While Grauman is mostly known for spectacular venues reflecting Hollywood’s film fantasies, his early San Francisco period indicates that throughout his career he showed remarkable consistency in referring to the local context of his theaters. In other words, while the Egyptian and the Chinese Theatre became self-referential landmarks of the gilded Hollywood movie palace era, the ideas behind their creation and imagery took form elsewhere. Grauman’s strategy of merging the local and the fantastical, charged by the myth-making properties of the moving picture medium, propelled him to the top of San Francisco’s entertainment brass. By the mid-1910s, it was time to showcase his brand to a wider audience.
* * *
The name Sid Grauman is a familiar one. For the film-interested public, he is the possessive (Grauman’s) of the Chinese Theatre, one of Hollywood’s most iconic landmarks. For film historians, and particularly scholars of the American silent era, Grauman was one of the liveliest and most popular showmen of the period. He is generally remembered for his lavish Los Angeles movie theaters, revered as monuments of the American cinema’s first golden age. To this day, spectacle fills the atmosphere around Grauman’s Chinese. Tourists, tour guides, sunglass hawkers, aspiring thespians, and stoned Chewbaccas flock the theater’s famous courtyard, all simultaneously in search of a part of Hollywood’s spiritual epicenter.
The daily flurry outside the Chinese fits the personality and modus operandi of its founder. From the late 1910s to the early 1920s, Grauman built a picture palace empire in Los Angeles based on extravagant building designs and exuberant live performance. More specifically, he introduced to Hollywood the practice of film “prologues”: lavish stage shows offering a connection between cinematic text and regional theater culture. While Grauman’s hands are forever imprinted in the idea of Hollywood as we know it, his career and his idiosyncratic exhibition practices are under-studied aspects of the golden era of the American film industry. This essay outlines a historical sketch and investigates the interplay of space, performance, and cinematic text in Grauman’s prologues. Using primary archival sources scholarship on extra-filmic practices in silent cinema culture, it charts the trajectory of Grauman’s practices at three venues: the Empress in San Francisco, the Underground Chinatown concession at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, and the Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. The consideration of Grauman in a broader historical context shows a long-standing ambition to unite space, stage show, and film exhibition as a strategy to ultimately amplify his public brand.
Background on Grauman
Born into a family of traveling showmen, Sid Grauman rose to prominence at a young age in San Francisco’s dynamic entertainment scene. From makeshift venues to first-run theaters, his exhibition practices intersected local architectural kitsch, performing arts, and moving pictures. Grauman’s resourcefulness was well known in San Francisco. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire destroyed most of the city’s theaters and nickelodeons in the downtown area, he and his then better-known exhibitor father, D. J., rented a big circus tent and held impromptu exhibitions, mixing film and live performance.
During the 1910s, Sid Grauman built a small entertainment empire out of San Francisco, exhibiting films and putting on elaborate shows, often with a local flavor. By the late 1910s, as Hollywood came into its own, he moved his operations south. In Los Angeles, Grauman became synonymous with elaborate and exotic premiere venues, such as the Million Dollar Theater (opened in 1918) in downtown and the Egyptian (1922) on Hollywood Boulevard. More than providing film studios with lavish venues and spectacular gala evenings for the film premieres, Grauman also prided himself on his production of atmospheric prologues to the films. The prologues were short, expansive stage performances designed to enhance the audience’s experience of their night at the movies. While the practice was relatively short-lived, generally periodized between the late silent and early sound era, the spread and impact were considerable, especially at the larger flagship film palaces of New York and LA.
