Saturday, October 13, 2018

Born Today October 13: Helena Pickard


Famed British actress of the stage and screen Helena [Marie] Pickard was born on this day in Sheffield, England. Though she started her career on the stage, she quickly also found herself in motion pictures in her early 20's.  Her work in silent film is confined to one film dating from 1924; she had a starring role in the comedic short The Clicking of Cuthbert produced by the UK company Stoll.  She did not appear in another film until 1930 when she appeared in an uncredited role in the now lost early British talkie Lord Richard in the Pantry.  Her first talking picture credit came in 1931 in the short comedy Cupboard Love.  She would make her televised debut in the also lost BBC two and one-half hour When We Are Married  in 1938 (the film was based on a J. B. Priestly play--his novel is responsible for the the James Whale horror comedy The Old Dark House).  She made her television series debut in the 1950's ABC/ITV joint production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1956 (unfortunately also lost).  She also worked in radio for the BBC as well. And since this is October, and Halloween is on the way, it is also worth noting that she made an appearance in John Brahm's 1944 remake of The Lodger, which starred her husband, famed British actor Cedric Hardwicke.  Her marriage to Hardwicke ended in divorce in 1950 and she remarried a banking financier in 1956. She ended her own life, probably on purpose, by ingesting an over-dose of sleeping pills on the 27th of September just shy of her 59th birthday--at the time she had been living in the Oxfordshire area.  She was buried in a non-cemetery burial somewhere in the region (possibly on the estate of her husband Herbert Rothbart or his family?).  She was the mother of beloved British character actor Edward Hardwicke, who is best remembered for his portrayal of Dr. Watson, to Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes, on the Britain's Granada TV.  

In The Lodger

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Born Today October 11: Luis Firpo


Argentinian boxer Luis Ángel Firpo was born in Junin barrio of Argentina's capital city of Buenos Aires. He is an historical figure known for his boxing skills and his colorful nickname of "The Wild Bull of the Pampas."  During the height of his career in the early 1920's, he appeared in two films: one a documentary and one as an actor.  The first of these was a short entitled Will He Conquer Dempsey, made in 1923 and featuring him and his principle rival Jack Dempsey--though the documentary was principally about Firpo.  The bout, which took place in New York on the 14th of September is the stuff boxing history is made of; Firpo almost won, but was eventually defeated by Dempsey after Firpo had literally knocked him out of the ring, sending him head first into a reporters typewriter! The second silent that he appeared in was an Argentinian short fictional film entitled La vuelta del toro salvaje released in 1924 and titled after his nickname--the film partially fictionalized his life to date.  In his lifetime, he appeared as an actor in just one other film in the 1950's; also an Argentinian drama.  Firpo retired from boxing in 1940, but went on to be a boxing manager; he was also a large scale rancher.  He died on the 8th of August 1960 at the age of 65.  He was interred at La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, in a large customized mausoleum.  

More Mèliés Tricks

Back from dealing with Hurricane Michael yesterday, and wanted to share a little Mèliés flummery to express my sense of relief! This dates from 1903 and shows his prowess at careful film editing at it's best. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Silent Horror Of The Day Embed--Mèliés The Vanishing Lady (1896)

This was not Mèliés' first horror film, but it was close.  He is credited with making the very first horror film earlier in 1896 (there is one Edison short from the year before that counts as the first horror just wasn't intended to be when it was produced). This, like many of Mèliés' films, has several titles in both French and English.  It is one of is his rather delightful and macabre trick films--he was the master of them!

Silent Era Halloween Images

This year I am posting up creepy Halloween photographs from the silent film era (not necessarily from silent films). I am starting off from this one.  I have looked and can't find the exact year --though it was taken some time during the 1920's. Bonus image below...the 1950's weren't much less creepy when it came to Halloween costumes! Happy October 1!!

Sunday, September 30, 2018


For other silent titles coming up on TCM in October click here.

October 3rd Primetime on TCM: Lon Chaney [Sr.]

Oct. 3 @ 8PM Nitehawk Cinema trailer

9PM Trailer

10:45PM TCM Clip

Oct. 4 12:30AM Clip

Oct. 4 2:15AM Clip

Oct. 4 4AM Clip

Oct. 8 12 Midnight YouTube Full Length Film

Oct. 15 Midnight Opening

Oct. 22 12:30AM Trailer

Oct. 30 6AM Trailer

Oct. 30 7:15AM Clip

Oct. 30 11:45AM Clip

Monday, September 24, 2018

Born Today September 24: Marcus (Mark) Hanna


American businessman, turned Republican politician, Mark Hanna was born Marcus Alonzo Hanna on this day in New Lisbon (now just Lisbon) Ohio into a Quaker family of a physician and wife.  As a historical figure, there is little reason to try to go into any sort of detail concerning his life (links are provided below); suffice to say that that the films in which he appeared are strictly historical in nature.  Hanna appeared in 4 documentary news-reels toward the very end of his life.  The first of these was Republican National Committee of 1900, shot by the American Mutoscope & Biograph co. The other three shorts are as follows:

President McKinley Inauguration  (1901) [also Biograph]

Hanna died while still serving in the U.S. Senate in a Washington D.C. hotel, after a bout of typhoid fever weakened his heart on the 15th of February. He was 66. He is interred in a fancy family mausoleum located in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, OH. 

