“Shooting” The Man From Glengarry
ARCHIE P. McKISHNIE
"ALL READY! Action! Camera!” Just where the river narrowed to a blue-drab swirl that struck at the grey rocks like an angry rattler, its burden of buoyant, gleaming logs had become jammed. Heaving and grinding with the swift current to give it, impetus the mass of floating timbers quivered as though with fear; then, "suddenly, as a herd of cattle will stampede at fancied menace, each unit of that long raft went on the rampage. * _■
There was something sinisterly suggestive of humanity, trapped and robbed of all reason, in the way those huge logs fought a frenzied and destructive battle for freedom. Behind them the freshet-goaded rapid piled and darkened, throwing its yeasty foam high against the stained skies of twilight, thundering its hoarse command and refusing to be bridled.
These timbers which had mutinied, had for centuries gripped with far-reaching roots the black floor of the forest, whispered their peaceful songs to the golden sunlight and defied the black moods of gale and tempest. Man had thrown them into a swirling vortex that was bearing them away and now, as though in retaliation, they seemed rearing, maddened things bent on the destruction of their fearless herders, the river drivers.
Those drivers were swarming across the heaving mass
now -as the director called “Action” and the cameras registered their heroic feats Us they vainly strove to bring order out of chaos.
No farce about that maelstrom of gritting, splintering logs and men, leaping wide spans o.' boiling water as they raced the slippery timbers with the current tugging at their ankles facing danger with grim twist of lip or careless laugh. All part of the day’s work, this.
Real Drama of the Wilderness
T WAS out “On Location" with the makers of what * must surely prove a great film-story, “The Man from Glengarry,” Ralph Connor's immortal tale of the Canadian Rivermen s feud. I will admit I was curious to see how close to realism, studio-bred actors could get in the making of a picture in the true environment of the story; and I’ll admit I was frankly sceptical that any could be secured daring enough to undertake the hazardous parts of Big MacDonald, his son, Ranald, and “ Lenoir, de one dam bes’ fightin’ man on de Hottawa.”
Of course, when I accepted the company’s invitation to come along and be one of them, I knew scarcely anything concerning the director who had been selected to produce the drama—or the cast. I had yet to learn that no less a wizard than Henry McRae, a Canadian-
born son of a real Glengarry lumberman by the way—and a cousin of the departed poet, of “Flanders’ Fields” fame—a director who has won highest praise for painstaking and conscientious effort, having to his credit the directing of some of the biggest screen-stories of late years—-was to have the supervision of this red-blooded tale of rival rivermen.
.But Mr. McRae, forest-born though he was and wise to the Canadian lumber-jack and his ways, was but one man. Could he produce actors who would visualize as he visualized, catch the gripping soul of the story and live their parts regardless of the hardships and dangers they must encounter?
I asked him this question and he smiled.
“The casting of ‘The Man from Glengarry’has not been easy.” he told me. “We have been fortunate in securing in Anders Randolph perhaps the one actor in America perfectly fitted for the part of Big McDonald. No less difficult was it to secure a man to play the part of the impetuous two-fisted Ranald, that moody son of a Highland father. I could think of but two who were by nature and temperament perfectly fitted for the part. One of these was Warner Richmond. Know him?”
I said I had seen him in the rôle of elder brother to “Tol’able David” and liked him fine.
Well, Richmond was not available but I was lucky enough to grab Ralph Faulkner. Here he is now,” as a tall, broad-shouldered young man came up to us.
He grinned cheerfully and gripped my hand as Mr. McRae introduced us.
Looks like a capable chap,” I said, as he swung on his
He s there,” nodded the director. “There’s scarcely any athletic stunt he can’t pull. And he can act. Only trouble with him is he’s too reckless. He won’t have anybody double for him in the more dangerous parts. Accidents, you know,” he added with a grimace, “are what give the director. grey hairs.”
I had reason to recall his words a few days lateir** We had come up into the picturesque wilderness of the Upper Ottawa one night’s run from the Ottawa studio,
T°p. Manon Swayne as Kate, Pauline Garon as Marie. Kate strives to conciliate the spoiled, petted Mamie: INSERT: Henry McRae, Director-General, photocrafts Film Trust; CENTRE: Kate is piqued because her stalwart sweetheart seems oblivious to her charms; BOTTOM: Ferguson Camp on Antoine Creek, at which the actors were quartered. This is one of the largest and best equipped camp« in the district and was placed at the disposal of the players by the Ottawa Lumbermen’s Association.
and had sojourned some fifteen miles back to a smaller stream known as Antoine Creek, on which is located Ferguson Camp, one of the largest lumber camps in the
The Industrious Fly
TT’S a far cry from comfortable pullman-sleeper to A rough trail through wooded waste, where all the lore and strength of the trekker is called upon; where the ozone smites with a tang to cheer the heart but the whining mosquito and more vicious black fly lie in wait for the unwary. But not one complaint did I hear from the people who were here to build a great story and perpetuate Canadian forest history.
With one exception. The actor from Carolina did say that God may have made a more beautiful fly than the black-fly but He had never made a more industrious one. For which the six-foot-three Harlan Knight—who is the camp parson in the story and who has a most unpaisonlike way of addressing himself on occasion— excused him by explaining that he was a Southerner and therefore more or less prejudiced against the Blacks.
Cheerfully accepting conditions as they found them director and actors fought their way like true conquerors from railway station to camp—a good ten mile hike— obsessed by a single indomitable purpose; to make a screen story of which they had caught the spirit amid the very scenery in which the author had placed the rugged characters of his creation.
And truly there was much to inspire and enthrall ia this wonderland of forest and streams; mauve-faced cliffs which seemed to hover above blue, quiet shor waters: hills that swept fold on fold into an infinity e-
rose-tinted sky. Here, a waterfall which threw aJiny rainbow against the somber face of rock; there, a cascade tumbling and singing its song in a thousand tongues. And over all, the great and mysterious silence of the wilderness.
Far beyond, hill-shadowed, austere, ran the river— heavy and dark, showing white fangs here and there in swift rapid, rugged of shore, hedged with giant pines that will continue to lisp their lullabies until they are claimed by man and carried away on the bosom of the stream whose voice has formed a medley with theirs through centuries of time.
Realism. It was there, shouting and pounding its presence; realism which cannot but make this story in its building, a forest and water classic, that will show Canada and her resources in true colors to a world which, God knows, needs enlightenment on the country which has all too often been labelled the land of snow and ice-bound sweeps.
Playing the River Drama
THEY came into camp at dusk, those lean, sinewy log-drivers of the Ottawa, eager as boys who sense a pleasant break in the daily routine of their lives. For they had been told by the grand old lumber king, J. R. Booth whose timber-holdings in that forested area are almost limitless, that Ferguson camp and others of the district were to be at the disposal of the makers of “The Man from Glengarry.”
Twilight fell, bringing its purple mists and blue-grey shadows, screening the white rapid to a blurred ghostwater and dimming its forested banks to mountains which rose fold on fold, darkening as they melted into an immensity of star-dotted skies. From a copse not far distant, a whippoorwill lilted his soft whirring note; a loon threw his eerie laugh from hidden lake. But no rollicking song came from the shanty-men as they prepared the night fires or “washed up” for supper. Native shyness held them chained. By and by they would grow used to us and accept us as one of themselves. Now they were silent, watchful, almost suspicious in their attitude toward us.
Supper in the long cook-house, an abundance of tempting dishes prepared as only a good camp cook knows how, and as the meal neared its close one heard a laugh, a sally in French and quick retort. The ice was thawing.
Anybody could see these rivermen were excited, curious, eager to know more of what we had come into their world to do.
AS WAS perhaps natural, it was pretty, vivacious Pauline Garon, who is Mayme St. Clair in the story, French from the crown of her curly blonde head to her toes and a native daughter of Quebec province, who made the river-boys cognizant of our mission into their realm of wonders; she and “Billy,” the second camera-man who comes from “gay Paree” and who is swarthy of face,
LEFT: Following the River rescue scene. Left to right: William Colvin as Col. Thorpe; Pauline Garon as Mamie; Harlan Knight as Rev. Mr. Murray; Marion Swayne as Kate; Ralph Faulkner as Ranald; Frank Badgley as De Lacey: RIGHT: Taking one of “long-shots’* which will give graphic realism to the screen version of “The Man from Glengarry.” Director McRae is pointing away, Barney and Billy are grinding, while Big McDonald and Kate Murray look on; INSET: Ernest Shipman, producer: OVAL; Kate's sunny presence is a boon to the big Scotch boss who finds the “straight and narrow” path hard going.
black and curly of hair, needing ui.iy a ai,;ut and
river-boots to convert him into a perfect neerman.
Black eyes gleamed and white teeth flashed iß smiles.
Then with apologetic glances at those of us who did not understand the tongue.
