As I am currently working on a period piece (set in the 1940s in a 'Gold Coast' Long Island Mansion), I'm compelled to waste large amounts of time on Youtube in search of...stuff. Like films about Gold Coast Long Island mansions--or at least set in them. The Marx Brothers 'Animal Crackers' has a wonderful version of an art deco GCLIM--it's a set, natch, but reminds me floorplan-wise of an actual GCLIM named "Knole". In my further searches, however, I've stumbled across two dance numbers from a 1929 musical called "Tanned Legs" which is supposed to be set at a seaside resort called "The Breakers". Now, there are two mansions with that name that I know of. One of them is a famous Newport, Rhode Island spread. But there's a GCLIM with the same name. Delighted with my find, I researched this antique musical and, to no surprise at all, found that it was filmed in Laguna Beach, California. Anyway, they're nice numbers, the point of which seems to be that a very staid party is enlivened (scandalized?) by an unexpected bevy of jazzy chorus girls. The film was directed by Marshall Neilan, the great silent director who by now was so on the skids (via the bottle) that he somehow remained uncredited on screen for his work on this movie (perhaps he was too blotto to sign his deal memo?). Somebody finally noticed, however, and apparently added it to the above poster. As with all the other early talkies that I've blogged about in the past, part of the fun of watching films from this era (specifically 1928-30) is witnessing the clunky, impossibly elephantine process that movie-makers found themselves in with the advent of sound. The once-fluid camera can now barely move (they were enclosed in booths so as not to be heard) and you can sense the strain as you watch the belabored efforts of all involved. To me, however,  this gives the early talkies an especially ghostly quality. They are voyeuristic in ways that their makers couldn't have predicted. You are witness to an event--the making of the film--as well as to the nonsensical and charming goings-on on screen.

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