100 Years Ago, These Were the Bloopers, Errors and Civil War Telephones That Annoyed Audiences

Silent era audiences were savvy and observant and they didn’t have the advantage of being able to immediately watch a scene again at the click of a button. They were so good at spotting mistakes that Photoplay had a regular showcase of their complaints and here are the errors discovered exactly 100 years ago.

She Makes a Very Fair Salary

When Mary Miles Minter came from the orphanage asylum in “Anne of Green Gables,” she wore silkstockings. How does she do it?

Martha T., San Francisco.

Martha makes a good point. Even cheaper silk stockings ran the equivalent of $12 a pair, which made them a bit out of the price range of a newly-grown-up orphan. I am sorry to start this article off on a negative note but I know many of you will wonder and I am afraid that this version of Anne is missing and presumed lost.

And the Audience Laughed

Tom Mix, in “The Feud,” which was supposed to have taken place before the Civil War, was almost up-to-date. Rubber-tired carriages were used, and houses covered with rubberoid roofing were visible in several scenes. They also used a telephone. And Tom wore a shirt with the initial “M” embroidered on the sleeve.

B. D. Cooper, Greenville, Texas.

That anachronism is so glaring that one wonders if this picture was actually a comedy but the synopses I have read do not sound particularly humorous. (The film is lost so we may never know.) Tom Mix was famous for slapping his name on everything, so the M on the sleeve would have been on-brand.

Such Is Genius

In “The Right to Lie,” with Dolores Cassinelli, John Drake is supposed to have married Dolores Ferrari, an Italian woman, and the two are subsequently separated and made to believe each other dead. Some twenty years or so later, when Signora Ferrari is on her death-bed, they “re-discover” each other. Inasmuch as he is a well-known architect and she a world-famous prima donna, it seems a little incongruous that they should go on believing each other dead.

R. F. B., Toledo, Ohio.

Good news: this one survives in the film museum of the Netherlands so we may one day find out the answer to this quandary.

Sears-Roebuck Mountaineering

In “Heart of the Hills,” Mary Pickford’s charming picture, Steve smooths his oiled hair down with a silver-backed brush. Neither he nor his cabin fit in with that brush, somehow.

M. V. P., Maiden, Mass.

This one survives and was released on DVD by Milestone but that edition is now out of print. Steve was played by Sam de Grasse and there’s a role for a baby John Gilbert too.

Correspondence School Art

We see Sessue Hayakawa painting in “The Dragon Painter.” He smashes his first through the picture and casts it aside. A few moments later his bride runs in, in grief, and picks up the picture. It seems to be in perfectly good shape.

And in “The Broken Melody” Eugene O’Brien takes a canvas painting on which he had just been working and tucks it under his arm to convey it to another room. His colors must have possessed some magic drying quality which all artists would like to know about.

C. H. S., Oklahoma City.

Another one on home media! And I even reviewed it!

A Thrifty Hostess

In Norma Talmadge’s picture, “She Loves and Lies” Conway Tearle and Norma, dressed as an elderly lady, have tea together. Norma pours— but strange to say she doesn’t offer her guest any cream or sugar. Lots of us noticed this.

Edith W., Corona, L. I.

Another survivor! The Library of Congress has a copy and so we too may see Norma’s stingy tea party ways.


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