Eighty-five years ago, today, the black & white short comedy Why Pay Rent? was released. Directed by Lloyd French and, co-written by Dolph Singer & Jack Henley, it starred Roscoe Ates, Shemp Howard, Billie Leonard, Ethel Sykes and Ron Le May.
Elmer (Roscoe Ates) fixes up a room for his just-married, freeloading brother-in-law and wife. When the newlyweds show up, Henry (Shemp Howard) brings a surprise in the form of stepson Junior. The apartment is now too small so, Henry decides that they’ll buy a lot and build a do-it-yourself home, a disaster in the making when Junior switches the house’s part numbers. It doesn’t help matters that Elmer, Henry and the wives are all incompetent.
In the 1930s, the Vitaphone division of Warner Brothers made a bunch of very uninspired and, often, unfunny comedy shorts. One of them, Why Pay Rent? is a bit like One Week (with Buster Keaton) but, only if the folks building the house were dumber than a pile of bricks. In many ways, this might have worked better as a Three Stooges short, which is interesting because Shemp Howard stars in this one, as well as Roscoe Ates, an incredibly unfunny comedian whose shtick was stuttering…which was annoying rather and cruel.
Ninety years ago, today, the obscure, low budget, black & white western film The Cheyenne Kid was released. Directed and co-written by Jacques Jaccard, it starred Jay Wilsey, Joan Jaccard (Catherine Dirking), Yakima Canutt (co-writer & stuntman), Jack Mower and Frank Ellis.
Buck Allen, The Cheyenne Kid, has been accused of holding up the payroll car of the Cody Dam Construction Company and is being pursued by U.S. Marshal Utah Kane and, Sheriff Hank Bates but, they lose him. Buck proceeds to the home of Betty Thorpe, where he meets Duke Porter, who is posing as his friend. [Duke], who advised him that, by running away from the law, he can keep out of jail and force the guilty party to confess. Hiding in the barn, he hears a conversation between Gorman and Madge. [H]e leaps to the floor as Gorman runs out. Gorman shoots at him but, hits Madge instead. The Marshal and Sheriff ride up and Buck, knowing that Madge needs medical attention, gives himself up and, is jailed. Marshal Kane believes that Buck is innocent and is on the hunt for the guilty party but, allows the sheriff to believe that Buck is guilty. Kane has the sheriff bring Gorman to the jail and, tells Buck and Gorman of an old Indian legend that, when two people are given one weapon between them, the survivor will be the innocent party. He throws a bull-whip between them and says that is the weapon.
In the trivia section, there is one entry:
This film is presumed lost. Please check your attic.
One-hundred years ago, today, the silent black & white drama film The Girl In Number 29 premiered (though not released, widely). Directed by John Ford and written by Philip D. Hurn, it was based upon the novel The Girl In The Mirror (1919) by Elizabeth Jordan. Starring Frank Mayo, Elinor Fair, Claire Anderson, Robert Bolder and Bull Montana, it is considered a lost film.
After turning out a successful drama, young playwright Laurie Devon settles down to a life of idleness. Alarmed and disgusted, his friends make every effort to get him to work again but, he refuses. One evening, while glancing into his mirror, Laurie sees a beautiful girl in the apartment across the way, holding a revolver to her head. Dashing out of his apartment house, he prevents her from pulling the trigger. He learns that her name is Doris Williams and discovers that her plight is caused by a man named Shaw. Soon after, Shaw and his thugs abduct her, and Laurie comes to her rescue, shooting her tormentor. Returning home, he confesses his crime to his sister and friends, and learns that the whole incident was a trick to restore his interest in life. The plot succeeds and Laurie writes another hit play in which his new wife Doris is the star.
Laurie Devon (Mayo) is a New York playwright who, having had one success, refuses to work on another play. One night he sees a woman (Anderson) in an apartment across the street take out a gun and place it to her forehead. He reaches her in time to save her and she tells him that she is under some terrible evil influence, which she will not disclose. Devon attempts to untangle the mystery and is led on an adventure. The woman is taken to a house on Long Island, where Devon, after a fight, rescues her. He takes out the revolver and shoots one of the pursuers, who falls to the ground. On returning home, he is heartbroken and tells his sister Barbara (Fair) and his friends that he is a murderer. His sister, and two of his friends, then confess that the whole thing was a frame-up. [T]hey had hired some actors to stage everything and that it was an attempt to get the ambitionless [sic] author to write again. The revolver used in the suicide attempt by the woman, and in the later shooting, had blanks. Devon and the woman from the apartment melt into each other’s arms at the final fade-out.
