Week of November 18th, 1916

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley reported that the Motion Picture Directors Association were planning to hold a ball on Thanksgiving night at the Alexandria Hotel. In addition to dancing, there would be a buffet supper and a special program of surprises. They promised that directors and movie stars would attend. Tickets were available only from MPDA members. The Los Angeles Herald (November 9, 1916) added that the event would begin with a concert at eight o’clock, and dancing would just begin at 9, without a grand march to start things off. The previous year’s ball had been a success, and they raised enough money to endow three beds at a local hospital for the use of motion picture people. The 1916 ball was equally successful, according to the Times (December 3, 1916). Directors and stars did turn out, including Lois Weber,  Mary Miles Minter, Ruth Stonehouse, Bessie Barriscale, and Herbert Rawlinson. Unfortunately, the paper didn’t tell what the special surprises were.

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Maskers

So Thanksgiving hasn’t always been mandatory family obligation holiday during which you eat yourself into a food coma and spend the evening on the sofa wondering why you did that. People just had a reasonable amount of turkey, fall vegetables and pie, and still had energy to go out to a dance. There were Thanksgiving football games (the first was held in Philadelphia in 1869) but not on the West Coast. The tradition of parades didn’t start until 1920, when Gimbles department store sponsored a Thanksgiving Day Parade, also in Philadelphia. In the teens, they did have one Thanksgiving activity that’s been moved to Halloween. Some kids and adults went “masking”: they dressed in costumes and strolled through the streets, asking for pennies, apples or candy, according to NPR.

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Douglas Fairbanks in American Aristocracy

In her film reviews this week, Kingsley asked an excellent question:

Why aren’t we given more pungent screen comedy like American Aristocracy and fewer “mellers,” with ladies who register emotion by letting down their back hair and crawling up out of their corsets?

Aristocracy was a good-natured satire of nouveau-riche Americans written by Anita Loos who “has struck a new stride in motion picture comedy.” Star Douglas Fairbanks “is first seen as an entomologist in search of new sorts of butterflies but a girl swerves him from science, and for her sweet sake and that of the admiring public, he performs all sorts of hazardous stunts in that graceful athletic way of his. Fairbanks never misses putting over a comedy point, and in addition, has that bubbling good humor, that robustness of spirit, which is entirely irresistible.” What’s even more remarkable is that this is the fifth Fairbanks film in as many months: he was able to maintain high quality while producing so much. The film was preserved at the Eastman House and is available on the Internet Archive.

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Motion Picture News (September 23, 1916)

D.W. Griffith was still chatting with reporters about Intolerance. He mentioned that he planned to kill Mae Marsh’s character because the actress was so good at dying artistically, however, so many people asked for a happy ending that he finally relented. He didn’t say how he planned to off The Dear One. Maybe she could have died from grief at all of her troubles, or been killed in a car wreck as she raced to The Boy’s rescue, but neither seem very plausible.

Kingsley reported that “for the first time in the history of motion pictures, a photoplay is to be turned into an opera.” Jesse Lasky sold the operatic rights to The Cheat to Camille Erlanger, a French composer. There was plenty of melodrama to work with: a society woman steals $10,000 from the Red Cross to invest in a company; when the company fails an Asian curio dealer offers her that amount to sleep with him. She reneges at the last minute, he brands her and she shoots him. Her husband almost takes the blame, but in the courtroom she revels the brand and confesses.

Erlanger did write the opera and it premiered posthumously in 1921 (he died in 1919) at the Opera Comique in Paris. Re-named La Forfaiture, the New York Times (February 12, 1921) reported that critics said the action was inferior to the film, but the music and interpretation were well spoken of. Kingsley was right: it was the first film adapted as an opera.

Week of October 21st, 1916

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D.W. Griffith (from a 14-page long article in Photoplay about Intolerance)

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley interviewed D.W. Griffith and he did his best to sell his current release:

David Griffith, producer of Intolerance, which is hailed as the greatest motion picture ever made, wants it distinctly understood that Intolerance isn’t ‘high-brow,’ in spite of all its historical atmosphere and embodying of historical fact. Mr. Griffith smiled his quizzical, enigmatic little smile, the other night, as he explained that he himself had some horrible doubts that it might be ‘high-brow’ until he found that ‘Kid’ Broad and ‘Spike’ Robinson, honorable prize fighters both*, to use their own phrase ‘just ate it up’. ‘Really, the main interest is the love story,’ said Mr. Griffith.

