Monday, January 11, 2010

Rolled Stocking, a local perspective

It's a little known fact, but Rolled Stockings, the now lost 1927 Paramount film which starred the Paramount Junior Stars (James Hall, Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen, Nancy Philips and El Brendel) was partly made in and around Berkeley, California.

The film was adapted from an original story by Frederica Sagor (whom I met when she was 99 years old!) and directed by Richard Rosson. The film was in production between April 4th and May 5th of 1927. It was officially released on June 18th of the same year.

Why Berkeley? Because in the mid-1920's, it was a famous college town with an equally well known athletic program. In essence, Rolled Stockings is a college-set romantic comedy with racy roadhouse adventures (i.e., youthful high jinx) which lead up to a climatic rowing-team race. Some of the race footage included in the film depicts an actual rowing competition (the University of California vs. the University of Washington) filmed on San Francisco Bay.

As the film is lost, we will never really know what it was like. All that's really left of it is advertising art, stills, publicity material and the remaining, fragmentary record of its exhibition. Part of that record is what critics and reviewers thought of it, and where it played.

So, where did Rolled Stockings show in the San Francisco Bay Area when it played locally? The answer is just about everywhere - Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Sausalito, San Jose, Palo Alto and many points in-between.

Here is a record of some of the theaters where the film was shown around the greater San Francisco Bay Area. The name of the theater is given followed by the city and the known dates of exhibition.

American in San Jose (June 15-17, 1927); California in Santa Rosa (July 2, 1927); Hub in Mill Valley (July 5-6, 1927); New Stanford in Palo Alto (July 10, 1927 with Whispering Stage); Princess in Sausalito (July 10-11, 1927); Strand in Los Gatos (July 14-15, 1927); California in Pittsburg (Aug. 2-3, 1927); Grand Lake in Oakland (Aug. 6-12, 1927); Casino in Antioch (Aug 7, 1927); Mystic in Petaluma (Aug. 8, 1927); Granada in San Francisco (Aug. 13-19, 1927); Playhouse in Calistoga (Aug. 23-24, 1927); Boyes Hot Springs Theatre in Boyes Hot Springs (Aug. 26, 1927); California in Berkeley (Aug. 28-30, 1927); Peninsula in Burlingame (Sept. 4, 1927); Manzanita in Carmel (Sept. 4, 1927); Golden State in Monterey (Aug. 7, 1927); Columbia & Loring in Crockett (Sept. 6, 1937); Sequoia in Redwood City (Sept. 9, 1927); Hippodrome in Napa (Sept. 11, 1927); New San Mateo Theatre in San Mateo (Sept. 11, 1927); Orpheus in San Rafael (Sept. 11, 1927); Lorin in Berkeley (Sept. 16, 1927); Starland in Sebastopol (Sept. 17, 1927); Chimes in Oakland (Sept. 18, 1927); Opal in Hollister (Oct. 12, 1927 with On Ze Boulevard); Hayward Theatre in Hayward (Oct. 14, 1927); Mountain View Theatre in Mountain View (Nov. 16, 1927); Rivoli in Berkeley (Nov. 26, 1927); Tamalpias in San Anselmo (Nov. 30, 1927); Broadway in Oakland (Dec. 9-10, 1927); New Fillmore in San Francisco (Dec. 19-21, 1927); New Mission in San Francisco (Dec. 19-21, 1927); California in Livermore (Dec. 23, 1927); Fern in Oakland (Feb. 8-9, 1928).

I don't think anyone ever kept a record of what showed where - thus I compiled my own regional record by scouring dozens of local newspapers for movie advertisements and listings. To do so, I traveled to libraries all around Northern California. It was time consuming and sometimes fatiguing work, but I loved doing it. I got to know all the varied newspapers published locally. And, I also got to know this wonderful region where I live a little bit better.

Of course, this record is not complete, and can probably never be made complete. Unfortunately, the sad fact of the matter is that a number of  local newspapers are no longer extant, or can't be gotten at for one reason or another. The record of our history has been lost to the ravages of time.

When it comes to history and cultural matters, I find local perspectives quite interesting. And even at times fascinating. The compilation of a local exhibition record for Rolled Stockings and each of Louise Brooks' 23 other films is one of my recent projects. I have just a half dozen or so other local papers to look at, and then I am through! To date, I have put together a near 20 page document.

If you are ever looking for something to do, why not try compiling your own local record of where and when each of Brooks' films were shown. It may prove to be a compelling exercise, as it was for me.

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