A Video Tour of the Original Souvenir Program from DISRAELI (1929) with original color lobby cards


Souvenir programs from vintage films are highly collectible and one in mint condition can be quite expensive to acquire. Let’s take a video tour of this 1929 DISRAELI program from my collection. I’ve interspersed the set of color lobby cards released by the studio to enhance the tour.

Here we have a complete copy of another Arliss-DISRAELI souvenir program. But this one is from the stage version and dates from 1912!

Arliss Alert! THE MILLIONAIRE airs this Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, on TCM (US) at 7:30 AM eastern time.


We are enjoying an embarrassment of riches so to speak following up on today’s telecast of THE WORKING MAN (1933) as part of a tribute to Bette Davis. This Thursday, November 7, Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. will air THE MILLIONAIRE (1931), which was Mr. A’s first modern dress talkie and the first comedy of his talkie career. The story was provided by Earl Derr Biggers, the author of the Charlie Chan novels, with dialogue by the legendary Booth Tarkington.


Mr. A originally filmed this story in 1922 during the silent era under the title, THE RULING PASSION. That film is apparently lost although there are reports that one or more European archives may hold a print. The talkie version boasts a strong supporting cast including Noah Beery, Tully Marshall, David Manners (the hero in DRACULA 1931), and most happily, Florence Arliss plays Mr. A’s screen wife, and the essential Ivan Simpson is on hand as Mr.A’s ever helpful valet.


TCM is presenting THE MILLIONAIRE as part of its tribute to James Cagney. His appearance is brief but essential to the plot – one of those “small part but key role” type of things. Mr. A was at some pains to find the right young actor to play the part. He wanted someone to project a “take it or leave it” attitude. Cagney came in to be interviewed by Mr. A and immediately impressed him with his “take it or leave it” attitude. As Mr. A later wrote in his memoirs, Cagney’s attitude was “Are you going to hire me or not? Make up your mind and hurry up.” Mr. A decided that the unknown young actor was perfect for the role.

Published in: on November 5, 2019 at 9:53 PM  Comments (1)  

Arliss Alert! A SUCCESSFUL CALAMITY (1932) is being aired in the US on Monday, August 26, 2019, at 12:30 PM EDT on TCM (Turner Classic Movies)


Mr. A’s family comedy, I call it a proto-type of “Father Knows Best,” is being broadcast tomorrow as part of TCM’s salute to Mary Astor. Long before Mary co-starred with Humphrey Bogart or Walter Huston, she played Mr. A’s wife in this May-September relationship. The age difference was not glossed over and, indeed, becomes an important story point as the plot develops.

Mr. A wondered in his autobiography, MY TEN YEARS IN THE STUDIOS, whether A SUCCESSFUL CALAMITY made any money for Warner Bros. but he needn’t have worried. Studio records show that this little film made a tidy profit during the depths of the Great Depression. Get your DVRs ready for this one although your blogmeister is happy to report that Warner Archive has offered this film on DVD for several years now!

Published in: on August 25, 2019 at 11:41 AM  Comments (2)  
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Arliss Alert! THE KING’S VACATION (1933) on TCM Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018 @ 5:15 PM ET

The people of a country rise up to oust their leader and he goes into exile. This may sound a little like today’s news but actually it’s the plot of THE KING’S VACATION, which is being shown by Turner Classic Movies (US) this Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 5:15 PM eastern time.


One of the most charming films that Mr. A ever made, the story has the distinction of being the only one that Warner Bros. specifically commissioned for George Arliss. His nine other Warners films were either based on his stage successes or were remakes of his silent films.

GA with Dudley Digges, who was once Mr. A’s stage manager:

Ernest Pascal provided the story and spent time with Mr. A at St. Margaret’s Bay near Dover working on it. Later, Mr. A wrote that he was happy to find that much of the charm of St. Margaret’s was reflected in the film. A humorous and poignant story, Mr. A plays a reluctant king who years earlier was forced into a marriage of state and whose marriage at the time was annulled.