Kingsley pointed out how shrewd he was calling it Intolerance, so nobody would dare to attack it for fear of being labeled intolerant, and Griffith laughed and answered “Well you said that. I didn’t.”

He complained that the film wasn’t getting enough publicity because corporation-owned magazines were making excuses not to write about it and only three publications were printing stories. This simply wasn’t true, but Kingsley was too polite to say so.

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Anita King and Thomas Meighan

Kinglsey’s favorite film this week was The Heir to the Hoorah (the Hoorah was a mine). She wrote “if you want to see a picture thoroughly human, charming and natural, yet holding enough of the unusual in plot to add a stimulating sauce piquant, you must view The Heir to the Hoorah.…Miss King, as the young girl whose society mother goes husband hunting for her, reveals a depth of sincerity and an understanding of dramatic values which she has had no opportunity heretofore to display. There are no false notes…Thomas Meighan is strong and effective as ever in the role of the rough young millionaire mine owner who marries for love.”

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Anita King

Several of the people who worked on Heir went on to successful careers: its director William C. de Mille made some fine dramas in the 1920’s including Miss Lulu Bett (1921); its cinematographer Charles Rosher shot Mary Pickford’s best films as well as Sunrise (1927), then he became an expert in Technicolor and shot many films for M.G.M including The Yearling (1946) and Show Boat (1951); and Thomas Meighan was a major leading man of the 20’s. But the least well-known of the people involved also had an interesting life. Anita King was a former racecar driver. In 1915 she had become the first woman to drive alone cross-country from Hollywood to New York City; the publicity stunt for Paramount Pictures took 49 days. She quit acting in 1919, married twice and became a thoroughbred racehorse owner.

An incomplete version of Heir is preserved at the Library of Congress.

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An early sign of Chaplin’s seriousness about his filmmaking appeared on the 27th:

“Charlie Chaplin, whose contract with Mutual expires in January, has been offered a renewal on the old terms. But Chaplin, it is said, is holding to the idea of being given more time for the production of his pictures, claiming he cannot do his best work under the present time limit.”

Chaplin did get what he wanted from Mutual: he kept the old financial terms of his contract (they were paying him $10,00 a week, making him one of the highest paid people in the world) but instead of producing one two-reel film every four weeks, he made only four films before the contract ended in October. However, they were four of his best films: Easy Street, The Cure, The Immigrant and The Adventurer.

Kingsley gave an update from The Spirit of ’76 production (discussed in my September 16th blog post):

A Harvard professor who happened to the in the mountains of Northern California when Mr. Robert Goldstein was there with his company making exteriors for his historical pageant “The Spirit of ’76,” was much interested in the work and especially in the title of the play. Mr. Goldstein told him that it was a historical picture and gave him the script to look over. Meeting him the next day he asked what he thought of it. ‘Well’, said the professor, ‘I feel as Mark Twain did when he saw Adam’s tomb in Palestine. He said he guessed it was all right, as nobody was there to deny it.

Poor Mr. Goldstein didn’t seem to recognize the professor’s joke. The Harvard man was wise not to comment on or expect historical accuracy in film – it hasn’t been there since the beginning.

Goldstein also lied to Kingsley, claiming that novelist Jack London was helping them with their production. That’s impossible because at that time London was dying a painful death from kidney failure, and he only had a month to live.

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Finally, a film company asked for submissions from the public.

The Oliver Morosco Film Company announces it want strong, dramatic stories for its stars…The company offers to pay $1500 each for complete stories adapted to its needs, or upon which a complete photoplay may be founded. This story may be either in synopsis form, 500 to 2000 words each, or may be in the form of a book or story. The company especially desires modern society dramas with comedy relief, with carefully worked-out and logical plots, happy surprises, small casts and good acting parts, rather than the general run of ‘mechanical dramas’.

They might have regretted this announcement after they saw what arrived in the mail. In 1914 Kingsley had written a story, “How’s Your Scenario,” where she described how every barber, milliner, bank president, and travelling salesman had a script in his or her back pocket. Then she told the strange stories of some of the amateurs that scenario departments had to discourage, like the man who said he was qualified to write thrilling pictures because he’d actually been in a cyclone and a car wreak (they advised him to get an accident insurance policy instead of a writing career). Some things about the film industry haven’t changed a bit.

 

* Former prize fighters is a more accurate description: by 1916 they were both actors. William M. Thomas (aka Kid Broad) went on to play boxers in a few films and Walter Charles Robinson had been working with Griffith since 1910.

