Friday Facts

More Silent Film FactsI love silent film facts and I’ve found another minefield of them at the WordPress belonging to Fremont Libraries. Here’s some crackers, so do enjoy:

Rudolph ValentinoThe star of Rex Ingram‘s classic, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalpyse, was Rudolph Valentino, of which was a fact that was previously covered on this Blogsite. However, what I didn’t know was that his christening name was ‘Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaelo Pierre Filibert di Valentina d’Antonguolla Guglielmi’. Now that’s a mouthful alright, but of course he was more well-known as ‘The Great Lover’. As we all know, Valentino died at a young age: 31 and his funeral was a spectacle of massive proportions. But here’s an interesting fact. Seemingly, legend has it that a mysterious Lady in Black still brings flowers to his grave every year on the anniversary of his death. Rumour has it that the current lady in black is not the original, but the identities of any of these Ladies in Black over the past 90 odd years has never been conclusively determined.

John BarrymoreOne of the great silent film actors of the day, John Barrymore was known “the Great Profile”. John was reluctant to enter the family-acting business. He actually wanted to be an artist and studied art in England to achieve that goal. He was a cartoonist for the New York Evening Journal. John Barrymore is known mostly for his portrayal of Hamlet and for his roles in movies like Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (1920), Grand Hotel (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), Twentieth Century (1934), and Don Juan (1926), the first feature length movie to use a Vitaphone soundtrack.

Tom MixThomas Hezikiah Mix was one of the most famous of the silent film cowboys. He was well remembered for conducting his own stunts, for his lavish lifestyle, and what is claimed on the Wilkipedia website as the somewhat embroidered story of his past. One incident of his legacy states that when an injury caused football player John Wayne to drop out of USC, Mix helped him get a job moving props in the back lot of Fox Studios. Like his fellow actor, Ronald Reagan, John Wayne was hugely influenced by Tom Mix, and their acting styles as cowboys were said to be based on the silent film great.

Lillian GishBack during the silent-era, Lillian Gish was known as the ‘Iron Horse of Hollywood’, and although she appeared as a fragile creature on-screen, nothing could be further from the truth in reality. When she was four, she joined a traveling acting company to help support her family. At some stage, Mary Pickford introduced her, and her sister Dorothy, to D. W. Griffith. And so, another silent film legend began!

Theda BaraTheda Bara‘s (Theodosia Goodman) on-screen character was identified the world over as that of a ‘Vamp’. Her character was that of a wicked woman of exotic sexual appeal, who lured men into her web, only to ruin them. Although this image truly suited her character, much of her image and purported biography were created by the studio. It was popular during the silent-era to promote an actress as mysterious, with an exotic background. Bara was promoted by the studio with a massive publicity campaign, billing her as the Egyptian-born daughter of a French actress and an Italian sculptor. It was claimed that she had spent her early years in the Sahara Desert under the shadow of the Sphinx, before moving to France to become a stage actress. The truth of the matter was that Theda Bara had never been to Egypt or to France. She was called the Serpent of the Nile and she was encouraged to discuss mysticism and the occult when she was being interviewed. It is regarded by film historians that it was at this point that the birth of two Hollywood phenomena can be traced back to: the studio publicity department and the press agent, and so the great giant of Hollywood public relations was born.

PS: Don’t forget to click on the links for more info! See y’all next week.

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

 

 

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Midweek Matinee

Jay Stowitts with Rex IngramJay Stowitts as the Satyr in The Magician with Great Silent Film Director Rex Ingram, Cannes, 1926

We hope to have news soon about a Dublin screening for Rex Ingram’s The Magician, with its Nenagh-premiered live soundtrack by Eoin Mac Ionmhain. Eoin’s work is stunning, of course, but is not the only composer or performer specializing in silent film. If you’re looking for the thrill of accompanied silents, we’ll bring you occasional news of other acts to look out for.

 The Cabinet of CaligariThe Cabinet of Caligari

Minima are making a big splash on the UK circuit, beloved of everyone from the Guardian to the plaid-sideburned trend-hounds of the Daily Telegraph. As well as old favourites like Nosferatu and Caligari, they bring an eerie touch to some of the silent era’s weirder efforts.

The Seashell & the ClergymanThe Seashell & the Clergyman

One of the more exciting oddities on Minima’s list is The Seashell and the Clergyman. Written by Antonin Artaud, and heavily influenced by Freud and Surrealism, it preceded the eyeball-splitting ant-fest Un Chien Andalou by a whole year.

Un Chien Andalou Un Chien Andalou

The British Board of Film Classification gave The Seashell and the Clergyman one of the greatest reviews ever. The film was “apparently meaningless,” they said, “but if there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable.”

 The ClergymanThe Seashell & the Clergyman

Case closed? Judge for yourself with a slightly blurry copy here on Youtube! Don’t forget to click learn more about today’s topic and also to view of the productions that are mentioned! Till next week then!

Posted by Kevin McGee

 

In the Vaults #10: The Arab (1924)

the arabNow here’s another post from the good people at the Movies Silently Blogsite. This one looks at the newspaper critique reports on Rex Ingram’s The Arab. The difference in the two reports makes for interesting reading so follow the link below and enjoy:

In the Vaults #10: The Arab (1924).

Why Nenagh – Film & Television Connections

Mystery PersonThere are many talented people associated with Nenagh town and it’s environs and none moreso than in the area of film and television. In fact, there are people living are connected to the vicinity of North Tipperary itself that would surprise you. This week I’m going to take a look at some of these world famous names, because you’d never know who’d you meet along any of Nenagh’s historic streets.

Rex IngramSo why not start with the big man himself. Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock, later to become known as Rex Ingram, was born in Rathmines in Dublin. As a young man his family moved to North Tipperary, whereby his father was employed as a verger in the Borrisokane Church of Ireland and also the Nenagh Church of Ireland. He lived for approximately eighteen months in Nenagh and it was here where he viewed his first moving picture. That was in 1901 at a traveling circus. The experience obviously stuck with him, because as we all know, Rex went on to become one of the great pioneers of Hollywood in the silent era. A plaque in his honour was erected in the town at the house where he lived amongst us by the Nenagh Silent Film Festival Committee in February 2013. He died on July 21st 1950, which was 63 years ago this very week.

MartinSheenYou see, there’s more than one president connected to North Tipperary (see President Barack Obama of Moneygall, which is on the border of County Tipperary and County Offaly and is just 12 miles from Nenagh town) and also (President Ronald Reagan of Ballyporeen, County Tipperary). The world renowned Hollywood actor and star of The West Wing, Martin Sheen, has very strong connections to North Tipperary. His family roots are from the Borrisokane area, which is just ten miles from Nenagh town, and it was from here where his mother emigrated to the United States. Martin is a proud son of North Tipperary and is a regular visitor to the area.

Patrick BerginHere’s another famous Hollywood actor who lives within our midst here in North Tipperary. Patrick Bergin lives in a castle that is situated near Cloughjordan and this town-land is just a ten minute drive from Nenagh town. Patrick has plenty of form as an actor including Sleeping with the Enemy, in which he wouldn’t leave poor Julia Roberts alone, and of course Robin Hood along with a number of very impressive titles. He is regularly seen in Nenagh town and other North Tipperary parishes.

Charlie Sheen

And then there’s Charlie! Charlie Sheen, son of aforementioned Martin Sheen has, through his father and then of course his grand-mother, strong connections to the North Tipperary locality. Martin is very well known as a major Hollywood actor and American television star. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you’ll never know who you might meet around about Nenagh-way.

Emilio EstevezNow I couldn’t leave it at that about the Sheen clan. There’s also Martin‘s other son Emilio. He may have taken the name his father was christened with, but like his brother and of course his father, there is still North Tipperary blood running through his veins. Another major Hollywood connection for North Tipperary. Emilio has a wonderful career in his own right with some wonderful productions behind him like Young Guns, St Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club to name just a few. He also has a career as a director, screenwriter and a producer.

Johnny DeppNow Johnny Depp hasn’t being able to find roots to North Tipperary as of yet, that I know of, but he was reported to be in the Toomevara (village 5 miles from Nenagh town) graveyard searching for his roots a couple of years back. But Johnny is no stranger to Nenagh town and the North Tipperary countryside. He’s a very close friend of Shane MacGowan, who is from and lives a few miles from Nenagh and he’s a regular visitor to the area. We’ll just have to dig a little deeper and I’m sure before long we’ll find his true Irish roots in the heartland of North Tipperary. (More on Shane McGowan next week)

George ClooneyThere are quite a number of other connections to the world of film and television and this is something we are very proud about. To name just a few more, there’s George Clooney who has been reported to have visited North Tipperary in the recent past in search of his own roots. Then there’s Brigie de Courcy (Executive Producer of Fair City and formally Producer on Eastenders), who is married to Nenagh man Kevin McGee (Award-Winning Playwright, Director, Producer, Irish television script-writer). And there is Kevin’s brother Noel, who is also an Irish television script-writer. There are countless others and if you want to remind me of them please leave a comment in the Comment box below. Next week I’ll take a look at some famous names throughout history who have called Nenagh town their home.

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Why Nenagh – Historical Trail (1)

So this week, as promised, we are going to look at some places that are well worth going to see when in and around Nenagh town. In fact there is so much to see and do, I’ve decided to divide them up. That way I can do six this week on, lets say, History, and in a few weeks time when I come back to this topic, I can concentrate on six sporting organizations, or six organizations connected to the arts, and so on. So, what six historical features in and around Nenagh are well worth visiting:

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Okay, well top of the list would of course have to be the Nenagh Castle, or what’s left of it. But don’t let that put your off. The unique Nenagh round keep was part of a castle that was built around 1200 by Theobald Walter (1st Baron Butler) and was completed by his son around 1220. Down through the centuries the castle was attacked and demolished until we have what remains today. In recent times the castle has been renovated and is now a museum with several floors, with the original staircase which will take visitors right to the top where there is a viewing platform. Well worth a visit.

