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:

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

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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Happy Birthday, George Arliss! – April 10, 1868

Birthday greeting to our favorite actor, author, playwright and filmmaker

– and broadcaster too!
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Mr. A with Edward Arnold at the January 17, 1938 live broadcast of DISRAELI that was heard around the world and on ships at sea via shortwave.

A Commemorative postmark for Mr. A’s 70th the Birthday in 1938:
Arl Bday Stamp

To celebrate, let’s watch what happens to Boris Karloff when he tries to take on Mr. A in this excerpt from THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD:

One word sums it up:
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Published in: on April 10, 2016 at 12:22 PM  Comments (1)  

Wishing You the Best of Seasons Greetings!

Arliss Christmas and friends Final

Published in: on December 24, 2015 at 2:27 PM  Leave a Comment  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2016 from Mr. A

Arliss Christmas 1 copy jpg

Published in: on December 11, 2015 at 7:56 PM  Comments (1)  
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New George Arliss Book – Just Published!

The Arliss Archives is pleased to announce Volume 5 in our series:
A GEORGE ARLISS PHOTOPLAY READER
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Among the most fragile items in the Arliss Archives are the faded and crumbling pages of film souvenir booklets and weekly movie magazines from the 1930s. These 80+ year old pieces of memorabilia capture the excitement of their times and still echo their marketing strategies of why you really, even in the depths of the Great Depression, need to see this particular motion picture. By scanning and digitally restoring this material it is now preserved for future generations long after the original documents will have crumbled away. All images are reproduced in their original black and white, color tints, or full color. This fifth volume in The ARLISS ARCHIVES series is a worthy addition to the previous four.

A GEORGE ARLISS PHOTOPLAY READER is available through Amazon in two editions: paperback in a huge 8.5×11 inches, and as a Kindle ebook. For more information just click this link:
http://www.amazon.com/George-Arliss-Photoplay-Reader-Archives/dp/1514783533/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Published in: on September 9, 2015 at 6:04 PM  Leave a Comment  

Maude T. Howell – Mr. A’s Shadow

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Women executives were rare at American film studios during the 1930s. One exception was Maude T. Howell who worked as a screen writer, associate director and associate producer at Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Pictures from 1929 to 1935. She then crossed the Atlantic to work at Gaumont-British Pictures in London through 1937. Maude’s assigned motion picture productions had one thing in common: they were all George Arliss films. A graduate of Stanford University (Class of 1911), Maude worked in high school and community dramatics in Los Angeles. She became an assistant stage manager for a Detroit stock company and later was hired in a similar position for the New York production of THE GREEN GODDESS in 1921, which starred Mr. A. When the stage manager suddenly became ill, Maude took his place and thereby became the first woman stage manager in New York theater history. Mr. A in his memoirs recalled her skill and efficiency in this very demanding job. Photographs of Ms. Howell are as scarce as the proverbial hen’s teeth so following are among the rarest images in the Arliss Archives.
March 1923
This backstage photo dates from March 1923 and is likely during the run of THE GREEN GODDESS.

When Mr. A went into making “talkies” he brought Maude Howell along to be his eyes and ears in the myriad details of film-making.
Arl and Friends
Taking a break from filming OLD ENGLISH in 1930, Maude Howell joins Mr. A and theater legends Otis Skinner (standing behind Mr. A), and Wilton Lackaye, seated next to him. The man standing on the right is Winthrop Ames who produced Mr. A’s plays from 1920 through 1928. Standing on the left is film director Alfred E. Green.

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Maude Howell also contributed to the scripts of the Arliss films, often uncredited. So did Mr. A. Here they are on the set of ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1931) with director John Adolfi.

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The production crew of CARDINAL RICHELIEU (1935) with Maude Howell seated at extreme right. To her left is Maureen O’Sullivan while Mr. A looks on approvingly at the film’s director, Rowland V. Lee.

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The main credits of RICHELIEU prominently disclose who provided the script.

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On the set of the British film, HIS LORDSHIP (1937), a comedy of foreign intrigue where Mr. A plays twin brothers. Here he is costumed as the pompous one. Director Herbert Mason is on the left.

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Queen Mary attended the London premiere of DR. SYN (1937), which turned out to be Mr. A’s final film. However, he would consider offers to play Disraeli in SUEZ (1938) and to star in THE PIED PIPER (1942), among other proposals. Alan Whittaker is dressed identically to Mr. A because he is his stand-in.

Maude Howell evidently returned to America following the completion of DR. SYN. Presumably, she resumed her career in theater production. Little more seems to be known about her except that she died in 1964 in New Orleans at the age of 77. Please contact me if you have any info about this special lady.

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