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Hollywood Witness

May 2024
1min read


Congratulations on your December issue! For obvious reasons, I was particularly interested in the section “A Hollywood Retrospective.” Kevin Brownlow’s report on the very early days was extremely good and, so far as I can tell, from 1916 onward, absolutely correct in all details.

However, the article relating to Warner Brothers, although excellent, does leave an impression that most of the films made during the early 1930s were of the hard-hitting, tough, gangster type.

This, however, is only partially true. I was under contract to them at the time. Certainly the tough (or “frontpage”) type of film was a Warner Brothers specialty, but it must be remembered that the company also produced more conventional comedies and dramas, all the John Barrymore, George Arliss, Richard Barthelmess, Bette Davis, Kay Francis pictures and so on.

Although, for example, I myself was in Little Caesar (a film you rightly mention as starting off the gangster fad), I was also in six light comedy-romances with Loretta Young, another with Bette Davis, one each with Joan Blondell and Billie Dove. I did three or four melodramas but also an adaptation of a Somerset Maugham novel.

Then, too, Leslie Howard and I were in the very serious adaptation of the dramatic play Outward Bound . I was pleased to be in the first, and certainly one of the best, of the World War I pictures, Dawn Patrol , starring Richard Barthelmess.

In other words, to give the old devils, the Warner brothers, their due, it should be noted that they tried to do other types of movies along with their gangster ones.

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