Question regarding THE STAGE HAND

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Ian Elliot
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Question regarding THE STAGE HAND

Postby Ian Elliot » Sun Jan 03, 2010 9:42 pm

This picture always seemed to me strangely extraneous to Langdon’s Educational series, but it may be an odder duck than I thought. I had assumed that in directing and writing it personally Langdon was seeing through a pet idea he had at the time, or that Arvid Gillstrom was temporarily unavailable. But I’ve just had a look at Richard Kozarski’s recent Hollywood on the Hudson: Film and Television in New York from Griffith to Sarnoff, and happened on a curious reference to a Harry Langdon two reeler in production at the Royal Studio in Grantwood, New Jersey in February, 1932. As reported in Film Daily, the title was THE SHOW GOAT, the cast included "Ina Hayward", "Mary-ann Lynn", and "Barbara Willison". In a later Film Daily item, so auspicious was Langdon’s “comeback” in the completed two reeler that shooting resumed in March to expand it into a feature. And then reports end. Dr. Kozarski writes, “No made-in-New Jersey Langdon feature or short has ever been identified. Whatever Langdon made at the Royal studio immediately disappeared into the black hole of film financing, distribution difficulties, or 'creative differences.'" But as the title (vaguely) corresponds to THE STAGE HAND, and an Ira Hayward and a Maryen Lynn are billed here, I wonder if this is the “lost” Royal-made film, predating Langdon’s association with Gillstrom by some months, acquired by Educational and packaged with the Gillstrom series. This film seems technically rough to me in a way the other Langdon Mermaid/Educationals do not, perhaps owing to the small East Coast facility.

Langdon may also have become his own producer again at this time. The Syracuse Herald, Feb 8/32, relates that "Harry Langdon will make a series of six two-reelers at the Royal Studios, Grantwood, N.J., heading his own company...first film will be 'The Show Goat'."

Richard M Roberts
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Re: Question regarding THE STAGE HAND

Postby Richard M Roberts » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:39 am

Ian Elliot wrote:This picture always seemed to me strangely extraneous to Langdon’s Educational series, but it may be an odder duck than I thought. I had assumed that in directing and writing it personally Langdon was seeing through a pet idea he had at the time, or that Arvid Gillstrom was temporarily unavailable. But I’ve just had a look at Richard Kozarski’s recent Hollywood on the Hudson: Film and Television in New York from Griffith to Sarnoff, and happened on a curious reference to a Harry Langdon two reeler in production at the Royal Studio in Grantwood, New Jersey in February, 1932. As reported in Film Daily, the title was THE SHOW GOAT, the cast included "Ina Hayward", "Mary-ann Lynn", and "Barbara Willison". In a later Film Daily item, so auspicious was Langdon’s “comeback” in the completed two reeler that shooting resumed in March to expand it into a feature. And then reports end. Dr. Kozarski writes, “No made-in-New Jersey Langdon feature or short has ever been identified. Whatever Langdon made at the Royal studio immediately disappeared into the black hole of film financing, distribution difficulties, or 'creative differences.'" But as the title (vaguely) corresponds to THE STAGE HAND, and an Ira Hayward and a Maryen Lynn are billed here, I wonder if this is the “lost” Royal-made film, predating Langdon’s association with Gillstrom by some months, acquired by Educational and packaged with the Gillstrom series. This film seems technically rough to me in a way the other Langdon Mermaid/Educationals do not, perhaps owing to the small East Coast facility.

Langdon may also have become his own producer again at this time. The Syracuse Herald, Feb 8/32, relates that "Harry Langdon will make a series of six two-reelers at the Royal Studios, Grantwood, N.J., heading his own company...first film will be 'The Show Goat'."


Ahh Mr Elliot, you've hit upon something I have been researching for some time. THE STAGEHAND is indeed what is left of THE SHOW GOAT, and you'll notice that the copyright indicates the Royal Studios in the main title. I had wondered about this film for years, for it was obviously not a Gillstrom production, with a cast of unknowns, and those odd shots taken in a live theater somewhere, and what few location shots there are obviously not Los Angeles, and I had come to the same conclusion several years ago. From what I uncovered, it may have been sold to Educational as a three-reeler, and further editing was done before release. It was definitely a patchwork job, evidenced by the final long shot in which someone is even doubling for Langdon when the leading lady comes up to embrace him and wrap up the story.

