Talking pictures : how they are made and how to appreciate them (1937)

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Talking Pictures just another one of hundreds of competent but com- paratively unpublicized "feature players." Good feature players are vital to good pictures. The public would soon notice their absence. But the public usually places feature players into some care- less generality like "Joan Crawford had a good cast." Therefore, the compensation of the feature player remains very much under that of the star. A good feature player earns a comfortable living, but little more. But the personality that suddenly starts to draw theatregoers into a playhouse by the hundreds of thou- sands receives rewards for possession of an exclusive and most valuable commodity. In the days of silent pictures, physical personality alone counted. One actor who could not speak above a whisper made a fortune. A woman star became the top "drawing card" of American films before she could speak a correct sentence in English. But today a prerequisite of acting in talking pictures is a high school diploma. Studio coaches have found that young people who have less education usually have faults in diction which are too deeply rooted to correct. Candidates are seldom signed for a studio unless they have shown a previous predilection for acting by appearances in college or high school plays, or in little theatre productions. Sometimes there is a long wait before a star is dis- covered. Marie Dressier had been brought to Holly- wood to star in silent pictures. She made one great film. Then she started steadily downgrade. She was not [142]