It’s Here At Last! The Official 2023 George Arliss Calendar

Want a copy? Just download and print. Legal-sized paper will provide the best results.

George Arliss – The Hidden Years: Letters from World War II

I am pleased to announce the publication of our new book. This is an entirely new work of research where we can now share Mr. A’s daily accounts of living in World War II London through his letters that he wrote to friends. These letters have never been published before and offer a personal account of his daily life that at times are amusing and sometimes sad. In addition to sheltering from the nightly bombing attacks by the German Luftwaffe, Mr. A also was the caregiver to his wife, Florence, who had lost her eyesight and was coping with a variety of other ailments.

Arliss decided to spend the war years in London, literally Ground-Zero for German bombers, when he could have joined his friends in sunny California. If he regretted this decision, he never even hinted at this in his many letters. His daily life included nightly aerial assaults from Nazi planes, V-1 and V-2 rockets flying over his home. Throughout these bombardments, Arliss maintained a lively correspondence with his American friends who were safely located in the states, as well as British friends who were safely out of harms’ way in other parts of Britain.

Mr. A had written two volumes of memoirs, the second being published just as the war broke out. Far from being antique writings that reflect a bygone age, this new work is a third volume of his memoirs that vividly describe perhaps the worst time in his life. The George Arliss wartime letters vividly echo the 21st century trauma endured by the COVID lockdowns and the devastation of the Russo-Ukraine War. The book is extensively illustrated with rare photographs, maps of the London bombing attacks, and appendices documenting his stage and film work.

This book is available in three formats: hardcover, paperback, and Kindle ebook, all through Amazon. Members of Kindle Unlimited can read the book for free. https://www.amazon.com/George-Arliss-Hidden-Years-Letters/dp/B0BGFHRBD3/ref=sr_1_2?crid=7FV15STWNYIW&keywords=george+arliss+letters&qid=1670003077&s=books&sprefix=Arliss%2Cstripbooks%2C97&sr=1-2

Excerpts from the Kirkus review: “… (Arliss) was, as Fells observes, a ‘prolific letter writer,’ one who managed, no matter who the correspondent was, to combine great generosity and candor with a lighthearted wit. The author collects here a trove of
communications that date from 1909 to 1945, the year before Arliss’ death, the most intriguing of which were written in
England during World War II. With astonishing composure, Arliss relates the ‘harrowing times’ he lived through, especially
the daily air raids mercilessly waged by German fighter planes, a dangerous threat that made the ‘blackness of the night
rather terrifying.’ Moreover, in addition to the perils and deprivations the war delivered, Arliss had to contend with an ill wife
who was losing her sight: ‘My life is violently changed from the days that were all too short for my liking. Now, I am with Flo
all day and every day; in addition to her nervous condition, her eyes are so bad that they do not allow her to either read or
write; so we are cut off from the theatre and the cinema; it is more than a year since I visited either.’ Fells supplies readers
with astutely informative commentaries regarding the circumstances of each letter, including Arliss’ interlocutor, and
adorns the book with marvelous pictures of the artist, his friends, and various miscellany like playbills….”

Published in: on December 2, 2022 at 2:00 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Birthday, Mr. A – April 10, 2022, marks his 154th Birthday!

Actor, author, playwright, and filmmaker George Arliss was born in the Bloomsbury section of London on Good Friday, April 10, 1868. He made his professional stage debut in 1887, a time when theaters were lit by gaslight. Crossing the Atlantic in 1901 as a member of the Mrs. Patrick Campbell Company, George and his wife Florence eventually established themselves in the U.S. theater world. What was planned as six months stay turned into 20 years. Turning 60 in 1928, retirement seemed to be calling Mr. A, but so were talking pictures. Thus, he suddenly embarked on ten years in the studios (a phrase he used for the title of his second volume of memoirs) winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in the process. Today, at least seven of his films can be viewed on DVD and streaming video.

