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:
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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:

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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.
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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:

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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:

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Arliss Alert! THE KING’S VACATION (1933) Tuesday, Sept. 27 on TCM at 6:30 AM EDT

Arliss Alert! THE KING’S VACATION (1933)
– starring George Arliss, Patricia Ellis, Dick Powell, Florence Arliss, Marjorie Gateson and Dudley Digges.

TCM (US) Tuesday, September 27 @ 6:30 AM EDT
An Ernest Paschal story written especially for Mr. A showing that you can’t go home again, or can you?

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Published in: on September 23, 2016 at 8:29 PM  Comments (2)  

George Arliss Grave Site Restored!

It is with great pleasure that we can announce at long last the restoration of the final resting place of George and Florence Arliss. Their grave site at Harrow Weald Cemetery, located outside of London at Middlesex, has long been in need of refurbishment and its restoration has been a long-cherished ambition of your blogmeister. Now on the 70th anniversary of Mr. A’s passing, this project has been accomplished. Many thanks are due to the help and cooperation of Mr. Andrew Hall, a relative of Mr. A, especially with his providing the family permission to the cemetery to enable the work to be performed. Funding was provided through the generosity of an American funeral company, Service Corporation International. My request for its support was readily granted and I shall always be grateful to the officials of this company.

Now for the unveiling, at least electronically. To dramatize the restoration we shall show Before and After photographs. I am sure you will know which is which:
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Arliss Grave Restored June 2016 1

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Arliss Grave Restored June 2016 2

Many thanks should also to be given to the fine work of the stonemasons, P. Brant and Sons, Ltd.

Published in: on July 1, 2016 at 2:35 PM  Comments (6)  

Arliss Alert! – ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1931) on TCM (US) Sunday, June 12, 2016 at 8:30 AM EDT

ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1931) – George Arliss, Doris Kenyon, Montagu Love, June Collyer, Dudley Digges, Lionel Bellmore.

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has nicely timed this showing to coincide with the current hit Broadway musical, HAMILTON that is rapidly collecting every award known to humanity. But Mr. A covered this territory a century ago (1917) in his Broadway hit (co-authored with Mary Hamlin) also called HAMILTON. The film’s title was lengthened to ALEXANDER HAMILTON. This film is not shown very often so don’t miss it!

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ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1931)

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Published in: on June 7, 2016 at 12:41 PM  Comments (1)  
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