Friday, October 21, 2016

Young and Beautiful ( 1934 )

Hollywood in the early 1930s was a bustling vibrant work environment filled with aspiring screenwriters and directors, ambitious young actors, and seasoned professionals from various fields, all riding on a glorious wave of excitement over the fame and fortune to be found within the land of make-believe. It was young actresses in particular that were lured into the appeal of making it big in Hollywood as starlets. The sirens of Tinseltown whispered their song to these impressionable women, "Come to Hollywood and be a star!" but those that journeyed away from their home and family found the pathway to fame and riches strewn with hardship and disappointments. Little did they realize that a starlet was not born, or discovered, overnight....she was made, just as surely as a screenwriter creates his characters for his next script. 
This topic was the basis of films throughout the 1920s, 1930s, and even 1940s, but it did not stop these women from believing that they could venture to Hollywood and be discovered by a talent agent who would find in them a magical quality that no other actress possessed. 

"Girls and Giggles Galore!"

Those who were fortunate enough to land a screen test and make their screen debut, soon discovered that the public quickly forgot them unless they had working for them one of the true magic-makers of Hollywood - a publicity agent. 
These agents made sure that their clients' names were continually in the media. Whether these actresses were making radio appearances, attending a premiere, taking a vacation, suffering a cold, or buying a new dog, they made certain that the public knew it. 

In the 1934 Mascot film Young and Beautiful, Bob Conrad ( William Haines ) is one such publicity agent. He works for Superba Pictures, constantly creating gimmicks to keep his clients, predominately starlets, in the limelight. His latest client just happens to be his girlfriend June Dale ( Judith Allen ), one of the thirteen Wampas Baby Stars of 1934. 
Since he has a soft spot for this brunette beauty, he makes it his business to give her the greatest push up the ladder of success. And push he does! With her career riding high, Jane longs to enjoy fun times with Bob once again, but as he reminds her, "Every stunt I pull means more people pouring into the theaters to see you. If it wasn't for all this, you'd be still playing bits." Jane is tired of being one of Bob's publicity tools, especially when every outing they go on turns into a gimmick for flaunting her name. 

This small dilemma creates the motivating force of this 68 minute film, but audiences will naturally find our heroes making merry by its conclusion. 

Young and Beautiful is a snappy comical romp through the backlots of Hollywood. It skips along like a Ray Henderson tune, with wit and plenty of bounce. True, it lacks the polish of an RKO or Paramount production but William Haines' presence, and his exuberant personality, more than make up for it. 

"Mr. Preston is a publicity man. He never makes an understatement."

Haines, a box-office winner throughout the 1920s, had just been dismissed from MGM by papa-bear Louis B. Mayer for openly expressing his homosexuality when he was signed on by Mascot Pictures, a little-known film company. Haines made one more picture - The Marines are Coming - before quitting show business and focusing his attention on becoming a successful interior decorator. 

In this film, Haines gives his usual energetic performance, madly spreading publicity, kicking back his heels with his best gal, and verbally sparring with his boss ( the head of Superba Pictures ), all at the same time. Joseph Cawthorn, as his boss Herman Klein, gives a highly amusing characterization of Carl Laemmle, then head of Universal Pictures, complete with die Olt Worldt accent. He is an exasperated old man often wondering why he puts up with the headaches and heartburn of the movie business, all the while enjoying every moment of it. 
Young and Beautiful gives us glimpses into Hollywood off the lot as well, with quick scenes of film premieres, the glamorous Coconut Club, and the posh poolside of millionaire Gordon Douglas' ( John Miljan ) residence. It's a proper setting to showcase the Wampas Baby Stars who received top-billing on the credits. 

The Wampas Baby Stars, created in 1922, were a group of sparkling starlets chosen by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertising for "having shown the most talent and promise for eventual stardom". Many of the former Wampas Babies did indeed make it big - including Colleen Moore, Janet Gaynor, Jean Arthur, Laura La Plante, Joan Blondell, Frances Dee, Clara Bow, and Ginger Rogers - but this particular crop of babies did not blossom. It was the final year that the Wampas babies would exist. Judith Allen, the leading lady, shows the most promise of becoming a big name star of the 1930s, but oddly enough, she was not a Wampas girl. 
One of the real highlights of Young and Beautiful is the "Hush Your Fuss" number, a peppy tune performed on the backlot of the Mack Sennet Studios with the Wampas Babies, Parker Gibbs and vaudevillians Shaw and Lee. Also in the cast is Vince Barrett, Katherine Williams, and Franklin Pangborn. 

This post is our contribution to the Hollywood on Hollywood Blogathon being hosted by the Classic Movie Blog Association. Be sure to check out this link to read more reviews of films showing the drama and the workings behind the film cameras. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

What Have We Not Learned from the Movies??

Speakeasy and Silver Screenings are hosting the What I Learned from the Movies blogathon, a grand event that gives us film fans a chance to gush about why movies are more to us than simple escapist fare. For my sister and me, classic films have taught us so much that, frankly, it would be easier to list what we have not learned from the movies!  They are apart of our education and, therefore, apart of our lives. Our father even used movies to teach us lessons in history/art/science during the years that we were homeschooled. 

If you are a skeptic about what films can truly teach you, then read on, read on, and question yourself as to whether our experiences are not your very own.


Films have exposed us to the customs, styles, and interests of many generations, and through this exposure have made us realize that we no longer belong only to our own generation, but to every era of the past. If an 80-year old woman were to talk with us about her life as a secretary in the mid-1950's, we would relate to everything she would say because the work environment, the people, the fashions, the slang, the news, and the music of the times is all familiar to us. We grew up in the mid-1950's, too! And in the 1940's, 1930's, 1920's, and 1960's...... vicariously through the movies of course, but we are much more acquainted with the era than anyone who learns about the past merely from history books. These are our generations and they belong to us just as much as anyone born in those times. That's one of the most important things movies have imparted to us. We pity anyone who lives only within the confines of their own generation. 


Movies have forged into us the meaning of being an American, and the pride we have in our nation's journey to the present day. Foreign-born directors such as Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, Cecil B. DeMille, and Michael Curtiz, all arrived in America as young men and embraced the freedom they could enjoy as directors and, more importantly, as citizens. They loved America dearly and passed onto their audience, us, what it is about our country that makes it so wonderful. 

Films such as Shane, Stagecoach, Annie Get Your Gun, The Big Trail, Paleface, Can't Help Singing, and How the West Was Won have instilled in us an appreciation for our West, that vast untamed land that will forever be America's pride and glory. We're mighty proud of the West and everything associated with it, from chuck wagons, prairie lands, cattle herds, stampeding buffalo, and Monument Valley, to Native Americans, gold mines, Gabby Hayes, and silver-spurred cowboys. 


Movies have also taught us to expand our mind, to never get comfortable with our own beliefs and always be willing to see something from another angle. George Stevens filmed each scene in his movies from various angles so that he could later select the very best shot for the final cut. We should do the same with our views in life. Whether it's about living unconventionally ( You Can't Take it With You ), being open to change ( The Late George Apley ), finding gladness in every day circumstances ( Pollyanna ), having religious tolerance ( Gentleman's Agreement ), pursuing education at home (The Corn is Green ), or sharing yourself with others ( Goodbye Mr. Chips ), movies have a wise lesson to teach us. 


The characters of the characters we see in the movies are so wide and varied, they represent a sample of all humankind. By examining these characters, we can learn lessons in human nature that can help us grow into better people. Charlie Chan teaches us lessons in humility and not judging others, Dr. Lao ( Seven Faces of Dr. Lao ) teaches us that every day is a miracle filled with magical moments, Miss Madrigal ( Deborah Kerr in The Chalk Garden ) teaches us the allure of having a little mystery in our lives, Gladys Cooper ( in Separate Tables and Now Voyager ) warns us of the danger of being an overpowering character,  Professor Emelius Brown teaches us to do things in life with a flair, and Mrs. Miniver ( Mrs. Miniver ) taught us the beauty of graciousness. 

More importantly, we've learned what not to do in life from the movies : 


The live-action films of Walt Disney Productions constantly remind us that very few situations in life are worth worrying about. How could our worries possibly compare to finding yourself invisible ( Now You See Him, Now You Don't ), being turned into a dog ( The Shaggy Dog ), and finding your home attacked by pirates ( Swiss Family Robinson )? 
In In Search of the Castaways, our protagonists find themselves up a gigantic oak tree in the middle of a flood with a hungry leopard as a tree companion, and what do they do? Maurice Chevalier breaks into song : "Why cry about bad weather, Enjoy it! Each moment is a treasure, Enjoy it! We're travelers on life's highway, enjoy the trip...each lovely twist and byway, each bump and dip"

Comedians such as Danny Kaye and Bob Hope, too, are always teaching us that ghosts, zombies, international spies, and wanted criminals can never get a good man least, no further than six feet under. 


Lastly, movies are the golden key that open to us a treasure chest of riches to enjoy. How many times has a simple line, a little song played in the background, or the mention of a unfamiliar name, sent us to explore its meaning and, in the process, unearthed new interests.
The music of The Time Machine led to a passion for British light music. The Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple movies lead to a lifelong love of Agatha Christie, her books, plays, and other films. Our love for The Enchanted Cottage led to our discovery of Lux Radio Theater and made us explore all the other episodes in that series ( over 900! ) as well as other radio theater performances. 

The films of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald led to a love of operetta and the music of Rudolf Friml and Victor Hubert. Stage Door Canteen introduced us to Gracie Fields which led to watching her films and discovering a slew of great British music hall performers. 

Kate Callender puttering around in her 1906 DeDion Bouton in First Men in the Moon led to an interest in pre-1920 automobiles. The title credits to The Happiest Millionaire made us explore the art of Alan Maley and, in turn, introduced us to numerous other artists of the 1960's. Theses are just a few examples of how movies instigated other interests. 

Have you felt the same way about movies? Leave a comment below and tell us if any of these topics struck a chord with you. Also, be sure to check out all of the great entries in the What I Learned from the Movies blogathon! 

Friday, October 14, 2016

C. Aubrey Smith on England, Cricket, Actors and Pictures

He puffed meditatively at his briar pipe. C. Aubrey Smith, like most Britishers, smokes a briar. He has his own pet mixture, compounded after the English trick to blending tobacco that Hollywood has never quite mastered. To hear him lecture on it is like reading a chapter of “My Lady Nicotine.” 

“It started when Sir Walter Raleigh first brought back the weed,” remarked the famous M-G-M character actor, as he puffed away between scenes on the studio floor. 

“Smokers began flavouring it, sometimes with rum, and blending different varieties, ageing it, and so on, until they found the secret. As soon as a Britisher goes to college, he forms his own particular taste in tobacco — just as a writer forms a style in writing.” 

Aubrey’s pipe is a great solace to him. It helps him think and relax. A typical Britisher is Smith, tall, athletic, with piercing grey eyes, bushy eyebrows, his London accent intact, as well as his British outlook and loyalty. He might have stepped out of Kipling. He could have been the actor member of the group of pals in the Sir James Barne book on the delights of smoking. 

A Londoner, he attended Charterhouse school, and graduated from Cambridge, where he first won fame, not as an actor, but as a cricketer. He later captained Sussex and was also in command of English teams in Australia and South Africa. 

Playing for the Sussex County Cricket Club 
“American baseball,” he remarked, " has some of the thrills of cricket — it’s an interesting game and I like it — but an old hand like me would never be bothered to get the hang of the American pitching.” 

