THE IMAGE OF THE JOURNALIST
IN SILENT FILM

Part Two: 1920 to 1929
Part A: 11:45:00 -- Excerpts from 79 movies
Part B: 4:30:30 -- Excerpts from 71 movies

Produced and Written by Joe Saltzman 

Available on MP4 File

This IJPC video compilation for IJPC Associates ris in two parts. Part A runs 11:45:00 and contains excerpts from 79 movies tracing the image of the journalist in films from 1920-1929. Part B runs 4:30:30 and contains excerpts from 71 movies and includes celebrity journalists, newsboys, the newspaper in silent film and newsreels. 

This video can be used in a variety of ways. It is the perfect introduction to any communications class on the earliest images of the journalist in film. It could be used in any class on history, media, ethics, communication studies or any class discussing the role of the journalist in our society.

The video is for personal, research and educational use only and is available only to IJPC Associates. It is not available anywhere else.

In the second installment, Part Two: 1920-1929, a total of 1,514 films with each character and event identified and all of the table information encoded, were annotated and put into ten more appendices -- Appendix 12, 1920 (753 pages); Appendix 13, 1921 (702 pages); Appendix 14, 1922 789 pages); Appendix 15, 1923 (689 pages); Appendix 16, 1924 (538 pages); Appendix 17, 1925 (605 pages); Appendix 18, 1926 (573 pages); Appendix 19, 1927 (573 pages); Appendix 20, 1928 (620 pages); Appendix 21, 1929 (576 pages). Many of the films include jpegs of original reviews, advertisements and photographs showing journalists in action. Table of Contents.  In the endnotes, future researchers can also find a complete list of films dealing with specific journalists, such as cub reporters, female reporters or pack journalists.

In addition to the major articles, there are twenty-one appendices that chronicle each of the 3,462 silent films totalling 10,900 pages. Each appendix includes the original reviews of the film in a variety of silent film periodicals. Most of the silent films included in the study were not available for viewing; They are either considered lost, whereabouts unknown or in special collections throughout the world. Most of the research relied on reviews in the many silent film periodicals that populated the early years of the 20thcentury.

According to the Library of Congress, the American silent era produced about 10,919 films. Just 2,749 of those are still with us in some complete form, either as an original American 35mm version, a foreign release, or a lower-quality copy. That means only 25 percent of siilent-era films have survived. A further five percent survive in an incompelte form. Seventy percent have been lost forever to history. This video features what remains of silent-era films featuring journalism.

The image of the journalist in silent film is remarkable in its complexity of character...
in its reproduction of the way news was gathered and published...
in its capturing the spirit and excitement of the newsroom.

 

MALE REPORTERS

Power of the Press (1928)
The quintessential image of the journalist in popular culture in the silent era was Power of the Press.
Cub reporter Clem Rogers (played by Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) joins a supporting cast of one journalism stereotype
 after another, stereotypes that would be embellished and expanded in the 1930s.
The film opens in the realistic Times city room where seasoned journalists and the rough city editor
remind the audience what a newspaper is all about. 

 

The Racket (1928)
Cub Reporter Dave Ames of the Monitor pursues a story about a police captain determine to clean up the underworld.
Veteran reporters Miller and Pratt give the cub a hard time. 



Let 'Er Go Gallegher (1928)
In this silent film version of the classic Richard Harding Davis story, the famous newsboy hero 
witnesses a crook burglarizing a house and shooting the owner. 
The editor of The Morning Press tries to find out what hapepned from his police reporter Henry Clay (H.C.) Callahan
who is asleep in the press room at the police station and misses out on the sensational story. 

 

The Final Extra (1927)
Cub reporter Pat Riley admires his senior colleague reporter Tom Collins who is murdered before
he is about to reveal the name of the leader of a gang of bootleggers.

 

Dangerous Traffic (1926)
Cub Reporter Ned Charters works for the Seattle Record and is constantly being scooped by a rival newspaper.
The editor gives the cub one more chance to redeem himself.
If Charters gets a story on a gang of bootleg hijackers, he'll keep his job. 


The Lost World (1925)
Reporter Ed Malone of the London Record Journal joins an expedition to a plateau in South America
inhabited by prehistoic creatures 
to get an exclusive story. 
After being chased by the explorer during a lecture,
Malone sneaks into the man's home and convinces the explorer that the newspaper
might finance the expeditionif the paper is given exclusive rights to the story.
A deal is made and the adventure is underway. 

 

Man, Woman and Sin (1927)
Al Whitcomb, a naive slum boy, gets a job folding papers and then is assigned 
to the pressroom at
 The Morning World in Washington D.C. 
Whitcomb saves the newspaper's star reporter from a nightclub fight and the reporter
convinces the city editor to promote Whitcomb to a cub reporter. 


Feel My Pulse (1928)
Reporter Wallace Roberts goes undercover to expose a gang of rumrunners.

It (1927)
A newspaper reporter from the Daily News-Dispatch mistakenly writes a story
depicting a shop girl as an unwed mother. 
The repercussions from the article cause all kinds of problems for her.


The Average Woman (1924)
Reporter Jimmy Monroe is doing an article on "the average woman."
He decides to follow a woman he meets in the library to get the real story.

 

While the City Sleeps (1928)
Police Reporter Wally, an old-time veteran newspaperman, and a plain clothes policeman got at it
in a brief scene showing the relationship between the press and the police in the late 1920s.

 

Little Annie Rooney (1925)
The reporter seen in the hospital and jail scenes is played by the real-life police reporter of the New York World
William "Bill" Reiltmeier who was considered the dean of police reporters in New York City in the 1920s. 

