Moving Picture Exhibitors' Association.

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Pickles and Pictures


"Send her in," said Mr. Nottingham.

In the motion picture business Agnes Calla-
han was rated as AAAl. She had an uncanny
faculty for picking stories that people would
pay real money to see.

Born in Kansas City, the daughter of an
automobile salesman, she was just folks, and
proud of it.

Her e.xperience as a newspaper reporter and
a theatrical press agent had carried her to
success in the movies.

She could tell you nothing about Ibsen, and
she never had been inside the Metropolitan
Opera House, but she knew what the movie
fans wanted on their blue plates. She ga\e
it to them.

MR. NOTTINGHAM unconsciously greeted
her with some warmth as she swung con-
fidently into the room. Everybody liked Agnes
Callahan, instinctively. He noted her charm-
ing bob, her pretty teeth, her dress of blue
something-or-other. When she sat beside his
desk he saw that her ankles were just the kind
he liked.

Agnes Callahan was the first woman he ever
had seen who received a salary of $500 a week.
He was not accustomed to a business in which
important department heads were women. He
had been right, he thought. He must get rid
of her and get a man.

"Mind if I smoke?" she asked, reaching for
his ash tray.

"Er, what? Oh, yes, no, not at all," he

With an effort he adjusted himself to the
strange situation.

"Miss Callahan," he began, "my survey of
the motion picture industry leads me to the
conclusion that the success of this company
depends upon making better pictures."

"Ves, of course," she said. It was not a
re\'oIutionary idea.

"By that, I mean pictures for cultured
people. There are millions of potential custom-
ers who are not buying our goods for the
reason that our goods are cheap, insulting to
the intelligence of the better classes."

"Umm, " said Miss Callahan, doubtfully.

"I want stories that vnW interest the influen-
tial classes, those who have plenty of money
to spend, who now attend the opera. We must
satisfy those who read the better magazines,
who appreciate art."

"Aren't you afraid that stuff like that will
drive away the regulars?"

"By no means."

"You'd rather make 'Peter Pan' than
'Male and Female'?"

"npHEN down the sewer goes your movie

■^ company," she said calmly.

Mr. Nottingham bristled. He was not
accustomed to talk of this kind from subordi-

When he had outlined his plans to M. L.
she had said that they were nothing short of

"Ideas like yours," he told Miss Callahan
severely, "are characteristic of this industry.
I know I am right. I have the figures to pro\e
my point. Do you know how many millions
do not go to the movies? Why the surface is
hardly scratched?"

Miss Callahan said so she had heard.

"Have you ever compared," she suggested,
"the market for bread and butter with the
market for anchovies on toast?"

The discussion was getting nowhere. When
it ended Henry K. Nottingham was convinced
that Agnes Callahan was a flip little person of
no culture.

And Agnes Callahan went into the office of
Ned Smith, sales manager, and declared that




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Just a song at twilight, played in silhouette by Mrs. John Gilbert.
A beautiful shot of the piquant Ina Claire profile

this new president was trjing to put the com-
pany on the blink.

"What's the use?" Ned Smith asked. "It
will just lose you your job. "

"I don't care. I don't want him to flop. I
sort of like him. A\'hy, I don't know, unless it
is that he came from my home town. 1'%'e
heard about him for years. And we Kansas
City folks must stick together."

■THE first thing anybody does, when he gets
■'■ a good job in the New York ofTice of a
picture company, is to take a trip to Holly-

So jMr. Nottingham packed his trunk.
.Agnes Callahan was overdue on the coast for
her semi-annual trip. She left for Los Angeles
on a jMonday, ^I. 1-. followed on Tuesday and
Mr. Nottingham embarked on Wednesday.
.■\gnes Callahan had suggested that they all go
together — which was the general practice —
but ilr. Nottingham had not reached the
point where he could approve of such informal-

So here he was, making his first inspection of
the Alarvel Studios — a group of huge, concrete
buildings, completed at the cost of millions to
make millions of feet of fihn for millions of
persons who were e.xpected to pay millions of

" NO; thank you, gentlemen, I would rather
go alone," he told vice-presidents and studio

V\ 7ITH their high roofs, their vast distances,
**^ their noises, their hurrj-ing hordes of ex-
cited people, they reminded him of the train shed
of the old Union Depot, down in the bottoms
in Kansas City. He frowned at the thought.
To him Kansas City, his birthplace, was the
muck from which he had crawled.

