These Were the Errors and Tropes That Annoyed Moviegoers Exactly 100 Years Ago

I keep saying this: silent era audiences were alert, smart and they were quick to say something when met with a cliche or a mistake in a film. What these people could have done with Twitter is terrifying to consider.

Kvetching was so popular that Photoplay gave readers an entire column to do just that and here are the entries from July of 1919.


Get out your rubber boots! In one issue of “The Lure of the Circus.”‘ the old man is rescued from the cellar just as the four-inch pipe has filled it with water. They all go away, not turning off the water. I”m glad I don”t live in California — with that water still running.

E. L. M., Chicago.

The Lure of the Circus is available on home video, so we are off to a promising start. (Usually, there are four or five lost films right out of the gate.)

A Progressive Injury

Went to see the “Belle of New York.'” In one part Jack Bronson, played by Raymond Bloomer, is attacked by two thugs and hit on the head. Later he is seen in his apartment with his arm bandaged, and his head seems to be uninjured. Solid ivory?

E. S. C., New York City.

The Belle of New York stars Marion Davies and is preserved safe and sound at the Library of Congress.

Free Lunch

In the foxyfilm, “Never Say Quit,” featuring doug-fairbanks Walsh, some funny things happened. In the restaurant scene, “Mr. and Mrs. Badger” — clever names for two crooks, yes? — stage a quarrel, Mr. Badger leaves in a huff, and later Mrs. Badger, having thoroughly vamped our George, leaves, too. The waiter politely assists her with her wraps and she swings slowly out — and no one questioned either of them about their check.

J. O., Chicago.

Dine and dash was easier back in the day, apparently. The star of the picture would be George Walsh, who was building a reputation for himself as an athletic young man who– whoopsy-doodle– keeps losing all his clothes. Never Say Quit is missing and presumed lost.

A Tip for Good Hosts

In the late Mr. Lockwood’s “Pals First” he returns to his home late at night with his pal, who weighed about 300 pounds. Mr. Lockwood goes to the wardrobe and finds suits both for his friend and himself that fit perfectly. Is it customary for our Southern Aristocrats to always have on hand, all sizes of clothing to fit different shapes of guests?

Private Hayman, Fort Ontario.

Well, I guess I need a southerner to answer this one. But seriously, this is the cousin of the old “knock out the guard, his uniform fits perfectly” trope, which was amusingly lampshaded in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Alas, this film is also lost.

Depending on Their Skull

In comedies some actors when hit over the head with a club fall down unconscious, but others stand just where they are as if nothing but a feather had struck them.

J. Carroll Guise, Baltimore, Md.

Still going on!

A Trick Pencil

In “Mickey,” Mabel Normand’s picture, the old miner scribbled off a note with a pencil, yet when the letter was shown on the screen it appeared in INK.

J. Embrae Horan, Atlanta, Ga.

I don’t remember this particular bit but it does seem that movie pencils are darker than what we use in daily life. Is it possible that soft lead or a grease pencil were used? Anyway, my review of Mickey is here.


  1. Paddy Lee

    When goofs appear, I generally let them slide. I know somebody else will point it out. The hubby mutters “continuity was laying down on the job.”

    – Caftan Woman

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