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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sex (1920) Louise Glaum and Glorifying the American Girl (1929) 1 DVD

TWO little gems on ONE no-region DVD

Sex (1920) silent drama film directed by Fred Niblo, written by C. Gardner Sullivan, produced by J. Parker Read, and starring Louise Glaum. On its surface, the film was a morality story on the evils of marital infidelity. However, the film's producer, J. Parker Read, had made a series of pictures on sex themes. The release of Sex, with its provocative title and explicit scenes of seduction and debauchery, made it the subject of controversy among censors and commentators.

One of the unusual elements in the filming of Sex was the use of three cameras. One camera was used to produce the negative from which prints were to be made for use in the United States, and a second was used to be used for foreign prints. The third camera was "placed at an angle different from either of the others" and was used in the expectation that a unique angle might provide a more interesting view of the dramatic action."

The film's title and subject matter were the subject of controversy in some locations. Playing off of the film's provocative title, newspaper advertising urged readers to "SEE SEX SEE SEX SEE SEX."

The Pennsylvania State Board of Motion Picture Censors refused to allow the film to be shown in Pennsylvania under its provocative title. To appease the censors, the film was distributed in Pennsylvania under the title "Sex Crushed to Earth."

In Hagerstown, Maryland, the theater owner defended his showing of the film by pointing to its "social import": "Of all the social problems that beset the world that of 'Sex' is indubitably the greatest. The 'mystery' of the sex equation has given rise to innumerable pruderies and pruriencies but Manager Thropp of the Colonial Theatre has come out flatly with the pronouncement that he has booked 'Sex' ... because of its vast social import."

The film was a box office success, and the Los Angeles Times reported that it had led to a war being declared in some quarters against "sex pictures." Echoing the response of Sex producer, J. Parker Read, the Times in February 1921 wrote: "Sex has an important part in life either for evil or good, and it is the producers' privilege to show the error of the former and the virtue of the latter. Anybody who would wish to ban sex pictures from the screen, would be simply eliminating a highly important, if not the most important phase of life from the pictures. Thus did J. Parker Read, impresario of sensational sex films, outline his attitude toward the present agitation against pictures on sex themes."

Glorifying the American Girl (1929) starring Mary Eaton is musical comedy film produced by Florenz Ziegfeld that highlights Ziegfeld Follies performers. The last third of the film (which was filmed in early Technicolor) is basically a Follies production, with cameo appearances by Rudy Vallee, Helen Morgan and Eddie Cantor. Un-credited cameos include (Mrs. Florenz Ziegfeld) Billie Burke, Johnny Weissmuller (Adonis - Segment 'Loveland' ), Noah Beery, Irving Berlin, Norman Brokenshire (Narrator), Desha Delteil (Dancer in Bubble Dance Sequence), Texas Guinan ...

The script for the film was written by J.P. McEvoy and Millard Webb and directed by John W. Harkrider and Millard Webb. The songs were written by Irving Berlin, Walter Donaldson, Rudolf Friml, James E. Hanley, Larry Spier and Dave Stamper. Black and White. NO Technicolor segment survives in its entirety.

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