-\ city of old-fashioned business men. He

He watched a director shooting a scene that
was meant to represent a meeting of the board
of a large corporation. It was a light comedy

One of the members of the board was
sprawled out wK'Ca. his feet on an empty chair
and instead of attending to business they talked
of golf and chorus girls.

He saw nothing funny in it. Scenes of that
sort, distorting the truth, gave the public a

bad impression of big business. He would see
that such things were slopped.

He strode from set to set, stepping over
cables, crawling around lights, climbing over
piles of lumber, dodging property trucks,
ignoring the stares of the curious. As he
climbed and side-stepped he had all the poise
of acrobats who perform most difficult feats
slowly, with perfect timing.

He noted mentally, in his tour, that too
many of his subordinates seemed to be sitting
around doing nothing. It obviously was bad

The production curves must be flattened out.

Constant distribution of labor — that was his

"LJ.ADN'T he increased the output of cement
-*■ -'-mixers twenty-four per cent and at the
same time cut the overhead eighteen per cent?

You're darned tootin', he had!

He looked around for a place to rest and to
make a few constructi\e notes. In the far
corner he spied a set representing a librar>' in
an expensi\e home. Just the place. It was
cjuiet, convenient.

A rope was stretched in front of the set and
a sign as tall as a man declared


Of course that sign did not mean the Presi-
dent of Marvel Pictures Corporation. So he
climbed over,

"Hey, you!" someone yelled,

Mr. Nottingham puUed a chair away from
the fireplace and placed it in front of the
library table and sat down. He drew out a
note book.

"What in hell you doin' on that set?"

Mr. Nottingham was annoyed and looked
up to tell the party to go to some other part
of the building.

A short, fat man in a soiled golf suit and a
checkered cap was glaring at him from the
other side of the rope. The short, fat man
pointed directly at Mr, Nottingham and

"/"'ET o£[a that set, ya fat head. Can't \^
^"-"^see that sign? "

iSIr. Nottingham realized that this hoodlum
was addressing him. He rose quickly, trem-

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bling •n-ith rage, feeling much as the Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court in all his robes might
feel, if hit in the eye with a spit ball.

_'■ I am j\Ir. Nottingham, President of Mar\-el
Pictures Corporation," he declared in a voice
made husky -with passion, and he stepped back
expecting to see the man drop dead.

'• Well, Nottingham, my name is Hitchcock
and I want you off that set damn' quick."

Mr. Nottingham could hardly speak. "I'll
let you know," he choked, "that you cannot
talk that way to me. "

_ "I can't, hey?" Mr. Hitchcock replied. He
lifted the rope, inviting Mr. Nottingham to
crawl under.

"(iet outa there, Nottingham, just as quick
as your legs will let ya. Moved a chair, didn't
ya? You're a hell of a president. That move
cost ya four thousand bucks."

Mr. Nottingham obviously was dealing with
an insane man. He wanted no violence, so he
crawled under.

He rose to his full height and stuck out his
jaw as he thundered, "Vou will hear from
this, sir!"

"Ya mean I'm iired?"

"XyfR. NOTTINGHAM'S blood had reached
■»»-'-212 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Yes, you're fired!"

"Hot baby!" Mr. Hitchcock yelled, leaped
the rope and flung open the desk. He drew
out a sheet of paper, dipped a pen in ink,
grabbed a blotter pad and returned to the
amazed Mr. Nottingham.

"Write it down, kid, will ya?" Mr. Hitch-
cock beamed. "Write it down that I'm

"Fool!" Mr. Nottingham blurted. He
turned on his heel and strode out of the stage
and across the lot to the administration biuld-
ing. He tlung open the door of Kddie Martin's
office. Eddie was studio manager.

