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2014
Jul 20

FESTIVALS

The American premiere of the restored 1922 silent film, East is West at Cinecon 50

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.By Allan R. Ellenberger

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EAST IS WEST (Constance Talmadge Film Co., US, 1922) 70 min. 35mm (18fps), silent, b&w and tinted (reproduction through the Desmet color process), 1,436 meters. Director: Sidney A. Franklin; Producer: Joseph M. Schenck (for Constance Talmadge Film Co.); Screenplay: Frances Marion (based on the 1918 play East Is West by Samuel Shipman and John B. Hymer); Camera: Tony Gaudio; Art Direction: Stephen Goosson. Cast: Constance Talmadge (Ming Toy), Edward Burns (Billy Benson), E.A. Warren (Lo Sang Kee), Warner Oland (Charley Yong), Frank Lanning (Hop Toy), Nick De Ruiz (Chang Lee), Nigel Barrie (Jimmy Potter), Lillian Lawrence (Mrs. Benson), Winter Hall (Mr. Benson), Jim Wang (the love boat proprietor). Restored 35mm print with English (and some Chinese) intertitles. Source: EYE Film Institute’s Zaalberg Collection.

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East is West, the outstanding Broadway success of 1918, written by Samuel Shipman and John B. Hymer with Fay Bainter in role of Ming Toy, ran for nearly two seasons at Manhattan’s Astor Theatre. In 1922, producer Joseph Schenck brought the story to the screen with Sidney Franklin directing, who directed Smilin’ Through. Constance Talmadge secured the coveted play, and is seen as Ming Toy, the lovely heroine. Talmadge crowned a meteoric career with her temperamentally brilliant interpretation of the role of this Chinese miss. Ming Toy, the eldest of Hop Toy’s many children, is rescued from the auction block by Billy Benson and sent to the United States in the care of Lo Sang Kee. There she continues her interest in western ways and attracts the attention of a powerful Chinatown figure, Charley Yong. When Charley Yong demands the hand of Ming Toy, she declines, causing disgrace to everyone involved.

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East is West is a tremendous production produced on a lavish scale. The Baltimore News said: “Once again the movies have taken a stage play and improved on it. East is West is much better as a screen than as a stage entertainment. Constance Talmadge is at her best.”

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The supporting cast is made up of Warner Oland, the villainous Charlie Yong, Edward Burns, Nigel Barrie, Winter Hall, E.A. Warren, Frank Lanning, Nick de Ruiz, Lillian Lawrence and Jim Wang. In Los Angeles, the film appeared at the downtown Kinema Theater (672 S. Grand Avenue [demolished]). The film was never shown again in the U.S. and was considered lost. Then, at the end of 2005, the film was found at the Nederlands Filmmuseum in the collection of Jan Zaalberg, who collaborated regularly with restoration projects (The Chess Player [1927] for example, came also from his collection, and was restored by Kevin Brownlow). In 2011, East is West (1922) was restored by The Netherlands EYE Institute of Film in Amsterdam Holland.

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This Labor Day Weekend, Cinecon 50 is pleased to host the U.S. premiere of the EYE Institute’s new restoration of East is West.

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The following, from the Eye Film Institute Netherlands, describes the restoration process:

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Despite its A-list Hollywood star, producer, director, screenwriter, and cinematographer, East Is West was considered a lost film until a nitrate print from a private collection came to the Nederlands Filmmuseum in 2005. The initial inspection revealed that the first reel was in extremely bad condition, much of it crumbling into powdery chips. Nevertheless, a multi-year restoration was painstakingly undertaken.

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Approximately 400 feet (six minutes) of the decaying first reel were salvaged by step printing the delicate pieces. After duplication, none of the original film strip from reel one survived. The rest of the print was in relatively good physical condition and initially looked to be complete. However, further inspection revealed many narrative gaps, particularly towards the end of the film. Dutch release prints of East Is West were documented as being 2,364 meters long, meaning the surviving copy was missing more than 900 meters (some thirteen minutes of screen time). Access to the original shooting script helped fill the gaps in the story. The restoration, therefore, includes some explanatory title cards to provide a more complete narrative.

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Another restoration challenge was the print’s Dutch intertitles. The English-language release prints included pidgin English in many of the dialogue titles written for Ming Toy and others. The Dutch title cards have her speaking “broken Dutch” and her initial problems with the language are fundamental to the comedy plot. Rather than translating the Dutch back into pidgin English, this restoration used Frances Marion’s original script when possible. Where no original intertitles existed, the Dutch cards were translated in keeping with the style of the original American production.

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The result testifies to the great comedic talents of its stars, Constance Talmadge and the Swedish-born Warner Oland, who became famous as Charlie Chan in sixteen films before his death in 1938. Constance was a celebrated movie star, part of the Talmadge Sisters, alongside Norma and Natalie. By 1919, she had her own production outfit, Constance Talmadge Film Company, producer of East Is West and fifteen other silent features in which she starred until her retirement at the end of the silent era. The independently produced movie was distributed in the U.S. by Associated First National Pictures.

