Tag Archives: John Gilbert
Happy Birthday, John Gilbert!
John Gilbert in CAMEO KIRBY (Fox, 1923)
John Gilbert and Renee Adoree in “The Big Parade”
THE BIG PARADE (MGM, 1925) John Gilbert‘s best-known film, is a realistic portrayal of WWI. It was the biggest box office hit ever until GONE WITH THE WIND. Renee Adoree was John Gilbert’s co-star. She starred with him in more films than any of his leading ladies. The photo above depicts the famous chewing gum scene that Gilbert and Adoree ad-libbed. The scene inspired the Blatz company to use it to advertise their chewing gum.
ST ELMO: Poster of the Film in Color
Poster probably used to advertise the 1923 Fox film version starring John Gilbert (“St. Elmo), Bessie Love (“Edna Earl”), Barbara LaMarr (“Agnes Powell”), and Warner Baxter (“Murray Hammond”).
ST. ELMO’s Legacy
I started this blog in part to pay homage to my favorite novel, ST. ELMO, and my favorite novelist, Augusta Evans Wilson. If it were not for ST. ELMO, I may not have discovered John Gilbert, who played the leading role in the film adaptation.
John Gilbert was a versatile actor, who could play the role of a “good guy” as easily as that of a “bad guy.” I’ve heard that he preferred playing bad guys. ST. ELMO was a vehicle for John Gilbert to display his ability to play both. He starts off as a bad guy, but for the love of a woman, turns into a good guy.
Below is an excerpt from page 40 of the ST. ELMO novel in which the maid is describing “St. Elmo‘s” character to the protagonist, Edna Earl.
“Listen to me, child, for I like your patient ways and want to give you a friendly warning . . . . Whatever else you do, be sure not to cross ‘Mass Elmo’s path. Keep out of his way, and he will keep out of yours, for he is shy enough of strangers, and would walk a mile to keep from meeting anybody; But if he finds you in his way, he will walk roughshod right over you–trample you. . . . He hates everybody and everything. . . . He is like a rattlesnake that crawls in his own track and bites everything that meddles or crosses his trail . . . Above everything child . . . don’t argue with him! If he says black is white, don’t contradict him; and if he swears water runs upstream, let him swear and don’t let him know water runs down . . . . Everybody is afraid of him, and gives way to him. . . . I would rather put my head in a wolf’s jaws than stir him up. [He is a] “sinful, swearing, raging devil.”
ST. ELMO is still in print. Filmmaker Robert Clem is in the process of filming a ST ELMO remake or docudrama. It is called THE PASSION OF MISS AUGUSTA.
2012 in review
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
Is it any wonder that the protagonist in THE PRINCE IN THE TOWER: A Modern Gothic Romance is a John Gilbert look-alike? John Gilbert should replace Fabio on the cover of romance novels.
La Boheme (MGM, 1926)
- John Gilbert played “Rudolphe” and Lillian Gish played “Mimi” in the 1926 MGM silent film, LA BOHEME. The producers at MGM were so eager to get Lillian Gish to star in the film that they allowed her to choose the cast. She picked John Gilbert, Renee Adoree, and Karl Dane because she was impressed with their performance in THE BIG PARADE (MGM, 1925).
- The film differs from the novel and Puccini’s opera in that Lillian Gish portrays “Mimi” as innocent, virginal, and selfless. The “Mimi” described in Henri Murger’s novel is quite the opposite.
- Lillian Gish took the part so seriously that she prepared herself for the death scene by going without food and water for three days. The scene was convincing enough to alarm the director, King Vidor, who had also directed THE BIG PARADE.
- The DVD is available at Warner Brothers (WarnerArchive.com).
THE PHANTOM OF PARIS
John Gilbert plays a master of escape (like Houdini) and a master of disguise in THE PHANTOM OF PARIS (MGM, 1931). The film is based on the novel CHERI-BIBI, by Gaston Leroux, who also wrote THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Leatrice Gilbert Fountain loaned me this photo years ago to publish when I was editing the John Gilbert Society Appreciation newsletter.