Friday, October 28, 2016

Halloween, Hollywood Style

Once again, it's time for our annual Halloween photo shoot! Enjoy!

Adele Jergens

Mary Pickford

Clara Bow

Paulette Goddard

Peggy Ryan  1944

Pier Angeli

Dusty Anderson

Ida Lupino

Friday, October 21, 2016


For all you fans of The Lone Ranger radio program, fully aware that the first 790 or so episodes do not exist in recorded form, here are some of the earliest adventures of the Masked Man and his faithful Indian companion. The plot summaries come from reading and scrutinizing the radio scripts.

Episode #20, Broadcast March 16, 1933
Plot: In the early days, it took very little in the way of a rumor to start chaos in the vicinity of one of the small struggling banks in a western community, but that is exactly what happened when Slim is rejected a loan from the new bank. Most of the town folk are reluctant to invest their money in the brick-and-mortar institution, especially since Angus Tavish, the biggest rancher in Sleepy Creek, has not invested his own money. The Lone Ranger and Tonto, aware that Big Stan Clavin, the bank manager, has been embezzling small amounts and was responsible for the close of a bank in San Francisco, waits until a robber digs up the money in Clavin’s back yard. The Lone Ranger steals the $10,000 and turns the thief over to the sheriff. When Slim informs the town citizens about the failure of the San Francisco bank, a riot erupts until The Lone Ranger assists Angus Tavish in depositing $10,000 into the bank. The town citizens, now assured of their investments, begin to make deposits – a sound foundation for the financial institution. At the end of the day, Tavish informs the Clavin that the stolen money is now returned where it belonged and quietly, without the citizens aware, establishes a real account with the bank.

Episode #21, Broadcast March 18, 1933
Plot: Barney Oldfield and Jake Blossom plot to have Steve, an innocent railroad worker, destroy the Gopher Gulch bridge which is near completion. If the bridge is destroyed, Maxwell would lose the contract for the construction work and Jake would be quite sure of obtaining it. Barney tricks Steve into thinking that Duke Atterbury, the owner of the railroad, was responsible for the death of Steve’s sister, and that the train going across the bridge would have Atterbury on board. Tonto overhears Barney and Jake’s discussion and The Lone Ranger intercepts Steve before he could go down with the bridge that was blown up. Barney, discovering he was provided a ten second fuse, not a ten minute fuse, realizes he was duped. Head bent low, The Lone Ranger on the great horse Silver, swept over the country following the rails of the newly laid track, hoping to catch up with the approaching train that was unaware of the destruction at the Gopher Gulch bridge, carrying Duke Atterbury. When the conductor ignores the warnings of the Masked Man, The Lone Ranger shoots through the pistons to allow the steam to escape, saving the lives of Steve’s sister, who was married to Duke Atterbury.

Episode #22, Broadcast March 21, 1933
Plot: Money lender Tinkerby, who holds the mortgage on Abe Winters’ Circle O Ranch, will not extend the loan and demands the $10,000 by six tomorrow… or Abe Winters surrenders over the ranch. Abe asks his ranch hand, Hank, the boyfriend of Jane Winters, to take a four hour ride to Shady Corners, where a good friend and fellow rancher agreed to lend Abe the money in return for less interest than Tinkerby demanded. On route to Mitchell’s ranch, Hank is held up by a masked bandit named Nate, who ties up Hank and steals the letter of introduction, with the intention of stealing the money for his employer, Tinkerby. The Lone Ranger, keeping tabs on Hank, then steals the money from Nate and races back to help Hank reach the Circle O Ranch in time… and proves to the sheriff and a posse how Tinkerby was responsible for hiring Nate to intervene with the payment.

Episode #23, Broadcast March 23, 1933
Plot: Ben, an old hermit, mistook a stranger that stumbled into his retreat for an officer of the law, having killed dirty Dan Lawson six years prior. Ben fled a prosperous gold mine, a wife and son of 12. About the same time Ben confesses his sins to the stranger, Dan Lawson turns up alive and well at the home of Mary and her 18-year-old son, Jim. Dan claims Ben went to Mexico six years ago to get a divorce and marry a Mexican woman, but that now he is dead. Dan threatens to stake a claim on the mine, which needs to be renewed by tomorrow, if Mary and Jim do not allow him to work the mine with a group of rough Mexicans he brought with him. The Lone Ranger with old Ben on his horse swept into action by taking Ben to be reunited with his family. Jim, in the meantime, applies the bayonet as his father taught him, defending the land against the Mexican bandits. Ben took to the killing of white people more seriously that he did the stabbing of Mexican Bandits that tried to invade his home, shooting to kill but unintentionally wounding Dan Lawson. It is the Lone Ranger however, that brought about the redemption of old Ben, the saving of the claim, and the defeat of Dan Lawson.

