Picture-Play Magazine (Mar-Aug 1926)

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54 Photo by Henry Waxman With two big pictures spreading her fame on Broadway, May McAvoy arrived in New York to make "The Savage." NEW YORK is a hick town," Fanny announced disgustedly, although a glance at the tables around us at the Ritz should have given her cause to doubt that verdict, so far as clothes were concerned, at least. "Nobody around here seems to know anything about who's who," she continued in a tone of utter dismay. "You would think that the news would have trickled to the very outposts of the world that there isn't a more amusing public speaker than Fred Niblo. But no. Evidently New Yorkers had never heard of it. They let him get away after the opening of 'Ben-Hur' without making a speech. I hate to think of this careless waste of wise cracks that might have been used at dinner parties all winter — or even as Ions: as 'Ben-Hur' runs. Photo by W. F. Seely Over the The passing show of old friends and and tumultuous personal appearances, By The "Never mind," I sought to console her, "he might not have been very funny, anyway. You can hardly expect a man to be funny about a picture he has slaved over for a year and a half." "You can expect Fred Niblo to be funny about anything," Fanny insisted. "Oh, Well, I'll try to control my grief long enough to tell you all about it. "The opening of 'Ben-Hur' was quite strange. I can't account for it, unless the audience was in a daze. Maybe they were all saying to themselves, 'It can't be possible that "Ben-Hur" is really opening, after all these years. I never expected to live to see it. I must be dreaming!' Anyway, they were strangely unresponsive until Betty Bronson's first appearance, when they applauded violently. Then they subsided into a sort of apathetic quiet until hours later when the chariot race came on. People quite forgot themselves then and cheered wildly. But the picture went on for reels and reels after that, so by the finish every one was quite quiet and composed again. "Lots of people think it is a marvelous picture, but the fact remains that on the opening night the audience filed out with only a polite clatter of applause and without any of the usual cries for the director or the star. Ramon Novarro was there, too. He had come all the way from Los Angeles to be present at the opening. It must have been an awful shock. "I don't pretend to understand the way that audience acted. You'll have to interpret it for* yourself. Many of the same people were at 'The Big Parade.' There they just went crazy and all but mobbed Jack Gilbert. But in spite of the glorious performance that Ramon Novarro gave, they didn't make any fuss over him ! "Fred Niblo and Enid Bennett — or Mrs. Niblo, if you insist on Greta Nissen is to realize the dream of every young picture player: she is going to be directed by Griffith.