Sam Smith Mystery Series

Dear Reader #172

Dear Reader,

I’m researching Rita Hayworth for a forthcoming article and novel.

“I’m a good actress. I have depth. I have feeling. But they don’t care. All they want is the image.” – Rita Hayworth.

Clara Bow’s eleventh movie was Wine, produced during the spring of 1924 and released on August 31, 1924. In her first starring role, Clara played Angela Warriner, an innocent girl who develops into a “wild redhot mama”. 

A bootlegger’s daughter, Angela reforms when her mother temporarily loses her sight because of bootlegged booze. Unfortunately, Wine, Clara’s eighth picture made in 1924, is now a lost film.

At the time, Clara was a “Baby Star”, one of the up-and-coming actresses in Hollywood. Fellow Baby Star Ruth Hiatt said of Clara, “She was peppy and vivacious in front of people, but when you talked with her, one on one, she was serious and sad. Clara was an awfully sweet girl, but a very lonesome sweet girl.”

Highest Grossing Movie of 1929 The Broadway Melody.

The Broadway Melody was the first sound film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. The movie was also notable in that it featured an early Technicolour sequence, which survives today only in black and white.

Experimentation was the name of the game, which meant set changes, long hours and re-shoots as the sound recordists tried to capture the sound. Indeed, Bessie Love’s brief ukulele-playing scene took over three hours to film.

The Broadway Melody made a profit of $1.6 million for MGM. Contemporary reviewers sang the movie’s praises. Motion Picture News said: “The direction is an amazing indication of what can be done in the new medium.”

Variety wrote: “It has…a basic story with some sense to it, action, excellent direction, laughs, a tear, a couple of great performances and plenty of sex.”

However, modern reviewers highlight the poor directing and bad acting, which the original audiences tended to forgive because of the film’s novelty.

Film director Raoul Walsh, pictured, was famous for one of Hollywood’s legendary stories. Apparently, Walsh and a friend stole John Barrymore’s body from a mortuary and seated it in Errol Flynn’s living room to greet the actor after a night on the town. Walsh’s explanation: “There was a lot of the laughing water around in those days.”

It looks like we might get some snow in Glamorgan before Christmas.

The musical White Christmas, released in 1954, was filmed in Technicolor and released in VistaVision, a widescreen process developed by Paramount. White Christmas was the first movie to appear in that format, which entailed using twice the surface area of standard 35mm film.

The movie featured seventeen songs or musical interludes, all written by Irving Berlin. The centrepiece was the title song, which first appeared in Holiday Inn in 1942.

Clara Bow Quotes: “All my illusions about Hollywood were quickly dispelled. Here was no paradise. Here was a busy little community devoted, for the most part, to the manufacture of motion pictures, a business which ranked near the top of the country’s greatest industries. Big business. Here were no princes or princesses. Charming men and women, yes; and many who were not so charming…”

Intertitle #12

Next week, my family history research resumes.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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