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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

Dangerous to Men: 1920

Dangerous to Men: 1920

1920. "Crandall's Savoy Lobby." In this Washington, D.C., movie theater, lobby cards for "Dangerous to Men," "Youthful Folly," "Reclaimed" and "Treasure Island." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Gilded Popcorn

I really would love to see the snack stand actually. I can just imagine the elegance of it.

It's OK I guess

I mean if you like elegance and stuff. I like loud places, with fluorescent lights, where you can't concentrate on anything at for more than 3 seconds. This place doesn't look like it has video games, slushies or any movies by Jerry Bruckheimer.

And the movies probably suck eggs because they're so cheap and you can watch like three in a row ... and those posters look like somebody drew them, I mean don't they have a camera, or a computer ... and why isn't everything in this picture catered to children 8-12 years old? I don't see any cartoons. Where are the cartoons!

Elegance, craftsmanship, artistry! Where's the pretzels covered in cheese?

What a way to make an entrance

That tile floor is spectacular! Wish I could see it in color.

The Pickfords

Speaking of the Pickfords, I do believe I see a photo of Mary over there on the left-side wall:

It seems that woman was everywhere in the late 'Teens and early 'Twenties!

Gorgeous

This is a truly gorgeous lobby, reflecting the new respectability that movies had achieved in less than a decade. Inside for evening performances at least, there would most likely have been a small orchestra playing during the film, with music cues sent along by the studios. The myth of the little old lady playing a rinky-dink piano and deciding on the music based on the mood of the scene wasn't entirely wrong but at an establishment like this, in a city like Washington it was hardly the norm. Indeed, one of the repercussions of the advent of sound in movies was the sudden unemployment of musicians who, up to that point, had played in movie theaters.

The Movies:
Let's start with "Treasure Island" which is unusual in that the poster doesn't name the cast - Maurice Tourneur, whose name is as large as the name of the film, was the director as well as the film's producer. He had an extensive career in silent movies in Hollywood before returning to France when sound came in. Like most of his work before 1922, he shot it the New York area - Fort Lee New Jersey had been the "first Hollywood." The film, now considered lost, starred 55 year-old Charles Ogle, who had been a leading man in the early movies, as Long John Silver, Shirley Mason as Jim Hawkins, and Lon Chaney as Pew. Mason was the younger sister of Viola Dana, who starred in "Dangerous to Men."

There seems to be nothing known about "Reclaimed" (full title "Reclaimed: The Struggle for a Soul Between Love and Hate"). It stars Niles Welch and Mabel Julienne Scott, of whom we know just slightly more than we know about the film.

"Dangerous to Men" was a comedy starring Viola Dana and Milton Sills. The actors are quite famous but the film seems to be lost. Sills came from a wealthy family and had been a professor of Psychology and Philosophy at the University of Chicago before he was bitten by the acting bug. He had a very successful career, and made the transition to sound easily, starring as Wolf Larson in the 1930 production of "The Sea Wolf," but died suddenly of a heart attack at age 48. Viola Dana (born Virginia Flugarth) on the other hand lived to the age of 90. Her first husband died during the Spanish Influenza epidemic. She talks about her experiences in Hollywood (including the death of her lover, pilot Ormer Locklear) in the TV series "Hollywood" by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill (well worth seeing, if you can find it).

Olive Thomas, who starred in "Youthful Folly" is one of the great Hollywood tragedies. Born in 1894 as Olive Duffy, she came from a working class family in Charleroi Pennsylvania. She was briefly married at age 16 before going to New York to work in a Harlem department store. She entered a contest for the "most beautiful girl in New York" and won. This in turn led her to become the star of Florenz Ziegfeld's rather racy "Midnight Frolics" where she was often dressed only in balloons. She made the jump to movies in 1917, the same year that she married Jack Pickford, the brother of Mary Pickford. The relationship was stormy in part because of Pickford's alcoholism. Both of them enjoyed the partying lifestyle. In 1920 they went on a second honeymoon to France. During their stay she drank a liquid solution of mercury bichloride (prescribed for her husband's chronic syphilis). Although there were rumours of suicide or murder, the subsequent investigation ruled her death accidental since the label of the bottle was in French. She was 25 years old when she died. Before her death she starred in a picture that gave a name for the women of the decade: "The Flapper."

Fame and Death

Interesting that Olive Thomas died in rather sordid circumstances the year this picture was taken, while Viola Dana lived on until 1987. At any rate, what a gorgeous poster that was for "Youthful Folly"!

 
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