Year 1924

A Year at the Movies, 1924

In a big year for the studios, CBC Distributions corp. became Columbia Pictures, D.W. Griffith, co-founder of United Artists, left the company, and Joseph Schenck became its president. Also, Marcus Loew, (pictured) gained control of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures Corporation and Louis B. Mayer Pictures to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Hollywood Scandal

On November 15, 1924 Thomas Ince, a movie pioneer and “The Father of the Western” met publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst to discuss business. A few days later, Ince died, reportedly of a heart attack. However, rumours circulated that Hearst had shot Ince, mistaking him for Charlie Chaplin, who had been showing a romantic interest in Hearst’s mistress, actress Marion Davies. To date, no facts have been presented to support these rumours.

Highest Grossing Movies of 1924

#3 Secrets

Secrets, a silent drama about secrets within a marriage, was based on a 1922 play and remade in 1933 with Mary Pickford in the leading role. The 1924 version starred Norma Talmadge.

Norma Talmadge (May 2, 1894 – December 24, 1957) was a producer as well as a popular actress. Her acting career flourished in the 1920s, but faded with the arrival of the talkies. She married millionaire film producer Joseph M. Schenck, president of United Artists. A divorce and two more marriages followed. To date, my research suggests that most leading actresses of the era married on average three times.

#2 Girl Shy

Girl Shy, a silent romantic comedy, starred Harold Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston, both pictured. This was Lloyd’s first independent production after his split with Hal Roach. It was also the second of six consecutive movies pairing Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston, who left the Hal Roach Studios to continue her working relationship with Lloyd.

#1 ThSea Hawk

The Sea Hawk was a silent adventure movie about an English noble sold into slavery. Upon his escape, he becomes a pirate. Directed by Frank Lloyd, the movie premiered on June 2, 1924 in New York.

Frank Lloyd sensed that moviegoers would not accept miniature models so, at a cost of $200,000, he created full-sized ships. The ocean scenes were filmed off the coast of Catalina Island, California. Lloyd established a mini-village to shoot these scenes, which included 150 tents, 1,000 extras, 21 technicians, 14 actors, and 64 sailors.

The film was so well made that Warner Bros used some of its battle scenes in a 1940 Errol Flynn movie of the same name. Furthermore, the studio used the life-sized replica ships in later nautical films.

Notable Debuts

Clark Gable, in White Man

Clark Gable (February 1, 1901 – November 16, 1960) often referred to as “The King of Hollywood”, starred in 60 motion pictures over 37 years. He appeared opposite many of the most popular actresses of his era including Joan Crawford, on eight occasions, Myrna Loy, seven, and Jean Harlow, six. 

A Republican and a Freemason who married five times, Gable was not noted for his fidelity.

Janet Gaynor, in Cupid’s Rustler

Janet Gaynor (October 6, 1906 – September 14, 1984) was the first recipient of the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performances in three movies: 7th Heaven, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, and Street Angel. Her career continued into the talkies and included notable success in the original version of A Star is Born.

In keeping with many actresses of the era, Janet Gaynor married three times. Her second marriage was to costume designer Adrian, an openly gay man. Four sources claim that Janet Gaynor was bisexual. Along with her third husband, she lived with another couple at a ranch in Brazil.

1920s – 1960s