It was his prowess in cricket, doubtless, that gave Smith that strong, athletic figure he carries to this day. As an officer in Daybreak he was superb. Six feet two in his stockinged feet, he weighs 184 pounds — solid bone and muscle. 

He still is devoted to cricket and golf. Amateur photography is another of his hobbies. He reads avidly, and knows almost every play ever produced. 

He is staunchly loyal to the land of his birth. He still maintains his home in Middlesex, though with the great success he has achieved in Hollywood it may be a long time before he sees it again. 

It was in 1892, after his cricket tours, that Smith first took up the stage — not in any great theatre in London, but in a provincial stock company at Hastings. “I think we take a greater pride in our profession in England, and I know that the public is more loyal to its favourites,” he told me. 

In The Flag Lieutenant with Cyril Maude
“It is an almost everyday occurrence to see a London audience give an ovation to some player who has been a favourite for years and years. 

“In America favourites pass more quickly. Life is faster in the States. Britishers don't like to be hurried in the American manner.” 

This respect for the profession in England, Smith believes, is largely due to the fact that there is more tradition behind the stage — from the days when the Bard of Avon wrote and directed his plays. Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Sir George Alexander, Sir John Hare — such names and names like those of Garrick, Keane, Mansfield — these cast a lustre about the traditions of the stage in England. 

Smith played with Sir George Alexander in a number of plays in London — "As You Like It", "The Prisoner of Zenda", "A Man of Forty", "The Wilderness".

He played in New York in "Hamlet" and "The Light that Failed". "The Morals of Marcus", "The Legend of Lenora", and others are among his successes. His last stage appearance was in "The Way to Treat a Woman". 

One of these stage plays incidentally led to the talkies — "The Bachelor Father". Smith was brought to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios to play his stage role in the talkie version, starring Marion Davies. Then followed Daybreak, Never the Twain Shall Meet, The Man in Possession, Just a Gigolo, and Son of India. 

With Robert Montgomery in The Man in Possession
He was no stranger to the camera. In 1915, early days of even the silent pictures, he appeared in Builder of Bridges, when Frohman, the theatrical magnate, was trying to become a film producer. He made several other pictures in England. 

“There is a vast difference between American picture methods and those in England,” Smith said. “ In America it's so much more organized. You have your producer, your director, production managers, assistants, all working in a well-oiled machine. 

“In England the director is the centre of things, as on the stage— and of course much more of the atmosphere of the stage pervades, as the players are practically all stage people. In fact, we haven't got away from simply filming stage plays entirely yet. The hugeness of the organization in Holly- wood always astounds me.” 

Audiences are different, too, Smith believes. 

"A London audience has a certain psychology, and a certain loyalty to players — yet it is a harsh audience if you give it something it doesn't like. Its likes and dislikes are often more positive than those of audiences in America. American audiences have a greater capacity for enthusiasm. 
“The first thing the British actor learns is clear enunciation and correct speech," the actor declared, in outlining his early career. "Pure speech has been one of the traditions of the stage since the days of Shakespeare. It is a good thing because it fosters the love of pure speech in the public at large. I hope the talkies will do the same thing from the screen.” 

After all, he believes, the actor is something of an educator — another thing to be proud of in a profession in which he takes a very intense pride.

This article originally appeared in The Film Lovers Annual published in 1932. To find more stories like this, check out the other posts in our series - Movie Magazine ArticlesEnjoy! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Colleen Moore's Fairy Tale Dollhouse

Effervescent silent screen actress Colleen Moore, star of Flaming Youth ( 1923 ) and The Perfect Flapper ( 1924 ), had a lifelong love for dollhouses and miniatures which led her to create the "Fairy Castle". 

Based on a design by her father and painstakingly built by more than one hundred talented craftsmen over a course of seven years, this awe-inspiring work of art features eight grand rooms, a courtyard garden, and over 1,500 miniature objects collected from around the world! 
Standing at nearly seven feet tall and weighing in at one ton, this aluminum abode cost nearly $500,000 to construct and has some 200 interlocking pieces so as to allow easy assembly. Within its walls, you'll find a small painting by Walt Disney of Mickey & Minnie Mouse on the walls of the immense Gothic hall; an intricately decorated 6" long piano in the music room; a library showcasing sixty-five tiny books signed by some of the 20th century's most esteemed dignitaries and scientists; a chapel with working pipe organ (!); the Prince and Princess's bedrooms; a charming kitchen; and King Arthur's Dining Hall complete with its own Round Table! 
When the castle was completed in 1935, Miss Moore deemed it a 'gift to the children of the world' and took it on a national tour to benefit children with disabilities. The highly-popular tour brought a smile to thousands of American children, raising over half a million dollars for charity and it became the beginning of Miss Moore's philanthropic efforts which she selflessly pursued until her death in 1988. 

This mini edifice extraordinaire continues to delight visitors at its home in the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago, Illinois. You can read more about the "Fairy Castle" and see close-up photos of it in "Colleen Moore's Dollhouse" ( 1979 ) by Colleen Moore, Stephanie Finnegan's "The Dollhouse Book" ( 1999 ) and at 

This post is a part of our latest series entitled "Did You Know?".....sometimes we just feel like sharing interesting fragments of television and movie history and now we have a place to do just that. If you have a hot tip that you would like us to share on Silver Scenes, drop us a line!

Monday, October 10, 2016

From the Archives : Climax! - Strange Death at Burnleigh ( 1957 )

In this original CBS press photo from the Los Angeles Examiner archives, Sir Cedric Hardwicke is pictured with Joan Tetzel in a scene from an episode of Climax! entitled "Strange Death at Burnleigh" ( 1957 ). The caption reads : 

"Sir Cedric Hardwicke portrays Dr. Martin Crandall, who is accused of bringing about the sudden demise of several patients in "Strange Death at Burnleigh" on "Climax!" Thursday, May 2 ( CBS Television 8:30 - 9:30 EDT )." 

From the Archives is our latest series of posts where we share photos from the Silverbanks Pictures collection. Some of these may have been sold in the past, and others may still be available for purchase at our eBay store :

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Upcoming Blogathon! The Return of the Great Imaginary Film Blogathon!

Abracadabra, ala kazam! 

Look into my crystal closely as beloved films of the golden age suddenly change before your very eyes, and sparkling new imaginary films rise before you. Poof!! With a wave of Madame Lasagna's hand and a generous sprinkling of pixie dust tossed into your face you'll be amazed at all the wondrous film plots you yourself will be creating. 

Three years ago, Silver Scenes hosted its very first blogathon "The Great Imaginary Film Blogathon". It was a resounding success, and today we are pleased to announce the return of The Great Imaginary Film Blogathon! 

This magical event is your opportunity to travel back in time and rewrite the films of yor....or speed ahead into the future and create an entirely new film. 

Have you ever read a great book and wished it had been turned into a motion picture?
Have you ever seen a silent, or pre-code film, and wished it had been remade with just a little more "punch" added to it?
Have you ever seen a new film and wished a version of it had been made in the 1930s, or 1940s, or 1950s?
Have you ever seen a film, loved it to death, but wished the main actor/actress had been someone different?
What silly questions...of course you've thought of this before! EVERYONE has exited a movie theatre thinking of all the changes they would have made to the film they just saw. Or read a book and pictured [ your favorite actor ] in the lead. Or wondered "What was William Castle thinking when he made Berserk? I could make a better film than that!" ( and you probably can ).

Well, here is your chance to play pick the script, the stars, and the studio. Look into your crystal ball and conjure up an imaginary film and then review it for your readers. That's what The Great Imaginary Film Blogathon is all about. 
Now you can review about all those wonderful movies that have existed only in your mind.....and anything you can conceive, you can share!

Still confused? Check out some of the entries from our last Imaginary Film Blogathon here on The Master List. 

We can't wait to get started and see what scathingly brilliant pictures you see in your magic ball. But before you start to concoct movie history though let's talk a bit about some of the rules:

Rule Number One - If you wish to write about a film that was never made, please include the following..

- title
- year of production
- at least four cast members
- the studio that you hoped would have released the film
- whether the film is in color or black/white
- basic plot

Imaginary TV Movies are welcome as well.

Rule Number Two - If you wish to create a photo gallery of film ideas please attach a title and small plot summary with your pics. A tv guide sized nugget review will do nicely.

Rule Number Three - If you wish to create a gif...good luck! We have no idea how you would go about doing that.

Rule Number Four - All films created should be dated pre-1975. Afterall, this is a classic film site.

Rule Number Five - There are no rules. Disregard all of the above if you want to do something differently.
The Great Film Blogathon will run from November 11-13, 2016. Exact dates for posting will not be assigned, just so long as you post within that time frame you're good to go. We will post a master list of participants and their topics on the first day of the blogathon. That means you got a whole month to gaze into your crystal ball and conjure up an imaginary film.

Any questions? ...Then let the fun begin!

Look into your inbox this week for an invitation to the event, or sign-up by leaving your name and blog url address in the comment box below. ALL bloggers are welcome!

P.S. : If you don't want to join, please help spread the word about the event by placing a banner on your site anyway. 

Banners are free for the taking : 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Marc Davis - Walt Disney Imagineer

Marc Davis was a veteran animator and storyteller whose career at the Walt Disney Studios spanned over 45 years. He is probably one of the most famous of the "Imagineers" at the studio and justly so, because he contributed greatly to Disney’s animation classics as well as to many of Disneyland’s themed attractions. Bambi, Cinderella, Tinker Bell, Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent, Cruella de Ville, Brier Rabbit and dear little skunk Flower were all characters created by Marc Davis.

Born on March 30, 1913 in Bakersfield, California, Marc traveled across most of America with his family before settling back in California where he attended various art institutes honing his love for drawing. During his years at college he would spend hours visiting the local zoo to sketch the animals and this practice came to good use later when he began work at Walt Disney Studios in 1935 as an apprentice animator for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and later for the exceptional character studies he created for Bambi.
During the 1940s he was busy doing more of the same work on such features as Song of the South, Fun and Fancy Free, So Dear to My Heart, and later on Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmations, as well as working on many of the animated shorts released through Disney during the 1950s and 60s.

Marc Davis also played a key part in the development of Disneyland’s most famous attractions. In 1961 he became an Imagineer after Walt realized that a man with his creative blend of humor and storytelling skill was greatly needed at Disneyland, even more so than at the Studio. This came about one day when Walt asked his top character designer to take a trip to the park and “take a good, hard, critical look” at the Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland ride to see what the ride was lacking and how it could be improved. Marc did just that, and came back thoroughly disappointed with not only that ride but with most of the other attractions at Disneyland too. He gave his report to Walt and then, with his approval, took his trusty little pencil and began to redesign all of the attractions to include what he thought they strongly lacked – a compelling story and humor. 
To this day his distinctive use of comical characterizations and visual “sight gags” can be seen throughout Disneyland and are the reason that many of the famous attractions are as beloved as they are now. The Jungle Cruise, The Enchanted Tiki Room, The Pirates of the Caribbean ride, The Haunted Mansion and many, many others all bear the stamp of the inventive genius of Marc Davis.
In 1978 he retired from the Walt Disney Studios and only occasionally returned to work as consultant on major projects the Imagineers were developing such as Epcot and Toyko Disneyland.  He was later honored, in 1989, with the Disney Legends award which is the highest achievement for a Disney artist. Marc Davis passed away in January 2000. 
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