28 Jan 1923 – Movies get the Ax

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The coatless gentleman with poised hatchet in the accompanying photograph is doing a noble service in the motion picture industry.  He is operating on old worn-out films that have been returned to the laboratory, exercising pre-natal influence on possible monkey gland movies so to speak. When he gets chopped to bits the canned drama you see surrounding him, there will be little danger of those films, descending upon an unsuspecting public in the form of warmed-over movies.  So long old films can be purchased for a few dollars, unscrupulous dealers will re-hash them, insert a few new titles, play up any personality who may have acquired a box-office value, even though he may have been only atmosphere in the picture, and make a big profit at the expense of the confidence of the public in motion pictures.  Rudolph Valentino has suffered perhaps more than any other actor from these warmed-over films. For several years, Valentino had hard sledding in the picture game.  He considered himself fortunate to get small bit parts in inferior films. Now his name alone will bring out the S.R.O. sign at any theatre, all his early indiscretions are being dusted off and re-billed as new pictures starring him.  How exhibitors do not seem to mind betraying their patron’s confidence is shown in the advertisement of a Los Angeles theatre, reproduced on this page, advertising Unchartered Seas, a Metro Production.  Alice Lake starred in this picture.  Valentino had a good part, that of the third point of the eternal triangle, but he was not the leading character.  The exhibitor, however featured Valentino’s name in bold letters, mentioning the star only casually in inconspicuous type in the body of the ad.  Another instance is the illustration of the advertisement The Isle of Love, you will see the names of Julian Eltinge and Rudolph Valentino in lettering of the same size.  You will probably not notice the statement this picture is “revised” from An Enchantress, the type is so small. From the posters one can conclude Rudy was the main squeeze.  As a matter of cold fact, he does very little. He appears in a few dancing scenes that is all.  In Rogues Romance was probably the most flagrant example of monkey-gland movies that antagonize a none-too-trusting public.  The posters show a range of shots from this Earl Williams picture, all featuring Valentino. Occasionally, they allow Williams the star, a circle insert in one corner of the bills.  You will notice all scenes are dancing scenes. There is a reason as you discovered if you paid out your money to see a Valentino film. Valentino does an apache dance.  It was a good dance but not long enough to bolster up the Valentino billing.  So, they cut in a repetition of the dance; they have Williams seem to like the dance so much he asks Rudy to do it again.  They had to prolong his action someway, else he would have appeared only in a few short flashes.  Taking advantage of his phenomenal rise to fame, Vitagraph is reviving this production of other days and in billing the picture is giving the perfect love equal prominence with the star.  A woman patron who sat through two performances of A Delicious Little Devil didn’t do it because she liked the picture. She thought she had missed Rudy somewhere coming in. Because Valentino’s name had been billed as big as Mae Murray’s the real star, she had gutlessly expected to see him have a real part. The exhibitor probably wouldn’t have mentioned Mae at all if she hadn’t threatened legal action if she wasn’t given proper credit.  The woman went out solemnly searing she would never patronize the movie house again.

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