EAST MEETS WEST (1936) – A Surprisingly Rare Film these Days!

We understand that a pristine 35mm print of EAST MEETS WEST is held by the British Film Institute. Unfortunately for us, the only source material in circulation at the moment is derived from an old VHS tape, but as they say, ’tis better than nothing:

EAST MEETS WEST is Mr. A’s third British-made film that was produced in London from January to April 1936. Its production was halted for Mr. A to attend the funeral of King George V in January. A humorous tale of international intrigue, Mr. A seems to be channeling his Rajah of Rukh from THE GREEN GODDESS, although his Sultan here is whimsical, not lecherous.

Cover of Press Book for EAST MEETS WEST:

Full Page Woodcut Design from Press Book:

Press Book Pages showing advertising materials available to theaters:

Mr. A’s brother, Fred Andrews, was in the British diplomatic corps and was hired by the studio as a technical advisor for the film:

The film had a strong supporting cast including (left to right) Norma Varden, Ballard Berkekley (later of “Faulty Towers” fame), Mr. A of course, and Godfrey Tearle:

In the center Godfrey Tearle and Lucie Mannheim:

DR. SYN (1937) – The Complete Film in a Fine Print

DR. SYN is the final British film and the last film made by Mr. A – we prefer to think of it as Mr. A’s most recent film. Indeed, it is among his best. The reviewer for the New York Times praised it by saying the he found it superior to the MGM blockbuster TREASURE ISLAND (1934), a film with a similar story involving smuggling in the late 18th century.

The chief thing your blogmeister noticed about this particular Arliss film is that Mr. A heads an ensemble cast rather than carrying the entire story on his back as he had with so many of his earlier films. He had little to say in his memoirs about making Dr. SYN other than noting that the story took place in his beloved Kent. He said it had no “plus value,” that is, an element that people would think about after the movie was over. Mr. A singled out for praise the director, Roy William Neill, who would later work in Hollywood directing a number of the Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Mr. A also praised producer Edward Black much more enthusiastically than the faint praise he gave Michael Balcon, the producer of his previous four UK films.

The London premiere of DR. SYN was graced by no less a person than Queen Mary herself. Margaret Lockwood recalled in her memoirs how nervous she was as she was waited for Her Royal Majesty with co-stars Mr. A and John Loder.

George Arliss made a grand total of eighteen sound feature films from 1929 to 1937, an enormous output (plus an elusive short UK film he made in 1931 where he recites Disraeli’s speeches), and another six silent films from 1921 to 1924. Whereas Mr. A’s hit plays ran between two and five years, his most successful films would run in movie theaters for only a week or two. Had Mr. A’s movies ran on the average as long as his plays before he appeared in a new one, it would have taken him over forty years to complete his eighteen films!

At any rate, enjoy Mr. A in DR SYN:

Published in: on July 10, 2017 at 10:04 PM  Comments (1)  
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George Arliss in Color in 3-D in HD (High Definition)

Whatever our global worries and concerns, living in the second decade of the 21st century has its advantages. The digitizing of motion pictures, to take just one example, has not only made vintage films from 80 to 100 years ago look new, in fact the process has made them look better than new. Of course, professional grade equipment and knowledgeable technicians will require hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve these startling results. But happily, the consumer electronics market offers a number of user-friendly and affordable software so we ordinary folks – the fans – can achieve good results for our own enjoyment. Personally, I don’t think the home products equal the results obtained by the professionals, but they come close.

Consider the strides made in colorizing black-and-white photos. Ten years ago the resulting process was not especially good but today color transfers have improved to the point where some of the results are startlingly superb. While your blogmeister cannot claim to rank among the kings and queens colorizing, my work product is not disgracefully inferior either. Recently, software to convert standard two-dimensional images (2-D) into three dimensional (3-D) have likewise come a long way. These results are not the “hyper-reality” some of us rememeber from our Viewmaster slides, but they do suggest a bit of depth. Finally, the option to place images into very sharp focus, known as High Definition or simply “HD” is like the icing on the proverbial cake.

Your blogmeister has spent (or misspent) considerable time learning to master these new technologies and, herewith, I present the results for your approval (or otherwise). Actually, there is one more high tech step that you the viewer can take to enhance your viewing experience. And that is to watch the video below by attaching your cell phone to a VR (Virtual Reality) headgear. I can still get by using the old-fashioned “free viewing” method of training my right eye to focus only on the right image and the left eye on the left image. Our brain is tricked into seeing these in 3-D by merging the two images into a third one that gives the illusion of 3-D. I can’t think of a better subject to benefit from our 21st century ways than Mr. George Arliss. I hope you can enjoy the show!

Arliss Alert! DISRAELI (1929) on TCM Monday May 15 at 7 AM EDT

Mr. A’s Academy Award-winning performance as British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli will be on the air this Monday, May 15, on Turner Classic Movies at 7:00 AM eastern daylight time. DISRAELI (1929) is an early talkie but despite the technical creakiness Mr. A’s performance shines through.

He was nominated for the Best Actor Award for two films (as was the custom back then) but won the Oscar for DISRAELI alone, thus being the only actor in history who competed against himself for the Academy Award – and won! Well, not really but the way the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences operated back then, this seemed to be the case.

The story is based on Disraeli’s efforts to purchase the Suez Canal from Egypt in 1874. A politically controversial move, Disraeli bypassed Parliament to approve the necessary funds and obtained the money through a private loan from the Rothschilds. This gutsy move caught the imagination of the nation and Parliament had little choice but to approve the purchase retroactively. Of course, the film’s dramatization cooked up a few complications that didn’t really happen but it makes for a fine show.

