Category Archives: 1917

David Tomlinson, Go Fly a Kite

 

Now here’s an actor, I never fully thought ever got his due. He was utterly brilliant in several films, mostly Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Mary Poppins and The Love Bug for Disney, but also a few others. He played the foil in so many of these films, and was so believable and real that he was never fully embraced for his contribution for the success of these films. For these films to be as successful as they were they had to have a bad guy that was convincing and despicable. He could come off as slimy and snooty and arrogant, and so much of it was so totally opposite of his true lovable persona off-screen.david-tomlinson-8

Of the more than 50 motion pictures he appeared in during his career, however, his most popular role was as the rigid and positively clueless father George Banks in Mary Poppins. As Ed Weiner wrote in TV Guide, “Of all the movie moments we hold dear from childhood and revisit most often with our children on video, Tomlinson as a changed and suddenly life-loving George Banks happily singing ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ is one of the sweetest.” Tomlinson also voices several of the animated characters that Bert and Mary Poppins encounter in the chalk drawing, including a penguin waiter and the jockey who allows Mary Poppins to pass on her carousel horse. He also voices the Parrot Umbrella Handle at the end of the movie.  Robert Stevenson who directed Mary Poppins, liked working with Tomlinson so much that he cast him in two more of his movies; The Love Bug (1968) and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971).David in The Love Bug

Tomlinson was a generous and gregarious man by nature and had some famous life-long friends, like Peter Sellers. Peter Sellers and David performed in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu and David brought out the best in Sellers. He said of him, “The only person I want to see is David,” Sellers remarked in hospital shortly before his death. This was the last film for both of them as David would retire and was only seen on the stage after that. Another friend, Griff Rhys Jones said of him, “His was an act, a good one, supplemented by an outrageous baby face and upswept eyebrows. The reality was a sympathetic and understanding man. He was as funny off as he was on, which was invariably very funny indeed.”Davd-Tomlinson-Bedknobs-and-Broomsticks

Craig Brown also tells a great story about Tomlinson, “Many years later, I became friends with David Tomlinson, the marvellous English character actor who played Mr Banks. We were once having lunch in a crowded restaurant with David, when our little son asked him if he would sing: Let’s Go Fly A Kite. Without hesitating, David, who was then in his late 70s, launched in to a hearty rendition at the very top of his voice. The restaurant came to a standstill. When he came to an end, everyone burst into applause.”

Read more about Mary Poppins from Craig Brown: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2111741/When-Mary-Poppins.html#ixzz4CE52227E

 

Best Stunts of The Year List 1913-1919

 

The future versions of this list will be a decade list of the top stunts of every year as listed in the book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts.  Since this is the first list, it will start with the first year listed in the book 1913 and move to the end of that decade of film.

1913:  The Bangville Policebangville police

This is really the first real Keystone Kops short film, and for back then has some impressive stunts, like a series of explosions that follow a car as it weaves down a dirt road.  There are a few pratfalls as well.  Film is so new at this point that companies were still wondering if they could make money in this medium.  A few breakout hits made people realize that film could be a great new business proposition and little mini-studios started popping up in southern California in a place called Hollywoodland.  The rest is history.

1914:  The Perils of PaulineThe_Perils_of_Pauline_(1914_serial)

Women seemed to be ruling the action films in this period and one of the hottest stars/stunt performers of the time was Pearl White. This was one of her biggest serials, and the one that would remain a classic for a new type of cliffhanger series with a chapter being presented to theatre-goers weekly.

1915:  Les VampiresLes Vampires Stunt

Musidora would be considered the first Femme Fatale and a damn good stunt performer in her own right. This was one of the first crime serials and she was a stand-out as one of the bad guys.  Most of her stunts are done while wearing a skin-tight nylon body suit. Her bruises must have been massive.

1916:  IntoleranceIntolerance Babylon

DW Griffith’s Intolerance is as grand spectacle as anything to ever have been put on film and is widely considered to be the first cinematic epic.  The actors themselves do all the stunts and they are massive, with hundreds if not thousands of people on screen at the same time doing incredible battles.  It’s impressive.

1917:  Oh, Doctor!  arbuckle-keaton-st-john-1917

Sometimes the simplest stunts are the best, and nothing showcases this better than a stunt about 10 minutes into the film where Buster Keaton gets smacked by Fatty Arbuckle and he backflips over a table and lands in a chair with his feet propped up, reading a book as if he’d been there all along.  Simply brilliant.

1918:  Cupid’s Round Uptom mix and tony

Westerns really started to grow in popularity and Tom Mix was king of the cowboy serials.  This was his first full-length feature film and showcases a stunt that he would repeat several times throughout his career is different versions.  He jumps from his horse Tony through the window of a moving train.