RICHARD M ROBERTS

Gary Johnson
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Re: Question regarding THE STAGE HAND

Postby Gary Johnson » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:45 am

Any idea who it was that was willing to originally finance a feature for Langdon?

Gary J.

Steve Massa
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Re: Question regarding THE STAGE HAND

Postby Steve Massa » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:08 pm

Hey guys
Thanks for posting all this great info.

Steve

Frank Flood
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Re: Question regarding THE STAGE HAND

Postby Frank Flood » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:59 pm

The Film Daily news item in question may have been one that appeared on February 3, 1932, noting that Harry Langdon was to make 12 two reel comedies in the East at Royal Studios, Grantwood, NJ starting the following Monday. Joseph Boyle, formerly of Paramount, was the production manager and George Weber was the cinematographer. I assume that this is the same person as the George Webber who did most of the camera work on the Educational comedies made at the Eastern Service Studios in Astoria, Long Island. Another detail: the film's titles list Royal Studios, Inc. as the copyright holder; the Library of Congress listing of film copyrights, however, names Producer's Share, Inc.

I believe that Educational picked up a few one-offs in the sound era; LOVE IN SEPTEMBER with Jackie Coogan and Clara Kimball Young from 1936 comes to mind. Educational was under substantial economic stress at this time as it had lost its U.S exchanges and Hollywood studio just months earlier. This film may have been a natural since an unreleased two reeler must come pretty cheap, and it could be slotted into the Mermaid Comedies release schedule as a final Harry Langdon title. And if the film was cheap even by Educational's increasingly stressed standards, who cares? Langdon and Gillstrom had already decamped to Paramount.

Frank

Richard M Roberts
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Re: Question regarding THE STAGE HAND

Postby Richard M Roberts » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:05 pm

Gary Johnson wrote:Any idea who it was that was willing to originally finance a feature for Langdon?

Gary J.


I'm not completely positive on this, but one name that comes up a lot in connection with the Royal Studio in Grantwood around that period is Bud Pollard, who took it completely over in 1933 and renamed it the Bud Pollard Studios. This is where he made his notorious quickie, THE HORROR. There had been numerous attempts to revitalize the Fort Lee Film Production business throughout the twenties, and because the Royal Studios had lab facilities, it had remained in business in one form or another since it was built by E.K Lincoln in the teens.

RICHARD M ROBERTS

Ian Elliot
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Re: Question regarding THE STAGE HAND

Postby Ian Elliot » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:31 am

Thank you, Richard, for weighing in on the matter, and I'm grateful to you and to Frank for providing all the details (and most embarassed that I never noticed the Langdon double in the last shot, which I'm going to blame on my muddy video copy).

I don't know how close fellow Iowans Langdon and Chester Conklin were at this time, but I suspect the setting of this film, Oskaloosa, is a playful jab in Conklin's direction.

Paul E. Gierucki
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Re: Question regarding THE STAGE HAND

Postby Paul E. Gierucki » Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:55 am

Coincidentally, I am selling a nice 16mm print of THE STAGE HAND. The asking price is $130 - add $5 for Media Mail shipping and insurance.
Payment must be made via PayPal. Please send me a private message if interested.

-- PG

Ed Watz
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Re: Question regarding THE STAGE HAND

Postby Ed Watz » Tue Dec 27, 2011 10:08 am

Speaking of Educational's pick-ups from other producers - were any of the Stan Laurel comedies for Joe Rock issued by Educational with music tracks (soon after Van Bueren reissued the Chaplin Mutuals)? I used to own a beat-up print of HALF A MAN with synchronized 1930's music & effects but it was missing the main titles.
"Of course he smiled -- just like you and me." -- Harold Goodwin, on Buster Keaton (1976)

ralph celentano
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Re: Question regarding THE STAGE HAND

Postby ralph celentano » Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:23 pm

THE STAGE HAND is one Langdon title I have trouble tolerating.

Two of my favorites are KNIGHT DUTY 1933 and

LOVE HONOR AND OBEY (THE LAW!) * 1936. The cat and canary gag is a highlight. (I believe LOVE was shot on the Educational lot for Goodyear.)

* My 1935 Kodak ** printdown with opening titles from my negative was used on the Langdon Lost and found DVD set.

** Possibly left over Kodak stock from the previous year.


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