Lions and Tigers and Colonel Selig: The Chicago Silent Era (Part 3)

 

Lions and Tigers and Colonel Selig

In the early days of silent cinema, Chicago was responsible for 20% of the total output of the US film industry. One of the biggest contributors to this staggering statistic was Chicago’s own Selig Polyscope Company. What was the reason for the company’s success? Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!

selig kathlynAnd Elephants. Never forget the Elephants!

Founded by Colonel William N. Selig, The Selig Polyscope Company was an early innovative studio that pioneered their own niche of filmmaking. In addition to making westerns, dramas, comedies and film adaptations of popular stories, the studio also made wildly popular “animal pictures.” Sometimes called “jungle pictures” or “zoo pictures,” the films featured Selig’s stars alongside lions, elephants, chimps and even crocodiles. The thrilling films drew the praise of audiences and critics alike, and led to the establishment of Selig’s own zoo.

selig zoo

Selig’s first dabble with animal pictures was born as the result of a denied request to join Theodore Roosevelt as he hunted big game in Africa. When Selig’s cameraman was denied permission to accompany Roosevelt on his expedition, Selig did the next best thing. He staged and filmed a hunt using retired circus animals. Released in May 1909, “Hunting Big Game in Africa” represented a turning point for Selig and the first of many animal pictures.

This first animal picture was followed by films like “Rescued by Her Lions” (aka “Captain Kate”) and “Lost in the Jungle” which starred Kathlyn Williams alongside the likes of Toodles, the elephant. Although the animals used were often past their prime, to ensure the safety of the cast and crew, the animals’ close-ups were usually filmed by shooting through cage bars. Foliage was also used to disguise the bars, and sometimes dogs were dressed up in animal skins and shot from a distance in an effort to complete the illusion.

in leopard land

Saying “tootles” to Toodles.

Selig’s interest in animals even led him to erect the Selig Zoo in California. Formally opened in July 1915, it was touted the largest collection of animals in the world. With 700 animals housed in its complex, the zoo served as a resource for film producers looking for some wild co-stars, a public zoo where visitors could observe the animals and learn about natural history, and a facility aiding in preservation efforts.

Although the Selig Polyscope Company closed in the mid 1910s, Selig’s love for film and for animal pictures continued. In 1919, he told Photoplay magazine that he was looking to revive the animal pictures, and in 1924, introduced a set of short jungle films. “The Jungle Heroine,” “The Jungle Tragedy,” “The Last Man,” “The Were-Tiger,” and “The Lion’s Mate” starred tigers, leopards, lions, crocodiles and even an elephant and a chimpanzee. Although his animal pictures had served him well previously, his declining success and the changing tastes of filmgoers helped usher out Selig’s trademark pictures.

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Janelle Vreeland for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Guest Posts, Posts by Janelle Vreeland, Silent Films | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Wayne: The Life and the Legend — Enter-to-Win (Facebook Giveaway, week of April 21)

I am very happy to say that CMH has one more copy of  John Wayne: The Life and Legend to giveaway via Facebook! 

All you have to do to enter is answer the following question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post: Who is your favorite John Wayne Leading Lady?

Simple as that. You have until Sunday, April 27th, 5PM EST to submit your answer.  A winner will be picked at random and announced on Tuesday, April 29nd.

Please note that you must live in the Continental US to be eligible.

See complete rules here.

John Wayne

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Please take some time to read our Exclusive Interview with Scott Eyman here.

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can buy it right now on amazon:


…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | 33 Comments

John Wayne: The Life and the Legend Qualifying Entry Task (for Twitter Contest, Wk of Apr 21)

John Wayne: The Life and the Legend — Qualifying Entry Task for this week’s  Twitter Contest

In order to qualify for this week’s John Wayne Book Giveaway on Twitter, you must complete the following task by Friday, April 25 at 5PM EST (i.e. any time between now and April 25 at 5PM EST):

John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman

1) TWEET (not DM) the answer to this question:
John Wayne starred in a number of John Ford films, including one in which Wayne played the role of Ethan Edwards, a Civil War veteran who embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from an Indian tribe. What is the name of that John Ford film?   If you need help finding the answer, click here.

TO @classicmoviehub
WITH the two hashtags #JohnWayne #QualifyingTask
BY Friday, April 25,  5PM EST

NEXT STEP: Once you have successfully completed the above Qualifying Entry Task, you will be eligible to win a copy of the book. Your next step will be to wait for my Trivia Question Tweet* which will be sent on Friday evening, April 25, at exactly 10PM EST —and correctly tweet the answer to the Trivia Question.  The FIRST PERSON to correctly Tweet the Answer to that Trivia Question wins the book (assuming they’re already eligible because they’ve successfully completed the above-referenced Qualifying Entry Task).

In other words, the first person who successfully completes this Qualifying Entry Task AND correctly answers the Friday night 10PM EST Trivia Question wins the book.

*Here’s my twitter handle @classicmoviehub

If you have any questions, please feel free to DM me on Twitter @classicmoviehub.

Contest Information and Rules.

And if you don’t want to wait to win a copy of the book, you can purchase it at amazon:

Good Luck!

–Annmarie Gatti from Classic Movie Hub

 

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti, Trivia Questions | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

John Wayne: The Life and the Legend — Enter-to-Win Trivia Question (for Twitter, Friday, April 18)

Time for today’s Trivia Question (red font below) that will determine this week’s winner of John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman, courtesy of Simon & Schuster!  (remember, in order to win, you must have already pre-qualified via the Qualifying Entry Task posted earlier this week)

THE QUESTION:

In John Wayne: The Life and Legend, we learn about Wayne’s transition from football to show business.  Fill-in-the-blank:  John Wayne’s ‘big break’ came when he was cast as the Ringo Kid in John Ford’s 1939 film ________________ (TWEET your answer to @classicmoviehub)   [if you need a hint scroll below]

The FIRST person (who already completed this week’s Qualifying Entry Task) to correctly TWEET the answer to the above question — wins! :) 

If you need help with the answer, please click here.

Stagecoach Ringo Kid John Wayne

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Or read about it via our Exclusive Interview with Scott Eyman here.

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can buy it right now on amazon:


…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti, Trivia Questions | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

John Wayne: The Life and the Legend Qualifying Entry Task (for Twitter Contest, Wk of Apr 14)

John Wayne: The Life and the Legend — Qualifying Entry Task for this week’s  Twitter Contest

In order to qualify for this week’s John Wayne Book Giveaway on Twitter, you must complete the following task by Friday, April 18 at 5PM EST (i.e. any time between now and April 18 at 5PM EST):

John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman

1) TWEET (not DM) the answer to this question:
“I simply owe to him every mouthful I eat, every dollar I’ve got, and practically every bit of happiness I know, that’s all.” –a fitting tribute from Wayne about a Director’s profound influence on his life.  Who was the Director?   If you need help finding the answer, click here.

TO @classicmoviehub
WITH the two hashtags #JohnWayne #QualifyingTask
BY Friday, April 18,  5PM EST

NEXT STEP: Once you have successfully completed the above Qualifying Entry Task, you will be eligible to win a copy of the book. Your next step will be to wait for my Trivia Question Tweet* which will be sent on Friday evening, April 18, at exactly 10PM EST —and correctly tweet the answer to the Trivia Question.  The FIRST PERSON to correctly Tweet the Answer to that Trivia Question wins the book (assuming they’re already eligible because they’ve successfully completed the above-referenced Qualifying Entry Task).

In other words, the first person who successfully completes this Qualifying Entry Task AND correctly answers the Friday night 10PM EST Trivia Question wins the book.

*Here’s my twitter handle @classicmoviehub

If you have any questions, please feel free to DM me on Twitter @classicmoviehub.

Contest Information and Rules.

And if you don’t want to wait to win a copy of the book, you can purchase it at amazon:

Good Luck!

–Annmarie Gatti from Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

John Wayne: The Life and the Legend — Enter-to-Win (Facebook Giveaway, week of April 14)

I am very happy to say that CMH will be giving away another copy of  John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman, courtesy of Simon & Schuster! 

And, the good news is that it’s sooooooooo easy to enter!  (no crazy twitter trivia race this time)…  All you have to do to enter is answer the following question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post: What is your most favorite John Wayne movie and why?

Simple as that. You have until Sunday, April 20th, 5PM EST to submit your answer.  A winner will be picked at random and announced on Tuesday, April 22nd.

Please note that you must live in the Continental US to be eligible.

See complete rules here.

And if you don’t win this week, stay tuned, because CMH will be giving away one more copy later this month…

John Wayne

…..

Please take some time to read our Exclusive Interview with Scott Eyman here.

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can buy it right now on amazon:


…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

John Wayne: The Life and the Legend — Enter-to-Win Trivia Question (for Twitter, Monday April 14)

Time for today’s Trivia Question (red font below) that will determine this week’s winner of John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman, courtesy of Simon & Schuster!  (remember, in order to win, you must have already pre-qualified via the Qualifying Entry Task posted earlier this week)

THE QUESTION:

In John Wayne: The Life and Legend, we learn about Wayne’s tough childhood, his school years and his ultimate transition into the actor ‘John Wayne’.  Fill-in-the-blank:
John Wayne’s birth name was  _____________  Robert Morrison. (TWEET your answer to @classicmoviehub)   [if you need a hint scroll below]

The FIRST person (who already completed this week’s Qualifying Entry Task) to correctly TWEET the answer to the above question — wins! :) 

If you need help with the answer, please click here. 

John Wayne

…..

Or read about it via our Exclusive Interview with Scott Eyman here.

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can buy it right now on amazon:


…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

 

Posted in Books, Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti, Trivia Questions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Diamonds and Gold Blogathon: Bette Davis and The Baby Jane Paradox

 

The Diamonds and Gold Blogathon: Bette Davis and The Baby Jane Paradox

The world can be a scary place for an aging actress. With Hollywood’s well documented misogynistic tendencies, veteran actress, no matter how tremendous their talents maybe, are often cast aside in favor of a youthful, fresh face. Actresses that once graced the top of the marquee are soon regulated to mothers and grandmothers before they reach the age of 35 while their male counterparts are allowed to romance a new generation of actress well into their 50’s . And those are the lucky ones because for others, their age is simply the end of their careers. One actress, however, took another route, the “work with what you’ve got” route and in the process gave one of the best on-screen performances of her career. The actress I am talking about is, of course, Bette Davis for her performance in the delightfully campy but all around disturbing Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

Baby Jane 1Bette Davis and Joan Crawford star in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962, Robert Aldrich director)

The film came to Davis at a low-point in her acting tenure. Despite her massive success with All About Eve at the start of the 1950’s, the rest of decade did not follow that example. After a series of bad films, mediocre stage plays, and another failed marriage, Davis knew she needed something to breathe life into her dying career and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane was just that.  For those of you who may not know, the film centers around the morbid and abusive relationship between the mental unstable former child star, Baby Jane Hudson, to her wheel-bound former matinee idol sister, Blanche. Understanding that the role of Baby Jane Hudson could be the revival force her career so desperately needed, Davis did the only thing she knew how to do – she unabashedly threw herself into the role.

Stuck in the past of her former childhood glory, Baby Jane is something of a Norma Desmond on experimental steroids. She is all at once the cruel and deranged tormentor to her crippled sister, yet at the same time so child-like her glee from doing so. She is a desperately unstable drunk, and yet clearly victim of a past that drove her to that point. In short, she is both comedy and tragedy wrapped in a crazed gothic-horror package.  The most impressive part of Davis performance, in my opinion, was her ability to convey this duality of character in such a believable manner. Take, for instance, the infamous scene where Jane sings “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy.” From her grotesquely make-up to her baby doll dress to her awkward dance, everything about her appearance and movement screams deranged instability. Her external self is nothing but shield made from her personal delusions. However, it is in that very delusion that Baby Jane gains her child-like sincerity.

Baby JAne 2Can’t tell if more child-like or creepy…

Another great element of Davis’s performance is her ability to convey Baby Jane’s longing for the past; longing so great that it that she allows it to shallow her whole. Yes, that is displayed by her appearance but Davis takes that delusion further with her ever expressive face.  The sincerity of Davis’s performance comes after the audience is able to look past her baroque costuming and make-up. When looking at just her face, just her emotions, there is nothing false. She is expressing the joy, awe and validation that she could only receive when performance before a loving, devoted audience because in her view at that moment, she is performing to a loving audience. Even if the reality is only her own, she is completely true in it. In that moment, she is Baby Jane; that spoiled vaudevillian star who just wants to make her father proud. She is completely lost in the moment, lost in her performance, and lost in her delusions. She is lost in her own sincerity, even if the moment itself is not sincere and that is the power of Davis’s performance.

baby jabne 3Baby Jane and Big Jane

Although the film is often relegated to the notion of a fun piece of campy filmmaking, Davis did, indeed, work with that she was given. What could have been a campy, over the top performance devoid of any emotion was turned into a campy, over the top performance justified by the extremely paradoxical emotions portrayed by Davis.  The result: one of the most memorable and purposely uncomfortable film performances of all time. This is surly Davis “working with what you’ve got” at it’s very best.

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Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Blogathons, Posts by Minoo Allen | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

John Wayne: The Life and the Legend Qualifying Entry Task (for Twitter Contest, Wk of Apr 7)

John Wayne: The Life and the Legend — Qualifying Entry Task for this week’s  Twitter Contest

In order to qualify for this week’s John Wayne Book Giveaway on Twitter, you must complete the following task by Sunday, April 13 at 5PM EST (i.e. any time between now and April 13 at 5PM EST):

John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman

1) TWEET (not DM) the answer to this question:
What was John Wayne’s nickname?
If you need help finding the answer, click here.

TO @classicmoviehub
WITH the two hashtags #JohnWayne #QualifyingTask
BY Sunday, April 13,  5PM EST

NEXT STEP: Once you have successfully completed the above Qualifying Entry Task, you will be eligible to win a copy of the book. Your next step will be to wait for my Trivia Question Tweet* which will be sent on Monday evening, April 14, at exactly 10PM EST — and correctly tweet the answer to the Trivia Question.  The FIRST PERSON to correctly Tweet the Answer to that Trivia Question wins the book (assuming they’re already eligible because they’ve successfully completed the above-referenced Qualifying Entry Task).

In other words, the first person who successfully completes this Qualifying Entry Task AND correctly answers the Monday night 10PM EST Trivia Question wins the book.

*Here’s my twitter handle @classicmoviehub

If you have any questions, please feel free to DM me on Twitter @classicmoviehub.

Contest Information and Rules.

And if you don’t want to wait to win a copy of the book, you can purchase it at amazon:

Good Luck!

–Annmarie Gatti from Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti, Trivia Questions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

John Wayne: The Life and the Legend — Enter-to-Win Trivia Question (for Twitter, Friday April 4)

 

Okay, this is it!  Let the games begin! Time for today’s Trivia Question (red font below) that will determine this week’s winner of John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman, courtesy of Simon & Schuster!  (remember, in order to win, you must have already pre-qualified via the Qualifying Entry Task posted earlier this week)

THE QUESTION:

In John Wayne: The Life and Legend, we learn about Wayne’s tough childhood and how that laid the foundation for his relentless drive and ultimate success.  Fill-in-the-blank:
John Wayne was born in the city of Winterset in the state of _____________. (TWEET your answer to @classicmoviehub)   [if you need a hint scroll below]

The FIRST person (who already completed this week’s Qualifying Entry Task) to correctly TWEET the answer to the above question — wins! :) 

If you need help with the answer, please click here. 

John Wayne Birthplace, Winterset Iowa

 John Wayne’s Birthplace and Museum houses an impressive collection of John Wayne memorabilia

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Or read about it via our Exclusive Interview with Scott Eyman here.

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can buy it right now on amazon:


…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

 

 

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti, Travel Sites, Trivia Questions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment