We have all seen it many times before: the well-loved, widely accepted comedian who decides that being adored by the masses is simply not enough. For too many comic talents, sadly, there comes a time when they slip on one banana peel too many and it occurs to them that they want the world to appreciate them for their ability to think. Comics who fill this description might be Al Frankin, Woody Allen or Steve Martin.
This article tries to understand why Chaplin wanted to play a tragic part in a 1921 London stage adaptation of William Thackeray's 'Vanity Fair'. We have seen such behavior in comics many times before, they hadn't.
(born Regina Miriam Bloch: 1892 – 1983) became a fixture on the literary landscape just prior to the First World War when she was recognized as a young, thought-provoking writer with much to say on many matters. The article serves as an interesting profile of the woman by compiling various remarks made during the course of her early career:
"She was fortunate in beginning her career at a time when English literature and journalism were alive with rebellious writers. In those happy days before the war, it was a constant gay fight in print for one's ideas and opinions, and Rebbecca West was soon in the front ranks of the rebels..."
No examination concerning the popularity of atheism and agnosticism in the Twentieth Century would be complete without mentioning the writings of Joseph McCabe (1867–1955). Earlier in his life he was known as Father Anthony, a British priest who lorded over a small Catholic college until his interest in rationalism devoured his faith and he abandoned the cloth for the Freethought Movement. A prolific writer, he authored one volume in 1915, The War and the Churches, that put forth the notion that the church was complicit in the 1914-1918 war.
When this two page profile appeared in print Pickford was world famous, married to the handsomest actor in Hollywood, adored by all - she could do no wrong. Just fourteen years later, the respected New York playwright Clara Boothe Brokaw would ridicule her in the pages of VANITY FAIR (August, 1932: p. 18) as a sad symbol representing a vulgar era. As if that wasn't bad enough, today few people know who she was - although she does get twice as many Google searches than Lillian Gish (but whose counting).
Amazon offers a PBS salute to the actress on a DVD that is strangely titled Mary Pickford.
The post-World War I American economy was humming along quite nicely when an inquisitive journalist took notice as to how many more cars there were on the streets (all told, there were 7.5 million). Perhaps there were no written studies documenting what we now call 'the order of durable goods' - that dependable yardstick we use to measure American opulence, and so this investigative journalist came up with a different way of figuring out just how many cars Americans could purchase -and we're mighty glad he did!
"Figures were presented at the National Lynching Conference showing that in the last thirty years 3,224 persons have been killed by lynching, 2,834 of them in Southern states which once were slave-holding."
Prior to the establishment of the New York School in the 1940s, there has always been a popular belief among Europeans (and a few Americans) that the art produced in the U.S. was purely derivative and lacked true originality in conception and style. In the attached article from the early Twenties, some of these Europeans and Americans step forward and identify themselves while continuing to crack wise on the topic; however, the editors of ART NEWS will not suffer this abuse and they return fire offering plenty of evidence to the contrary.
This is a magazine article concerning the well respected British bacteriologist and immunologist Sir Almroth Wright (1861 - 1947) and his belief that women should be denied the vote. Using his scientific training, Wright tended to believe that due to their flawed nature, women were deprived of a proper sense of reasoning, that they were endowed with an inability to keep subjects within a suitable perspective and prone to hypersensitivity.
American journalist Frederick Palmer (1873 - 1958) began his career as a correspondent covering the Greco-Turkish War (1896 - 1897); by the time the First World War flared up his stock was at it's very peak and and was selected by the British Government to serve as the sole American reporter to cover the efforts of the B.E.F.. In the Spring of 1917, when the U.S. entered the war, Palmer was recruited by the American Army to serve as the press liaison officer for General Pershing. A good deal of Palmer's experiences can be gleaned from this article, which was written as a review of his wartime memoirs, The Folly of Nations (1921).
Contrary to the headline written above, this interesting article does not simply discuss the (temporary) Japanese rejection of European and American clothing in the Twenties but also touches upon earlier days when Western styles were fully embraced by the nobility of that country.
"There is in Japan a growing revolt against European clothing...The Japanese have endured agonies in their efforts to get our hats, our trousers, our corsets..."
The author of "The White Man's Burden" gets the back-hand for all of his narrow-minded jingoism by Robert Wilson Lynd (1879 - 1949), who penned this angry review of Rudyard Kipling's (1865 - 1936) body of work, finding the author to be too much the Victorian imperialist.
