Sunday, July 06, 2014

The House That Shadows Built (1931)

An interesting historical curio, this promotional film was created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Paramount Pictures during the 1931-32 season. After a whirlwind retrospective of highlights from the silent era, and naming seemingly every star to ever work for Paramount in the process, it then moves on to coming attractions from the studio's upcoming season.

There is great historical value in the featured clips from now-lost silent films such as DeMille's 1918 remake of THE SQUAW MAN and THE MIRACLE MAN starring Lon Chaney. There are also intriguing ads for productions that underwent casting changes (A FAREWELL TO ARMS starring Gary Cooper and Eleanor Boardman, instead of Helen Hayes) or that were never produced at all (THE ROUND-UP, starring Eugene Pallette, Stuart Erwin, Skeets Gallagher and Frances Dee, and advertised as "Greater than 'The Virginian'").

The highlight is the Marx Bros. segment promoting MONKEY BUSINESS. Set in a theatrical producer's office, this sequence is of interest for containing entirely new footage shot for this promotional film, and for using material from the Marxes' 1924 Broadway hit "I'll Say She Is", serving as a valuable historical record of what that show must have looked like.

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