 

The Lodger (aka A Story of London Fog) (1927)
Director Alfred Hitchcock shows in detail how the investigation of a murder is desseminated in the press. 

 

Thru Different Eyes (1929)
Reporters in the criminal court building press room cover a big murder trial. 

 

FEMALE REPORTERS

From the beginning of the silent film era, the female reporter (the sob sister) became a popular newspaper heroine. 
Female reporters were often used to cover the sentimental side of stories. They had to fight to get the hard news stories their male counterparts routinely covered.
Female journalists struggle with a dichotomy never quite resolved: To be an aggressive, cynical reporter while still being compassionate and caring. 
Female journalists were gutsy, self-reliant reporters until the final reel when they usually gave up their careeers to marry the man who had been wooing them throughout the film. 

What No Man Knows (1921)
Reporter Norma Harvey works for a leading New York newspaper.
She picked newpsaper writing as the best weapon to fight injustice.

 

Hold Still (1926)
Annie is told by the hard-boiled city editor that she can't be a reporter. But Annie won't take no for an answer.


The Thirteenth Hour (1927)
Reporter Polly is an eccentric newspaperwoman doing a story on a haunted house.

 

Hold Your Breath (1924)
Reporter Mabel decides to take over her brother Jack's job on the newspaper 
after he was gassed in World War I and still needs time to recover.

 

Show People (1928)
An admiring female writer from a magazine comes to interview 
a Hollywood-hopeful who has been turned into a fake actress.

 

The Vortex (1928)
Reporter Bunny Mainwaring of the Musical News comes to see a composer 
because she is doing a "Young Composers Series" for the magazine.

 

PEOPLE OF COLOR JOURNALISTS

As in real life, most of the news media presented in silent films were owned, operated, edited and reported
by white men and women. For the most part, the ethnic press was ignored in mainstream movies.
Black journalists were only see in "race films" made exclusively for an African-American audience.


Eleven P.M. (1928)
In this bizarre film, a struggling African-American newspaperman, Louis Perry, struggles to finish his story by the 11 p.m. deadline.

 

JOURNALISTS IN MINOR ROLES

Often journalists show up as minor characters in silent films as friends of the leading actors
or just as newspaper reporters doing their jobs. 

What Happened to Rosa (1920)
A reporter shows up as a friend of a doctor trying to help him find
the hosiery counter girl he et at a costume party 
disguised as a Spanish noblewoman named Rosa.


Broken Hearts of Broadway (1923)
An out-of-work journalist who is an aspiring playwright listens to a cab dirver narrating a story 
about Broadway heartbreak. The reporter only is seen in thne prologue and epilogue of the film.

Woman in the Suitcase (1920)
A publisher's son, Billie Fiske, answers an advertisement in his father's paper to be a woman's escort 
so she can trap her father and the woman she thinks is his lover.
Billie helps the woman and falls in love with her.

 

Woman of Affairs (1928)
CIty editor of the Daily Mirror assigns a reporter to go through the newspaper reference files 
to find pictures and stories to go with a gossip item on a woman of affairs,

 

West Point (1928)
Reporter Shaw of the Evening News interviews a football player who accuses the coach of favoritism. 
When the story appears, the coach is angry and the team turns against the arrogant player.


PACK JOURNALISTS

Pack journalists are groups of reporters and photographers who go after a story together.
By the 1920s, pack journalists were far more aggressive on the screen than ever before.
Pack journalists usually worked for the tabloid "yellow" press of the 1920s. They would hound
celebrities, the police, attorneys, businessmen and private citizens to get the story at all costs. 

Chicago (1927)
In the silent version of what would later become a famous musical, 
reporter Jake is one of the newspaper boys covering a murder trial in Chicago.
Nothing stands in the way of a good story -- not even the facts. 


The Goose Woman (1925)
A reporter and a photogrpaher join a group of pack journalists to invade a goose woman's farm. 
The woman has told police she has seen a murder and now the press wants to get her story. 


Her Night of Romance (1924)
The daughter of an American multi-millionaire conceals her beauty to fool 
the newspapermen and photogrpaheres who want to do a story on her.

 

Her Sister From Paris (1925)
Reporters, photographers and newsreel shooters follow a notorious dancer 
from Paris to Vienna in pursuit of a story.


Rat's Knuckles (1925)
A pack of news photogrpahers shoot pictures of the rat-king and his bride 
in celebration of success of his invention ion a dream sequence. 

 

Ella Cinders (1926)
Reporters, news cameramen and photographers eventually cover a small-town girl
who wins a contest and goes to Hollywood. 

 

Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (1926)
The head of a shoe company is sponsoring a cross-country walking contest and 
wants to tell a group of newspapermen all about it. 

 

VILLAINS: PUBLISHERS AND EDITORS

As in modern times, journalists who were generally villains were publishers and news media owner
and the occasional editor who violated the public trust. 

 

All Dolled Up (1921)
An unscrupulous tattle-tale publisher who edits "Talk of the Town" 
uses blackmail to bilk a spinster out of her money.


Little Girl in a Big City (1925)
D.V. Cortelyou is an unscrupulous publisher of The Gay Life who will do anything to get
what he wants including blackmail and kidnapping. 
The reporter-hero is Jack McGuire who works for the publisher.
A title card sums up the plight of the newspapers in the 1920s:
"Jack McGuire, one of an army of reporters thrown out of work by one of the Big City's favorite tricks:
a merger of newspapers."


The Notorious Lady (1927)

Gilbert Patton is a wealthy publisher who will do anything to get the woman he wants. 
He uses false rumors and untruths to seduce a woman who has rebuffed all of his advances. 


On the Front Page (1926)
Publishers were so familiar to silent film audiences that they were ripe for satire. 
Publisher-editor James W. Hornby of the Daily Squawk is angry because 
every newspaper in town is scooping him. 


CRITICS

All kinds of journalists show up in silent films including critics, photojouranlists and newsreel shooters, and correspondents.

Black Oxen (1924)
A critic gets entrapped in a love gtriangle and is devastated that he is rejected 
until he finds romance with a flapper girl. 


Chained (Michael) (1924-1927)
Critic Charles Swift is a painter's friend as well as a critic of his work. 


Soul Fire (1925)
Several music critics including Swann, "the most influential music critic in New York," 
discuss the music of a new composer and as the music begins, the scene fades into the
 composer's life story. The critics show up again at the end of the film. 

 

PHOTOJOURNALISTS AND NEWSREEL SHOOTERS

The Cameraman (1928)
The newsreel cameraman was so popular and important to audiences by 1928 that in The Camerman, 
comic Buster Keaton could parody them and the audience would understand every joke and gag.
The film begins with a title card and montage: "When acclaiming our modern heroes, let's not forget 
The News Reel Cameraman...the daredevil who defies death to give us pictures of the world's happenings.

 

The Shakedown (1929)
A photographer with a speed graphic and a large blast of flash captures the action in a boxing ring.
Director William Wyler plays the phtoographer who covers the fight.

 

CORRESPONDENTS

Livingstone in Africa (1925)
Real-life foreign correspondents played by actors were popular.
Correspondent Henry Morton Stanley and the New York Herald publisher James Gordon Bennett
decide to find the lost African missionary David Livingstone.

South of Panama (1928)
Reporters in silent films traveled the world to bring back reports to the public.
Reporter Dick Lewis goes to a Latin American republic and not only ends up capturing crooks,
but also falling in love with American consel's daughter. 

 

FOREIGN JOURNALISTS

Because the silent film titles could be easily translated, non-English speaking filmscould be seen in the United States
without any communication problems. The silent film was truly an international art form. 
No matter what the country, the image of the journalist was a familiar one
to United States' audiences since non-American journalists displayed many 
of the same characteristics as American journalists. 

Miss Mend (1926)
Reporter Barnet (Boris Barnet), tabloid press reporter for The Littletown Herald,
a "muckraker, who gets the news a half hour before it happens."
 
Other journalists included in this Soviet Union film are photojournalist Vogel (Vladimir Fogel).
newspaper office clerk Tom Hopkins (Igor Ilyinsky).
Editor-in-Chief. Associate Editor. Editorial Assistant.

 

Man With a Movie Camera (1929)
Soviet cameraman Mikhail Kaufman travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, 
documenting urban life with dazzling invention.
The film features three journalists: the invisible filmmaker (Dziga Vertov),
the cameraman in the film (his brother Mikhail)
and the film editor Elizaveta Svilova, Vertov'x wife.
It is both a film and the making of that film.


Belphegor (1927)
American audiences had no trouble relating to a fearless French journalist, 
Jacques Bellegard of Le Petit Parisien. 
He investigates a phantom who haunts the Louvre museum. 

 

New Babylon (1929)
 
Journalist Loutro is an anti-war, liberal reporter in Paris during the Prussian invasion.


L'Argent (1929)
French journalist Huret is an idealistic aviator's urbane journalist friend. 
He introduces the aviator to a financier who comes up with a publicity stunt
promising the aviator fame and fortune. 


La Boheme (1926)
Rodolphe ekes out a meager existence writing for a newspaper in Paris in 1830. 
Since he is always late with his copy, the editor of the 
Cat and Dog Fanciers's Journal is always threatening to fire him.


Pandora's Box (1929)
Newspaper publisher Dr. Ludwig Schon has a beautiful mistress, Lulu. 
When he tells her he is going to marry the daughter of the Minister of the Interior
Lulu is furious and plans her revenge.


Hill Park Mystery (1923)
Danish tabloid police reporter Jimmie Brand of the Daily Wire 
is an overworked ace reporter.
He files an exclusive page one story, then collapses, convincing his editors
he needs a vacation.


The Man Without Desire (1923)
Historical dramas occasionally featured journalists. 
An editor receives gossip from a count's maid about an affair.
He prints it and suffers the dire consequences.


COMEDY

By the turn of the century, journalists were so well-known that
ethey became the butt of many jokes.

April Fool (1924)
Cub Reporter Jimmy Jump is in love with the editor's daughter. 
It is April 1st and the editorial staff can't figure out
what's a joke or a real event. 

 

The Nut (1921)
Pernelius Vanderbrook Jr., a millionaire cub reporter,  
brings two lovers together while on a story involving dead bodies that turn out to be manniquins.
The reporter gets his scoop and the man gets the girl.


Tie That Bull (1927)
Cub reporter Bobby tries to prove his bravery to impress a girl 
he has met in a police station.


The Chink (1921)
 In this film with a regrettable title, a reporter's clothes are deliberally splashed 
by a black youngster who is drumming up business for a Chinese laundry.

 

Have a Heart (1928)
Jimmy is hired as a cub reporter by an editor 
who wants to solve the mystery of a haunted mansion.


The Kid Stakes (1927)
A race commentator known as the "Wireless Man" 
along with four reporters at the press table
cover the annual goat derby, a popular race in which
kid jockeys fight to win. 


Hot Off the Press (1922)
An editor of a San Francisco newspaper is a crook. 
The janitor of the newspaper recovers the stolen jewels
and gets a scoop for his newspaper.


Roughest Africa (1923)
This parody of a documentary cameraman in action has the photographer 
traveling to Africa with an explorer to capture and photograph various wildlife.

 

The Big Shot (1929)
Reporter Fat and photographer Snub of the Evening Star 
try to track down a reclusive Scotsman who hates journalists
for an interview and photograph.

 

SOUNDS OF THE NEWSROOM ARE FINALLY HEARD
AS THE SILENT FILM ERA COMES TO AN END

By the time the silent film era ended with the explosion of sound,
the journalist was an integral part of movie history.
Audiences were familiar with the sights of a newspaper office,
but now they could actually hear rather than imagine how the newsroom actually sounded.
The roar of the presses, edidtors shouting out instructions, reporters complaining aloud,
newsboys shouting "Extra" -- nothing matched actually hearing the sounds and dialogue
that used to appear in title cards. 
Big News, one of the most effective talkies made at the end of the silent film eera in 1929,
sums up all of the familiar journalist prototypes.
It is a fitting end to the first two decades of cinema's depiction of
the image of the journalist.

Big News (1929)
Reporter Steve Banks is constantly battling editor-in-chief Addison. 
His wife, reporter Margaret Banks, works for a rival newspaper.
The rest of the cast is familiar: City Editor Art O'Neill, Society Editor Vera, 
a drunken reporter, Deke Thomas, and a variety of reporters, copy editors, assistants.

 

Gentlemen of the Press (1929)
This film is a painfullfy realistic look at a seasoned newspaperman's disillusionment
with the world of journalism in the 1920s.
Wickland Snell is the hero of his newsroom, but at a cost to his personal life.

 

 Copy (1929)
This earlysound featurette is a surprisingly accurate picture of journalism 
in the late 1920s. All of the action takes place in a
metropolitan newspaper office of the Daily News,
which is filled with seasoned newsmen.


Chinatown Nights (aka Tong War) (1929)
Reporter James F. Williams is a mischievous, interfering, 
stuttering newspaper reporter from the City Examiner
He is always trying to figure out how to cause trouble 
and get a better story.


Hole in the Wall (1921, 1929)
Police Reporter Gordon Grant of the Chronicle is trusted by 
the police chief who often asks for his help.
Grant does not disappoint -- he usually solves the crime. 

 

Laughing Lady (1929)
Reporter Al Brown of Picture Press will do anything to get a story. 
When he hears about a big scandal, he rushes back to the city room
to tell the city editor about an exclusive that will rock the town.

 

The Trespasser (1929)
A pack of reporters will stop at nothing to interview a stenographer 
who is left $500,000 in a rich man's will.
They talk their way into her apartment and won't leave until
they get the story they want. 

 

The Studio Murder Mystery (1929)
Reporter Read Kendall of the Los Angeles Times 
and reporter Harry Bergman, bureau manager of the International News Service 
play themsleves as journalists trying to get the police
to give them the story.


Interference (1928)
A woman calls a reporter to tell him she has an important story about a famous heart surgeon. 
The reporter shows up at the woman's apartment to discover
the police are there and the woman is dead.

 

The Vagabond Lover (1929)
Reporters show up at a rich woman's home when she claims 
her niece has run off with an imposter -- a fake band leader.


Sympathy (1929)
Reporter Larry uses his influence as a newspaper reporter
help a friend cheat on his wife.


The Mammy Trailer (1929)
A reporter takes notes as he talks to the film's star Al Jolson


The Maker of Melody  (aka Melody Makers) (1929)
Often "girl reporters" were used as inquiring reporters in sound featurettes. 
In this musical talkie, Miss Merrill, a feature writer for United Syndicate
interviews composer Richard Rogers and lyricist Lorenz Hart.
It's an excuse to highlight the team's popular music in several production numbers.

Dynamite (1929)
A radio reporter announces a race run by society girls.

 

Salute (1929)
A radio sportscaster broadcasts the Army-Navy football game. 
He is shown intermittently on camera by the microphone giving the audience
a word picture of what is going on throughout the game.

 

Night Parade (1929)
Sportscasters usually appeared as themselves reporting on sporting events.
But sometimes they were characters ion dramatic films.
In this film, sportswriter Sid Durham finds out
a racketeer has coerced a boxer into throwing a fight.

 

The Installment Collector (1929)
When sound came in, Broadway and radio stars were recruited for films. 
Radio comedian Fred Allen is the boob rural editor 
of the Sac-Harbor Bee whose work is constantly interrupted by a bill collector. 

 

The Desert Song (1929)
Sound ushered in something the silent films didn't have: the musical. 
Columnist Benjamin "Benny" Kidd is the society reporter for 
The Paris Herald and provides comedy relief
in this first adaptation of the famous musical.

 

PART B - 4:30:30 - 71 Films
Celebrity Journalists, Newsboys, the Newspaper in Silent Films, Newsreels

CELEBRITY JOURNALISTS

Celebrity journalists were names that the audience immediately recognized from
from bylines and photogrpahs they had seen in newspapers and magazines 
or voices that they heard on the radio. 
Real-life journalists appeared as themselves in various film featurettes.

 

Burton Holmes Travelogues (1916-1923)
Photographer-documentarian Elias Burton Holmes
coined the term "travelogue" and traveled the world
turning his popular live slides shows into the
Burton Holmes Travelogues silent film featurettes.