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Join fellow cinephiles at Cinecon 50, Labor Day weekend, August 28th to September 1st 2014, in Hollywood, California. For more information, please check out Cinecon’s website at: www.cinecon.org.

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James Garner Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jul 20th, 2014
2014
Jul 20

OBITUARY

James Garner dies at 86; TV antihero of ‘Maverick,’ ‘Rockford Files’

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By Dennis McLellan
Los Angeles Times
July 20, 2014

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James Garner, a master of light comedy who shot to fame in the 1950s as the charming and dry-witted gambler on the hit TV western Maverick and later won an Emmy Award as the unconventional L.A. private eye on The Rockford Files, has died. He was 86.

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Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for James Garner

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Sally Eilers’ Stuffed Peppers

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jul 18th, 2014
2014
Jul 18

CELEBRITY RECIPES

Sally Eilers’ Stuffed Peppers

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Actress Sally Eilers wasn’t exactly a domestic person but she did have a cooking specialty—stuffed peppers! When Eilers had a yen for stuffed peppers, her husband, Hoot Gibson (or her special name for him, Hooter), and the boys on the ranch were in for a treat.

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Eilers admitted that she couldn’t cook anything elaborate and she likes plain food. She had all the food she wanted when she dined out. Another of her culinary delights was baked stuffed potatoes. Here is Sally Eilers’ recipe:

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BAKED STUFFED POTATOES

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INGREDIENTS: 6 potatoes / ½ cup bread crumbs /1 egg / 2 tblsp butter / ½ cup bread crumbs / ¼ cup scalded milk / ½ tblsp salt / Sprinkle with paprika

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Then place them in a shallow pan and set them in the oven. Allow them to bake until it is possible to pierce them through the center with a fork. After the potatoes are thoroughly baked the contents are removed and treated as mashed potatoes. Season well and add an egg and some bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly and stuff back into the shells. Set in oven for a few minutes.

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SALLY’S STUFFED PEPPERS

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INGREDIENTS: 2 Tblsp ham fat / 1 small chopped onion / ½ tsp salt / Dash of pepper / 1 ½ cups steamed rice / ½ cup bread crumbs / ½ cup finely chopped ham / Milk

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Melt the fat in a frying pan and add the onion, salt, and pepper and heat together for several minutes. Add the rice, bread crumbs and ham and moisten with milk until the mixture is of the right consistency. Use to fill peppers. Place in a shallow pan, with a small amount of water, to bake until the peppers are soft enough to pierce with a fork. Serve hot.

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Elaine Stritch Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jul 17th, 2014
2014
Jul 17

OBITUARY

Elaine Stritch dies at 89; Broadway actress had blue-collar attitude

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By David Ng
Los Angeles Times
July 17, 2014

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Elaine Stritch, the raspy-voiced actress whose forceful personality and salty language enlivened the New York stage for more than six decades, died Thursday at her home in Birmingham, Mich. She was 89.

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Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Elaine Stritch

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Remembering Dickie Jones in “Virginia City”

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jul 9th, 2014
2014
Jul 9

INTERVIEWS

Remembering Dickie Jones in Virginia City

 

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Miriam Hopkins with Dickie Jones in Virginia City (1940)

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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Actor Dick “Dickie” Jones passed away at age 87 on Monday at his home in Northridge, California, a community north of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. A few years ago I interviewed Mr. Jones for my biography of Miriam Hopkins, A Really Fantastic Bitch: The Life of Miriam Hopkins. Dickie Jones, as he was known when he was a child actor, worked with Hopkins in the 1940 film, Virginia City, which also co-starred Errol Flynn. For the short time we spent together, Jones was a delight. He’s one of the few costars of Hopkins that I interviewed that had only nice things to say about her. In fact, it upset him that so many of her coworkers have said negative things.

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Below are excerpts of Jones’s involvement in the making of Virginia City:

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According to eyewitness accounts, the location set of Virginia City was a war zone. John Hilder, a correspondent for Hollywood magazine, went with the cast to Flagstaff. He reported “tempers flared, and feuds raged. For one eventful weekend it appeared that the cast was about to choose sides—the blues and the grays—and re-fight the Civil War with bare hands, rocks or practical bullets.” Columnist Sidney Skolsky wrote that, according to his spies, several feuds were going on simultaneously. “Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart are feuding,” he reported, “Flynn and Miriam Hopkins are feuding, and Mike Curtiz and Miriam Hopkins are feuding.”

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Dickie Jones, who played Cobby, was twelve-years-old and recalled there were no tensions on the set, especially between Miriam and Errol Flynn. However, he understood how there could be after working with Flynn a decade later in Rocky Mountain (1950). “He didn’t get along with his leading lady, Patrice Wymore,” Jones recalled. “They fought like cats and dogs and afterward, they got married.”

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Errol Flynn was Jones’ favorite actor. To the young boy he was a professional and was never a “softie” about his work. “On the set he was all professional,” Jones said. “Behind the camera he was a fun guy. I didn’t socialize with him, so I don’t know about the other things that he did, or so they claimed, but I liked him.”

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Jones was very fond of Miriam as well because she treated him as an equal. “She talked to me and not at me,” Jones said. “And we worked together. Never did she throw a tantrum while I was around. Some of them did.”

