Honolulu Star-Bulletin from Honolulu, Hawaii on October 10, 1936 · 28
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Honolulu Star-Bulletin from Honolulu, Hawaii · 28

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Location:
Honolulu, Hawaii
Issue Date:
Saturday, October 10, 1936
Page:
28
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ff 1111 Jf r rio . Mmm Vi 30 sions Porter Hall Has Murdered And Been Murdered -Has Bilked Widows And Robbed Friends, But He's Still Popular i ; ! 4 i t t f 3 f s 'a ; I J I. lit By Linda Lane - t- 5 - THIS article, like Gaul, may be divided into three parts: first, the confessions of a villain; second, the mewlings of a fool, and third, the lament of a movie actor. Porter Hall, having been an actor for the past 15 years, and having alternated consistently between the other two categories ever since coming to Hollywood, feels that he can speak with authority on all three characters. "As to my qualifications as a villain. I will stand on my record as a murderer, which I think I may say with all modesty, is one of the finest in motion pictures. "I have killed with knives, guns, infernal machines, bare hands and a wide assortment of poisons, my victims having been some of the best people in Beverly Hills and other exclusive sections of the picture capital. "A few times I have gotten my just deserts and been murdered myself, but I have enjoyed this even more than being the murderer. There is a certain satisfaction in a good, dramatic d ath. And anyway, if they're shooting the picture in sequence, you can usually look forward to a few days off after you have met your fate. Compared to a movie villain, you know, a cat i3 a comparatively short-lived creature. "Until recently, Gary Cooper was one murder up on me. He killed me in 'Ths General Died at Dawn,' but a couple of weeks later I squared accounts. I killed him in "The Plainsman.' This system, I have found, saves hard feelings and enables an actor to keep his friends. Gary, who has done quite a little killing In pictures himself, agrees with me. In fact, a man doesn't resent being killed by a villain so much as he does by a hero like Gary. "Aside from my capital crimes. I have pulled off a few neat little robberies, double-crossed some fellow citizens, bilked a widow or two out of the savings of a lifetime, and betrayed a couple of trusting maidens but I only mention these boyish misdemeanors in passing. li-i-HE only times when I escape villainy in I ' this business is when I am called upon to play the fool. I was the stuffed shirt, you may remember, who talked all that phoney patriotism in "Petrified Forest, and belonged to the Black-hawk Volunteers, which entitled me to wear a soldier suit on lodge nights. That part, I am told, established some kind of a record for good old American inanity. "But in 'The General Died at Dawn,' Paramount rolled Hall the sap' and Hall the heel into one and the same role. I was Madeleine Carroll's stupid, scheming, cowardly and thoroughly detestable father. And besides that I had consumption! "Now for the 'lament of a movie actor. j "I wouldn't mind the way Hollywood has double-type me if people would only r-slize it's all in fun. The trouble is. many of them don't. "I'm really not a bad guy. or a total fool, either, once you get to know me. I'm a substantial citizen and a taxpayer, with a wife and a five-year-old son; I own my own home and I go to church occasionally, too. and the reason I gave up fishing with live bait was because! I coulan'i bear the way the minnow squirms when you put the hook under his dorsal fin. "I wouldn't shoot Gary Cooper. I LIKE him. And anyway I'm scared to death of guns. Why, I don't even beat my wife! I like her, too. We lead a quiet life, and belong to the Parent-Teachers' Association, and go to the movies once a week; and on Sundays, if the weather's nice, we usually go for a drive or take little Davy to the beach. Our neighbors like us, too. "But you ought to see my so-called 'fan mail! 1 1 1 ACTUALLY got a stack of letters bawling I me out for the fool things I had to say in Petrified Forest,, calling me a jingoist. a saber-rattlcr and a dangerous man! "And one day in the Huntington Museum, my wife overheard herself being pointed out by another woman as 'the wife of that terrible Porter PAGE FOUR 9 i. - - j:' r- i f ''' ' ' ' . . ' : - I Y I M - , . '" . i is 'W . ' ., . : : .. , ' - . --- . ' - ' ti' f i i -He i j r 1 X - -s 4 i 1 . 4 Here Are Porter Hall and Helen Burgess As They Appeared in Another Scene in "The Plainsman." In His Villainous Roles, Hall Is Never So Happy As When He Is ! Double-Crossing Some Fellow Citizen or Betraying a Trusting Maiden. "Killing Gary Cooper in "The Plainsman Was a Pleasure," Opines the Villainous Mr. Hall. He Is Pictured Above, in His Role of a Tinhorn Gambler, With Jean Arthur, Who Also Played in the Picture. "As to My Qualifications As a Villain, I Will Stand on My Record As a Murderer," Says Hall. "A Few Times I Have Gotten My Just Deserts and Been Murdered Myself, but I Hao Enjoyed This Even More Than Being the Murderer. There Is a Certain Satisfaction in a Good, Dramatic Death." t - 1 i k-' t,y I ' - tV ' i ; J I S . , I 4 , . vi.',-;w',xv-v v -, I , V ' .? v. . -, . f I - s I i Hall. Can you imagine that ? Why, I don't even drink. "Personally, I blame Hunt Stromberg. I was back in New York, playing in 'Dark Tower' on the stage, and leading a happy, though quiet life, when he came whispering tempting things into niy ear, and the next thing I knew I was in Hollywood entering the movies. "The first part I was given was that of the killer in 'The Thin Man,' and that started everything. That stamped me. I've be?n killing people ever since. Now, I couldn't convince Hollywood that I am a good guy if I offered to work for nothing. As far as the movies are concerned, I'm a marked man. "When Cecil B. DeMille was casting 'The Plainsman' he needed a cowardly, scurrilous, hero-worshipping, malevolent, cruel and crooked Jack McCall to shoot Wild Bill Hickok in the back. And who did he pick? He saw 'The General Died at Dawn" and signed Porter Hall immediately. "What is it, my face? "Other movie villains tell me they have the same troubles that I have. Jack Larue was once called upon by a committee fronj the police department while stopping over in a small Ohio town, and asked how long he intended to stay. Boris Karloff has been shunned at patties. And Alan Baxter was once stopped on the street and severely lectured by a little old lady. "Well, I'm resigned to my fate. I'll go on playing villains and fools Just as long as Hollywood wants me to only I'm going to take time "Being the killer of "The Thin Man' was fun. too. I was a regular maniac in that. But being jkilled in 'The General Died at Dawn' was more fun still. "The night before my murder I took home the script of the next day's shooting, and studied that death for hours. I did my rehearsing before the mirror. I died with fear on my face. I died with a smile. I died sneering. I died every plausible way I could think of and decided to die in ecstasy. "At first Lewis Milestone. th d'rr ctor. couldn't see it. " 'Ecstasy!' he said, when I toH him abiut it. "Why ecstasy? You're dying, aren't you?' "I told him how I had it ar,'l un. line as a weakling, wracked by consumption, tortured by the sins of his past life, and trembling with the fear of a wronged man's revenue. A wpaklir.g who had always played second rMle. And suddenly, unexpectedly, he finds himself playing a man's part in a gun duel, and receives his death wound. "It strikes him suddenly that he's dying. In a moment all his troubles will be over. He's sinking into peace forever. And it doesn't even hurt. An ecstatic expression comes over his face for an instant, and he falls dead to the floor. "Milestone liked the idea. We did the scene that way, and it took. II A I A 4 I i . I t .. . w ' KIM TAMIROFF (as the ceneral: the corpse implied by the title of the picture) had a fine death, too. (One becomes sort of a connoisseur of death in this business, after awhile, so you will understand why I dwell on the subject.) "He is the Chinese war lord, believing himself a man of destiny, who throughout the action of the picture has been seeking a goldrn pri.ie that is to make him 'strong man' of all China. Then, when he has it within his reach at last, h'E accidentally stabbed and sits dying on the d-ck of his fog-bound junk in Shanghai harbor, watching it go dim before his eyes. "Tamiroff recognized the strength of the part, and played it for all it was worth. Incidentally, he's one of the greatest movie villains of u all. but no far has escaped typing. In hi3 la?t frw pictures he played comedy, which he likes best to do. "I like comedy best myself, and in fact, made my first reputation in it. But then po did Gladys George. She was so funny in 'Personal Appearance' on the New York stag" that Paramount signed her at once and then put her into the tragic title role of 'Valiant Is th Word for Carrie.' So, she makes her debut as a movie star as a tragedienne. "It's a funny business, but pleasant at times. Only being a screen villain Is often embarrassing in private life. I used to enjoy a fairly upright reputation and look at me now. Hall the "heel!!' Hall the "sap"! Killrr Hall! "Maybe I should have gone into mv fathpr's barrel business back in Cincinnati after all!" The Little Theater and prohibition kept Hall from being a business man. H V But in "The General Died At Dawn," Gary Cooper Turned the Tables by Killing Hall in a Dramatic Scene in a Hotel Room in China. Pictured With Hall Is Philip Ahn. X 1 out every once in awhile to explain things to my growing son. "The trouble i3, I actually enjoy it. I I XILLING Gary Cooper in 'The Plainsman wras a pleasure. The part of Jack McCall had strength to it. Here was a weakling, a tinhorn gambler of the Old West, who worshipped the greatest gambler of them all handsome, deadly Wild Bill Hickok but worshipped even more the estate of heroism, and killed his hero in the insane idea that the act would e'evate him to the prestige enjoyed by his victim. The beauty of it is, it actually occurred that way in Deadwood City one afternoon 60 years ago. ALL'S father, W. A. Hall, was head of a cooperage company which prohibition put out of business. Hall, upon his graduation from the University of Cincinnati went to work for ths Fleischmann Company, but spent his eveningg directing plavers in the Little Theater at Cleveland and playing bits. Robert Mantell, the famous Shakespearean actor, saw him one night, mad him an offer, and business went overboard as Hall grabbed the offer like a trout grabs a fly. His first big New York hit was as the doorman in "Night Hostess." His work In that role brought him international recognition, as St John Ervine, the famous playwright and critic of the London Observer, was in the audience. Several other New York plays followed. Hall was playing in "Dark Tower" when Hunt Stromberg -saw him and induced him to come to Hollywood to play the role of the killer in "The Thin Man." At the conclusion of the picture. Hall returned to New York, although he was wanted for another picture. However, he went into a featured role in the Sam Harris stage production of "As Thousands Cheer," after which he was brought to Hollywood to do "The Case of the Lucky Legs."

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