“Sure ting. We mak’ de beeg drive and have fight on raf. Bagosh. dat fine, you bet!”
After supper bonfires were lit in the spicy open, freely sprinkled with leaves and earthy moss m give dt; beeg misquit smudge.” There were songs stories and much happy laughter. The care-free log-drivers were entering into the spirit of the big undertaking.
Those weather-beaten faces were worth the watching as director MacRae briefly outlined the story he and his company had come up into the picturesque lumber country to build. Nobody loves a tale of red-blooded contest and romance more than your riverman, few in any other walk of life possess greater power to visualize. Pipes went dead between set teeth when the big fight of the river-bosses was described; soft curses in French were heaped upon the bully Lenoir and dark faces flashed smiles when the director, with the skill of an artist, pictured the big shanty-men’s dance in the old barn.
“Honor de partner; opposite lady. All join hand’ and circle to de lef’.”
Cheers interrupted the narrator. Cries of “Dat.'s bully? Bagosh, he know de dance, dat feller, fer sure.”
Oh, the canny cunning of a master director! Well, MacRae knew the importance of making these drivers, who were to play an important part in its making, feel and vision the story of “The Man from Glengarry.” This was easier to do perhaps, with the big forest sighing its eternal song all about and the rapids booming up through the silence of a scented night to give the story realism. Then, too, what had happened to those rival rivermen, these listeners had seen happen in real life— or something very similar to it. For there are still bully Lenoirs along the wilderness rivers, and Big MacDonalds who teach them lessons. There are fighters today who can do the deadly “back-lash” and scar the ceiling of a room with their caulk-armed soles.
“Shooting” The Story
ONE thing the motion picture actor must be prepared to do, and that is work long hours when called upon to do so. There are days when ideal conditions—I speak of exterior sets now—make it necessary for a director to work his actors at high speed,often crowding two Hays’ work
from forest and water: light and atmospheric conditions were perfect. At as early an hour as four o’clock those hard-muscled, eager river-boys were up, anxious to be away on a new venture.
Not to be outdone, the members of the cast turned out uncomplainingly from their make-shift beds and before the sun was two hours high the cameras were registering what will be Canadian Lumber-forest history.
It was interesting to note how quickly these rivermen caught their cue, how naturally they rehearsed their parts. And those parts were not easy, calling as they did for skill and daring and not a little patience.
In one scene wherein one “log-roller” strives to show his supremacy over another, rivalry and zeal overmastered wisdom. The log-spinning became a real contest and one spinner was hurled from his revolving perch into the chill and turbulent river.
Of course this was going beyond what the director had suggested, but it was the real thing as the camera caught it and the scene will bring a grin to the face of every old timber-jack who sees it flashed on the screen, and a sigh of approval too, for it’s geniune stuff, as is also the laughter and waving of pike-poles of the other raftsmen as they watch the vanquished roller angrily fight his way to shore.
The Dangers of Realism
BUT the living of a lumberman’s story has its tragic, as well as its humorous side, although, fortunately,
I was called upon to witness no more near tragedies during my sojourn among those who are preparing “The Man from Glengarry” for the silver-sheet.
It was following the big-log-jam scene that those lean rivermen stepped from the playing of a part into real life and peevies and pike-poles in hand were striving to break the locked logs which held the huge raft imprisoned, that I noticed Barney, the first camera-man, frenziedly swinging his machine into position.
“What’s the big idea?” I asked. “This hasn’t any part in the story, has it?”
“Boy,” he grinned, “you see that long guy crossing yonder? He’s carrying dynamite. There’s no telling what may happen. I’m not for missing anything.”
\ That’s the keen camera-man for you; eager always, ever alert for the unusual—the unexpected.
I saw the sweating workers on the jam, shoulder pike poles and peevies and move quickly toward shore; saw
into one, as it were.
Morning in the river valley found cloudless skies and air clear as bottleglass after the varicolored mists of dawn had lifted
the “long guy” take something from his pocket, light the fuse of the dynamite cartridge and scramble quickly across the logs to safety.
But there was no explosion
It seemed only a minute so before I saw the mar. who
had planted the charge returningHe went fearlessly up to the “dud,” reached down and secured it.
“Lord,” breathed the perspifll* Barney, “if I had that fellow’s nerve, I’d go into the 'root-legging business.” The drivers were coming back to tty man-power on the j»m again. Perhaps their efforts wre more united Conti a tied on page 42
“Shooting” The Man From Glengarry
Continued from page 15
this time, or it may be that thé stubborn key-log had shifted. At any rate the jam gave, and in half an hour the logs were moving smoothly on their course.
A little later I came across the tall chap who had placed the dynamite charge.
“What would have happened had the charge exploded?” I asked him.
“Why, de raf’ she brak free of de rock, an’^ de log she go down,” he explained.
“But supposing the charge had hung fire?”
“Den, Bagosh, I guess mebbe I go up, me.”
He spoke quite casually. The retrieving of that cartridge had to be done by somebody, and the task had fallen to him, that’s all. Nerve. If all Frenchmen possess it to the extent of these riverboys one can understand why old Kaiser William failed to reach Paris on schedule.
Camera His First Care
A DAY or two later I was watching ■‘■A Billy, the second camera-man, shoot a scene on a small raft which had been built for the purpose, in mid-stream. Everything went well until the improvised float reaching strong water started misbehaving.
“Jump!” an old river-rat shouted in warning. “Bad water just ahead.” Promptly the actors jumped. But Billy had his beloved camera to protect. He lifted it high and eased himself off the parting timbers. They got him safely to shore and his first word to his anxious co-worker Barney was: “Is the film dry?”
“As a bone,” Barney assured him. “You’re one brave man, I’ll tell the world,” sarcastically spoke one of the actors who had so ignominiously taken water.
“And you,” came back Billy of Paree, “are sure one grand hero, I’ll tell the world, also. And I tell him on dis film, I save, too, don’ forget. I catch you feller as you mak de jump. Wait till you see yourself in de picture.”
He had them there.
Of course, we couldn’t expect to goon having near accidents without encountering the real thing. It was during the rehearsal of a scene requiring considerable strength and agility on his part that Ralph Faulkner, the leading man, miscalculated in a leap and wrenched his right leg so badly that he had to be sent to the city for medical treatment.
“You remember what I said about the accidents that give us directors grey hairs,” said director MacRae to me that evening. “This is one of them. The chances ^are I’ll have to get another Ranald. It’ll likely be a month or more before Faulkner is able to walk easily let alone do the stunts he’d have to do in this picture. It will of course necessitate our retaking a number of scenes, but most of them are simple ones.”
Next morning Mr. MacRae received a report from the injured actor’s doctor which confirmed his forebodings. Faulkner would be unable to work for at least six weeks or longer.
Immediately Mr. MacRae wired New York. Two days later Warner Richmond arrived in camp to play the part of Ranald. Half an hour after his arrival,his husky form attired in riverman’s garb, his white teeth and dimple showing in the famous Richmond smile—he was on the job.
During our stay in Ferguson camp we were right royally treated; but I think what most pleased the director and members of the cast was the fact that the rivermen looked upon and treated them as characters of the story.
To them Anders Randolph was not Anders Randolph but Big MacDonald and was accordingly respected. Pauline Garon, the baby vamp of the story was frowned on in spite of her prettiness!
while Marion Swayne, the parson’s daughter in the story, was idolized. As for Harlan Knight, the camp parson, he wuis looked upon askance. I think the boys feared that any moment he might lift his long arms heavenward and in sepulchral tones command: “Let us pray.” Poor Lenoir, E. L. Fernandey in real life, w'as ostracized altogether. He confided to me that he expected at any minute to be challenged hy one of the fist-and-foot artists belonging to the MacDonald faction to prove that he was as good a man on land as he was on logs. No less unpopular was Frank Badgley, who plays the part of the scheming lover, De Lacy.
But the bad man who gets hisses knows he is “putting it over”. Not one member of the cast but looked upon the attitude of the rivermen toward them as the sincerest form of compliment. It proved too that these dauntless lads of pole and peevy had caught the soul of Ralph Connor’s great story just as they themselves had caught it.
Acting to Music
THE players of “The Man from Glengarry” have, to inspire them, the perpetual music of nature’s wood and stream, “The Black Watch Band” (the blackflies) and the “Glengarry Droners” (the mosquitoes). An actor, to do his best work, must have music of some
In all big motion-picture studios scenes are rehearsed and “shot” to the inspiring strains of a full orchestra. Actors are liable to get fed up on the mechanical process of film-story manufacture. They miss the spot-light and the applause of an appreciative audience. The strong violet light-rays of the powerful lamps make even the handsomest face in perfect makeup look sinister and distorted. The atmosphere is hellish and the blue, cracked lips of the director—he uses no lip-stick or yellow powder, you know— as megaphone in hand he issues his curt orders, gives one the impression that he is the bully, Mephisto, of the piece and is having the time of his life with the rebellious lesser spirits.
He is too, very often, if the truth be known. But not as a Mephisto. He has his troubles, no doubt of that. The story has got to be shot his way, no matter what the actor thinks to the contrary. A film story—like a novel—must be a single vision story, in other words a story as visioned by one mind; otherwise it would be unsavory as a stew concocted by a numberof cooks each of whom has his own particular method of seasoning.
Which suggests a brief word or so in defense of the director who is too often blamed and abused for taking liberties with the stories that are given him for manufacture. “Why couldn’t the story be screened exactly as it is given in the book. is the question often asked. There are various reasons, chief among them this one.
The screen story must be essentially one of action. Rapid action. Very often a book-story commends itself to the reader through its graphic wordpictures; its descriptions ; the clever delineation of its characters; its masterly e expression, etc. But sometimes, though all too rarely, plot, contrast, suspense, climax and surprising dénouement are what make a novel a “best sell-
And then, ye gods, how the director raises his hands in thankfulness. Here is a story he may shoot without taxing the brains of himself and his continuity staff.
A story of bone and meat, of color, action and contrast.
Trimming the Story
UOR, understand, he must place beT fore his audience-reader in less than two hours a story which even the speed-
iest book-reader cannot grasp in less than from six to eight hours from between the covers of a novel. He must trim the tale down to stark essentials. Action, color, balance, contrast, climax and dénouement. And in order to do this many strong passages, many beautiful descriptions, and very often gripping situations must be sacrificed on the altar of Screen-Story Perfection.
_ Too, events must be linked the closer. Unlike the old-time audience of the legitimate drama, the picture-fan resents the “Two Years Later” sub-title. Consequently, the story which extends over a considerable space of time must be screened to show action taking place within a shorter period.
But in all fairness to the director, he should not be looked upon as a storybutcher; in fact he is often the reverse. After ten years of close association with this man who has the last sayrso concerning a scenario, 1 have no hesitation in saying that he will play the story as it stands if it is at all possible to do so, and if changes in plot or general treatment are necessary he is more than willing to consult with the author.
And this is what I have been leading up to.^ The story, “The Man from Glengarry” has been altered—with the permission of the author, of course,—somewhat. This story of the past has been made a story of the present for one thing; the scene of action of certain events has been slightly shifted. For instance the big battle of the river-bosses takes place on a run-away raft instead of in a saloon. There are other changes; but it should make a great screen drama as it is being enacted and one that will show the spring and summer grandeurs of Canada’s great forests at their best.
“The Man from Glengarry” is being produced by the Ottawa Films Production Company, Limited; an all-Canadian Company with keen business men at its head and unlimited capital behind it. It will be the fourth film-version of Ralph Connor’s novels that has been given to the world by Ernest Shipman, those preceding it being, “The Sky Pilot,” “The Foreigner” and “Cameron of the Royal Mounted."
The Man Behind
CTRANGE to say Mr. Shipman, who O is a Canadian by birth and at heart, and a personal friend of the Hon. Mackenzie King--whom he so closely resembles that he is constantly being mistaken for the Premier—was born near Ottawa, not far distant from the spot where his present venture has its living-ground. Like many another Canadian of talent and vision he found it necessary to go afield to win success and it would seem that Canada, true to her precepts, has accepted him at the valuation other countries have put upon him, just as she has her musicians, her artists and her authors. Or perhaps Canada is waking up at last to the fact that her men and women of vision and creative mind are as much an asset to her as her timber and her minerals, and realizes that the motion picture industry if properly handled will educate her children and advertise her beauties, wealth and resources such as can be done in no other way.
If up until this time she has stood irresolute, it is doubtless because there have been, previous to Mr. Shipman’s entering the field and producing three successful films, a woeful number of motion picture failures within her confines, a fact sufficient in itself to give any infant country a touch of colical pessimism.
Shipman knew the game. Also he knew he was undertaking an herculean task in coming here and making a success of an enterprise at which many had failed. But he had faith to buoy him up; faith in himself, in us and our country.
He came here and built one feature picture. He couldn’t interest Canadian capital in the venture. Canadians wouldn’t believe that it could be done. He returned to the United States. There were plenty of capitalists there who believed he could do it. He went back and finished the picture. It has already returned to its backers much more than their original investment. But this money went into the United States.
Canadian capital is now behind Ralph Connor’s stories and Canadian capital will produce those of other Canadian authors.