Souls for Sale (1923)

Comedy-drama | 3 April 1923

Director:

Rupert Hughes

Writer:

Rupert Hughes

Producer:

Rupert Hughes

Cinematographer:

John Mescall

Production Company:

Goldwyn Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Various contemporary sources remarked on the extraordinarily large cast that writer-director-producer Rupert Hughes was assembling for the screen adaptation of his 1922 novel, Souls for Sale. Actor Gaston Glass was initially selected to play the hero, according to a 23 Aug 1922 FD news brief, but he does not appear in the film. Numerous celebrities make cameo appearances in the picture. A 24 Feb 1923 ^Moving Picture World article noted that revered director Ernst Lubitsch played a part during a ballroom scene “out of courtesy” to Hughes.
       Principal photography began in mid- to late Dec 1922, with the 23 Dec 1922 Moving Picture World reporting that the first week of filming would be spent on the Goldwyn studio lot in Culver City, CA, before moving to Palm Springs, CA, where “desert scenes” would be shot. A 13 Jan 1923 Exhibitors Herald news brief indicated that cast and crew had returned to the studio to film interiors. No expense was spared on making the picture. Moving Picture World described the “magnificent” ballroom set as an indulgence of 100-foot draperies in yellow, black, and silver, all of which provided a backdrop to a flower-fringed swimming pool. The 27 Jan 1923 Motion Picture News enthused about the “complete circus” set, also built on the Goldwyn lot. A “big top” and other equipment had reportedly been purchased from the famous Barnum & Bailey troupe. An article in the May 1923 issue of AmCin noted that $75,000 of lights were used to illuminate the circus scenes, which included interior sequences as well as the picture’s destructive climax. Principal photography ... More Less

Various contemporary sources remarked on the extraordinarily large cast that writer-director-producer Rupert Hughes was assembling for the screen adaptation of his 1922 novel, Souls for Sale. Actor Gaston Glass was initially selected to play the hero, according to a 23 Aug 1922 FD news brief, but he does not appear in the film. Numerous celebrities make cameo appearances in the picture. A 24 Feb 1923 ^Moving Picture World article noted that revered director Ernst Lubitsch played a part during a ballroom scene “out of courtesy” to Hughes.
       Principal photography began in mid- to late Dec 1922, with the 23 Dec 1922 Moving Picture World reporting that the first week of filming would be spent on the Goldwyn studio lot in Culver City, CA, before moving to Palm Springs, CA, where “desert scenes” would be shot. A 13 Jan 1923 Exhibitors Herald news brief indicated that cast and crew had returned to the studio to film interiors. No expense was spared on making the picture. Moving Picture World described the “magnificent” ballroom set as an indulgence of 100-foot draperies in yellow, black, and silver, all of which provided a backdrop to a flower-fringed swimming pool. The 27 Jan 1923 Motion Picture News enthused about the “complete circus” set, also built on the Goldwyn lot. A “big top” and other equipment had reportedly been purchased from the famous Barnum & Bailey troupe. An article in the May 1923 issue of AmCin noted that $75,000 of lights were used to illuminate the circus scenes, which included interior sequences as well as the picture’s destructive climax. Principal photography concluded in early Mar 1923 with the burning of the eleven-acre circus, a scene which cost the studio $25,000 alone, according to a 24 Mar 1923 Motion Picture News article.
       An advertisement in the 24 Mar 1923 FD announced that a “trade showing” of Souls for Sale would be held on the morning of 27 Mar 1923 at the Capitol Theatre in New York City. An enthusiastic same-day review appeared in the New York Evening World following the special preview. A news item in the 7 Apr 1923 Motion Picture News indicated that 3,000 to 4,000 people attended the official world premiere at the Capitol on 3 Apr 1923. On 8 Apr 1923, the picture garnered $13,677 in box-office receipts. The 10 Apr 1923 FD noted that the one-day gross was a record for the Capitol, and hundreds had been turned away. A 9 Apr 1923 screening in Los Angeles, CA, was attended by “the entire cast,” according to a 14 Apr 1923 Motion Picture News brief, as well as by the Los Angeles and Hollywood Chambers of Commerce. Although the inside story of “real” Hollywood proved a boon at the box office, one unimpressed critic argued in a Jun 1923 Educational Screen review that the “behind the scenes in the movies” situations were “unpardonably exaggerated” and not at all “real.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
May 1923.
---
Educational Screen
Jun 1923.
---
Evening World (New York)
27 Mar 1923.
---
Exhibitors Herald
13 Jan 1923.
---
Film Daily
23 Aug 1922
p. 2.
Film Daily
24 Mar 1923.
---
Film Daily
10 Apr 1923.
---
Motion Picture News
27 Jan 1923.
---
Motion Picture News
24 Mar 1923.
---
Motion Picture News
7 Apr 1923.
---
Motion Picture News
14 Apr 1923.
---
Moving Picture World
23 Dec 1922.
---
Moving Picture World
24 Feb 1923.
---
Variety
29 Mar 1923
p. 33, 36.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Souls for Sale by Rupert Hughes (New York, 1922).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 April 1923
Premiere Information:
New York trade showing: 27 March 1923
New York world premiere: 3 April 1923
Production Date:
December 1922--March 1923
Copyright Claimant:
Goldwyn Pictures
Copyright Date:
12 April 1923
Copyright Number:
LP18869
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
7,864
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Remember "Mem" Steddon, the daughter of a smalltown minister, marries Owen Scudder but has second thoughts while their train crosses the desert on their wedding night, and she leaves the train when it stops for water. A movie company on location finds her in poor condition and takes her to Hollywood. Because she has heard bad things about movie people, Mem at first rejects the urgings of director Frank Claymore and star Tom Holby to work in motion pictures, but she eventually makes the rounds of the studios (Famous Players--Lasky, Metro, Fox, Robertson-Cole, Pickford-Fairbanks, Goldwyn) in search of a job and sees many well-known directors and actors at work, including Erich von Stroheim, Fred Niblo, and Charles Chaplin. Mem finally gets her chance from Frank Claymore, works hard, and steadily rises to fame. Claymore and Holby become friendly rivals for Mem's affections, while Scudder continues his habit of marrying unsuspecting girls, insuring them, and murdering them. Scudder comes to Hollywood to assert his marital claim on Mem, thus precipitating the climax in which there is an enormous fire, Scudder is killed by the wind machine he has aimed at Claymore, and Mem chooses Claymore over Tom Holby--to the delight of Robina ... +


Remember "Mem" Steddon, the daughter of a smalltown minister, marries Owen Scudder but has second thoughts while their train crosses the desert on their wedding night, and she leaves the train when it stops for water. A movie company on location finds her in poor condition and takes her to Hollywood. Because she has heard bad things about movie people, Mem at first rejects the urgings of director Frank Claymore and star Tom Holby to work in motion pictures, but she eventually makes the rounds of the studios (Famous Players--Lasky, Metro, Fox, Robertson-Cole, Pickford-Fairbanks, Goldwyn) in search of a job and sees many well-known directors and actors at work, including Erich von Stroheim, Fred Niblo, and Charles Chaplin. Mem finally gets her chance from Frank Claymore, works hard, and steadily rises to fame. Claymore and Holby become friendly rivals for Mem's affections, while Scudder continues his habit of marrying unsuspecting girls, insuring them, and murdering them. Scudder comes to Hollywood to assert his marital claim on Mem, thus precipitating the climax in which there is an enormous fire, Scudder is killed by the wind machine he has aimed at Claymore, and Mem chooses Claymore over Tom Holby--to the delight of Robina Teele. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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