"Well, Mr. Nottingham," Eddie greeted,
leaping to his feet, "how'd you like the joint?
Pretty swell—"

"I ha\e just discharged an employee for
insubonlination," Mr. Nottingham exploded.
"Something must be done around this plant
immediately to teach employees proper respect.
The morale is wretched — wretched!"

"Aw, Mr. Nottingham," Eddie Martin
apologized, "they mean all right. Sometimes
you find a tough egg. Fired him, eh? It's
good you did. \\'ho \\as it — prop boy or some-

"He ordered me off a set — profanely. He
swore at me!"

"Gosh almighty!" This was really serious.
Some darn fool, not knowing, ordering the
president off his own set ! " Of course we won't
stand for a minute for anything like that, Mr.
Nottingham. What's his name?"
"Hitchcock, he said his name was."
"Hitchcock?" Eddie repeated it, uncer-
tainly. "I don't know the name. What was
he — carpenter, electrician?"

" He wore an old golf suit and a checkered
cap. "

■RDDIE MARTIN was speechless. He
-'-'gasped, "Not Jack Hitchcock, Mr. Notting-
ham? You didn't fire Jack Hitchcock!"

"Perhaps it was Jack Hitchcock."

"You were on liis set — not, good Heavens,
not the Ubrary set, Mr. Nottingham!" Eddie's
eyes were pleading that Mr. Nottingham would
teU him it w'asn't so.

"Yes, why?" Mr. Nottingham was be-
coming a bit uneasy.

"They're shooting a double exposure there.
What did you do?"

"There was no one there, so I sat down."

"Oh, golly! They must have laid off for
lunch! They've got it half done — been shoot-
ing four days." There was panic in Eddie's
voice. "If you moved anything, Mr. Notting-
ham, they'll have to do it all o\er. You didn't
move anything, did you? Gosh, you didn't
move anything, did you?"

"Just a chair. Only a chair," he assured

The studio manager sank back in his scat
and held his head.

"And you fired him?" he asked, in agony.

"What else could I do — after he swore at

"Sure, sure, Mr. Nottingham, I can't
blame you, but listen — Jack Hitchcock is one
of the four or five best directors in the
business, and he's half way through a million
dollar picture. We got a contract with him
at three thousand a week that's got two years
to run and he's been trying to break it be-
cause at least three other companies will give
him five thousand the minute he steps off
the lot. And you fired him! Are you sure he
heard you?"

■\^R. NOTTINGHAM nodded. He was
■'■* ■'■losing his self-assurance. "He wanted me

Don't tell me you did

to put it in writing.'
"Jumping turtles!

"No," said Mr. Nottingham, with a thank-
ful sigh. "I didn't."

Eddie rang for his secretary. "Well," he
said, "maybe we can save the pieces.'' He
spoke to the girl who entered. "Please 'phone
and ask Mr. Hitchcock if he would mind
coming over here. Tell him it is very im-

"Is that the way you order your sub-
ordinates?" Mr. Nottingham blustered. "A
subordinate who has grossly insulted the
president of the company and — "

"Listen, Mr. Nottingham, maybe we can
get him to come over and maybe we can fix
it up. ,\U we can do is to try to kid him along.
Tell him you didn't know who he was and
apologize and pat hini on the shoulder and
I ell him what a great fellow he is. Promise
him a bonus if the picture clicks. That may
get him."

"Apologize!" Mr. Nottingham exclaimed.
"I apologize? .^nd gi\'e him a bonus! After
what he said to me? What kind of — "

"Listen, Mr. Nottingham, if we lose Jack
Hitchcock we lose plenty dough— plenty. If
you don't like my idea, try one of your own.
But we've got to square it."

Mr. Nottingham \valked to the window and
looked out at the flower beds, trying to get
control of himself, trying to figure how he
wouM have coped with a similar situation in
the pickle business.

Eddie's secretary entered.

"Mr. Hitchcock says he will be over in an
hour or so," she said. "He wiU stop in to say

Eddie sighed.

"You go to your office, Mr. Nottingham,
and when he come I'll bring him in. Think
up a good one, because Jack Hitchcock's
worth a half a million a year to us — at least.'

