The Law of Contact

Dance Hall (December 14, 1929)

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Ralph Emerson, Olive Borden and Arthur Lake
 

Released on December 14, 1929: A skinny, wimpy fellow tries to compete with a famous flyer for the affections of a dance hall girl.

Produced by William LeBaron

Directed by Melville W. Brown

The Actors: Olive Borden (Gracie Nolan), Arthur Lake (Tommy Flynn), Margaret Seddon (Mrs. Flynn), Ralph Emerson (Ted Smith), Joseph Cawthorn (Bremmer), Helen Kaiser (Bee), Lee Moran (Ernie), Tom O'Brien (truck driver), Ralph Brooks (dance hall patron), Patricia Caron (dancer), Dorothy Granger (dancer), George Irving (Doctor Loring), Natalie Joyce (Gracie's best friend, dancer), Spec O'Donnell (newspaper vendor), Harry Tenbrook (nightclub bouncer)

 

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Kicking Sand

Papa was a preacher, and when I was 10 years old we were living in Meadville, Pennsylvania where Dad and I would walk down Washington Street to the supermarket several blocks away. While he was inside shopping for the next day's food for Mom to prepare I went across the street to the magazine store and eagerly searched for the new Superman comic book. In the back of the comic book there was always a page of advertisements, and one of them was always a picture of a skinny, wimpy man lying on the beach with his girl while a big hunk of a fellow was kicking sand in his face and stealing his girl . . . and for only 29 cents plus postage you could purchase a little gadget that could transform you from the skinny wimp into the big, bruising hunk. In this romantic adventure Arthur Lake, later to become famous as the movie version of Dagwood Bumstead, is the skinny wimp and Ralph Emerson is the big guy who will take the pretty blonde girl away from the wimp. Before you start watching this early 'talkie' I must tell you a bit about how talking movies were made. Every time the camera view changes, on the set the action stops, the camera is moved to a new position and the action begins again . . . sometimes a two minute scene will have a half dozen camera shots, with close-ups, and different camera angles, and the actors will perform the same scene a half dozen times - once for each camera angle. Now, if that isn't complicated enough, when sound is added there is another complication. In the early days of sound, recording sound was a completely different operation from taking the pictures, and to sync the sound to the pictures the movie clapboard was invented . . . you know, that little black board with the scene number written on it and when the director calls 'action' a striped bar is clapped loudly in front of the camera and then removed as the camera begins recording the moving pictures. Separately there are sound men who operate the microphones and the sound recording equipment, which is totally different from the movie camera. Later, in the editing room, the sound guys get together with the picture editors and for each take of each scene they each zero in on the clap from that clapboard. The sound man starts the sound at that exact second while the film editor starts the pictures from the same second that the clap is seen on the camera . . . and the sound of the voices is close enough to the picture of the lips moving that we think that it is one seamless operation . . . well, in 1929 when sound was just beginning, some of the editors were not as perfect or precise or skilled as they should have been, and in some scenes the lips didn't move quite at the same time as the sound. In this copy of the movie, the only surviving copy that we know of, there are several scenes where the sound and the pictures don't match as closely as we have come to expect . . . I would encourage you to enjoy the imperfections of the pioneering editors instead of scoffing at the crudeness of the match . . . Now . . . whether you are the big hunk who wears his women like a new shirt . . . or the skinny wimpy guy who has a hard time trying to impress the pretty girl . . .or the girl who is just looking for her best man . . . Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter on it and enjoy the show.

Arthur Lake and Mararet Seddon
Arthur Lake and Mararet Seddon
Arthur Lake and Olive Borden
Arthur Lake and Olive Borden
Arthur Lake and Olive Borden
Arthur Lake and Olive Borden
Arthur Lake, Ralph Emerson and Olive Borden
Arthur Lake, Ralph Emerson and Olive Borden
Arthur Lake meets Ralph Emerson
Arthur Lake meets Ralph Emerson
George Irving and Arthur Lake
George Irving and Arthur Lake
Helen Kaiser and Arthur Lake
Helen Kaiser and Arthur Lake
Joseph Cawthorn and Olive Borden
Joseph Cawthorn and Olive Borden
Joseph Cawthorn and Ralph Emerson
Joseph Cawthorn and Ralph Emerson
Joseph Cawthorn
Joseph Cawthorn
Lee Moran and Arthur Lake
Lee Moran and Arthur Lake
Lee Moran
Lee Moran
Margaret Seddon and Arthur Lake
Margaret Seddon and Arthur Lake
Margaret Seddon and Arthur Lake
Margaret Seddon and Arthur Lake
Olive Borden and Joseph Cawthorn
Olive Borden and Joseph Cawthorn
Olive Borden, Ralph Emerson and Helen Kaiser
Olive Borden, Ralph Emerson and Helen Kaiser
Olive Borden and Ralph Emerson
Olive Borden and Ralph Emerson
Ralph Emerson and Helen Kaiser
Ralph Emerson and Helen Kaiser
Olive Borden and Arthur Lake
Olive Borden and Arthur Lake
Ralph Emerson and Olive Borden
Ralph Emerson and Olive Borden