Movies have a way of infuriating audiences these days, especially if there are perceived errors to pick at (and forcing filmmakers to respond). But movie audiences were perfectly capable of publicly kvetching even before the internet or sound movies. Today, we’re going to be airing some grievances from the January 1918 edition of Photoplay Magazine.
Photoplay had a feature called Why-Do-They-Do-It that invited readers to point out errors in then-current releases. Let’s enjoy a few complaints from the good old days and appreciate that the world has changed a lot but moviegoers are still moviegoers. It’s a good thing these folks didn’t have Twitter!
(My selections will be tilted toward films that survive and are on home video.)
D.C. Dodd reveals that those French maid costumes were nearly as outdated in 1918 as they are today.
A Son of the Hills gets credit for an active heroine but its trouser creasing is a real flaw, so says Verona Uhl. Alas, that particular error has persisted. (By the way, the film is missing and presumed lost. Check attics!)
The reader signed as Bryn Mawr ’16 makes some good points, Mary Pickford did indeed find a smart frock rather quickly considering there was a war on.
Another complaint about too-tidy clothing! Tsk tsk. By the way, this film is on DVD.
(Also, what is Jno. short for? Chime in if you know!)
Questionable geography is the main complaint from Tacoma, Washington. However, I should point out that Hart may have just wanted a dramatic moment for his beloved pinto, Fritz. The film survives but has not yet been released on home video. (Let me know if you have heard anything!)
Ethelyn is concerned for Polly’s horse and she has a point. What exactly does “having the thumps” mean? Any southerners in the house up for translation?
If you’re going for Mary Pickford, you’d best not miss! Obviously, Mary lived to see another day but you can buy this film on DVD if you like.
I hope you enjoyed this little trip back in time!
If you want to read classic movie fan magazines online, please visit the Media History Digital Library.
Like what you’re reading? Please consider sponsoring me on Patreon. All patrons will get early previews of upcoming features, exclusive polls and other goodies.