Chicago Tribune – Sunday, April 21, 1918 – Page 37
“Hearts of the World”
By Mae Tinee
This being Sunday, with everybody having a little leisure, may be as good a time as any other for me to answer the questions that come pouring in regarding the new Griffith picture, “Heart of the World,” which will have its premier showing on Wednesday night at the Olympic. Time: 8:15.
Where was the picture taken?
On the European battlefields.
What made Mr. Griffith think of taking it?
It happened this way: He went to Europe to procure scenes for six Artcraft pictures which he was under contract to make. He was just about to start back, when Lord Beaverbrook of the British publicity bureau approached him with a request. He said that the government was about to make some official war films and the valuable experience of Mr. Griffith was desired. One thing led to another. It was finally decided to make the official films, but to weave them with a story of charm and power.
“A crowd of us used to get together,” Mr. Griffith said, “and discuss the subject. We all had our own ideas, but finally it was decided that Georges De Tolignac had the right one. M. De Tolignac is a close friend of J. M. Barry.
“He said, ‘Just let the story be a simple heart tale, like one of the many thousand which are being lived each day over here. A simple story about simple folk – such a story as all many understand.’ We told him to write it. He named it, too.
“First I didn’t care for the name. Now I think it’s the best one that could possibly have been chosen. It is a cry from ‘Hearts of the World’ to hearts of the world.”
What is the story about?
It is a romance of love and action with a setting of war stricken France and Belgium, and briefly is of the love affair between a young American artist (Robert Harron) and an American girl (Lillian Gish), who both reside in France. They are engaged to be married, and the date for the wedding set when war is declared and the Huns loom up with their hideous menace.
“Any country that’s good enough to live in is worth fighting for!” says the American boy, and he joins the French army. From then on the story, it is said, is one series of thrills after another until in the end the allies come to the rescue of the beleaguered girl and her townspeople and send the audience away with a smile on their lips.
How long was the picture in the taking?
Who gets the money from the film?
Half of the proceeds go to British charities.
You’re acquainted with the people in it. The leads will be taken by Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, George Seigman, George Fawcett and Josephine Crowell.
Prominent figures in the history of the day will be seen and the supers are none others than the real people suffering and living in Belgium and France today.
“Over There” with the Nobility and an All Star Cast
“The Great Love”
Produced by D.W. Griffith
Directed by D.W. Griffith
Presented at the Orchestra Hall
Jim Young of Youngstown …..…..….. Robert Harron
Sir Roger Brighton ……………..…. Henry B. Walthall
Jessie Lovewell ………………..……………. Gloria Hope
Susie Broadplains ………………….………. Lillian Gish
John Broadplains …………………… Maxfield Stanley
The Rev. Josephus Broadplains ..… George Fawcett
Mlle. Corintee ……………..…………. Rosemary Theby
Mr. Seymour of Brasil, formerly of Berlin …
… George Seigmann
By Mae Tinee
“The Great Love” is more absorbing than the average super-feature for three reasons. Because of its intimate and authentic relation to the great war. Because of the titled English folk who make their debut into motion picture during its seven reels. Because D.W. Griffith produced it. It abounds in the “touches” which have made this producer famous and is a thing of beauty as to its setting and scenery. The truth of the matter is, however, that Mr. Griffith has made many better pictures.
The cast of “The Great Love” is practically the same as that enacting “Hearts of the World.” It has the addition of Henry Walthall, who more heavily lined and world weary than when he left the Griffith fold, is back again doing excellent work, although cast as the leading villain in the piece.
The English society folk appearing, whose names Mr. Griffith rolls like sweet morsels under his tongue, include Princess Alexandra, the Princess of Monaco, the Countess of Masserene, Lady John Lavery, the Countess of Droghda, Lady Diana Manners, Miss Elizabeth Asquith, the Hon. Mrs. Montagu, Miss Bettina Stuart-Wortley, and Miss Violet Keppel. The ladies are shown at a charity bazaar, in hospital and munition work.
And now the story:
Jim Young of Youngstown, Pa., white-hot over the German atrocities in Belgium, enlists in the British army. In the army camp on the outskirts of London he receives his training. He is sauntering through a suburb while on leave of absence when he meets a young person called Susie Broadplains, daughter of a curate. Susie is a silly little thing whose aspiration to become a great coquette is much hampered by the difficulties she has in managing her hands and feet. Though badly dressed and combed, Susie realizes to some extent the softening effects of tulle, and when in doubt ties herself up in it and feels that the world is hers. She and the young American – himself just a gawky boy – become deeply interested in one another. There is almost an engagement between them when he is sent to the front.
If Susie’s aunt hadn’t died and left her 20.000 Pounds, when Jim Young of Youngstown Pr., returned he would have found conditions unchanged, I suppose. But a little lump of money like that is bound to cause a splash. So Susie is marceled and courted by others than himself when the soldier returns. Chief among her suitors is an unscrupulous fortune hunter, a Sir Roger Brighton, who is much involved with a bunch of radicals, who wear the camouflage of pacifism only to conceal their machinations in behalf of the German government.