Published in: on April 9, 2022 at 8:10 PM  Comments (3)  
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Happy New Year and Here’s Your Choice of 2022 George Arliss Calendars and Bookmarks

This year we offer you a choice of TWO souvenir wall calendars with George Arliss adorning them in one form or another. For the literal-minded, we have a rare candid photograph of Mr. A visiting the Universal studios in Hollywood circa 1927 and chatting with comedy star Reginald Denny. Like Mr. A, Denny was a British actor who found success in America. He played in support of Mr. A in the 1921 silent film version of DISRAELI, which is now apparently lost.

I should mention that the term “Silent Films Today” at the top of the calendar refers to my Facebook group by that name. Lots of things to see there including more vintage calendars like this one. That group is private, but you can simply ask to join to be admitted.

Our second official 2022 George Arliss Calendar is more figurative in that it offers two engraved images of Mr. A in the character of Voltaire. At the top is a cameo that was made by a doctor as one of his hobbies. He sent this cameo to Mr. A and I’d say the Arliss Archives is lucky to have acquired it. Below the cameo is a souvenir coin issued by Warner Bros. to promote Mr. A’s 1933 film, VOLTAIRE. Similar to the cameo, the coin provides a beautifully detailed rendering of Mr. A.

Since we’re on the subject of the cameo, here is Mr. A’s Thank You letter to Dr. Osher for his efforts and expense to create the cameo. The letter was written In January 1935 when Mr. A was filming CARDINAL RICHELIEU at the Twentieth Century Pictures studios in Hollywood. As you can tell, the letter was water-damaged at some point – after all it did go through WWII – and I’ve done my best to make it legible.

The photo referred to by Mr. A was taken while he and Florence were filming THE KING’S VACATION in 1933. The Archives has an excellent original of this portrait that was autographed by both Mr. and Mrs. A. Here is the actual photo that Mr. A sent to Dr. Osher, which is also jointly autographed:

You may wonder how to obtain a copy of either or both of these calendars. I don’t sell them but instead I encourage people to print them out, preferably on glossy photo paper. At full size they make neat looking wall calendars. Printed in smaller sizes they also make stylish (and unique) bookmarks.

Finally, let me share with you two authentic 3-D stereoscopic photographs that I made of the Voltaire cameo and also of the bronze bust from THE GREEN GODDESS that actor Ivan Simpson made for Mr. A:

Again, let me wish you the very best in this New Year of 2022!

Mr. A Sails the High Seas

Back before the age of jet liners linked America and Europe in a matter of hours, transatlantic travel meant spending several days at sea and, hopefully, in good weather. Mere acquaintances on land would form onboard friendships during the voyage, though most of these tended to fizzle out once they were back on terra firma.

Mr. A was no exception to this social ritual as many candid photographs attest. Here’s a collection of moments from long ago voyages during the 1920s and 30s when Mr. and Mrs. A shuttled between Southampton, England, and New York City, then cross-country by train to Los Angeles.

Here the caption informs us that Florence and George have arrived in New York onboard the S.S. Mauretania in September 1922 after a visit home to England :

George Arliss is considered a “notable” onboard the S.S. Berengaria as he returns to New York after a two month vacation in Europe on November 22, 1924:

The Arlisses leave New York on the S.S.Leviathan on May 21,1927. The ship had been converted from a luxury liner to a troop ship during World War I and was then transformed back to a liner. The “slug” or photo caption adds some details:

The slug states that Mr. and Mrs. A are leaving New York on the S.S. Majestic on May 29, 1931, for a combined vacation and search for new film material. Color by Moi:

Mr. A chats with a fellow passenger in this undated photo, circa mid-1930s:

Another undated photo but Mr. A’s stiff collar suggests the late 20s or early 30s. By the mid-1930s, Florence’s eyesight had worsened and she rarely appeared on deck:

Mr. A seems happy to share the attentions of the paparazzi with a fellow thespian, Edith Evans, or so I believe. The back of this news photo indicates that it was taken onboard the R.M.S. Majestic in Southampton in 1934:

Having just completed CARDINAL RICHELIEU (1935) in Hollywood, Mr. A has his stateroom invaded as he and Flo leave from New York aboard the S.S. Olympic, sister ship of Titanic, on what I believe is the ship’s final voyage before it was retired:

After an absence of two years while making films in Britain, Mr. A returns to New York on November 9, 1937 via the S.S. Aquitania. He seems to be waiting to go through customs:

Another photo of Mr. A still waiting to go through customs on Nov. 9, 1937. He seems to be saying to the photographer,”Haven’t you taken enough?”

