Thursday, September 24, 2009

CC: William Goodrich

Dear Mr Arbuckle
I am writing to inform you that
we have been watching
and it's high time we apologized

for believing the lies
the grievous slander, the malice
that reduced you to a shell
of your former self

People feed on rumor and conjecture
willingly poisoning themselves
without any concern to what horror
the victim is going through

It took us eighty years
but the truth of your innocence
has finally taken precedence
as it always should have

In closing, Mr Arbuckle,
you are a genius, a brilliant man
and comedy holds you in its debt
for so many reasons

Please, take the time to learn the truth about Roscoe Arbuckle.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


It's very strange. I wouldn't call myself a fan of Lillian Gish; I haven't even seen any of her silents yet. Somehow, though, I was drawn to write this, after seeing a picture of her on the ice floe.

walking against the wind
the ice a thousand daggers
harsh, unforgiving
and so very cold

"get that face!"
anything for you, Mr Griffith
my aching arm the only heat
my hair frozen

only the pictures mattered
we suffered it gladly
that snowy March so many years ago
way down east

Lillian Gish

Monday, September 14, 2009

Helen's Babies (1924)

My dear friend Amy Jeanne of It'll Take the Snap Out of Your Garters! had sent this to me in a bundle of DVDs, which I'm finally tackling. ("Just Imagine" is next, Amy! I swear!)

This is pegged as a Clara Bow picture, but in reality it's a Baby Peggy vehicle. That's not to say I didn't like it - it turned out to be kind of cute, if a rather strange viewing experience.

The transfer I saw was missing the title card and had quite a bit of deteriation damage...I've since learned it was the best print available. I'm not a snob about those things - in fact, sometimes a little damage can heighten the sense of tangible history. What made it downright weird was the lack of musical accompaniment. I haven't watched a silent like that yet, and it took some getting used to (and made me want to sit at the piano REALLY BADLY).

All that aside, the picture was formulaic but sweet. Edward Everett Horton plays a man who, despite having written a best-selling book on raising children, doesn't have the slightest clue how to handle them himself. Through a series of events he winds up having to babysit Toodie (Baby Peggy) and her sister (Jean Carpenter, whom I know nothing about) - and then the hijinks ensue! The scene I liked best involved the girls "helping" Uncle Harry (Horton) to unpack. Clara plays the girl-next-door (literally) and becomes Harry's love interest (surprise there). She doesn't get very much screen time; it's obvious that this heavily-made-up, restrained young woman hasn't hit her prime yet.

I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend this picture, but I can see why Baby Peggy, with her wide-eyed facial expressions, was popular in her day. Not a bad way to pass an afternoon.

I give this one:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Profile of Greatness

One says his name, and instantly you see
Richard the Third, or Hamlet, tortured prince,
His cultured voice in great soliloquy,
No better came before - or has been since.

Richard the Third, or Hamlet, tortured prince -
Such royalty he brilliantly portrayed;
No better came before, or has been since.
Too often, sadly, prices must be paid.

Such royalty! He brilliantly portrayed
Each role, as critics cheered (and women swooned);
Too often, sadly, prices must be paid.
The lure of liquor stole him far too soon.

Each role, as critics cheered and women swooned -
Jekyll, or the Svengali, or Don Juan...
The lure of liquor stole him far too soon;
His characters, however, living on.

Jekyll, or the Svengali, or Don Juan,
One says his name, and instantly you see
His characters. However, living on -
His cultured voice, in great soliloquy.

John Barrymore

This is my favorite photo of Barrymore, by Alfred Cheney Johnston. I don't know if the child is Diana or Dolores, however.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Godless Girl (1929)

Someone once used the worst interminable to describe this film. "That seems a bit harsh," I thought, and sat down to watch Cecil B Demille's last silent film (although dialogue sequences appear to exist, according to Wikipedia).

I've now determined the word torturous to be more appropriate.

Lina Basquette plays Judy, an atheist girl bent on eradicating God from public consciousness; George Duryea (later to become actor Tom Keene) plays Bob, the religious boy bent on stopping her. Through a series of events, they both wind up in reform school...and learn to appreciate each other's views. That's the basic plot. In between, there is a lot of very bad acting on Basquette's part, and neverending scenes that slow the film to a crawl. Seriously, did we need that entire "frolicking in the woods" sequence? This film went on, and on, and ON. Only the very end was exciting, when shocking circumstances place the two leads in mortal danger.

Marie Prevost, as usual, was a bright spot in the whole mess. As Mame, Judy's best friend in the reformatory, she injects some badly needed spunk into some stagnant scenes. (Try saying that three times fast!)

If you are tied to a chair one rainy Sunday, this might be the picture for you. Otherwise, skip it. Preachy, slow, and way too long.

I give this one:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Ballad of Kathleen Morrison

In the key of C, please. *grins*

It took a lot to make Kathleen:
A drive that would not falter,
Plus beauty, talent, humor, brains
(and help from Uncle Walter).

For six long years, to sappy roles
She'd grudgingly submit;
But when she bore the flames of youth
She found her perfect fit.

The flapper with the comic touch
Was now a superstar!
The Twenties face had found its place -
And it would take her far.

It wasn't always easy, but
As Colleen would attest
From mismatched eyes to her Castle's size
Her life was Faery-blest!

Colleen Moore