Monday, May 31, 2021




Some reader emails . . .

Email from Steve M in response to the most recent post about Hollywood’s Golden Years:

Enjoyed the Hollywood silent movie bytes yesterday, Otto. Some great wit and comebacks in there!

When was the word ‘movie’ first used instead of the word ‘film’? And when they added sound to film, were films then known as ‘talkies’?


Thanks, Steve, see comments below:


Some word origins:



The origin of the word “movie” according to the Online Etymological Dictionary:

1912 (perhaps 1908), shortened form of moving picture in the cinematographic sense (1896). As an adjective from 1913. Movie star attested from 1913. Another early name for it was photoplay.

The use of the word “movies” in 1913 in the weekly newspaper The Outlook was in inverted commas, suggesting that the word at that time was still slang.



The word “film” originates from the Middle English filme, from Old English filmen (“film, membrane, thin skin, foreskin”).

Photographic film is a strip or sheet of transparent film base coated on one side with a gelatin emulsion containing microscopically small light-sensitive silver halide crystals.

From the Online Etymological Dictionary:

Sense of "a thin coat of something" is 1570s, extended by 1845 to the coating of chemical gel on photographic plates. By 1895 this also meant the coating plus the paper or celluloid. Hence "a motion picture" (1905); sense of "film-making as a craft or art" is from 1920.


Is there any difference between a film and a movie?

I have read that the preferred, more refined expression in England is film, whereas in the US and Canada the abbreviation of moving film to movie caught on more, so that that became the favoured expression.

It has also been suggested that film refers to more serious works, whereas movie is for more for entertainment, such as Hollywood blockbusters. One commentator has written: “A film can be commercial, but it has a larger purpose than just making money. A movie is a commercialized product created for mass consumption. Its sole purpose is profit.”

Stanley Kauffman hated the term movie; he said it was baby talk, a little like calling a book a "printie."

For my own part, I think that today the terms are interchangeable with little difference in meaning in common usage, notwithstanding that photographic film is no longer used.



According to the Online Etymological Dictionary:

As slang for "film," it is first attested 1926, a back-formation from flicker (v.), from their flickering appearance.

It has been suggested that the word was in use much earlier and that it stems from the unreliable equipment and process for showing films. In those early days projectionists had to tend to their projectors carefully, the light in early projectors being a very early arc lamp. This is a form of lighting that goes back to the 1800s and, in its most primitive form, it involves running two different levels of voltage through two carbon rods. The vapour which results is streaked by electricity, illuminating the vapour and whatever is beyond it.

Even the best attendants found their lamps sputtering and shimmering, with the result that the images on screen flickered. This is what got movies the nickname of “flickers” or “flicks.”



From Online Etymological Dictionary:

"motion picture with sound," 1913, from earlier talking picture (1908)

Interestingly, the word walkie talkie dates from 1939, becoming popularised in World War II army slang,. It comes from walk + talk.


Silver screen:

When people first started attending “the pictures” in the 1910s, movie screens were coated with reflective metallic paint, resulting in a silver surface to better display the projected images.

By the 1920s, the term silver screen moved beyond the literal realm and into metaphorical territory to apply to cinema in general.



The word cinema comes from the French cinéma, shortened from cinématographe, coined 1890s by Lumiere brothers, who invented it, from the Greek cinema (movement).


By the way, if you watch the credits at the end of a movie/film/flick, you will see the terms gaffer and best boy.

Here is what they mean:

The chief electrician in a film or television production unit.

Best boy:
The assistant to the chief electrician of a film crew.

In British slang, a gaffer is also an overseer or boss, who is often older than his subordinates.

The father of Sam Gamgee in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is Hamfast Gamgee, who Sam refers to as “the gaffer”. Sam would be using it in that context rather than as the chief electrician to a film crew (ha ha).

The precise origin of the term “gaffer tape” is unknown, one theory being that it comes from the gaffer being the chief lighting technician on a film crew. When cables are taped down on a stage or other surface, either to prevent tripping hazards or conceal them from view of the audience or camera, they are said to be gaffed or gaffered.


Bonus item:

Some old theatres and cinemas in Sydney, many now gone . . .