1919:  The Great Air RobberyGreat_Air_Robbery_lobby_card

Ormer Locklear was the creator of “wing walking” and this film was produced to showcase his new thrill-seeking techniques.  They called him The Sky Dare-Devil.

For more information about these stunt performers and these movies, including a lot of great trivia, please look for their chapters in the new movie stunt book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM

Mary Pickford – The Poor Little Rich Girl

 

The Poor Little Rich Girl is a 1917 American comedy-drama film directed by Maurice Tourneur and stars Mary Pickford, Madlaine Traverse, Charles Wellesley, Gladys Fairbanks and Frank McGlynn, Sr. It was shot in Fort Lee, New Jersey. In 1991, The Poor Little Rich Girl was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Plot – It’s about an 11-year-old girl, Gwendolyn, who is left by her rich and busy parents to the care of unsympathetic domestic workers at the family’s mansion. Her mother is only interested in her social life and her father has serious financial problems and is even contemplating suicide. When she manages to have some good time with an organ-grinder or a plumber, or have a mud-fight with street boys, she is rapidly brought back on the right track. One day she becomes sick because the maid has given her an extra dose of sleeping medicine to be able to go out. She then becomes delirious and starts seeing an imaginary world inspired by people and things around her; the Garden of Lonely Children in the Tell-Tale forest. Her condition worsens and Death tries to lure her to eternal rest. But Life also appears to her and finally wins.

The Poor Little Rich Girl

Poor Little Rich GirlDirected by Maurice Tourneur
Written by Frances Marion
Starring Mary Pickford, Madlaine Traverse, Charles Wellesley, Gladys Fairbanks.
Distributed by by Artcraft Pictures
Running Time 65 minutes
Release date March 5, 1917

Mary Pickford (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979) was a Canadian-American motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists, one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and started the Mary Pickford Foundation, a charitable organization.

She often played the role of a poor girl who married into a wealthy family but always stayed true to her roots. This friendly, modest, honest persona compounded with her beauty made her an international favorite of women and men alike. She was known as “America’s Sweetheart” and during her time, she was recognized as the most famous woman in the world.

Pickford was awarded the second Academy Award for Best Actress for her first sound film role and also received an honorary Academy Award in 1976. In consideration of her contributions to American cinema, the American Film Institute ranked Pickford as 24th in its 1999 list of greatest actors of all time.

Top 10 Mary Pickford Films (As rated by IMDB)

Mary Pickford 1Mary Pickford 2Mary Pickford 3Mary Pickford 4Mary Pickford 5Mary Pickford 6Mary Pickford 7Mary Pickford 8Mary Pickford 9Mary Pickford 10

Buster Keaton In Oh, Doctor!

 

Now here’s stunt you just have to see to believe! It’s just that cool.

Sometimes simplicity and finesse are all that’s needed for a very effective and very cool stunt. For my example of this, I present the Best Movie Stunt for 1917, which features Keaton in Oh, Doctor!, where he plays Fatty Arbuckle’s little boy, a reprise of the sort of comedy Keaton and his father Joe had done for years on stage, and pulls off a stunt you have to see to believe—Arbuckle smacks him, Keaton tumbles backwards over a table, picks up a book as he falls, and lands upright in a chair, with the book on his lap as if he’s been there all along, reading comfortably.
 Oh doctor movie storyboard
Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle directs this short movie for Comique Film Company (a company Arbuckle started with Joseph Schenck, and on another note – when Arbuckle was promoted to feature films, Keaton inherited Arbuckle’s controlling interest in Comique, which launched his own separate career as a comedy star) and Buster Keaton plays his son in the film. It’s a great comedy short just stocked full of funny stunts and gags. Al St. John, from the Keystone Kops (and Arbuckle’s nephew) even plays into the mix as the gambler and has some fun gags on his own.
It’s also interesting to note that not only did Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle give a start and mentor two of the greatest screen comedians of all time, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, but he also gave a start to Bob Hope in 1927, when Arbuckle hired Hope to be the opening act in his comedy show in Cleveland. Roscoe then gave Hope the names and numbers of his friends in Hollywood, telling him to “go west”. He had a great eye for talent.
Still from Oh Doctor movie Roscoe Arbuckle

Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB page):

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle

Buster Keaton

Al St. John

Joseph Schenck

Bob Hope

Comique Film Company

Oh, Doctor

Glossary of film terms as defined by Wikipedia:

  1.  Gag – In comedy, a visual gagor sight gagis anything which conveys its humor visually, often without words being used at all. The gag may involve a physical impossibility or an unexpected occurrence. The humor is caused by alternative interpretations of the going-ons. Visual gags are used in magic, plays, and acting on television / movies.

Oh, Doctor 1917