Week of October 14th, 1916

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From the Los Angeles Herald (the Times didn’t print photographs in 1916)

One hundred years ago this week, Intolerance finally opened in Los Angeles. Grace Kinsley reported on the opening night crowd, which included Douglas Fairbanks, Constance Talmadge, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Mae Marsh, Thomas Meighan, Mabel Normand, Myrtle Gonzales, Mae Marsh and “scores of other stage and screen people.” Actors who were working that night on stage like Trixie Friganza, Charles Ruggles and Douglas MacLean went to matinees in the following days. It was the biggest film event of the year.

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They New York reviews had been extraordinary when it premiered on September 5th (Photoplay called them “ardent typewriter rhapsodies”) and the Los Angeles reviews equaled them:

Harry Carr, L.A. Times: “With Intolerance, David Wark Griffith has made his place secure as one of the towering geniuses of the world. As a medium for expressing art, moving pictures may not stand the test of time, but Intolerance is greater than any medium. It is one of the mile posts on the long road of art, where painting and sculpture and literature and music go jostling eagerly along together.”

Guy Price, L.A. Herald: “Nobody had dreamed that Intolerance would be so stupendous, so wonderful, so inspiring, so thrilling and so vitriolic, yet so true, an indictment against the universe’ most cherished weaknesses—deceit and bigotry… It was more than the eye anticipated, more than it could understand and digest at a moment when the brain was befuddled from the joyous shock.”

Otheman Stevens, L.A. Examiner: “It is a picture of Life that Mr. Griffith has drawn from the rays of the sun and from the effulgence of his own brain.”

Maitland Davies, L.A.Tribune: “The audience was simply swept off its feet…. It is a great, big, throbbing drama bringing yesterday and today before one in a manner no other man has succeeded in doing.”

George St. George, L.A. Express: “It is worthy of a place among the classics and it stamps Mr. Griffith as an unquestioned genius. …No branch of the theater has ever brought forth anything that is comparable to Intolerance.”

The praise really helped sell tickets at first: Kingsley later reported that 500 people were turned away from the Saturday night screening. But the strong box office didn’t last and the film lost money. By November there was already a critical backlash too. For example, Film Fun ran an unsigned editorial that acknowledged Griffith’s “genius” and the film’s “remarkable spectacular production,” but pointed out “there is too much of it. It is complex rather than finished. Intolerance is bewildering—it is magnificent—but it is patchwork.” Not everyone wants to put themselves through three hours of high art, and this sort of review gave them a reason to skip it.

Karl Brown, who was the camera assistant on the film, had another theory in his autobiography about the film’s box-office failure: “Intolerance was nothing more or less than a good old-fashioned pulpit-pounding hell-fire sermon preaching peace on earth…Griffith had succeeded, not only well but brilliantly so. But he had succeeded with the wrong thing at the wrong time, for the world had changed. People who had been singing about not wanting their boy to be a soldier were now hot for war.”

There’s another measure of how seriously Intolerance was being taken: only men got to write the reviews, even thought there were many female film writers at the time, according to The Complete History of American Film Criticism. Kingsley’s opinion of the film went unrecorded.

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Puppets

She did get to write about the competition; this week it included The Return of Draw Egan, “an extremely brisk picture play” starring William S. Hart as a reformed bandit turned marshal; The Iron Woman, a “sincere human drama” that featured Nance O’Neil as a long-suffering mother; and The Ragged Princess, “a make-believe world, where things happen just as we should like them to,” in which June Caprice played an orphan who is almost swindled out of an inheritance. But the most unusual film Kingsley saw this week was Puppets, a two-reeler directed by Tod Browning, who “has given us something new in screenland, viz., a rare whimsy in form of a pantomime photoplay, done amid exquisite settings of the futuristic order, and with all of the characters dressed like Pantaloon, Pierrot, Pierrette, Columbine, Clown, etc.” French pantomime didn’t often turn up in American movies. It’s a lost film. Browning had been directing for only a little over a year, but he went on to direct several Lon Chaney films as well as Dracula (1931) and Freaks (1932).

 

 

 

Week of August 19th, 1916

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Comic by Edmund Waller “Ted” Gale

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley scored an interview with Charlie Chaplin on the set of his new film, The Count. She rarely wrote up stand-alone interviews; instead she would incorporate them in her regular news column. But Chaplin was already such an important figure in film–only two years after his debut–that she made an exception.