And now we come upon plots and counterplots, scenes of battle and airship raids, with the story of Susie and her suitors threading through it all. The production is weak as to plot, but you don’t in at the least mind this, for the reasons I quoted in the first paragraph. If you have liked Lillian Gish before you will care for her more than ever as little Susie Broadplains. I, myself, whom she has always given the fidgets, thought her work splendid. I want you to specially notice two of the close-ups of her. In them she is exquisite.
Such players as Robert Harron, George Fawcett and George Seigmann need no commendation, but one likes to hand it to them just the same. They are splendid. Gloria Hope as the wronged sweetheart of Sir Roger and Rosemary Theby as a German agent were excellent.
Now when I saw the picture, the censors were making considerable fuss about several scenes and one subtitle. Uncalled for fuss! There was nothing in the production the morning I saw it from start to finish that the average clean minded citizen should object to.
The Great Love (Artcraft, 1918) Lillian Gish Robert Harron – Artcraft Poster
Picture Play Magazine – Vol. IX September 1918 No.1
When England Woke
IT was in a base hospital in London that the idea came to D. W. Griffith out of which grew the big war story of the awakening of England’s social butterflies, soon to be released under the title, “The Great Love.”
“Here is the message American women need,” Griffith exclaimed, as he watched a titled Englishwoman ministering to a wounded soldier. Immediately he set to work to get the pictures of the society and noblewomen who have plunged themselves into war work. Both Queen Mary and the Dowager Queen Alexandra consented to pose for him, the latter appearing in the photograph, taken while on an errand of mercy and cheer to one of England’s fighters. In the picture below are Bettina Stuart-Wortley, Lady Diana Manners, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, the most famous beauty in English society, and Violet Asquith, daughter of the ex-premier of England.
The cast of “The Great Love,” headed by Henry B. Walthall, includes Lillian Gish, George Fawcett, Robert Harron, George Seigmann, Mansfield Stanley, Rosemary Theby, Gloria Hope, and other players who appeared in “Hearts of the World.”
Seated beside Lillian and Dorothy Gish, their guest for the evening, the writer witnessed the first public performance of the new Griffith masterpiece. This is an account of her impressions of that event.
By Marguerite Sheridan
GRIFFITH Night in Los Angeles! For months to come, “Hearts of the World,” the latest and mightiest work of this wizard of the cinematographic art, will continue to shine forth in all its wonder, its pathos, and its infinite charm, through the lenses of hundreds of projection machines in every city in the country, but in no place will it be the all – important event that was the premier showing in “The City of the “Angels.” Just as the master producer gave them “The Birth of a Nation” and “Intolerance” before even staid New York and the slightly less critical Chicago were allowed a peep, so was the first glimpse of this—”the sweetest love story ever told”—staged among the ruins of war torn France, accorded to his California friends. Before I tell you of this night of nights, let us go back a few days and journey out to the studio, where we will watch Griffith at work putting the finishing touches to “The Picture,” as it was called in an most awe-struck tone by everyone around the studio. Mrs. Gish, mother of the two lovely young girls who play the leading feminine roles in ‘Hearts of the World,” telephoned me that Lillian and Dorothy were at the studio that afternoon, and we would drive out about two o’clock. The exterior of the old Mutual – Reliance, Majestic, Fine Arts studio, out on Sunset Boulevard, was a keen disappointment to me. Perhaps I was looking for a cross between the San Francisco Exposition and Lincoln Park. Anyway, the huge pile of shacks, with a few Babylonian towers silhouetted against the sky, was not my idea of the proper place for D. W. Griffith, Lillian and Dorothy Gish and Bobby Harron to perpetuate their art. The girls were in their dressing room, attired in their “Hearts of the World” costumes, Dorothy in her “Little Disturber” gown, and Lillian in one of her bomb shattered frocks.
She had three copies of this same dress, each a little more dilapidated. Although they are quite unlike when you see them, still there’s a strong “family resemblance;” so Dorothy, who plays the part of a petite Parisienne, wears a short, curly black wig, while Lillian, the lovely, fragile fleur-de-lis, appears as her own beautiful blond self. I had long ago heard of David Belasco’s remark that Lillian Gish was the most perfect blonde he had ever seen; too, others have told me that none of her pictures, moving or otherwise, have done her justice; that she is far more beautiful. And I smiled and said nothing. One hears this sort of thing so often, and, anyway, I was entirely satisfied with the way Miss Gish looked on the screen—one could in the role of the Village Carpenter. A hardly ask for more. But it is true —for once the camera has failed to visualize certain facts. It is difficult to paint her exquisite daintiness, her ethereal loveliness, in cold black and white. I may be accused of rashness and all that sort of thing, but I want to go on record as saying that Lillian Gish is the most perfectly beautiful girl I have ever seen. And Dorothy – well, Dorothy is her mother’s own daughter in looks and speech and actions. She is very jolly, friendly, and clever — fairly bubbling over with fun, and her witty remarks kept us all laughing. She is very nervous, and kept chewing gum furiously—”to keep from chewing her nails,” as she expressed it. Their dressing room was very neat and pretty in black and white chintz. It is kept scrupulously clean by the “Madame,” the East Indian, who played a part in “The Birth of a Nation” – the negroes who spat and acted so dreadfully.
