|Enter Will Hays (The American Magazine, 1922)|
Prior to the appointment of Will Hays (1879 – 1954) to head the Motion Pictures Producers and Distributors Association in 1922 (which later became the Motion Picture Association of America), American magazine and newspapers were filled with articles and editorials concerning the need for someone to "clean up Hollywood".
Hays, a Republican politician and an Elder in the Presbyterian Church, rode into town on the heels of a number of well-publicized Hollywood scandals in 1922. Recognized as a sober, moral man, his office was located in New York City, far from the ballyhoo of Hollywood. It is important to remember that Hays' salary was paid by the producers and distributors in the movie business and as much as he served to inspire the American film industry to make uplifting productions, he was also their paid apologist.
Tiresome Will Hays (Film Spectator, 1929)
When the silent film era had run it's course and the "talkies" were growing in popularity, Hollywood's honeymoon with Will Hays was long over. In 1929 Hays' association with Harry Sinclair of the Consolidated Oil Corporation was called into question by a number of Washington Senators. In 1924, Hays, the man who's reputation was supposed to be beyond reproach, performed poorly before a Senate committee when asked to explain his 1920 roll as the go-between who collected a $75,000.00 donation from Sinclair in order to fill the coffers of the Republican National Committee. There were allegations of dubious gifts in exchange for this service and the Hollywood community, which has no difficulty generating it's own scandals and needed no help from Will Hays, thank you very much, began to grumble. Various assorted unkind remarks concerning Will Hays were printed in this short article that appeared in a long forgotten Hollywood trade publication.
Click here if you would like to read about Will Hays and his 1922 arrival in Hollywood.
If you would like to read about the films of the 1930s, click here.
Click here to read a 1939 article about an alumni organization for the pioneers of silent films.
Theda Bara: Sex Symbol (The Atlanta Georgian, 1917)
An enthusiastic review of the Hollywood silent film, "The Tiger Woman" (1917) starring the first (but not the last) female sex symbol of the silent era, Theda Bara (born Theodosia Burr Goodman; 1885-1955).
This very brief review will give you a sense of how uneasily many men must have sat in their chairs when she was pictured on screen.
"She is a very tigerish 'Tiger Woman' in this picture. Her heart, her soul, her finger tips, her eyelashes, her rounded arms, her heaving buzzum, all vibrate to a passion for pearls."
Theda Bara retired in 1926, having worked in forty-four films.
Click here to read articles about Marilyn Monroe.
*Watch a Theda Bara Slide Show*
The First of Many Inaccurate War Movies Reviewed (The Stars and Stripes, 1918)
The production of inaccurate war flicks with unlikely plots is a proud tradition that is alive and well in every film capitol around the globe and not likely to vanish any time soon. Today's film critics seem to have a good deal more patience when reviewing the genre -as compared to the jaded, old ink-slinger who was charged with the task of summing up this silent film from 1918: "On to Berlin".
Perhaps what makes this nasty review all the more fun to read is that it was published in a weekly newspaper intended for the American soldiers who were, themselves, "on to Berlin" and the reviewer delighted in every miscalculation that was calculated by the property and costume departments.
"The American-made war dramas must be giving the folks back home a swell idea of what The War isn't like...William Fox is accused of producing "On to Berlin"
The Rebellion of Theda Bara (Vanity Fair, 1919)
Disgusted with being remembered for only playing the role of vampires, Theda Bara wrote this piece where she listed several sound reasons as to why she would never play such a roll again:
"To me, there is nothing so quaintly naive as this inability of the moving picture public to disassociate the screen personality of a star from his or her own personality. I wonder what they think a Mack Sennett bathing girl must be like around the house".
Reviewed: A Fool There Was (Life Magazine, 1922)
"A Fool There Was" was originally produced in 1915 starring the Theda Bara in the vampire roll; but as the view of women changed in society, to say nothing of popular culture, the producers in the early Hollywood dream-factory decided to re-stage the production with a racier woman in the lead -a "flapper-vampire", if you will. The reviewer was sympathetic as to the need for a new adaptation but pointed out that the actress who was re-cast in the Theda Bara roll, Estelle Taylor (1894 — 1958), left the audiences wanting. It was also pointed out that "the censorship menace hangs heavy over 'A Fool There Was'.