Chapter XXV

"REEL" MONEY MATTERS

Making the Movies by Ernest A. Dench
New York, The Macmillan company, published 1915 (now in the Public Domain)


pp. 106-109

There is a wide breach betwen financial affairs on the films and those in real life.

There is a story going the rounds in film acting circles of a young movie actor who tried to pawn his film watch when hard up. But the pawnbroker wouldn't even lend him a cent on it, for he found that the timepiece was merely tin studded with bits of glass to represent diamonds. When playing the "spendthrift son" the actor could alwyas raise $100 on it from the film "uncle."

Another leading man will never have his check book on him again when acting before the camera. Recently, for a film, he had to draw a check and hand it to a companion player. By mistake he used his own check book instead of a dummy one. The check, duly signed and written out, was left on the table after the film had been taken. It then found its way to the wastebin. There is was discovered by some one who realised its value and cashed it. The "star" in question went about for week afterwards in dejection over his $200 loss.

A financier in one film had all the wealth imaginable until the crisis conveyed in a letter told him that he had lost his millions through the failure of something he had his fortune invested in. No mortal man could have made his agony and despair so convincing. It held the audience spellbound to know what the eventful note was about. But the director in his lust for realism played an artful trick on the actor. He knew that he had placed a heavy bet on a horse, so he substituted a real letter for the "property" note, informing the "financier" that his horse had lost.

For a film, another director, after much trouble, came across an ideal hiding place for a modern pirate's hoard. Immediately he ordered sacks of imitation money to be despatched from headquarters, but these unfortunately went astray, and the director was placed in an awkward predicament. However, he eventually cashed a check for $450, receiving the amount in silver dollars. He buried these in sacks on the river beach. While busy producing the picture he failed to notice that the tide was coming in fast, so when it was necessary to dig up the treasure, the hiding place was surrounded by water. The director's dismay knew no bounds, and his next few hours were spent anxiously waiting for the tide to go out again. When it did turn, he could not discover the location of the money and a quarter of an acre of the beach was dug up before it was finally found.

The plot in one play necessitates a scene in which two gamblers play cards, and the one loses leaves and shoots himself. The scenario did not stipulate which one of the players should die, so the director hit upon th idea of haivng them play a genuine game in order to make the scene appear lifelike. The players spun out the game so long that the scene consumed almost a whole reel of film. Then the director, exasperated, asked why they didn't bring it to a conclusion ten minutes earlier. It appeared that both wanted to commit suicide, as the man who won had to appear in the film for an hour afterwards, during which time he had to be chased by the police, thrown over a precipice, come to grips with a grizzly bear, be almost lynched by an angry crowd, and then embrace the heroine in the last scene. In the end they tossed up to decide the matter, as "dying" off there and then was preferable to facing all the ordeals in store.


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