Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

September 2, 2020

Rudolph Valentino in “The Married Virgin” (1918)

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valentino married 1

Rodolfo Di Valentino, aka RUDOLPH VALENTINO, certainly paid his dues as an actor before stardom beckoned. In the late 1910’s and through early 1920, he appeared in supporting roles in nearly two dozen films, and by the late teens, he was recognizable as a character actor, often stereotyped as a seductive European or Latin American playboys or gigolos or operators of one kind or another taking advantage of women with money and/or position. As the roles got bigger, he truly smoldered on the screen and surely when he was cast in his star-making role in FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE, released in 1921, these seductive supporting roles and their evidence of unique power he possessed as a film actor were what led to him getting that gig. The contemporary trade reviews of his supporting roles commented on how persuasive he was as a jaded European rake, on the make.

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In 2017 I wrote about another early Valentino film, STOLEN MOMENTS, and you can read that piece here:  https://kendrasteinereditions.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/stolen-moments-1920-starring-rudolph-valentino/

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Like Stolen Moments, THE MARRIED VIRGIN was a film re-issued once Valentino became a star, highlighting his supporting role….although in the case of THE MARRIED VIRGIN, the film may not have even had a proper release when it was made in 1918. You can Google the film and read more about this, but it seems the original version was 7 reels and was exhibited to reviewers/exhibitors in 1918, but not released. It was re-edited in 1920, cut to 6 reels, and released under the names THE MARRIED VIRGIN and FRIVOLOUS WIVES. The latter had a great tagline, “a drama of a body and heart divided.”

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Valentino plays Count Roberto di San Fraccini, a character one perceptive IMDB Valentino fan describes as a “cabaret parasite,” which pretty much says it all. Although he eventually got tired of these stereotypical roles, he always gave the producers their money’s worth, and he certainly does here. Savor the master, RUDOLPH VALENTINO, working his magic in a low-budget potboiler prior to his superstar period. The film is a typical melodrama of the day, but it moves quickly and is relatively entertaining overall, but add Valentino to the formula, and it’s suddenly something worth your time….and only 70 minutes long.

Settle back, pretend you are seeing this at your neighborhood theater in 1920 after a long work week, ready for some romantic fantasy entertainment….

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THE MARRIED VIRGIN

made in 1918, reissued in 1920

directed by Joseph Maxwell

with

Vera Sisson …. Mary McMillan
Rudolph Valentino …. Count Roberto di San Fraccini (as Rodolfo di Valentini)
Frank Newburg …. Douglas McKee
Kathleen Kirkham …. Mrs. McMillan
Edward Jobson …. John McMillan
Lillian Leighton …. Anne Mullins, the Maid

NOTE: This film will look better seen on a laptop as opposed to a TV screen.

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August 30, 2020

two episodes of COMEDY CAPERS

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:39 am
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comedy capers

Silent films are timeless. They are NOT sound films without sound. They are a different medium, perfectly complete within themselves. When I was working with young composers in their 20’s with the KSE label, I met a number of people in the experimental music community who were scoring silent films, people who viewed the medium as new and exciting terrain for them.

As for people in my age group (I was born in 1958), many of us got into silent films in two ways: 1) via packages of re-edited and re-contextualized silent comedies shown as filler on local TV stations and aimed at children (and children at heart….and people who remembered silent films), with new soundtracks and over-stated sound effects, with lots of slide whistles and cymbal crashes; and 2) via public TV showings of “classic” silent features in the 1960’s and 1970’s, focusing on the major stars of the era such as Valentino and Fairbanks and Pickford and Chaplin and Bow, but also on the great film classics of the silent era, such as INTOLERANCE or SPARROWS or THE BIG PARADE.

One well-known example of the former is the early 60’s series COMEDY CAPERS, an off-shoot of an earlier and similar series called MISCHIEF MAKERS, which contained footage from silent OUR GANG comedies, re-edited and with new sound effects. COMEDY CAPERS was another series from the same producing company, National Telepix. CC contained shorts from the libraries of Hal Roach and Mack Sennett and featured a wide variety of quality material, including Billy Bevan, Harry Langdon, Ben Turpin, The Keystone Kops, Charley Chase, Billy West, Mabel Normand, etc.

There were, of course, many other similar series, some of the local produced at the station level, showing cheap public-domain silent material from 16mm and using canned music. COMEDY CAPERS was in reruns for a number of years after its initial early 60’s run, continuing into the 70’s in some markets and into the 80’s overseas. It seems to have been a big hit in Brazil, as a number of the excerpts on You Tube have Portuguese subtitles. Also, any silent film fan knows that there is a devoted following for silent films today in Latin America as a whole, and many obscure silent films from the world over can be found online with Spanish and Portuguese inter-titles. Silent films truly are the universal film language–all you need is titles translated and there are no language barriers.

I’ve included links to two episodes of COMEDY CAPERS for your enjoyment, both chock-full of silent comedy gems. Yes, the music and sound effects are a bit over the top, but only a purist could object to that, and it certainly made these films more approachable to the 6 year olds and 9 year olds out there in TV land circa 1964 (or if in Brazil, 1980!).

Maybe they can still work as an entryway for silent films today!   Enjoy!

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August 1, 2020

Won By A Sweet (1929, silent)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:17 am
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won by a sweet

Recently, Mary Anne and I watched an interesting and entertaining 1929 silent short as part of a Zoom presentation from Washington University of St. Louis. Washington U was responsible for restoring the short from a 16mm print (though clearly, it was shot in 35mm) and the academic presentation included a screening of the film along with comments from the scholars involved in the restoration and research and also a person involved with the excellent new music score.

The film was commissioned by the National Confectioners Association to extol the benefits on candy, yet it was not a documentary, but a light comic action-adventure film, running about 23 minutes. Made in California by R. P. Young Productions, of Burbank (a name unknown to me), it very much resembles the low-budget productions of indies such as Rayart or Weiss Bros—-a competently made Hollywood product, with a professional cast, good editing, and competent direction. Alas, the film has no cast or crew credits, though some of the actors look vaguely familiar (the stocky man eating the meal, especially, I’m sure I’ve seen in comedy shorts). It’s very much in the style of the “collegiate” light comedies of the 1920’s, with the plot centering around two college track teams and how one of them learns the many beneficial qualities of CANDY and it helps them win. Only about 4-5 minutes of the film deal specifically with candy, and frankly, if you edited those out and the filmmakers shot a few scenes twice, once without the inclusion of candy, they’d have a superb 2-reel light action comedy.

As it was, the film was distributed in 16mm form free to schools, church groups, civic organizations, Boy Scouts, YMCA’s, etc. through the early 1930’s, and I’m sure it went over well. The two of us really enjoyed it….although we watch multiple silent films and shorts per week, so perhaps we aren’t representative of the general audience!

Washington University has made the film available online, so I hope I’m not violating anyone’s rights by making it available for you all here at the KSE blog. Acknowledgement should also be given to the National Film Preservation Foundation, who provided funding for the restoration.

It’s a fine way to kill 23 minutes, and any fan of low-budget silent cinema should enjoy it.

Wait until you learn about the “dental benefits” of candy. It certainly looks at that question from a perspective that no one other than a candy company or the most mercenary dentist would ever consider!

WON BY A SWEET (silent short, 1929, 23 minutes, two reels)

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If you’ve got some more time on your hands, you might want to watch another entertaining film financed by a sweets company, Coca-Cola: ALWAYS TOMORROW, from 1941.

I was engaged by a video company (thankfully, no longer in business!) to write a description of this back in 2005 for their catalog/website and (presumably) for the video box, which they did use but never paid me for, so I published the write-up online in 2006. Here is that write-up:

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strange in-house Coca-Cola dramatized documentary, plays like a Monogram or PRC feature
7 March 2006
ALWAYS TOMORROW, made in 1941 for the Coca-Cola company and presumably aimed at bottlers and potential investors in bottling plants and distributor-ships, belongs to that curious genre of film, the Corporate Feature. This is not a documentary or a training film, but a Hollywood-made narrative drama featuring a cast full of familiar B-movie faces (led by comedian Johnny Arthur as a fussy, worrywart accountant for a local Coca-Cola bottling plant), and it plays like a typical Monogram or PRC feature, except for the lectures to the audience (in the style of an exploitation film) about business philosophy. The film’s structure is strange in that it begins in 1941 with the story of Coca-Cola distributor Jim Westlake, and then works backward step-by-step until we reach the beginning of his career! You’ve probably never seen a film like this before, and you’ll learn a lot about the history of the soda business while being entertained.

 


And here is the film, which runs 51 minutes, MAYBE TOMORROW from 1941.

Enjoy….stay safe, at home watching films financed by candy and soft-drink companies!

July 23, 2020

selected 9.5 mm films online (1924-1936)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:09 am
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95mm

Most fans of silent film hear about the 9.5 MM format whenever seemingly “lost” silents, particularly shorts, are sometimes “found” because they were made available in the UK on the 9.5 mm format for sale to those with home projectors. Obviously, it’s a better format than 8mm (8 and 16 were the favored formats in the USA), being a bit larger, and many shorts and cut-down features (and cut-down shorts!) were made available in the format for UK home-movie buffs.

With a little time to kill this afternoon, I was watching some 9.5 MM films made available by British collectors on You Tube, and I thought I’d share a few with you.

By the way, if you’ve got a LOT of time on your hands, Princeton University has made hundreds of  “Baby Pathe” shorts available online, in their Pathe Baby collection, many of them French. Over the last few years, I have watched hundreds of them (hey, I’d rather watch that than whatever’s on Netflix or Hulu), and it’s a rabbit hole that is easy to fall down into. Here’s that link:

https://library.princeton.edu/pathebaby/films

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Here’s a sampling of items including comedies, musicals, cartoons, and two interesting silent condensed features: a mystery, and a political drama. Enjoy! And many thanks to both those who bought the original 9.5 mm shorts for their family’s viewing, those who saved them, and those who collected and restored them….and put them online!

WILL ROGERS in “Don’t Park There” (1924)

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AMBROSE AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring Evelyn Dall in “Soft Lights And Sweet Music” (1936)

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“STEVE” (from the UK Comic Strip ‘Come On, Steve’) in “Steve’s Treasure Hunt” (1936 cartoon)

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JIMMIE ADAMS in “An Accidental Champion” (1922)

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LILLIAN RICH and GASTON GLASS in “The Bickel Affair” aka Exclusive Rights (1926). This is a 30 minute condensed version of a six-reel (approx. 60 min.) feature film.

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BENITA HUME in “The Clue of the New Pin” (1929) Benita Hume is best-known to most Americans who know her as the wife of Ronald Colman, and she and Ronald appeared on many episodes of The Jack Benny Program on radio as Jack’s long-suffering neighbors, always trying to avoid him. Ms. Hume had a long background as a dramatic actress, but the Benny show displayed her gift for comedy. This is a 20 minute condensed version of an 80 minute feature film, based on a novel by Edgar Wallace.

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