1926 – Typical Movie Set Day

Director George Melford, Rudolph Valentino, Agnes Ayres breakfasted with the rest of the company in the largest tent and then the director looked over his movie script planning the day’s work while the two principals Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres put on their make-up and colorful costumes.  Everything went like clock-work the first day of shooting.  On the first day of work, it was discovered a box of stirrups which had been made up for the horsemen were too weak and many of them were broken. To avoid any hold-up technical director Rudolph Bylek and property maker F.S. Madigan, labored all night, in a blacksmith shop in a nearby village making stirrups of iron framework. After breakfast if the fog still obscured the sun and there was a little light time to waste, there was a rush for the mailbox.  Those who were fortunate enough to receive mail, read the news to all who were anxious to hear a word from home and studio.  Some wrote letters, others amused themselves in a hundred various ways about the camp.  Of course, there was always camp sprites and in this case, two little extra girls, clad in overalls when not in costumes, who kept up a continual round of mischief and practical jokes received admonitions from the director every day to no avail.  Evelyn Francisco and Buddy Weller were the mischievous ones in camp, but their mischief was highly enjoyed by all and when things began to look dull they would see all the more opportunity to liven the situation with innocent fun.  The lunch mess-bell meant another break for camp. If scenes were being taken out on the sand several hundred yards from the camp, “Uncle” George called lunch and the Arab horsemen made the best charge of the day as they broke in disordered confusion in a rapid sprint in the camp.  The samegood appetites prevailed as at breakfast.  There was always a “clean house” in the mess tent after two rounds of lunches had been consumed.  Those among the party who were talented in a musical way, generally got in at the first call, and while the second mess was being served, gathered around in a circle with their instruments and rendered a few selections. Billy Marshall, the cameraman had learned to blow a saxophone with the same perfection with which he operates a camera. Of course, “Speed” Hansen, the minstrel of the Melford Troupe was there was his guitar or banjo and when not playing Arab he was playing one of those instruments.  Others had brought violins, mandolins, and other stringed pieces and everyone with an instrument and the talent to play it, joint the off=stage orchestra.  This is all a typical day on a movie set but untypical it truly is.

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