Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tales from the Archives: The Movie Church Nov. 1928 Part 2

My finals are finished so its time to get back on track. This week we'll take a look at the films that were shown by this parish on November 11th and November 18th 1928.

The feature length film scheduled for November 11th was The Fortune Hunter (1927) starring Syd Chaplin. I've written about Syd Chaplin before as this Church showed several of his films. Syd was the half-brother of the much more famous Charlie Chaplin. Syd Chaplin is on the right of the above picture, which is a still from The Fortune Hunter. However, this appears to be a lost film. Like many of the films shown by this parish, The Fortune Hunter was a Warner Bros. Vitaphone Production. This means that although it was a silent film, The Fortune Hunter featured a musical score and sound effects on discs that were synched up to the movie. There were often problems with synching Vitaphone discs to film, which was spoofed in Singin' in the Rain (1952).

The next film shown was Raggedy Rose (1926) starring Mabel Normand. This film is 56 minutes long so it's either a long short or a short feature. Mabel Normand (pictured above in the aforementioned film) was a popular silent film actress from 1910 to 1927. Normand was one of the first females in the film industry to also be a screenwriter, director, and producer. Mabel Normand was linked to two scandals: the 1922 murder of film director William Desmond Taylor (which is still unsolved!) and the non-fatal shooting of oil tycoon Courtland S. Dines in 1924. Besides these scandals Normand had tuberculosis in 1923 which also contributed to the decline of her career. Raggedy Rose was one of five films Normand made in 1926 and 1927 as part of her comeback attempt. Sadly Normand's health never fully recovered and she died in 1930 at the age of 37. The character Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard (1950) is named after Mabel Normand and William Desmond Taylor. Raggedy Rose still survives and has been released on DVD. According to IMDB, actor Oliver Hardy was originally part of the cast for this film but had to leave the production after badly injuring and burning himself in a kitchen accident. The films screenplay was co-written by Stan Laurel so its interesting to note the involvement of one half of the Laurel and Hardy comedy duo with Raggedy Rose.
The second short for this week was Fun Afoot (1928) which was a Sport Pictorials production. Between 1921 and 1929 the company made over 200 short documentaries on various sports subjects. Judging from the title I am guessing this one was about soccer or football.

The first feature film shown on November 18th was One-Round Hogan (1927), a movie about boxing. Like The Fortune Hunter, this film was also a Warner Bros. Vitaphone production. The film starred Monte Blue (who I discussed in an earlier Tales from the Archives post) as well as actress Leila Hyams who is pictured above. Hyams was quite popular in the late silent and pre-code era. Her most famous films are The Big House (1930), Island of Lost Souls (1932), and Tod Browning's Freaks (1932). It seems that One-Round Hogan no longer survives.

The second film of the double feature was A Harp in Hock (1927). I could not find out much about this movie so I assume that it no longer exists. The film starred stage and film actor Rudolph Schildkraut who I discussed in an earlier Tales from the Archives post. A Harp in Hock featured actresses Bessie Love and May Robson who would both later receive Oscar nominations. Love acted in films from 1915 until 1983! Robson on the other hand was a stage actress who made the shift from stage acting to film. Robson acted until her death in 1942 at the age of 84. Robson is the third oldest actress  to receive an Oscar nomination for a leading role behind Edith Evans and Jessica Tandy (who won the award).

The short for this week was Happy Days (1926). Happy Days was part of the Winnie Winkle shorts series which was basically an Our Gang knock-off. You can probably see what I mean from the above picture. Luckily this short still survives and was restored, copyrighted, and distributed by Kino International Corporation in 2007.

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