Saturday, April 30, 2022

Films at the 2022 San Francisco Silent Film Festival

This year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival features a stellar line-up of films. Along with the debut of the restoration of Louise Brooks' first film, The Street of Forgotten Men (1925), there are a number of other new restorations, some old classics, and a selection of films from around. There are films from Japan, India and the Soviet Union, as well as promising examples of Brazilian experimentalism, French melodrama, Danish science-fiction, and German horror. 

The SFSFF is the largest festival devoted to silent film in the Americas. This year’s event includes 19 recent film restorations. Notably, nine of those restorations will make their North American premiere at the May event. More information about the San Francisco Silent Film Festival as well as this year's event can be found HERE.

Most notably, the festival will screen Arrest Warrant (1926), an Ukrainian film directed by Heorhii Tasin. This briskly paced gem tells the story of Nadia (played by Vira Vareckaja), who’s revolutionary husband flees the city in the midst of civil war, leaving her behind with a cache of secret documents. Expressionist effects, at times riveting and then distressing, highlight Nadia’s psychological torture at the hands of the authorities. It is a must-see film, poignant, and timely. 

Along with other fans of Louise Brooks, I have long been a fan of Clara Bow - the original "IT girl." This year's Festival includes the SFSFF restoration of The Primrose Path, one of 14 features Clara Bow made in 1925. Who doesn't want to see another Clara Bow film? She lights up the screen.

I have also been a long time fan of director / actor Erich von Stroheim, "the man you love to hate." I adore his classic silents The Merry Widow (1925) and The Wedding March (1928), both of which have been shown at the festival in the past. In fact, they are two of my favorite silent films. This year, Erich von Stroheim’s study of decadence, Foolish Wives (1922), opens the festival. It has been newly restored by the SFSFF and New York’s MoMA, and will be accompanied by Timothy Brock’s SFSFF  commissioned score. The following day, the festival will show the Austrian Film Museum’s restoration of von Stroheim’s Blind Husbands (1919), a film the celebrated director also stars in and wrote.

What follows is the SFSFF's complete line-up of films.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Street of Forgotten Men in Tulsa black and white

Not a negative review, but a negative photocopy from Tulsa, Oklahoma in August, 1925.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The Street of Forgotten Men - yet more trivia, some previously unknown

On May 10th, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen its new restoration of Herbert Brenon's The Street of Forgotten Men - Louise Brooks' little seen first film. More information about that special event can be found HERE

This month, and ahead of that special event, I am running excerpts from my forthcoming book, The Street of Forgotten Men, from Story to Screen and Beyond, which I expect will be published later this year. This excerpt gathers some of the noteworthy trivia I have come across during my ongoing research on the film. Among it are a few previously unknown cast and crew credits. 

Some of my recent posts have focused on some of the actors, including Louise Brooks, Lassie, Whitney Bolton, and Anita Louise, who had uncredited bit parts in The Street of Forgotten Men. Just recently, I came across the names of five other characters in the film, each of whom was given a name but played an uncredited part. Regrettably, the reportage I found did not mention who played these characters. The five characters are:

Bertram the Barber
Blind Ben
Dumb Dan
Harry the Hop
Legless Lew 

Some of them, I believe, may have appeared in the missing second real, or in some of the bar room scenes. I have yet to go through the film and associate their character name with some of the many unidentified characters in the film. 

Also, recently, some of this same pre-release reportage i came across identified some of the film crew, two individuals who played an uncredited role in the look of the film. The articles I came across identified each as having worked on the film. They are:

Harold C. Hendee (head of the research department at Paramount’s Long Island studio)

R.M.K. Smith (head of the costume department at Paramount’s Long Island studio)

Another individual who "worked" on the film was mendicant officer John D. Godfrey (1863-1950). According to a studio press release and articles from the time, this veteran of the Brooklyn Bureau of Charity served as an adviser for scenes shot inside the dingy cripple factory. The image below shows the white-haired Godrey on set, seated, next to a standing Herbert Brenon, who is wearing a white hat. Some of the unknown actors referenced above may be included in this production still.

A 1912 article

Another 1912 article

Godfrey was a well known figure in New York City. He spoke about his work to various groups, and he was mentioned in newspapers throughout the Teens, Twenties, and Thirties. I wonder if George Kibbe Turner, author of the short story which was the basis for the film, was aware of him?

One actor who did receive credit was Juliet Brenon, who played Portland Fancy. If her name seems familiar, it is because she was the niece of the film's director, Herbert Brenon.

Juliet Brenon
Despite the fact each of her four films, The Eternal Sin (1917), The Lone Wolf (1917), The Street of Forgotten Men (1925), and A Kiss for Cinderella (1925), were directed by her Uncle, Juliet Brenon (1885-1979) was a talent in her own right. By the time she was cast in The Street of Forgotten Men, she had already acted in a number of stage plays (including Nice People with Tallulah Bankhead in 1921), and garnered positive notices. 

Juliet Brenon was at the heart of an illustrious extended family. Her father was Algernon St. John-Brenon, esteemed music critic of the N.Y. Morning Telegraph. Her sister, Aileen, made a name for herself writing about the movies – while Aileen’s husband was the art noted critic Thomas Craven. Juliet was married was Cleon Throckmorton, an equally noted American painter, theatrical designer, producer, and architect considered one of the most prolific set designers of the Jazz Age. During the 1930s, their Greenwich Village apartment of Brenon & Throckmorton became a salon for actors, artists, and intellectuals such as e.e. cummings, Noël Coward, Norman Bel Geddes, and notably, Eugene O'Neill. Around  this time, their politically left salon raised funds for the Republican faction during the Spanish Civil War. Later, Juliet Brenon contributed articles recounting her early life (and friendship with O'Neill) to Yankee magazine.

In 1926, the Los Angeles Times reported Brenon was to be cast in another of her Uncle’s films, The Great Gatsby (1926), but that seems not to have come about.

Through watching the film, sometimes frame by frame, I have come across two instances when sheet music is included in the frame. I have been able to identify one of these sheets, more of less in the first instance, and will discuss what I have found in an upcoming podcast focusing on music related to The Street of Forgotten Men

The second instance is notable. In one scene later in the film, Mary Brian is shown playing the piano. There is sheet music on the piano before her. That sheet music is clearly shown to be from Peter Pan, which Brian had starred in the year before under the direction of Brenon!

An American arcade card

For more on The Street of Forgotten Men, see the Louise Brooks Society filmography page.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Location shooting in The Street of Forgotten Men - the Little Church Around the Corner

On May 10th, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen its new restoration of Herbert Brenon's The Street of Forgotten Men - Louise Brooks' little seen first film. More information about that special event can be found HERE

This month, and ahead of that special event, I am running a few excerpts from my forthcoming book, The Street of Forgotten Men, from Story to Screen and Beyond, which I expect will be published later this year. This excerpt looks at one of film's location shoots, namely, the historic Little Church Around the Corner.

Production work on The Street of Forgotten Men began on April 6, 1925 and finished around June 6th. The film was largely shot at Paramount’s Astoria Studios on Long Island (located at 3412 36th Street in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens). Shown below is a rare production still from the film. An interior studio ceiling and lighting can be seen, as extras who crowd the street are paying attention to the man with a hat and megaphone standing in the lower center. That man  may well  be director Herbert Brenon. But who, I wonder, is the young woman standing to his right?

Location shooting was done elsewhere on Long Island as well as on the streets of Manhattan, including on Fifth Avenue, and at the landmark Little Church Around the Corner on East 29th. This post focuses on that historic place of worship. (Click here to see the Church's website or its Wikipedia page for more information and images.)

The Church of the Transfiguration, also known as the Little Church Around the Corner (built 1850), was the setting for a scene at the end of The Street of Forgotten Men, where the characters played by Mary Brian and Neil Hamilton are married. (Little Anita Louise is somewhere in the background.) In actuality, the building is an Episcopal church located at 1 East 29th Street, between Madison and Fifth Avenues on the island of Manhattan in New York City.

Notably, many prominent people from all over the country, including actors associated with both the stage and screen, have visited or been married in this picturesque parish church. Among them is novelist P. G. Wodehouse, who was married there in 1914, and subsequently set most of his fictionalized weddings at the church.

The Little Church Around the Corner got its nickname not long after the Civil War. At the time, actors and other performers were considered morally suspect in some quarters. According to the Church’s website, in 1870, Joseph Jefferson, an actor renowned for his portrayal of Rip Van Winkle, approached the rector of the nearby Church of the Atonement to request a funeral for his friend and fellow actor, George Holland. Upon learning that the deceased was an actor, the rector refused to hold services. Jefferson persisted, and asked if there was a church in the area that would hold a funeral for his friend. The rector responded, “I believe there is a little church around the corner where it might be done.” Jefferson replied, ‘If that be so, God bless the little church around the corner!”

To this day, the church has maintained ties with the theater world. In 1898, stained glass windows were placed in the building memorializing Edwin Booth, who is widely considered the greatest American actor of the 19th century. Since 1923, the Church has served as the national headquarters of the Episcopal Actors' Guild. Over the years such notables as Basil Rathbone, Tallulah Bankhead, Peggy Wood, Joan Fontaine, Rex Harrison, and Charlton Heston have served as officers or council members of the guild. In the 1970s, the Church hosted the Joseph Jefferson Theatre Company, which gave starts to actors such as Armand Assante, Tom Hulce, and Rhea Perlman. In 1986, the Church was featured in an episode of The Equalizer, the television show, as well as in a Woody Allen film, Hannah and Her Sisters. Following his death in 1990, guild member Rex Harrison was memorialized at the church.

In 1967, the Church of the Transfiguration was designated a New York City landmark, and in 1973, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Actors in uncredited bit parts in The Street of Forgotten Men, part 4 Louise Brooks

On May 10th, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen its new restoration of Herbert Brenon's The Street of Forgotten Men - Louise Brooks' little seen first film. More information about that special event can be found HERE

This month, and ahead of that special event, I am running a few excerpts from my forthcoming book, The Street of Forgotten Men, from Story to Screen and Beyond, which I expect will be published later this year. This excerpt is the forth of four focusing on some of the actors who had uncredited bit parts in The Street of Forgotten Men. Here, I profile Louise Brooks (1906-1985).

Louise Brooks never intended to become an actress. She had started as a dancer, performing locally in her native Kansas before joining the Denishawn Dance Company and later George White Scandals. Following her return from London in February 1925, she landed a job as a dancer in Louie the 14th, a musical farce produced by Florenz Ziegfeld. She began to make a name for herself, and by June of that year, Brooks was a featured member of the chorus in the Summer edition of Ziegfeld’s Follies, whose other cast members included future film stars Will Rogers, Lina Basquette, and W.C. Fields.

The Follies were widely celebrated, and all manner of notables turned out to see the shows; some of them made a bee-line to the performer’s dressing rooms, including Brooks’. Key among them were writer Herman Mankiewicz, film star Charlie Chaplin, and producer Walter Wanger, the latter a Paramount talent scout. Wanger was dazzled by Brooks. According to the Barry Paris biography, he had heard Edmund Goulding (the British-born screenwriter and director then working in the States) rave about her, and so Wanger and Townsend Martin (a writer and another dressing room visitor) arranged to test her for a role in The Street of Forgotten Men, which was already filming at Paramount’s Astoria Studios on Long Island. Brooks agreed, thinking she might shoot movies during the day and dance in the Follies at night.

Brooks’ screen test was overseen by director Allan Dwan. It went well, or at least well enough, with the result being Brooks was given a bit part as a moll, a companion to Bridgeport White-Eye (played by John Harrington).* Brooks started work on the film on May 20, and appears in the second from last scene in the film, in which there is a brawl in a bar. Brooks’ scene lasts just 4 minutes. Not surprisingly, no reviewer or critic took notice of Brooks, except for an anonymous Los Angeles Times writer who said, “And there was a little rowdy, obviously attached to the ‘blind’ man, who did some vital work during her few short scenes. She was not listed.”

Throughout her career, Brooks reportedly didn’t bother to see herself act on screen. The one exception, seemingly, was her bit part in The Street of Forgotten Men. In a late 1928 interview with Pour Vous regarding her just completed role in Die Büchse der Pandora, Brooks told the French magazine that she had not seen the German film, as it was a principle for her “not to go see herself on the screen. ‘I did,’ she said confidently, ‘during my first film. I won't do it again, though I can't say why. Seeing myself gives me an uncomfortable feeling’." 

Later in life, Brooks said little about her first film, except to acknowledge her role in it. In Lulu in Hollywood, she dryly commented, “In May, at Famous Players-Lasky’s studio, in New York, under Herbert Brenon’s direction, I had played with no enthusiasm a bit part in Street of Forgotten Men.”

Truth-be-told, Brooks’ acting is a bit much in her screen debut. At first, she was asked to be solicitous, and she vamps. Then, feigning fright as a brawl begins, she retreats across the barroom floor like a frightened though graceful dancer. The novice actress thought she had done poorly, but Brenon and various studio executives did not. 

Despite any self-consciousness she might have felt, Brooks must have thought her acting not so bad that she wasn’t willing to accept a compliment. In 1928, after she became an established star, the Spanish film magazine El Cine carried a syndicated bit about her debut and her reaction to praise sent by a fan. “Louise Brooks must have been very satisfied when she received her first fan letter from a girl in Brooklyn who said she saw her in The Street Men, because after reading it, she immediately took a photograph of herself that she had hanging in her dressing room and sent it to the girl in thanks.” 

* Brooks path to an acting career may have been more circuitous than suggested. Four days prior to beginning work on The Street of Forgotten Men, the aspiring actress accompanied Herbert Brenon to the 1925 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The race, filmed as a newsreel by Fox, was won by Flying Ebony.


Monday, April 18, 2022

Actors in uncredited bit parts in The Street of Forgotten Men, part 3 Whitney Bolton

On May 10th, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen its new restoration of Herbert Brenon's The Street of Forgotten Men - Louise Brooks' little seen first film. More information about that special event can be found HERE

This month, and ahead of that special event, I am running excerpts from my forthcoming book, The Street of Forgotten Men, from Story to Screen and Beyond, which I expect will be published later this year. This excerpt is the third of four focusing on some of the actors who had uncredited bit parts in The Street of Forgotten Men. Here, I profile Whitney Bolton, who played a bum in an early bar room scene. Although uncredited, I am sure Bolton appeared in the film. However, I am not 100% sure that I have correctly identified him. The still shown below pictures the individual I believe to be Bolton - the scruffy individual in a coat and hat standing alongside star Percy Marmont. (Notably, the individual I believe is Bolton is the youngest down-and-outer in the saloon, which lends some circumstantial evidence to my claim.)

Whitney Bolton (1900-1969) started out as a sports reporter in Spartanburg, South Carolina before moving to New York City in 1924, where he eventually found employment with the Herald Tribune and later Morning Telegraph. As a journalist, he became well known. In 1925, a wire service story noted in that addition to his newspaper work, Bolton also found time to take “minor roles on the silver screen,” including, according to his later claims, The Street of Forgotten Men.

Over the next few years, Bolton continued his association with the movie world. A 1927 bit in a Walter Winchell column mentioned Bolton had accompanied actress Josephine Dunn to a newspaper ball, and a 1929 article noted his presence among the illustrious of the stage and screen at a meeting of the Theatre Guild in New York City. 

As a celebrated critic and “star reporter,” Bolton also took a stab at Hollywood, where he worked as an occasional screenwriter; his best-known efforts were contributions to If I Had a Million (1932), Apartment House Love (1932), 42nd Street (1933), and The Spirit of Culver (1939). Follow this LINK to read Bolton's IMDb page. Bolton also continued working as a journalist / syndicated columnist into the 1960s.

In four different syndicated columns dating from the 1950s and 1960s, Bolton recalled his entry into films, writing in 1963, “When I first came to New York and was trying to get a job on a newspaper, I paid the rent and put scoff on the table by being a movie actor in two films, The Unguarded Hour and The Street of Forgotten Men.” (The Unguarded Hour is a lost, 1925 American silent directed by Lambert Hillyer and starring Milton Sills and Doris Kenyon.)

In a 1958 remembrance of director Herbert Brenon, who had just recently died, Bolton detailed how the two met. “At a party given for Miss Negri, I was sitting out a waltz when this gentleman came along, sat alongside and we started to talk. He asked me what I did and I told him I was waiting for an opening on The Herald Tribune. He said it might be a long wait, and how about acting in a movie he was about to make for Paramount? I said, well, now, that was a nice thing to suggest but I was not an actor and didn’t know anything about acting. He said: I wish heartily some of the so-called actors were as candid.
And the next Monday morning, at 8 o’clock, I was at Astoria, Long Island, ready to act, no matter what. The picture, The Street of Forgotten Men, was an item about the Bowery, its professional beggars and fake cripples. The star was a Briton named Percy Marmont, I showed up hair-cutted, shaved and in the best suit I could get at Brooks Brothers, a new pair of Frank Brothers shoes, a knit tie, with a neat pearl pin in it, and a supply of bewilderment.

Herbert Brenon, the man I am talking about and at that time one-third of the Great Three: Griffith, DeMille, and Brenon, took one look and turned pale. His Irish face betrayed his concern.

‘My dear young man,’ he said. ‘Your clothes are impeccable, your mustache is waxed and you have shaved to the skin. You look like a junior member of the Union League Club. I had you down to play a besotted young bum in a sordid Bowery saloon. You were to share a table with two young ladies playing unfortunate girls in a distressing profession. You won’t do at all this way.’ I played it the Scott Fitzgerald way: cool, detached, casual.

‘That’s all right. Mr. Brenon,’ I said. ‘I wouldn’t have been much help to you, anyway.’ ‘But you are going to be,’ he said. ‘I insist.’

He clapped his hands and people came running. He told a wardrobe man to get me a torn, soiled, bedraggled suit, dying shoes, a ragged cap. He told a makeup man to give me a three-day stubble of beard and to put some dirt on my face. He had the hair-man do things with scissors that gave me a look of not knowing even how to spell the word comb. I became, in 15 minutes, a bum, a filthy, furtive, no good bum. I also became an actor for five days at $25 a day. It was a princely income.

Marmont and I became friends in a lasting way and Brenon, seeing me around at parties in the following years, always spoke courteously and pleasantly – but he never asked me to act for him again.”

I wasn't able to find any images of Bolton from the 1920s with which I might compare his features with those of some of the background players in The Street of Forgotten Men. However, I did find this image from the 1950s, which was published in a movie magazine. Notably, the later day Bolton in this image has prominent cheeks, which somewhat matches the features of the actor seen in the second screen grab. If any descendants of Whitney Bolton could provide a picture of him from the 1920s, that would be great.