Kings Cross Theatre

The King’s Cross Theatre was opened in April 1916.  It underwent a remodeling in  1937 and was closed in 1963 when it was converted into a discotheque. It was demolished in 1969. Today the high-rise Chifley Hotel and some retail units stand on the site.

Wirth's Hippodrome, construction 1915. This is now The Capitol Theatre.

Theatre Royal, King Street entrance. 1882

The Theatre Royal is Australia's oldest theatrical institution located in Sydney, dating from 1833, though the current theatre was built in 1976.

In 1971–72 the theatre, along with the Hotel Australia, and much of the block on which it was situated, was demolished to construct the MLC Centre. Public agitation and action by construction unions once it was closed to save it resulted in the developer Lendlease incorporating a replacement 1,180-seat theatre into the design.

The Theatre Royal Exterior, 23 September 1938 on the opening night of Hollywood Hotel Revue

Gaiety Theatre, 1881

Sydney's Catholic Guild built the Victorian Free Gothic style hall on Castlereagh Street. It was then converted into the Academy of Music in 1879 before it was renovated in 1880 and re-opened as the Gaiety Theatre. It closed in about 1893 before it was re-opened again in 1895. It closed again and was operated as an athletic club until 1912 when it was sold to the Catholic Club, Land, and Building Company for 10,000 pounds and then demolished.

Original Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney c1899

Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney, Australia, refers to three theatres of the same name:

1. One was a theatre which opened on 10 September 1887 and closed on 10 June 1933. It was located on the corner of Pitt and Market Street, Sydney, where Centrepoint stands today.

2. The second was located in Quay Street, at the Bijou Lane corner. It had opened with the show Sunny in 1927 as the Empire Theatre. When J. C. Williamson wanted a long run for My Fair Lady, they renamed the theatre Her Majesty's. The theatre barely survived the 1960s and was destroyed by fire.

3. The third was also located on Quay Street, Haymarket, at No. 107 (near Central Station). It opened on 30 November 1973 but is no longer standing. Apartments were built on the site.

New Tivoli Theatre. decorated for the Royal Visit, 1954

. . . and, for something different . . .

Khartoum Theatre, Macquarie Park (one screen, 480 seats)

Not every movie house built in the 1930s had salubrious art deco finishes and a whirly Wurlitzer putting on the Ritz. The exotically named Khartoum (corner of Khartoum Rd and Waterloo Rd) way out in Macquarie Park hardly had shelter from rain. The Khartoum was an open-air theatre — a type easily found in bush settlements but hardly in new sprawling suburbs. Amid market gardens, farms and waterways, the theatre was on the corner of an orchard and was knocked up with timber and corrugated iron. Entertainment at the interval might be a woodchipping contest, and if heat was needed, fires were cranked up in 44-gallon drums. This had to occur way before opening time to allow smoke to disperse. Known as The Shack, it was popular enough to run until 1966. The Skyline Drive-In opened only a block away in 1956 but, as usual, TV was the deadly competitor.

Sunday, May 30, 2021





The Pulitzer and World Press Photos of the Year, continued:


Pulitzer Prizes for Photography:

Between 1942 and 1967 a Pulitzer Prize for Photography was awarded for photojournalism, that is, for photographs telling a news story. In 1968 that award was replaced by awards in two new categories:
  • the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography (photography in the nature of breaking news, as it has been called since 2000); and
  • the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography (human interest and matters associated with new items).

World Press Photo of the Year:

From 1955 World Press Photo has awarded prizes for the best photographs in 10 categories, with an overall award for the image that "... is not only the photojournalistic encapsulation of the year, but represents an issue, situation or event of great journalistic importance, and does so in a way that demonstrates an outstanding level of visual perception and creativity".

The photographs are interesting not only in their own right but for being windows on history.


The 1993 Pulitzer award for spot news photography has been previously posted in Bytes.


Award: Pulitzer Prize for Feature (Human Interest) Photography

Year: 1993

Photographer: Staff of Associated Press

Photograph(s): Portfolio of images drawn from the 1992 presidential campaign.


The 1992 United States presidential election was the 52nd Presidential election. Democratic Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas defeated incumbent Republican President George H. W. Bush, independent businessman Ross Perot of Texas, and a number of minor candidates.

This election marked the end of a period of Republican dominance that began in 1968.

Bush was the last U.S. president and the tenth incumbent president in the country's history to lose a bid for a second term until Donald Trump in 2020.

The Pulitzer Prize is American journalism’s most prestigious honour. Associated Press has won 54 Pulitzer Prizes, including 32 for photography, since the award was established in 1917 by publisher Joseph Pulitzer to recognize outstanding achievement in journalism.


Sample pics . . . 

Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Clinton addresses the media as U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, D-Mass., joins him at a Boston campaign stop the evening of April 28, 1992, the night of the Pennsylvania primary. Clinton’s convincing win in the Keystone State had reinforced his primary lead over former Gov. Jerry Brown.


Award: World Press Photo of the Year

Year: 1993

Photographer: James Nachtwey

Photograph(s): Famine in Somalia - A Somali mother lifts up the body of her child, killed by malnutrition..


See below regarding the background to the photograph.

Text below and in comments below from the World Press Photo site at:

Photographs of the Vietnam War and the American Civil Rights movement inspired James Nachtwey to become a photographer. While teaching himself photography, he worked as truck driver and as an apprentice news film editor.

In 1980, after working for several years as a newspaper photographer in New Mexico, he moved to New York to begin a career as a freelance magazine photographer. His first foreign assignment was to cover civil strife in Northern Ireland in 1981 during the IRA hunger strike. Since then, Nachtwey has devoted himself to documenting wars, conflicts and critical social issues, photographing ordinary people in the cause of history. He has worked on extensive photographic essays in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, South Africa, Russia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Romania, Brazil and the United States.

He received numerous awards including two World Press Photo of the Year awards, five Robert Capa Gold Medals, the ICP Infinity Award and the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography.


01 November, 1992
Bardera, Somalia.

A mother carries her dead child, wrapped in a shroud according to Muslim custom, to a mass grave for famine victims, outside the town of Bardera, Somalia.

The famine, which claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Somalis, was the result of regional drought and civil war. While a large portion of eastern Africa suffered from this drought in this period, Somalia was the only affected nation, which also faced ongoing war. In January 1991, opposing clans overthrew President Siad Barre, who had led the country for 21 years. Thereafter, the centralized Somali state crumbled and the country plunged into a state of lawlessness and social breakdown as clan warlords and their militias fought for power, armed largely with weapons supplied by the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. In addition to the thousands of civilians wounded and killed in the fighting, the militias also looted food reserves and incoming food aid.

In September 1992, the United Nations estimated that half of the aid sent to Somalia was stolen. One third to half of Somalia’s total population was internally displaced by this combination of famine and war. Many flocked to the market town of Bardera.

On 23 October 1992, The New York Times reported that 11,000 women and children in a refugee camp there were in desperate need of food. But Bardera, a town without any paved roads, was unprepared for the large numbers of refugees. Located at the junction of two heavily mined roads leading to the ports in Mogadishu and Kismayu, Bardera’s packed-dirt airfield could not function in the rain. Only half an hour by air from thousands of tons of food aid, in November Bardera’s death rate nevertheless continued to rise as battles between warring militias halted relief flights.

Further photographs by James Nachtwey of the famine in Somalia:


Saturday, May 29, 2021


“Hollywood's Studio Era was part of a Golden Age because it didn't need profanity (unlike reality-television today)”

― Manny Pacheco

(Manny Pacheco is the author of "Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History")



The popular silent movie stars were idolised by millions, all over the world - silent movies held no language barriers.

The most popular stars of the silent movie era, both silent and talkies in that period (talkies staring with Jolson’s The Jazz Singer in 1927) were:

Marlene Dietrich

Mary Pickford

Douglas Fairbanks

Clara Bow

The Marx Brothers

Tallulah Bankhead

(This gives me an opportunity to resurrect an item from the Bytes vault:

In an interview with Dick Cavett, which appeared in a 1993 television documentary “The Unknown Marx Brothers”, Cavett told of Bankhead meeting Chico Marx at a party. This was before she had become famous, and when she was still prominent for being the daughter of William B Bankhead, Alabama politician, member of the US House of Representatives and Speaker of the House.

Marx had been cautioned to not display any of his typically crude comments and behaviour. The two met over the punch bowl and exchanged greetings:

Chico: “Miss Bankhead.”

Tallulah: “Mr Marx.”

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Chico: “You know, I really want to fuck you.”

Tallulah: “And so you shall, you old fashioned boy.”

WC Fields pictured above with John Barrymore on the right)

Lillian Gish

John Barrymore

(When the filming of A Bill of Divorcement was complete, Katharine Hepburn turned to co-star John Barrymore, saying “Thank God I don’t have to act with you anymore.” “I don’t know you ever had, darling,” he replied.)

Norma Shearer

Joan Crawford

Charlie Chaplin

"Fatty" Arbuckle.

"Fatty" Arbuckle was involved in one of the most famous scandals in Hollywood which involved the alleged rape and murder of actress Virginia Rappe. After 3 trials Arbuckle was found not guilty and was acquitted, but his career was left in ruins.

Fatty Arbuckle, Virginia Rappe

He made a comeback of sorts with some short films. In 1933 he went out with friends to celebrate his first wedding anniversary and the new Warner Bros. contract when he reportedly said: "This is the best day of my life." He suffered a heart attack later that night and died.


In 1921 Rudolph Valentino created a sensation starring in the major movie role as "The Sheik". The film was made for under $200,000 and exceeded $1 million in ticket sales.

The movie studio tried to squash a scandal that would erupt due to rumours that their most popular movie star was gay or bi-sexual. Biographers Emily Leider and Allan Ellenberger generally agree that he was most likely straight.


Clara Bow, "The It Girl" was one of the first sex sirens silver screen. Clara Bow won a photo beauty contest which launched her movie career in Hollywood. She was the epitome of the 1920s Flappers and made 58 films.

Her life was surrounded by scandal and controversy. She retired in 1931, when she was just 28 years old, amid a tangle of scandals surrounding numerous love affairs, money and her addiction to alcohol. The scandals earned her the nickname of "Crisis-a-Day-Clara".


In 1922 the first all-color movie was produced in Hollywood, called 'Toll of the Sea', starring Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong. The plot was a variation of the Madama Butterfly story, set in China instead of Japan.

United States actress Anna May Wong holds Priscilla Moran in the 1922 Hollywood film The Toll of the Sea. Beatrice Bentley sits to the left.

The film was the second Technicolor feature (after 1917's The Gulf Between), the first colour feature made in Hollywood and the first Technicolor colour feature anywhere that did not require a special projector to be used for screenings.


In 1922 the first 3-D movie called 'The Power of Love', starring Noah Beery, was shown in front of an audience when it was premiered at the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel

The film utilised the red-and-green anaglyph system for the 3D experience and also gave the audience the option of viewing one of two different endings to the film (in 2D) by looking through only the red or green lens of the spectacles, depending on whether the viewer wanted to see a happy or tragic ending.

The Power of Love is the only film released in the two-camera, two-projector Fairall-Elder stereoscopic format developed by Harry K. Fairall and Robert F. Elder.

The film was not a success in 3D and was only screened one time again in this version for exhibitors and press in New York City.

In July 1923, the film was acquired by the new Selznick Distributing Corporation and widely distributed in 2D as Forbidden Lover in 1923–24.

Both the 3D and 2D versions are lost.


Friday, May 28, 2021





End of the week and time for a bit levity, laughter and . . . jocularity . . . (okay, I admit it, I ran out of “L” words).

As usual, a few risqué ones follow.

Stay well readers.



For his son's birthday, Dad buys him a bass guitar and pays for 5 lessons.

After the first lesson, the boy gets home and Dad asks "What did you learn today?"

"I learned the first 5 notes on the E string." the son says proudly.

After the second lesson, the dad asks "What did you learn this time?"

"I learned the first 5 notes on the A string." the boy says.

After the third lesson, the Dad waits at home for what seems like hours. Around 2am, the son finally comes home, smelling of whiskey and cigarettes.

"Where the hell have you been?" Dad demands.

"Sorry dad, I had a gig!"

(One reader commented in response to where I saw the joke posted: “As a bass player I take offence to this. Not because we don’t do this but because i was excited to learn what the names of the other two strings were.)

A father and his young son go to a restaurant.

A father and his young son go to a restaurant and to keep him occupied, he gives the boy three pennies to play with. Suddenly, the boy starts choking and his face starts turning blue! The father realizes the boy has swallowed the pennies and starts slapping him on the back...

The boy coughs up two of the pennies, but keeps choking.

Looking at his son, panicking, the father starts shouting for help.

A well dressed, serious looking woman, in a blue business suit is sitting at a nearby table reading from her laptop and sipping a cup of coffee.

At the sound of the commotion, she looks up, puts her coffee cup down, gets up from her seat and makes her way, unhurried, across the restaurant.

Reaching the boy, the woman carefully drops his pants, takes hold of the boy’s testicles and starts to squeeze and twist, gently at first and then ever so firmly.

After a few seconds the boy convulses violently and coughs up the last penny, which the woman deftly catches in her free hand.

Releasing the boy’s testicles, the woman walks back to her seat at the coffee bar without saying a word, but keeps the penny.

As soon as he is sure that his son has suffered no ill effects, the father rushes over to the woman and starts thanking her saying, “I’ve never seen anybody do anything like that before, it was fantastic. Are you a doctor?”

“No,” the woman replied. “I’m with the Tax Office.”

A genie gave me a choice: a longer memory or a longer penis...

I forget which one I chose

A large corporation hires a tribe of cannibals and they tell them: "You have full rights as employees, but you're not allowed to eat anybody."

Things go well for several weeks and then the CEO calls the tribe into his office. The CEO says:

"Somebody has been reported missing. Did you eat them?"

The chief of the tribe checks with his people and says: "No sir, we have not eaten anybody. It must be a coincidence."

The CEO is skeptical but he has no evidence so he dismisses the tribe.

Once they are away from the other employees, the chief turns to his tribe and asks: "Okay, which one of you idiots did it?"

A tribesman sheepishly puts up his hands and admits: "I ate a secretary."

The chief smacks the tribesman and yells:

"You fool! We've been eating middle management for weeks and nobody has noticed. Then you had to go and eat someone that does actual work!"


Fred came home from University in tears. "Mum, am I adopted?"

"No of course not", replied his mother. Why would you think such a thing?

Fred showed her his genealogy DNA test results. No match for any of his relatives, and strong matches for a family who lived the other side of the city.

Perturbed, his mother called her husband. "Honey, Fred has done a DNA test, and... and... I don't know how to say this... he may not be our son."

"Well, obviously!" he replied.

"What do you mean?"

"It was your idea in the first place" her husband continued. "You remember, that first night in hospital when the baby did nothing but scream and cry and scream and cry. On and on. And you asked me to change him."

"I picked a good one I reckon. Ever so proud of Fred."


A man died and was taken to his place of eternal torment by the devil.

As he passed raging fire pits and shrieking sinners, he saw a man he recognized as a lawyer snuggling up to a beautiful woman.

'That's unfair!' he cried. 'I have to roast for all eternity, and that lawyer gets to spend it with a beautiful woman.'

'Shut up,' barked the devil, jabbing the man with his pitchfork.

'Who are you to question that woman's punishment?'



From guest contributor John P, thanks John . . .

A lady dressed up in her finery
Had too much to drink at a winery,
Then snapped her suspender,
Which stuffed up her gender,
And now she/they/them are non-binary.





What flows through Ukraine and doesn't care about your feelings?

Crimea River

"Doctor, I think I'm going deaf."

Doctor said, "Describe the symptoms."

"Well, Homer is bald, Marge has blue hair..."

Today I saw an ad that said "radio for sale, $1, volume knob stuck on full."

I thought, "I can't turn that down."

At a job interview: "Can you perform under pressure?"

"No ,but I can try Bohemian Rhapsody!:


Thursday, May 27, 2021


“There's terrible evil in the world."

"It comes from men," said Holly. "All other elil do what they have to do and Frith moves them as he moves us. They live on the earth and they need food. Men will never rest till they've spoiled the earth and destroyed the animals.”

      ― Richard Adams, Watership Down 

(One of my favourite books.)


This is another of Banjo’s Paterson’s poems, In the Droving Days, published in 1891. The scene of a drover selling his faithful horse brings to mind memories for a member viewing the auction, of the viewer’s own droving days and his own relationship with his horse when droving.

In the Droving Days

"Only a pound," said the auctioneer,
"Only a pound; and I'm standing here
Selling this animal, gain or loss —
Only a pound for the drover's horse?
One of the sort that was ne'er afraid,
One of the boys of the Old Brigade;
Thoroughly honest and game, I'll swear,
Only a little the worse for wear;
Plenty as bad to be seen in town,
Give me a bid and I'll knock him down;
Sold as he stands, and without recourse,
Give me a bid for the drover's horse."

Loitering there in an aimless way
Somehow I noticed the poor old grey,
Weary and battered and screwed, of course;
Yet when I noticed the old grey horse,
The rough bush saddle, and single rein
Of the bridle laid on his tangled mane,
Straightway the crowd and the auctioneer
Seemed on a sudden to disappear,
Melted away in a kind if haze —
For my heart went back to the droving days.

Back to the road, and I crossed again
Over the miles of the saltbush plain —
The shining plain that is said to be
The dried-up bed of an inland sea.
Where the air so dry and so clear and bright
Refracts the sun with a wondrous light,
And out in the dim horizon makes
The deep blue gleam of the phantom lakes.

At dawn of day we could feel the breeze
That stirred the boughs of the sleeping trees,
And brought a breath of the fragrance rare
That comes and goes in that scented air;
For the trees and grass and the shrubs contain
A dry sweet scent on the saltbush plain.
for those that love it and understand
The saltbush plain is a wonderland,
A wondrous country, were Nature's ways
Were revealed to me in the droving days.

We saw the fleet wild horses pass,
And kangaroos through the Mitchell grass;
The emu ran with her frightened brood
All unmolested and unpursued.
But there rose a shout and a wild hubbub
When the dingo raced for his native scrub,
And he paid right dear for his stolen meals
With the drovers' dogs at his wretched heels.
For we ran him down at a rattling pace,
While the pack-horse joined in the stirring chase.
And a wild halloo at the kill we'd raise —
We were light of heart in the droving days.

'Twas a drover's horse, and my hand again
Made a move to close on a fancied rein.
For I felt a swing and the easy stride
Of the grand old horse that I used to ride.
In drought or plenty, in good or ill,
The same old steed was my comrade still;
The old grey horse with his honest ways
Was a mate to me in the droving days.

When we kept our watch in the cold and damp,
If the cattle broke from the sleeping camp,
Over the flats and across the plain,
With my head bent down on his waving mane,
Through the boughs above and the stumps below,
On the darkest night I could let him go
At a racing speed; he would choose his course,
And my life was safe with the old grey horse.
But man and horse had a favourite job,
When an outlaw broke from the station mob;
With a right good will was the stockwhip plied,
As the old horse raced at the straggler's side,
And the greenhide whip such a weal would raise —
We could use the whip in the droving days.

"Only a pound!" and was this the end —
Only a pound for the drover's friend.
The drover's friend that has seen his day,
And now was worthless and cast away
With a broken knee and a broken heart
To be flogged and starved in a hawker's cart.
Well, I made a bid for a sense of shame
And the memories of the good old game.

"Thank you? Guinea! and cheap at that!
Against you there in the curly hat!
Only a guinea, and one more chance,
Down he goes if there's no advance,
Third, and last time, one! two! three!"
And the old grey horse was knocked down to me.
And now he's wandering, fat and sleek,
On the lucerne flats by the Homestead Creek;
I dare not ride him for fear he'd fall,
But he does a journey to beat them all,
For though he scarcely a trot can raise,
He can take me back to the droving days.

- Banjo Paterson

Pro Hart
The Auction, In the Droving Days (From Banjo Paterson) , 1990