Monday, 7 October 2013

"Motion Picture" magazine

Over the years there have been many magazines with a focus on Hollywood and the movies. The first of these was "Motion Picture Magazine," a monthly magazine published from 1911 to 1977.

It was founded by Vitagraph studio head J. Stuart Blackton and Eugene V. Brewster.

Early editions included fiction, and information on how to get involved in film production. When the magazine shifted its focus to celebrities, it attracted a larger female readership, and the circulation jumped to 400,000.

In 1941, the magazine merged with "Hollywood Magazine" and "Screen Life."


This is a photo of Charlie Chaplin with his mother, Hannah Chaplin. It was published in Motion Picture magazine in December 1928, a few months after she passed away. The article—Charlie Chaplin's One Great Love—written by Dorothy Donnell, is quite moving. It starts like this:

The other day a little man with black hair, thickly streaked with grey, stood beside a grave. He was as lonely in his sorrow as he was lonely in his struggles and his success.
   It was a small grave, hardly larger than a child's. The woman who was buried there had been tiny of body but great of spirit—until the War, raining death from the skies upon her familiar London streets, had left her bewildered and lost. It was a small grave, but it held the great love of Charlie Chaplin's life.
   With his mother was buried his youth, all his ties with that long-ago life, when as a ragged urchin he strutted through the slums imitating the gait of a pushcart peddler for her amusement. When his two step-brothers Wheeler Dryden and Sidney Chaplin, left home to fend for themselves, Charlie, a child of eight, remained with her in the attic room he was to copy many years later, to the last windy knot hole and broken window pane, in "The Kid." They had gone hungry together and shivered together with the cold; they had laughed together over the funny sights in the streets, and she had praised him when he brought home coppers thrown by theater crowds, waiting at the gallery door, whom he entertained with comic songs and dances.

The article occupies two pages. You can find the first here and the second here.

If you haven't seen the movie, Chaplin (1992), do yourself a favor and grab it now. I've never understood why Robert Downey Jr. didn't receive an Academy Award for his performance. Geraldine Chaplin, the granddaughter of Hannah Chaplin, memorably played the role of her grandmother in the movie. (Compare the two women in these photos.)

Smile is a song based on an instrumental theme used in the soundtrack for the 1936 Charlie Chaplin movie Modern Times. Chaplin composed the music, while John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added the lyrics and title in 1954.

Smile has become a popular standard since its original use in Chaplin's film. Originally sung by Nat King Cole in 1954, the song has been covered by many people, including Cole's daughter, Natalie, Petula Clark and Michael Jackson.

A day without a laugh is a wasted day.
                              ~Charles Chaplin

Back issues of this magazine, from 1915 to 1929, are available online here, courtesy of the Media History Digital Library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

1 comment:

Ed Love said...

Such a dear man.