An Arraignment of America’s Powerful
I believe that motion pictures offer great possibilities as a medium of art. The pictorial effects on the screen are real, while those on the stage, especially outdoor scenery, are artificial. The camera can interpret as well as create by moving rapidly to any idea or any place in the world. In that respect a movie is more like a novel than is the limited legitimate drama.
Yet does Hollywood make anything at all of art in motion pictures? Is Hollywood’s attitude sympathetic and creative or base and destructive? Nearly a year ago, when I was in California, I talked with the executives of Paramount, Universal, Warner Brothers, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. I found them all to be business men; none was in any sense imaginative, creative, or colorful. Mr. Zukor, Mr. Lasky, Mr. Thalberg, and others are not artists but business executives. Of course, there would be less cause for complaint on this score if these business men allowed the writers, directors, and players whom they employ and control to exercise freely their artistic perceptions and capabilities. But that is something they certainly do not allow. I talked seriously on this problem with these gentlemen and many others, and here is the gist of our conversations.
These movie representatives admitted that they would prefer, for example, to buy the title only of, let us say, Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude, their reason being that the play itself was far above the head of the average individual with whom the moving-picture theaters have to deal. But with the title in their possession as property, their writers could make a movie script of parts which at least would bear some resemblance to Mr. O’Neill’s story. They then said this was necessary because really all that the great American public knew about this drama was that Eugene O’Neill had had a big success in New York City called Strange Interlude. Sock one for America!
Movie officials went on to point out the truth that this work was a deep psychological study, and that the greater part of the movie audiences would not understand it even though it were portrayed on the screen with all possible fidelity to the original. They brought out the point that whenever artistic films were released to theaters in small towns in Kansas, North Dakota, etc., the managers of these wired back that their audiences didn’t want these films, and they would have to close their theaters unless they received more popular films.
I, too, can understand that motion pictures are a business and their existence depends on their financial return. It is, however, a deeper problem.
But in this matter of bringing the motion-picture standards down to the intelligence, moral views, etc., of the masses, I was surprised to find that this was held to be a necessity not only by motion-picture magnates but by the law. For when I tried, in the Supreme Court in New York, last July, to restrain Paramount from showing the movie of my book, An American Tragedy,1 on the ground that by not creating the inevitability of circumstance influencing Clyde, a not evil-hearted boy, they had reduced the psychology of my book so as to make it a cheap murder story, I lost the case. But when I read the court’s decision, a light broke upon me. For, said the learned court:
“The producer must [italics are mine] give consideration to the fact that the great majority of the people composing the audience before which the picture will be presented, will be more interested that justice prevail over wrongdoing than that the inevitability of Clyde’s end clearly appear.”
Such being the case, that spells the end of art, does it not?
Despite this sweeping judicial opinion as to the intellectual level of the movies, the basis of my attack is that the picture corporations, with their monopoly, owe a certain percentage of their enormous profits to the artistic development of the film. For, assuming the correctness of their interpretation of the mass mind, should not a genuine effort be made now and then to portray a masterpiece of literature, or present a gifted actor or actress in some such fashion as to widen the appeal of masterpiece or artist, or both? I think yes. By so doing the general standard might be raised rather than left where it is, or lowered. But this, as I insist, the movies do not do—and it is their great sin.
It might be well to comment here on the strange and even unprecedented fate that has befallen this art form. Always heretofore art has meant individuality; the artist was of necessity an individual. But today it has become an industry, along with coal, iron, and steel, and in Wall Street journals and elsewhere it is called that. More, according to figures of not so long ago, the motion-picture industry rated among the largest in America. So for the first time, as you see, an art, so called, is discussed as representing an investment. This investment totals about $2,500,000,000. The figures go on to show that about 10,000,000 tickets are sold daily to Americans desirous of imbibing this “art form.” The average weekly attendance is, or was until recently, over 100,000,000.
More, the frenzy over this “art form,” considering that there are only 125,000,000 persons in the United States, is terrific. Of course the American people are given ample opportunity to patronize this art medium; there are some 15,000 to 20,000 movie theaters throughout the country. In fact, the movie industry, with its enormous salaries to this and that star, its publicity, investment, etc., is holding its own as against even the steel industry, which pays its famous or infamous bonuses of millions to its executives. Can many Wall Street magnates in these days boast a salary greater than Constance Bennett’s? All in all, movie salaries amount (or did until recently) to possibly $500,000,000 every year.
And in this connection it is also necessary to explain that one of the real artistic ills of the American movie companies, and hence their product, is that they are completely united. That is, they not only can but, as is common in all such situations, do exercise a despotic power as to how anything is to be done, also why, where, by whom. In other words, there has been established by a more or less purely commercial and so business-minded group a material tyranny over a new and even beautiful art form.
For example, since 1922 the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America has existed. Its membership now ineludes Paramount Publix (formerly Famous Players-Lasky), First National, Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corporation, Warner Brothers, Educational Film Exchanges, and eighteen other leading companies. These include all of the great producing firms, all important national distributors of films, and all of the largest movie theaters throughout the country, owned or leased for a long period by these companies. Thus they can exercise great power over any independent producer, distributor, or theater owner, as well as any artist, writer, dramatist, actor, or what have you, who must do business with them.
More, this unification of power or control has been extended all over the world by our American producing companies, who now own most of the important movie houses in foreign countries and so distribute their films there. And with this go their practical as well as artistic or inartistic standards, whatever the same may be. Yet whether these be good, bad, or indifferent, they now dominate moving pictures the world over. Thus, only two or three years ago, Latin America became the largest importer of American film. Yet the American pictures shown in Europe make more money for the American companies.
Of course, the American moving-picture market is now the largest in the world, being relatively equal to the European. The American movie giant bestrides the world; it not only possesses the vast American market but also about 60 per cent of the entire foreign market!
More, our American companies sell most to England, Australia, Canada, and France, then Argentina, Brazil, and, farther down the list, Germany. Only a few years ago the great difficulty over languages arose because of the talkies, but that is being surmounted. Already in France, for instance, Paramount has leased a large studio near Paris. This studio, completed in April, 1931, made, during eight months, over 160 pictures in fourteen languages. I feel compelled to add that this studio of Paramount’s is there and again referred to as a “plant.” That isn’t like the younger generation calling a spade a spade, but rather like a shining, tinny ghost over beauty.
But, this industry or octopus being what it is, what does it do with its far-reaching equipment, its possibilities? For, of course, these powerful extensions, all functioning from a common center, hold within their grip the culture and education of the world.
What are the marks of beauty attained by it?
How far do moving pictures go in any effort toward art or its perfection?
To begin with, it is important to note that the motion-picture companies have the world’s treasures of literature at their disposal, also many of the most talented actors and actresses from the legitimate stage; also finances with which to accomplish their purposes. But what do they do?
I have read recently forty-five reviews or criticisms of forty-five motion pictures produced since 1925, all based upon famous novels, plays, etc., and all reviewed by men or women supposed to be alert and searching students of this industry or art. According to those reviews, twenty movies were unlike the original masterpiece or did not convey the idea of it, while seventeen movies were judged as adequately representing the novels or plays upon which they were based.
It is not so much a belittling as a debauching process, which works harm to the mind of the entire world. For the debauching of any good piece of literature is—well, what? Criminal? Ignorant? Or both? I leave it to the reader.
Of the above twenty movies tampered with, three definitely changed the story in important phases. For instance, in the 1931 Universal production of Frankenstein, based on Mary Shelley’s book, since the movies cannot see a nice hero harmed, the monster which Frankenstein, the scientist, creates merely batted him around, whereas in the novel the monster finally kills the scientist. And in Notre Dame, the priest, the archvillain in the story, became, of course, the priest’s brother.2
There are innumerable instances of popular novels and plays purchased by the movie companies and then so altered as to be decidedly unrepresentative of the original. In the play Coquette, the “ruined” heroine killed herself, hoping to save her father. In the movie version, the girl is not “ruined”; her father only thought she was, and, realizing his mistake, kills himself. The Easiest Way was screened with a different ending from the play, and Cardboard Lover was changed completely in content. Ramona lost the greater part of its dramatic value on the screen, since they eliminated about one-third of the story. The Bridge of San Luis Rey as transferred to the screen became, according to the critics, “a muddled and unconvincing story”; and Redemption, the 1930 rendition of Tolstoy’s The Living Corpse, was “dull, halting, and artificial.”
In two of these twenty films I have referred to above, the main variance was improper characterization. In the movie version of Du Barry, for instance, done in 1930 by Norma Talmadge, the lines were criticized by even the movie critics as being so “verbose and poorly written” that they did not in the least approximate the true characterization. And in Ernst Lubitsch’s version of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, done in 1925, the characters, according to the New York Times review, “didn’t in any way resemble Wilde’s.”3 Yet it would seem as though anyone observing and feeling the life about him would understand that a drama with certain happenings and moods is dependent not only upon the particular personality of each character, and the particular manner in which those personalities affect each other, but the most careful recreation of the various situations in which they find themselves.
Yet in six of the twenty movies above referred to as not truly portraying their originals, the main fault was failure to catch the spirit of the author, his real meaning or mood! So it was with Quo Vadis, The Taming of the Shrew, Mother’s Cry, and Quality Street.4 The cinema Taming of the Shrew, according to its cinema critics, was betrayed by typical Hollywood slapstick. In it, for example, Douglas Fairbanks was Douglas Fairbanks and none other most of the time; he forgot that Shakespeare wrote this play around a character, Petruchio, and not around himself as an athletic and grimacing motion-picture star.
Again, in the Camille of Norma Talmadge, done in 1927, the classic of the younger Dumas was deliberately changed in tone. In fact, Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times observed that this Camille was “but a faint reflection of the classic, and those who expect something of the real character of Marguerite Gautier as she was impersonated by Sarah Bernhardt, Duse, Réjane, and others, will be keenly disappointed.” He added that “this is not due to Miss Talmadge’s acting, for she is lovely and sincere in her performance, but rather to Fred Niblo’s direction and the others who revamped the scenario.”5
Not only are masterpieces of literature thus ruined by poor movie adaptations of the stories, but motion-picture actresses, many of them quite talented, are forced to repeat themselves in a series of rapid-fire, mediocre movie stories, all commonplace or bad, until finally the public, sick of the stories, though not necessarily of the star, becomes sick of the star, whereupon Hollywood throws her out and substitutes a new face which it values commercially, no matter how blank that new face may be.
Thus, after Evelyn Brent, under contract to Paramount, did a splendid piece of work as Natacha in The Last Command, with Jannings, and in Beau Sabreur,6 she was afterward cast in a veritable cyclone of bunk, in order, I presume, to make money. And indeed, the names of her pictures are a revelation of what is here asserted: such elevating productions, for instance, as His Tiger Lady, The Mating Call, Darkened Rooms, Fast Company.
So, too, with Esther Ralston, whose career with Paramount began with Peter Pan, Beggar on Horseback, and The Goose Hangs High.7 Then, after her reputation had been established, she was run through such cheap, albeit money-making, trash as The Trouble with Wives, Fashions for Women, Love and Learn,etc. Personally, I cannot understand the petty, degrading forces that would move people to create such complete travesties upon art. More, I still believe that the movies can be artistic and at the same time successful.
Pola Negri is an outstanding example of the sacrifice of a star to commercialism. Lilian Gish is another. But to further emphasize this sacrifice of really valuable artists, one may take Rudolph Valentino, the one movie actor who waged a real fight against the great companies’ conduct in this respect. He maintained publicly and at law that he was being deliberately debased in order to make money for Paramount. Valentino, catapulted to fame and appreciation in The Four Horsemen, one of the few very good photoplays, was immediately thereafter, and because of the nature of his contract with Famous Players-Lasky, cast in The Sheik and The Young Rajah.8
Enraged at such casting, in September, 1922, he served notice on Famous Players-Lasky that he was dissatisfied with the management and direction of his films and asked to be released from his contract. In his own words, he “hated” The Sheik, and added that his interest in pictures was artistic, not commercial, and that his pictures to date had not lived up to his artistic ambitions. Famous Players-Lasky immediately thereafter obtained a temporary court order, and later a permanent one, prohibiting Valentino from contracting with any other movie producer during the term of his contract with them, and when this was appealed to a higher court, he lost.
Later, in July, 1923, Valentino contracted to make pictures for another movie corporation entitled Ritz-Carlton, this contract to go into effect after his Famous Players contract had expired. According to his agreement with that concern, he was to have full artistic freedom. Thereafter, for reasons unknown to me, but within six months, Valentino was back with Famous Players. Probably he realized that the smaller company, with nowhere near the resources of Famous Players-Lasky—no control, say, of thousands of moving-picture houses—would be throttled and defeated by the all-powerful Famous Players group. And although upon his return he was granted some slight artistic privileges (not many, as we all know), his success thereafter was small, and his death in 1926 makes useless speculation as to what his ultimate fate would have been.
Nonetheless, my contention is that actors and actresses like Valentino, Garbo, and Dietrich, or any others sufficiently gifted to present the higher art forms, should be reserved by the moving-picture industry—some central board of art criticism, let us say—for at least one superior production a year. Such players as these might do wonders toward elevating motion pic־ tures above their present level. Thus, and obviously, Marlene Dietrich could play Thais. Who can doubt that Greta Garbo would shine in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights?
At any rate, it is obvious to me that for the sake of the possibilities of the movies as an art, the best talent in it should on occasion be called upon not only to exercise its supreme capabilities, but aided in every way so to do. Yet is that ever thought of, let alone done? During the past ten or fifteen years, what arresting exemplifications, if any?
In the past, upon the legitimate stage at least, a great actor or actress was looked upon as a god or goddess of art. Now our wholesale movie and radio corporations have, by their own indifference or insensitivity or greed, or all three, ended that lovely illusion which clothed such stage geniuses as Sir Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, Edwin Booth, Joseph Jefferson, Constant Coquelin, Mary Anderson, Sarah Bernhardt. For by them was certainly evoked an artistic reality which in their followers flowered into something akin to worship. Who of the elders of this day does not recall Mary Anderson, Clara Morris, Maude Adams, Richard Mansfield? But show me the equivalent of any of them anywhere today! Yet perhaps an incident will convey more clearly what I mean.
In 1905, when Maude Adams opened at the Empire Theater in New York in Barrie’s Peter Pan, the critics made fun of the play. Of what followed Mr. Alexander Woollcott has written, in the New York Sun:
But Maude Adams had faith, and so did Charles Frohman. Through the first scanty weeks they held the Empire stage, and then gradually, as the Peter Pantheists found out how good and dear a play was waiting for them, the tide turned, and in the crowds that waited in the falling snow at the stage door after each performance, just for a glimpse of Miss Adams as she went to her carriage, you heard the overtones of a folkway and saw the beginnings of an immortality
And again, with the rank, greedy, insensitive, nonperceptive commercialism of this our movie world, contrast the temperaments as well as the financial and personal generosity of many of the above artists. In the 1860s, when Booth was at the zenith of his career, he invited the great German tragedian, Bogumil Davison, to play Othello while he himself took the lesser part of Iago. And even later, Booth played Iago when Salvini had the title role of Othello. He also played with such brilliant actresses as Charlotte Cushman and Helena Modjeska. And the late Sir Henry Irving and Booth alternated in playing Othello and Iago. More, Irving advertised actresses like Mrs. Sterling and Ellen Terry equally prominently with himself.
In consequence, and justly, these gifted players were looked upon with reverence. Young artists could but be inspired by such masters.
But compare these and their worship with the careers and personal evocations of our present-day motion-picture players. I know of no finer actress who has been cast in worse stories than Greta Garbo. It isn’t that the original stories selected have not been good, but that uniformly they have been so wretchedly adapted or rewritten as to make them trash. Only recall Inspiration, one of Miss Garbo’s plays, which Mordaunt Hall, the New York Times motion-picture critic, speaks of as “a sadly unconvincing talking pictorial conception of Alphonse Daudet’s Sappho,” itself a beautiful story.9
And as for Susan Lenox, by David Graham Phillips, itself by no means as imposing a piece of realism as it might have been, but good and capable of improvement in the movies if placed in a master’s hands, that was made not merely into another very bad movie story, but so twisted and trashy a thing as to be sufficient to wreck even Garbo’s appeal.10 And yet, as Mr. Hall has said, since Garbo has never given anything but an excellent account of herself, it is a pity that she should not have had better stories.
But does that mean anything to the master minds of the world’s largest “art” industry? We know it does not. And for the reasons above pointed out: that it is the lowest, or at least the most popular, and so paying, level that is sought, and never with so much as a compromise, let alone a sacrifice, in favor of something really beautiful and worth while. Were I so minded, I could continue through a long list of instances of exploitation of excellent talent in poor stories, and for commercial reasons, with the consequent debasing of the players themselves. So much so that the moving-picture houses the world over are today only half or three-quarters filled.
The trouble is that the fate of these actors and actresses is, of course, largely, and I suppose I should say completely, determined by the companies which control them with contracts. For whereas ten years ago these contracts were usually for one picture or for a very short time, now contracts are made over a long period of years. Also, whereas in the beginning actors and actresses worked for eight, ten, or a dozen companies within a short period, now their destinies are all with one concern or with allied or similar companies, and their artistic freedom is exactly nothing.
Actually, the big companies control players’ contracts in so drastic and shabby a way as to make their artistic future a nightmare, and the thought of every little upstart occupying an office chair is to prove himself greater and much more important than the genius who is still called upon to enthrall the public. They are told what and how and are charged to obey on pain of ostracism the world over. And yet Hollywood ventures to speak of the artists and the art of their purely commercial picture world!
This particular situation had its rise largely in the formation in 1916 of the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation from many producing companies. This company was even by then so powerful that it soon absorbed Paramount, its distributing company. This group, already controlling production and distribution, set upon a scheme to control exhibition of these films, and the plan turned out to be sure-fire. For immediately thereafter they bought or built 400 theaters, most of which they designated as first-run houses. These they made more luxurious and glittering than palaces or cathedrals. The vast clamor created over openings in these cathedrals brought a prestige and the enhanced value of advertising against which no one could compete. At that time this company, already controlling 75 per cent of the stars, was in a position so to exploit them as to dim the possibilities of any less-advertised star.
To show what power this particular company then wielded in the career of any of its stars—how and when, for instance, he or she was to be presented to the public—let me cite a Supreme Court case showing this company guilty under the Sherman Anti-Trust law. The court said that the practice of compulsory arbitration over disputes arising in connection with exhibitors’ contracts was unlawful restraint of trade. Also, in connection with a First National case, the government attacked credit committees which restrained the freedom of sales of motion pictures. The New York Times, late in 1930, reported that the Supreme Court had held ten of the largest motion-picture producers and thirty-two distributing boards, controlling 98 per cent of the motion pictures, guilty under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
Well, as against such a united and plainly illegal trust front, what opportunity has the writer, player, director, actor—granting him art or genius—to do anything really worth while? What? And after the player has been so dogmatically and crassly exploited, what chance has he or she of retaining popularity? For, because of the dull pictures in which he or she is forced to appear, audiences, as I have said, grow tired not only of his or her face but of his or her work—which is all it is; whereupon the player is first dropped from the major contract list, and then later is let to the independents.
After that, however, the public hears almost nothing about these small-concern “stardoms.” Or supposing the players remain under contract to the big companies, nevertheless their pictures become of such minor importance that they are finally dropped. Many such players so misused finally free-lance in the supporting cast of this or that trivial thing. Thus, Claire Windsor, after a five-year contract with Goldwyn, went to Tiffany-Stahl, and Jacqueline Logan starred in such little companies that her work was practically lost. So, like the fairly constant rainfall per year, it goes. A list in Variety of those who lost popularity in 1931 includes Vilma Banky, Monte Blue, Evelyn Brent, Dolores Costello, Marie Prevost, Norma Talmadge. All of these latterly have been in stupid pictures.
Of course, this exploitation of the star is done for money-making reasons. Sensational movies attract more people than others. And since neither the will nor the power to think and feel keenly the higher things of life has ever been encouraged by these movie masters, the movies themselves have become an enormous example of mental and so social frustration. Every crazy thing has been and still is forced upon the not very experienced and quite gullible public. For, as we all know, when notices of coming pictures are flashed on the screen, a note describing the picture’s greatness appears, usually signed “Your Manager.” And these “personal notes” appear all over the country before millions of people, vast numbers of whom do or did believe in the “greatness,’’ “depth,” “power,” and what not of the coming Hollywood creation, although subsequently and because of this mechanical production contract system, against which the local theater manager has no redress, they are coming to learn what the word “hooey” means. Also, since there are no independent artistic production companies or theaters anywhere, these wares are what they must see or else stay at home.
Yet, as we all know, everything today is called “great.” And in connection with that, I often wish that advertising ethics were a matter of law. For then when a really great play or novel was screened, the public, with some informative and helpful data on the subject thrown in for its enlightenment as well as enjoyment, might be aided mentally to sort the best from the worst. And how much better that would be! And, incidentally, how refreshing to see a plain old melodrama of the sob school labeled as such and not as the world’s greatest screen production to date!
Hollywood, however, turning out 800 features a year, wants to get the people to the movies several times a week. It also knows that the bulk of the people can be attracted by the bizarre, the scandalous, the what not. Hence the preponderance of melodrama now flooding the country and, more completely than at any time in the past, even lumping all of the old-time stock companies together.
What is more, the movie companies have found a way to force these ignorant, albeit money-making, movies upon the public. This is none other than the block-booking system, adopted about 1915, by which a theater owner, in order to get a much desired picture of superior quality, has to take a whole block (fifteen or twenty) of mediocre pictures. This system, long since taken up by the combined producing and distributing companies, is still in force. And now that the theaters themselves, as well as the producing companies, are controlled by the same interests, pictures may be shown in these theaters because they own the theaters rather than because of the artistic merit of the film.
Finally, as I have said and illustrated, the real masterpieces of literature which Hollywood films, are notoriously botched or at best altered and changed to suit some sales agent’s view of what is right and proper. And this countinghouse school of production becomes worse, not better. I even believe that Hollywood is becoming more erratic and superficial hourly. If you doubt this, read reviews of the old movies, or recall, if you will, that years ago Les Miserables was filmed most accurately according to Hugo’s chapters.11 Also the works of Balzac, Tolstoy, France, d’Annunzio, and others. In fact, even Hawthorne’s book plan was used for the early filming of his Scarlet Letter.12 And how he would have appreciated that today!
But let me finally point out here that in this matter of artistic standards, American movies compare most unfavorably with foreign productions. Of the reviews of forty-five movies of foreign as well as American origin examined by me, of nine foreign pictures, eight followed the original story; but of thirty-six American pictures, only nine followed the original story. So judge for yourself.
And of those pictures which according to American—not foreign—picture critics included both good acting and adequate representation of the original, seven were American and six foreign.
And yet the eminent Mr. Samuel Goldwyn said only the other day: “The Russian films are overestimated. There’s too much education in the foreign celluloids. Americans don’t go to the theater to be educated. When they want to be educated they go to schools.”
Well, as we used to say when we were suddenly confronted with inexplicable signs and wonders—and say with reason: “What do you know about that?”
From Liberty, June 11, 1932, pp. 6-11. Copyright 1932 Liberty Publishing Corp. Reprinted by permission of Liberty Library Corporation.
1.Directed by Josef von Sternberg, starring Phillips Holmes and Sylvia Sidney.
2.Frankenstein (1931) directed by James Whale; starring Colin Clive as Frankenstein and Boris Karloff as the Monster. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) directed by Wallace Worsley; starring Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, and Ernest Torrence.
3.Coquette (1929) was directed by Sam Taylor and starred Mary Pickford. The Easiest Way (1931), based on a play by Eugene Walter, was directed by Jack Conway and starred Adolphe Menjou and Constance Bennett. Card-board Lover (1928), directed by Robert Z. Leonard, starred Jetta Goudal and Nils Asther. The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1929) was directed by Charles Br abin and starred Lily Damita and Ernest Torrence; Thornton Wilder’s novel was adapted for the screen a second time, in 1944, when the picture was directed by Rowland V. Lee. Redemption (1930) was directed by Fred Niblo and starred John Gilbert, Renee Adoree, and Conrad Nagel. Du Barry (1930) was directed by Sam Taylor. Lady Windermere’s Fan (1925) starred Ronald Colman, Irene Rich, and May MacAvoy. There were several film versions of Ramona. Dreiser is probably referring to the 1928 version which starred Dolores Del Rio.
4.Quo Vadis (1925), directed by Arturo Ambrosio, starred Emil Jannings. The Taming of the Shrew (1929), directed by Sam Taylor, starred Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. Mother’s Cry (1930), from the novel by Helen Grace Carlisle, was directed by Hobart Henley and starred Dorothy Peterson and David Manners. Quality Street (1927), based on Barrie play, was directed by Sidney Franklin and starred Marion Davies and Conrad Nagel.
5.Camille (1927), directed by Fred Niblo, starred Norma Talmadge, Gilbert Roland, and Maurice Costello.
6.The Last Command (1928), directed by Josef von Sternberg, starred Emil Jannings, Evelyn Brent, and William Powell. Beau Sabreur (1928), directed by John Waters, starred Evelyn Brent, Noah Beery, Gary Cooper, and William Powell.
7.Peter Pan (1924) was directed by Herbert Brenon. Beggar on Horseback (1925) was directed by James Cruze. The Goose Hangs High (1925) was also directed by Cruze. Peter Pan (1924) was directed by Herbert Brenon. Beggar on Horseback (1925) was directed by James Cruze. The Goose Hangs High (1925) was also directed by Cruze.
8.Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) was directed by Rex Ingram. The Sheik (1921) was directed by George Melford. The Young Rajah (1922) was directed by Philip Rosen.
9.Inspiration (1931) directed by Clarence Brown.
10.Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise (1931) directed by Robert Z. Leonard.
11.i.e. William Fox’s production of 1917, starring William Farnum.
12.Presumably a reference to Victor Seastrom’s version of 1926, starring Lillian Gish and Lars Hanson. The New York Times reviewer described it thus: “as faithful a transcription of the narrative as one could imagine.”