She found a melancholy man who “takes life and himself seriously, and wants you to take them seriously, too.” She told of his impoverished beginnings, his working methods and the inspiration for his walk. She also demonstrated how well he could tell a story; one night he was gloomy, so he and Thomas Meighan went slumming at a saloon in San Pedro. The proprietor became suspicious of the two, and

…he openly voiced the opinion that we weren’t there for any good. Finally our evidence of overwhelming wealth – we had spent six bits by that time—caused him to decide that such reckless spenders must be from Alaska. After a while, though, he began to look at me closely. A look of amazement stole over his face. “You ain’t – it can’t be Charlie Chaplin,” he cried. “Pshaw,” I answered, “of course not, I’m a travelling man.” “I’ll bet you are Charlie Chaplin” he insisted. But when I coyly admitted I was indeed that very person –

“Aww, no you ain’t,” he veered around. “No man that made $670,000 a year would come to a dump like this!” And no amount of persuasion or proof could convince him.

The whole article was reprinted in Charlie Chaplin Interviews and the editor, Kevin Hayes, credits her with figuring out how to have a good interview with him: make it seem like a conversation, not an interview.

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Clayton, Montague Love and Blackwell in A Woman’s Way

Kingsley’s favorite film this week was A Woman’s Way. She wrote:

it is perhaps the best high comedy of its class which the local screen has seen…That shades of dramatic feeling, that delicate finesse of the mind’s workings, that adroit play of wit on wit may be shown on the screen, is proven in this clever story of how a woman, about to lose her husband to a vampire, sets her wits to work and wins the battle.

It stared Ethel Clayton (“a through mistress of her art”) and Carlyle Blackwell (“the artist as always, and a handsome and magnetic one”). Clayton had the depressingly typical actress’s career: she was a leading lady until the mid-1920s, then she played mothers, then she took bit parts. Blackwell continued to get leading men parts until sound ended his film career.

Margaret I. MacDonald at Moving Picture World disagreed with Kingsley; she found it only “moderately entertaining…will no doubt please the average audience.” It’s not a lost film, and has been preserved at the Amsterdam Filmmuseum.

The most successful person involved with the film was its writer, Frances Marion. Adapted from a stage play, A Woman’s Way was one of her 20 (!) film credits for 1916. She was best know for her work with Mary Pickford (see the book Without Lying Down), as well as Stella Dallas and Son of the Sheik. Marion also won an Oscar for The Champ.

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Mary Pickford, at work on the first film of her new contract, Pride of the Clan (1916)

Marion’s soon-to-be collaborator made some news this week:

Mary Pickford will head her own company hereafter, producing big features which will be released independent of any programme. It was formally announced yesterday that the Mary Pickford Film Corporation had been organized and offices opened in the Godfrey Building in New York. Miss Pickford personally is to direct and supervise every detail of her productions. It is announced that she will surround herself with the best brains and skill the motion picture field will yield.

Pickford was still working for Famous Players-Laksy, but she had signed a contract that her biographer Scott Eyman called “a small masterpiece of employee demand and employer humiliation.” Running for two years, in addition to full approval of directors and actors and independence from block booking, she got 50 percent of her films’ net profits and a private studio. She really did surround herself with the best brains and skill, hiring directors like Maurice Tourneur, Cecil B. DeMille and Marshall Neilan, cinematographer Charles Rosher, and of course Frances Marion.

D.W. Griffith’s publicity man earned his pay this week, keeping his boss’s not-yet released film in the news. Kingsley quoted W.E. Keefe, who had so successfully used fights with censors to publicize Birth of a Nation:

Intolerance seems to be just prejudice proof. Here I expected a nice, juicy lot of opposition from most everybody, and all the different sects come up and shake Griffith’s hand and tell him it’s fine. Today my last hope died. I got a message from the Mayor saying he’d like to see me privately. ‘Ha! Says I, ‘here’s where we start something!’ But all he wanted was that Mr. Griffith, Sir [Herbert Beerbohm] Tree and De Wolf Hopper should be guests of the city and go and look at the Greek Theater. What’s the use?

Intolerance was subjected to censorship in some markets (particularly the shots of seminude woman) but it was nothing compared to Birth. Russell Merrith found that “many of the censor brawls have the whiff of staged publicity stunts meant to draw attention both to the movie and to the naked women.” Keefe tried his best to drum up interest, but the film sold far fewer tickets than Birth. William Earl “Bill” Keefe was a former newspaper writer. He became a production manager at Griffith’s studio, and later worked for an advertising agency.

