The Matinee Idol (1928)

66 mins | Comedy-drama | 14 March 1928

Director:

Frank Capra

Producer:

Harry Cohn

Cinematographer:

Philip Tannura

Editor:

Arthur Roberts

Production Designer:

Robert E. Lee

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

According to modern sources, The Matinee Idol was adapted from the story "Come Back to Aaron," by Robert Lord and Ernest S. Pagano. Although the film was thought to be "lost" for many years, a print was discovered in the Cinematheque Francaise in the mid-1990s. The film was subsequently restored and released in a DVD format.
       The Summary was composed in 1990 and based primarily on pre-release materials submitted to the copyright office by Columbia.
       According to FD , with this film, Frank Capra began to receive recognition as an important director in his own right, apart from his previous association with Harry Langdon. According to modern sources, The Matinee Idol was filmed at the Columbia studios from Feb to Mar 1928, and was the first picture made under a contract in which Capra was paid to direct, co-produce and co-author pictures that took about six weeks to make (two weeks for writing, two for shooting and two for editing).
       In a biography on Capra, comedian Benny Rubin stated that he doubled for Johnnie Walker during a dance sequence. The Matinee Idol was the basis for the 1936 Columbia film, The Music Goes 'Round , which was directed by Victor Schertzinger and starred Harry Richman and Rochelle Hudson (See ... More Less

According to modern sources, The Matinee Idol was adapted from the story "Come Back to Aaron," by Robert Lord and Ernest S. Pagano. Although the film was thought to be "lost" for many years, a print was discovered in the Cinematheque Francaise in the mid-1990s. The film was subsequently restored and released in a DVD format.
       The Summary was composed in 1990 and based primarily on pre-release materials submitted to the copyright office by Columbia.
       According to FD , with this film, Frank Capra began to receive recognition as an important director in his own right, apart from his previous association with Harry Langdon. According to modern sources, The Matinee Idol was filmed at the Columbia studios from Feb to Mar 1928, and was the first picture made under a contract in which Capra was paid to direct, co-produce and co-author pictures that took about six weeks to make (two weeks for writing, two for shooting and two for editing).
       In a biography on Capra, comedian Benny Rubin stated that he doubled for Johnnie Walker during a dance sequence. The Matinee Idol was the basis for the 1936 Columbia film, The Music Goes 'Round , which was directed by Victor Schertzinger and starred Harry Richman and Rochelle Hudson (See Entry). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
EHW & MPW
3 Nov 1928
p. 69.
Film Daily
29 Apr 1928
p. 5.
Motion Picture News
5 May 1928
p. 1493.
New York Times
24 Apr 1928
p. 29.
Variety
25 Apr 1928
p. 29.
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 March 1928
Production Date:
began 6 February 1928
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
5 April 1928
Copyright Number:
LP25136
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
66
Length(in feet):
5,925
Length(in reels):
6
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Don Wilson, a famous blackface comedian and member of a New York theater company, and Wingate, his manager and writer, leave for a vacation prior to the opening of their Broadway revue. Don, Wingate and other members of the company become temporarily stranded in an upstate town, where, to pass time, they attend the Great Bolivar Stock Company's Civil War melodrama. Don, a sophisticated actor, is hired to play a part in the melodrama when Ginger Bolivar, star of the production and daughter of Col. Jasper Bolivar, the director-writer-producer, chooses him from a line of applicants, with whom he inadvertently mingles, to play a Confederate soldier who dies in her arms. Don's friends watch the bad, melodramatic performance in disbelief, and when laughter breaks out in the audience, Ginger believes it is because of Don's rotten acting. Later, Wingate decides that the novelty act is just what he needs to complete his Broadway show, and signs the Bolivar troupe for the New York engagement. Ginger agrees to the arrangement, but expresses her dissatisfaction with Don, whom she has just fired from the cast. Don is reinstated, however, when Wingate insists on having the original cast in his show. In order to keep his identity a secret from the rest of the troupe, Don changes his name to Harry Mann. Further complications arise when J. Madison Wilberforce, Ginger's leading man, becomes jealous over her attentions to Don, especially because he has plans to wed the lovely star. Don, who has fallen in love with Ginger himself, realizes that the act will devastate Ginger and her father, and decides to protect them by calling ... +


Don Wilson, a famous blackface comedian and member of a New York theater company, and Wingate, his manager and writer, leave for a vacation prior to the opening of their Broadway revue. Don, Wingate and other members of the company become temporarily stranded in an upstate town, where, to pass time, they attend the Great Bolivar Stock Company's Civil War melodrama. Don, a sophisticated actor, is hired to play a part in the melodrama when Ginger Bolivar, star of the production and daughter of Col. Jasper Bolivar, the director-writer-producer, chooses him from a line of applicants, with whom he inadvertently mingles, to play a Confederate soldier who dies in her arms. Don's friends watch the bad, melodramatic performance in disbelief, and when laughter breaks out in the audience, Ginger believes it is because of Don's rotten acting. Later, Wingate decides that the novelty act is just what he needs to complete his Broadway show, and signs the Bolivar troupe for the New York engagement. Ginger agrees to the arrangement, but expresses her dissatisfaction with Don, whom she has just fired from the cast. Don is reinstated, however, when Wingate insists on having the original cast in his show. In order to keep his identity a secret from the rest of the troupe, Don changes his name to Harry Mann. Further complications arise when J. Madison Wilberforce, Ginger's leading man, becomes jealous over her attentions to Don, especially because he has plans to wed the lovely star. Don, who has fallen in love with Ginger himself, realizes that the act will devastate Ginger and her father, and decides to protect them by calling off the act, but Wingate rejects his pleas. At a masquerade party on the eve of the show's opening, Ginger is introduced to Don, the masked host, and later reports to "Harry Mann" that she was thrilled by the delightful host. The play opens to uproarious laughter at the Bolivar troupe's act. Interpreting the audience's response as an insult, Ginger leaves the theater despondent. Don follows her, in blackface for his next act, but the rain soon washes away his disguise, thus revealing his identity. Because Ginger believes she has been deceived, the Bolivars pull their troupe out of New York and head back upstate, where they resume their search for another actor to play the Confederate soldier. Don, still in love with Ginger, has followed the troupe, and presents himself to Ginger at the audition, where the leading lady takes him back into her arms after he delivers the line "I love you" more convincingly than the other applicants. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.