GA with O.P. Heggie. Notice the microphone above Mr. A’s head:
The jacket today:

Abdicating in the face of revolution, the king tries to pick up where he left off 20 years earlier with his former wife and his now-grown daughter. An adult story in the true sense of the term, THE KING’S VACATION deserves to be much better known so please grab this opportunity to see it or record it. You won’t be disappointed!

Published in: on December 2, 2018 at 2:39 PM  Comments (2)  

Arliss Alert! VOLTAIRE (1933) to air on TCM (US) on July 12 at 4:45 PM EDT


For US viewers, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will air Mr. A’s hit biopic VOLTAIRE on Thursday, July 12, as part of the channel’s celebration leading up to Bastille Day on the 14th. This terrific film will be shown at 4:45 PM eastern daylight time. VOLTAIRE had been a story that Mr. A had wanted to play since 1919 but was never able to find sufficient financial support for it. Perhaps producers feared that the subject was too “high brow” for movie-goers. But to Warner Bros.’s credit, the studio decided to move forward with project. They need not have worried – Mr. A turned in a canny and hilarious performance as the French philosopher and wit – proving again the historical biographies could be very humorous and very profitable, at least in Mr. A’s hands.

VOLTAIRE provided Mr. A with his most unique character unlike his other historical roles where he plays great gentlemen. His Voltaire is a scamp who gets himself in trouble with the king and faces imprisonment. Mr. A is supported by a great cast including Doris Kenyon, Alan Mowbray, Reginald Owen, and the members of the “Arliss stock company,” Ivan Simpson, Doris Lloyd, Murray Kinnell, among other familiar faces.

Don’t miss it!

Now on DVD! George Arliss in ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1931)

Perhaps inspired by the mammoth hit musical HAMILTON, Warner Archive recently announced the DVD release of Mr. A’s stage and screen success, ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1931). It is interesting to note that the hip-hop musical used the same plot as the Arliss historical drama. Co-written by Mr. A and Mary Hamlin, a then-amateur playwright – they would both claim that the other did most of the writing – the play debuted in 1917 during the time of America’s entry into World War I. Later in 1931, Warner Bros. decided to film it although Mr. A said that he did not push the idea because it was too self-serving. In any event today, Independence Day aka the 4th of July in the states, seems to be the perfect time to announce this news:

This is also a good opportunity to post some original color lobby cards from the film:

Doris Kenyon played Hamilton’s wife, Betsy. She had retired following the sudden death of her husband, actor Milton Sills, in September 1930. But Mr. A encouraged her to return to work and offered her the role. They had appeared together in silent films a decade earlier:

Dudlely Digges had been Mr. A’s stage manager for many years before becoming an actor. Mr. A invited him to repeat his stage role as the villain:

Sweet June Collyer stepped out of her familiar screen persona to play the seductive Mrs. Reynolds who lures Hamilton into a trap that threatens to ruin his reputation and his career:

Lionel Belmore plays Hamilton’s father-in-law, General Schuyler. Hard to believe but Mr. A is only a year younger than Mr. Belmore!

When it was learned that this unknown actor’s wife lay dying in a local hospital, he was allowed to leave the studio. But he refused saying that he needed the money. After filming this scene, a studio car drove him directly to the hospital:

Alan Mowbray played George Washington but was almost unrecognizable under the makeup. However, his distinctive voice made him easily recognized:

Finally, your blogmeister can’t resist the temptation to post this Photoshopped picture of himself shaking hands with the great Mr. A:

Published in: on July 4, 2018 at 2:54 PM  Comments (6)  

BFI Posts a “New” George Arliss Film! IMPRESSIONS OF DISRAELI (1931) Speeches

The British Film Institute has posted this one-reel sound film of George Arliss delivering speeches by Benjamin Disraeli. This film, his first made in Britain, has likely not been seen since 1931 and is comprised of original material that Mr. A never performed before or since. He is introduced by Tory leader Stanley Baldwin, who himself served as Britain’s prime minister on three occasions between 1923 and 1937.

 

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) – A Review of Mr. A’s Final Film

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!

Published in: on July 10, 2017 at 10:04 PM  Comments (1)  
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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)  
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