Kingsley delivered two pretty good one-liners this week. When describing Leah Herz’s dance act at the Orpheum, she wrote “it is a great novelty, and for those of us whose imaginations find it difficult to understand and interpret the gyrations of the ballet, and don’t know that two kicks this way means ‘I love you’ and that draping yourself over the fountain means ‘don’t bring your mother-in-law home for dinner,’ such an act is a godsend.” Who knew that going to vaudeville could be so much intellectual work!

She also mentioned that the California historical romance Daughter of the Don “continues to attract big crowds of loyal Angelinos, some of whom had been here all of a month.” Kingsley herself was a non-native – she didn’t arrive until 1879, when she was six.

 

Week of August 5th, 1916

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley reported on ambitious plans for a big new film studio. The Success Film Producing Company, with a capitalization of 7.5 million dollars, had been incorporated in New York the week before and they wanted to open a studio in Los Angeles by the end of August. They had bought film rights to several properties and had an option on a theater in New York, and they planned to buy more throughout the country. An article in Motion Picture News on September 2nd sounded much more suspicious of the enterprise, calling the reports rumors without forthcoming details. They also couldn’t find published records of the real estate deal for the theater. Like so many other projects, not much came of it and the company soon disappeared from the press. Motography did announce that Success hired Constance Collier as the lead in The Eternal Magdalene but they never made that film. Collier went on to a six-decade long career in the theater and film. The Eternal Magdalene was filmed in 1917 by a different brand-new production company: Goldwyn Pictures, a company that’s still around as part of M.G.M Studios. In the film business, you never know what will last and what won’t.

Kingsley’s favorite film of the week was Charlie Chaplin’s “One A.M.” She said:

the screen comedian has the magic power, as everybody know, of turning everything he touches into the gold of laughter. So that in One A.M. it is Chaplin as the star with the furniture as supporting company. The taxi speedometer is a veritable burlesque artist, the revolving table is a comedian of rare gift…even the poor old siphon bottle is a funster with finesse, and the trick bed is a clown. Besides, Chaplin has invented all the ways there are of not getting upstairs.

If you want to see what she’s talking about, it’s available on the Internet Archive.

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Filming Love’s Lariat

She also liked the feature that played with it, Love’s Lariat, starring Harry Carey, calling it “quite the most delightful, crisp little comedy we have had in many a day…more power to whoever wrote this play.” According to the AFI Catalog, the plot involved a cowboy who had to live in the East for a year as a condition of an inheritance and the writers were William Blaine Pearson and co-director (with Carey) George E. Marshall. Pearson worked on a few more Westerns and died in November, 1918 (an unverifiable source said it was pneumonia), but Marshall had much better luck. This was his first feature-length film as a director; his last was a Jerry Lewis vehicle Hook Line and Sinker in 1969. Along the way he directed over 80 features including Destry Rides Again (1939) and several Bob Hope comedies. Love’s Lariat is a lost film.

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Mae Marsh in Intolerance

Kingsley was much less impressed by The Marriage of Molly-O, saying that the piffling superficialities of the screenplay weren’t worthy of its star, Mae Marsh. That screenplay writer was D.W. Griffith, writing under a pseudonym.

Griffith got much better press farther along in the same August 7th column, when Kingsley mentioned that Intolerance was test-screened at the Orpheum Theater in Riverside under the title The Downfall of All Nations. She quoted some favorable reviews that called the film “soul-gripping,” and “a stupendous production.” Griffith and several of the stars, including Miss Marsh, Lillian Gish, Constance Talmadge and Robert Harron attended the screening. Two days later she reported that New York would get to see it before Los Angeles because Griffith had signed a deal to take over the Liberty Theater there for the 1916-1917 season.

Otherwise, it was a slow week for film news. Kingsley mentioned that William S. Hart had a particularly strenuous week of stunts, including falling from the back of a horse and rolling 500 feet down an embankment, but Hart said that now nothing short of eating a locomotive worried him. However, he was planning a vacation through Utah, Colorado and the Grand Canyon after the film was finished.

Week of July 15th, 1916

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley had heard news about D.W. Griffith’s upcoming release:

The name of the big feature film which David Griffith has had in course of production for over a year, which he has called The Mother and the Law, is said to have been changed to Intolerance. The picture is nearly ready for public showing. Nothing has so far been made public regarding the feature. Huge mystery has surrounded its making. If an attaché of the Griffith studio was asked anything about it, he would look hurriedly to right and left and say “Oh, you mustn’t say anything about that.” A worker caught developing some film the other day turned pale, and hurriedly shooed everybody from the room.