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Across from the Nenagh Castle is the old Jail gatehouse and the Governor’s  House. There are loads of history connected to these two buildings, aside from the fact that they are now house the Nenagh Heritage Centre. Even the gatehouse has an unwelcome piece of history attached to it in relation to the scene of execution of the Cormack Brothers back in the 1800’s. So when you’re in Nenagh, why not drop into the Heritage Centre and learn all about Nenagh’s history.

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The Nenagh Franciscan Friary is situated in the centre of the town and it dates back to the 12th century when it may have been founded by a Butler during the reign of Henry III of England. The friary became the main Franciscan friary of the West of Ireland and it was at that time one of the richest religious houses in Ireland. The Annuals of Nenagh were written in the Nenagh Franciscan Friary.

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Just outside the town at Tyone, the Butlers founded the medieval Priory and hospital of St. John the Baptist. This has fallen into ruin, but there is a surviving east gable of the priory still standing. Local legend states that a tunnel exists between this priory and the Nenagh Franciscan Friary in the town.

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The Nenagh Court House dates from 1843 and it was built to the design of John B. Keane. A splendid building, it is still in use today after it was modernized and refurbished a few years back. it isn’t the first court house in Nenagh as there was a previous one in Sarsfield Street, which isn’t standing anymore.

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There was at one time a main workhouse in Nenagh that was situated where the Nenagh Hospital now stand today. There were a number of other workhouses in the town, but this was the main building. During the Potato Famine in Ireland, sheds and sleeping galleries were erected to accommodate an additional 260 inmates. In 1847, a 70-bed fever hospital was erected at the east of the site. There is a Famine graveyard that is situated to the rear of Nenagh hospital and this tragic spot can be visited at any time.

 Rex Ingram Plaque

Last but not least we have to mention Rex Ingram. The building where he lived is still standing and in fact a thriving business is run from the premises. A specially commissioned plaque by the Nenagh Silent Film Festival was erected on the front of the building during the inaugural Nenagh Silent Film Festival. The building is situated across from the local post office.

Apologies for the delay in posting this week. As you can see there are plenty of historical features to see in and around Nenagh town, but there is so much more besides. Next week I’ll look at famous athletes that are connected to Nenagh, but if you want to add to these posts in any way, please do post a comment below, or sign up onto Contact Us page. Also, don’t forget that July 21st in closing in on us rapidly, so if you want to be in with a chance of winning one of our jackets, get your name on the list on the Supporters & Sponsors page by signing up the Contact Us form.

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Charlie’s Sunday Quote

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A day without laughter is a day wasted.” ~ Charlie Chaplin

Charlie’s Sunday Quote is back and I hope you enjoy it. A simple quote from the silent era great and a clip of his magic from Youtube to put a smile on anyone’s face. Here’s a query for any knowledgable person out there. Does anyone know who the actor is that is staring alongside Charlie Chaplin in the image above? No don’t forget to Join Us, and also don’t forget that the draw for an official Nenagh Silent Film Festival jacket will be held on July 21st on Rex Ingram’s anniversary, so why don’t you sign up our Contact Us form here and be in with a chance to win!

A Quote on Thursday

Kevin Brownlow

Kevin Brownlow:

“The silent film was not only a vigorous popular art; it was a universal language – Esperanto for the eyes!”

Jean Dujardin

Jean Dujardin in The Artist

Geoffrey Parfitt:

“Never take a blind date to a silent film!”

Rudolph Valentino

Rudolph Valentino in Rex Ingram’s The Sheik

Rudolph Valentino:

“To generalize on women is dangerous. To specialize on them is indefinitely worse.”

Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton:

“From the time I was 7 or 8 years old, we were the roughest knockout act that was in the history of the theater, not only in the United States but all over Europe as well. We used to get arrested every other week – that is, the old man would get arrested. The first crack out of the box here in New York state, the Keith office raised my age two years, because the original law said that no child under 5 could even look at the audience, let alone do anything. So they said I was 7. And the law read that a child can’t do acrobatics, can’t walk a wire, can’t juggle – a lot of these things – but there was nothing said in the law that you can’t kick him in the face or throw him through a piece of scenery. On that technicality, we were allowed to work, although we’d get called into a court every other week, see.”

David Lean

David Lean

David Lean:

“Nowadays, if you look up Ingram’s record, you see him described as ‘a great pictorialist’. You know, they accuse me of being pictorial. It probably has to do with Rex Ingram. Anyway, I’m really grateful for it.”

 

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee