Friday, April 28, 2017

139 years of quiet awesomeness

...set to a Russian-composer inspired tone poem.

Happy birthday to one of the most fascinating figures I've ever researched,  a resilient,  talented,  funny, complex man who really does inspire me in my own stupid medical difficulty by his determination. But that humor,  the huge curiosity, his interest in so many things, and yes, even his humor and  cynicism resound with me and make me grin.

Happy birthday,  Mr. Barrymore. I hope you and the ones you love are indeed sitting by the river,  with time enough at last. God bless.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

In which Mr. B has another first, re: smoking

According to (on the historic "firsts" of the Savoy Hotel in London):

"71. The first fireproof eiderdown provided to an unsuspecting guest was for actor Lionel Barrymore, who had a habit of chain-smoking while reading in bed."

It is a certainty both Barrymore boys developed a lifelong smoking habit from their early teens: John and Lionel recount a story of them discovering a freebie trading card of their mother, Georgiana Drew, in a freshly opened pack of cigarettes, and Lionel then decking someone who dared to insult her image on the card.  Many, many people tell stories of the omnipresence of his smoke, and at the end of his life in his car, while writing "We Barrymores" with Cameron Shipp, he dumped cartons of cigarettes into a large can in the front seat of his car and chain-smoked. Here are a few of the zillion Mr. B-smoking pics out there:

c. 1928 or so, MGM
1936, I believe, Jack in the midst of Elaine drama
On set circa 1937
Women Love Diamonds
Claire Trevor with her own smoke kisses Mr. B, 1948
Body and Soul
Arsene Lupin
The Splendid Road

Post five of Lionel Barrymore Birthday Blog Bash. Smoking is a nasty habit. Don't pick it up! (Do as I say, not as I do, in other words!)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Color me Lionel B

So, I'm very much new to the world of coloring black and white photos, and I've achieved probably the best I can do with clothing in this old chestnut from Xmas 2016:

Mr. B as Walter Butler in AMERICA, 1924. I left his face pale white,apropos of film makeup for this role. I LOVE his jacket!!

But for this Seventh of Lionel, here's a new one from The Temptress, the first film in which he appeared with Garbo:

As Canterac, watching Greta Garbo sit to eat with the roughnecks
I'll put the original here, with the caveat I colored and modified with photoshop filter. It's NOT an easy thing to do this carefully!

I cropped and much modified the background of this screengrab.

I REALLY like this one! The Jest, 1917.

It's not an easy thing to colorize pics, and it's certainly not easy to do it with a screengrab from a film. Stills are easier, grabs no. The density and quality suffers, but it's a start.  In any event, Happy Seventh day of Lionel!

This is the fifth Lionel Birthday Blog Bash post.

Monday, April 17, 2017

On the Sixth of Lionel, my true love gave to me...

...De Last Van der Sterkele!

Or, The Strong Man's Burden, (1913) version from the Dutch EYE Institute. There are only 7 title cards of any type in it, so I translated with some googling and other help those seven and inserted captions on the cards themselves in English. The first card was missing for some reason, but I had the Dutch words that should have been on it, so the first title "card" is a fade-in one. The link to watch it is right above the film poster below.

Lionel Barrymore plays "John", or the Strong Man/ Policeman son of a dying elderly lady played by Kate Bruce. Harry Carey plays the feckless and weak "Bob", a petty thief. William J. Butler as the doctor and Claire McDowell as the old woman's nurse round out the cast. It is a fifteen minute drama which finds John and Bob at odds, but then John is in a conundrum (the "Strong Man's Burden") involving his brother and his mother's impending death.  It's a nice short film, in which Mr. B looks big and strong and acts rather morally but also surprisingly.  Many of his later physical acting habits and tics (like Jack Barrymore's odd head tilt/swivel) are already apparent here.  He also looks older than his years, apropos of the big brother.  Harry Carey is good as the ne'er-do-well Bob, who really is a bounder, nay, a cad even! I wondered when watching it if at times Lionel wanted to smack Jack upside the head for his little brother's shenanigans!

There are outdoor shots and a measure of intense action. Directed by Anthony O'Sullivan, it's a worthy 15 minutes.

 The Strong Man's Burden (with English captions)

Lithograph made in the UK of (one of) the film's posters.
Post four of Lionel's Birthday Blog Bash. You're welcome.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Have a Barrymost happy Easter!

(Those who celebrate! Happy Sunday/ Fifth of Lionel to all!)

Apropos of the season, here is Mr. B WITH A BUNNY. And his second wife, Irene Fenwick, whom he absolutely worshipped. As the caption notes, it was 1933 and they are dressed for a kind of costume party ("barnyard"??). Oddly, they seem to be perched on hay/burlap sacks on the floor. Mr. B holds an apple or some such for his wife who holds a bunny, a smile, dimples, and his omnipresent cigarette in place:

You're welcome. From J. Kotsilibas-Davis' 3B bio

This is the 3rd post of Lionel's Birthday Blog Bash, celebrating Mr. B. from April 12 (not his bday and a baldfaced lie) to April 28 (his actual bday). Because I can! Other pics and posts of a daily celebratory kind are found on Silent Films Today, a Facebook group beautifully managed/run by Robert Fells, who also runs the lovely Old Hollywood in Color site and is George Arliss' biographer. Check it all out!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Jack and Mike went up the hill…

…to buy a pair of nice trousers.

I kid. It seems to be a truth that, tuxedos (rented, borrowed, or otherwise) aside, Lionel Barrymore—the “Mike” of the title—did not spend an inordinate amount of time on his own concerned with his appearance, though at certain points in his life, possibly under the influence in particular of his second wife, he was capable of sporting quite nice duds. His brother, on the other hand, while at times similarly sloppy or careless, was more consistently groomed and tended to more fitted clothing. Now, all of this is OUT of character observations. Both were well-capable of fitting their characters’ duds as needed. A discussion of the difference between John and Lionel Barrymore’s very different hair looks and styling is a whole ‘nother thing, so let’s look briefly at the men and their varying degrees of sharpness:

Exhibit A: Older brother Lionel, circa 1914:

(Motion Picture Story News April 1914, when he had been appearing in films for 3 years)

Now, the angle of the shot is not helpful, but the collar is oddly loose, the tie somewhat indifferently knotted (this is pre-bowtie preference). Little brother Jack commented he thought Lionel deliberately chose to wear larger clothing, despite his general thinness for the vast majority of his adult life.  But the hair is neat, and though the suit itself, a three-piece one, may be a bit, er, checked, it’s workable. That pattern of cloth we will see again with Lionel.

Exhibit B: Younger brother John, age 9:

Not exactly fair, but images of Lionel younger than 19 are very scarce! The tie is not well-knotted, but the collar fits and the stick pin is quite natty. The jacket may be over big, but hey, he’s nine!

Exhibit C: Mike & Jack,1905:

Both boys clean up beautifully! Lionel had yet to run off to Paris with new bride Doris Rankin (where he gained at least an extra 125 pounds in three years!), and the brothers were supporting sister Ethel on Broadway (not in the same play at the same time). Jack’s suit seems nicely cut, his collar is a little more, well, “modern, and he wears a long tie. Mike’s small tie is flat, his collar tall and probably indifferently stiff, and his coat seems too big for him.  In these photos you see the similarities and dramatic differences in the brothers’ appearance and inheritance from mom and dad. Jack sports a lovely mustache, and Lionel’s typical shaved look is at least well-presented. They differ in hair parting, with Lionel’s indifferently combed on one side. Handsome gents!

Exhibit D: Mike and Jack, 1917:

In this case, Lionel seems to have the better suit, with a nice watch chain across it. John looks very young and his own suit sports an interestingly large pocket—note the difference of ties, but in this (posed) case during the time of their hit Broadway show Peter Ibbetson, both brothers look natty—and their hair is all combed down! They still don’t look terrifically alike to me, but well… bonus points for the three-piece suits, gentlemen! (Lionel had lost all his Paris-era weight well before 1917).

Exhibit E: Mike, 1915 (announcing his role in The Romance of Elaine serial):

Trim, fit, and even looking well-dressed and groomed, this is a great picture of Lionel Barrymore at what would be his “romantic” height in films (if he ever really had one, and he did get the girl in several silent films!). The tie is flat and tight, the collar and jacket fit, and whoever managed his unruly hair did an excellent job.

Exhibit F: Mike and Jack take in Don Juan, 1927:

My favorite picture of the boys so far, with their apparent sartorial style on display. Even in his tuxedo (which he may or may not have owned—he borrowed or rented one for his Oscar win in 1931), Lionel manages to look larger and less “couture” than Jack does. The ties are the standout difference, and Lionel’s jacket, even unbuttoned, seems larger in the shoulders than it need be, while Jack’s looks tailored, pressed, etc. Both look casually bored at the event, but it’s good to see them together—this was after a 3-year painful break in their friendship after Lionel’s second marriage. To me, they look remarkably alike.

Penultimate exhibit: “We Three” cover

The cover of Jack’s second “autobiography” coincided with the filming of Rasputin and the Empress (1932), and this is part of a series taken where Ethel was staying, to show off John Barrymore, Jr. The boys have hands in pockets (a trait Jack accused Lionel of having), both wear long ties and both have decently combed hair. But—look at the trouser difference, and while Lionel’s vest is clearly well-fitted, the volume of fabric in his jacket and his trousers likely means a very loosely-cut suit.

Last exhibit of this case: Uncle Mike, Diana, and Daddy John, 1942 Un

Mike and Jack and Diana, ten years after the above photo was taken. Lionel’s preferred bowtie is haphazardly in place, Jack’s long tie, longish collar, and dark suit is in place, and though both are probably tired out, Lionel looks ten times more rumpled than Jack, and most certainly needs a haircut! He is also wearing a shirt with button cuffs, not cufflinks—I’m not sure when that became a regular innovation, but I’m sure I can figure it out—or someone out there can help me. Given his physical deterioration, Lionel was not trying very hard to wear complicated clothing.

So I’ll stop there, with the Brothers Barrymore and their infernal need for publicly acceptable clothing. John was more prone to wearing something like a wide-striped suit jacket and slippers, while Lionel seemed happy to wear what was acceptable and not tight, even before his physical limitations became prohibitive. Now, in films, both men could REALLY wear beautiful clothing beautifully (e.g., Lionel in Enemies of Women, The Eternal City, Jack in any number of silents, Grand Hotel, etc), but that’s another thing. 

Okay, one more, in which the boys look more alike than not, from clothes to attitude:
1935--when Lionel picked up John at a train station during the Elaine era. (sorry, haven't cleaned it up! h/t HI and google!)

And here endeth post 2 of Lionel Birthday Blog Bash.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lionel Birthday Month Love Commences!

It's finally here! The day which Lionel Barrymore for reasons which passeth understanding lied about being his birthday, April 12.  Here is, within 2-3 years of his birth in 1878, what he looked like as a wee Barrymorelet:

Approx age 2 or 3, 1880 or so

Famous photo of all three Barrymorelets
While there is not much evidence other than in We Barrymores that Mr. B ever said his birthday was April 12, it's there so we acknowledge it and start our 2+ weeks of Barrymore Birthdaying today!  I hope to have something scintillating each day for you, or at least interesting!

Indeed, his birthday WAS April 28, 1878. Such a reticent man, he wanted to put that in doubt!
Mr. B's WWI draft card--note the birthdate

Monday, April 10, 2017

Adapting Lionel?

Lionel : an adaptation / by Virginia Scoblick Rickard.
Registration Number: PAu001428297
Type of Work: Dramatic Work and Music; or Choreography
Date: 1990-10-12 00:00:00
Date of Creation: 04/10/1990
Notes: Adaptation of We Barrymores, by Lionel Barrymore, with Cameron Shipp.
Copyright Claimant: Virginia Scoblick Rickard
Other Title: We Barrymores
Basis of Claim: New Matter: "dramatization for stage."
Names: Shipp, Cameron
I found this while looking to see who owned the copyright for "We Barrymores".  But in looking that up--this popped up too! It seems to be some kind of unperformed dramatic adaptation of the biography. I can ONLY imagine. I have to, since I can find no other info whatsoever on this person, who only has one copyright in that name.
It boggles the mind, as we head into Mr. B's birthday month in earnest!

What could it be?? And how would Lionel have directed it?
LB kicking it with the co-stars of The Unholy Night.