Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pat Di Cicco As Perseus In NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS

After Thelma Todd played Venus in VAMPING VENUS, Pat Di Cicco got his chance to play a god. But somehow, the idea of Pat DiCicco as a god doesn't strike me as so hot. The way the part he had in this movie sounds doesn't help.

From http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/person/0%7C120665/Pat-De-Cicco/filmography-with-synopsis.html

Night Life of the Gods (1935) as Perseus
A scientist named Hunter Hawk invents a device that can turn flesh to stone. While celebrating his discovery he becomes involved with a half naked leprechaun. On a trip to New York, Hunter and Meg (the leprechaun) decide to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and turn all of the Statues of Greek Gods into people. What follows in a drunken romp around New York with Medusa's severed head still in Perseus' hand.

Pat DiCicco in this movie is Perseus. He's the one who carts Medusa's head all over Manhattan with him. What a riot.

We know this movie is funny. The titles at the start of the money tell us so. Sort of like the blurbs they used to have on Thorne Smith's books.


Cellophane was new at the time: this was a topical reference.
That looks like Pat DiCicco at left rear.

Irene Ware, Geneva Mitchell, and Marda Deering. Geneva Mitchell will be familiar to fans of the Three Stooges as the dance instructor from HOI POLLOI.
And here she is from HOI POLLOI.
Here are Thelma Todd and Pat DiCicco from back when they were married.
They were divorced by the time this movie was made, but Pat DiCicco was still around Thelma Todd after that.
As was mentioned in the top middle column of this PHOTOPLAY page from early 1935.
 DiCicco was also one of the last people to see Thelma Todd alive, later the same year and at the same place, the Trocadero. 
A little about Thorne Smith:

Thorne Smith

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


James Thorne Smith, Jr. (March 27, 1892 – June 21, 1934) was an American writer of humorous supernatural fantasy fiction under the byline Thorne Smith. He is best known today for the two Topper novels, comic fantasy fiction involving sex, much drinking and supernatural transformations. With racy illustrations, these sold millions of copies in the 1930s and were equally popular in paperbacks of the 1950s.
Smith drank as steadily as his characters; his appearance in James Thurber's The Years with Ross involves an unexplained week-long disappearance.[1] Smith was born in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of a Navy commodore and attended Dartmouth College. Following hungry years in Greenwich Village, working part-time as an advertising agent, Smith achieved meteoric success with the publication of Topper in 1926. He was an early resident of Free Acres, a social experimental community developed by Bolton Hall according to the economic principles of Henry George in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.[2] He died of a heart attack in 1934 while vacationing in Florida.

And a little about NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS ( likewise from Wikipedia ):

The Night Life of the Gods (1931). Quirky inventor Hunter Hawk strikes gold when he invents a device that will enable him to turn living matter into stone and to reverse the process at will. After a chaotic field test he meets stunning 900-year-old Megaera who teaches him to turn stone into flesh. The two and a bunch of friends set their sights on New York City to bring the Roman gods of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to life. Among other incidents, Mercury shows himself to be an expert pickpocket, while Neptune causes chaos in the fish market.

                                                        *                        *                         *

Thorne Smith isn't one of my favorite authors. I read this book and several of the others, none of which I thought were any good. I actually prefer the "Toffee" stories by Charles Myers*, although that might be at least partly because it was an ongoing series about one character and I liked the character. Though Thorne Smith's books weren't supposed to be a continuing series about a particular character, he basically seemed to have one story that he told over and over again about a dirty old man and a sexy young girl, usually said to be a ghost, a witch, an elf, or some sort of other supernatural creature, which was supposed to be more interesting and made for a certain amount of variety. These books are supposed to be jolly fun, but somehow often aren't all that happy, as the old guy bemoans his fate and his sentiments are echoed by others. In NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS, the story ends with the inventor turning himself and his lady love to stone statues, a not too happy ending for what was supposed to be a funny book.
Finally, here is a depiction of the mythological Perseus with the head of Medusa.
Not a lovely sight, but then, I also tend to think of Pat DiCicco as unlovely. If it wasn't for the pretty girls in this story, nobody would look at it. The blog, I mean, although that could probably also be said of the movie NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS.

* The Toffee stories were supposed to be similar to the Thorne Smith stuff and references to this similarity were made when they were originally published in magazines such as FANTASTIC ADVENTURES. Charles Myers later became more famous as Henry Farrell.

Watch the first three minutes of NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS:

Watch Geneva Mitchell and friends in HOI POLLOI:

Broccoli Bunch ( Pat DiCicco's Relatives In The Movies ):


NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS Review At "Universal Horrors":

Pat DiCicco At "Glamour Girls Of The Silver Screen":

Startales: Perseus:


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Photoplay's Fight Against Reduceomania

Starvation diets were recognized as a problem long ago. Complaints about them go way back, too. Here's something published in PHOTOPLAY back in the silent era.

 In 1926, Catherine Brody wrote a series of articles in PHOTOPLAY about problems related to dieting, which was related to the current ideal of the "flapper", who was supposed to be thinner than the traditional norm in addition to rebelling against things like layers of undergarments and long hair. The movies of the period depicted heroines as being flappers and influenced many young ladies to follow the trend.
 Many stars suffered from the effects of excessive dieting, something which may be ignored or denied by fans not familiar with the problem. The modern media seeks to set abnormal standards which can cause problems to those who might follow them, and the problem is still with us today.
Betty Blythe in the movie SHE, based on the H. Rider Haggard's novel.
Katherine Grant worked with Charlie Chase.
Nita Naldi worked costarred with Rudolph Valentino in BLOOD AND SAND

Betty Blythe - Silent Hollywood:
Betty Blythe And SHE:
Nita Naldi.com:
Photoplay And Other Fan Magazines At Media History Project:
 Silent Movies.com:
Silent Movies To Watch At Archive.org:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

   Thelma Todd, Loretta Young, Jack Ford, and Doris Dawson star in a historical reenactment for First National around the time that Thelma Todd and Loretta Young made SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN.


The mention of NAUGHTY BABY dates this to 1928. Thelma Todd and Doris Dawson were in that movie, although it doesn't seem that Loretta Young was.
And here is a shot of Loretta Young from SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN,
which they also would have been working on in 1928, although it was released at the beginning of 1929.
Massachusetts figures in the story of Thelma Todd as well as the story of the Pilgrims. Thelma Todd was from Massachusetts, which is also where the Pilgrims lived when they came to the United States, met the Indians, and started celebrating Thanksgiving.
Loretta Young Site:
Loretta Young At Silent Hollywood:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Alison Loyd

"Alison Loyd" was a stage name Thelma Todd used in the movie CORSAIR, which was made in 1931.

 It wasn't a hit, so she went back to being Thelma Todd again.

Caption from the back of this picture:

But occasionally, you still run across publicity pictures with the name "Alison Loyd" on them.

This one identifies Alison Loyd as Thelma Todd on the back. It also mentions that she's in MONKEY BUSINESS with the Marx Brothers, so they may have been using it to advertise that movie.

With costar Chester Morris, and named only on the back.

Some of these have one name or the other crossed out.

An older photo where they added the new name 

 and later crossed it out and replaced it with the old one.

This one has first one name and then the other crossed out. They evidently had some uncertainty as to which name to use.

Another picture in the same series recieved the same treatment.

Again the first one name crossed out, and then the other.

 This "Alison Loyd" picture appeared in HEBDO in June 1932.

In 1933, this calendar had the same picture of Thelma Todd on it labeled "Alison Loyd".

The name appears at the bottom left of this picture.


An enlargement of the place with the name "Alison Loyd" on it.

A couple of years had passed since CORSAIR had been released, so it's unusual to see the name appearing on anything at this time.

But the name would be used for Thelma Todd again.

At Thelma Todd's funeral there were some flowers with the name "Alison" on a ribbon. They were from Roland West. The guy who was responsible for the name change in the first place. It was like he was still insisting that it was a good idea, that he was right, and that it was everybody else who was wrong.

Roland West was like that.

"Alison Loyd" newspaper article:

CORSAIR Promotion:


Monday, November 12, 2012

From Mexico With Adulation

American movie stars were very popular in Latin America. Here is a Mexican fan magazine from January 4, 1936, Mujeres Deportes.

At the time this was written, Shirley Temple was the biggest star in the movies.
The cartoon feature appears to be Feg Murry's SEEIN' STARS.

Thelma Todd was still in the news at the beginning of 1936 as she had died recently and the investigation was still trying to figure out if it had been an accident, murder, or suicide. A question that still hasn't been decided absolutely.

This appears to be "Alice in Wonderland".
This magazine also had articles about Clark Gable, Sonja Heinie, and Marie Wilson. This was still early in Marie Wilson's career. In 1946, she would appear in SATAN MET A LADY, which had the same story as THE MALTESE FALCON, the first version of which had Thelma Todd in it.
 Marie Wilson would later gain fame as "My Friend Irma", a character she would play for years.

Media History Project: Fan Magazines:
Vintage Movie Magazines:
Shirley Temple:

Saturday, November 10, 2012


CORSAIR was the movie that Thelma Todd made as "Alison Loyd".

Corsair (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Directed byRoland West
Produced byRoland West
Written byWalton Green (novel Corsair)
StarringSee below
Music byAlfred Newman
CinematographyRay June
Editing byHal C. Kern
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date(s)28 November 1931
Running time75 minutes
CountryUnited States
Corsair is a 1931 American film directed by Roland West. The film is based on the novel Corsair by Walton Green.

 Plot summary

A college football hero, Chester Morris as John Hawks, lets himself be goaded, by a wealthy socialite, Thelma Todd as Alison Corning, into forgetting about a job coaching the college team, to be "a real man, and make real money", in the big city, with her Father, Emmett Corrigan as Stephen Corning, on Wall Street.
He soon has more than he can stomach, making money, by bilking the poor, out of their meagre savings, with junk bonds.
He gets the inside dope from Ned Sparks as Slim; and Mayo Methot, his Gun moll, who taps out the information in Morse Code, with her typewriter. Then, as a modern pirate, with his friend, Frank McHugh as ‘Chub’, he captains the “Corsair”, a gunboat, which preys on bootleggers, and then resells the cargo, to their wealthy backers.
He only forgot two things: that in the cutthroat world of junk bonds and margin calls, they don’t use real knives, machine guns, and bombs, like the gangsters; and, the girl hiding, in the hold.
It’s a hard lesson to learn; but, one that will last them the rest of their lives; however long, or short, that may be.


 External links

                                                           *           *           *

CORSAIR was the movie where Thelma Todd was billed as "Alison Loyd", the change being made because this was a drama, while the name "Thelma Todd" was associated with comedy. There was some publicity about the name change and Hal Roach's not liking it, but not everyone knew that Alison Loyd was Thelma Todd when the movie came out, as has sometimes been said. Some of the posters for this movie don't have either of her names on it even when she's shown. Roland West's name, of course, is always prominent.

CORSAIR was part of the early thirties cycle of gangster movies and failed to attract much attention at the time. It was not a hit and the talk was that Thelma Todd couldn't act. I liked Thelma Todd in it all right, but I don't think it's one of her better movies. Among the dramas, I thought KLONDIKE was better.

After the making of CORSAIR, Thelma Todd would eventually open her sidewalk cafe in partnership with this film's producer, Roland West. History tells us that Roland West could be difficult with under any circumstances and history also tells us that this partnership was not always a happy one.

 The hero of the story, played by Chester Morris, engages in things like piracy in addition to violating prohibition laws by dealing in alcohol. The movie attempts to excuse his misdeeds at the end, but his actions remain questionable nonetheless.

Chester Morris is prominently mentioned on the posters. He was under contract to Roland West and had previously appeared in his movies THE BAT and THE BAT WHISPERS. He would later play Boston Blackie and may be best remembered for that role today. 

Roland West retired after making this movie, during the making of which the interiors were filmed only at night, as was his want, the exteriors being filmed outside as there was no other recourse in those days of slow film. West had been quoted as saying he didn't like working in studios because of interfering studio officials ( which is why he liked working at night ) and that for his next movie he would like to shoot something entirely on location. Although West sounds like an irritable cuss ( and as a matter of fact was one ) the coming of sound had greatly complicated matters and changed the way movies were made. Things just weren't the same anymore. For a while the talkies tended to be static and stagebound, with the recording of sound taking precedence over the pictorial element that hitheroto had been their sole concern in the days of silent film.

Roland West had real-life associations with the sea. He owned a yacht named the "Joyita" which was named after Jewel Carmen ( the name means "Little Jewel" in Spanish ) which was used as one of the ships in the movie. He would go on a long voyage on this ship after the making of the movie and lived on it for some time afterwards.

West later sold the Joyita and it passed through a succession of  owners, not all whom were happy with their experiences with what would later come to be known as a jinx ship.

                               Here is a poster where Thelma Todd is billed as "Alison Loyd".

Here we see Frank McHugh with Chester Morris and Thelma Todd, whose name is nowhere to be seen regardless of which one they might choose to use.

That's Mayo Methot in the rear on this poster.

The gimmick of tapping out morse code in a typewriter is impractical as morse code requires two different symbols or signals to use ( such as dots and dashes ), and the clattering sounds made by the keys of a typewriter sound too much alike for anyone to be able to distinguish them from each other.

CORSAIR seems to have been Mayo Methot's first movie. She had real-life associations with the sea. She was the daughter of a sea captain who sailed to China regularly and she seems to have inherited a love of the sea from him. She would later marry Humphrey Bogart, and while they were married they spent much time on their cabin cruiser.

She was also in the 1933 movie COUNSELLOR AT LAW with Thelma Todd.

Author Walton Green was the former head of federal Prohibition enforcement. He knew all about things like the rumrunners who used to smuggle in booze from other countries.

CORSAIR came out as a novel in 1931 with photos from the movie.

This book came out somewhat later.

William K. Everson's THE DETECTIVE IN FILM

In his book THE DETECTIVE IN FILM, William K. Everson discusses CORSAIR and remarks that the end allows the lawless plotters to escape unpunished with their ill-gotten gains. But Mayo Methot's character does not escape - the story has it that she is killed as a result of having become involved in the plot.  Something that is completely ignored by Everson, who could have seen some sort of parallel between this and the death of Thelma Todd ( the two were similar in appearance in CORSAIR ), but missed it in his attempts to relate the happenings in this movie to West's personal views and his possible involvement in the death of Thelma Todd. Thelma Todd is not mentioned at all, apart from the reference to suspicion that West was responsible for her death. As Everson never said anything about Thelma Todd having been in CORSAIR, the implication is that he may not have even known that "Alison Loyd"actually was Thelma Todd. 

                                 William K. Everson with another famous blonde, Marilyn Monroe.


Thelma Todd would continue to be Thelma Todd for the rest of her career. As Thelma Todd, she was far more successful than she ever was as Alison Loyd.

Watch CORSAIR online:

Walton Green:

Chester Morris Site:


CORSAIR Promotion:

William K. Everson:

Mayo Methot:

Mayo Methot ( The Skeins ):

Morse Code:


Roland West:

Roland West: