28 June 2014

Summer Read: "I Used to be in Pictures an untold story of Hollywood"

WHAT I Used to be in Pictures an untold story of Hollywood 
WHEN  28th June 2014
WHERE  Online

I would highly recommend you guys to read and check out ' I Used to Be in Pictures: An Untold Story of Hollywood'. The book offers fans a healthy sampling of the correspondence the Mewes Brothers have had over the past nearly 30 years with some of the most celebrated and iconic film stars from the silent and 'golden' era of film-making. It gives you a personal insight of how the stars experienced the rise and the fall of their careers, while handing out outrageously funny anecdotes. Such a fabulous book! Wonderfully written funny, superb photos but gives you a heartfelt stories of the beautiful people of the yesteryear, this is truly an amazing piece of art. Must must BUY!! 

1. How did your passion for cinema begin?

HOWARD: from a very young age Howard and I would visit our Grandmother at her house closeby to where we lived with our parents and older sister Rowena on Saturday’s. During the winter when we couldn’t get in the garden because of bad weather we would  be indoors - one day our Grandmother suggested we watch a film. It was black and white - we caught the 'film bug'! - We were 11 or just 12.

AUSTIN: it wasn't a modern TV of course, it was ancient. she would switch it on and we'd have to wait for the TV to start - when I think back it was all very cosy, sat in front of the old TV, with her coal fire burning brightly eating home-made cakes and the films, these old films, films our friends at school didn't watch completely transfixed us both

 2. Do you remember the first movie you ever saw? What was it about? Who was the director?

AUSTIN: Howard says Way Down East – I think it was Between Two Worlds with John Garfield and Eleanor Parker – however it certainly was the very idea of a film (Way Down East directed by DW Griffith) with no dialogue that amused us, amazed us and got us hooked!

HOWARD: the plot of Way Down East centres on a rather naive country girl who is tricked into a sham marriage by a wealthy womanizer, who has to rebuild her life despite the taint of having given birth to a child out of wedlock. Although remade since, the Griffith version is the most compelling – maybe the acting/the performance magnified because they had to make up for the fact the film was silent? The exciting climax in which Lillian Gish's character is rescued by Barthlemess from doom on an icy river just as she is about to meet her end over the edge of a waterfall is astounding -

 3. How did you develop the interest to that certain kind of cinema? How old were you?

AUSTIN: We were around 12/13 years of age – the BBC and documentary filmmakers/producers like Kevin Brownlow and David Gill were during the 1980s, educating people on what came before with documentaries like Hollywood and The Third Genius about comedian Harold Lloyd (who we adored and found SO funny! I have sat and watched on YouTube Laurel & Hardy and Harold Lloyd with my five year old son Nathan and I love to see him laugh – their comedy simply timeless, all-inclusive...)

HOWARD: Silent film is the only period of film history where one can trace the beginning the middle and the end – and that alone fascinated us. It’s funny as many of the stars Howard and I got to know from the 1920s would tell us that the films were never completely silent. Patsy Ruth Miller who starred in the original version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame said, “We would open or mouths and words came out it was just the technology back then couldn’t detect it – there were ‘cards’ with lines of dialogue shown throughout the films to inform the audience of what was going on but most importantly the musical that accompanied the films played in the cinemas by men and women on great organs gave the actors their voices, providing the mood and the setting.

 4. Who did you write your first letter to?

AUSTIN: The first film star we wrote to was Lillian Gish in 1984/85 – because of the ages of those silent stars that’d survived into the 1980s we used to write up to 25 letters a week! The letter writing snowballed as The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences provided us with address of their long-retired members, the stars themselves gave us address of their former film star friends and enthusiasts like Richard Lamparki and Kevin Brownlow fascinated by our interest at such a young age saw fit to share contact information and addresses.

HOWARD: I think we wrote many more than that in a single week! I feel so privileged just to have written to some of the actors who I loved to watch in movies screened by the BBC or Chanel 4 on TV – Katharine Hepburn, Pola Negri, Tab Hunter, Robert Mitchum, Madge Bellamy... and the fact some became friends is fantastic.
Bette Davis_portrait publicity still Warner Brothers 1939 signed to Austin and Howard

Douglas Fairbanks Jr on the beach with his trusty dog Santa Monica 1933 signed
Esther Muir with Groucho Marx scene still A Day at the Races (1937) signed to Austin and Howard

William Bakewell portrait signed

Available to buy from Amazon 


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