Silent Films On TCM: October 2018

Oct 4 8:30 AM Info 

The Following Two Film Part of Primetime Funny Ladies Evening (starts Oct. 4 @ 8PM)

Oct. 5 1:45AM TCM Clip

Oct. 5 3:15AM Film on YouTube

Oct.14 12 Noon Trailer

Oct. 29 12AM Trailer

Oct. 29 1:15AM TCM Intro

Oct. 29 2:30AM TCM Clip

Oct. 29 3:45AM Clip

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Born Today September 23: William Archer


Writer and critic William Archer was born today in Perth, Scotland in the UK.  A part of his childhood was spent in Norway; while there he became interested in the native writer Henrik Ibsen. He later attended the University of Edinburgh and received an M.A. from there in 1876.  A year before this, he started writing for the Edinburgh Evening News.  By 1879, he had made the move to London and was the senior dramatic critic for the London Figaro.  He later moved over to The World, a bi-weekly paper that was published up until 1920. He worked as a critic at the publication until 1906; in other words, during it's most popular run.  Archer used the position to advocate for the staging of Ibsen plays in the British capital--with much success. One of the aspects of his life that he is well known for today, is his introduction of Ibsen to the British stage.  Archer himself was also a playwright (which constituted only a small portion of his writings--he also penned biographies and studies of literary works).  Archer, through an extra-martial relationship with a popular actress, became quite influential in the theater community--this was furthered by his friendship with George Bernard Shaw.  Archer's own success in the theater would not come until after the cessation of World War I (the war had taken his only child--his son Tom--during the war he had actually worked as a writer for the British war propaganda department).  In 1921, his play The Green Goddess--a melodrama--was staged at the Booth Theater in New York--it's production was a success and the play became instantly popular.  It is this play that, in 1923, was turned into a film. The film shared the play's title and was directed by Sidney Olcott and featured Alice Joyce.  This was the only film of his work filmed during his lifetime, and the only one in the silent era.  In fact, all of the films that he is credited with as source material for adapted screenplays of his dramatic works comes from this one play.  Other works used in films come from his personal translations of Ibsen.  The UK production The Green Goddess (1930), directed by Alfred Green, was a Vitagraph full sound talkie (the play was used twice more in films released in 1939 and 1943--one a short).  The last time (to date) that his work was used for a film came with the made for television A Doll's House, a live performance presented in real time on the BBC--the film is amongst the lost (his contribution to another made for television movie based on translations of Ibsen had come earlier--in 1950--also on the BBC).  Archer died suddenly in a London nursing hospital after surgical complications arose after he under went a procedure to remove a cancerous kidney tumor on the 27th of the December in 1924. He was 68 years old.  I can find no information on his interment. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Born Today September 15: Agatha Christie


The world's most famous mystery novelist Agatha Christie was born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller (she was later Dame Agatha, Lady Mallowan) on this day in Torquay, Devon, England. For such a towering literary figure, there is little point in my attempting to write up a synopsis of her life.  Suffice to say that she was born into a well of family, to a mother who was born in Belfast and a father who came from an "upper crust" American family.  She was the baby of the family and gained the surname "Christie" when she married Archibald Christie in 1914 with whom she had one child--a daughter.  The couple would divorce in 1928 and she would marry Sir Max Mallowan in 1930--this is how she gained the title of Lady Mallowan, but for professional purposes, she kept her first married name for publication.  She also published romance novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott.  Her mystery play The Mousetrap holds the world record for being the longest running play in history.  She had actually began to write before her first marriage, but was not published until 1920; and that was The Mysterious Affair at Styles--introducing the world to her exacting Belgian detective: Hercule Poirot.  Since this blog in concerned with silent films and films of the 1920's, I will just jump to the two films of her work that were produced in 1928 and 1929 respectively.  The first was, not surprisingly, a British mystery feature based on her story "The Coming of Mr. Quinn": The Passing of Mr. Quinn.  The other film, Adventures, Inc. (Die Abenteurer G. m. b. H.) is from Germany and is based on her novel The Secret Adversary.  Both of these films are silent.  It would be a further two years on, when Alibi was released in 1931, that a talkie would be made using her work.  Her works are so adaptable, that it is hardly surprising that her writing would be a source for early television.  In fact, one of her works made it into one of the earliest television programs in the UK, via the stage.  In 1937 her short story "The Wasp's Nest"--a Poirot mystery--was the featured in an episode by the same name in the series Theater Parade. The series featured filmed plays of actual theatrical performances of works of literature.  The stage adaptation featured in the episode was adapted for the stage by Christie herself.  As of this writing, four projects are in various stages of production adapting her work for the small and large screen.  One of them, Death On The Nile--slated for release next year--is a return to the screen of Kenneth Branagh as Poirot. Another, Witness For The Prosecution was just announced, and is set to be directed by Ben Affleck.  The other two projects are destined for television.  The most recent release, again as of this writing, The ABC Murders is a mini-series made for the BBC and stars John Malkovich as Poirot.  Christie died in her Oxfordshire home from natural causes on the 12th of January 1976 at the age of 85. She is buried in the graveyard of St. Mary's in Cholsey.  She is the best selling author "of all time" as her website proclaims.  This is actually an understatement.