Thursday, August 1, 2013

Harry Langdon, Heart Trouble in Australia #1 -- August 1, 2013

I had a request for anything about Harry Langdon's last silent feature under his lucrative First National contract.  Heart Trouble flopped at the box office and we may never know if it was any good because it is considered lost.  I remembered seeing several items in digitized Australian newspapers.  Here are some of the results.  Click on each image to see a larger version.  I found the newspapers using the Trove Project, which is digitizing more papers all the time.  I split this post into two parts.  

Part One
Part Two
A review from the December, 1928 Motion Picture Magazine 

The earliest reference to Heart Trouble I found was the ad above in the 17-November-1928 Canberra Times.  "What need is an M.D. when you L.T."  L.T.?  Coming soon was a film of the 26-July-1928 heavyweight championship fight between Gene Tunney and challenger Tommy Gun Heeney, a New Zealander.  Heeney put up a good fight, but Tunney won by a TKO in the 11th.  Second feature Almost Human is a dog story.  The IMDB says Heart Trouble was released in the US on 01-October-1928, so it did not take long to reach the capital of Australia.

An article in the 30-November-1928 Perth Daily News gives more detail about the film's plot than I have seen before.  Harry belongs to a family of Germans who emigrated to America.  When America enters the war, he has to enlist, but with which country?  The article reads like a press release.  This shows that the movie had quickly traveled to the remote west coast. 

A brief item in the 01-December-1928 West Australian, from Perth, says that Heart Trouble will open at the Grand Theatre with Master of the World, which I assume is based on the Jules Verne story.  I can't find it in the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).

An ad from the same issue uses a typographical style that seems to have been common in Australian newspapers.  Items like this that repeat the name of the artist and the movie many times turn up really well in searches.  Harry "bombards the blues with bombs of merriment."  

An item from the 03-December-1928 Sydney Morning Herald New Films column is not completely positive about the movie. It says  Harry's whimsicality is "positively irritating."  "At times the picture is genuinely amusing; more often than not, however, it is inordinately dull."  The reviewer gives an Australian point of view: "American audiences may be elated to see a band of American recruits, with bugles playing, drums thumping, and flags flying, on the march in 1917, three years after the Allies had entered the Great War; but the appeal to the other countries involved may not be so pronounced." 

An ad in the 04-December-1928 Perth Daily News show Heart Trouble at the top of the bill.  

An ad in the 19-January-1929 Queensland Figaro shows that by the next month, Heart Trouble was on the bottom of a bill with Two Lovers, a Ronald Colman/Vilma Banky silent, and it was only there for the first half of the main feature's six-day run. The other second feature, Almost Human, was on the bottom of the bill with Heart Trouble in Canberra in November. 

This ad in the 26-March-1929 Rockhampton, Queensland Morning Bulletin, has Heart Trouble as second feature to DW Griffith's remake of his own The Battle of the Sexes. I like the ad for the main feature.  Sorry the image got split. 

This ad in the 29-March-1929 Sunshine Advocate has Heart Trouble as second feature to a William Haines silent.

I will stop here for now.  In the next installment we will see talkies arrive in Australia and Heart Trouble be shown as late as 1931. 

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