“Madame” fairly worships Mr. Griffith and calls him “her son.” The girls were waiting to do a scene or two, because Mr. Griffith had not liked the original. Retakes by the dozens he has done, so infinitely painstaking and careful is he always. Camera-Man Billy Bitzer appeared at the door and said that Mr. Griffith was calling for Miss Dorothy, and the scene was to be in the “lot,” so we went with her. This “lot” covers about two blocks of ground and is situated a block away from the studio. Out there all the exteriors, and ever so many “open interiors” such as the one Dorothy did, are taken. I spied Bobby Harron in his trench uniform, and then I looked around for the great Griffith. There was the illustrious gentleman, with his derby tilted on the side of his head and a long, black cigar in his mouth. Otherwise, he reminded me of a fine product of the old school of acting. Then I heard him speak. I have never heard such a compelling voice. It makes you think of people hurrying to obey whatever he might say. The scene was the staircase of “The Inn” in the little French village. They went over it countless times—it took an hour to get it finished, and it was the tiniest bit of action. Dorothy Gish looked as though she would drop from fatigue, but she was just as anxious as Mr. Griffith to have it perfect, so she went at it with all her might until he pronounced it satisfactory. When the scene was finished, a huge studio car rolled up and we all piled in. I had not met Mr. Griffith, and I was so impressed with being in his presence that I’m not quite sure what he said to me, except that he was very nice and cordial and wanted to know if this was my first experience and if I found it interesting. It was, and I did. Back to the studio, and this time it was an indoor set with Lillian and Robert Harron. “Mr. Griffith’s Boy ” as they call him, the hero of the play, is just the Robert Harron that you see on the screen—very serious, a little sad, quite “Griffith-like”—that’s the only word that properly describes him.
We went into a dark, cold room, stumbled over lumber, cords attached to lights, people, and other impedimenta. Then I reached some sort of consciousness that lights were burning very brightly, directions were shouted, and I fell into a chair which one Mr. George Seigmann, Griffith’s right-hand man, pushed out for me. In the film, Mr. Seigmann sinks to the depths of portraying Von Strohm, German secret-service agent ; otherwise he’s a very nice man. It was very thrilling, watching Mr. Griffith direct at such close range. His methods are very simple ; he doesn’t rant and rave—I think it’s his voice that puts things over. And he’s immensely funny at times. Again the scene didn’t suit him. Down to the projection room he went to look at the scene immediately before it. Mr. Seigmann succeeded in getting the set arranged correctly. Ready! Camera ! Action ! And it was over. Mrs. Gish told me how they happened to go to Europe with Mr. Griffith. They were in New York, waiting for him to decide just what he was going to do with his contract with the British government. The government insisted on plain war stuff, and Mr. Griffith insisted just as firmly that he must have a story running through the scenes on the western front. It was finally arranged, and Mrs. Gish, Lillian, and Mr. Griffith went first. When they were three days out, they wired for Dorothy, Robert Harron, and William Bitzer, the Camera-man who has filmed all the Griffith photo plays. The latter trio went over on the ship with Pershing; and Dorothy told me that she was quite delighted with the famous general, and he told her that he knew her, too, very well ; when he was in Mexico, motion pictures were the soldiers’ chief diversions, and the Gishes entertained them frequently.
At last came the lovely spring night for which we were anxiously waiting, Clune’s Theater, an immense place, was packed to the doors before eight o’clock, and a disappointed throng was clamoring outside for admission. In the lobby were boys dressed as French poilus, British Tommies, and our own American boys. Beautiful flowers were there, too—gifts to Mr. Griffith and his players. Of course California is so full of wonderful flowers that they don’t make quite the impression they would in New York, but a floral piece to Mr. Griffith “From the Boys” made even the native sons hesitate a moment to admire. It was Dorothy Gish’s idea that they mingle with the crowd on the opening night instead of occupying the customary box.
“I couldn’t have all those people staring at me,” said this very democratic young miss. And it was fortunate, indeed, for me that they decided on seats on the first floor of the mezzanine floor and secured one for me, or otherwise I would have had to seek cold comfort that night at Grauman’s or the Kinema. Every seat was sold on the first day. Dear Mrs. Gish chaperoned the party, looking almost as young as her two lovely daughters in her handsome black-and-silver gown and a corsage bouquet of red roses. “The most adorable Lily” sat next to me. Her evening coat was white velvet, with a white fur collar that hung to her waist. Yards of misty white maline were draped around her golden hair, which was arranged very simply in coils around her head. She wore an orchid-colored gown veiled in silver, and her flowers were orchids. I could scarcely keep my eyes on the picture for looking at her. Which, in itself, is quite a compliment.
