2018 Centennials or 100 Years Ago in the Movies

Welcome to 2018!

I began last year’s anniversaries post by noting that 2017 began with more than a little trepidation. At that time, I feared for our country and the people in it. I had no idea then that within a month I would be deeply impacted by personal loss bringing many things into perspective and highlighting others I took for granted. A year later, I am sobered by how the loss lingers and how it comes in frequent waves, which I know now will probably never cease. I am also much more concerned for our country and the people in it and due to that, I am that much more grateful for movies and the golden age respites that distract. It is not all grim, however. There is a lot to look forward to in 2018. I feel the winds of change, a whiff of hope on the horizon that I hold close waiting for its warmth to engulf me. And there are delicious distractions and exciting new experiences to look forward to.

In less than four months, I will reunite with friends at the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, my sixth trek onto the land of dreams. This year’s festival theme is “Powerful Words: The Page Onscreen,” which is exciting. I’ve made my own screening recommendations, which you can look at here. TCM is also co-sponsoring another series of Big Screen Classics with Fathom Events this year that includes several must-see movies including my all-time favorite, Sunset Blvd. I strongly recommend you visit Classic Movie Hub often. At the Hub, you can find the screening schedule for this series as well as chances for free tickets and other terrific contests all year round in addition to movie event listings in general.

Other recommendations for staying up to date: For a monthly round a bout the blogosphere visit the enchanting Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings and for classic movie book news and reviews go to Out of the Past. If it’s silents that entertain you visit Movies Silently or for a bit pre-code naughtiness go to Pre-Code.com. The Classic Movie Blog Association has many talented bloggers covering all sorts of topics you’re sure to find enlightening as well. There are just too many to list here so be sure to visit.

Finally, (for now) I’m hoping to make it to an entire weekend of The Film Noir Foundation‘s Noir City festival this year and there’s the fantastic Capitolfest to look forward to. Thankfully, there are always more old movies to discover as well.

I leave you with images and factoids related to films and personalities celebrating this special 100-year milestone in 2018. Although there already were historic names and productions by that year, the film industry was still in its infancy in 1918 and only a relative few years preceding it could be commemorated in such a way. I hope you enjoy this entry as much as I did putting it together.

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary

The Movies

Top box office winner of 1918 by a long shot was F. Richard Jones’ and James Young’s Mickey starring and produced by Mabel Normand.

Mabel Normand in MICKEY

Notable films released in 1918:

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The People

There are several important movie stars and personalities born in 1918. Here are all of the ones I could find:

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The Debuts

Several would-be legends made their debut in 1918. Among them…

  • Noël Coward appeared in the D. W. Griffith film Hearts of the World in an uncredited role.
  • Neil Hamilton, best known for playing Commissioner Gordon in the Batman TV series, kicked off a prolific film career with an appearance in Joseph Gleason‘s The Beloved Imposter.
  • Buck Jones, one of the greatest stars of “B” Westerns, made his feature debut as “Buck Gebhart” in Lynn Reynolds’ Western Blood.
  • Actor, 20th Century Fox executive and husband of Bebe Daniels, Ben Lyon made his acting debut in Joseph Levering‘s The Transgressor.
  • Irene Rich hit the big screen for the first time with Thomas R. Mills’ The Girl in His House. Rich also made many memorable appearances on radio during her 4-decades-long acting career.
  • Humorist, actor, social commentator, columnist, vaudeville star and cowboy Will Rogers made his big-screen debut with a starring role in Hobart Henley’s Laughing Bill Hyde.
Will Rogers in a vaudeville promotional photo.
  • An important centennial comes thanks to the four Warner Brothers – Harry, Sam, Albert and Jack – who produced their first film, My Four Years in Germany in 1918. The movie is based on the best-selling book by America’s ambassador to the court of Kaiser Wilhelm and grossed an admirable $1.5 million.

The Passings

Among those who died in 1918 were…

  • Stage performer Anna Held.
  • Actor/Director Joseph Kaufman who succumbed to the worldwide influenza pandemic
  • Popular movie star, Harold Lockwood.
  • Vernon Castle, half of the famous dancing duo, Vernon and Irene Castle who were immortalized by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in H. C. Potter’s 1939 movie, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle.
Vernon and Irene Castle

The Happenings

A few of the significant movie-related events of 1918…

  • The four Warner brothers opened their first West Coast studio at 5842 Sunset Boulevard. The property was purchased for $25,000.
  • In 1918 Fort Lee, “America’s First Film Town” – Les Miserables, a Fox Studio production, featured the largest outdoor set ever built in Fort Lee. This studio also produced the epic Tale of Two Cities in 1917. (Film has long been considered lost, but a copy has recently been found in Warsaw, Poland by Fort Lee Film Commission member Richard Koszarski; the FLFC is currently negotiating to have the film brought to the United States so that it can fund restoration.) – Fort Lee Film Commission
  • The poster is included in the first gallery above of Tarzan of the Apes, the first film adaptation featuring the Tarzan character, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ original novel of the same name. Tarzan of the Apes became one of the first movies to earn over a million dollars at the box-office. The movie was directed by Scott Sidney.
  • Winsor McCay‘s The Sinking of the Lusitania which poster is also included in the movie gallery above was the first movie to attempt a serious re-enactment of a historic event. A German U-Boat torpedoed the RMS Lusitania on May 7, 1915, resulting in a loss of almost 2,000 lives. McCay’s movie is considered an animation landmark, one of the first to use cell animation.
  • I am including this one even though I found discrepancies as to the year of establishment – African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux formed the Micheaux Film and Book Corporation from his former publishing organization. Micheaux sold stock to raise money for his production of The Homesteader and soon began filming.
  • Charlie Chaplin becomes the second actor to sign a million dollar contract, which he did with First National Pictures, Inc. in 1918. Mary Pickford signed with Adolph Zukor in 1916 and was the first million-dollar star. Chaplin is often listed as the first, but if several historians are correct, Pickford beat him by two years.

I hope you took notes. There’s lots of movie gold in this lot of honorees. Until next time.

7 thoughts

  1. I’d like to hang out with (and do through the movies) a lot of those folks born in 1918. Funny coincidence that Rand Brooks is among the gang; he has a small, but moving part in my TCM choice for January, Comanche Station.

    May the year turn out to be everything you need and want.

  2. Aurora, as always, a lot of very good information. Concerning your personal loss early in 2017, I hope that everything will turn out for the best, for you during this new year.

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