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) – 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)  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.
program002-copy_edited-1

Arliss “regulars” in the cast included Doris Lloyd…
arl-lloyd2_edited-3-final

…and of course Ivan Simpson:
arl-simp-4_edited-final-2

A page from the souvenir program:
program006

More pages:
program007
program008

This is a rare showing so don’t miss it!
arl-old-english

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:
iron-duke-lc

The film did not ignore Wellington’s reputation with women:
aa038-final

Mr. A takes a lunch break on an adjoining set with cast members:
arl-iron-duke_edited-1

Mr. A and friends enjoy a private screening of THE IRON DUKE:
screening-the-iron-duke-1935-2
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.

arliss-sign

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

hollywood-sign

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?

aaa002_Final_edited-1

arl-vac3-copy_edited-1-copy

Arl Digges2-Super Final

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

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!

ArlissHamilton

ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1931)

Arl Ham 16_edited-Final_June27

Arl Ham Out4_Final

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

Arliss Alert! A SUCCESSFUL CALAMITY (1932) with Mary Astor & Randolph Scott – Monday, May 3 @ 6:30 AM EST

Mr. A stars in this gossamer-light comedy of a wealthy man who feigns poverty so his family will stay home with him evenings. Mary Astor plays his wife(!) and much is made of the big difference in their ages. And is Mary playing around with her Italian music teacher?arl-succ-cal-6 copy_edited-1 copy

Mr. A has a daughter played by Evalyn Knapp:Arl Succ Cal copy_edited-4 copy

and a son played by William Janney:arl-succ-cal-9 copy_edited-1

Will the family rally around Mr. A? All I’ll tell you at this point is that Mary Astor leaves and takes her jewelry with her, leaving behind a note for Mr. A. How will Mr. A resolve this dilemma?Successful Cal Poster_edited-1

Now enjoy the original preview trailer and catch the feature on Monday morning, May 3, at 6:30 AM eastern time!

Published in: on April 30, 2016 at 1:55 PM  Leave a Comment  

Arliss Alert! – THE GREEN GODDESS (1930) – on TCM Thurs. Feb. 4 @8AM

THE GREEN GODDESS was Mr. A’s first talkie and was produced during the summer of 1929. At his suggestion, TGG was withheld from release until Mr. A’s second talkie, DISRAELI, had been released first, in October 1929. Mr. A felt that DISRAELI was the better of the two films, an opinion generally shared by most film reviewers of the day. That said, THE GREEN GODDESS is a highly enjoyable film and is quite topical to the 21st century with its story of eastern intrigue, jealousy, and terrorism. George Arliss was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award together with DISRAELI. It marks the only time in Academy history that an actor competed against himself in two separate films. The voting selected DISRAELI alone, meaning of course, that Mr. A won out against himself. But he also won over other nominees including Ronald Colman and Maurice Chevalier.

THE GREEN GODDESS is wonderful entertainment with Mr. A as the slinkiest of villains. His closing line alone is worth the price of admission!

Green 1930 larger

GG3A Final

GG1A Final

GG2 Final

image077

image083

Published in: on January 31, 2016 at 11:44 PM  Comments (1)  
%d bloggers like this: