Friday Facts: Hollywood’s Adolescence

Silent Movies Music

Well I’m back again with another edition of Friday Facts. This week I’m going to reproduce an article that was printed in a publication called: “47 the Magazine of the Year.” The title of the article is Hollywood’s Adolescence and it was published in May 1947. The article, which was written by Richard G. Hubler, takes a look at the forming years of Hollywood and looks at life during the silent era – hope you enjoy the first part of this article, with he second part to be reproduced next week:

English: Vitagraph Studios, early Hollywood fi...

English: Vitagraph Studios, early Hollywood film studio, photo by Robert Monroe, shown in center of photograph wearing knickers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Los Angeles and its environs were crowded with new motion picture companies. The American Film Company, the Vitagraph Company, the Universal Company, Christie Comedies, and Selig found competitors springing up like weeds after rain: the demand for ‘flickers’ was enjoying its first boom.”

Hollywood Studios 1922

Hollywood Studios 1922 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The 2000 theaters that showed motion pictures charged nickels and dimes. Most of them were converted grocery stores. Musical accompaniment was supplied by a lone pianist. Dialogue was offered in subtitles or in monologues by the theater manager. Insurance was hard to come by because of the inflammable film and the rickety theaters.”

Beauty and the Bandit.

Beauty and the Bandit. (Photo credit: Beinecke Library)

“Two-reelers about the Civil and Spanish-American Wars commenced to be the fashion. To save time and wear and tear on the meager wardrobe stocks, the big battle scenes were shot all-Union one day and all-Confederate the next. The scenes were intercut with each other. In the Civil War, to preserve the market in both the South and North, the retreats nd advances of both sides were mathematically divided.”

Universal's stampede of thrills "The Ghos...

Universal’s stampede of thrills “The Ghost City” … (Photo credit: Beinecke Library)

“Censorship raised its ugly head for the first time. In Chicago, the police demanded that the guns in the hands of the villain’s henchmen on the billboards be deleted. The problem was solved by pasting flowers over the six-shooters. Instead of holding up the stage-driver, the grim masked men extended bouquets to him.”

Universal Life Insurance Company

Universal Life Insurance Company (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

“Naturalism was in demand. In one Western a live rattlesnake was used. The director picked it up to look at it; the snake sank its fangs into his bulbous nose. Nobody was sure whether the poison sacs of the reptile had been removed. So the director got roaring drunk. The next day he had a formidable hangover. The snake died.”

English: Union Brigadier General Ulysses S. Gr...

English: Union Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant photographed at Cairo, Illinois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“One large film company had only one really convincing false beard. Moreover, they had only one actor who looked genuine in it. In their war features they used him for both General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant.”

Motion picture actors and actresses (1916)

Motion picture actors and actresses (1916) (Photo credit: State Library and Archives of Florida)

“Motion picture making was assuming its own dignity. More reels were shot on interior stages with the new mercury arc banks of lights. No scene was shot without an orchestra playing, “to get the actors in the mood.” But space at such studios as Universal was so cramped that sets were built less than six inches apart. A director doing a tear-jerker drama might be playing Hearts and Flowers, while on one side of him Al Christie would be doing a comedy and playing ragtime, and on the other Robert Z. Leonard would be having his orchestra play a schottische for a foreign portrayal. It was bedlam confounded, but the results were effective on the screen.”

 

English: The intersection of Hollywood and Hig...

English: The intersection of Hollywood and Highland, 1907. This would become the location of the current Hollywood and Highland complex and a center of Hollywood tourism today. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And so that’s Friday Facts for this week. Interesting stuff, but if you hunger for more of this article, I’ll be reproducing it even further next week with the second half of Hollywood’s Adolescence. Bye for now!

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

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