fbpx Hollywouldn’t | George Eastman Museum

Planning a visit? Advance tickets required for nonmembers.

The museum is open; however, capacities are limited. Learn more about our new health & safety procedures.

Hollywouldn’t

00:00 Introduction by Caroline Yeager, Associate Curator, Moving Image Department, George Eastman Museum
02:40: Hollywouldn't

Hollywouldn’t (US 1925)
Director: Lou Carter
Cast: Johnny Sinclair (farmer boy), Charles King, Dorothy Dorr, Billy Jones, Sailor Sharkey
Production company: Trem Carr Productions; Biff Comedies; [Van Pelt Brothers?]
Distribution company: Bischoff Inc.

Release date: 10 September 1925
Sound: silent
Color: replication of original tinting using Desmet color injection
Original length (in feet): unknown
Original length (in reels): 2
Surviving length (in feet): 1,794 ft. 
Length (in reels): 2
Running time: 26 min., 34 sec.
Frame rate: 18 fps

Generous support for the video introduction provided by Art Bridges.

Preserved from a 35mm nitrate print at Film Technology
Digitized at Eastman Museum Film Preservation Services
Funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation

The piano accompaniment for this online presentation was composed and performed by Philip C. Carli.

This film has been made accessible to the public in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: NEH CARES. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this video, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Golden Age of Hollywood is revered by the public and enshrined by film scholars in copious histories about American film production and the pioneers who created the vernacular of the movies. Directors Cecil B. DeMille, Erich von Stroheim, and James Cruze created cinema magic at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount, and Universal Studios. This is the iconic face of Hollywood, the face the world recognizes as the source of a thousand and one nights of beauty, adventure, mystery, and love. But it is actually a Janus. The flip side of Hollywood was a hardscrabble, unglamorous place that gave shelter, sustenance, and hope to the not-quite-famous directors and the not-quite-stellar actors who produced the often charming, low budget films that filled countless hours of theater programming. Like dinghies swamped by the wake of the Queen Mary, hundreds of little films have been lost through corporate neglect, lack of pedigree, and indifference. Abandoned, forgotten by history, and on the brink of oblivion, these products of long-defunct companies are indeed the orphans of the film industry. 

All of which makes the discovery of Hollywouldn’t, a 1925 short released by Trem Carr Productions, a small but significant entry into the “saved” column on the lost film balance sheet. Made with tongues firmly in cheeks, Hollywouldn’t is a freewheeling satire on the Hollywood industry at the height of the silent era. This Biff Comedies two-reeler wastes no time in taking potshots at sacred cows. We are quickly introduced to the Wrex Film company, its director Mr. Cecil Von Cruse (neatly felling three giants with one name) and leading lady Dolly Dove (Billie Dove, Mary Pickford, take your pick). Add a lovestruck cowboy and an equally smitten gent from Indiana, numerous bad insider puns and lots of action, and Hollywouldn’t achieves a level of success all its own. As a warning to other wannabe stars, it concludes by offering timeless advice: “Moral—it is better to stay at home and be thought a fool than to travel and remove all doubt.” 

The film was noted for its stunts, which were claimed to be done by the stars of the film, Johnny Sinclair and Billy Jones. They did slug it out without any safeguards, on the roof of the thirteen-story Taft Building in Hollywood, where a crowd (allegedly of 20,000) watched them.

The Trem Carr production credit on the film differs from the one listed in several reference sources which identify the Van Pelt Brothers as producers. Producer Samuel Bischoff (owner of the California Studios where Hollywouldn’t was filmed) may have rearranged the credits for the foreign release. The Van Pelts remain attached to the film through the Biff Comedies credit, as they produced that series of comedy shorts. And finally, a film credit check of the principals involved reveals that while none went on to star for DeMille, von Stroheim or Cruze, the Hollywouldn’t gang may get the last laugh. Clearly made with good humor and a lot of chutzpah, the fully preserved Hollywouldn’t has been lifted from obscurity and its inspired efforts in cinematic lunacy are available for appreciation by a new generation of movie lovers.