 

Will Rogers' Commentaries and Travelogues (1920-1928)
Journalist-Humorist Will Rogers not only appeared in feature silent films
but also brought to the silent screen a mixture of
his witty editorial columns on currrent topics
as well as a series of Travelogues in which he would take
his fans around the world with him
as their guide and commentator. 

 

Grantland Rice's Sportlight (1924 to 1927)
Grantland Rice, probably the famous sprots journalist in
mid-century America, not only appeared as himself in
feature silent films, but also produced and wrote
Grantland Rice's Sportlight silent film featurettes.

 

When sound came in, Journalist-Humorist-Commentator Robert Benchley
became famous for his Fox-Movietone camera sound lectures.
Audiences loved his inept attempts at explaining anything.


The Sex Life of the Polyp (1928)
The second of 46 films Benchley made for the new sound idea
documents a dimwitted doctor attempting to discuss
a polp's sex life to a woman's club using slides
to help illustrate his points. 

 

The Treasurer's Report (1928)
Robert Benchley becomes an assistant treasurer who reports
oon the annual expenditures of his club.
This eight-minute film was the first continuous sound picture ever made.

 

In the 1920s, cartoonists became some of the most
recognizable journalists in silent film. 
They showed up as participants in the cartoons they drew
and the audience loved the way the cartoonists interacted
with their animated creations.

Cartoonist Max Fleischer showed up as himself in a series of cartoons --
Out of the Inkwell (1921-1926) and Inkwell Imps (1927-1928) -- 
with his popular clown who eventually became known as Ko-Ko.
Each cartoon usually started with Max taking his brush,
dipping it in the inkwell and drawing the clown who came to life.
Then the clown and the animator face off until the final frame
when the clown escpaes back into the inkwell.

The Automobile Ride (1921)
The cartoonist is planning to go on an automobile ride with his girlfriend, but the clown has other plans.
He sabotages the trip by stealing the cartoonist’s money out of his wallet
and then dropping the gasoline hose into the street pouring most
of the 12 gallons of gasoline into the sewer.
Then the cartoonist has to rush back to the office because there is a fire in the cartoonist’s desk.
It turns out it is smoke from a cigar that the clown is smoking. 

Fishing (1921)
The cartoonist and a friend go fishing and the clown follows them out of the house
and to the beach eventually leaving them stranded on a rock
where they were fishing, stealing their boat.
“Isn’t that little rascal at it again!” Max says.
The two have to swim back to land furious at the clown
who Max finds in an aquarium in the house swimming with the fishes.
He grabs him and puts him back into the inkwell. 

Invisible Ink (1921)
The cartoonist pleads with the clown that he let him finish his drawing, but the clown has other ideas.
Max finds invisible ink and draws a bicycle and other items for the clown to play with,
but when the clown gets near the bicycle it disappears causing him all kinds of frustration.
The clown leaves the drawing board taunting Max who chases him around the room.
The clown drops a flower pot on the cartoonist’s head.
“I’ll find you alright, you rascal,” Max shouts chasing him around the room.
The clown jumps into Max’s mouth finally coming out of his ear before returning to the inkwell. 

Bubbles (1922)
Cartoonist Max teaches the clown how to blow bubbles and then they have a bubble-blowing contest with each other.
The cartoonist starts the film by pouring black and white paint on the drawing board.
He then creates the clown with his brush.
A little girl is blowing soap bubbles and one of the bubbles comes near the cartoonist’s drawing board:
“Oo-ooh-look – a bubble! Get it for me!” cries the clown. The bubble bursts and the clown cries.
“Now, don’t feel bad about it. You can have all the bubbles you want,” Max tells him.
He draws a pipe and tells the clown, “Blow on that as hard as you can.”
The clown does that and a bubble pops out. He plays with the bubble. The cartoonist laughs.
He gets up and leaves while the clown keeps blowing bubbles.
He then returns with his own soap-bubble-blowing pipe:
“I’m chairman of the Amalgamated Brotherhood of Bubble Blowers,” he tells the clown.
Max blows a bubble and says to the clown, “I’ll bet you a wallop on the nose I’ll blow the biggest bubble.”
“You’re on. I’ll take that bet,” says the clown. We see the cartoonist and the clown blowing big bubbles.
The clown’s bubbles turn into objects as he frolics about. Cartoonist Max blows a huge bubble.
It is so big it leaves the house and goes into the air. “You lose – here’s what I owe you,” Max says to the clown.
The clown blows up a bubble, is inside it, and floats away outside. Max follows him.
The bubble goes into a car’s radiator. Max runs outside and looks into the radiator.
He is joined by another man who also looks into the radiator and gets a squirt of water in his eye.
He chases after Max who escapes into his house. The clown in the bubble returns.
Max breaks the bubble and the clown jumps back into the inkwell. Max puts the cap on. 

Ko-Ko Trains 'Em (1925)
Koko proceeds to show the cartoonist how to make a dog do tricks.
A friend visits Fleischer’s office bringing a young pup.
He tries to draw a picture of the dog, but it turns into the little clown
and insists on occupying the limelight and training the dog himself.
Finally, the dog unleashes trained fleas that rout the audience

Ko-Ko in 1999 (1927)
 Father Time, who pursues Ko-ko into the future – 1999, to be precise.
There, he is assailed by all kinds of automated obstacles, and acquires a wife out of a vending machine.

 

Cartoonist Walter Lantz also interacted with his cartoon creations.
His first series was the Col. Heeza Liar cartoons (1922-1924)
where the colonel was a visual parody of Teddy Roosevelt
who was known to spin tall tales. 

Col. Heeza Liar, Detective (1923)
Colonel Heeza Liar jumps off the drawing board and into the real world
to track down a stolen rooster – but he makes one crucial mistake.

Cartoonist Lantz became even more well-known for his
Dinky Doodle cartoons (1924-1926). 
Lantz interacted withj a mischievous boy named Dinky
and his sidekick mutt, Weakheart. 
The pair became as famous as Fleischer's clown Ko-Ko and Fitz, his dog.


Dinky Doodle: The Pied Piper (1924)
Lantz, dressed as the image of a French “artist” complete with goatee and beret
discovers that his studio is being overrun by mice.
He does everything he can to get rid of the mice finally shooting at them with a gun,
but they catch the bullets and play with them.
Frustrated, he reprimands Dinky and Weakheart for not taking care of the problem.
They figure out that music will tame the savage mice and like two Pied Pipers
lead the mice away from the studio to a land filled with cheese.
They return triumphant and the artist, Dinky and Weakheart do a happy dance.
But when they open the door to the studio at the end of the cartoon,
thousands of mice are there and run back into the studio. 


Dinky Doodle and Red Riding Hood (1925)
Dinky Doodle and his real friend are reading the book Little Red Riding Hood.
Red is crying, so Dinky jumps into the book to help her, and they fall in love.
The wolf ends up chasing them out of the book, and Dinky's real friend
defeats him so that Dinky and Red can be happy together.

In 1926, Cartoonist Lantz created Hot Dog Cartoons
featuring Pete the Pup who lives in Lantz's house and
heckles the cartoonist who heckles him back.
The series lasted until 1927. 
It was meant to replace the Dinky Doodle cartoons.

Pete's Haunted House (1926)
The cartoonist sees Pete the Pup in his little house reading about spooks,
so he drops skeletons down the chimney and shoves apparitions in the windows.
Lantz also picks up the cardboard house until the pup thinks he is in the middle of a major earthquake or hurricane.
Pete finally figures it out and blows the cartoonist up with a giant firecracker. 


Other cartoonists found silent films the perfect vehicle to move their
cartoon characters from the newspaper page to the screen.


The Kid Stakes (1927)

Syd Nicholls draws a sketch of his cartoon character, Fatty Finn, 
who then comes to life. 

Sid Marcus, the celebrated cartoonist of The New York Times
created an almost surrealistic series of silent cartoons. 

  Animated Hair Cartoons (1924-1926).
The animations are "metamorphic caricatures" of famous people
that grow out of a strand of hair.
The cartoonist's hand manipulates the hair into one
recognizable celebrity after another.
More than 50 popular "Marcus" cartoons were distributed.
In the enclosed excerpts, the strands of hair are turned into
baseball player Christy Mathewson, baseball manager Joihn J. McGraw,
playwright George Bernard Shaw, baseball czar Kenesaw M. Landis,
comedians Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, 
union leader Samuel Gompers, actress Elsie Ferguson,
and baseball player Babe Ruth. 

 

NEWSBOYS

Newsboys, not as popular a character as in the early days of silent film,
still show up as sympathbetic little journalists
trying to survive in a hostile world. 

Dinty (1920)
A newsboy becomes the family's breadwinner by selling newspapers
when his father is killed in an accident.
But selling newspapers in the city isn't that easy when
the head newsboy controls the territory.

Clunked on the Corner (1929)
Newsboy Handy Andy is a stuttering boy
who gets into one adventure after another
while trying to sell his newspapers.


A Dog's Pal (aka Jerry the Newsboy) (1927)

Jerry and his dog Pal, the wonder dog, battle an older newsboy rival


The Third Alarm (1922)
Newsboy Little Jimmie is a friend of a fireman who is fired
because he cannot drive the new horseless auto-engine.
His fire horse Bullet is sold to a cruel master,
but Jimmie saves the day. 

 

Crainquebille (aka Bill) (1922)
Newsboy Mouse saves a vegeetable push-cart peddler from suicide in Paris
after the peddler runs afoul of the law and finds himself
ground up in the cogs of the corrupt French judicial system. 


Seeing Double (1923)
A newboys is a tough kid who looks just like an English prince
and is hired by a con man to impersonate him. 

 

His People (aka The Proud Heart) (1925)
Newsboy Sammy Cominsky sells papers to support his
Jewish Russian family on New York's Lower East Side.


Square Shoulders (1929)
Newsboy John W. "Tad" Collins Jr. lives in a newsboys' home
selling newspapers to stay alive. 
His mother is dead and his father, a decorated war hero,
is an alcoholic down on his luck. 

 

Newsboys showed up as a minor characters in films throughout the 1920s. 

The Soul of Youth (1920)
Newsboy Ed Simpson helps a friend adjust to city life.

Going to Congress (1924)
A newsboy tries to set a new congressman straight.
Will Rogers plays the town idler, Alfalfa Doolittle, who is chosen by the “party caucus”
as the ideal candidate to run for Congress.

My Best Girl (1927)
Two people in love buy a newspaper from an eager newsboy


Sometimes the newsboy was really a newsgirl. 

Kiki (1926)
Newsgirl Kiki is a Paris street gamin who ekes out a living
selling newspapers on the streets of Paris before becoming a chorus girl.
Her friend is newsboy Pierre. 

 

NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES

Newspapers and magazines often play a strategic part in silent film plots
showing the influence of the news media of its time on its readers.
Headlines, news items, stories and notices cause characters
to change their lives in dramatic ways.
In the movies, readers believed what the newspaper printed
and rarely questioned the information.
If they were affected personally, they acted without hesitation,
even if it led to tragic consequences, irrational acts 
and even criminal action.
Newspaper and magazine articles were used as 
prime motivators in the plots of films across all genres.


The Trail of '98 (1928)
The gold fever hits San Francisco and newspapers across the country spread the news.
Men from every walk of life read the stories and take action:
they piick up roots and head for Alaska.
But the reality is different than the stories of fast riches
printed in the newspapers. 

Dynamite (1929)
A society girl sees a newspaper headline that gives her an idea
on how to fulfill the terms of her grandfather's will -- 
to be married immediately.
A convict on death row is the answer -- or is it?


Flight (1929)
Newspaper headlines tell the world about the bonehead play Lefty Phelps (Ralph Graves)
made on the football field when after being hit, he turns around, runs the wrong way
and scores a touchdown for the opposition.
He becomes the laughing stock of the country.
Even newsboys selling the newspapers laugh at him, shouting out the headlines, crying “Extra! Extra!”
Dejected, Lefty runs into a restroom where he meets Panama Williams (Jack Holt)
who looks at his picture in the newspapers and commiserates.
He suggests that the Marine Flying Corp. might be the place to get away from the public ridicule and shame.
Lefty agrees and the rest of the film shows his adventures as a flyer

 

Champagne (1928)
 Film begins with a wealthy Wall Street investor reading a newspaper headline about his daughter 
crashing a plane in the ocean just so she can catch an ocean liner which happens to be carrying her boyfriend. 

 

The Love Gamble (1925)
A woman reads in a newspaper that her former lover is being tried for the murder of his wife
that occurred the night she was with him at a lodge.
She sacrifices her own reputation to save the man she truly love

 

Why Change Your Wife (1920)
A woman discovers that her husband is cheating on her. Her husband leaves.
Sometime later, Beth overhears one gossip point out an item in the paper to another.
“Oh look, Mrs. Robert Gordon has got her divorce. No wonder she lost him – she just wouldn’t play with him.
Then she dressed as if she were his aunt, not his wife. Still, I’m terribly sorry for her, poor thing.”
“They pity me, do they?” sneers Beth. “Pity me because I’ve been fool enough to think a man wants his wife modest and decent.
Well, I’ll show them.” Beth goes berserk; she tears off her sedate clothes and demands the latest styles –
“sleeveless, backless, transparent, indecent – I’ll go the limit.”
And after the divorce, she flaunts herself at a big hotel in Atlantic Beach,
where she encounters Robert and his new wife.
“When a woman meets her ex-husband she realizes all she has lost.
When she meets his wife, she realizes all he has lost.”


Seven Chances (1925)
Newspaper article depicts the predicament of a man who needs a bride and advertises for one.
He will inherit a fortune if he marries by 7 p.m. the same day.
The newspaper article results in a mad rush to claim the groom. 

 

The Pilgrim (1923)
Newspaper story and photograph reveals that a man identified as “Lefty Lombard” is wanted
and there is a $1,000 reward for his capture. 
The prisoner, now dressed as a pilgrim, boards a train and sits
next to a detective who is reading the newspaper. 
When the pilgrim sees his picture and the reward, he leaves his seat
and rushes out of the train to safety. 


The Kid (1921)
Newspapers print a reward offer for a sick boy’s return to his mother.

 

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921)
Newspapers print a story with photographs of a boy who claims the title of Lord Fauntleroy

 

Young Rajah (1922)
An American newspaper story informs a tyrant running India
that the rightful heir is alive so he sends assassins to America to kill him. 

 

The Pace That Kills (1928)
 A newspaper headline reveals a woman’s plight.
She has shot the gangster – we see the event in superimposition on the newspaper story –
and now she is on the run.
An exploitation film on drugs (“forbidden pleasures” including opium, cocaine and morphine) in the late 1920s
and the harm it does to good people like those sitting in the audience.


Terror Island (1920)
Story of an inventor’s deep-sea submarine that would be used to salvage valuable cargoes of sunken ships
appears in one of the big newspapers despite the inventor’s efforts to keep his invention a secret.
A crook reads the story and wants to partner with the inventor.
A young woman reads the story and seeks the inventor’s help to save her father. 

 

Below the Surface (1920)
Newspaper headlines about raising a submarine to the surface saving the men aboard,
attract the attention of a shady promoter and he schemes to capitalize on it
by using the diver in a publicity scheme to sell stock to suckers. 

 

The Leatherneck (1929)
Posted in China, two Marines read in the newspaper about a Heckla Potash Company that is offering stock.
They desert to seek revenge against Captain Heckla, a Russian responsible for the
death of one of the private’s wife’s family during the Revolution.
Heckla is killed. The private’s wife shows up in court to corroborate the details of her husband’s story at his court-martial.
He is found innocent and reunited with his wife after three days in the guardhouse for desertion.

 

Back Pay (1922)
Newspaper story about a war hero, badly wounded and blind in the World War,
who has a short time to live and calls out continually for the woman he loves.
That woman had left him before he went to war to go to New York to find love and adventure.
She reads the story and decides to go to the army hospital to comfort him.

 

The White Sin (1924)
A girl is accidentally married on a yacht, discovers the supposed hoax and leaves the yacht.
After her baby is born she decides to go to the yacht owner’s parents by posing as his wife.
She makes this decision after reading a month-old newspaper
recounting the wreck of the yacht with all aboard reported lost.


The Last Laugh (1924)
Newspaper clipping used in a title card. No spoken titles are used.
Only a letter and a newspaper clipping are used since the rest of the film is almost self-explanatory.

 

The Monster (1925)
A small town relies on its newspaper for news and gossip. Headlines and a story.

Corporal Kate (1926)
Use of newspaper headlines in silent films is illustrated by Declaration of War headlines at the beginning of the film

 

The Red Kimona (1925)
 Newspaper file room.
A woman opens a daily newspaper volume dated 1917 to tell the audience about the Gabrielle Darley case. 

 

Bulldog Drummond (1929)
 The detective uses the London Times to get cases.

 

The Smiling Madame Beudet (La Souriante Madame Beudet) (1923)
One of the first feminist movies is the story of an intelligent woman trapped in a loveless marriage.
She fantasizes her husband's death by imagining the picture of a tennis player in a magazine
coming to life and smashing her husband in the head.


Molly O (1921)
Molly falls in love with an eligible young bachelor millionaire’s picture in the newspaper.
She then pastes her own photograph over a question mark used by a sensational newspaper
to indicate she is the young woman rumored to be engaged to a very wealthy, handsome and likable man. 

 

The Rejected Woman (1924)
News on the radio of the death of the hero’s father is sent by a Gotham broadcasting station
and received in the northland by a friend who communicates it to his son.
One periodical said it “was a novel idea and thoroughly modern.”
One of the first uses of the radio to communicate news in silent films.

 

Within Our Gates (1920)
In this black-produced, written and directed film,
white newspapers print stories that are false and inflammatory.
The "manipulated press" is listed as one of the injustices
that black people had to experience on a daily basis.

 

Comedy used the newspaper as a prop and a narrative device.
The newspaper was so popular in the silent film that comedy often
satirized how the newspaper had become an
indispensable staple in American life.

 

Mighty Like a Moose (1926)
Newspapers are used throughout the comedy as major plot points.
A newspaper is used when the married man and woman don’t recognize each other while sitting in a shoeshine stand.
Their photo is taken at a party making the front page of a newspaper.

We Faw Down (1928)
Headlines reveal that a theater has burnt down.
Two men, who want to play poker, claim they have a business appointment at the Orpheum Theater.
What they don’t know is that the theater was destroyed by fire.
But their wives have seen the newspaper headline. When the boys get home they have a lot of explaining to do.

Long Pants (1927)
The boy falls in love with a dangerous female crook.
He sees a newspaper story that his unknown sweetheart is in jail.
He goes to her rescue but ends up in jail himself.
He realizes he isn’t really in love with the crook and marries the neighbor’s daughter.

Felix Turns the Tide (1922) 
Felix  the catreads in the newspaper the headline: “Extra: War Declared!!! Rats Start War on Cats.”
He shows the newspaper to his girlfriend. She promises to marry Felix when he returns from the war. 

Felix the Cat Ducks His Duty (1927)
Newspaper headlines: “Mice Declare War on Cats” and “All Cats Called to the Colors.”
Newspaper article that says “Married Men will be Exempt from Duty at the Front.” F
elix deserts the army during a war under pretenses of marriage.
When his new spouse turns out to be a tyrant, though, Felix decides that he prefers the battlefield,
and joins the epic battle between cats and mice.

Fig Leaves (1926)
 Prehistoric morning paper is a pair of giant stone slabs with the latest news chiseled on it.
Newsboy delivers the stone paper.

Shriek of Araby (1923)
The “Shriek” of Araby (Ben Turpin) is in the midst of the desert, has fresh milk and the morning newspaper delivered to his tent
while he sits on the porch and fishes for brook trout.
A parody of the successful “The Sheik” with silent film heartthrob, Rudolph Valentino

From Tree to Newspaper (1928)
Newspaper production process, from trees to wood pulp to paper ready for printing in a newspaper plant
to the newstand where customers buy the daily paper.

High Treason (1929)
A look into the future of communication and media Newspapers.
In the future (20 years from 1929) there will be electric newsboards for newspapers.
Tele-radiographer (Al Goddard). Television phone calls. World-wide network of news reports via radio signals.
Includes a traditional Magazine article. 

 

NEWSREELS

Newsreels became even more popular than feature films in the silent era.
So it was no surprise that filmmakers used either fake or real newsreels
as they used the newspapers -- to add authenticity to their fictional plots.

Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (1926)
"World News" newsreel segments update the movie audience
on the progress of the cross-country race.

The Spirit of U.S.A. (1924)
War newsreel footage is intercut with actors in this war movie giving it a scary realism.

Newsreel cameramen became recognizable heroes of the screen
as newsreel companies promoted their shooters with gusto.
The silent newsreel wasted no time in becoming sound newsreels
as early as 1928.

Around the World Via Graft Zeppelin (1929)
Hearst-MGM Cameraman Robert Hartman is the only cameraman aboard the Graft Zeppelin
showing life aboard the dirigible and panorama views of the countries and seas.
Shot on silent film but later converted to sound with an invisible reporter-narrator explaining everything.
Radio Reporters and Pack Journalists cover the event. 

Pathe News Newsreels (1917-1927)
Summary of highlights of newsreel photographer reels.
"From the moment of its founding, Pathe News has filmed every 
epochal world event, bringing to the eyes of the public a complete history
of the progress of humanity."
"Then came the dedvelopment which revolutionized the motion picture --
Pathe News recorded the first Presidential Inauguration ever made IN SOUND."

Hearst Newsreels (1917-1930 )
Highlights of Hearst newsreels

Paramount News (1928)
Highlights of Paramount newsreels ending with a montage of 
Paramount News cameramenin action preparing for future wars. 

Fox Movietone Interviews
Sir George Bernard Shaw (1928), playwright
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author and scientist

Both men walk up to the camera and start talking answering previously asked questions
from the anonymous Fox Movietone camera crew/interviewer