Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 9, 2016, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1931 RKO picture “Way Back Home,” which was based on a popular radio program starring Phillips H. Lord, who later created the radio shows “Gang Busters” and “Mr. District Attorney.” It was directed by William Seiter, written by Jane Murfin and photographed by J. Roy Hunt.  It featured Phillips H. Lord, Effie L. Palmer, Frank Albertson, Bette Davis, Frankie Darro, Dorothy Peterson, Stanley Fields, Oscar Apfel, Sophia M. Lord, Bennett Kilpack and Raymond Hunter.

A “Way Back Home” lobby card, courtesy of Dan Nather.

Set in the small town of Janesport, Maine, “Way Back Home” draws heavily on rustic humor and can be something of a trial to the modern viewer. As Mike Hawks noted, “I remember watching part of this movie years ago and although I like movies of the 30’s this was impossible to sit thru.” A Los Angeles Times review (there were two) noted the homespun humor and speculated as to whether it would appeal to “metropolitan audiences.”

The film opened in Los Angeles on Dec. 4, 1931, at the Orpheum Theatre and the Los Angeles Times’ Muriel Babcock called it “a rural melodrama with a genuinely appealing homespun flavor. “I even observed the gray-haired, bespectacled lady sitting next to me wiping a tear away during the sentimental climax,” Babcock said.

The film received a cold response in New York. A New York Times  story (Feb. 7, 1932), noting the difficulty of transferring successful radio programs to film, said “Way Back Home” played only three days on Broadway. The film ran for a week in Boston, which a radio executive considered “an appreciable success,” noting: “The people who admire [Seth Parker] on the radio are not the people who go to New York theatres.”

Bette Davis was in her early 20s when she made this film, one of four Davis movies released in 1931, along with “The Bad Sister” (her film debut), “Seed” and “Waterloo Bridge.”   She had previously appeared on Broadway in “The Earth Between” (March 1929), “Broken Dishes (Nov. 5, 1929 to April 1930) and “Solid South” (October-November 1930).

“Way Back Home” was apparently released on VHS but is not commercially available on DVD. It will air on TCM on Jan. 14.
Jan. 4, 2016, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have a mystery woman.

Update: This is Effie L. Palmer, who played Ma Parker in the radio series.



Jan. 5, 2016, Mystery Photo


Jan. 5, 2016, Mystery Photo

And for Tuesday, we have a mysterious gent. The print is a little murky, so I have posted two images.

Update: This is Oscar Apfel.

Jan. 6, 2016, Mystery Photo


Jan. 6, 2016, Mystery Photo

For Wednesday, we have a rather rustic mystery chap.  In the second photo, he has a city slicker companion in a straw hat.

Update: This is Phillips H. Lord, left, and Wade Boteler. Lord was actually in his 20s and was made up for the part.


Jan. 7, 2015, Mystery Photo


And for Thursday, our rustic mystery chap has a young companion.

Update: This is Lord and a young Frankie Darro.

Brain Trust roll call: Mike Hawks (mystery movie and Monday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and mystery guests), David Inman (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery rustic chap) and Dan Nather (mystery movie and mystery guests).

Jan. 8, 2016, Mystery Photo


And for Friday, Back of the Head Guy has a mystery companion.

Update: Bette Davis and

Brain Trust roll call: Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery lad), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery lad), Patrick (Tuesday’s mystery guest) and Mary Mallory (mystery movie and mystery guests).

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

  1. Candy Cassell says:

    Monday´s gentlelady looks like my late mother-in-law. But she was never in show business. 🙂


  2. Mary Mallory says:

    Leo Willis today?


  3. Gary Martin says:

    Bodil Rosing in Sunrise.


  4. Chrisbo says:

    Tuesday’s gent reminds me of Billy Gilbert in his younger days.


  5. Dan Nather says:

    Could it be THE STRANGER’S RETURN?


  6. Anne Papineau says:

    On Monday, Lionel Barrymore in “The Devil Doll”


  7. Mary Mallory says:

    Russell Simpson and Victor Moore today?


  8. Mary Mallory says:

    Wasn’t sure if Russell Simpson and Victor Moore went through, as I switched over to google.


  9. Gary Martin says:

    One of the most fun aspects of the feature is the clever way you obscure the obvious. I should think that Sunrise would be right up your alley.


  10. Mike Hawks says:

    Effie Palmer for monday and Phillips Lord today make this WAY BACK HOME.


  11. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Monday: Effie Palmer in “Way Back Home”
    Tuesday: Stanley Fields
    Wednesday: Phillips Lord and Oscar Apfel


  12. Benito says:

    Today Victor Moore in a boater, on a buggy ride


  13. David Inman says:

    Wednesday is Phillips Lord as Seth Parker, so the movie must be “Way Back Home.”


  14. Dan Nather says:

    Ah! Now I know. It’s WAY BACK HOME, the movie adaptation of Phillips H. Lord’s radio show Sunday Evenings with Seth Parker. That’s Effie Palmer on Monday, Stanley Ridges (I think) on Tuesday, and Phillips H. Lord himself today. (Amazingly, he was only 28 when he made this movie.)


  15. Don Danard says:

    And dig you certainly have!!!


  16. Sarah says:

    Is the city slicker Grant Mitchell?


  17. Dewey Webb says:

    Billy Halop


  18. Mike Hawks says:

    Frankie Darro gets serious.


  19. beachgal says:

    Is the little boy for Thurs, Dean Stockwell?


  20. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Frankie Darro.


  21. Megan says:

    Is Monday’s guest the same person as Tuesday’s?


  22. Patrick says:

    Tuesday’s mystery gent looks like Oscar Apfel.


  23. Mary Mallory says:

    Think I’ve got it. THE WAY BACK HOME with Effie Palmer on Monday, Bennett Kilpack on Tuesday, Phillips Lord and Raymond Hunter on Wednesday, and Frankie Darro today.


  24. Dewey webb says:

    cabin in the cotto


  25. Mary Mallory says:

    Bette Davis today.


  26. Mike Hawks says:

    Bette Davis ponders as Frank Albertson munches.


  27. Anne Papineau says:

    Phillips Lord in “Way Back Home”


  28. Dan Nather says:

    Yes, Bette Davis! And I’m betting that Back of the Head Guy is Frank Albertson.


  29. Dan Nather says:

    And in case you didn’t get my guess yesterday, Frankie Darro with Phillips Lord.


  30. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Bette Davis and Frank Albertson.


  31. Candy Cassell says:

    Friday´s lovely lady is a young Bette Davis in one of the dozens of movies she made in the 1930s. Wish I knew who the gentleman from mid-week in the theatrical beard and make-up was!

    Even when I don´t know the names of these marvelous character actors, I often recognize the faces, and am very grateful that you educate me about them. Thank you, Larry.


  32. Rogét-L.A. says:

    Bette Davis in “Way Back Home” (1931), with Effie Palmer, Stanley Fields, Phillips Lord, and Frankie Darro


Leave a Reply. Note: Your IP is logged with your comment so a fake name and email address are useless.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s