark black and white striped costume and playing everything from a traveling saleswoman to a socialite. According to Steve Massa in Slapstick Divas“the unifying theme in these roles was Fay’s no-nonsense demeanor and feistiness, which were in comic contrast to her tiny stature.” Main 1-2-3 was her first film for her own production company. The Fay Tincher Comedy Company made three shorts, then she abandoned her striped outfit and went to work for Christie Comedies in 1919.
One hundred years ago this week, Famous Players/Lasky Studio held a very successful auction, show, dance and carnival to raise funds for the families of solders and sailors who had been studio employees. A good time was had by all. Not only Lasky stars turned up; Motion Picture News wrote, “Virtually every star of importance in California was present and did something to aid.” Grace Kingsley was there too, and she reported on the highlights:
Clara Kimball Young, who appeared in evening dress and wearing a magnificent hat, auctioned off her wearing apparel, delivering the hat and gloves at first hand, and thereafter retiring behind a screen, over the top of which she sold her dress and some other garments, and whence she emerged following the sale, mysteriously clad in street clothes. Charlie Chaplin purchased a bit of lingerie for $80, and thereafter wore it about his neck.
Clara Kimball Young
Kid McCoy, former middleweight champion
Even dignified dramatic actresses got to join in the fun. Of course Douglas Fairbanks was there, doing Fairbanksian things:
Douglas Fairbanks offered to box Kid McCoy, but the fight closed after the second round for the simple reason that Mr. Fairbanks, in the heat of the contest, fell into the swimming pool on the platform adjoining which the dance was held.
In addition to the auction, they sold food and drinks; the “booths were presided over by Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Constance Talmadge, Gladys Brockwell and many others.” But the most popular area was no surprise:
The bar, which was presided over by William S. Hart and his cowboys, took in a small fortune, and sister Mamie Hart sat near by as a sort of guardian angel to see that nobody drank too much, but even at that Fred Stone reeled away following his fifth chocolate ice cream soda.
Moving Picture World added more details, including the reason Stone drank so many sodas: Fairbanks had challenged him to a drinking bout, and he had to quit after five. They reported that it was the first time the studio had ever been open to the public, 1500 people attended and it was “so crowded it was almost impossible to turn around.” They took in $9,000 to assist the families of the 91 men from the studio serving the country, and they had a good time while they were at it. If you ever build a time machine, this might be a fun night to visit.
Kingsley’s favorite film this week wasn’t a timeless classic, but just another pleasant little movie that’s been forgotten.
Getting a criminal to confess by using the spiritualistic medium’s tricks is the unique and fascinating feature of Life or Honor?, which is the offering at the Symphony this week. An incidental exposé of those tricks makes this phase of the story additionally absorbing. There are the old familiar cabinet, the illuminated hand, the floating ghostly forms, and even in the picture these are eerie enough to make you confess anything anybody might want you to confess if used upon you.
She thought the plot was “unusually adroit” and “all the parts are well and humanly played,” and everyone involved continued to work, but nobody became very successful. The film survives at Gosfilmofond in Russia.
Dorothy Phillips and Alan Roscoe
Kingsley gave a rare negative review to A Soul for Sale, the new Dorothy Phillips film. She pointed out “they are always selling souls in picture plays—usually pretty young women’s souls.” Nevertheless, she liked well enough until the last reel:
Then, alas, it tumbles. The scene, which doubtless the author intended as the great denouement, when the heroine, returning from a midnight visit to the hero’s room, here she went to restore money which had been stolen from him by her mother, meets the two old rakes who have been bargaining for her, takes on the aspect of cheap comedy, and yesterday the audience actually laughed where it should have been spellbound with suspense.
Also in the last scenes it is hard to believe that a steel fireproof skyscraper would be gutted by fire and in addition would show not a single broken window. Here again, the suspense should be extreme, with the lovers in danger of perishing as they stand on the roof, a cheap comedy effect is obtained when firemen tear them apart as they stand oblivious to death clasped in each other’s arms.
Then as now, a critic’s opinion didn’t affect the box office. Later that week the Times said the film “continues to prove a box office attraction extraordinary” and the theater planned to hold it over a second week.
Four of its six reels survive at the Library of Congress (they were part of the Dawson City trove). The last reel didn’t. Maybe that improves it?
G.P. Harleman, “Carnival at Lasky Studio a Success,” Moving Picture World, June 29, 1918, p.1846.
“Lasky Dance and Carnival a Big Success,” Motion Picture News, July 13, 1918, p.2
“Studio Plans Big Home Folks Fete,” Los Angeles Herald, June 6, 1918.
One hundred years ago this week, studio head Jessie Lasky made an announcement:
At last the secret is out. The mystery is solved. For behold, the identity of the new Lasky-Famous Players’ star, about whom there has been so much speculation and to whom Jessie Lasky has been making such mysterious, smiling but inscrutable allusion, is discovered.
It was ‘Cuddles’ Edwards, a featured singer and dancer in Gus Edwards’ vaudeville act, Bandbox Revue. She had been touring with the troop of children who performed musical comedy for six years. Lasky caught the act at the Palace in New York City and gave her a two-year film contract. Befitting her new stature, she got a new name: Lila Lee (her birth name was Augusta Appel).
Cruise of the Make Believes
She arrived in Los Angeles on June 7th and went to work on her first film, The Cruise of the Make Believes, which told the story of a slum-dwelling waif who meets a wealthy young man. Even though she was only sixteen, the studio decided to shave two years off her age, probably so she keep playing that sort of girlish part for as long as possible.
Lila Lee in Male and Female (1919)
Lee and Valentino, Blood and Sand (1922)
However, after the war ended stories about innocent girls being rescued from poverty by rich men stopped selling tickets. Lee was saved from Violet Mersereau’s and Ella Hall’s fate by Cecil B. De Mille when he cast her as a maid in Male and Female in 1919. She made the most of her first adult role, and she went on to a solid career in films ranging from Blood and Sand (1922) with Rudolph Valentino to The Unholy Three (1930) with Lon Chaney. Remarkably, Jessie Lasky had actually found a new star.
Kingsley’s favorite film this week wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough:
One of those adventures of the huge adventure of Russia is chronicled in The Firebrand at the Alhambra. It’s really thrilling, almost Tolstoian in its portrayal of human passion and mixed motive, up to the last reel, when alas, in a scene in which the heroine, pointing a revolver, declares to the hero whom she thinks has betrayed her family, ‘We’ll both fire when the clock strikes eight’ the story descends to Fox melodrama at its Foxiest. Nevertheless, its bigger moments are big enough to leave the picture drama in the topmost niche of this week’s photodramas.
Unfortunately, it’s a lost film, so we can’t see what melodrama at its Foxiest looks like. It’s surprising how little Kingsley worried about spoiling the film. Maybe, because according to the AFI Catalog the heroine only slightly wounds the hero, it wasn’t such a big deal.
A story from the Chaplin studio this week demonstrated how almost any story could be turned into publicity. Kingsley tactfully left the names of the two actors, who, knowing of Chaplin’s fondness for animals,
went forth for a ramble in the near-by foothills. They were tramping along, when one of them discovered a beautiful little kitten. It was dark, with a lovely white stripe down its back.
‘Let’s get it for Charlie,’ suggested one actor.
‘Right,’ said the other.
So, sneaking up on the poor little creature, the two Thespians finally cornered it and made the capture.
Returning toward the studio, it was remarked by the two actor-hunters that the fertilizer used this year is of a peculiarly pungent odor. When the studio was reached, the overwatchful gateman refused admittance to the trophy-bearers, suggesting they bury their clothes in a near-by lemon grove.
Chaplin’s publicity people were true professionals. I hope Mr. Le Pew got back to the foothills.