Cover of the 1912 Souvenir Program:

DISRAELI was Mr. A’s first big hit in theater when he starred in it in 1911. How big of a hit? He toured in it for five years, then revived it two years later in 1917. He made a silent film version in 1921 (now lost unfortunately), then this talkie version that became both a financial and critical hit. In 1938, he broadcast a radio adaptation that was heard around the world (and can be heard on this site).

No doubt, had he lived a few years more he would have performed the play on live television. As it is, George Arliss has the distinction of being the only actor who starred in the same play in three different medias: stage, screen, and radio.

Published in: on May 11, 2017 at 9:33 PM  Leave a Comment  

Happy Birthday, Mr. A – April 10, 1868 HIS LORDSHIP (1936) – A George Arliss comedy of diplomatic intrigue in the Middle East

Mr. A plays twin brothers in the charming film made in Great Britain:
His Lordship Color FINAL

Published in: on April 9, 2017 at 11:15 PM  Leave a Comment  

Get Your Official 2017 George Arliss Wall Calendar (with W.C. Fields)

All you have to do is print it out!

Happy New Year Everybody!2017-calendar-films-arliss-and-fields

Published in: on December 31, 2016 at 4:20 PM  Leave a Comment  

Christmas with Lionel Barrymore

Merry Christmas, folks. I am reposting this from my Facebook group, Silent Films Today. Enjoy!

Christmas with Lionel Barrymore
– Mr. B’s many versions of “A Christmas Carol” are all over the Internet (thankfully) but here are two commercial recordings of less well-known performances he made in 1950:

lionel-b-ad-copy

Published in: on December 23, 2016 at 6:35 PM  Leave a Comment  

Arliss Alert! OLD ENGLISH (1930) Thurs Dec 15 @ 6:30 PM EST

TCM is running Mr. A’s great stage hit OLD ENGLISH, written by John Galsworthy, this Thursday, December 15, 2016, at 6:30 PM EST. Admittedly an odd story, Mr. A is memorable as Old Heythorp, an octogenerian who plans his own special exit from this world, outsmarting his adversaries in the process.
old-eng-poster
This film was almost not made because Galsworthy refused to sell the film rights to his plays and novels. But Warner Bros. was persistent and Galsworthy finally agreed but with one important stipulation: George Arliss must have total control of the production. Any changes, additions or deletions to the script had to be personally approved by Mr. A. This condition was fine with Warners since Mr. A already had two successful talkies to his credit with DISRAELI and THE GREEN GODDESS.
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Arliss “regulars” in the cast included Doris Lloyd…
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…and of course Ivan Simpson:
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A page from the souvenir program:
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More pages:
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This is a rare showing so don’t miss it!
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Published in: on December 12, 2016 at 8:57 PM  Comments (2)  

THE IRON DUKE (1934) – Mr. A’s First UK Film


Britain regarded her native son as “an American actor” because all of his successes in the theater and films were based in America. But motion pictures made him an international star and Mr. A increasingly received offers from British film companies. He initially balked at such offers because he felt that the early English sound films were technologically inferior to their American counterparts. With the success Alexander Korda’s THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY VIII in 1933, the British film industry assumed its rightful place next to Hollywood. Mr. A signed with the venerable Gaumont-British Pictures in Shepherds Bush, London. Since he somewhat specialized in portraying historical figures, it was mutually agreed that his first UK film would cast him as the Duke of Wellington.

Gladys Cooper and Mr. A in an IRON DUKE original color lobby card:
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The film did not ignore Wellington’s reputation with women:
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Mr. A takes a lunch break on an adjoining set with cast members:
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Mr. A and friends enjoy a private screening of THE IRON DUKE:
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Now you can enjoy a private screening of your own! I suspect that a pristine 35mm print exists at the British Film Institute so let’s hope that one day it receives a DVD/Blu-ray release.

Published in: on November 4, 2016 at 7:23 PM  Comments (2)  

Gala Hollywood Premiere for THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD – March 14, 1934

Grauman’s Chinese Theater was the place to be on the night of March 14, 1934. The occasion was the Grand Premiere of THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD and the Hollywood celebrities of the day turned out. Studios moguls Darryl Zanuck, Louis B. Mayer, Sam Goldwyn, and even old Carl Laemmele of Universal Pictures were among those attending. Lots of movie stars too, some of whom I can’t quite identify but maybe you can. They are treated like royalty regardless.

Of course, the center of attention was the film’s star – George Arliss. Here is Mr. A being flanked by Darryl Zanuck on the left and Sid Grauman on the right. The color is by Moi:

rothschild-premiere_zanuck_grauman_final

The scenes you are about to see is “raw” footage and in some cases catch the same action from two different camera angles. There is no sound but you can clearly see attendees speaking into a microphone, strongly suggesting a live radio broadcast. The white-haired gentleman who seems to be the radio host is veteran actor Lawrence Grant, who was apparently “moonlighting” when he wasn’t making films. Mr. A gives him a big handshake. I have added captions to note various individuals that I could recognize. I added a music track starting with the opening music of the film itself.

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A conceit of your blogmeister: through the magic of Photoshop I am taking the place of Sid Grauman in the photo from above. A little bit of time travel:

rothschild-premiere-zanuck_arliss_fells-color-final-2

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