They Are Not What They Seem
A Story About the Picture People Who Are Paradoxes
By Gladys Hall
Motion Picture Magazine – September,1926
Some ‘eroes and ‘eroines are what they seem. But many are not. It is of the latter we write . . . removing their masks and showing their real faces, minus make-up and minus Kleig lighting
Lillian Gish is a popular paradox of the first water. We think of her as the Lily Maid of some Astolat or other. We think of her as Elaine, fragile and frail. A mere filament. We pray every night that the North Wind will never assail Lillian lest it blow her to radiant dust. We think of her as detached from the world of “reality, helpless, clinging, inestimably delicate. This is not the real Lillian Gish. Not at all. Lillian is as healthy as Sandau. She is as strong as finely tempered steel. She is as unresisting as pure fiber silk. She is economical to a cent. Definite. Deliberate. She has immense resources of courage and the full determination to use them. She is not to be deluded nor deceived. When she has rights she will defend them with the gentle ferocity of . . . of Lillian. She is completely the mistress (even the master) of herself and of all the circumstances of her life, personal and professional. S’ truth.
John Gilbert …ah, magic ! . . . what springs from our hearts to our lips when this throbbing name comes to us . . . this Flame of Romance . . . the beautiful, ardent, splendid sad lover every woman curses Fate for denying her. . . . Well, John Gilbert is a business man. He prefers the aft of the megaphone to the fore. In case you are not a sailor accustomed to nautical terms we will explain that John prefers directing to acting. (At least he did six months ago). He saves his money. He also invests it. Impossible to think of Prince Danilo, of Rodolphe, saving against a rainy day. But he does. He figures out his own career in terms of dollars and cents and consults the calendar in doing so. He estimates success exactly for what it is worth, staying power and all, and not for what Mr. Webster’s dictionary says it is. He wants to be happily married and believes in home life, children and mowing the front lawn.
John Gilbert suggests Ronald Colman. Not that we need anyone or anything to suggest Ronald Colman to us. Who are we to be able to forget him? But because they are such close friends, such warm admirers, the one of the other. Ronald appears on screen as the profound and deeply passionate lover. He is the force that runs deep. He is the symbol of love when love is Great. He is the perfect type of the One Love. The man who causes weary, disillusioned women to think, “Ah, if it might have been him—how different everything would be !” Ronald Colman is a paradox, too. He is. really, a man’s man. If you know what I mean. It was for him that John Gilbert prophesied the greatest and most enduring success of any man on the screen today. He loves to take his spare time, between pictures, and go off into the woods with a couple of other men, fishing tackle, a gun and a dog. He isn’t a hermit, as has been said. He is too sane a person for such a pose. He even takes the girls out now and then, goes to night clubs and revues. But he – does it mostly in the company of men and from a man’s point of view.