An Actor and Director

NURSE MARJORIE (1920)

Production Company: Realart Picture Corp. Director: William Desmond Taylor. Writer: Julia Crawford Ivers, Israel Zangwill. Photographer: James Van Trees.  Art Director: Una Nixson Hopkins. Cast: Mary Miles Minter (Nurse Marjorie), Arthur Hoyt, (Anthony, Duke of Donegal) Vera Lewis (Duchess of Donegal), Frank Leigh (Lord Douglas Fitztrevor), Clyde Fillmore (John Danbury), Frankie Lee (Dick Allen), George Periolat (Andrew Danbury, Molly McConnell (Mrs. Danbury)  Music Mari Kodama.

Lady Marjorie Donegal becomes a nurse in hospital, much to the dismay of her aristocratic family. She falls in love with one of her patients, a commoner labour leader.

 

Soul of Youth (1920)

Production Company: Realart Picture Corp. Director: William Desmond Taylor. Writer: Julia Crawford Ivers. Photographer: James Van Trees.  Art Director: Wilfred Buckland. Cast: Lewis Sargent (Ed Simpson),  Ernest Butterworth (Mike), Judge Ben B. Lindsey (himself), Clyde Fillmore (Robert Hamilton), Claude Peyton (Pete Morano), Lila Lee (Vera Hamilton), William Collier Jr. (Dick Armstrong), Betty Schade (Maggie). Transfer Note: Copied at 19 frames per second from a 35mm print preserved by the Library of Congress (AFI/Paramount Collection), with video tinting reproducing the original print colors; 6 reels. New Score: Stephen Horne. Running Time: 80 minutes.

The Soul of Youth is the most completely forgotten—and the most undeservedly so. Its director, William Desmond Taylor, is now remembered largely for his murder—a February 1922 crime still unsolved. This 1920 feature stands as a testament that Hollywood lost a distinctive talent in his prime. The Soul of Youth takes on a series of social issues through one boy’s story, beginning with unwanted newborns and going on to loveless orphanages and homeless street youths before finding a solution through the relatively new juvenile court movement.

At the time Taylor was known for three adaptations of Mark Twain—Tom Sawyer (1917), Huck and Tom (1918), and Huckleberry Finn (1920)—all scripted by Julia Crawford Ivers, a director of early features and the mother of The Soul of Youth’s inventive cinematographer, James Van Trees. Her story for The Soul of Youth was called by Moving Picture World “practically the first recognition of a demand for original juvenile fiction in the movies.” Returning from his title role in Huckleberry Finn was 16-year-old Lewis Sargent, who holds this film together without straining for hyperactive charm.

The most celebrated of the performers came from outside Hollywood. “The big wallop of the picture,” as Variety put it, “is the fact that Judge Lindsey of Denver, who is known throughout the country for his work for the youth of the nation, appears and acts in several scenes.” Judge Ben B. Lindsey (1869–1943), the key advocate for juvenile courts in America, is introduced, playing himself, two-thirds into the film to resolve the criminal charges against our hero. Juvenile courts had begun in 1899 in Chicago and, thanks to Lindsey, in Denver in 1901. Previously, juveniles were tried in the United States under the same laws and in the same courts as adults—with the result that children were either treated harshly or freed even if guilty by courts unwilling to send them to jail. Juvenile courts became one of the Progressive Era’s most successful policy innovations and by 1917 all but three states had them.

Lindsey looked for ways to “dramatize” issues and The Soul of Youth follows the many published accounts about the judge. Before dealing with our hero, Lindsey handles two cases in ways to illustrate the gentler courtroom methods he advocated inThe Problem of Children (1904): “I do not believe in the doctrine of fear” but in persuading the accused to “make it in his interest to tell the truth.” Juvenile crime arising from “the poverty of hopeless homes,” Lindsey argued, paled before the crimes of “political machines and bosses.” Stymied from further reform by Colorado legislators, Lindsey made his other mark—and further enemies—as chair of the Direct Legislation League. In an irony Lindsey appreciated, the league succeeded in passing a 1912 referendum that allowed for the recall of public officials—thus enabling opponents to force him into a special recall election the following year. Lindsey credited his narrow victory to women voters (women had voted in Colorado since 1893) and to the newsboys who hawked the judge’s open letters about political graft. Thus, in this era, sentimental stories about mere “kids” became a way to remake the democratic political system.—Scott Simmon.

 

The Kiss is a 1914 Vitagraph silent drama short motion picture starring Margaret Gibson, George Holt, William Desmond Taylor, and Myrtle Gonzalez. Directed by Ulysses Davis, the screenplay was based on a story by Marc Edmund Jones. The film is the only known surviving film in which Director William Desmond Taylor appears in as an actor.

 

Tom Sawyer (1917), Directed by William Desmond Taylor; based on the famous novel by Mark Twain with a script by Taylor’s long time filmmaking collaborator, Julia Crawford Ivers , this was one of two Twain screen adaptations (The other being Huckleberry Finn) which Taylor would direct starring Mary Pickford’s younger brother Jack.

Cast (in credits order)
Jack Pickford … Thomas ‘Tom’ Sawyer, George Hackathorne … Sid Sawyer, Alice Marvin … Mary Sawyer, Edythe Chapman … Aunt Polly, Robert Gordon … Huckleberry Finn, Antrim Short … Joe Harper, Clara Horton … Becky Thatcher, Helen Gilmore … Widow Douglas, Carl Goetz … Alfred Temple, Olive Thomas … Choir Member (uncredited), Produced by - Jesse L. Lasky 
Details: Country: USA, Language: English, Release Date: 10 December 1917 (USA), Filming Locations: Hannibal, Missouri, USA, Production Co: Oliver Morosco Photoplay Company, Runtime: 59 min | 44 min (2000 alternate version), Sound Mix: Silent, Color: Black and White, Aspect Ratio: 1.33 : 1
 
 

The first film version of Huck Finn appeared in 1920. Directed by William Desmond Taylor, it featured Lewis Sargent (Huck), George Reed (Jim), Gordon Griffith (Tom), Martha Mattox (Miss Watson), Katherine Griffith (Widow Douglass), L. M. Wells (Judge Thatcher), Frank Lanning (Pap), Orral Humphrey (The Duke), Tom Bates (The King) and Eunice Murdock (Aunt Sally).

Like most silent movies, this one no longer survives. At the end of his 1930 Colophon essay on “ILLUSTRATING HUCKLEBERRY FINN”, E. W. Kemble says that in making the film, Taylor “took a copy of the original edition and made his characters fit my drawings.” The two sets of still photos below, from a 1920 magazine feature promoting the film and a 1923 British edition of the novel that used images from the film as illustrations, seem to confirm Kemble’s claim.

“I had not seen the book in years,” Kemble also notes. It had been over two decades since an edition using his original 1885 illustrations had been published, so for him it was a source of pleasure to go to the movie and watch “my characters appear on the screen, resembling my types so faithfully, even as to pose.” For us, the way the movie extended the cultural life of Kemble’s re-presentations to a new generation as well as into a new medium is a striking reminder of how well his “types,” which is to say his stereotypes, fit the popular conception of MT’s “characters.”

http://etext.virginia.edu/railton/huckfinn/huckpix/hfm20hp.html

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The Films of William Desmond Taylor

As the lead director at Players-Lasky (Paramount) Studios by 1922 Taylor had amassed 61 directing credits to his name within just 9 years. He was in pre-production on ‘The Ordeal’, the first original story for the screen by legendary author,  W. Somerset Maugham, at the time of his murder.

William Desmond Taylor directing ‘Top of New York’

As Director:

1922 The Top of New York (as William D. Taylor)

1921 Morals

1921 Beyond

1921 Wealth (as William D. Taylor)

1921 Sacred and Profane Love (as William D. Taylor)

1920 The Furnace

1918 His Majesty, Bunker Bean (as William D. Taylor)

1918 Huck and Tom

1917 Tom Sawyer

1917 The Varmint

1917 Big Timber

1916 Pasquale

1916 The Heart of Paula (as William Taylor / unconfirmed)

1916 Ben Blair

1915 A Woman Scorned (short)

1915 Peggy Lynn, Burglar (short)

1915 The Soul of the Vase (short)

1915 The High Hand (as William D. Taylor)

1915 An Eye for an Eye (unconfirmed)

1914 Brass Buttons (short)

1914 The Beggar Child (short)

1914 A Slice of Life (short)

1914 When the Road Parts (short)

1914 The Awakening (short)

1914 The Criminal Code (uncredited)

1914 The Song of the Sea Shell (short)

1914 A Soul Astray (short)

1914 The Smouldering Spark (short)

1914 A Story of Little Italy (short)

1914 The Crucible (short)

As Actor:

Taylor in the starring role of ‘Captain Alvarez’

1915  The Mission of Morrison (short)
Arnold Morrison (as William Taylor)

1915 An Eye for an Eye
Dave Harmon

1914 The Criminal Code (as William D. Taylor)

1914 A Little Madonna (short)
Paul Langrois, An Artist

1914 The Kiss (short)
George Dale, society man

1914 Millions for Defence (short)
Arthur Berkow

1914 Master of the Mine (short)
Arthur Berkow

1914 Tainted Money (short)
Jack Forsythe

1914 How God Came to Sonny Boy (short)
Robert Vibrat, A Poor Artist

1914 The Love of Tokiwa (short)
Richard Davis

1914 Anne of the Golden Heart (short)

1914The Informer (short)

1914 The Brute (short)
The Stranger

1914 Secret of the Bulb (short)
Jack, Mrs Richards son

1913 Her Husband’s Friend (short)

1913 Exoneration (short)

1913 The Quakeress (short)

1913 Granddad (short)

1913 A True Believer (short)

1913 The Battle of Gettysburg
Bit Part (uncredited)

1913 Retrogression (short)

1913 The Iconoclast (short)

1913 The Sins of the Father (short)

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Written by Adrian Curry

Published on 30 March 2012

“There are two stories I want to tell with this glorious 1922 poster: one is about the film itself—a forgotten silent melodrama—and the sad fates of its main protagonists, and the other is about the artist Henry Clive.

The Green Temptation, a film which I’m not even sure is extant (the silent film database silentera.com says “survival status: unknown”), starred Betty Compson as Genelle, a member of the Parisian underworld who, along with her partner Gaspard, runs a travelling theatre as a ruse to pickpocket their patrons and burgle their homes while they’re watching the show. When the First World War starts, Genelle joins the Red Cross as a nurse to evade the police and after the War emigrates to America to start a new life. But her attempt to turn over a new leaf is foiled by the reappearance of Gaspard who forces her to help him steal the valuable emerald of the title.

The poster tells you all you need to know about the relationship. Especially chilling is the spiked wristband Gaspard is wearing.

The film’s main claim to fame may be that its director, William Desmond Taylor, was murdered two months before the film was released. His unsolved murder was one of the great scandals and mysteries of early Hollywood and merits a whole chapter in Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon. It brought an end to the careers of two starlets involved with Desmond (a notorious lothario), Mabel Normand and Mary Miles Minter, and, along with the Arbuckle scandal, led directly to the appointment of Will Hays as Movie Czar just a month later, and thus to the establishment of the Hays Code. Despite rumors of love triangles, blackmailers and drug dealers, Taylor’s killer was never found, though a number of actresses in later years apparently made deathbed confessions to the murder.

The two stars of The Green Temptation do not seem to have been tainted by the scandal, but neither fared well with the coming of sound. Betty Compson (1897-1974) was a big star in the 1920s, but by the 30s and 40s was reduced to character parts. A financial scandal  in the 1930s linked to the tax problems of her ex-husband, director James Cruze, decimated her fortunes. In later years she developed her own cosmetics label and ran a business “producing personalised ashtrays for the hospitality industry.”

Theodore Kosloff (1882-1956), the menacing brute in the poster, was actually a Russian ballet dancer who became a silent film actor after being talked up to Cecil B. DeMille by his ballet-loving niece Agnes. A real-life George Valentin of sorts, Kosloff, as a Russian speaker, could not find work in the talkies, though unlike Valentin, his dancing doesn’t seemed to have helped. His last role was an uncredited cameo as a dance instructor in Gregory LaCava’s 1937 Stage Door. After retiring from acting he worked as a choreographer and opened a successful Los Angeles ballet school.

The artist Henry Clive (1882-1960) seems to have had a happier career. One of the few illustrators—along with Hap Hadley and John Held Jr.—who had the stature to sign his name to posters in that era, Clive was born in Australia and brought up on a sheep ranch. He started in show business as a magician (billed as “The Great Clive” or “The Debonair Magician” according to MagicPedia which also notes that he was “assisted for a time by May Sturgess, noted to be the most beautiful girl in vaudeville”) and toured the US before coming to Hollywood and acting in silent films. The story has it that Florence Ziegfeld saw Clive sketching in New York one day and asked him to paint the Ziegfeld Girls. He became a notable magazine illustrator known for his beautiful pastel portraits of actresses and was hired as art director for Charlie Chaplin productions (also playing a villain in City Lights).”

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