Friday, August 2, 2013

Harry Langdon, Heart Trouble in Australia #2 -- August 2, 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.  In part one, I gave some of the results, showing the progression from main feature to second feature.  Here we see it shown until 1931, even as talkies came to dominate the market.  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 am splitting this post into two parts.  

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

"Movie Notes" from the 08-April-1929 Grenfell Record and Lachlan District Advertiser says that in the second feature Heart Trouble, Harry Langdon "Bombs the blues with mirth."   The main feature The Red Dance is supported the second night by a movie we saw twice in part one, Almost Human.

This large ad from the 18-April-1929 Werribee Shire Banner promotes the upcoming showing of Heart Trouble and Buster Keaton's The Cameraman at the Mechanic's Palais.  There is a nice graphic for The Cameraman.  John Ford's Four Sons was coming first. Sorry I had to split it into three pieces. 

By 17-June-1929, this ad from the Hobart Mercury says that Heart Trouble was playing on the island of Tasmania.  Note the item at the bottom: "BOX PLAN OPENS TO-DAY FOR 'THE JAZZ SINGER,' the first "TALKIE"

The 09-October-1929 Townsville Daily Bulletin, from the northeast coast of Queensland, has Heart Trouble as the main feature with a Carlyle Blackwell movie.  Harry "Bombs the blues with mirth" and is described as "the frozen-faced Comedian."  I had never seen "frozen-faced" used to describe Harry Langdon.

Two days later, the 11-October-1929 Townsville Daily Bulletin reported Heart Trouble was playing at a different theater as second feature to a Hoot Gibson movie.

This article, from the 15-September-1929 Perth Sunday Times, reports that Hal Roach has announced that he will be producing one talkie comedy a week, featuring stars such as Laurel and Hardy, Charley Chase, Our Gang, and Harry Langdon. 

This article from the 24-March-1930 Northern Star of Lismore New South Wales, says that a Hal Roach talkie short featuring Harry and Thelma Todd, "Hotter than Hot" is playing with Mary Nolan's first talkie, Shanghai Lady.  This probably decreased peoples' interest in Harry's silents. 

Meanwhile, way down yonder in Tasmania, the 07-June-1930 Burnie Advocate reported that the Burnie Theatre featured film of the arrival of aviatrix (love that word) Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from Great Britain to Australia, which was playing with a talkie, King Vidor's Hallelujah.  The Davenport Majestic Theatre and Town Hall played Life's Circus, which was a silent German movie called Manege according to the IMDB, along with Heart Trouble as a second feature.  I threw in the ad for Lon Chaney in West of Zanzibar for the Chaney fans. 

In Melbourne, the 26-November-1930 Argus has Heart Trouble playing second feature to an Australian movie, When the Kellys Were Out, which must have been about Ned Kelly's gang, in a kiddie show, the Regent Children's Party.  Other movies on the bill were a chapter of Tarzan the Tiger and an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon.  There was also a live show with a cowboy, a contortionist, dancing clowns, and other novelties.  I included the ad for the grown-up show, Caught Short, a talkie with Marie Dressler and Polly Moran.  That is a crappy title for a movie.

Even as late as 31-March-1931, the Northern Standard, from Darwin, Northern Territory, carried an article about Heart Trouble before a local showing.  It says that Harry Langdon "is an exponent of a type of comedy which seems particularly suited to himself and one other comedian -- Buster Keaton.  The art of gesture is one in which these two are extraordinarily versed..." 

Another Darwin newspaper, the Northern Territory Times, carried an ad for a showing of Heart Trouble as second feature to what appears to be a Russian circus film, or a European circus film shot in Russia.  I couldn't identify it in the IMDB, even looking at a list of Italian diva Marcella Albani's films.

The same issue of the Northern Territory Times also carried an ad about "unusual stunts" in Heart Trouble, but doesn't describe them.

The last reference I could find to Heart Trouble was in the 18-April-1931 Adelaide Advertiser and Register as the second feature to a talkie, Ladies Love Brutes

At the same time that Heart Trouble was playing in Australian theaters, I found ads for most of Harry's other silent features, Tramp Tramp Tramp, The Strong Man, Long Pants, Three's a Crowd, and The Chaser.  I didn't find the Sennett feature His First Flame, but I wasn't looking for it.  Perhaps, as some writers have suggested, the Australian market, like the American, was saturated with Harry Langdon. 

Harry visited Australia in 1936 to appear in a stage production of Anything Goes


Scott Henderson said...

I am about 5 years later reporting on your blog but was astounded by the tracking you did on Heart Trouble playing in Australia. Thank you for this. I only wish that somewhere in Australia a print of this lost film can be found.

Joe Thompson said...

Hi scobeyfan. Better late than never. Thank you for commenting. I too dearly wish a print of Heart Trouble would turn up in Australia.