“Much has been written about the drawing power of the film feature,” wrote LA Times journalist Philip K. Scheuer in a 1927 article, “but often the presentation on the stage is a strong factor” contributing materially to the receipts at the box office. Scheuer sketched out a typology of the prologue practice, dividing it into four categories. First was the “straight-picture policy,” an umbrella term for the seasoned practice of presenting a single- or double-feature program complemented by shorter live acts. Grauman’s practice fell under the second category of “atmospheric prologue,” stage performances designed to complement the feature film it preceded thematically. The third was the “varieties idea,” which included live performances of the variety format, which, in contrast to the atmospheric prologue, did not provide audiences with any form of reference to, or preparation for, the feature film that followed. Fourth, Scheuer listed the synchronized soundtrack, exemplified in early 1927 by Movietone and Vitaphone. The possibilities for this new development, Scheuer determined, were yet to be realized, its popularity at this early stage “an unguessable quantity.”1
Prologues in Film Scholarship – A Brief Review
The prologue practice has been mentioned anecdotally in historical scholarship on silent cinema throughout the 20th century. However, it was not until the early 2000s that scholars saw the subject as worthy of further inquiry. Since then, a small number of “revisionists” have explored the prologues in shorter-length studies. Rick Altman, Vinzenz Hediger, and Rudmer Canjels have sketched out the defining traits and broader historical contexts.2 More in-depth looks include Ross Melnick’s discussion of the early prologues of Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and D. W. Griffith, Phil Wagner’s investigation of the peculiar stage spectacles of sibling couple Fanchon and Marco, and Julie Brown’s anthology chapter on silent cinema prologues from a British perspective.3
Rick Altman, in his standard work on sound and silent cinema, defined the prologues as “a short live-action scene, usually accompanied by music, designed to get the audience in the mood for the film to come.”4 Grauman is one of the two names, along with Roxy Rothafel, most commonly cited in the budding scholarship on the prologue practice. Both are cited as originators, working from opposite ends of the North American continent. Altman contends that prologues were “first popularized by Roxy at the Regent.”5 While Rudmer Canjels cites Grauman as a co-originator of the prologue form, Phil Wagner contends that while the “atmospheric prologues of the style pioneered by Sid Grauman were dominant in San Francisco movie theaters in the 1920s,” the “variety” style of Fanchon and Marco had a longer life span, stretching into the early age of synchronized sound.6
All of these works pinpoint the life span of prologues to the 1920s. Most of them place Grauman as a central figure, partly in terms of the prologue practice, but even more so as one of the driving forces behind the glamorization of 1920s movie theater culture. Therefore, it is quite remarkable that no scholarly book-length study of Grauman exists, except for Charles Beardsley’s long, anecdotal, Hollywood’s Master Showman (1983), which reads more like an amusing and educational festschrift than a critical treatment of the man’s life and work. This essay represents a move toward the latter. I argue that while Grauman’s practice was perhaps most eye-catching in the 1920s, his exploration of the borderland between film, stage performance, and theatrical space in San Francisco reached back throughout the 1910s. Through three mini case studies that underline the spatial aspects of Grauman’s particular mix of movies and public spectacle, I map out a preliminary historical sketch of the idiosyncratic showman’s brand. We begin at the Empress.
The Empress and Last Night at the Barbary Coast
As the rebuilding of the city began, the 20-year-old Sid tried his wings. The post-quake period was the time and place in which Sid Grauman laid the foundations for his successful career in show business. Together with his father, he opened the National Theater, a tent raised on a vacant lot in the Fillmore District just a few weeks after the earthquake and fire. The makeshift theater was a success, and in 1907, the Graumans built a more permanent structure around it. In 1910, Sid was back on Market Street again, this time as the manager of the Empress, a newly built Sullivan and Considine theater, which with its 1,455 seats became the largest on Market Street.7 The Empress quickly became one of the pillars of San Francisco’s entertainment scene. By 1912, Grauman’s was the most significant presence on Market Street with three theaters, of which two were first-run houses.
The Empress was Sid Grauman’s playground, where he labored over creating new ways to captivate his audiences. While at first blending variety numbers with reels of film, Grauman, like many others, gradually moved toward a focus on the feature format.8 Newspaper reports, trade reviews, and archived programs from Grauman’s houses in the early 1910s suggest that the bills were evenly divided between films and short live performances, typically balanced as seven reels and seven vaudeville acts.9 Simultaneously, he varied this format with more pointed marketing campaigns. For the Empress premiere of Theda Bara’s 1915 scandal drama Sin, Grauman invested in an elaborate “four storied electrical display of 246 letters” to attract audiences from the street into his theater.10
While such strategies to augment the film experience might have singled Grauman out in San Francisco and on the Pacific coast, they were matched and surpassed by contemporary East Coast exhibitors. However, another Empress episode is more indicative of Grauman’s peculiar interest in operating on the threshold between film, live performance, and the context of his venues. In 1913, Mayor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph decided to once and for all crack down on the nefarious streetlife culture of San Francisco’s infamous Barbary Coast. Seizing the opportunity, Sid Grauman and Sol Lesser (another important film historical “to-be” who started in SF entertainment) produced a two-reel, documentary-style exposé of the nightlife in San Francisco’s most infamous areas, Chinatown and the Barbary Coast.11 The film was called Last Night of the Barbary Coast. According to its cameraman, Hal Mohr,12 the idea was to market the film on its sensationalist value, but not include any pictures that could fall afoul of the censors.13 Motography reported in 1913 that contrary to what might be expected from San Francisco on this subject matter, the film was “really quite educational.”14 A passage in the review read, the scene shot “at night of the rush of men and women to get into the cafes and dance halls was exceptionally good for night work as also were the scenes on the dance floor where the trot and tango steps were tripped off.”15 While the film is believed to be lost, I am quite certain that I have identified a portion of it, published on YouTube by a San Francisco dance historian in 2012. The clip shows two performers dancing the “Texas Tommy,” one of many early 1910s dance crazes to originate in the dance halls the Barbary Coast.
Unidentified video clip demonstrating the Texas Tommy Swing Dance, posted by user “twobarbreak” on Youtube, October 25, 2012.
What brings me to highlight the production of this obscure local film is the fact that Grauman furnished its cinematic rendition of the Barbary Coast with performers and material from his ranks. For Last Night of the Barbary Coast, Grauman procured talent from a show previously given at the Empress called 20 Minutes at the Barbary Coast. ((“Barbary Coast Sketch Featured at the Empress,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 23, 1912, 5.)) To clarify, Grauman’s original show brought the experience of the bawdy streetlife of this notorious neighborhood into his theater. However, in order to capture it on film, Grauman then brought the theater experience back onto the very same streets and put them in front of a camera. While the film was exported nationwide as a San Francisco curiosity through a subsidiary of Lesser’s Golden Gate Company, it was also brought back yet again into Grauman’s theater space and shown in tandem with some of the live performances from the initial sketch.
Grauman’s reputation for spectacle spread across California. He staged young aspiring actors, vaudevillians, and musicians such as Al Jolson and Jelly Roll Morton. Visitors and tourists would make sure to take in one of his shows as one of their San Francisco essentials. The locally oriented film production for the benefit of the Empress audience, where they could experience an augmented version of a mythologized street scene that lay just a few blocks away, is one early example. While Grauman is mostly known for spectacular venues reflecting Hollywood’s film fantasies, his early San Francisco period indicates that throughout his career he showed remarkable consistency in referring to the local context of his theaters. In other words, while the Egyptian and the Chinese Theatre became self-referential landmarks of the gilded Hollywood movie palace era, the ideas behind their creation and imagery took form elsewhere. Grauman’s strategy of merging the local and the fantastical, charged by the myth-making properties of the moving picture medium, propelled him to the top of San Francisco’s entertainment brass. By the mid-1910s, it was time to showcase his brand to a wider audience.
In January 1915, San Francisco opened the doors to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a world’s fair honoring the apparent connection of East and West: the human-made canal linking the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. To accommodate the exposition grounds the city created a whole new district on top of landfills and solidified marshlands (today known as the affluent Marina District). From Van Ness Avenue in the East to Hunter’s Point overlooking the Golden Gate in the West, the virtues of the new world were presented through gaudy architecture and elaborate structures. The place was basically an enormous set piece, not unlike the one D. W. Griffith, who visited and spoke at the fair, had constructed for his 1916 epic Intolerance (a partial replica of which today stands next to the Chinese Theatre.)
Among the faux colonnades and plaster palaces, the newly minted Republic of China participated with a display showcasing the country’s rich history as well as the progress and modernization of the nascent republic. The scenery of the official Chinese pavilion included the Forbidden City with the famed Chinese wall surrounding it. Inside were copies of the Imperial Audience Hall and the Hall of Eternal Peace as well as a model of a “Chinese home” that, according to the official souvenir guide, was furnished with “tapestries, lacquer furniture, magnificent carvings, and works of art.”16 The pavilion was lavish and had cost around $750,000 to assemble by artisans brought from China. However, the Chinese pavilion was not the only version of China on display as the world’s attention turned to San Francisco.
The fair created a big draw for the city. Visitors came from all over the country, as well as from abroad, to see and be a part of the historical event. Among the most popular sites was the Joy Zone, the expo’s entertainment section, which with its 65 acres was the largest exposition amusement park ever built. The “Zone” contained a range of modern thrills, rides, and architectural spectacles. Just like the expo’s visitors, amusement impresarios came from all over the country to showcase their take on modern public amusement. As cinema was America’s most popular – and in terms of class, cross-sectional – form of public amusement, many of the “Zone’s” concessions in one way or another utilized or referred to the medium. To capitalize on this heightened attention and reinforce his position as San Francisco’s young king of entertainment, Grauman employed a variety of creative approaches. One of them was to produce a film of the exposition area to be shown at his Empress Theater. Another strategy was to construct a makeshift theatrical experience of the city’s Chinatown, reminiscent of the staged spectacles at the Empress. The difference was that at Grauman’s “Underground Chinatown” concession, the audience could immerse themselves and interact with the fantasy and the spectacle. Visitors was invited to walk through a staged slumming tour that put on public display some of the most common fantasies about San Francisco’s “oriental colony,” complete with opium smokers, hatchet men, and Sing-Song girls. The scenes included both wax figures and live performances, enacted by non-Chinese performers in yellowface. When the tour was over, visitors were guided into a “Chinese movie theater,” to make the experience complete.
The Underground Chinatown became a popular feature of the Joy Zone. However, given its (even for the time) blatant racism, the spectacle also drew the ire of the Chinese community. Together with the Chinese consul general, leaders of California’s Chinese intelligentsia, such as San Francisco publisher and activist Ng Poon Chew, orchestrated a vigorous and sustained public protest against Grauman’s racist depiction of the Chinese people in general and San Francisco’s Chinatown in particular. Y. Hsuwen Tsou, a Cornell grad and future director of the Chinese Bureau of Entomology, penned an indignant letter to the exposition’s director, fuming that he could easily name a number of white American people and phenomena of much more questionable character “than the display of ‘Underground Chinatown’ can picture my undesirable compatriots – for instance, the police system of Chicago, the ignorant people of Tennessee mountains and the Virginia whiskey distillers.”17 While the protests momentarily shut the exposition down, Grauman regrouped, changed the name of the concession, and reopened within a month.
This episode of Grauman’s career is interesting from several perspectives. Beyond the obvious critical dimension of his continued use of Orientalist stereotypes in his “atmospheric” experiences (which I discuss at length in my upcoming book on film culture in San Francisco’s Chinatown) lies his continued ambition to balance live performance, film, venue, and venue context as altogether a part of the spectacle. Vinzenz Hediger noted the broader connection between the atmospheric prologues of the 1920s and the turn-of-the-century display of indigenous and foreign people as exotica at world’s fairs and in variety shows.18 That the Joy Zone spectacles appear as a precursor to the exotics common to the prologues of the 1920s is verified by looking at the other displays with which the “Underground Chinatown” concession appeared. These ranged from the murky racial scientist exhibits of human beings of Native American, Maori, and East African origin alongside exotic animals, to the freak show aesthetics of showcasing newborn babies in incubators to display the wonders of modern medicine. The difference in Grauman’s employment of racist stereotypes was that it was directed toward a locally oriented Orientalist framework.
