And it's not even like PHC was in Hollywood, so I don't even know what prompted me to submit this sketch. I guess the lack of effort showed because it wasn't used.
Silents is Golden
Probably the best source of information may very well be the recently uncovered diary of the former head of Mammoth Productions, whose slogan was...
TR: "You want movies? Hey, we make movies!"
GK: Yes, Mammoth Productions, the studio which brought us such classics as "The Phantom of the Horse Opera," "Flappers Meet the Bootleggers" and "The Big Train Wreck." The studio head, Benson Thumbcider kept a journal and his words express the fear which ran through all the studios, big and small:
GK: Sept. 20, 1927
TR: Rumor has it that the film the Warner Bros. are about to release may put them out of business. They say they invested every last cent they had into a talking picture. My experts say it'll be a bust and I can buy their old studio for a song. Anything to help those guys out. After a bomb like this, they'll probably want to retire to Anaheim and raise kumquats.
(a little ragtime piano)
GK: Sept. 29, 1927
TR: My industrial spies (a swell bunch of guys but they spend a heck of a lot of time in the bathroom) tell me Jack Warner is confident about his film although his brothers aren't as sure. Things are going well for us. We're just starting production on a picture which will be the silent epic. It'll be bigger than Griffith's "Birth of a Nation." We call it "Birth of a Continent." I'm especially excited about the scene where the army of the worm people is driven off by the steam canoe.
GK: Oct. 5, 1927
TR: I'm on my way to New York for the premiere of "The Jazz Singer." I've never gone so far to see a turkey. After the film maybe I'll go down, offer my condolences to Jack and the boys and make a bid for their studio. They'll probably need the car fare home. Besides, after "Birth of a Continent," expansion will be essential. Already the idea men are coming up with a sequel. They're calling it "Birth of a Hemisphere." God, I hoe I don't become to snobbish when I'm ridiculously wealthy.
GK: Oct. 7, 1927
TR: Have to rush back to the studio. Saw the film last night. Personally I didn't think much of it but the people went bananas. I don't understand it, people listen to talking all day, who'd think they'd go to a movie to hear it? We have to come up with something fast. This could be serious. I never did like Jolson. The man sings like he's got a stomach ache.
GK: Oct. 10, 1927
TR: I think it's going to be all right. We've stopped production on "Birth of a Continent" and we're going to make it a talkie. It'll be a smash. So I don't buy out the Warner studio, I'll build my own.
GK: Oct. 11, 1927
TR: We have run into a few minor problems. We've had to fire half of our "cast of thousands" because they had accents that could bury Pittsburgh. We had to cancel the London scene after we failed to find a group of actor who didn't sound like the Kaiser. Atilla the Hun's out, too. His voice is three octaves higher than my wife's. I tried to get some actors from Broadway but either the other studios got them or they refuse to come. Ignorant fools. Don't they realize they've given up their one chance for lasting immortality by not appearing in my film.
GK: Oct. 20, 1927
TR: My leading man quit after he was almost electrocuted when he and the microphone he was wearing fell into the swamp while shooting. My leading lady will be out of the hospital next week...she was under him and the mike cord got wrapped around her neck or something.
GK: Oct. 23, 1927
TR: Due to production problems and soaring costs, we've had to scale down on the movie some. The title's been changed from "Birth of a Continent" to "Birth of a Municipality." The invasion of China has been replaced by the UCLA's marching band number. The Worm People and canoe scene has been jettisoned in favor of some puppies. The director's voice keeps coming out on the sound track, so I fired him and hired a mute. Yet we can't pick up the voices of the actors unless they shout and in my opinion people shouting in a hospital operating room doesn't look natural. Never did like Jolson.
GK: Jan. 5, 1928
TR: Finally, after all the problems and work, we released "Birth of a County." Mid-way through the movie the film broke. I wouldn't have minded so much had the audience not broken into thunderous applause when it did. I never saw a projectionist refuse to re-thread a projector before. The manager said the movie was so bad that not only did the people demand their money back from the box office but from the candy counter as well. God, I hate Jolson.
GK: Jan. 8, 1928
TR: My accountant told me the cost over runs on "Birth of a County" have bankrupted us. So I fired him and got an accountant who said we were standing on firm financial ground. I don't believe him. I think I'm in trouble, some moving men came into my office today and removed all my furniture. I'm writing on the floor.
GK: Jan. 9, 1928
TR: Jack Warner called today. He wanted to know what the asking price on my studio was. I slammed the phone down on him. I might have felt a little satisfaction from that had my finger not been on the receiver at the time. The doctor said the swelling should go down soon. He asked for his fee and I gave him a cigar. Then he bit me on the skin between my thumb and index finger. He said it would need stitches, so I threw him out and stapled it closed myself.
GK: Jan. 21, 1928
TR: Warner Brothers are moving in today and I have to clear out the cardboard box they left me when they took my desk. I'm not bitter, I took a gamble and lost. That's how fortunes are won and lost in this crazy business. 'Tis better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all. If a first you don't succeed, try, try again. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Early to bed and early to rise...I think I'm losing hold on what little sanity I have left. Maybe I'll retire to Anaheim and raise kumquats. And listen to Jolson records.