Howard Hawks’ early career

Wesley Barry as Penrod Schofield stands atop his neighborhood pals in Penrod (1922).  His father was played by Tully Marshall who was one of the professors in Howard Hawks’ Ball of Fire.

Wesley had 67 acting credits in his career, from a 1915 short through an uncredited bit in 1943.  Wesley had previously been in four other films financed by Howard Hawks’  foursome of Associated Producers.  Wesley went on to have 56 credits as assistant director, from 1946 to a 1975 episode of The Rookies.  His first assistant director work on tv was on 15 episodes of Lassie (1962-64), leading to steady work on episodes of My Mother the Car, The New People (a precursor of Lost), and eight episodes of The Mod Squad.

Howard Hawks’ early career

Fools First premiered May 27, 1922

Howard Hawks’ early career

the stars of Penrod on the cover of a Dec 1922 magazine.  The film premiered the previous February.  Maybe it was thought it would be good for the holiday trade.

Howard Hawks’ early career

Penrod (1922) is now lost so its impossible to determine if the film is affectionate or racist by 21st century standards

Howard Hawks’ early career

Richard Dix and Claire Windsor in Fools First (1922), directed by Marshall Neilan, one of Howard Hawks’ business partners in Associated Producers.  Richard would go on to star in Howard Hawks’ Quicksands (1923).  Claire had 61 acting credits in her career, from an uncredited bit in 1919, through her only tv appearance in 1952.  She also had an uncredited bit in Topper (1937).

Howard Hawks’ early career

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Marshall Neilan with the star of his Penrod (1922) Wesley Barry.  Marshall was born in San Bernardino and had 107 directing credits from an uncredited short in 1913 to 1937, working with Howard Hawks from 1920 to 1923, directing eight films as part of their Associated Producers foursome.  Marshall also had 143 acting credits, dating back to a 1912 short through 1923, with two uncredited bits in 1936 and 1937, and a final acting appearance in A Face in the Crowd (1957) as Senator Worthington Fuller.

Howard Hawks’ early career

Todd McCarthy does not mention the box office fate of Penrod (1921).  He only mentions that it relied heavily on the antics of the young cast, and it was not very interesting.

Howard Hawks’ early career

 

theater ad for Penrod (1922) promoting a count the freckles on the face of Wesley Barry and free tickets to the kids.

Howard Hawks’ early career

Penrod premiered Feb 20, 1922

Howard Hawks’ early career

publicity still for Penrod (1921), the ninth film from the independent Associated Producers, of whom Howard Hawks was a financial backer.

Howard Hawks’ early career

Lon Chaney as Chin Chow and Anna Mae Wong as his wife, Toy Sing in Bits of Life (1921).  Lon was born of deaf mute parents  in Colorado Springs, and had 162 acting credits from a 1913 short to his one and only sound film in 1930.  Lon was one of the biggest stars of the silent era, most famous for his horror films such as his title roles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera.  Among his many non-horror performances, he was Fagin in a silent version of Oliver Twist.

Howard Hawks’ early career

print ad for The Lotus Eater (1921), the sixth and final film of 1921 from Associated Producers.  It was not one of John Barrymore’s more popular attractions.

Howard Hawks’ early career

Penrod (1922) is an adaptation of a novel and play by two time Pulitzer Prize winner Booth Tarkington  (The Magnificent Ambersons 1918, and Alice Adams 1921.)

Howard Hawks’ early career

The Lotus Eater premiered Nov 27, 1921, a film “personally directed” by Marshall Neilan.  Were other films of the day impersonally directed?  John’s previous film was his first big hit, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and his next film was Sherlock Holmes, another popular film.

Howard Hawks’ early career

John Barrymore and Colleen Moore in a publicity still for The Lotus Eater (1922).  John somehow stumbles onto an island inhabited by a group of shipwrecked folk who create their own free thinking, liberal society far from civilization.  It was not one of John’s more popular films, and it is unlikely John met Howard Hawks at this time, as location shooting for the film was in New York and Miami.