Letters to the Editor - Brickbats and Bouquets from Hollywood Fan Magazines #2

Vilma Banky in The Eagle, costumed by Adrian.
Poor Vilma Banky! This letter writer seemed to take a particular pride in giving her the first "brickbat."

Vilma's First Brickbat

New York City. N. Y.
Vilma Banky is good looking and a capable actress, but she will never be a star. She is not star material like Gloria and Pola and Corinne Griffith.

I think she lacks distinction. She's just another beautiful blonde. She hasn't anything definite about her personality to make her a star.


* * *

It did not take long for Vilma Banky to have a defender in the Letters section the following month.

* * *
For Miss Banky

Hewlett, Long Island
Just a word to answer Althea’s letter in [the] January Photoplay. Has she seen "The Dark Angel” and “The Eagle”? If so, what is her definition of distinction? To my mind, anyone who can find her way into the hearts of the public as Miss Banky has done, after her first appearance in America, must possess a certain amount of that indefinable something known as personality.

Althea grants that Miss Banky is a capable actress. But what is it that makes a capable actress if it is not distinction with a rare personality?

To be sure, Gloria Swanson is wholly charming; Pola Negri is magnetic and Corinne Griffith aloof and aristocratic. But Vilma Banky possesses all these qualities together with a charm of her own.

Helen Schneider

* * *

Vilma also had a new fan in the February issue, not specifically referring to Althea's letter. This letter from Canada was the $25 winning letter (adjusted for inflation in 2017 to $348).
Vilma Banky and Ronald Colman in The Dark Angel

$25.00 Letter
Montreal, Canada.
My biggest bouquet goes to George Fitzmaurice for his direction of the most beautiful picture I have ever seen, "The Dark Angel."* One to Ronald Colman for his portrayal of an English gentleman, and one to Vilma Banky for her flawless acting.
I know of no leading man who could have played that role with such delicacy and refinement as did Ronald Colman.
Vilma Banky will rise to great heights if they do not spoil her. She has beauty and refinement, combined with perfect technique. It is extremely unpleasant to contemplate what they might make her into: an over-marcelled, over-made-up unnatural puppet.
Being an exceedingly hard-boiled fan, it is a relief to view a picture which has the power to make one forget it is a film; which has beauty, pathos and romance without the slightest hint of sex.
Those who claim the public demands sexplays are wrong, as the box office returns from
"The Dark Angel" have probably proven by this time.
Please publish a picture of Ronald Colman in your gallery.
Marian Brownridge.

*The Dark Angel, sadly, is a lost film.  Samuel Goldwyn remade the film in 1935 starring Merle Oberon, Herbert Marshall and Fredric March. Last time I saw it I was about 10 years old.  I remember loving it, I wonder how I'd view it today?

I have not found any record, yet, of Ms. Brownridge, commenting on Vilma's next films, The Eagle and The Son of the Sheik.

* * *

Bebe Daniels and Valentino in Monsieur Beaucaire

My eye is naturally drawn to any mention of Rudolph Valentino in old magazines.  Here is an odd request from a fan from Ennis, Texas:

Wants Rudy as Female Impersonator

Ennis, Texas.

After reading the November issue of Photoplay, I want to say that I will read many more of them, as I find Photoplay the most interesting of all movie magazines.

I can't imagine why "Lou and John" have it in for beautiful Mac Murray. 1 think she is gorgeous and she can act, and proved it in “The Merry Widow." I only hope she will be as great a success in all her pictures.

She has many admirers in this town. About her strutting and pouting—she is very graceful when walking or dancing, and her mouth is more beautiful when she pouts. 1 think Lou must be a trifle envious.

1 am also a great admirer of Rudolph Valentino and am looking forward to his next picture "The Lone Eagle."* I would like to see Rudy and Mae Murray play together**, and I'd like to see Rudy as a female impersonator.***

E. M. M.
* The Eagle released in 1925 went through a couple of title changes before release. The Lone Eagle was one, The Black Eagle another.  The Black Eagle would have been too similar to Douglas Fairbanks upcoming pirate film, The Black Pirate.  Valentino has a similar problem when he bought his house that he christened Falcon Lair.  Early on in the process he had stationary printed and was planning on calling it Eagle's Nest. 
**Rudy and Mae had played in two films previously, both in 1919, A Delicious Little Devil and Big Little Person.  Since Valentino was an independent at United Artists, and Mae was under contract at MGM, any further pairings on screen would have been unlikely.  They remained good friends, Valentino was Best Man at Mae's disastrous 1926 marriage to "Prince" David Mdivani.
*** Valentino starred with famed female impersonator Julian Eltinge in An Adventuress.  Valentino only played a brief scene impersonating a female in his 1924 film Monsieur Beaucaire.  His character was disguised in order to gain access to a ball and expose the villain of the piece.  I know of no other plans for Valentino to appear in drag.


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