By the way, Whitney Bolton was married to a real star, radio, stage, and screen actress Nancy Coleman (1912-2000). Check out this bio of her HERE

In the clipping below, from the 1930s, Whitney Bolton's name is listed among the "Famous Authors" included in the yellow box, along with Noel Coward, Tiffany Thayer, Max Brand and Zane Grey, etc.... That is pretty good company.


Friday, April 15, 2022

Actors in uncredited bit parts in The Street of Forgotten Men, part 2 Lassie

On May 10th, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen its new restoration of Herbert Brenon's The Street of Forgotten Men - Louise Brooks' little seen first film. More information about that special event can be found HERE

This month, and ahead of that special event, I am running a few excerpts from my forthcoming book, The Street of Forgotten Men, from Story to Screen and Beyond, which I expect will be published later this year. This excerpt is the second of four focusing on some of the actors who had uncredited bit parts in The Street of Forgotten Men. Here, I profile Lassie, the canine held in the arms of actor John Harrington.


In The Street of Forgotten Men, Harrington plays Bridgeport White-Eye, the unsavory criminal vamped by Louise Brooks. He is the film's principal antagonist, and a rival to Easy Money Charlie, played by Percy Marmont. Easy Money Charlie was a desent sort, and he cared for the dog. The still shown above is from the missing second reel, when Bridgeport White-Eye (spoiler alert) mortally injures the animal. It is a significant scene in the film, and it shocked viewers at the time.

After Lassie was (not) killed in The Street of Forgotten Men, Easy Money Charlie mourned her loss; he even kept a picture of her, adorned with a memorial ribbon, as shown in this screen grab from the film.

Canine actor Lassie (c. 1917-19??) was a long-haired cross between a bull-terrier and a cocker spaniel  which was guided by Emery B. Bronte. Though little known today, Lassie was a popular animal actor during the silent film era. A 1920 profile in National Humane Review even went so far as to state, “In filmdom, Lassie is something more than a dog. She is a personage.” By all accounts, Lassie was a charming animal, and a fine actor. She had screen presence.

Reportedly, Lassie made her screen debut at the age of eight months in Rosie O'Grady, also known as Her Brother’s Champion (1917), a John H. Collins-directed Edison film starring Viola Dana. Lassie's big break occurred by chance when a dog was needed for a scene, and Emery Bronte, who was also cast in the film, suggested his puppy.

Lassie was featured in two Dell Henderson films with George Walsh, The Shark (1920) and The Dead Line (1920), three films starring Richard Barthlemess, Tol'able David (1921), Sonny (1922), and The Beautiful City (1925), D.W. Griffith's Sorrows of Satan (1926), as well as Knockout Reilly (1927), a Malcolm St. Clair film starring Richard Dix and Mary Brian. The dog was also in Broadway Broke (1923), which featured Street star Percy Marmont. Her last known appearances in film include D.W. Griffith's Sorrows of Satan (1926), and Malcolm St. Clair's Knockout Reilly (1927). According to various articles from the time, among the other stars in whose films she appeared were Marion Davies, Mabel Normand, Irene Castle, Olive Thomas, Alma Rubens, Elsie Ferguson, June Caprice, Glenn Hunter, and Tom Moore. 

More often than not, Lassie received no screen credit, but when she did - typically in a review, she was credited as "Lassie" or "Lassie Bronte." Her greatest successes came in Tol'able David (1921), and The Street of Forgotten Men (1925). Her death scene in the latter was so impressive that some were convinced that she must have been killed, or cruelly beaten. Animal lovers and Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals complained, and newspapers printed a signed affidavit from Bronte stating the dog had not been harmed in any way.

Lassie was also starred in her own film, the Bronte-directed “scenic” Fish for Two (1925), a three minute short which featured the dog, a boy, and a fish. Exhibitor's Trade Review called it an "interesting little picture featuring a very intelligent dog and his boy pal." Film Daily also found it "interesting and pretty." Moving Picture World stated the film received more than 4000 bookings after it debuted at New York's Capitol theater. (It can be seen below or on YouTube.) 


In 1926, it was announced that Max Fleischer’s Red Seal Pictures would distribute 13 Bronte shorts featuring Lassie and Jean, Emery Bronte’s other dog. (See the picture below.) In reporting on the deal, Moving Picture World described the two canines as "internationally famous dog actors." Among the 13 shorts are When Do We Eat? (1926), Another Kick Coming (1926), and Good Riddance (1926). 

During her career, Jean Bronte appeared in two Elsie Ferguson films, as well as Cappy Ricks (1921), Herbert Brenon's Moonshine Valley (1922), Mighty Lak' a Rose (1923), Ramona (1928) and other. The only feature film both dogs were known to have appeared in was Sonny (1922), directed by Henry King.