Oh, it has been work looking for a film for today’s date. IMDB had plenty to choose from but, I couldn’t seem to get any further information from the others…Wikipedia, American Film Institute, Turner Classic Movies… Even the Silent Era site and Silent Hollywood were slim pickings and, Silentology had nothing.
Anyway, one hundred, five years ago, today, Episode #17 of The Hazards of Helen, The Death Train, was released. Similar to The Perils of Pauline, The Hazards of Helen was a film serial or series that ran from November 7, 1914 to February 24, 1917.
There were 119 episodes that were 12 minutes long, most of which have been lost. Based upon a novel written by John Russell Corvell and a play written by Denman Thompson, W. Scott Darling adapted the material for the silent screen and Edward T. Matlack wrote The Death Train, specifically. Directors were J. P. McGowan (1-48) and J. Gunnis Davis for the rest. The original actress was Helen Holmes (1-48), followed by Helen Gibson for the remainder of the series, with Anna Nilsson filling in for Holmes for Episode #18.
The discovery that detectives are on their trail causes Doyle, Broden and Etzer, counterfeiters, to pack their paraphernalia into a trunk and express it to Lone Point. Upon its arrival at that station, a corner of the trunk is smashed. Helen thus learns of its contents. The telegrapher immediately wires to Savage, a railroad detective. The latter, accompanied by Duncan, a Secret Service detective, hastens to the scene. At their suggestion, Helen arranges a trap for the counterfeiters. When the latter appear, they are set upon by the officers. Etzer is captured but, his pals get away. Doyle eludes pursuit but, Broden later falls into Savage’s hands. Helen, watching the pursuit, ventures on the high trestle which crosses the dry bed of the Loro River. Doyle, who is hiding, sees Helen. Overpowered by a desire for revenge, the man attacks the telegrapher and makes her a prisoner. A rope lies nearby. Binding Helen, Doyle suspends his victim from the trestle and fastens the end of the line around the rails. Duncan sees this from afar. Although he rushes forward, he knows that the Keene local, due any moment, will cut the rope as it crosses the trestle. Meanwhile, Helen, after a tremendous effort, frees her hands. There is one chance for life. The girl commences swinging her body. Each time, she [manages] a wider arc. The train is crossing the trestle when Helen swings toward a beam. The engine wheels sever the rope. Helen flies through the air and reaches the beam. Doyle is captured. Savage and Duncan raise Helen to the tracks and find her uninjured.
Moving Picture World
This is one of the lost pieces so, there isn’t a YouTube clip and I could only find one picture. ~Vic
Fifty years ago, today, the British crime-comedy, made-for-tv movie Mister Jerico aired on ABC. Directed by Sidney Hayers, it starred Patrick Macnee, Connie Stevens, Herbert Lom, Marty Allen and Bruce Boa.
A conman hatches a plan to swindle a corrupt millionaire out of his treasured priceless diamond by claiming to have discovered its twin. However, his plot is disrupted by a rival hustler who comes up with the same idea and, the two crooks must each convince their suspicious target that they can be trusted and the other is lying.
This disappointing comedy caper evidently got the green light due to the popularity of Patrick Macnee‘s dapper superspy John Steed in The Avengers. Unfortunately, this attempt to turn Macnee into an equally charismatic jewel thief just can’t compete with its bigger budgeted competition, despite the catchy title track from Lulu and the star’s stunning array of flowery shirts. Herbert Lom is good value as the object of Macnee’s felonious attentions (in a role similar to the one he played in the Michael Caine caper Gambit three years before) but, this lacklustre yarn, ultimately, can’t cut it in the excitement or suspense stakes.
Jeremy Aspinall of RadioTimes
Mister Jerico is one of those charming and fluffy capers that the 1960s did well, quite similar to the higher-budgeted Gambit or How to Steal a Million. The palette is sun-soaked, the plot buoyant and just this side of ridiculous. The second half of the film, in particular, moves along at a nice pace, complicating matters without making anything seem too serious. If you think too deeply about the story, it will all appear very nonsensical but, this is a stylized caper film not intended for deeper scrutiny. It’s a surface film and as such it’s quite enjoyable.
