These Were the Mistakes, Cliches and Technical Mistakes that Annoyed Moviegoers in October of 1919

We all know that pointing out errors in films has kind of gone too far lately. (If I never hear the phrase “plot hole” again it will be too soon.) However, some good-natured ribbing at the expense of cinematic silliness has always been in style and Photoplay even had a regular feature on the topic.

Silent era audiences were smart, alert and they knew their onions. Make a movie mistake at your peril! (As always, my comments will be in italics.)

Making the Candle Burn Longer

In “The Haunted Bedroom” Enid Bennett leaves the kitchen carrying a candle about four inches long, yet when she enters the bedroom five minutes later, the candle has grown until it is fully a foot in length.

Cleo Danna, Kansas City, Mo.

The Editors Secret Exit, Perhaps

In “The Haunted Bedroom,” Enid enters the office of the editor of the newspaper. The door on the outside has no sign printed on it, yet when Enid is shown on the inside of the office, the words ‘”Managing Editor” appear on the glass, reversed.

Also, in the same picture, they certainly have queer weather. Every night is “dark and
stormy” and yet morning is always sunny and bright and dry.

V. D. A. Grand Rapids, Mich.

It certainly seems like The Haunted Bedroom received its share of complaints. Alas, the film is missing and presumed lost. If you are curious about Bennett’s peppy solo career before she began to focus more on more damselish swashbuckler fare, I reviewed The Woman in the Suitcase. Disclaimer: Not about a corpse concealed in luggage.

Moore all becurled in “The Busher”

(1) Yes; (2) No

Have you seen Charles Ray in “The Busher?” Ever hear of pepper trees or eucalyptus trees in Minnesota?

E. D. R. Glendale, California

Minnesota readers, help me out! Is it so? And if you’re curious to see for yourself, The Busher survives, it’s on DVD and I reviewed it here. It also features a baby John Gilbert sans ‘stache and a baby Colleen Moore when she still had her curls.

The Cow Apparently Cheated

In Charles Chaplin’s “Sunnyside” Charlie brings in a cow to the kitchen and taking his cup of coffee, obtains the milk direct from the cow (eliminating the middleman). Yet when he is shown drinking the coffee it is inky black.

E. P. R. Plainfield, N. J.

Did You Look for A Rainbow?

We have considerable change in the Oklahoma weather, but nothing to surpass that depicted in D. W. Griffith’s “True Heart Susie.” In one scene Bettina is caught in a very heavy rain storm and in discovering she had lost her key, has to take shelter across the street in Susie’s home, where we find the bright sun shining in the window, although it is raining across the street.

K. G. K. Oklahoma City.

Okay, I found this one particularly amusing because I like to tease Griffith fans by reminding them that their idol didn’t ever see the need to match his shots, which led to some bizarre and distracting edits. And this little missive from Oklahoma rather disproves the notion that audiences of the silent era were not sophisticated enough to notice this fact. Evil laugh! Evil laugh! True Heart Susie survives and is on DVD if you are interested.

A Fastidious Pauper

In “The New Moon” Norma Talmadge is a peasant in Russia, yet she meets the anarchist chief at the door of her store in a silk négligée.

Silk has never been cheap, that’s for sure, and this was a plot point in Ninotchka, if I recall correctly. The New Moon survives with one reel missing.

Only a Harmless Tarantula

In a “thrilling” episode of “The Tiger’sTrail,” starring Ruth Roland, a tarantula was seen about to bite her arm. The tarantula is not at all dangerous to human life, as recent scientific investigations have proven. And even our reliable old friend Noah Webster says it pains no more than the sting of a wasp. If the directors cannot keep up with science they can at least read the dictionary.

L. V. Barlament. Green Bay, Wis.

I like this person! As someone who regularly evacuates spiders in a spider taxi (a paper cup), I think spiders are beneficial and most are not poisonous, at least the ones living in my neck of the woods. The Tiger’s Trail only survives in fragments.

Wooden Indians

In Norma Talmadge’s “Heart of Wetona” the Indians are seen battering down the door
of her lover’s cabin when the chief comes up, tells them to stop, opens the door and walks in. Besides, there was an open window three feet from the door.

H. G. Mc. Boston.

I rather enjoyed heckling this picture in my review but I missed this particular bit of hilarity!

Tidy Bullets

In “The Money Corrall” William Hart wins the pistol shoot championship. Later he has a pistol duel with a burglar who is only about two feet away — yet after shooting five or six times he only slightly wounds him in the arm.

Jay Walsh, New York

This film is missing and presumed lost. Perhaps Hart was a founding member of the Imperial Stoomtrooper Marksmanship Academy?

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4 Replies to “These Were the Mistakes, Cliches and Technical Mistakes that Annoyed Moviegoers in October of 1919”

  1. I remember being puzzled by the sudden weather change in ‘True Heart Susie.’ But it’s a delightful picture, so all is forgiven.

    1. Griffith was constantly doing things like that, his favorite being a cut to the actress standing against a black background (regardless of the scene’s setting) and very obviously dolled up for a glamour shot. It would be as big a deal but when someone claims they invented the “grammar” of film, one expects them to understand this very basic concept.

  2. I love Norma Talmadge in everything I’ve seen her in. But boy, this one sounds awful! Tom Meighan is a favorite of mine, too, so I might have to find a copy of this just for the “fun” (dubious) of it! Your comments had me laughing out loud, btw.

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