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Thomas Ince Creating Organized Production Methods in his Studio, 24 January 2015

Thomas Harper Ince came to films in 1910, age 30, with a background as a jack-of-all-trades in the stage. Beginning as a film director, Ince then created the function of a producer, something new to movies. He realized that the haphazard way films were made, planned simply in the director's mind, needed to be far more organized—and economical. Ince introduced the concept of a carefully planned script and shooting schedule, so every day the needed cast, extras, sets, costumes, and locations were all prepared.

You will see all these phases of production in this promotional film. It goes beyond earlier such studio tours with their star snapshots and behind the scenes glimpses, to convey a full day's studio work. Even as the film supposedly captures stars informally, it oscillates to the technical departments and the artists, carpenters, electricians, and laboratory, to indicate just how much the studio is like an actual factory.

Getting ready for work are Lloyd Hughes, Enid Bennet, Louise Glaum, J. Parker Read, and Douglas MacLean, who is stopped by a policeman who wants to join him in the movies. The secret of photographing a chase is shown. Hobart Bosworth relaxes by painting. Upon arriving at work, MacLean receives a batch of fan mail--even a package from Japan, for Ince films have global exhibition. Even if not all the stars shown were under contract to Ince, their presence along with the professional filmmakers add to the importance of the facility itself. The only real luxury is at the end of eight hours, when the workers relax in the studio pool.

Ince had personally designed and privately owned this studio facility, for making both his own films and those of other independent producers (including Read and Bosworth). With these other filmmakers, in 1919 Ince set up a firm, Associated Producers, and Ince hired Hunt Stromberg as head of publicity and advertising. Special arrangements were made with one newspaper in each city to promote this studio tour film and distribute it to theaters where it was shown as "an added attraction." (The date of release given on IMDb is incorrect; the film was in release by 1920 as proved by reviews.)

Ince himself is shown undertaking vigorous exercises and making time for his wife and three sons. This was not vanity; there was a second and very important audience, bankers. No longer releasing through Paramount, who had paid a weekly sum paid to finance productions for their release, Ince had become a completely independent producer. Ince needed to constantly borrow for his next production, using as collateral films already in release. Just as important was his own reputation for commercial success, and the studio he owned. The presence of big name players, and the demonstration of coordinated, professional production methods, offered reassurance to backers of Ince as a financial investment.

It was just that health of Ince's that began to fail him, and he died in 1924 from ulcers and angina (as opposed to the rumors, laid to rest in my book on Ince). The good news, however, is that his studio shown here is still in place and remains a center of production.

O Mimi San (1914)
Ince presents Aoki and Hayakawa in the first American films with Asian stars, 7 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From the beginning of his film career, producer Thomas H. Ince (1880-1924) realized the importance of authenticity in filmmaking, as I outline in my biography of the pioneer. After directing in Cuba, then in creating Inceville, he noticed a demand for realism which most of his contemporaries overlooked. In particular, as the star system began to take hold, he chose to reach beyond his own race. As he explained in an article for the May 1915 issue of Motion Picture Magazine: "Public preference runs toward real Chinese, or real Japanese, or real Hindus, to the exclusion of the 'made-up' brand." In 1913, Ince saw a single short movie from a rival producer, The Oath of O Tsuru San, and promptly hired the lead, Miss Tsuru Aoki, and her company of 20 Japanese players, for a series of Japanese-themed films, both shorts and features. Ince set about making stars of the pair, and a public interest in this new team was amplified by a real-life romance that soon resulted in marriage. The Aoki-Hayakawa series continued in production at Inceville throughout 1914, primarily two-reel films and two features, The Wrath of the Gods and The Typhoon.

The first of the shorts, by Richard Spencer, O Mimi San uses standard plot structures—a struggle for the throne, the subplot, set against the tragic love between a commoner and a royal—but the Japanese setting, and the cast, transform the familiar fable into an entirely different context. Constantly amplifying this is not only the Japanese leads and most of the supporting cast, but also elaborately designed settings, from the interior and exterior of the palace, to the Japanese garden idyll so essential to the love story, along with the elegant period costumes tailored for all the players.

In naming his son Yorotomo (Sessue Hayakawa) as Crown Prince, the aged Shogun makes arrangements for a royal marriage, leaving the younger brother, Tokogawa, jealous and contemplating a coup. Not only is there the threat of political conflict, but there is an immediate dissonance in the casting that signals the tragedy to come. While the actors playing both the Shogun and the bride are obviously whites in yellowface, the rest of the cast is entirely Asian. The Crown Prince's designated bride is an obvious mismatch, her appearance clashing with his, as played by Mildred Harris (first of Charlie Chaplin's four wives).

The reason for this casting becomes clear when the Crown Prince is sent in disguise for his safety to a farm, in disguise, lest he became a victim of Togokawa's conspiracy to usurp the throne. There the Crown Prince meets the farmer's daughter, played by Tsuru Aoki, and from the initial exchange of glances, it is clearly an instance of love at first sight. She is flirtatious, and he clearly is entranced by her beauty and their Edenic surroundings, a tropical garden where nature, not politics, governs emotions.

In a sequence of crosscutting between palace and garden, the potential danger to the state from the royal rival is resolved, while a new peril emerges, the love of Yorotomo and the farmer's daughter. Upon receiving news of his father's death, Yorotomo's immediate concern is not with the burdens of state—but with what it will mean for his love. O Mimi San finds the document, dropped amidst the reeds, that summoned Yorotomo to his office, and suddenly she understands all. For both, the death of the Shogun is not a matter for the nation, but one understood in terms of the love each has for the other. O Mimi San is tearful, but he will not let her fall to her knees, as they try to help one another accept the inevitable; "you will ever be in my thoughts, he tells her," he tells her.

He is as true to his word as possible. A year later, the royal wedding takes place, to the bride selected by his father, and who by Caucasian casing is evidently not compatible in the way O Mimi San was; this is a marriage of state, not a love between two hearts. After the ceremony, Yorotomo seeks isolation, saying "Tell your mistress I will be there presently." The new husband must first recall and resolve the memories. He looks out a window and dreams of O Mimi San, showing an earlier scene of the couple framed within the window. At last, Yorotomo gently close the shades, metaphorically placing these recollections behind him, at last accepting his responsibilities to the perpetuation of the monarchy.

The plot has a condensed feel; it presents its story in shorthand and symbols, with its use of casting. Love is the primary element, although the contrasting violence of the attempt to take control of the palace occupies much of the two reel length, and contrasts with the peace and beauty of the garden where love flourishes. The motives and emotions are universal; criticism that the film may be less than accurate as to Japanese customs is simply irrelevant. Rather, Ince's Aoki-Hayakawa series sought to introduce American films with Japanese stars, presenting a series of stories with Japanese settings, and the Japanese players themselves clearly perform in a style more redolent of American acting than the national traditions they would have known. In this Ince succeeded, and he retained an interest in films with Asian settings throughout his career. However, after such a number of similar films, as a single producer he could not indefinitely continue such similar stories as a major part of his output. Moreover, Hayakawa became such a major star as to command a salary beyond what Ince was able to offer, and he went to a larger studio and ultimately became an independent producer. Aoki largely devoted herself to sharing her husband's career as long as he remained in the American cinema until 1924, although she did return once to the Ince studio playing an East Indian in a colonial romance.

The Scandal That Didn't Happen, 6 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For several generations, Citizen Kane (1941) has molded public memory of William Randolph Hearst. For younger film goers, however, another, newer movie, The Cat's Meow (2001), has begun to supplant Citizen Kane in etching Hearst. Citizen Kane at least implied a fictional side by inventing new names for the characters loosely inspired by Hearst and actress Marion Davies. Unlike Citizen Kane, The Cat's Meow makes no concession, offering a panoply of actual historical characters by name, leaving viewers to expect at least a basic reconstruction of events. In truth, The Cat's Meow continues the distortion of Hearst and Davies, but is even more egregiously misleading about the other figures depicted, especially producer Thomas Ince.

On a November weekend in 1924, Ince and Hearst had met to finalize plans under discussion for years: producing Hearst's movies at Ince's privately owned studio, one of the finest in Hollywood outside of the majors. Since 1910, as revealed in my Ince biography, he had written, directed, or produced some 800 movies, a prolific output that won him fame but was also resulting in ulcers and angina. Outside of his family, only Ince's closest associates suspected; as an independent in Hollywood, often depending on bank loans, Ince had to conceal his ill-health.

He had a long weekend with little if any sleep. It began at his home with a Saturday visit from Hearst, and a a preview that night of one of Ince's new films to gauge audience response. The next morning Ince to San Diego and boarded Hearst's yacht for negotiations. After snacking on salted almonds, and unwilling not to join in the toasts (despite his doctor's orders to avoid alcohol) for both his own and his son's birthday, Ince was stricken. In the dawn hours, complaining of fatigue and pain from his ulcers, he went ashore and consulted nurses and a doctor. Ince's wife Elinor and eldest son (age 15, and who would take up the practice of medicine as an adult) hastened to Ince's side and brought him home where, despite the attention of his personal physician, a thrombosis ended his life two days later.

The untimely death of a 44 year old Hollywood pioneer is insufficient dramatic premise for The Cat's Meow. Instead of examining his medical record, it amplifies rumors whispered by Hearst's most reckless enemies at the time; Ince had also irked many in the press because he had just produced a cinematic expose of yellow journalism (Her Reputation, 1923). Viewers of The Cat's Meow are shown a libidinous Hearst, jealously believing Davies was involved with Charlie Chaplin, firing a pistol in his rage, yet mistaking the burly Ince for the slight comedian. Supposedly Hollywood columnist Louella Parsons was a witness and so gained her position with his syndicate.

On the other side are the facts. Parsons was in New York at the time, and had already been under contract with Hearst for a year. If Hearst were gunning for Chaplin, it is unlikely they would have remained friends until the late 1930s, only becoming disaffected as a result of political clashes. The Cat's Meow erases the Chaplin-Ince friendship and Ince's nautical experience; he had loaned his own racing yacht to Chaplin for a honeymoon cruise. The movie also alleges that Margaret Livingston accompanied Ince, but there is no contemporary evidence; moreover, while she acted in nine movies for him, she was starring in 30 movies for other companies.

Elinor would hardly have been complacent in the death of the father of her three young boys. She in no way blamed Hearst, and continued to visit San Simeon; the Inces had been frequent guests in earlier years. Nor did she secure Hearst hush money, since she had a million-dollar estate derived from the sale of her husband's studio and corporate assets, and real estate the couple had already bought.

The conspiracy-theorists even suggest that Ince's cremation somehow confirms their beliefs, unaware that the Inces were theosophists, opposed to burial. In fact, the body was examined by police and the case was thoroughly investigated both in the journals and by legal authorities at the time, and no grounds for suspicion were found—even from Hearst adversaries.

The slander about Ince's death in The Cat's Meow is exceeded only by the fabrication of his career. Ince himself is shown as a sycophant, enduring peevish insults from near-stranger Hearst, and lucky to make a film a year. In fact, that year, 1924, fifteen Ince feature movies were released to theaters. At the time of his death, he had nine more productions already before the camera, completed in the following months. He was a major, commercial producer, with several ongoing distribution deals to fulfill, and there was every reason for Hearst and Ince to link; they were natural allies as independents against the ongoing consolidation of Hollywood corporations. Not content with falsifying Ince, The Cat's Meow even maligns Elinor, showing her as not joining her stricken husband, and denigrating her active role in the Ince company, publicly and behind the scenes.

The Cat's Meow joins fanciful stories to be found all over the internet about Ince's death, incredible concoctions that invoke every possibility this side of extra-terrestrial intervention—and which share one element in common: not one is sourced in reliable or contemporary accounts. Hearsay is all that is needed. Thanks to Citizen Kane, and later The Cat's Meow, Hearst, Davies, and now Thomas Ince are known more for fiction than history. At least Citizen Kane had the merit of its artistry; The Cat's Meow is simply a tawdry imagining of dissipation, murder and cover-up, and there can be no question how it diverges from the truth. By blighting the memory of filmdom's early titans, The Cat's Meow belittles the cinema's pioneers in fantasizing a scandal in a Hollywood never-never land.

The Filmed Autobraphy of the Pioneer of Undersea Photography, 1 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

John Ernest Williamson (1881-1966) was active in motion pictures for nearly fifty years. His father had been a sea captain and inventor of a deep-sea tube, made of a series of concentric, interlocking iron rings, that, when suspended from a specially outfitted ship, created a shaft into the sea allowing easy communication and a plentiful supply of air down to depths of up to 250 feet. In 1912, young Williamson realized that his father's mechanism, intended for underwater repair and salvage work, could be adapted for undersea photography. To facilitate the tube's new purpose, Williamson designed an attachment, a spherical observation chamber with a five-foot funnel-shaped glass window which he called the "photosphere." With a light hung from the mother ship to illuminate the sea in front of the tube, still photographs of the depths off Hampton Roads, Virginia, proved so successful that Williamson was urged to try motion pictures.

The equipment was taken to the Bahamas, where the sunlight reached down to a depth of 150 feet in the clear waters, enhancing photographic possibilities. His first feature was known as the "Williamson Expeditionary Picture" and ingeniously titled THIRTY LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA. Released in 1914, the film demonstrated how the photosphere functioned and the manner in which the Bahamas islanders depended on the life in the sea, climaxing with scenes of Williamson's fight with a shark, which he killed with a knife while remaining within the camera's range.

Through 1955, Williamson continued to shoot both documentary and fiction films in the Bahamas. He realized that fictional films could be a popular and lucrative outlet for films made with the photosphere, and was inherently involved with the scripting and directing of underwater scenes that could be shot with the photosphere. Producing independently whenever sufficient backing was obtainable, among his own fiction films were THE SUBMARINE EYE (1917), GIRL OF THE SEA (1920), and WET GOLD (1921), with such themes as sunken treasure, sea monsters, mermaids, and shipwrecks. He was also willing to work for the major studios when they commissioned his type of picture, such as Universal's TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1916) and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1929).

With the development of Technicolor, Williamson and his Submarine Film Corporation undertook to photograph the bottom of the sea in the new process in 1924 with THE UNINVITED GUEST (1924), and WITH WILLIAMSON BENEATH THE SEA includes a silent, minute-long two-color insert in the second reel of some of these scenes. The popularity of Williamson's lecture tours, which included the screening of underwater footage, led to the 1936 publication of his autobiography, 20 Years Under the Sea, which was translated into many languages.

In 1922, Williamson had written, directed, produced, and even portrayed himself in WONDERS OF THE SEA, a combination fiction and non-fiction film about Williamson's search, using the photosphere, for a sea monster in the West Indies. WONDERS OF THE SEA became the basis for WITH WILLIAMSON BENEATH THE SEA, which he produced and narrated ten years later for release by Sol Lesser. In addition to demonstrating his filmmaking techniques, WITH WILLIAMSON BENEATH THE SEA also reveals the scientific uses of the photosphere in exploring the deep, with some of the footage was taken from his FIELD MUSEUM-WILLIAMSON UNDERSEA EXPEDITION TO THE BAHAMAS, particularly the gathering of coral specimens. From inside the photosphere, Williamson and his wife patiently study the life of the creatures of the bottom, making photographs, sketches, and paintings of the fish and plants seen through the window. As a documentary, WITH WILLIAMSON BENEATH THE SEA heightens its impact by presenting the undersea footage in a concentrated fashion, without the interjection of a distracting melodramatic surface plot line found in so many of his fictional features. Added entertainment in WITH WILLIAMSON BENEATH THE SEA was provided by including the daughter of the Williamsons, the baby Sylvia. (Williamson's last film was a 1955 half-hour condensation of WITH WILLIAMSON BENEATH THE SEA for the syndicated television series, I SEARCH FOR ADVENTURE, with entirely new on-camera interviews and narration by Williamson).

The movie was described in advertising as "Adventure among the mysteries and monsters of the deep," and announced with the banner headline, "a lost world fathoms below recovered in savage splendor." WITH WILLIAMSON BENEATH THE SEA is emblematic of a period in filmmaking, long past, when pioneers were part-scientist and part-promoter on endeavors that involved as much adventure as technology, and it demonstrates both the scientific use of the photosphere as well as its application in filming motion picture entertainment under the sea. Incorporating both previously-filmed footage along with new material, many of the scenes are from Williamson productions that otherwise seem to be lost; his other original movie negatives were stored in Florida and destroyed in a hurricane. The two concluding reels of WITH WILLIAMSON BENEATH THE SEA feature a series of incidents between divers in the deep, and used some of the highlights from such films as THE SUBMARINE EYE, THE WHITE HEATHER (1919), the quicksand scene from WET GOLD, and the battle with the moray eel from WONDERS OF THE SEA.

In search of authenticity, Williamson always strove to take his camera to the actual ocean floor, never settling for the ease of shooting in a tank, a method increasingly used for supposed undersea scenes in Hollywood productions. However, Williamson never approached the idea of actually taking cameras into the deep. When Walt Disney used this new method to remake 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA in 1954, the Bahamian locales were utilized that Williamson had found almost forty years earlier, and he advised the new crew facing the same practical problems he had overcome in almost forty years earlier.

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The Last, Posthumous Film Begun by Thomas Ince, 31 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hunt Stromberg, who had begun as a publicist for producer Thomas Ince in 1921, was involved in finishing two movies that had were in progress by Ince at the time of his death in November 1924: THE LAST FRONTIER and OFF THE HIGHWAY. With Ince's death, there was initial uncertainty as to the best course of action; his will barred his wife from investing in motion pictures, to prevent the loss of the fortune they had accumulated and was held in trust for their young sons. Moreover, much work remained to be done on THE LAST FRONTIER.

THE LAST FRONTIER had originated as a novel, by Courtney Ryley Cooper, partly written while on the Ince payroll, and published in 1923 by Little Brown, with Ince also officially purchasing rights for a film version. Initially THE LAST FRONTIER was part of a larger plan for a multi-film saga of American history; only SCARS OF JEALOUSY (1923) and BARBARA FRIETCHIE (1924) were completed. An earlier western had been planned, set in the 1830s, written by Talbot Mundy in the James Fenimore Cooper style; it was to be entitled When Trails Were New. Ultimately Ince decided that rather than two, only one western would be produced, the one using the more traditional post-Civil War setting.

The plot of THE LAST FRONTIER would relate, according to the trades, "the laying of the first great trans-continental railroad, and the fight made by the pioneer men and women of the sixties as they pushed that road through the heart of the vast buffalo lands. Many historical characters, including 'Buffalo Bill' Cody and General Custer, are woven into the central theme; which with the tender and intimate love story of Tom Kirby and his sweetheart, offers a thrilling romance of adventure and action." Cody and Custer of course had also figured in CUSTER'S LAST FIGHT, Ince's 1912 movie that was released in expanded form in 1925.

The footage of the buffalo stampede which was to form the climax of THE LAST FRONTIER had already been filmed in 1923 at the Wainwright National Park in Alberta. The Canadian government was thinning its herd on their plains, killing 2,000 tubercular bison, allowing filming of the rapidly growing herd of 10,000 "under conditions which never again will be available for picture production...." Publicity would further explain that 12 cameras and their operators were hidden at great peril in steel underground pits with small openings, and behind stout barricades camouflaged with brush, as the buffalo were stampeded, to get the most remarkable scenes possible. Cree Indians from the Hobbema reservation also provided a contrast.

John Ince and B. Reeves Eason directed, but the results had proved so disjointed that, when Lambert Hillyer was asked to take over, he did not think he could salvage the project. Nonetheless, in September 1924, Moving Picture World announced that principal photography would soon begin, with Ince himself perhaps taking the megaphone. There was abundant evidence of industry and exhibitor interest in what would have been Ince's biggest production in years. Already $84,000 had been spent, as I note in my Ince biography.

Stromberg contracted to sell what had been completed of THE LAST FRONTIER (along with the studio's stock footage library), with advertising noting it as begun by Ince, finished by Stromberg as Ince's personal choice, with publicity to be approved by Mrs. Ince. $5,000 was to be paid upon signing and $10,000 upon beginning principal photography, not later than August 1. That $15,000 was to be an advance against 7% of the total gross receipts, increasing to 10% after expenses had been paid. No further sale of the footage could be made until one year after the release of THE LAST FRONTIER. Stromberg shared a half interest with Metropolitan Pictures Corp., ultimately selling out to them. THE LAST FRONTIER was ultimately produced in 1926, following the traditional formula of a trader who has been selling to Indians. Only the presence of Jack Hoxie as Cody provides a hint of the original intentions. The agreed balance due to the Ince Corp. by 1927 was only $8,642.

An Expanded Version of a 1912 Thomas Ince Production, 31 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

CUSTER'S LAST FIGHT, was cobbled together posthumously but still credited with producer Thomas Ince's personal supervision. Quality Amusement Corp. released the new version of his 1912 Bison movie, which had been expanded from three to five reels. Spectacular in its own time, the new version may have included footage already shot for THE LAST FRONTIER, incomplete at the time of Ince's death—as noted in my Ince biography. THE LAST FRONTIER would ultimately be completed in 1926.

Whether there was actual new photography for CUSTER'S LAST FIGHT is uncertain; it is not listed on Ince production charts. Among the original scenes in this version were an opening of bison and some glimpses of Buffalo Bill near the end. Other footage added included a fort under siege, skirmishes with Indians, troop movements, an Indian village and dances, and an extensive postscript on the fate of Sitting Bull. All of this provided an element of spectacle undercut by the lack of expected stress on the personalities of individuals, yet this simultaneously enhanced the factual tone, with intertitles providing dates, military movements, and the names of historical individuals.

A Movie With Many Authors, 31 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hunt Stromberg, who had begun as a publicist for producer Thomas Ince in 1921, was involved in finishing two movies that had were in progress by Ince at the time of his death in November 1924: THE LAST FRONTIER and OFF THE HIGHWAY. OFF THE HIGHWAY recounted how a miser exchanges places with his lookalike servant when he dies, to see whether his spendthrift nephew handles his inheritance better than another nephew who had spurned the demand that he give up art.

Ince was originally listed as producer of OFF THE HIGHWAY on internal production charts, and it was advertised as a Regal Production starring Jacqueline Logan. Regal Pictures was an umbrella for a series of lower-budget movies produced by Thomas Ince, at his studio, but without putting his name on the movies, as I note in my Ince biography. At one point Ince scenarist C. Gardner Sullivan was said to be supervising OFF THE HIGHWAY for Robertson-Cole Pictures release. Ultimately, OFF THE HIGHWAY was a Stromberg production for P.D.C., with Logan replaced by Marguerite de la Motte, and the movie was released on August 15, 1925.

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An Improbable Melodrama of a Broken Family, 31 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

On May 3, 1925, Playing With Souls was released by First Nationals as their last Thomas Ince production, as noted in my Ince biography. C. Gardner Sullivan adapted the novel of the same title by Clara (Longworth) Comtesse de Chambrun, which was also reissued as a "photoplay" edition by Grosset & Dunlap. The scenario cost $9,683, with $3500 for the story.

The plot had resemblances to BLACK IS WHITE, a 1919 Ince production for Paramount in which a husband meets his divorced wife under a new identity, marries her, then becomes jealous of his son's relationship to his new wife--not realizing she is his son's mother. PLAYING WITH SOULS was no less improbable. A couple, Amy and Matthew, played by Clive Brook and Belle Bennett, separate, placing their son in a British school and keeping him ignorant of their identities.

The child, becoming an adult, as played by William Collier, Jr., becomes obsessed with learning about his paternity. Going to Paris in search of information, he meets a woman of dubious morals, Bricotte (Jacqueline Logan). Collier's father learns of his dissipation and comes to him as a friend, having Bricotte in his own apartment so his son will believe she is cheating on him. Also in Paris is Amy, who vamps her son.

The father discovers them and reveals their true identities. The son attempts suicide, but is saved by his father and returns to England and his fiancée, played by Mary Astor. Amy and the father are also reunited. Thomas Ince's younger brother Ralph Ince directed in seven reels and the production cost $167,630.

Percy (1925)
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Ill-Luck for Charles Ray, 31 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

On April 5, 1925, Charles Ray's second movie for Pathé, Percy, was released. However, his producer in his prospective new series, Thomas Ince, had since passed away. This ended the brief revival in Ray's fortunes, as outlined in my Ince biography.

In Percy, Ray played a mollycoddle, who only knows how to play the violin, but his campaign manager offers to make a man of him when he runs for the Senate. The movie was retitled Mother's Boy in England (and is not to be confused with a similarly-titled 1917 Ince picture with Ray), and in fact was based on the 1921 novel The Desert Fiddler by William H. Hanby, which had been originally prepared in scenario form for Ray by Ince when they were previously under contract for Paramount.

Within weeks of Ince's death, Ray was negotiating with a group of Chicago men for a salary of $100,000 per movie, but a year later he was bankrupt, and the rights to income from his films (including the two for Ince) held by trustees. Ray tried to be the sophisticate in several later movies, rather than his traditional role, but audiences could not adjust to him in a tuxedo.

Danger Brings Disaffected Lovers Back Together, 31 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

On February 16, 1925, THE GIRL OF GOLD, the last Regal Picture, was released by Producers Distributing Corporation. Regal Pictures was actually an umbrella for a series of lower-budget movies produced by Thomas Ince, at his studio, but without putting his name on the movies, as I note in my Ince biography. Kate Corbaley adapted the 1920 Snappy Stories magazine serial, with Eve Unsell supplying the scenario; Thomas Ince's elder brother John Ince directed the six reel production.

Florence Vidor, veteran of many of Thomas Ince's bigger budget personal productions, plays Helen, the daughter of a mine owner who is snubbed by New York society. Using an assumed name so her wealth will remain secret, she falls in love with an impoverished member of an elite family. He is seduced into meeting a married friend at a roadhouse, but Helen lies to maintain his honor. She learns that her father had wanted the poorer man to marry her, but refused when it was merely an arrangement. Trapped by a mine cave-in, they realize their true love and are rescued.

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