After the expo ended, Grauman took a new blended show back to the Empress. This time it was called “20 Minutes at the Exposition” and included both performances from and films taken at the expo grounds. While some trade critics, especially at Variety, soon tired of Grauman’s habitual reuse and transposing of materials and performances between presentation formats, it seems that the strategy was largely successful.19 In a 1916 San Francisco Chronicle article, Grauman suggested that he had now perfected his vaudeville and film format, and was ready to try it elsewhere. “It would seem I have found what the public wants,” he declared. “Since what San Francisco approves should be good enough for any other city, I am confident that these productions will prove as popular on the road as they have been here.”20
The Chinese Theatre
For the remainder of the 1910s, Grauman gradually shifted his attention from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In 1918, he opened the Million Dollar Theater, his first Los Angeles theater, located at 3rd Street and Broadway.21 In 1922, Grauman opened the Egyptian, Hollywood’s first theater to specialize in premieres, on Hollywood Boulevard. In the spring of 1927, it was time for the most consummate of Grauman’s cinematic dream portals, the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. The design of the theater was Grauman’s concept, developed in association with film producer Joseph Schenck and Hollywood real-estate tycoon Charles Toberman. Toberman became so obsessed with the idea of enlarging the theater that Grauman sent him to China to gather “authentic data.” With Toberman out of the way, the construction of the theater could be completed in time.22
While Grauman’s employment of Orientalist imagery survived the move from San Francisco to Hollywood, the film industry focus of his new environment allowed Grauman to further explore the threshold between cinematic imagery and staged spectacle. Where the live performances previously were presented more as independent acts performed in conjunction with the screening of films, Grauman now talked them up as “atmospheric film prologues,” designed to get audiences in the right state of mind for the upcoming feature. With the move to the heart of the booming American dream factory, the gaudiness and cost of Grauman’s spectacles became more extreme.
For the opening night of the Chinese Theatre, Grauman invited over 2,000 stars, politicians, and other public notables. An “estimated 50,000 people” crowded outside the theater to catch a glimpse of the luminaries arriving at the theater’s elaborate forecourt.23 The feature of the evening was DeMille’s biblical epic King of Kings. But before the film screening, the audience was in for Grauman’s most elaborate prologue to date, including an introduction by Fred Niblo introducing D. W. Griffith, introducing Will H. Hays, introducing Mary Pickford, who in turn, introduced the prologue. The prologue, which went on for the next couple of hours, featured a cast of over 200 actors, singers, and dancers.24 The Hollywood press reviews were generally positive. Several of them, including Louella Parsons, were already close friends of Sid Grauman. However, the extravagancies also had their detractors. DeMille was reportedly furious, and one critic called the show “the damndest thing this side of the Oberammergau.”25
Portals of Experience (and Self-Reference)
Scholarship on the spectacular film prologues of the 1920s have invariably theorized the practice with Sigfried Kracauer’s observations of mass culture in Berlin, especially in light of how Kracauer, a noted theorist of contemporary film presentation, saw attempts at unifying some of the chaotic elements of modernity. Kracauer was not impressed, calling the practice an attempt to coerce “a motley sequence of externalities into an organic whole.”26 The tendency is addressed in Ross Melnick’s book on Grauman’s East Coast competitor, Roxy Rothafel, and formulated as the concept of the “unitary text” – in other words, the ambition of exhibitors during the silent era to appear as the auteurs of their programming. Phil Wagner, in his review of Fanchon and Marco’s prologue practices, attempted to further nuance the categorization by arguing that it was a specific type of prologue Kracauer had in mind, namely the atmospheric prologue championed by Grauman, which, by adhering thematically to the feature, attempted to introduce order to modernity’s chaotic disruption of time and space.27 In “The Cult of Distraction,” Kracauer said that the film exhibition should do away with all forms of theatrics, since “the proximity of action that has spatial depth destroys what is shown on screen.”28 Should we attempt to deduce a vernacular theory of the masses from Grauman’s practices and philosophy of exhibition, it would appear somewhere on the opposite end from the unimpressed Kracauer’s contemporary observations. In Grauman’s view, what audiences wanted was “flesh and blood.”29
While most of the scholarship on prologues mention Grauman’s stage shows, they take lesser notice of how his venues often played an integral part in the presentation. If we consider Grauman’s history of extra-filmic spectacle back to his San Francisco days, it is clear that from an early stage he used not only the prologues but also his venues and their surroundings as portals into the film experience. Here, the ambition toward a “unitary text” extends from the onstage and on-screen action to the venue itself.30 In a recently published Film History article, Peter Graff points out how a related promotional practice, the “lobby spectacle,” added another dimension to the augmentation of film experiences in the silent era. Graff writes that the lobby spectacle “expanded the boundaries of the theatrical experience and performed a formative role in an event that encompassed everything between the marquee and the movie screen.”31 Graff suggests that the lobby spectacles in the 1920s evolved into “highly inventive spectacles that engaged theatergoers’ multiple senses.”32 The trajectory of Grauman’s extra-filmic packaging – from San Francisco to the PPIE to the LA picture palaces – suggests a kinship, framing the prologue practice together with the performative genres of lobby spectacles and ballyhoo practices and evident in 1910s film exhibition. As Graff puts it, “growing out of the storefront ballyhoo of nickelodeon theaters, exploitation stunts and lobby spectacles grew enormous in scale at picture palaces.”33 This development was picked up by only a few contemporary commentators, one of them Philip Scheuer, who called the atmospheric prologue the “natural outgrowth of the straight-picture policy.”34 Another one was Sid Grauman himself, who traced his practice back to his days at the Empress and the PPIE: “Seventeen years ago, in San Francisco, I began to give away prologues with my moving pictures. Ten years ago, I came to Los Angeles and inaugurated the same policy.”35
In 1932, Grauman built another dream version of San Francisco’s Chinatown, this time inside the Chinese Theatre. The scenery functioned as the setting for Grauman’s stage prologue to the premiere of Lewis Milestone’s South Seas drama Rain. The set replicated Grant Avenue, and included dancers in yellowface makeup and police raids on the neighborhood, echoing earlier Grauman exposés such as 20 Minutes at the Barbary Coast, Midnight in Frisco, and Underground Chinatown.36 For art historian Homay King, the juxtaposition of the Chinatown scenery set inside the theater created a dizzying link between stage, architecture, and cinematic representation, extending from the stage outward to the whole of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre: “East and West, local and global, flat picture and live action, original and simulacrum are enfolded within one another in a way that complicates attempts to distinguish among them.”37 To this performative synergy, as I have shown, could be added a historical dimension referring back to past Grauman spectacles and ultimately, to the showman himself.
Conclusion: Spectacle Sid
Sid Grauman was not a successful actor, filmmaker, studio boss, or even a film producer (even though he tried a couple of times). His brand was extra-filmic yet steeped in the gritty attitude and resourcefulness of early and transitional film era showmanship. Grauman, perhaps more than any other contemporary exhibitor, managed to make the one-upmanship and presentational largesse of his venues and shows reflect his public image. To a degree, his lofty ambitions to extend and augment the experience of cinema thus mirror the megalomaniacal ambitions of other power players stoking the runaway train of the 1920s film industry.
While most writings about the prologues have focused on their functions as supplements to the feature films, in Grauman’s case, the feature film, along with the prologue and the venue, ultimately converged to reinforce Grauman’s public profile, a profile that he carefully began developing long before he arrived in Hollywood. Thus, at his theaters, whether it be the Empress, the Underground Chinatown, or the Chinese on Hollywood Boulevard, the ultimate attraction was not the prologue, the feature, the lobby, or the courtyard, but the synergetic spectacle of them all together. In other words, the Grauman brand itself.