Episode #24, Broadcast March 25, 1933
Plot: Dave Brinkman had acquired most of the smaller ranches in his section of the cattle country, and by fair means or foul he hoped to acquire the Lazy S Ranch, which though pretty well run down, was nevertheless a desirable bit of property. Miss Nancy, the “boss” of the Lazy S, rejects the offer to sell the ranch, forcing Brinkman to threaten a stampede – preventing her from making any money on the sale of cattle. She also rejects his proposal of marriage. Brinkman, armed with twenty hired men, former employees of the Lazy S who accepted the task for more money, orders them to prevent the cattle from reaching the railroad in time to complete the sale. Uncermoniously, early in the morning Brinkman was grabbed from his bunk and snatched from a sound sleep, blankets and all, by the Masked Man. Tonto throws rocks through the window to wake the Brinkman men. The plan to stampede the Lazy S cattle was forgotten in the danger that threatened Brinkman. Over hill and valley dashed the great horse Silver, and far behind him came the 20 cowmen. Thanks to the efforts of The Lone Ranger, Miss Nancy, along with her ranch hands Tim and Old Willis, sell the cattle to raise the money to keep the ranch working.

Episode #25, Broadcast March 28, 1933
Plot: The dance jamboree at the hall in Comstalk was suddenly brought to a stand still as Caleb Westbrook burst in, out of breath and full of news. The office of the local storeowner was robbed. Sheriff Uriah Nobbs claims it was his deputy, Dave Gratwick, who made a getaway on the sheriff’s horse. Unaware of what had taken place in Comstalk, Dave was following the orders given him by his superior as he led the horse of Sheriff Nobbs across the soil of Mexico in the Del Burro region, looking for the bandit camp to be sure that it was not men from there that had come to the Comstalk party planning trouble. Sheriff Nobbs, leading his posse of men from the Rio Grande, picking up the trail of Dave Gratwick on the Mexican side of the River, the posse came upon the body of a man stretched out on the ground. The sheriff quickly attempts to shoot and kill the deputy, unaware that the body was really Toro, a.k.a. “The Bull,” a Mexican bandit hired by the sheriff to kill Dave. Thanks to the interference of The Lone Ranger, Toro was apprehended. Discovering the sheriff tried to shoot and kill him, Toro confesses to the crooked election that gave Nobbs his job, and confesses how some of the stolen loot can be found on the sheriff’s possession. The former sheriff, Cal Stebbins, finds the proof and as Sheriff Nobbs attempts to make a getaway, Toro throws a knife into his heart.

Episode #26, Broadcast March 30, 1933
Plot: Jim Grant finds himself at the Half Way Inn, a wretched shack located halfway between the huge Circle Bar ranch and Fort Roanoke and one day’s hard ride from each. Jim was recently granted a pardon after serving ten years for the murder of Nate Fargo, former partner of the Circle Bar. The Lone Ranger and Tonto, trailing a head of missing cattle and investigating the unusual growth of cattle at the Circle Bar, discover Jim was hired by Mexican Joe to herd 25 steer that were stolen from the corral at Fort Roanoke. Jim, unaware the cattle is stolen, arrive at the Circle Bar, only to discover Gordon Fargo has been spending the past ten years cattle rustling. Thanks to The Lone Ranger, Jim’s pardon is saved from a fire and Fargo’s real identity was exposed – Nate Fargo never had a brother named Gordon Fargo, he is Nate Fargo in disguise, having faked his death using the bones from an Indian grave. Angry, Jim shoots Fargo dead in the presence of Captain Ryder, who arrives to take Jim back to prison. Having discovered Jim was innocent of the cattle rustling and he truly did have a pardon from prison, and that Fargo was a cattle thief working with the Mexican, Ryder returns to the fort with the stolen cattle. The Lone Ranger ensures the captain that Jim already served his time for the crime he just committed.

Trivia, etc. The Lone Ranger insists that Jim Grant is justified for the murder of Fargo, after shooting the crook in cold blood within the presence of Captain Ryder and a lieutenant, insisting that Jim already served his time (ten years) in prison for the crime. “There are so many times that justice goes awry that it is as well he is finished.”

Episode #27, Broadcast April 1, 1933
Cool Trivia: This was the first episode to feature the traditional “Hi, Yo, Silver… Away!” for the opening of the broadcast, rather than an abbreviated rendition prior. (Not used in script form again until episode 42.)

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Value of Dust Jackets

Collectors of vintage books will tell you that dust jackets are worth more than the book. A tight spine, the color of the paper (white, off-white, cream, yellow or tan) and the overall condition of the book are factors when grading the condition... and thus the value of the book. But in many cases where print runs were so large that the books today are a dime a dozen, the dust jacket is worth more. At fan gatherings, The Lone Ranger (1936) written by Gaylord Du Bois, is worth about $5. The Fran Striker version of the same novel (with only minor tweaks from the Du Bois version), is worth the same. At a recent convention, however, I noticed how the price tag (asking price) was $125 for the very same book. The buyer and seller were negotiating the selling price and I overheard the seller mention, "the binding is still tight." Whereupon the buyer remarked, "I am not interested in the condition of the book. I have four of them at home. I am basing the price on the dust jacket." Afterwards, the two men weighed justification on both sides on the condition of the dust jacket.

Serious collectors have two of the same book. One for reading (considered a beat-up copy) and one for collecting. No serious collector spends money on graded quality without an interest in reading the very materials that he would not dare to risk damage for want of the printed page. Many buy plastic sleeves that wrap around the dust jacket to ensure no further damage comes to the paper. (You have probably seen this done to hardcover books with dust jackets at the public library.) And you can recognize a serious collector someone continues to upgrade their collection with books they already have, when purchasing another of higher quality, intending to sell the lesser one.

Knowing just which covers are more valuable is dependent on print runs and the demand. The Gaylord DuBois cover of The Lone Ranger, for example, is more sought after than the Fran Striker version. According to a recent article in The Journal of Antiques and Collectibles (July 2016), a first edition of The Great Gatsby without the dust jacket has been known to sell for $3,000. First edition with the dust jacket, depending on the condition of the dust jacket, sells for $30,000.

Unscrupulous sellers will sometimes replace a second edition with a dust jacket from a first edition, thus making more money than the seller deserves. Sometimes the dust jackets on early printings were practically identical to the first edition -- do your research before you purchase. If the first edition dust jacket is paired with a first edition book, this is referred to as a "marriage." A few in the hobby claim this is fraud but others insist this is sufficient under the circumstances. (An obvious red flag is when the dust jacket is in much better condition than the book.) 

Today's technology offers a challenge to the collector. There are multiple companies that now manufacture practically any dust jacket you want. High quality facsimiles, with the wonders of photoshop to eliminate any blemishes from the scanned original, have become a new industry of recent. For many, there is nothing wrong with this practice provided the reproduction is disclosed. When a dishonest vendor attempts to pass one of these reproductions off as an original, the old adage is applied: buyer beware.

The photos below reveal how some of the movie studios attempted to promote their movies by licensing stills and artwork for books sold in the stores. Publishing companies felt this would lead to additional book sales. It was a joint venture for both. Fans of old movies find the editions with their book jackets more challenging to collect. You can buy a copy of Frankenstein for mere pennies these days. But a version published in 1931 with a dust jacket promoting the Boris Karloff movie? Dig deeper into your wallet for that one. But if Frankenstein (1931) is your movie of choice, a room in the house designated as a shrine for all things related to that movie, you are only going to buy this book once... so upgrading over time adds bragging rights. 

In 1933, the screenplay to King Kong was adapted into a novel and there is a sequence regarding a pit of spiders and large insects devouring the sailors. That scene is not in the finished movie but you can read a dramatization in the novel. 

As with The Return of Tarzan from 1915, the original dust jacket allows the seller to set the asking price of $250. (Which probably means you can pay $200 in cash.) 

These are just mere examples and the science behind this fascinating hobby is a book in itself. Needless to say, if you are ever in a used bookstore and contemplating whether or not to buy a book that is tempting both your eyes and your wallet, don't flip a coin. If the book has a dust jacket, do not hesitate; the decision is made for you.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Vintage Hollywood Screen Savers

Are you tired of looking at the same old mountain, grassy field or forest desktop image on your computer screen? Wish you could spruce it up with something cool and nostalgic? Well, now you can! The talented Sylvie Coune was kind enough to share her desktop images with you and I am posting a few here on my blog. Visit the website link provided and you will see tons of desk top images to choose from. The small selection I posted here is just a sampling to make your mouth droll.

Audrey Hepburn

Barbara Stanwyck

The Bride of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff

Gene Kelly

Gloria Dehaven

Humphrey Bogart

Jean Harlow

Johnny Weissmuller

Julie Andrews

Marilyn Monroe

Ronald Colman