Sunday, April 17, 2011

Total Pre-Call, Part 10

Famous Players-Lasky PR claimed that while filming To the Last Man in Tonto Basin “Richard Dix hunted down a wildcat that had been harassing the camp for two weeks.” Here’s the photographic proof suplied by the studio.
To the Last Man was booked to open at Manhattan’s Rialto theater on Sept. 23, 1923, so Famous Players–Lasky applied for an exhibition license from the New York State Motion Picture Commission – a less ominous name for the state censorship board – which, as was usually the case, ordered cuts to make the picture suitable for delicate Big Apple sensibilities. Offending bits included banal lines of dialogue on subtitle cards, like “I’m a hussy” and “Since your kisses are so free,” and the scissoring of images of “forced kisses” and “scenes of stabbing with the knife after the subtitle: ‘This is for Isbel and this is for Tad, you dog.’” Famous Players-Lasky knew that resistance was futile and bowed to the demands of the state; it snipped the offending material and Last Man premiered on schedule.

Critics feuded over their opinions of the film. While The New York Times described it as “one of those pictures that give one a fit of yawning,” Hallett Abend of the Los Angeles Times raved deliriously, describing it as “the most Western ‘Western’ I have ever seen” but added the warning that it “lives up to the title. Every man is killed off on both sides except the hero, and even he is badly wounded. The mortality is really shocking in this play and those who are not shot or stabbed are ground to a pulp when a dynamited cliff topples over on to them. I started to keep count of the killings, but gave it up as a hopeless job when I found in my absorption in the plot that I had missed a few of the homicides.”

To the last of her days, Lois Wilson considered To the Last Man one of the most satisfying experiences of her movie career, proudly recalling to writer Murray Summers in a 1970 issue of Filmograph magazine, “I received a most flattering letter from one of my bosses, Mr. Jesse Lasky, on the completion of the picture.”–––Joe McNeill © 2011 Bar 225 Media Ltd.

No comments:

Post a Comment