A familiar shipboard pose on the ship S.S. Aquitania as it arrives in Southampton from New York on April 26, 1938:

Finally, a view from the other side of the cameras aboard the S.S. Aquitania on Mr. A’s return to America on Nov.9, 1937:

 

The Official 2020 George Arliss Calendar

Here it is – our official 2020 George Arliss Calendar. This year we offer Mr. A with a distinctly “cowboy” look. The colorization is, as usual, by myself. Get your calendar today, and that’s easy. Just print it out. Looks great in 8×10!

A Brief “Morphing” Video with Mr. A as Disraeli from the 1921 Silent Film

Here’s a short “morphing” video I just created using a portrait of Mr. A as Benjamin Disraeli from the 1921 silent version of DISRAELI, a film that is now apparently lost. The musical accompaniment I added is especially complimentary (I think):

Published in: on December 15, 2019 at 6:52 PM  Comments (1)  
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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! 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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THE RULING PASSION – A Review of Mr. A’s 1922 Silent Film Comedy

Typically listed as a “lost” film, Mr. A’s 1922 silent film comedy, THE RULING PASSION, may exist after all. Hope is kindled by news that one or more foreign film archives may own a print. These include the Russian Gosfilmofond, the Cinémathèque Française, and the Belgian CINEMATEK. Also on your blogmeister’s “hopeful list” is the Dutch EYE Film Institute that has led the way by posting so many of its vintage holdings online.

THE RULING PASSION was based on a short story by Earl Derr Biggers, who later became famous as the creator of the “Charlie Chan” novels. Mr. A plays John Alden, an automobile tycoon who is forced into retirement by his doctor’s orders. Bored, he decides to invest in a business deal – a gas station – in partnership with a young man, Bill Merrick. Of course, Alden uses an alias so his young partner doesn’t know his colleague is practically Henry Ford. Alden and Merrick are swindled in the sale by the seller, Peterson, who competes against them with his new gas station.

Complications develop when Alden’s daughter, Angie, drives in and discovers her father pumping gas. She and Merrick meet and romance blossoms. Angie agrees to keep her Dad’s secret life from her mother but Mrs. Alden eventually stops by for a fill-up and discovers the truth. Alden and Merrick plan a successful marketing campaign, taking so much business away from their rival that Peterson offers to buy them out at a huge profit on their original purchase.

Bill asks Angie to marry him and he goes to her home seeking her father’s permission, unaware that his partner is Angie’s father. The ruse is happily revealed and Alden’s doctor has to admit that the adventure was healthful for Alden who can now return to work again.

The film had its New York City premiere on January 22, 1922, and received mostly excellent reviews. Released through United Artists, THE RULING PASSION was independently produced through a company, Distinctive Pictures, that was formed specifically to make George Arliss films. PASSION became the third Arliss film, following THE DEVIL (1920) and DISRAELI (1921). The success of the earlier two led to making the third, which in turn led to three more films being made.

A trade press story of the day:

Another story for the exhibitors:

Box Office tells the tale:

Doris Kenyon plays the role of Mr. A’s daughter, Angie. A popular screen actress she would play Mr. A’s wife nine years later in ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1931):

While THE RULING PASSION is still considered among the missing Arliss films, we are fortunate that he decided to remake the story as a talkie in 1931 renamed THE MILLIONAIRE. However, lettering on studio photos indicate that the talkie version’s working title continued to be THE RULING PASSION.

An original color half-sheet (22×28 inches) for THE RULING PASSION:

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