TN' the mahogany and gold office that was
-•-reserved for the use of visiting executives
from New York, Henry K. Nottingham dis-
cussed the situation with M. L.

"You, of course, cannot permit such in-
solence," M. L. advised. "No matter how
valuable the man may be, disciphne must be
preserved. Discharge him!"

"But this picture business," Mr. Notting-
ham offered, "seems different. I can't — "
He caught himself. He aknost had admitted
that there was something that he did not
understand. "I must give more thought to it."

Deep in his heart Henry K. Nottingham
realized that he was in a tight fi.x — the tightest
that he ever had encountered in liis long

The door opened.

"Pardon me," said Miss CaUahan, who
wore a blue and yellow sports ensemble.
"Could I have a moment with you?"

"Certainly, Miss Callahan," Mr. Notting-
ham said, rising, relie\-ed. He turned to M. L.
and said, "That's all, thank you."'

M. L. glared at IMiss Callahan and left.
A good deal of ner\'e, coming right into the
president's office, unannounced.

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M. L. was finding herself in a most disorderly

Miss Callahan sat down.

"This Hitchcock thing," she began. "Have
you worked out of it yet?"

"Who told you about it?" JMr. Nottingham

"Oh," she said airily, "it's all o\-er the lot."

"TT will be printed?" he exclaimed.

-'- " Sure, but who cares? This week they'll
tell how you fired Jack Hitchcock. Next
week — I hope — they'll teU how j'ou didn't.
You don't want to lose him, do you?"

"I guess not."

"That's a perfect guess. He's a great

"But insubordination cannot be excused.
No matter how valuable the man may be,
discipline must be preser\-ed. '

"Lay it to temperament — and forget it. I
can fix it!"

"You can!" he blurted, gratefully. Then he
retired into his shell. "By \A-hat process?"

"Jack wants to make 'Blue Eyes,' the big
musical show. Mr. Dela\-an, the president
they tossed out before you came in, wouldn't
buy it. Cost too much, he said. We can get
it for $200,000. Buy it for Jack and aU will
be hunky dory. He's crazy about the story.
It's laid in New Orleans, his home town —
and you know how people are about their
home town."

"As simple as that?" he asked, doubtfully.
"He will go back to work and be happy?"

"Sure. Movie folks are queer."

"But we cannot spend 8200,000 for a
story." He remembered that the overhead
had to be cut.

"Sure 3'ou can. It's the only way out.
Otherwise you lose him. Or even if he stays,
he'll sulk and be no good. Let's buy it!"

Mr. Nottingham blustered. He said "No"
eleven times without discouraging Agnes
Callahan in the least. At last, beaten, he
gave in.

"Good! I'll get him on the 'phone right
now and square it!"

Things were coming too fast for him. In
the pickle business they held conferences for
days before the)' co\ild decide upon an ex-
penditure of 8200,000.

He was in a muddle.

"Thanks," he said, grabbed his hat, and
strode out of the office.

He strolled aimlessly around the lot for an
hour, trying to bring order out of a chaotic
mind. It was a crazy business, operated by

Employees swore at their superiors, liired
help — girls and boys not old enough to \ote —
were paid three or four times as much as the
president of the corporation. "Yes," when he
meant "No."

He returned to Eddie IMartin's office.
Eddie greeted him with cheers.

"Great stuff, Mr. Nottingham! You cer-
tainly whipped that situation into line. Jack
was just in here and told me about 'Blue
Eyes.' He's all pepped up. How on earth
did you ever think of that?"

"Hmm," said Henry K. Nottingham,

"Well," said Eddie, "it just shows that
you big fellows have got something on the

XyTR. NOTTINGHAil returned to his office
■'''■'■and met the disapproving eye of IL L.
She laid on his desk a number of typewritten
sheets — a transcript of .\gnes Callahan's
telephone conversation \rith Jack Hitchcock.

"Did you ever see 'Blue Eyes'?" she in-
quired coldly.

"Never did," he admitted. "I hear it's

Online LibraryMoving Picture Exhibitors' AssociationPhotoplay (Volume 36 – 37 (Jul. - Dec. 1929)) → online text (page 138 of 145)