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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Motion pictures

Sunday, March 28th., Claridge's Hotel, London.

I wrote 1,400 words of "The Vanguard". Or rather I re-wrote them. Still it was a good morning's work. Lunch at hotel. A man's face at the next table puzzled me through lunch; it was Esher's.

After tea we went to the film "The Sea Beast" at the New Gallery; the idea being taken and slaughtered from "Moby Dick". A filthy and preposterous thing and humiliating to watch. John Barrymore the chief interpreter. A dreadful Hollywood girl as the heroine; obviously chosen for her looks, which were dreadful. This film really did annoy me. We didn't see it all.

We met Barrymore a couple of times last year when he was in "Hamlet" at the Haymarket. he looked distinguished but didn't talk distinguished. He is very shrewd and perspicacious. He has a beautiful voice, very masculine and powerful, and is very friendly and responsive.

John Sidney Blyth (1882 – 1942), better known as John Barrymore, was an American actor of stage and screen. He first gained fame as a handsome stage actor in light comedy, then high drama and culminating in groundbreaking portrayals in Shakespearean plays Hamlet and Richard III. His success continued with motion pictures in various genres in both the silent and sound eras. Barrymore's personal life has been the subject of much writing before and since his death in 1942. Today John Barrymore is known mostly for his portrayal of Hamlet and for his roles in movies like Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (1920), Grand Hotel (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), Twentieth Century (1934), and Don Juan (1926), the first ever feature length movie to use a Vitaphone sound-on-film soundtrack.

The immense hall was by no means full; especially the dearest seats were nearly empty when the Barrymore film started (it was a continuous performance). The films of the Boat Race and the Grand National were not bad. The Grand National seemed to be all falls. It seemed most brutal and I was minded to write an article about it.
Also about the Boat Race, which ruins the hearts of so many youths. No. 5 in the Oxford crew this year collapsed before the end, and I expect that his heart will never be the same again. Of course he is branded, with pity, in the papers. He even has headlines. He must have had quite an agreeable weekend.

An important survivor in central London’s Regent Street, the New Gallery Cinema ceased operating as a cinema on 13th September 1953. Originally built in 1888 as an art gallery, it became the New Gallery Restaurant in 1910, but this did not last too long as it was converted into a cinema, opening on 14th January 1913 as the New Gallery Cinema. All was to change again, when it was radically altered and enlarged by architects Nicholas & Dixon-Spain re-opening on 12th June 1925. There is a spectacular Greek frieze, 256 feet long running along the walls which was the work of artist Gertrude Halsey. The projection box was located at the rear of the centre dome in the auditorium ceiling, which created a very steep throw onto the screen. The 1,450 seats were split between stalls and single balcony.

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