- Philip K. Scheuer “Prologue Rivarly is Keen,” Los Angeles Times, November 20, 1927, C15. [↩]
- Rudmer Canjels, “Featuring on Stage: American Prologues from the 1920s,” Limina/Le Soglie Del Film, Udine, Università Degli Studi Di Udine, 2004, 309–320; Vinzenz Hediger, “Putting the Spectators in a Receptive Mood,” in Limina/Le Soglie Del Film/Film’s Thresholds/X Convegno Internazionale Di Studi Sul Cinema/X International Film Studies Conference, University of Udine, 2003, 291–309; Rick Altman, Silent Film Sound (Columbia University Press, 2007). [↩]
- Phil Wagner, “‘An America Not Quite Mechanized’: Fanchon and Marco, Inc. Perform Modernity,” Film History: An International Journal 23, no. 3 (2011): 251–267; Ross Melnick, American Showman: Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935 (Columbia University Press, 2014); Julie Brown, “Framing the Atmospheric Film Prologue in Britain, 1919–1926,” The Sounds of the Silents in Britain, n.d. [↩]
- Altman 2004, 385. [↩]
- Ibid. [↩]
- Canjels 2004, 309; Wagner 2011, 254. [↩]
- The Empress was designed by John Galen Howard, who had previously designed the Electric Tower, which had been the centerpiece at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo. See Official Catalogue and Guide Book to the Pan-American Exposition: With Maps of Exposition and Illustrations (Charles Ehrhart, 1901), 7. [↩]
- “Empress, San Francisco,” Billboard, December 2, 1916, 6. [↩]
- “Continuous Shows at Empress Succesful,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 17, 1914, 13. [↩]
- Stacey Endres and Robert Cushman, Hollywood at Your Feet: The Story of the World-Famous Chinese Theatre (Pomegranate Press, 2009). [↩]
- “Photography Is the Star,” American Cinematographer, November 1935, 497. [↩]
- Like Grauman, Mohr would eventually move to Hollywood, where he became a successful cinematographer. However, 15 years after the production of Last Night of the Barbary Coast, Mohr returned to San Francisco for the filming of Alan Crosland’s Old San Francisco (1927), perhaps the most elaborate visualization of the mythical underworld of Chinatown and the Barbary Coast of the silent era. For a comment on Old San Francisco and its use of the Chinatown underworld as melodramatic setting, see Kevin Brownlow, The Parade’s Gone By (University of California Press, 1968), 264-266. [↩]
- George C. Pratt, “Camera on the Move: An Interview with Hal Mohr,” Journal of Photography and Motion Pictures of the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House 19, no. 1 (March 1976): 16–19. [↩]
- “No Thrills in Last Night of Barbary Coast,” Motography, November 15, 1913, 360. [↩]
- Ibid. [↩]
- Panama-Pacific International Exposition 1915 Souvenir Guide: Natural Color Views, Half Tones and Descriptive Text, Portraying and Interpreting the Exposition Palaces, Courts, Art and Symbolism with Summary of Attractions on the Zone (Souvenir Guide Publishers, 1915), 18. [↩]
- Y. Hsuwen Tsou, letter to Charles C. Moore and the Board of Directors of the PPIE, March 26, 1915. Carton 33, PPIE Records, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. [↩]
- Hediger 2004, 303-304 [↩]
- Harry Bonnell, “San Francisco,” Variety 30, May, 1913. [↩]
- “Manager of Empress Becomes a Producer,” SF Chronicle Aug 13, 1916, 24 [↩]
- Beardsley, Hollywood’s Master Showman, 35. [↩]
- Beardsley, Hollywood’s Master Showman, 17-18. [↩]
- Endres and Cushman 1992, 28. [↩]
- Ibid. [↩]
- Ibid. [↩]
- Siegfried Kracauer and Thomas Y. Levin, The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Univ. Press, 1995), 327. [↩]
- Wagner 2011, 258. [↩]
- Kracauer 1995, 328. [↩]
- Scheuer 1927 [↩]
- Melnick 2014, 14-15. [↩]
- Peter Graff, “Lobbyology and the Role of Lobby Spectacles in Silent-Film Exhibition,” Film History 30, no. 4 (2018): 49-50. [↩]
- Ibid. [↩]
- Graff 2018, 77. [↩]
- Scheuer 1927. [↩]
- Ibid. [↩]
- Terry Helgesen, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Hollywood (A Console Feature, 1969), 15. [↩]
- Homay King, Lost in Translation: Orientalism, Cinema, and the Enigmatic Signifier (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 46. [↩]