This is a news article that first appeared in 1921 concerning the continuing clash of civilizations in British Palestine:
"There are in Palestine about half a million Muslems, about 62,500 Christians and 65,300 Jews. The aspiration for a Jewish State encounters the opposition not only of all Moslems and Christians but of many Orthodox Jews residing in Palestine. ...The Zionist leaders, erroneously classifying the present inhabitants as Arabs, expect them to "silently steal away", as Zangwill puts it, and leave the Jews free to rule."
Believing that vast numbers of broadcast-clergy can only damage the credibility of the church in the long-run, this article was written which concerned the personal quest of one observant Christian who wished to see that the amount Christian programming be reduced. The author pointed out that by 1925
"One out of every fourteen broadcasting stations in the United States is today owned and operated by a church or under a church's direction..."
Click here to read about the Christian broadcasts of Oral Roberts...
The CURRENT OPINION foreign correspondent filed this short dispatch about the pandemonium unfolding in post-World War I Germany:
"The great fact to the outside world is that a German parliament has actually precipitated a crisis. It threw out the Scheidemann cabinet. It presided over the birth of a Bauer one. It was the German parliament which dictated to the government regarding its composition, instead of meekly obeying the government, as had been the custom..."
Read this article and you will soon get a sense of what busy bees they must have been over at the United States Department of War within that year and a half following the close of World War One. General Amos A. Fries and the lads attached to the Chemical Warfare Service had been applying much cranium power to all matters involving mustard gas, tear gas, Lewisite and White Phosphorus. Much of the post-war dollar was devoted to making ships impervious to gas attacks, masks and uniforms suited to withstand nerve agents and offensive aircraft capable of deploying chemical bombs.
"As to the effectiveness of phosphorous and thermit against machine-gun nests, there is no recorded instance where our gas troops failed to silence German machine-gun nests once they were located...In the next war, no matter how soon it may occur, a deadly composition called Lewisite will be used with far more devastating effect than that of mustard gas."
"Already the young architects of Italy are looking forward to a new renaissance of building, toward the production of a new style based upon modern methods of building and adapted to modern needs. The impulse to this new movement came from the brilliant Futurist Antonio Sant'Elia, who carried the ideas of the Italian innovators into the field of architecture, but whose development was cut short by his heroic death in the war... Nevertheless, his influence upon the younger architects has been great. Fortunately, they have been able to adapt his ideas to the exigencies of practical building, and in some instances to avoid a complete severing with the traditions of the past."
So deep were the ranks of khaki-clad immigrants who filled the U.S. military's regiments and divisions throughout the course the First World War that our British allies would often refer to the U.S. Army as the "American Foreign Legion"; yet as grateful as the services were to have so many additional strong arms to deploy during a time of national emergency, it was not without a cost.
This article is all about how the army addressed the issue regarding the high number of illiterate immigrants who broadened their phalanx spanning the years 1917 through 1920.
"shows us Clemenceau dominating the conference by sheer force of mind; Wilson outmaneuvered; Lloyd George clever, alert, but not very deep; and Orlando precise and lawyer like. This book confirms the popular belief that the general scheme of the treaty was worked out by the British and French delegations without material aid from the Americans. As a consequence, the American delegation lost prestige."
The first Soviet famine lasted from 1919 through 1923; some historians have placed the death toll as high as five million:
"[Lenin] is held responsible for the policy which has brought about a consumption of so great a proportion of the seed wheat that the fields cannot be sown. For the first time since Bolsheviki gained power, says the Berlin "Lokalanzeiger", Lenin is a cipher."
Click here to read about the blackmail and extortion tactics that American Communists used in Hollywood during the Great Depression...
As many of the readers in the OldMagazineArticles.com audience have figured out, the purpose of this site is to allow the past to represent itself -- warts and all, and few articles make manifest this policy better than this 1921 article which reported on the efforts of an appropriately forgotten scientist from the University of Virginia, Dr. George Oscar Ferguson. Ferguson was the author of a project that somehow measured the intelligence of African Americans and White Americans and concluded that his:
"psychological study of the Negro indicates that he will never be the mental equal of the white race."
"France has discovered Lafayette in this age only because America never forgot him"
This article reports that the Marquis de Lafayette (Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, 1757-1834), who seemed heaven-sent when he appeared in Philadelphia in order to aid the Americans in their revolt against the British, had been largely forgotten by the French in the Twentieth Century. Indeed, the French were baffled to hear his name invoked as often as it was during the period of America's participation in the Great War. It was said that some disgruntled wit in the A.E.F. woke up one morning in the trenches and mumbled: "Alright, we paid Lafayette back; now what other Frog son-of-a-bitch do we owe?" Oddly, there is no mention made whatever of that unique trait so common to the Homo Americanus- "selective memory": during the 1870 German invasion of France there seemed to have been no one who recalled Lafayette's name at all.
"Gifted, but perverse" was the opinion of this reviewer, who considered the whole of D. H. Lawrence'
writings up to 1922 in this review for CURRENT OPINION:
"He is like those modern sculptors who, feeling that civilization has reached it's last refinement, and that there is no more work left for observation to do, have gone back to the crude beginnings of stone carving to learn again the essentials of their art..."
An article about J.B.S. Haldane (1892 – 1964), formerly a British combatant of the Great War who became a chemist (and pioneer geneticist) during the inter-war years studying not merely the effectiveness of poison gas but the question as to whether the weapon was more humane than bullets and artillery shells:
"The future lies with poisonous smoke made from arsenic compounds and with mustard gas. Of the latter, he says, it kills one man for every forty it puts out of action, whereas, shells kill one for every three."
His musings concerning atomic energy are referred to as are some of his quack-theories regarding the effects of gas warfare on people with dark skin.
Here is a 1925 review of William Allen White's (1868 – 1944) biography Woodrow Wilson: the Man, his Times and his Task:
"Whether or not Woodrow Wilson will live as a world figure depends not so much upon what work he has done as upon what the chance of time and circumstance will do with his work. He must live or die in world fame bound upon the League of Nations. If that stands he may tower beside it...If the League crumbles, then Wilson will become one of the host of good men who spent their zeal striving for futile things."
Click here to read a list of Wilson's Fourteen Points for the Versilles Treaty.
At the thirty-fifth annual Church Congress of the Protestant Episcopal Church (1919), clergy members seemed to agree that Christian leaders were needlessly complicit concerning their support for the First World War and were guilty of substituting Christian principles for patriotism:
"Christianity has betrayed itself body and soul".
If you would like to read about the spirit of disillusion that permeated post-war literature, click here.
A 1919 film review of BROKEN BLOSSOMS, directed by D.W. Griffith and starring Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess:
"Shown at the George M. Cohan Theater, the new Griffith picture attracts crowds of sophisticated New Yorkers who are only too willing to pay$2.50 (and the additional war tax) for the privilege of judging the latest achievement of the greatest master of 'movie' showmanship."
"BROKEN BLOSSOMS came to the screen a masterpiece in moving pictures. Bare narration of the story cannot hope even to suggest the power and truth of the tragedy that Mr. Griffith has pictured."
A single paragraph review of Sir Philip Gibbs' (1877 - 1962) book, More That Must Be Told. The book was written as a sequel to his previous volume which cataloged the many blunders and assorted outrages of the Great War, Now It Can Be Told (1920). The reviewer wrote:
"There is much that is stirring and much that is contradictory in Sir Philip's new book. At one moment he fiercely attacks the 'old gang" by this term he means 'the leaders of Europe, still for the most part in control of the machinery of government".
A magazine review of John Maynard Keynes book, "A Revision of the Treaty" (1922). The reviewer wrote that "it lacks the prophetic fire of it's author's earlier book, "The Economic Consequences of the Peace", but continues the argument of that book:
"Mr. Keynes claims that almost everyone now has come around to his point of view. We practically all recognize, he says, the over-severity of the reparation clauses written into the Versailles Treaty."
"Sir Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934), the noted composer, recently presided at the opening of the new headquarters of a gramophone company in London. Elgar is a great believer in the mechanical reproduction of music, and always conducts for records of his own works."
"What musicians want," he said, "is more listeners."
"One of the most sinister results of the war has been a new wave of anti-Semitism in Europe. Recent dispatches from Berlin describe street demonstrations against Jews and speak of "a veritable pogrom atmosphere" in Munich and Budapest. In Poland, Jewish blood has flown freely, amid scenes of horror described by Herman Bernstein and other writers in American newspapers. In Ukraine the number of Jews massacred during the early part of the present year is estimated anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000."
Attached is a digest of a Zionist article that appeared some weeks earlier in THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY written by Rabbi Joel Blau who tended to believe that antisemitism could only be eradicated if the Jews of the world were to return to Israel.
Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe (1865 - 1922) was an influential soul back in the day who owned a string of widely-read newspapers. Just months prior to his death, he spent some time stateside and drew some conclusions regarding American Prohibition which were noteworthy:
"While in our midst he made up his mind about Prohibition. In his opinion it is a failure... His reasons seem to be that he saw plenty of liquor everywhere he was entertained; that Prohibition encourages hypocrisy in the vision of the law, and that he did not like it anyhow... But America has taken it's stand and will stick to it."
Additional data regarding the 1917 Draft and how the first one million inductees measured-up physically:
"The first adequate physical survey in half a century was made possible when the Selective Service system brought before medical examiners some ten million men. Of the 2,510,000 men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one 730,000 (29 percent) were rejected on physical grounds."
We found it interesting to learn two facts from this article; the first being that the highest number of acceptable draftees were from the countryside and the second involved the malady of flat feet -which effected one out of every five American men at that time.
Nasty adjectives fly in this nifty essay concerning the friendship that soured between American writers Mark Twain (1835 - 1910) and Bret Harte (1836 - 1902). The two men were quite close during their younger days as journalists in San Francisco; in 1877 the bond between them was so strong that the two agreed to collaborate on a play, which they titled, "Ah, Sin". However, Twain insisted that it was notoriety that killed his friend and "it might have been better ...if Harte had died in the first flush of his fame":
"There was a happy Bret Harte, a contented Bret Harte, an ambitious Bret Harte, a bright, cheerful, easy-laughing Bret Harte to whom it was a bubbling effervescent joy to be alive. That Bret Harte died in San Francisco. It was the corpse of that Bret Harte that swept in splendor across the continent..."
The attached article is about a 1921 exhibition displaying the art of the mentally ill; it was organized under the direction of the psychiatric department of Heidelberg University. The exhibition made quite an impact on a number of modernists at the time and it is said that a few of the pieces from the show were later displayed in the 1938 "Degenerate Art" exhibit that the Nazis launched in an effort to discredit modernism.
Prior to the establishment of the New York School in the 1940s, there has always been a popular belief among Europeans (and a few Americans) that the art produced in the U.S. was purely derivative and lacked true originality in conception and style. In this 1922 article some of these Europeans and Americans step forward and identify themselves while continuing to crack wise on the topic; however, the editors of 'Art News' will not suffer this abuse and they return fire offering plenty of evidence to the contrary.
At the thirty-fifth annual church congress of the Protestant Episcopal Church (1919) clergy members seemed to agree that Christian leaders were fully complicit in the recently ended war and were guilty of abandoning Christianity for patriotism:
Teutonic film producers must have gotten a good guffaw upon reading the attached article that announced how insecure Hollywood producers felt when faced with the filmmakers of Germany. These intimidated studio heads and distributors believed that the Germans had a leg-up on Hollywood due to the high quantity of well-trained actors, crew and writers who had benefited from the traditions set forth generations earlier in German theater - so much so that they beseeched the law givers in Washington to protect them from these Germans...
"France has discovered Lafayette
in this age only because America never forgot him"
This article reports that the Marquis de Lafayette (Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, 1757 - 1834), who seemed heaven-sent when he appeared in Philadelphia in order to aid the Americans in their revolt against the British, had been largely forgotten by the French in the Twentieth Century. Indeed, the French were baffled to hear his name invoked as often as it was during the period of America's participation in the World War One. It was said that during the war some disgruntled wit in the American Army woke up one morning in the trenches and grumbled: "Alright, we paid Lafayette back; now what other Frog son-of-a-bitch do we owe?" Oddly, there is no mention made whatever of that unique trait so common to the Homo Americanus- "selective memory": during the 1870 German invasion of France there seemed to have been no one who recalled Lafayette's name at all.
A review of the paintings and sculptures from the Weimer Republic and the manner in which that new art served to reflect the social upheaval that was taking place in Germany at that time. The article concerns itself primarily with one art exhibit in particular, the Spring Exhibition of the Berlin Secession (1919) and the two art factions who participated: there were the artists of "Der Sturm" a movement that existed prior to the war and a newer, post-war tribe; the "November Group". Also displayed were the works of two painters who served in the Kaiser's army and did not return; Franz Marc (1880-1916) and August Macke (1887-1914).
"It is hoped by the German Expressionists and the artists of the "New Objectivity" that their art will serve as a tool for the destruction of Germany's old order."
Click here to see a few trench war images by German Expressionist Otto Dix.
Tom Wolf and Mark Twain have not been the only men to have lamented the drab hues so prevalent in manly attire: now you may add to that list a new name: H. Dennis Bradley. The late Mr. Bradley was a tailor in London's Old Bond Street some time back, and he was quite vocal concerning the issue of men's fashions. Being a true "man of the cloth", Mr. Bradley was certain that, prior to the unpleasantness of 1914, men's fashions were headed in a healthy and aesthetically sound direction, but when the boys came home, the promise was not kept.
"We may not go back to the rainbow shades and wonderful stuffs of the bucks and the dandies of olden times--do what we will, we live in utilitarian days--but whatever comes do not let us revert to the hideous hues and shapelessness of the Victorian era..."
Click here to read a 1929 article about the Dress-Reform Movement.
As early as 1922, the British Foreign Office could recognize the economic promise of Israel. This article sums up a report on British Palestine submitted to the British Government by High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel concerning the Jewish population growth to the region, as well as the establishment of schools and businesses.
"It is especially interesting as reflecting the development of Palestine as the future home of the Jewish race. The High Commissioner points out that the country, if properly developed, ought to experience a future far more prosperous than it enjoyed before the war".
Eighty-three years ago, aircraft pilot Major Kurt Bilau (formerly of the Imperial German Air Corps) was intrigued by the abilities a properly designed propeller; he applied his curiosity to the design of a windmill in order to experiment with the possibility harnessing the power of the wind as a source of energy. This magazine article briefly explains what a success that experiment was. Bilau's "aerodynamo" was able to convert a sixteen-mile per/hour wind into an amount of energy that was measured at sixty horse power.
These days, the good works of Kurt Bilau are very actively being improved upon and his same theory is being adapted to harness the power of underwater sea currents.
Click here to read a 1912 article that challenges the concept of global cooling.
Click here to read a 1947 article about the battle against air pollution.
Click here to read a 1951 article about America's polluted rivers.
A tight little essay that clarifies the force behind Italian fascism. This was an editorial penned by Dr. Frank Crane, a pastor who appeared regularly in the pages of CURRENT OPINION.
"The Fascisti is a name given to a political party in Italy. Political parties, and indeed almost all organizations, as has often been pointed out, hold together and get their strength by hating something. The Fascisti hate the Bolshevists, Communists and the like."
"I predict increasing ferment and unrest throughout all Islam; a continued awakening to self-consciousness; an increasing dislike for Western domination."
So wrote Lothrop Stoddard (1883 - 1950), an author who was very much a man of his time and tended to gaze outside the borders of Western Civilization with much the same vision as his contemporary Rudyard Kipling, seeing the majority of the world's inhabitants as "the white man's burden". Yet, for all his concern on the matter of Anglo-Saxon hegemony, he seemed to recognize the growing discontent in Islam, even if he was some sixty years early.
"Tobacco is not food. It is a drug. A healthy human being can get along without it. One who has never used it is better off, his health has a surer foundation and his life expectancy is greater than in the case of one who is a habitual user."
The cautionary paragraph posted above was written in the early Twenties, and this article points out that the health advocates of the that era were not delusional or ill-informed in matters involving tobacco and health care. Tobacco's ability to harm was understood so well that an effort was afoot in the U.S. Congress to make the weed illegal. Needless to say, that effort did not get very far.
"One of the most sinister results of the war has been a new wave of anti-Semitism in Europe. Recent dispatches from Berlin describe street demonstrations against Jews and speak of "a veritable pogrom atmosphere" in Munich and Budapest. In Poland, Jewish blood has flown freely, amid scenes of horror described by Herman Bernstein and other writers in American newspapers. In Ukrainia the number of Jews massacred during the early part of the present year is estimated anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000."
So numerous were the khaki-clad immigrants who filled the ranks of the U.S. Army during the First World War that our British allies would often refer to the A.E.F. as the "American Foreign Legion"; yet as grateful as the services were to have so many additional strong backs to deploy during a time of national emergency, it was not without a cost.
The attached article was all about how the army addressed this issue regarding the high number of illiterate immigrants who filled their divisions spanning the years 1917 through 1920.
For further reading about the American immigrants who fought in the U.S. Military during the First World War, we recommend:
In the bad-old days of World War I, author Andreas Latzko (1876 - 1943) served as a line officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army. While at the front he was affected by the horrors of combat until he found that he had seen enough and chose to desert. Even before the war had ended he managed to create an anti-war novel and get it to press before the Armistice. Digitized here is the 1918 review of his book, MEN IN WAR
"Disillusionment and an almost morbid sympathy with mental and physical suffering are outstanding features of the book."