But back to Lassie. According to a 1927 New York Times article – which described Lassie as a “Clever screen actress,” the then 10 year old animal was earning a remarkable $15,000 a year. That was a considerable sum. After 1927, Lassie seems to have left film.

  * * * *

An addendum: After this foray into film, Emory Bronte (1902–1982) became well-known as a pioneering aviation navigator. In 1927, he and pilot Ernest Smith made news when they became the first civilians to fly non-stop from the American mainland to Hawaii. (The duo flew from the San Francisco Bay Area in a plane named "The City of Oakland" and crash-landed on the island of Molokai, near a leper colony.) Later, Bronte was a commander in the US Navy during World War II.


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Actors in uncredited bit parts in The Street of Forgotten Men, part 1 Anita Louise

On May 10th, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen its new restoration of Herbert Brenon's The Street of Forgotten Men - Louise Brooks' little seen first film. More information about that special event can be found HERE

This month, and ahead of that special event, I am running excerpts from my forthcoming book, The Street of Forgotten Men, from Story to Screen and Beyond, which I expect will be published later this year. 

This excerpt is the first of four focusing on some of the actors who had uncredited bit parts in The Street of Forgotten Men. There are many, in fact. The scenes inside the saloon, for example, are crowded with extras - most all of whom are likely to remain anonymous. However, the bartender is the stage and film actor Riley Hatch (1962-1925). He died just a month after The Street of Forgotten Men was released.

The first uncredited actor profiled is Anita Louise (1915-1970, born Anita Louise Fremault), who at the age of 10 reportedly played a flower girl in the film. (I can't trace the origins of this claim, except that it shows up on IMDb and Wikipedia, etc.... Does anyone know anything more about this supposed credit?) The screen grab shown below, which depicts the wedding seen at the end of the 1925 film, includes the only two girls seen in the surviving footage. I am assuming Louise is one of them, perhaps the girl to the left? Or are they too young?

Although I haven't been able to find any contemporaneous mention of Anita Louise appearing in The Street of Forgotten Men, I have come across a couple of images of the child actress from around the time; does either of the flower girls in the screen grab above resemble little Anita, as shown below? Possibly. [I would appreciate hearing from anyone who might have any information which would help confirm or deny Anita Louise's role in The Street of Forgotten Men.]

Anita Louise in 1924, and in an Edison film in 1927

By the time she appeared in The Street of Forgotten Men, Anita Louise was already something of an experienced actress. She had made her Broadway debut at age seven. And soon, she was appearing in films; also at age seven, she had an uncredited bit part in the film Down to the Sea in Ships (1922), which includes aspiring teenage actress Clara Bow. Louise made her credited screen debut at age nine in The Sixth Commandment (1924), which featured Street star Neil Hamilton, followed by uncredited or small parts in F.W. Murnau’s 4 Devils (1928) and the Garbo-Gilbert film, A Women of Affairs (1928).


        The film referred in this clipping, "The Children," was re-titled The Marriage Playground.

Noted for her delicate features and blonde hair, Louise was named a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1931. In his book, Hollywood Players: The Thirties, James Robert Parish writes "Artist McClelland Barclay described Anita Louise as 'a piece of Dresden china and probably the most beautiful woman in the movies.' No overstatement! — she looked like a model for the angelic figures in Renaissance paintings. There was about her a cool detachment and an unearthly radiance that constantly evoked the comment that she was the most ethereal ingenue in pictures."

Her best known films from the 1930s include The Florodora Girl (1930), Our Betters (1933), Madame Du Barry (1934), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), The Story of Louis Pasteur (1935), Anthony Adverse (1936), Marie Antoinette (1938), and The Little Princess (1939). She was also featured in Harmon of Michigan (1941).

By the early 1940s, her career started to slow, but revived somewhat in the 1950s and 1960s with appearances on television in The Loretta Young Show (1953), Ethel Barrymore Theater (1956), My Friend Flicka (1956-1957, as the gentle mother), and Playhouse 90 (1957). Her last TV appearances were in Mannix (1969) and Mod Squad (1970). Louise has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame ( at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard) in recognition of her contribution to Motion Pictures.

Anita Louise in 1931


Monday, April 11, 2022

George Kibbe Turner, author of The Street of the Forgotten Men

On May 10th, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen its new restoration of The Street of Forgotten Men - Louise Brooks' little seen first film. More information about that special event can be found HERE

This month, and ahead of that very special event, I thought to run a few excerpts from my forthcoming book, The Street of Forgotten Men, from Story to Screen and Beyond, which will be published later this year, hopefully. 

This excerpt focuses on author George Kibbe Turner, whose 1925 story "The Street of the Forgotten Men" was adapted as the 1925 film. Turner is an interesting figure in his own right, as a muckraking journalist, as a novelist and short story writer, and as Hollywood figure.

 # # #

George Kibbe Turner (1869-1952) was a well-regarded writer who first made his name as a muckraking journalist, and then as the author of a number of short stories and novels. Notably, between 1920 and 1932, nine of Turner’s stories were made into thirteen films. At the time, Turner’s renown was such that studios often evoked his name in their promotions and advertisements. (See Turner's IMDb page for more about his efforts in Hollywood.)

Turner began writing for magazines in his early twenties, while working as a journalist for the Springfield Republican in Massachusetts. By 1899, he had placed a small number of pieces in McClure's, a popular magazine which would soon publish his first novel, The Taskmaster (1902); at the time, The Nation described Turner’s debut as “thoughtful, eager, even impassioned.” 

In 1906, Turner was hired by McClure’s as a staff writer. His first major assignment was to report on the new form of municipal government set up in Galveston, Texas following the devastating hurricane of 1900. Turner's widely read article, “Galveston: A Business Corporation,” proved highly influential and helped secure his reputation. 

During his more than ten years with McClure’s, Turner made his name as one of the leading muckrakers, or muckraking journalists. His reform-minded contemporaries included Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell, Frank Norris, Jacob Riis and most famously Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle. Early on, Sinclair was a champion of Turner’s work. In 1922, Sinclair wrote “Ten or fifteen years ago this man used to write for McClure’s, and I think, for the American Magazine. At this time these magazines were honestly edited by independent and high minded men, and George Kibbe Turner was a ‘coming writer.’ I shall never forget some of his short stories, which were as good as anything published in the magazine in those days. There was a series of Wall Street stories, full of bitter, burning contempt for our money masters and their pride and pomp. There was another series called ‘Butterflies,’ dealing with the showgirls and artists’ models, and other poor feminine waifs of the great Metropolis of Mammon. They were full of human feeling and sympathetic insight into the plight of frail human creatures struggling to keep decent in a world which starved them into indecency. I wrote Turner several letters of friendly sympathy, and tried hard to find a book publisher for those stories.”

Turner’s journalism – which spotlighted the entanglement of local government and vice – included an exposé of drink, gambling, and prostitution titled “The City of Chicago: A Study of the Great Immoralities” (April 1907), as well as “The Daughters of the Poor: A Plain Story of the White Slave Trade under Tammany Hall” (November 1909). Each were widely read, each provoked controversy, and each stirred calls for action while effecting local politics.

With the decline in muckraking journalism, Turner returned to fiction. The stories and novels that followed – melodramatic and at times as provocative as his journalism, appeared in popular publications like the Saturday Evening Post, Atlantic Monthly, Red Book, and Woman’s Home Companion. Others were serialized in newspapers across the country. [A few of Turner's stories were also anthologized, and at least one or two were published in book form in Europe.]

Turner’s best-known novels include The Last Christian (1914), The Biography of a Million Dollars (1918), and Red Friday (1919) – the latter an early red-scare novel which warns of the dangers of Bolshevism when a Lenin-like character appears in America. There was also Hagar's Hoard (1920) – which follows the life of a Confederate miser amidst an outbreak of yellow fever, and White Shoulders (1921), a society drama in which a mother tries to marry off her daughter  to the highest bidder. The latter was made into a film, as were a number of other of Turner more sensational stories. Among them was Held in Trust (1920), a Metro release which starred May Allison.

First National adapted Turner’s 1922 story “Those Who Dance” – about a federal agent and a gang of bootleggers, into a film of the same name in 1924. It starred Blanche Sweet, Bessie Love, and Warner Baxter. In 1930, Warner Bros. remade the story as a talkie starring Monte Blue, Lila Lee, William Boyd and Betty Compson. That same year, Warner Bros. filmed “Those Who Dance” as Der Tanz geht weiter, a German-language version of the story shot in Hollywood with a German-speaking cast which included William Dieterle as director and star. A Spanish-language version, Los que danzan, was also made starring Antonio Moreno and Maria Alba, as was a French-language version, Contre-enquête, with Suzy Vernon and others.

Perhaps the best known film adapted from a Turner story may be The Girl in the Glass Cage (1929), which stars Loretta Young as a pretty young cashier at a movie theater who is stalked by a neighborhood thug. A few years later, Richard Dix starred in RKO’s Roar of the Dragon (1932), which was based on Turner’s “A Passage to Hong Kong.” 

“The Street of the Forgotten Men” (with the determining article, the, before the word forgotten), is representative of Turner's fiction. The short story appeared in the February 14, 1925 issue of Liberty magazine, and was described as a “Romance of the Underworld – The Strange Story of a Bowery Cinderella and a Beggar Who Lost Himself for Love.” It was illustrated by Dudley G. Summers, one of the name illustrators of the time.

 “The Street of the Forgotten Men” sketches incidents in the life of Easy Money Charlie, a “fake bandager” who feigns the loss of an arm in order to solicit sympathy and coins from passers-by on the street. Charlie is part of a gang of professional beggars, and their gathering place is Diamond Mike’s old Dead House, a saloon whose back room is known as the “Cripple Factory.”

Charlie (played by Percy Marmont in the film, depicted above) is a decent sort at heart, and he is convinced to raise a child, a girl, of another down-and out local, the dying Portland Fancy (played by Juliet Brenon). He does so, though removed from the squalor of life on the street. The girl grows up to become a young women (played by Mary Brian), and Charlie hopes she will marry someone better off – someone well-to-do, but all along he must contend with Bridgeport White-Eye (played by John Harrington), another beggar who feigns blindness and is suspicious of the graft Charlie must surely be gaining by his act of kindness. (Louise Brooks is companion to Bridgeport White-Eye, who she calls "Whitey.")

Like other of Turner’s works, “The Street of the Forgotten Men” caught the attention of readers as well as movie makers, who saw its colorful characters and unusual setting as ideal for adaption to the screen. More about the story behind the film can be found on these earlier LBS blog posts "Louise Brooks and The Street of Forgotten Men, part 1" and "Louise Brooks and The Street of Forgotten Men, part 2" and "Louise Brooks and The Street of Forgotten Men, part 3."


Monday, April 4, 2022

San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2022

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival held its first event in July, 1996 - a one-day, three-program celebration of silent cinema with live musical accompaniment put on by founders Steven Salmons and Melissa Chittick. The festival was a success from the beginning, and since then it has grown into a multi-day event with satellite programs throughout the year.

I have been attending the SFSFF since before it began. Way back in 1994, I attended a screening of I Don't Want to be a Man (1918), delightful German silent starring "Germany's Mary Pickford," Ossi Oswalda. 

The Ernst Lubitsch film was shown at the Castro Theater as part of the SF International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. It was also kind of a tryout event by Salmons and Chittick to see if they could sponsor a silent screening and have someone show up! It worked, and the rest is, as they say, silent film festival history. I wrote an article about that tryout event, and another about the festival's 1996 debut, for Classic Images. And I have been writing about the festival for various publications ever since.

As a longtime attendee and observer of the festival, I want to make a simple observation - that this year's covid-delayed 25th anniversary event is the most promising ever. What an impressive line-up of films - classics, popular fair, new restorations, and discoveries from all around the world. All together, the 7-day 2022 event features 29 programs featuring film from 14 countries.

The official announcement reads thus: "San Francisco Silent Film Festival announces the complete lineup for its 2022 Festival, May 5–11 at the Castro Theatre, San Francisco. In fact, it's been 27 years since SFSFF began but we're celebrating our 25th anniversary festival this year (after being waylaid by the pandemic) with a full week of live cinema, pairing beautiful images on screen with superb live music. Twenty-nine programs, all with live musical accompaniment, including nineteen recent film restorations, nine of which will make their North American premieres at the festival.

The festival begins on Thursday, May 5, with the long-awaited world premiere of the full-scale restoration of Erich von Stroheim’s FOOLISH WIVES. This presentation also marks the world premiere of Timothy Brock’s SFSFF-commissioned score! Brock will conduct the SF Conservatory of Music Orchestra.

Many countries will be represented at the festival with films from Austria, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Sweden, USA, and the USSR, including Soviet Georgia and Soviet Ukraine, with more than 50 extraordinary musical accompanists from around the world. Our screening of the Ukrainian film ARREST WARRANT on May 8 will be a benefit with proceeds going to the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre in Kyiv (Ukraine's film archive) and to World Central Kitchen, serving nourishing meals to refugees in the region.
Two San Francisco Silent Film Festival Awards for commitment to the preservation and presentation of silent cinema will be given at SFSFF 2022. The first will be presented to New York’s MoMA at the premiere of SFSFF and MoMA's restoration of FOOLISH WIVES on opening night Thursday, May 5, 7:00 pm. The second will be presented to the Deutsche Kinemathek at the North American premiere of their restoration of SYLVESTER on Sunday, May 8, 7:00 pm.

Visit for complete schedule information, tickets, and passes." 

Or click here to download a handy guide in a pdf format.


I have an article previewing the Festival on Film International -- see "Ukrainian Film and Restorations at Silent Film Festival".

Oh, and incidentally... This year the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will premiere its new restoration of The Street of Forgotten Men (1925), Louise Brooks' first film. For fans of the actress, it is an event not to be missed. More information about the film can found HERE. And more information about the event can be found HERE.

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