Dorothy was very sweet and girlish in lavender taffeta. She hates fussy clothes. It is my opinion that if Mrs. Gish and Lillian didn’t attend to her wardrobe for her, this young lady would cling mostly to middy blouses and sport clothes. She had a birthday that week, however; so Lillian’s gift, a truly wonderful evening coat, was aired for the first time. It was a ravishing affair of lavender and gray chiffon, banded with flying squirrel, and, as Dorothy said : “I may freeze to death, but I’ll have to wear my new coat!” Robert Harron was there, looking very handsome and boyish in his evening clothes. Right next to Bobby was a vacant seat—behind a post. Oh, how I wished for one adoring Griffith satellite I knew—I am sure he would have gladly craned his neck around that post for a week just to see “The Hearts of the World.”
Just behind us was a seat reserved for Mr. Griffith, which he didn’t occupy. I’m not sure just where the master director watched the picture ; but he turned up later, so I knew he was around somewhere.
In her box on one side of the theater, Queen Mary Pickford held court, a very lovely Mary, with a dear smile on her face and many curls on top of her head. The entire picture-play colony turned out to do Mr. Griffith homage. I doubt if there has ever been such a brilliant assemblage under one roof. There was Howard Hickman with his wife, the lovely Bessie Barriscale; Mr. and Mrs. Robert McKim ; Mildred Harris ; Seena Owen, looking more than ever “The Princess Beloved ;” Alma Rubens, the beautiful brunette from the Triangle forces, in a stunning white evening gown ; Blanche Sweet in palest gray, a very sweet and flowerlike Blanche, whom all her friends greeted Warmly. It’s been many a day since we’ve seen her face on the screen. The Talmadge family was represented by Mrs. Talmadge, Constance, a very attractive young person in brown and Natalie, who looks very much like Norma. Promptly at eight fifteen the curtain rose, and “the play was the thing.” The action was so intense and stirring that it didn’t seem half an hour, although it was really almost three hours long. It is marvelous to think how the brains and genius of one man can sway such a vast throng—they were chilled and thrilled and dissolved in tears. It was superb.
“An Old-fashioned Play with a New-fashioned Theme,” the program calls it. Yes, it is an old, old story, but it is told in the newest and most wonderful way. And far above the din of battle, massing of troops, recapturing of villages, one can always hear the love note—the thing which Griffith shows is going to save the world. Whenever the battle scenes get just a little too horrible to endure comfortably, when the action is so realistic that one can almost feel the shrapnel flying around, we are taken back to the peaceful quiet of the little French village and our nerves allowed to rest for a brief space. All the lovely, human touches that have characterized the former Griffith spectacles are present in “The Hearts of the World.” To me they are the greatest marks of the Griffith genius. As far as personal successes are concerned, Lillian Gish as Marie Stephenson is startlingly superior to anything she has ever done. Pitifully lovely she has been before, but never really so fine as in this role. With her exquisite, poignant beauty, she is the real spirit of France. Robert Harron’s Douglas Gordon Hamilton is splendid and soldierly, and, oh, how we sorrow and rejoice with him in his love affair with “The Girl !” Into the midst of this Eden comes The Little Disturber, a strolling singer, charmingly played by Dorothy Gish, and she falls in love with young Hamilton. Of course it is of no avail, but the part gives Miss Dorothy a chance to show what a remarkably clever little comedienne she is. She makes the most of every foot of film she is given—and we can’t help wishing she had several hundred more. I must say just a word about the music that was especially arranged for the production. Never before, I think, have melodies been so deftly woven throughout a picture. The music is indeed part of it—not a mere background. It was arranged after the manner that Wagner wrote.
THE presentation of D. W. Griffith’s love story of the Great War, “Hearts of the World,” makes it imperative that I open my remarks on recent screen offerings with a short discussion of the war picture. For there has never been anything like “Hearts of the World.” Griffith alone has been able to bring the bigness of the world conflict to the celluloid. It has overwhelmed all other directors and writers who have endeavored to touch upon it intimately. The usual product is a foolish melodrama. Neither hero nor heavy is human. But Griffith’s skill has resulted in the interweaving of a beautiful love story carried by human protagonists with the somber, relentless panorama of war in all its reality. The actual scenes he procured at the front are amazing, and the domestic scenes supplementing them even more so. The Gish sisters, Robert Harron, Robert Anderson, youthful Ben Alexander, and George Siegemann perform as they could only under the master director.
How Some Screen Stars of To-day First Began to Shine
SUPPOSE it’s a shocking confession to make, but not till – some years after it was first released did I see “ The Birth of a Nation.” In a way. I’m glad it was so, for thus I was enabled to compare that early Griffith masterpiece with the “ super ” productions of the present time. Somewhat, I must own, to the detriment of the latter. For if ” The Birth of a Nation ” proved one thing more than another, it was that it is acting, and not settings costing thousands upon thousands of pounds, that lifts a film a long way above its fellows. By this I do not mean to suggest that no fine screen acting is to be seen to-day. What I do mean is that, with all its lavishness and technical development, the modern photoplay rarely treats us to an exhibition of dramatic art which can truthfully be said to conform to so high a standard as that displayed in “ The Birth of a Nation.”
The Triumph of Walthall and Mae Marsh
In this amazing picture it was not a question of one outstanding performance, but of several. Think of the people who were in it ! Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall, Lillian Gish, Wallace Reid, Walter Long—these immediately come to mind. As the young blacksmith Reid got his first real chance, though I suppose we must say that his first great hit was made in ” Carmen,” with Geraldine Farrar. His love scenes with the great prima donna and film star are talked about to this day. Lillian Gish gave a very tender performance in ‘ The Birth of a Nation,” while the reverse of tenderness was so powerfully portrayed by Walter Long that his Gus immediately brought him into the front rank of screen villains of the deepest dye ! But the two people whose work stood out above that of everyone else were Walthall and Mae Marsh. The former’s Little Colonel at once stamped its creator as one of the greatest actors, if not the greatest, on the screen, while the heartrending pathos of Mae Marsh’s performance as the Little Sister won her universal recognition as an actress of genius.
The Gish Sisters
Most people, I suppose, consider that Lillian Gish scored her most sensational triumph in “ Broken Blossoms ”—the picture, by the way, which recorded smashing successes by Richard Barthelmess and Donald Crisp—but, of course, Lillian was already known as a remarkable actress through her work in “ The Birth of a Nation,” “ Intolerance,” and “ Hearts of the World.” Like Mary Pickford, through whose kind offices she and Dorothy obtained their introduction to the screen, Lillian has done so much marvelous work, and can trace that work back to such early Griffith times, that It Is a little difficult to put one’s finger on the exact spot where Fame marked her for its own.
The problem is much simpler in the case of Dorothy Gish, who, as most people are aware, came into her own as a comedienne in the role of “The Little Disturber“ in “Hearts of the World.” Prior to that picture, Dorothy had been jogging along as a serious actress, without much prospect of getting anywhere in particular. Griffith’s decision to give her a comedy part proved her film salvation.
A Glimpse of Genius
It Is interesting to recall that It was in ” Hearts of the World ” that Erich von Stroheim, the great actor-director, gave a glimpse of the genius which later was to dazzle the whole film world. His brilliant “ bit ” was registered in the scene in which he entered the cellar with the French refugee woman, to conduct a roll-call of those who were to be deported. His famous Teutonic bow and his equally famous look of mockery even then were in evidence. In this picture little Ben Alexander rose to fame on the strength of the scene in which he cried by his screen mother’s grave.
British Successes in American Productions
Two of the biggest hits recently made in filmdom were achieved by British players. Ronald Colman (who, unless I am much mistaken, used to be with Broadwest) became famous overnight through his splendid work as Captain Severi, in “ The White Sister ” with Lillian Gish. Dorothy Mackaill, who used to be on the stage over here, and who has done very well in America in a couple of pictures with Richard Barthelmess and in Sam Wood’s production of “ His Children’s Children,” among other films, hit the bull’s – eye with a remarkable portrayal of a drug addict in “ The Man Who Came Back,” a Fox production made by Emmett Flynn. Vera Reynolds, who made so favourable an impression as the flapper sister of Gloria Swanson in “ Prodigal Daughters,” is another young player who seems destined to go far. As for Betty Bronson, whose luck in being chosen by Sir James Barrie to portray Peter Pan—well, there seems little doubt about the film that will make her famous! (May Herschel Clarke – Picture Show Annual – 1926)
An earnest consideration of the inestimable part being played by the Motion Picture in the Great War.
By Louella O. Parsons (Excerpts)
If German vandalism could reach overseas, the Kaiser would order every moving picture studio crushed to dust, and every theatre blown to atoms. There has been no more effective ammunition aimed at the Prussian empire than these picture stories of Germany’s atrocities.
First because the moving picture reaches such an enormous audience. Where the novel eight times out of ten presents a more logical discussion of the cause, and the stirring patriotic play has more claim to pur attention it only reaches the thousands, where the film is seen and absorbed by millions. Moving pictures encircle the globe in every inhabited city, and are shown at a price which makes it possible for everyone to see them. These followers of the cinema have seen with their own eyes how German militarism is waged against civilization.
They have seen the rape of Belgium, the devastation of France and the evil designs against America, Italy and France. They have lived over with these unfortunates this tragedy against helpless women and children, and with tears in their eyes and horror in their hearts have cried aloud for vengeance against this soulless nation. And while these film plays have been raising the temperature of the Allies’ patriotism to blood heat, Germany has been gnashing its teeth. The natural question, Why doesn’t Germany meet these attacks with similar moving pictures? brings back an answer attacking one place where Germany’s widely touted efficiency is at fault. We do not doubt for the minute that Germany is making a strong attempt to come back at us with its own moving picture propaganda, but we who have studied the film situation since long before the war know that the kaiser’s domain is not equipped to circulate any such productions as we have been viewing the last twelve months. And if it were it would not have an American audience to reach. We with our cosmopolitan population of mixed races are able to reach the very people Germany ‘is struggling to get into its clutches.