Lauren Humphries of Suddenly, A Shot Rang Out… Blog
A fun film with a very Avengers feel to it, which should be obvious given the cast and crew. Allen is a little out of place but, Macnee and Lom are great, as is Laurie Johnson‘s score. I’ll even admit, against that, Lulu‘s theme song is catchy. Apparently [it was] intended as a pilot for a Macnee series to follow The Avengers but, instead, [was] released theatrically (though, in the US, it only ended up as a TV movie of the week).
Dave W. of Actors Compendium
Video Link: (Late Update)
YouTube Link (Video will not embed as the owner of the account disabled embedding.)
One hundred, ten years ago, the silent, black & white short film The Roman was released. Directed by Francis Boggs and written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, it starred Hobart Bosworth, Betty Harte, Robert Z. Leonard and Tom Santschi. It was filmed at the studios of the Selig Polyscope Company.
The Moving Picture World (January-June 1910 Archive):
Perhaps the most attractive feature of this picture is the reproduction of early Roman costumes and Roman surroundings. It is a story of political intrigue, with all the contests and disagreeable features, connected therewith in the ancient city. But, the reproduction of manners and customs and, the historically correct scenery and settings, add immensely to the interest and, insure attention when, perhaps, the mere political story would scarcely be considered. The greatest service the motion picture can do is in the direction of educating the people, and a film like this, which faithfully illustrates long past and, perhaps, partially forgotten life, is of vast importance and, deserves a cordial reception. The Selig players have brought enthusiasm to their work and, have put much ability and life into the interpretation of this play.
This film may have been based on the 1835 novel Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes, by Edward Bulgar-Lytton [sic]. An advertisement in the [February] 19, 1910, Film Index billed Bosworth above the title, “Hobart Bosworth in The Roman,” and labeled the movie “Film De Art of the Classics,” declaring: “Its teachings are based upon the scriptures and traditions of the early history of the eternal city.” The advertisement also suggested that theater owners book The Roman as a “Special Lenten Picture.”
A young woman [orders] her girl slave to deposit in the waters of the Tiber a child which she has cause to be rid of. The infant is found by one of the aristocracy and adopted. In later years she is betrothed but, just before the wedding, the ruler of the land claims the young woman, on the ground that she was born in slavery. By military force, she is torn from the arms of her foster father and taken to the ruling house where she is held captive for only a few hours, as the father and young lover, have aroused a popular rebellion which overthrows the ruler, end[ing] in his death and the defeat of his defenders. (Variety February 19, 1910)
One Trivia Bit:
♦ Per [Hobart] Bosworth, first picture made at Selig’s (Studio at 1845 Allesandro Street, now Glendale Blvd.) in the Edendale (now Silver Lake) plant of Los Angeles.
[There was not much written about this film and no video clip(s). The image, above, doesn’t seem to jive with the TCM synopsis. But, that is all I could find.
Addendum: I continued to dig and found the, above, write-ups via the Internet Archive database and AFI. Turner Classic Movies synopsis was WAY off. ~Vic]
Forty years ago, today, the very first American Movie Awards was televised on NBC. Filmed at the Wilshire Theatre, the ceremony honored film, actors, directors, screenwriters, music, favorites and a special recognition. Co-hosts were David Frost (also Executive Producer) and Dudley Moore with Angie Dickinson as Co-Hostess. Susan Anton was a performer. Judging by what few images I could find, the trophy was designed to resemble the Empire State Building.
♦ Best Film: Rocky II
♦ Best Actor: Alan Alda (The Seduction of Joe Tynan)
♦ Best Actress: Sally Field (Norma Rae)
♦ Best Supporting Actor: Robert Duvall (Apocalypse Now)
♦ Best Supporting Actress: Meryl Streep (The Deer Hunter)
♦ Best Director: Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter)
♦ Best Screenplay: The China Syndrome
♦ Best Original Song: Every Which Way But Loose (Every Which Way But Loose)
♦ Favorite Film Star-Female: Jane Fonda
♦ Favorite Film Star-Male: Burt Reynolds
♦ Special Marquee: Clint Eastwood (Distinguished and Continuing Career)
There was another ceremony in March 1982 at a different location and a relaunch in 2013 with ceremonies in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 focusing mainly on Independent Film. I doubt there will be anymore ceremonies as the website was taken down last year. There are no videos of the event on YouTube, either.
Forty-five years ago, today, the Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie All Creatures Great and Small aired on NBC. Based on two novels by James Alfred Wight (pen name James Herriot), If Only They Could Talk (1970) and It Shouldn’t Happen To A Vet (1972), it was the first of a series of films and TV series based on his work. Directed by Claude Whatham and produced by David Susskind, it starred Simon Ward (as James Herriot), Anthony Hopkins, Lisa Harrow, Brian Stirner and Freddie Jones.
It is 1937 and newly qualified vet James Herriot travels to Yorkshire to apply for the post of assistant in Siegfried Farnon’s practice. He soon learns the facts of country life but, struggles to overcome the prejudices of the Darrowby locals who are skeptical of the novice vet’s ability. In between cases, Herriot courts pretty farmer’s daughter Helen Alderson and finally marries her.
From Turner Classic Movies:
A gentle, episodic account of author Herriot’s apprenticeship in the mid-1930s to an eccentric rural English veterinarian and his awkward courtship of a farmer’s daughter.
The story of a young veterinarian’s apprenticeship to a somewhat eccentric, older vet in the English countryside and the young man’s hesitating courtship of the daughter of a local farmer.
♦ Although born in Sunderland, England, James Herriot spent the first twenty-three years of his life in Glasgow, Scotland and never lost the accent, as can be heard in television interviews. Simon Ward however, plays him as a Londoner.
♦ Known to the cast and crew as “All Creatures Grunt and Smell”.
Forty years ago, today, Part I of the mini-series Beggarman, Thief aired on NBC. Based on the novel of the same name by Irwin Shaw, it was the sequel to the novel and mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man that aired from February through March 1976 on ABC. An additional sequel, Rich Man, Poor Man Book II aired from September 1976 to March 1977, also on ABC but, was not based on the actual sequel novel.
This sequel to “Rich Man, Poor Man” is set in the ’60s and focuses on wannabe Hollywood filmmaker Gretchen, black-sheep Army officer Billy and, Billy’s cousin Wesley, who’s tracking his father’s killer in France.
The two-part, four-hour sequel to Irwin Shaw’s “Rich Man, Poor Man” and the vastly successful mini-series made from it (and the subsequent, less-successful short-lived series, “Rich Man, Poor Man Book II,” during the 1976-77 season). Moviemaker Gretchen Jordache, the sister not seen in either of the predecessors, strives to pull the family together after the murder of brother Tom (in the mini-series) and the disappearance of brother Rudy (in the later series), by first re-establishing contact with her soldier son and, then, patching things up with her sister-in-law, Kate, Tom’s widow.
Casey Kasem’s Network Promo Advertisement
Casey Kasem’s Intro to Part II
I usually do movie posts in five year increments but, this one kinda fell in my lap. Sixty-three years ago, today, Elvis Presley made his acting debut in the film Love Me Tender. Directed by Robert D. Webb, it was originally titled The Reno Brothers and was based on a story written by Maurice Geraghty. When Presley’s single Love Me Tender passed one million copies, a first for a single, the title to the film was changed. This was the only movie in which Presley played an historical figure and the only movie in which he did not receive top billing.
Elvis plays Clint Reno, one of the Reno Brothers who stayed home while his brother went to fight in the Civil War for the Confederate army. When his brother Vance comes back from the war, he finds that his old girlfriend Cathy has married Clint. The family has to struggle to reach stability with this issue. Vance is involved in a train robbery, while a Confederate soldier, of Federal Government money. There is a conflict of interest, when Vance tries to return the money, against the wishes of some of his fellow Confederates.
♦ Originally, this movie had no singing in it. Songs were added to cash in on Elvis Presley’s stardom.
♦ Priscilla Presley reportedly copied Debra Paget’s unique hairstyle from this film to attract Elvis in 1959.
♦ According to Penny Stallings‘ “Flesh and Fantasy”, Presley developed a crush on co-star Debra Paget, which went unreciprocated because she was seeing Howard Hughes at the time.
♦ When the film played in theaters, Elvis Presley’s fans were screaming so loud that audiences couldn’t hear any of his lines.
The Actual Movie
Thirty years ago, today, Part I of the mini-series Cross of Fire aired on NBC. Based on the kidnapping, rape and murder of Madge Oberholtzer, it starred John Heard, Mel Harris, David Morse, George Dzundza and Lloyd Bridges. Directed by Paul Wendkos and written by Robert Crais, it was filmed in Kansas, though the historical events occurred in Indiana.
The two-part TV movie Cross of Fire is set in the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klan was at the height of its political power in Indiana. Part One, originally telecast November 5, 1989, details the resurgence of the Klan (which had been created during the Reconstruction era) under the leadership of David “Steve” Stephenson […]. Cloaking himself in the twin veils of patriotism and morality, Stephenson rails against such “deviates” as blacks, Jews and Catholics, gaining political clout and financial kickbacks as his “invisible empire” grows. Part Two […], telecast November 6, traces the fall of Stephenson…not because his followers have wised up but, because of a 1925 rape and murder charge.
♠ The scandal reached the governor. He was indicted and tried but, the conclusion was a hung jury. He wasn’t retried due to the statute of limitations but, left office disgraced with his political career destroyed.
I couldn’t come up with any movie releases for today but, seventy years ago, on this date (as best as I can tell), the The Heiress was the most popular film at the box office. Directed, and produced, by William Wyler, it premiered in New York on October 6 and in Los Angeles on October 20. Based on the 1947 play of the same name by American playwrights Ruth and Augustus Goetz, it starred Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson, Miriam Hopkins and Vanessa Brown.
Catherine Sloper is a shy and backwards young woman who lives with her father, Dr. Austin Sloper, in 1849 New York. By all accounts, Catherine’s mother was a beautiful and graceful creature with the charm of queens. Catherine never knew her mother since she died while in childbirth but, her father often reminds her of all the things her mother was and that she is not. Catherine inherited a great deal of money after her mother passed and will inherit twice as much more at the passing of her father. So, when a poor but handsome and well-bred man, Morris Townsend, begins to court Catherine, her father becomes suspicious that he must be after her money. After all, Catherine is plain and boring. What could she possibly offer to this young man other than her money? When she refuses to give up her new beau, her father threatens to disinherit her. Will her father eventually convince her to give him up and wait for a suitable husband? Will Catherine and Morris elope and, live on the money left to her by her mother? Or, could it be that Catherine finally finds all the grace and charm of her mother only to use it against the men in her life?
♦ Montgomery Clift was so unhappy with his performance, he walked out of the Premiere.
♦ Cary Grant was interested in playing Morris Townsend but, William Wyler turned him down.
♦ Montgomery Clift took some piano lessons for the scene where he sings “Plaisir d’Amour” to Olivia de Havilland.
♦ William Wyler wanted Erroll Flynn for the role of Morris Townsend.
♦ This movie was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1996.
Forty years ago, today, the television film The Flame Is Love aired on NBC. Based on the Barbara Cartland novel of the same name, it starred Linda Purl, Shane Briant, Timothy Dalton, Richard Johnson and Joan Greenwood. Directed and co-produced by Michael O’Herlihy, it was written by Hindi Brooks (teleplay) and filmed in Ireland.
Synopsis from The Movie Database:
This sudsy made-for-TV melodrama is based on a Barbara Cartland novel and follows the romantic exploits of an American heiress who sets sail for exciting Paris at the turn-of-the-century. She is traveling there to meet her fiance but, ends up falling in love with a French journalist.
Synopsis from the actual novel:
Reluctant to accept her arranged marriage to an English Duke she has never met, beautiful, young, American oil heiress, Emmeline Nevada Holtz, nicknamed “Vada” after the state, travels to Paris to buy her trousseau before meeting her husband-to-be. When her travelling companion, Nancy Sparling, has an accident and hurts her leg, Vada assumes her name to avoid unwelcome attention. [She] travels on with just her elderly maid, determined to make the most of her last chance to explore Bohemian Paris and, the wonders of the city that she had heard and read so much about. At her hotel she finds a handsome intruder in her suite, not a thief as she at first thinks but, a journalist looking to interview the famous heiress Emmeline. Smitten by this charismatic Frenchman and his talk of poetry, Vada finds herself agreeing to go with him to the Soleil d’Or, wellspring of the Symbolist movement. Soon, they are deeply and uncontrollably in love, a love that is surely doomed by her deception, her betrothal to the Duke and, now, a terrifying ordeal at a Satanist Black Mass on the dark side of the City of Light.
The Complete Movie