Photoplay Magazine – March 1930

Here we go again – 86 years into the Hollywood past!

I’m not a Joan Crawford fan, but this is a nice cover.

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Not only were silent films being phased out, but color was creeping into the mainstay.Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 5.19.57 PM.png

Couldn’t tell you who Lawrence Tibet was, but was surprised to see Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy in this ad. Also, directed by Lionel Barrymore. Anyone ever seen this?Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 5.22.33 PM.png

Here’s a pressing question….Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 5.24.11 PM.jpg

Check out this young pretty-boy.Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 5.25.01 PM.png

Yipes!

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Up-to-the-minute Chaplin news.

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Edwina Booth was an American actress. She is best known for the 1931 film Trader Horn, during the filming of which she contracted an illness which effectively ruined her movie career. Here be the story:

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Keystone reunion:

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No matter how fancy the art or the ad layout… your product is still called “Spud.”Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 5.36.20 PM.png

Blackberries???Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 5.37.21 PM.jpg

Move over, Brown Derby.

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Here are some new Hollywood faces. Jack Benny (spent over 60 years in the Biz) and William Boyd (who managed to do more than just two seasons – he was Hopalong Cassidy for two decades!)

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Anyone know which Chase film this is?

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And finally the SECOND weirdest question in this issue:

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See ya next month!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B-Players (part 2)

When last we met on this topic (almost 4 years ago – hem-hem), Len Uhley and I were still trying to hash out the cast. After coming up with a cast list on Aug 18th, 1988, we held another brainstorm session to nail down the main characters. Here are some excerpts from a transcript of that conversation.

  • LU: You got your dog, you got your platypus. You got your not-an-ostrich.
  • JM: My favorite animal, the non-ostrich. 
  • LU: You don’t want Sammy Platypus.
  • JM: I’m not saying I don’t, I just… Look, when we went to sell Rescue Rangers, we had all these characters, and it was a funny lizard and a funny rat, [however] at the head of the whole thing was this macho character called Colt Cheddarson. [Sadly, the reaction from Management was], “Yeah, he’s good, that’s nice,” but it wasn’t like, “Yow! This guy’s gonna be a star!” I just don’t feel like there’s anyone here. I know they’re B-Players, [but] there are no stars here.
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Colt Cheddarson and the Rescue Rangers

  • LU: Well, then bestow upon me your wisdom with respect to what the lead should be, and I don’t mean dog or chicken or whatever, but I mean, I’m missing what you feel is missing.
  • JM: Okay, let me put it in terms of Michael Eisner. You’ve been asked to spend $22 million on a series, based on — THIS CHARACTER! [So who is it?]
  • LU: My question, do we need to take an established Disney character, just like we did with Chip ‘n’ Dale?

There it is, folks. The realization that we needed someone BIG who would front the show. But who could it be? We couldn’t use Mickey or Goofy, cuz they were A-Players. We wanted someone vivacious like Roger Rabbit or silly like Bullwinkle J. Moose. But we couldn’t think of anyone like that.

So then we started thinking about comedy teams – Abbott & Costello, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Laurel & Hardy, Laverne & Shirley. One smart, one dumb.

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  • JM: Laurel and Hardy and the Honeymooners. You always knew that Stan Laurel and Ed Norton were funnier, but you were never allowed to forget that the other ones were the leads. If you get Roger Rabbit and you get this little platypus nebbish sidekick, what you’ve got is…
  • LU: Two idiots. Maybe we do need to think along the lines of — cat and mouse. Think about it. You have a big, well-meaning sheepdog and you have a slightly more clever cat.

Ah-hah! See where this is going? The door is opening for a bear and a rat!pin68846.jpeg

  • JM: We’re looking for a Rocky and Bullwinkle. Rocky is Jackie Gleason. He’s there;
    he’s the star; he gets top billing, but you know the funny one is the other one.
  • LU: So basically we’re doing Roger Rabbit and Humphrey the Bear. That’s the problem. We’ve got to find a talking Humphrey the Bear.

 

Hmmm… who could that be???

Anyway, Len and I went on to discuss Hope & Crosby, plus Asterix & Obelisk. Inseparable buddies.

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  • JM: When I was working with Mike Post, we created a rock & roll band [called Halyx for Disneyland]. And one of the things that Mike said was, “When you watch the Beatles, there is an instant rapport when two of them sang off the same microphone.” There was a camaraderie there that you couldn’t sell with tons of words; all you had to do was see them. It instantly gets me thinking about the way that Butch and Sundance would jump onto the same horse and ride off. That even though you knew they were completely separate people and would go their separate ways, there was an understanding [between them].

Admittedly, we never achieved that kind of relationship with Baloo and Ricky, but it’s interesting to note that this friendship blossomed later with Baloo and Kit Cloudkicker.

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Clarabelle Cow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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She was definitely going to be in the cast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s continue.

  • LU: Okay, let’s take it down to characters of ours for a sec. Maybe it’s Gusto [Gummi] and Tummi – as different animals, of course.
  • JM: Tummi to me is John Candy in STRIPES. He’s a complete sidebar. He’s not part of a team; he’s funny on his own.
  • LU: That kind of “Let’s go out and do something wild” stuff conforms to what you’re talking about for our lead in this. He’s a little more firmly rooted than Gusto, but not by much.
  • JM: All right, if that’s what you want… Baloo the Bear. You’ve got the big dog thing. Make him a B-Player just the way he is. He’s a perfect B-Player. It’s very much like Roger, “I just want to entertain, I just want to be myself,” you know? He can’t see past that.
  • LU: Okay, let’s use him. That’ll satisfy Eisner. [Then we] create a new character, and he’s playing with Baloo the Bear.
  • JM: [Eisner] will never let us have him.
  • LU: No?
  • JM: Not unless we suggested we do JUNGLE BOOK as a TV thing. God, that would be great.

Wait, isn’t that Tale Spin? Jungle Book in the sky? Ha-ha-ha!

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Seeing double!

  • LU: Okay, you sell it as, it’s Baloo – as a St. Bernard.
  • JM: Yeah, you don’t make it Baloo; you do exactly what they did in ROBIN HOOD. They’re never gonna do Robin Hood as a series. Make him Little John. Same character. And it was Phil Harris doing the [same] voice, and it was the big, fat, dumb bear, you know?
  • LU: He’s be a great B-Player.
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Don’t shake those money-makers, or the money will fall out!

  • JM: Remember how [Little John] sweet-talked Prince John, “Hey, PJ. you look beautiful.” and then he’d take the Snake and tie him in a knot. And he’d dress up like a woman and put [coins] down the front of his dress, and when somebody caught him, he’d go into this coy thing and start dancing around. It was that mentality of…
  • LU: Milton Berle.
  • JM: That’s it! Milton Berle starring in the B-Players.
  • LU: That’s right. He’d love that, wouldn’t he? The kind of thing where he’d do anything for a laugh – no shame.
  • JM: Hope and Crosby. Baloo would be Crosby. More laid-back, the bare necessities. He likes things to come easy – never has to work at it. Baloo would go up to a tree and bump it with his hip, and the bananas would fall into his lap. [Or] he would send [Bob] Hope up the tree.

That was the end of that day’s brainstorm session. As you can see, Baloo had fallen into place. Now we had to figure out his sidekick, his buddy, his pal…  And that’s tomorrow.

Excelsior! (is packing material)

Jymn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photoplay Magazine – Feb 1930

Here  are some clippings from Photoplay- 86 years ago!

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Talkartoons… what a terrible name! Still, they were a laugh a second.

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Wow! “Inimitable blackface artists!” (As opposed to inimitable whiteface artists.)

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Ooo, look what just came out! A new Marx Brothers comedy!

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What a weird, exciting time this must have been when sound was just entering the film business. Movies were advertised as Silent, All Talkie, or Part Talkie. (Part Talkie?… Like only every other word?)

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Local boy makes good. Santa Clarita’s own William S. Hart! (The only talkie he ever shot was an introduction to “Tumbleweeds.”)

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A film can cost a million dollars?!?!  What’s the world coming to?!

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That’s an awfully big toy house.Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 8.53.13 AM.png

 

Little Rascals update:

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Should be used in the 2016 election, yes?

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Racism update:  Remember, osculating didoes will offend British sensibilities.Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 8.50.34 AM.png

“Artists Earn More”  (More than who?)

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Did you know that Dr. Frankenstein’s wife was Fannie Brice’s sister-in-law?Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 9.12.24 AM.png

One half of the Wheeler and Woolsey comedy team.

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See you next month!

Animation Autographs

As part of my goal to clean out the rats-nest I call an office, I discovered an old Film Comment magazine from January 1975.

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At that time I was a Lieutenant JG in the Navy, stationed at the Pentagon – but I was also a huge animation fan. This Film Comment issue was devoted to toons, so I snatched it up… primarily because I was going to hear Chuck Jones speak at the Kennedy Center, and I was hoping for an autograph. Long story short, I got Chuck’s signature and carried it with me to California (where I moved the following year to work for Disney). Naturally, I ran into more animation folks in Los Angeles, so I managed to pick up a few more autographs for my magazine. Thought you might like to take a peek.

Here’s Chuck’s signature from 1975.

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Working just a few offices from me in the Roy O. Disney building was Willie Ito, who worked on Chuck Jones’ crew. (Willie also worked for Hanna-Barbera, Beanie & Cecil, and Disney feature animation. He even character-designed for WD TV animation in its infancy.)

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Just down the hall from Willie sat Cal Howard who was a Fleischer veteran from the ooooold days. (They even rotoscoped him as the Prince in Gulliver’s Travels.) So one day Cal brings a buddy to the studio, and I hear them talking out in the hallway. And the buddy sounds strangely familiar. It was Jack Mercer – the voice of Popeye!!! Another autograph!

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And of course, when I moved from Walt Disney Music over to TV Animation in 1984, I had the pleasure of working with these two mega-talents. Bill “Bullwinkle” Scott and June “Rocky” Foray. (She called me “dollink”!)

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A real treasure, eh? (Wonder what it’s worth….  Naw, I’d never part with it.)

Jymn

Photoplay Magazine – Jan 1930

I was looking through an old Photoplay magazine from 86 years ago, and I discovered several tidbits that I thought would be fun to share.

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The first thing to remember is that there is nothing new under the sun. For example, take a look at this movie title.

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Before Basil Rathbone played the illustrious Sherlock Holmes in  14 films, several other actors portrayed the famous detective. Like Clive Brook. (Who?)

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So what was Rathbone doing until Fox hired him to play Holmes in 1939? Well, he played another private detective Philo Vance!

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Sax Rohmer’s master villain Fu Manchu would be played by hot horror star Boris Karloff in 1932, but until then Warner Oland (who also played Asian detective Charlie Chan) donned the make-up in 1929 and 1930.

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“Oriental deviltry” I tell you!

Speaking of horror stars, here’s what Lon Chaney Sr. was up to…

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They’re probably talking about “Thunder,” After that film he made his first and only talkie – “The Unholy Three,” his last film before succumbing to a throat hemorrhage weeks later. Under the heading of New Year’s Resolutions, some wit wrote this for Mr. Chaney.

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More on the horror front: Helen Chandler was let go by Fox studios.

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Poor dear. What will Helen do? Oh, she’ll just wander over to Universal and star in one of the most iconic horror films of all time – DRACULA!   Plus, she did this ad for Lux soap.

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Speaking of Universal, they didn’t release their classic horror films Dracula and Frankenstein until 1931. But you can see the Laemmles are already gearing up for that genre in Jan  1930.

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In 1940, Cliff “Ukelele Ike” Edwards would star as the beloved Jiminy Cricket in Disney’s PINOCCHIO. But a decade earlier, he was just an up’n’comer.

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Wow, here’s some American film snobbism!

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Also, in the Hollywood tradition of changing book titles, fearing the stupid moviegoers won’t understand the original (e.g. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), here’s The Scarlet Pimpernel!

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One of the greatest losses to Hollywood history.

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A bit of nostalgia. Here’s what it cost for a fancy night out on the town!

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This article caught my eye, because I live in William S. Hart’s neighborhood. It’s nice to see he was level-headed with his child-rearing.

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And now for you creative types!

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Photoplay even has gags you can steal!!!

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And that’s about it. But let me leave you with a lovely piece of ad artwork.

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