And again, if it had studio facilities, there is no story it could tell to gain sympathy. The allies have never invaded a Belgium, nor destroyed a France, nor waged any unholy war against defenseless women and children. The powers at Washington realized what a factor the screen would be in the war against William Hohenzollern. The declaration of war was not a week old when President Wilson sent for W. A. Brady to co-operate with him in getting the moving picture industry in line. What the fifth estate did in the way of starting the ball rolling with its four-minute men, its patriotic strips of film and with the active assistance of the three Liberty Loan Campaigns is too well known to need further comment. But the big thing the film producer has done was to create within the year over sixty pictorial propagandas, or more than one a week. Not all of these moving pictures have been intelligently constructed. Some of them have been absurd and impossible; others have been written too obviously for financial gain, but the strong argument is, that they have all sent people home thinking and planning of some way to be of service to the government. The government too, has been able to use the screen as a school of instruction, a sort of military text book. By following the weekly films, the mothers at home, the fathers and the younger children have been able to get a very fair idea of what the sailors and soldiers are doing in the military training camps. Every open phase of military life has been narrated in a most entertaining fashion on the screen. England and France have not been slow to realize the value of following America by presenting their righteous cause in a pictured story.
An invitation was sent to David Wark Griffith to come to the fighting fronts and make a moving picture of the conflict for the English government. Mr. Griffith was asked to give a cinematic argument of why German militarism, like a cancerous growth, should be cut away before it further menaces civilization by its malignant presence. The adventures of David Griffith on those foreign shores are like a wonder tale of Aladdin and his magic lamp. If I had not heard the story from Mr. Griffith’s own lips I might have accused someone of flirting with the truth. Conservative England received him as they might have received a visiting potentate. Lloyd George personally appeared before the camera with him; Queen Alexandria expressed a desire to meet the American whose magic would bring the war home to so many indifferent hearts, and social England, devoted to the war stricken country, helped by facing the camera. Such women as Lady Diana Manners, Mrs. Buller, Elizabeth Asquith, and the Duchess of Beaufort turned moving picture actress to have a part in the British war film. Government aid and official escort did not make the filming of this picture as simple as it sounds. To get the great panorama of battle in action, the moving picture camera had to be carried into the front line trenches. Shot and shell and gas explosions became a part of the daily Griffith menu. After the camera was blown to bits on one occasion, care was taken to make a facsimile of every battle scene filmed, so a retake could be made in the California studios if it should be necessary.
The last time I talked with Mr. Griffith, he was greatly upset at the reports that the Germans were planning to invade Ham, Amiens, Ypres and Chalnes. “Some of those villages,” he said, “are the very spots in which I established my temporary studios. The villagers were deeply interested in the moving picture which was to carry a message to the outside world. Old men., women and children left at home gave freely of their hospitality. This eighteen months’ work in France and England resulted in a combination romance and history. The bleak desolation of “No Man’s Land” with the grim, smoke-stained soldiers are the “supers,” who played in this picture as earnestly as they “play” “over there” in the big war drama for your freedom and for mine. The great stretch of devastated territory, with its accoutrements of war, its trenches and barbed wire fences, are all pictured as accurately as though we were standing there, gazing at the tangible result of German kultur.
It is difficult to discriminate and say which film has done the most to aid the fight. Madame Sarah Bernhardt’s ‘Mothers of France,” which should have been titled “Mothers of the World,” has probably called forth the most tears. Madame Bernhardt, with a brave spark burning in her feeble body, stood knee deep in the trenches and offered herself a living sacrifice to her beloved France. The tears are not only for the bereaved mothers, but also for the pathetic old woman, lame and sick, who forgot her own discomfort to try and stir the other women of the world to action. The motive of this picture glorifies it. No one who ever saw Bernhardt and her silent plea that we give our loved ones gladly and proudly to the cause will ever forget her message. Herbert Brenon made a stepchild to the war films in a screen play featuring Rasputin and the downfall of the Romanoff dynasty. This and his English birth brought forth an invitation from the English government for him to make an historical film record for the British archives. Mr. Brenon is now in England working on this mission. There have been many official war films, some of them actually photographed at battles which have now gone down in history as decisive moments in the great world’s war. Among those which have occupied the screen during the past year are: “The Retreat of the Germans at the Battle of Arras,” “The Italian Battlefronts,” “The Battle of the Ancre,” and “Heroic France and the German Curse in Russia.” The last named is more of a pictorial discussion of the Russian situation than a moving picture of any specific battle scene. All of these war time pictures have been received with enthusiasm with the exception of a few which had been better left unfilmed. These are hectic dramas using the war as a reason for their existing, and made with no high patriotic purpose, but with a thinly veiled camouflage to make money. They have offended both the individual patriot and the government. The very fact that some of the producers have taken advantage of war time has induced the government to put every patriotic picture released under strict surveillance, with a trained corps of men to pass upon their fitness to serve as propaganda.
Some of these features, while harmless enough, are so badly done, that even the heavy Teutonic nature must have found them amusing. But the good done by the screen has far outweighed any evil effects of these ridiculous war films. The President has congratulated the moving picture industry on the help it has given the nation at this time, and he and the other men now at the helm in Washington have gone on record as saying these pictorial propagandas are among the most valuable war-time assets United States owns.
All the girls in Hollywood are mad about him. He is besieged at dances by the most alluring beauties of the screen. At “cat parties” his name ranks with reducing and bobbed hair as the chief topic of conversation. Ingenues and famous scenario writers alike grow ecstatic about his technique at love making and his irresistible way of holding a lady’s hand and his good looks. And yet—The men like him. And when men like a man in spite of the above mentioned handicaps, he is bound to be regular.
It was such a happy combination that gave Wallace Reid his amazing and lasting hold upon the affection of the public, that have combined to make Tommy Meighan the best loved and highest salaried star of today, and that now seems likely to add to the list the name of Ronald Colman, leading man for Lillian Gish in “The White Sister” and “Romola” and in George Fitzmaurice’s latest hit, “Tarnish.”
It doesn’t always follow that a man who is a success with the feminine fans is likewise a riot in his own country of Hollywood. Many a famous screen lover has languished as a wallflower among the feminine portion of the film colony. And the oldest living resident cannot remember when any man has had such an instantaneous personal triumph among them as young Colman.
It seems to have been accomplished without any effort on his part. In fact, he’s just a little embarrassed and slightly annoyed about it and doesn’t always know just what to do. And this is one of the reasons the men like him, of course. Ronald Colman,—they called him ” Mustard” Colman in his school days because his last name is spelled the same as the manufacturer of the famous mustard itself—is an Englishman, with a slight trace of Scotch in his ancestry. He is the type of “black Englishman” not so familiar in this country—his hair is jet and he has the big, black eyes that we associate more with the Italian or Spanish type. But as to temperament, disposition, and tastes he is thoroughly British.
In fact, in spite of his romantic and impetuous good looks, he’s a serious, quiet chap, fond of books and a pipe and interested in politics and sports of all kinds. To him, his work is the first and most important thing on earth. He never takes an important step without a lot of thought. He has a fund of good, solid common sense, and a lot of business ability. Yet no less an authority than George Fitzmaurice declares he registers as much romance as any man on the screen. And in his love scenes his hands are almost as expressive as those of Zasu Pitts, which is saying a lot in Hollywood. Colman is a veteran of the war, though he’s just past thirty. As a boy of twenty just out of Hadleigh-Sussex College, he enlisted in the London-Scottish Regiment when war was declared and was among those who went with the first British Expeditionary Force. He was seriously wounded in the first battle of Ypres, and when he was discharged from the hospital after many months he was placed on detached service.
He began his career as an actor shortly after the close of the war, playing the Richard Bennett role in “Damaged Goods” in London. He made a big hit, followed by several others, including “The Misleading Lady” and “Little Brother.” When Lillian Gish offered him the leading role opposite her in “The White Sister” he accepted it eagerly. Pictures appealed to him. But when he came to America after completing “The White Sister” he couldn’t get a job on the screen so went back to the stage, supporting Ruth Chatterton in “La Tendresse ” and Fay Bainter in ” East is West.”
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
With the release of “The White Sister,” critics hailed young Colman with fervent and lengthy praise, and Miss Gish signed him again for the lead in “Romola.” Then George Fitzmaurice brought him to Hollywood to play opposite May McAvoy in “Tarnish.” His ambition in life is to be a director, not an actor, so that he can earn money faster and retire forever as a gentleman farmer. This seems a worthy ambition and has at least the merit of being different.
Everybody’s for him, including Minnie, the elephant
By Ruth Waterbury
NORMAN KERRY is the finest guy in Hollywood.
Photoplay August 1927
Ask anyone at any studio and they all make the same reply. They’re his buddies from studio messengers to Minnie, an elephant, who weighs two tons. Today Norman is one of the highest salaried leading men, which means he earns more than many a star. He has a big estate in Beverly Hills, walled off into elaborate sunken gardens and an awning-shaded swimming pool. He recently stole “Annie Laurie” from the $8,000-a-week Lillian Gish. But he’ll lend his money to anybody. He will if he can get the money away from Gus. Gus is a typical Kerry fixture. The two men have known each other for years. They started working, side by side, for Norman’s father, who was in the leather goods trade in New York City. They went together into the theatrical agency business. They invaded Hollywood together. When Norman got the break, Gus appointed himself bookkeeper, confidential adviser, official alibi and guardian angel. A few years ago Gus got worried about the money Norman was loaning and giving away. Whether he started out with five hundred dollars or only fifty cents, the result was always the same—he came home broke. So Gus asked his idol to enter into an arrangement whereby all checks had to be countersigned by the self-appointed manager before they could be cashed. Norman readily agreed and tied himself up so that now he has to go to Gus for every cent.
Gus arranges contracts and invests the savings. Norman never bothers to look at the books Gus keeps. He says his name alone is enough to make him an ideal manager. Gus’ surname is Messer. In such simple things he finds delight. Six feet two, broad-shouldered, extremely handsome, Kerry’s energy is practically limitless. Days are not long enough for him. He never rests.
When he gets home from the studio and a bell rings, Norman springs to action like a fire horse. He has so many friends, door bells and telephone bells ring constantly. As a result he averages about four hours’ sleep a night. Most people require at least eight. When Norman gets six hours’ sleep, he rides before sunrise to work off his excess pep. There is no sport at which he doesn’t excel. He rides perfectly. He swims perfectly. He is a tennis ace. At the parlor sport of wise cracks he is triumphant. The stories about him are multitude. One concerns his biting the dog. He had evidently read the newspaper rule that if a dog bites a man it is not news, but if a man bites a dog it is. It is told that Norman attended a party where a yapping poodle kept nipping at his ankles. Finally the actor could stand it no longer. He picked up the beast and bit it on the leg.
“Now that you have learned how disagreeable biting is,” Norman told the dog, “go and repent.” Probably he did it in the spirit of a father who spanks a child, for love of animals is his predominant trait. At his home, he has a heterogeneous collection of pets—birds, monkeys, dogs, and a cat that swims.
Norman insists it’s the only swimming cat in the world. Minnie, the elephant, to whom he is devoted, was just brought from vaudeville to play with him in “Lorraine of the Lions” and for weeks lie fed her peanuts, making friends with her before they began working on the picture. That was three years ago, but since then he has visited the pachyderm every week with gifts of peanuts and bananas. She will probably never appear in another film with him, but that makes no difference. He and Minnie are pals. He claims he can tame any animal. While playing in “The Acquittal” he tried to get chummy with a wolf at the Universal zoo. The animal bit him, sending him to the hospital with an infected hand. But as soon as he was released, Norman hurried back to the zoo, to talk to the wolf again. Now it has a dog-like affection for him.
Norman had proved he could pick screen material. He started main- players, including Rudy Valentino, on the road to success. He advised Richard Dix to take up the new motion pictures. He took a little of his own advice and headed for Hollywood. Landing he went down to the Universal studio to visit his friend, Art Acord. As he crossed the lot, he was spied by James Young, the director. Young declared he was just the type for the lead in a film then in the making. Norman had never seen a movie camera, much less faced one. But when he saw Young was not joking, he argued he was worth SI 25 a week, and got it. I le strolled into the dressing rooms and beheld Kenneth Harlan, a dancer, whom he had known on Broadway. “Make me up, Ken,” he ordered. “I’m this company’s new leading man.” That started him. Though he has occasionally made pictures for other companies, he has always remained loyal to Universal. “I hope to stay with them always,” he says. “When I get bored acting I can go play in the zoo and besides, they spoil me and let me have my own way.”
Kerry probably has less conceit than any living actor. While he enjoys the praise “Annie Laurie” is winning, he hasn’t seen it. He rarely sees any of his productions and never views rushes. He has no publicity agent. Neither does he read his press notices. Still, when Jack Pickford tried to tease him by saying he didn’t think his Scotchman in the Gish picture was half what it was said to be, Norman murmured, “No? And what have you been so good in lately?” Kerry is not a person who likes change.
He has stayed in California ever since he returned from the war. His wife goes to New York every few months, Norman never. He once loved Broadway. His people, whose name is Kaiser, are still there. But he never goes back. So many of the boys I knew there have died,” he explains. “That keeps me away. It’s the only thing I can’t face in life—the thought of death. It’s uncomfortable and I love life too well.” He has one ambition. He wants to do a story of the Vikings discovering America. “They were great people,” he declares, “people full of enthusiasm, daring, and they were beautiful two-handed drinkers. I’d enjoy doing such a characterization, particularly the latter part.”
Lillian Gish and Norman Kerry – promo – Annie Laurie
Norman Kerry and Lillian Gish – still frame – Annie Laurie
Norman Kerry and Lillian Gish – The Arrival – Annie Laurie
Norman Kerry and Lillian Gish – promotional – Annie Laurie
Lillian Gish and Norman Kerry – promo – Annie Laurie
Norman Kerry and Lillian Gish starring in Annie Laurie
Lillian Gish and Norman Kerry – promo – Annie Laurie
ANNIE LAURIE, Norman Kerry (links), Lillian Gish (Mitte), Direktor John S. Robertson, am Set, 1927