A still from “Suddenly It’s Spring” has been listed on EBay with a price of $9.35.
Labor Day weekend at Cinecon is jam-packed with movies all day. For the first time, Saturday’s session began a little later at noon, and ran until midnight.
The short “A Fresh Start” (1920) featured Jimmie Adams and Lige Conley chasing showgirl Marvel Rea from the cabaret at which they work. Chase sequences ensue from her husband, a policeman, through the boarding house, park, and through the original LA Zoo, where lions get in on the act.
The Jane Withers’ film, “The Holy Terror” (1937) was a fun if predictable musical with Jane as a naval officer’s daughter who hangs around with the enlisted men putting on shows and singing musical numbers, but who end up saving the secret plane from spies. Images of the Fox back lot and an airport were visible.
“A Blonde’s Revenge” (1926) short and its theme of conniving politicians fits right in today, as candidate Vernon Dent schemes with his secretary Ruth Taylor to try and catch Ben Turpin in a little romantic sleaze. All are plotting against each other and capturing the dirt on film, which ends up being shown in the theatre. Part of the outdoor set appeared the same as the one in Dr. Jack.
Young Douglas Fairbanks and Bessie Love starred in the western, “The Good Bad Man,” (1916) with Fairbanks a Robin Hood of sorts robbing those doing wrong or giving the stolen goods to the hungry and poor. It’s love at first sight for the two, who must contend with evil Sam DeGrasse attempting to take over the town. The film features early examples of Fairbanks’ later work like simple magic tricks and quick jumps onto his horse.
I missed “Transient Lady” (1935), but heard it featured a little bit of everything: comedy, drama, portable skating rinks, and short appearances by people like Hattie McDaniel and John Carradine alongside stars Frances Drake and Gene Raymond.
“Mare Nostrum” (1926) is a little slow but beautiful Rex Ingram film set in Italy, with Alice Terry as a World War I spy, falling in love with Antonio Moreno.
“Their First Execution” (1913) was an unfunny Keystone Liberty Bond short, where inept prison guard Mack Sennett allows a prisoner on his way to the electric chair to escape, which he and others must track down. They chase the condemned man through Edendale, near Echo Park Lake, and bring back Ford Sterling instead to the prison, with the exterior being the old Selig Studio on Edendale Boulevard. Mayhem ensues as the guards attempt to electrocute Sterling.
A still from “Suddenly It’s Spring” has been listed on EBay with a price of $9.98.
“Suddenly It’s Spring” (1947) seemed to be the hit of the festival, a romantic comedy featuring the likes of Fred MacMurray, Paulette Goddard, conniving MacDonald Carey, and Arleen Whelan. MacMurray and Goddard are practicing lawyers who separated before the war, with Goddard serving as a marriage counselor in the WACs. MacMurray attempts to get her to sign divorce papers so he can marry fiancé Whelan. Great timing and chemistry between the two leads, a slick performance from Carey, and hamming it up by MacMurray made the film a delight.
Silent feature “Hold ‘Em Yale” (1928) featured another teasing pet monkey who accompanies Argentinian Rod La Rocque to Yale as he chases a Dean’s daughter. La Rocque must become a big sports star to get his girl. Shots of the front façade of the DeMille (originally Ince) Studio and stages can be glimpsed, along with other street facades in the area, and stock footage of Yale and football games.
“Temple Tower” (1930) features a dark and stormy night as Bulldog Drummond searches for a girl and crooks while dealing with mad scientist Henry Walthall in the English countryside. Unfortunately, the film is an early sound effort that doesn’t quite come off.
Day 3, Sunday, Sept. 1, opened with the short, “Turkish Howls,” (1927), with Gino Corrado in one of his largest roles playing a con man sultan, who with his entourage attempts to swindle money from some rich people. The odd looking and acting Al Cooke and Kit Guard play house dick and bellhop who end up saving the day. Middle Eastern customs and people are ridiculed and parodied.
“Eve’s Leaves” is a cute silent feature starring Leatrice Joy as the boyish daughter of a ship’s captain who encounters a made in Hollywood China. She lures a ravishing young William “Hopalong Cassidy” Boyd into a trap as a shanghaied sailor for the boat. Chinese bandits, including the great Sojin, take over the boat and kidnap Boyd and Joy, who survive perils and thrills while finding romance. There is an early form of hackysack glimpsed in early scenes, along with American cheaply-made goods flooding the Chinese market, including “authentic” mah-jongg sets manufactured in Ohio. Another pet monkey causes misadventures along the way.
I found the Universal feature “Sutter’s Gold” (1936), an interminable saga of how immigrant Sutter arrived in California and had his gold stolen from him. Instead of showing the story, the film told everything in boring detail. Edward Arnold gave it his all as Sutter, with an annoying Lee Tracy his sidekick. Movie Star Mystery Photo contestant Robert Warwick plays a Russian officer. The Paramount Ranch stands in for Northern California in some of the shots.
The silent short “A Thrilling Romance” (1926) provided sweet glimpses of the Cahuenga Produce building, storefronts on Santa Monica Boulevard, Famous Players-Lasky administration building on Vine Street with the Equitable Building visible north of the studio, and other shots of apartments and businesses around Hollywood, along with the Palisade cliffs on the Santa Monica coast. A la “The Mystery of the Leaping Fish,” writer Wanda Wiley imagines a story of crooks chasing a female writer after she inadvertently ends up with their stolen goods.
“Oh, Mary, Be Careful” (1921) featured fine production design from Hugo Ballin in a story of a young, flirty girl played by Madge Kennedy sent to her man-hating aunt’s home after one too many engagements. Everything seems boring until an attractive tree surgeon arrives and complications ensue before Mary gets her man.
I missed the Shirley Jones-Pat Boone “April Love” (1957), which I heard was a pleasant musical.
“Bottoms Up” (1934) starred Spencer Tracy, Herbert Mundin, and Pat Paterson conning their way into studio jobs working with John Boles and Thelma Todd on a musical film. Opening and closing shots of the film feature real premieres at Carthay Circle Theatre and Grauman’s Chinese with the likes of , the movie also provides glimpses of downtown train stations, the Fox back lot, Wilshire Boulevard, and the Brown Derby sign out of an Ambassador Hotel window. Other behind-the-scenes mentions include Fox’s “Cavalcade,” Mike Romanoff, and the Ambassador. Lucille Ball can be glimpsed in two shots, and former Movie Star Mystery Photo players Jean and June Gale play chorines.
The Henry “Pathe” Lehrman short “Wet and Warmer” (1920) featured high energy and comic chase scenes in and around Hollenbeck Park, and above the Hill Street Tunnel and Hotel La Crosse, along with glimpses of the Hall of Records from a building’s roof. The grand finale featured players like Heiner Conklin and Billie Ritchie running through rooms filled with fire.
“Castles for Two” (1917) was a sweet romance set on the chaparral-filled hills of Ireland, as rich American Marie Doro comes to Ireland chasing fairies and runs into helpful though poor gentry, Elliot Dexter, who needs cash to keep the manor and town going. After comic misidentifications, the couple falls in love. The Lasky Ranch, now Forest Lawn, stands in for Ireland.
Clive Brook starred in the seldom-seen “The Return of Sherlock Holmes,” (1929) an early sound version of the world’s most famous detective. Brook smoothly dons disguises and voices to capture a dense Dr. Moriarty. Donald Crisp smartly plays a conniving villain, but the young romantic couple bring a downer to proceedings.
A still from “Spring Parade” has been listed on EBay with a price of $44.99.
The Deanna Durbin vehicle “Spring Parade” (1940) featured a few cute songs (“It’s Foolish, but It’s Fun”) and nice bits by the likes of Mischa Auer, S. Z. Sakall, Henry Stephenson, Walter Catlett, Allyn Joslyn, Reginald Denny, and good old Franklin Pangborn, but showed an irksome Durbin who disregarded protocol and good sense to push the career of her composer love interest, Robert Cummings. Shot on the Universal backlot and containing some lovely background shots, the film is sweet but forgettable.
“China” (1943) starred Alan Ladd, Loretta Young, and William Bendix as Americans in a remote part of China in 1941, attempting to get themselves and a truckload of girls to Shanghai through Japanese air attacks. Hard-bitten Ladd falls for the strong, saintly Young. Because of the war, the Production Code allowed a tough off-camera rape scene and massive Japanese casualties, along with a closing speech by Ladd in which he informs a grinning Japanese general that tough average Joes like him will stand tall and destroy Japan.
While I missed a few films, Cinecon provided a rare glimpse of scarce-to-see prints along with opportunities to visit with both new and old friends as we shared in the fun of old Hollywood.