Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sexy time Saturday #8

Since hurricane Danny is making a mess outside my windows, I decided to post another "Sexy time...." for you all. I'm also ejoying an afternoon tea while watching an Abbott & Costello movie marathon. First it was "A&C Meet Frankenstein", then "Hit The Ice" and now I'm viewing "Buck Privates" and laughing my ass off. Until next time, true believers...........

Hugh Herbert, Guy Kibbee, and a bevy of dolls take a break from 1934's "Dames"

Leslie Banning enjoying some sun.

a provocative looking Peggy Shannon in "The Painted Women" (1932)

Patricia Ellis showing the goods in the 1935 Warner Brothers feature "The Case of the Lucky Legs"

the ever exquisite Joan Blondell

as we get to "the end" we have from Jean Sook, Betty Marion, Jack Oakie, Sally Loomis, and Patty Lacey

Thursday, August 27, 2009

large format for a Thursday afternoon

This still of Monte Blue and Raquel Torres comes from the 1928 MGM film "White Shadows in the South Seas". This was MGM's first sound picture, and premiered in Hollywood at Grauman's Chinese Theater on Friday, August 3rd 1928 and gave the viewers the opportunity to hear Leo the MGM lion growl for the first time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

more glass slides 'cause I been busy

Here we go with another round of glass slides. I have been very busy as of late so updates may be a little sparse for a bit. The warm weather makes me want to hop on my Vespa for a ride rather than sit in front of a computer but give it a few weeks and I should be back to normal.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Movietone Follies of 1930 (1930)

Here I am, back from an ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL weekend at Capitolfest in Rome, NY, and all ready to blog about the film that was the highlight of the weekend (for me anyway). I won't give my personal review, just a normal post about the movie itself, so let's get started, shall we?

Conrad Sterling (William Collier, Jr.), heir to his Uncle Marvin Kingsleys (Huntley Gordon) fortune, is always in the newspapers with scandalous reports of his frolics in the nightclubs and with women. His Uncle Marvin, through fear of disgrace, threatens to disinherit him if the stories in the papers dont cease immediately. But rather than being the carouser, Conrads heart secretly belongs to Mary Mason (Mariam Seegar), a stage actress who believes in love before money. After reading in the paper about her playboys latest escapade, Mary decides he is not the settling down type and promptly dumps Conrad vowing to never see him again.

Enter a fake lumber king, Axel Svenson (El Brendel), whom showgirls Gloria De Witt (Noel Francis) and Vera Fontaine (Marjorie White) fight over as they think he has the dough to put them on easy street, but Svenson is actually Mr. Sterlings valet and is already being chased by the overly jealous maid, Babette (Yola D'Avril).

Vera is constantly being pursued by songster George Randall (Frank Richardson), who is regularly regaling her with pie-eyed stories of his future net worth and Gloria cant help but let Vera know about her paramour, Dodo, who treats her just right. Conrad then goes to the producer of the stage shows office to hire the entire group so a performance can take place the coming Sunday at his uncles estate, not just as a benefit for disabled soldiers, but also for a way to see his lovely Mary again, who STILL won't see him.

When Sunday rolls around Mary and the rest of the troupe are brought to Brier Manor for the big fundraiser, Conrad has Marys room filled with pictures of him in an attempt for reconciliation, but when she finds out its him putting on the show, she once again gives him the ozone. As the music starts and the performance gets rolling, questions still abound; will Mary and Conrad get back together? Which of the three women will Axel choose? Will Vera ever be fooled by George's "high-talk"? And who is the mysterious Dodo?


After the success of William Fox Movietone Follies of 1929 it was announced in mid-29 that its successor, Fox Movietone Follies of 1930, was already in production, but by the time the feature was released in May 1930, the studios patriarch and namesake, William Fox, would be out of the picture through a hostile takeover of his company causing his surname to be dropped from the heading. In fact, the film can be found listed under many different titles. The American Film Institute catalog and early trade ads list it as being Fox Movietone Follies of 1930, promotional materials released at the time try to differentiate it from the earlier movie by announcing The NEW Movietone Follies of 1930.

And in certain areas of the country they dispensed with the Follies title all together and played up El Brendels role with the crazy title of Svensons Wild Party.” Was this the released title or just the name for the preview is uncertain, but early ads show it WAS used.

The Hilton Record; Hilton, New York, 9-18-1930

The Ogden Standard Examiner; Ogden, Utah, 7-20-1930

Although it has been written before that the "Svenson..." title had only been used in regions where there was a predominate Swedish heritage in the population, my research has found this to be untrue as period newspapers show advertisements for the moniker in Ogden Utah, Rochester New York, Los Angeles California and other cities and towns.

Whatever its label, the reviews for the picture were generally unenthusiastic, with most decent reviews singling out the comedy work of El Brendel. El Brendel, as Colliers valet, is the panic of the entire offering is how the Motion Picture Times of May 27 saw it and although the June 28 issue of Exhibitors Herald-World looked unfavorable on the film, of Brendels performance Harry Tugend commented, For only the presence of El Brendel makes the trite plot and ancient gags at all bearable. The little Swede manages to make you laugh in spite of the poor material handed him.

One of the VERY few glowing reviews comes from Mordaunt Hall in the June 21st, 1930 issue of the New York Times writing, " 'The New Movietone Follies of 1930', audible picture at the Roxy is a smartly produced, wise-cracking affair, which yesterday afternoon achieved its purpose in creating gusts of laughter. It is a warm-weather entertainment with handsome scenes and both bright and trite lines".

There are songs and dancing in this film (it is a follies movie after all) but the Los Angeles Times may have summed it up best of all the notices I read when they published on July 1, Considerable effort and money was apparently lavished on the song and dance scenes in 'Svensons Wild Party,' but the results scarcely show very glitteringly on the screen, and the plot would be dull indeed were it not for the highlights of mirth, crude though some of these may be. Ouch. But other reviewers thought I Feel A Certain Feeling Coming On, sung by Brendel and Noel Francis and Id Love To Be A Talking Picture Queen”, rendered by diminutive firecracker Marjorie White, to be standouts of the revue portion.

An interesting side note is that in the foreign release of "Movietone Follies of 1930", which was released as a silent with a scored Movietone soundtrack, is a song credited to El Brendel, "Hinky Dee (Wishing Song)". This song was also used in at least two other of Brendel's features, "Hot For Paris" (which is doubly disappointing as it's a lost film AND El sings a vocal version of it) and "Mr. Lemon of Orange", but in the U.S. prints of those films. I will try to get a recording for a future post on either of those films.

With such a lukewarm assessment one would figure that Fox would be finished with this type of musical Follies pictures but right after this film was released, press books were already touting The New Movietone Follies of 1931, with the only returning cast member being El Brendel. That movie was never made. Fox again revived the idea for in the 1933-34 Fox Personalities and Product press book the Fox Movietone Follies would pull out all the stops. Starring nearly every major star on the Fox lot and penned by a dozen of Americas greatest writers here was another film destined not to get beyond the sketch stage.

Lastly, before starting work on "Movietone Follies of 1930", El Brendel gave a brief interview to the press regarding what fame in the movies has done for his career, after he made a personal appearance in St. Louis, Missouri. When he arrived at the train station he "was met....with a band of 100 pieces. City officials battled for seats in his limousine. An army of theater employees attended to his baggage and thousands of persons cheered him at the station." Brendel said, "I felt like I skidded off the earth onto another planet....It seemed more like a dream that so may people were interested in me."

Either this actually happened or it was just good copy, but El goes on to say once he returned to Hollywood, "Gosh, when I realize all these people are interested in my pictures, it makes me nervous....but it has improved my work a lot, as I put everything I have into whatever I do now."


Axel chooses Babette (she's CRAZY!)

Vera FINALLY falls for George!

"Dodo" is Conrad's Uncle Marvin (seen here on the right)!

and of course Mary and Conrad get back together, it's 1930, after all!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The sisters - rare candids from the late 20's - MYSTERY SOLVED!!

The internet is a GREAT invention. I mean, what in the hell did we do as far as interacting with people from around the world before it? About 24 hours ago I posted this blog and also alerted the members of the WONDERFUL forum Nitrateville as to it being published. In that time the cowboy actor was identified, but more importantly, the two sisters have been identified.

When I initially wrote this blog I had ABSOLUTELY NO idea who the two sisters in the photographs were. I could see that one of the sisters names was "Venezia" but the other I had trouble with. I asked some friends what the mystery name was, and eventually we came back with the same one, "Thalia". On Thursday I published this information and also went over to Nitrateville and asked the members to help me identify some of the people who were pictured but not identified. Never in a million years would I expect Ian Elliot to get back to me and write this:

Louie, is "Thalia" possibly "Italia" or "Ytalia"? The 1930 US census has a Venezia Frandi, recorded age 28, and an Italia Frandi, age 26, living in Los Angeles. Birthplace, Spain; occupation for both, "extra actress".

AMAZING!!! Looking at the name now I see it all plainly before me:

MYSTERY SOLVED!!! A HUGE hat tip to Ian for this information!

A quick google search also found that Venezia Frandi (age 7), Italia Frandi (age 6), Elena Frandi (age 29), and Antonio Frandi (age 41) arrived on Ellis Island on October 21st, 1906 on the ship Liguria. The ship sailed on October 3rd 1906 from Genoa, Italy and that their final destination was Mexico City.

This collection of 40 or so images posted here are all I have, complete and unedited. Some of the stills have captions on the back and anything relevant I included as a caption. Mostly, though, on the back is written the sister and who the person in the picture is, but on most, nothing is written at all and that's where some of the mystery lies. The photos are trimmed and some written words on the reverse are cut off, so with the translations I can only give what I have access to. So, enough of my ramble, let's meet them:

Italia on the set of "The Loves of Carmen" (1927)

Venezia with an unknown man

literal translation on the back "With many you see your daughter.
Los Angeles, Calif.
September 12th, 1924"

the sisters on the set of an unknown film

the person who sold me these pictures claimed that this was Rudolph Valentino with one of the sisters, but I don't know enough about Valentino to give an educated guess. Anyone know for sure?

***UPDATE*** Hala over at the wonderful Forget The Talkies! website was the first to contact me and let me know that the man IS NOT Valentino. Since then many others have chimed in with the same consensus.

my personal favorite of the whole bunch where the sisters are alone.


OK, so here we go with the candids of the sisters on film sets. First off, we have a number of images from the 1927 Fox film "The Loves of Carmen" and here we have three pics of the sisters with female lead Dolores del Rio:
.......with Victor McLaglen lurking in the background

similar to the one at the beginning, here's Italia on the set

three with the film's male lead, Don Alvarado:
on the back "Don Alvarado star of cinema and Mexican nationality"

a couple with Victor McLaglen during a lunch break:

two with the man who directed the film, Raoul Walsh:

The next round come from the 1927 film "7th Heaven". Here is Venezia with assistant director Lew Borzage (brother of Frank):

2 pictures of the sisters with then star (an future director) David Butler:

Venezia with Charles Farrell:

........and Italia with him, too:

Next up we have some photos from the 1928 Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell vehicle "Street Angel". All of the photos on the back mention the filming location being Catalina Island. Here Venezia talks to the film's director Frank Borzage:
Venezia with 3 extras:
the girls with male lead Charles Farrell:


Italia with cowboy film star Tim McCoy (tip of the derby to Mr. Penfold over at Nitrateville)

These come from 1926's "The Silver Treasure". Here the girls are with the guy who plays Sotillo the bandit in the film, Lou Tellegen:

and four of someone the women seem REALLY fond of. The star of the movie, George O'Brien:


Lon Chaney looks REALLY happy to be photographed on the set of what I believe to be "The Unknown", made in 1927 for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer:


written on the reverse: "This photograph was taken in "United Studios" when we were working with the lions. The actor that is with me is Charles Howard Meredith. Doesn't it appear that he is very tall? about six feet and two inches.
In this movie you can't see us for anything, so I won't even tell you to say the name.Venezia.
October 24, 1924"

From R. Michael Pyle on Nitrateville: "The photograph of Venezia with Charles Meredith is probably on the set of "In Hollywood with Potash and Perlmutter" (aka "So This Is Hollywood" in UK) released in 1924, directed by Alfred Green." Thank you, Mr. Pyle!


and to finish up, here we have the girls clowing around with Lou Tellegen again. This time on the set of the Vitagraph Corporation film, "The Redeeming Sin" (1925)