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In one scene, Cobby falls from the wagon and is crushed by the turning wheels. Jones performed the stunt himself. “I went out of the boot of the wagon and off the back of the horse and rolling over, just dropped into the sand,” Jones recalled. “And then the camera rose up a little, so I was out of range, and that’s when they pulled me out before the wheels ran over the log that would simulate my body. That was the only catch in that shot—pulling me out before the wheels actually rolled over me.”

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As Cobby lies dying in Miriam’s arms, which was filmed later at Warner Bros., he is swabbed with glycerin to simulate sweat as she gently mops his head. “I remember I’m trying to fake dying and Miriam’s carrying on a conversation, I think with the doctor, in the cramped quarters of the bed of the wagon,” Jones recalled. “And that went on for a long time with everyone’s long shots and close-ups, and that was a whole day just for that one scene. It was very boring for me.”

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Jones was disappointed that some have spoken unkindly about Miriam. To a twelve-year-old boy, she made a great impression and, as far as he knew, she got along with everyone. “Maybe that was professional jealousy on their part,” he said. “A youngster can pick out someone that’s nice and someone that isn’t, and not just by their attitude and the way they talk.”

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For performing his own stunt in the film, the director, Michael Curtiz gave Jones a large Concho belt made from silver and turquoise. The director knew that Dickie collected Native American artifacts and jewelry called “Pawn Jewelry,” and it was sold dirt cheap on the reservation. “You don’t get adjusted for stunt work,” Curtiz told Jones, “but I’m adjusting you for doing such a good job.”

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Jones had the following the say about his other costars:

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RANDOLPH SCOTT

“He was a charming gentleman. He was very quiet. He was too busy reading the Wall Street Journal, making his fortune.”

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HUMPHREY BOGART

“He was just a run-of-the-mill guy. He wasn’t pretentious or anything like that. In his early career, he was really struggling with his work and Black Legion (Jones also appeared in this film) was one of his first serious things. I look back, and I watch Virginia City and there he is with a little thin mustache and he’s the Mexican bandito with a broken accent. It broke me up. It was too phony.”

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MICHAEL CURTIZ

“There were a lot of times we were sitting around doing nothing and waiting. Michael Curtiz was a fanatic for clouds. He called them goobers. ‘We wait here ‘til the goobers to come,’ he would say. It made the film more picturesque with all the clouds floating around the sky out there in Arizona.”

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“I enjoyed Virginia City very much,” Jones said. “It was fun to work on.”

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Thank you Mr. Jones.

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Dick Jones Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jul 8th, 2014
2014
Jul 8

OBITUARY

Dick Jones dies at 87; actor who provided voice of Disney’s Pinocchio

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Actor Dick Jones appeared in more than 100 films and television shows in his long career, but he is best known by far for a role in which he was not seen on screen. At about 10, when he was known as Dickie, Jones was chosen by Walt Disney to be the voice of Pinocchio in the classic 1940 animated film.

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Click her to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Dickie Jones

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Cinecon 50 is coming soon!!

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 29th, 2014
2014
Jun 29

FESTIVALS

Cinecon 50 is coming soon!

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For nearly half a century Cinephiles have gathered over Labor Day Weekend to celebrate the movies at the annual Cinecon Classic Film Festival. Cinecon is where archivists, authors, collectors and film fans come together for five days of classic film screenings, special programs, celebrity guests, and the best movie memorabilia show in the nation. Cinecon is dedicated to showcasing unusual films that are rarely given public screenings.

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Loews Hollywood Hotel will be the host hotel with all screenings taking place at the historic Egyptian Theater just down the street on Hollywood Blvd.

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Everything you need to know about will be added to Cinecon 50s website in the months to come, including news about films to be screened, hotel and dealer information, as well as registration details.

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We hope you’ll join us at CINECON 50, Labor Day weekend, August 28th to September 1st 2014, in Hollywood.

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CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CINECON 50

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Meshack Taylor Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 29th, 2014
2014
Jun 29

OBITUARY

 ’Designing Women’ Star Meshach Taylor Dies at 67

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He played Anthony on the 1986-93 sitcom about Atlanta interior designers, then followed with a starring role on another CBS comedy, “Dave’s World.”

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Meshach Taylor, who played the lovable assistant Anthony Bouvier, who worked at the Sugarbaker interior design firm in the CBS hit sitcom Designing Women, has died, his agent Dede Binder confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 67.

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Click here to continue reading the Hollywood Reporter obituary for Meshach Taylor

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2014
Jun 27

NEW YORK: THEN & NOW

Paramount’s New York and New Jersey Exchange Building

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333-357 West 44th Street, New York

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Eli Wallach Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 25th, 2014
2014
Jun 25

OBITUARY

Eli Wallach dies at 98; actor best known for two classic westerns

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By Claudia Luther
Los Angeles Times
June 25, 2014

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Eli Wallach, who received an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement in 2010, died Tuesday at his home in New York City, his daughter Katherine said. He was 98 and is survived by his wife of 66 years, actress Anne Jackson.

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Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Eli Wallach

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