Critical Moments

There is trouble enough when a moving picture director finds himself with a child actor before him and he has to make the youngster follow a script, but the trouble involved in such detail is secondary to the complications that arise when a film concern decides to hire a minor.

Not, of course, that any one would want to hurt a baby, but motion picture producers must convince authorities of their good will before they are even allowed to bring a baby into a studio. In addition to guarding the physical well-being of the infants of the movies, the authorities are also very careful that no six-months-old has his other morals corrupted.

At the Astoria Studios, in Long Island, where Educational Pictures is making a considerable part of its program, the studio manager will tell you that using a baby in a picture involves more detail than having a visa extended. First, there is the problem of finding the right baby, which is far from a simple task, and many sources, including nurseries, institutions, etc., are tapped before a selection is made. When the right baby is found, an application for a permit is made to the Children’s Society, where a complete record of the child’s history is made. A script of the picture in which the child is to be used must be submitted and is carefully read and okayed by the authorities only if they are convinced that making the picture will in no way harm the baby. This includes the regulation that the child is not to be dangerously exposed to weather and other elements. Producers are subject to a very heavy penalty if the script is altered in any way after it is okayed.

Satisfied with the script, the Children’s Society issues a permit which must be executed at the Mayor’s office on the very day on which the child is to be brought to work. This, of course, entails last-minute negotiations which is not always easy on studio workers’ blood pressure.

HELD UP PICTURE

It happens that Ernest Truex’s two latest comedies for Educational Pictures—”The Expectant Father” and “Love and Babies,” the latter now in production—called for a number of very young children, and the studio manager, although a great lover of babies, hopes they’ll refrain for a while.

Shooting “Love and Babies” on location at Flushing Park, L. I., production had to be held up several hours before a man, waiting for the Mayor’s office to open, could get permits for five babies, whereupon he dashed back to location where the cameras couldn’t start grinding until the permits were on the lot.

CINEMA NOTES

You are in for some heavy sentiment, according to recent studio announcements. Monogram Pictures is preparing a script for Gene Stratton Porter’s slushy novel, “Girl of the Limberlost,” and Paramount promises to break out with a version of “Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch.” The cast of the last-named will include Pauline Lord, who will play Mrs. Wiggs; W. C. Fields, and Zasu Pitts, who will have the role of the inane Miss Hazy. . .

H. G. Wells’ novel, “The Shape of Things to Come,” will be made into a picture by London Films under the title, “100 Years From Now.” It will be released in this country through the United Artists. . . .

Everything is copy for Mae West. Recently the buxom lady was robbed of some $17,000. To make up for this loss, Miss West wrote a dialogue and scene in her forthcoming picture, “It Ain’t No Sin,” which describes how the robbery occurred. . . .

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