Week of June 16th, 1917

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley demonstrated what a pro she was: in a remarkably slow week for entertainment news (she even mentioned why the monkey performing at the Burbank Theater had a tummy ache – he ate make-up) she managed to stretch a short conversation with Douglas Fairbanks over several day’s columns. We learned that:

  • inspired by the nasty heat wave they were suffering, he declared that he his next film would have no stunts. He made good on his promise: Down to Earth was about an outdoorsy man who reforms a bunch of wealthy hypochondriacs by taking them away from their sanitarium and making them exercise;
  • his trainer, “Bull” Montana, discovered that he liked tea better than whiskey;
  • Teddy Roosevelt was his ideal of a real man, and he’d follow him into war anywhere;
  • he started a Red Cross fund, and was asking Wild and Woolley (his current film) audiences across the country to contribute. He autographed 3,000 photographs to be given to donors;
  • he also bought $100,000 worth of Liberty Bonds;
  • he attended a dance at the Los Angeles Athletic Club gym to benefit French orphans.

Once again Fairbanks was really good at being a movie star, and Kinglsey was happy to have so much material for her columns.

Kingsley’s favorite film this week was Some Boy. It was right up her alley because George Walsh played a beginner press agent who learns his craft from a text book called One Hundred Ways to get Newspaper Publicity. She particularly enjoyed his masquerade as a handsome young widow, remarking that “he looks exceedingly well in women’s clothes.” It was brave of him to wear a dress: just a few months earlier, he’d been criticized for not being manly enough because his hair was too long. Maybe he didn’t care what critics said; after all, none of it hurt his career.

In other Walsh family news, his brother Raoul decided never to appear in front of the camera again. The director had appeared in a few scenes of his latest film, The Innocent Sinner, but when he saw the dallies, he realized he “had committed one of the crimes ever unforgiven by directors—he looked at the camera as he walked off stage.” For the most part, he kept his word: he played only one more part in his own films, Gloria Swanson’s boyfriend in Sadie Thompson (1928).

whip
“You only see the horses” could have been a selling point

In her review of The Whip, Kingsley pointed out one of the best things about cinema that all fans of historical films need to be grateful for: “you don’t have to smell it. The stage version, you will remember, was very horsey.”

I hope that this week, you have more to report on than monkey gastrointestinal distress!