Griffith and his staff had done a remarkably good job of keeping a lid on all information about the film, judging by the articles available on Lantern. In 1915 there were reports that some prison scenes were actually filmed at San Quentin, and on January 1st, 1916 Motion Picture News ran a story about the “interesting rumors…regarding a series of huge special masterpieces which may issue from the Triangle Studio.” Not everything they heard ended up in Intolerance; one film was to be about the life and death of Sardanapalus, a profligate Assyrian monarch. However, they’d also heard that there was a prolog depicting the fall of Babylon, which was a major episode in the final film.

Kinglsey didn’t get to review it for the Times when it opened in Los Angeles on October 16th, but Harry Carr did and said “David Wark Griffith has made his place secure as one of the towering geniuses of the world.” The rest of his review was equally rapturous, with words like tremendous, gripping, and amazing. Kingsley interviewed Griffith as few days later, and he did his best to say it wasn’t at all high brow, it was mostly a love story (he wanted to sell tickets, after all).

Her favorite film of the week was Masque of Life. It loomed

like a beacon above the commonplaceness which fill our screens week after week. And this in spite of many crudities of staging and directing. Even Mack Sennett will have to look to his laurels when it comes to that throat-gripping, hair-raising scene where the circus girl climbs the brick smokestack many hundred feet above the highest buildings, and rescues the squirming, kicking baby which a baboon has placed on the very top edge of the smokestack…And the story. Real human drama, with the action growing, as all real human drama does from out the men and women themselves, with no resort to petty superficial makeshifts of plot.

At least it did until the end, which she thought was improbably happy. Masque of Life was an edited-for-American-audiences version of an Italian film, Il Circo della Morte, which still exists at the Cineteca Nazionale in Rome. That she barely mentioned where the film came from shows how easily films could cross borders.

It was a slow week for films otherwise. She did think that the acting in Lois Weber’s Shoes was good, but the character motivation were improbable (an impoverished girl turns to prostitution to get a pair of shoes) She didn’t like Douglas Fairbanks’ Good Bad Man but it was partially redeemed by his grin. And Chaplin’s The Vagabond, held over for a second week, was beginning to grow on her. She found it a relief after slogging through the melodrama of The Greater Will, in which a girl is hypnotized and tricked into marriage.

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Kingsley wrote that John Emerson had left Triangle to direct Mary Pickford at Famous Player/Lasky, with the hope that he’ll find better stories for her. She was reportedly unhappy at Lasky because she was given inferior ones. He did direct her next film, Less Than the Dust, which was about an abandoned English girl raised in India who returns to England. When it came out in November Kingsley praised the “all-around excellence of the photoplay.” Emerson, with his wife Anita Loos, went on to write comedies for Pickford’s future husband, Douglas Fairbanks.

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Diane of the Follies

Kingsley got to talk to Lillian Gish, who, after only four years in movies, was already tired of the way she’d been pigeonholed.

Lillian Gish is appearing in Diane of the Follies at Fine Arts studio, under the direction of Christy Cabanne. Miss Gish plays the title role, that of a chorus girl. She declares it is entirely different from any she has ever assumed. “I hold the record as champion deserted wife in the films,” said Miss Gish. “I counted up the other day and find I’ve been deserted fifteen times. In this play, I’m delighted to say, I leave my husband flat. And there’s no villain to pursue me either., which, of course, will make it rather lonely at first, but I shall get used to it in time.

Unfortunately, critics weren’t as happy. Thomas C. Kennedy in Motography thought that Gish’s acting was fine, but the story was terrible, and Peter Milne in Motion Picture News agreed, writing “just why the Fine Arts scenario department unearthed the story presented in Diane of the Follies is not exactly clear, judging from the ultimate effect created by the picture.” The film was written by D.W. Griffith under a pseudonym, and comedy really wasn’t his strong suit. It’s a lost film, so we can’t see for ourselves.

Kingsley reported one story that wouldn’t happen in 2016. Peggy Custer, actress at Universal and Gen. George Custer’s great-niece, was sent a gift by an admirer: a cow and her calf. Luckily she was living on a ranch at Lankershim with her aunt, actress Lule Warrenton, and she was able to send them there. Peggy Custer married cinematographer Jack MacKenzie in May 1917 and quit acting.