The Seven Lively Arts
by Gilbert Seldes


"THE egregious merit of Chaplin," says T. S. Eliot, "is that he has escaped in his own way from the realism of the cinema and invented a rhythm. Of course the unexplored opportunities of the cinema f r eluding realism must be very great." 

It amused me once, after seeing The Pawnshop, to write down exactly what had happened. Later I checked up the list, and I print it here. I believe that Chaplin is so great on the screen, his effect so complete, that few people are aware, afterward, of how much he has done. Nor can they be aware of how much of Chaplin's work is "in his own way"- 

even when he does something which another could have done he 'adds to it a touch of his own. I do not pretend that the following analysis is funny; it may be useful: Charlot enters the pawnshop; it is evident that he is late. He compares his watch with the calendar pad hanging on the wall, and hastily begins to make up for lost time by entering the back room and going busily to work. He takes a duster out of a valise and meticulously dusts his walking-stick. Then proceeding to other objects, he fills the room with clouds of dust, and when he begins to dust the electric fan, looking at something else, the feathers are blown all over the room. He turns and sees the plucked butt of the duster-and carefully puts it away for to-morrow. 

With the other assistant he takes a ladder and a  


bucket of water and goes out to polish the three balls and the shop sign. After some horseplay he rises to the top of the ladder and reaches over to polish the sign; the ladder sways, teeters, with Charlot on top of it. A policeman down the street looks aghast, and sways sympathetically with the ladder. Yet struggling to keep his balance, Charlot is intent on his work, and every time the ladder brings him near the sign he dabs frantically at it until he falls. 

A quarrel with his fellow-worker follows. The man is caught between the rungs of the ladder, his arms imprisoned. Charlot calls a boy over to hold the other end of the ladder and begins a boxing match. Although his adversary is incapable of moving his arms, Charlot sidesteps, feints, and guards, leaping nimbly away from imaginary blows. The policeman interferes and both assistants run into the shop. By a toss of a coin Charlot is compelled to go back to fetch the bucket. He tiptoes behind the policeman, snatches the bucket, and with a wide swing and a swirling motion evades the policeman and returns. He is then caught by the boss in another fight and is discharged. 

He makes a tragic appeal to be reinstated. He says he has eleven children, so high, and so high, and so high-until the fourth one is about a foot taller than himself. The boss relents only as Charlot's stricken figure is at the door. As he is pardoned, Charlot leaps upon the old boss, twining his legs 


around his abdomen; he is thrown off and surreptitiously kisses the old man's hand. He goes into the kitchen to help the daughter and passes dishes through the clothes wringer to dry them-passes a 

cup twice, as it seems not to be dry the first time. Then his hands. The jealous assistant provokes a 

fight; Charlot has a handful of dough and is about to throw it when the boss appears. With the same motion Charlot flings the dough into the wringer, 

passes it through as a pie crust, seizes a pie plate, trims the crust over it, and goes out to work. 

At the pawnshop counter pass a variety of human beings. Charlot is taken in by a sob story about 

a wedding ring; he tries to test the genuineness of goldfish by dropping acid on them. Sent to the back room, he 'takes his lunch out of the safe, gets into another fight, in which he is almost beating his rival to death when the girl enters. Charlot falls whimpering to the floor and is made much of. He returns to the counter and the episode of the clock begins. 

A sinister figure enters, offering a clock in pawn. Charlot looks at it; then takes an auscultator and listens to its heart-beat; then taps it over crossed fingers for its pulmonary action; then taps it with a little hammer to see the quality, as with porcelain; then snaps his thumb on the bell. He takes an augur and bores a hole in it; then a can-opener, and when he has pried the lid off he smells the contents and with a disparaging gesture makes the owner smell 


them, too. He then does dentistry on it, with forceps; then plumbing. Finally he screws a jeweler's magnifying glass into his eye and hammers what is left in the clock, shakes out the contents, measures the mainspring from the tip of his nose to arm's length, like cloth, squirts oil on the debris to keep it (quiet, and, lifting the man's hat from his head, sweeps the whole mess into it and returns it with a sad shake of the head. 

A pearl-buyer has meanwhile come in and Charlot retraces his steps to the back room (carefully stepping over the buyer's hat) and begins to sweep. His broom becomes entangled with a piece of tape, which fights back and gets longer and longer. Suddenly Charlot begins to tight-rope upon it, balancing with the broom, and making a quick turn, coming forward for applause. A final quarrel with the other assistant ensues. As they are swarming round the legs of the kitchen table, the boss comes in and Charlot flees, leaps into a trunk, and is hidden. As the others enter the room, the pearl-buyer, who has stolen all the valuables, holds them up with a revolver. Charlot leaps from the trunk, fells the robber, and embraces the lovely maiden for a fade-out. 

All of this takes about thirty minutes. I have put down nearly everything, for Chaplin is on the scene virtually all of the time. I am fairly certain that ninety per cent. of this film could not have been made, even badly, by anyone else. Analysis of A 


Dog's Life would give the same result: the arrival at the climax being a little more certain and the drama of the climax (the curtain scene-compared with the clock scene above) being more involved in the course of action. 

Here follows a complete list of all of the pictures in which Charlie Chaplin has appeared-all of those officially recognized by him: 

Keystone-1914: Making a Living, Mabel's Strange Predicament, The Kid Auto Racers, His Favorite Pastime, The Film Johnny, The Cruel Cruel Love, The Dogcatcher, Mabel at the Wheel, The Star Boarder, Twenty Minutes of Love, Caught in the Rain, Tillie's Punctured Romance, The Rounders, The Knockout, Caught in the Cabaret, A Gentleman of Nerve, Mabel's Busy Day, Mabel's Married Life, Dough & Dynamite, His Trysting Place, Laughing Gas, His Prehistoric Past, Half Reel Scenic Yosemite Valley. 

Essanay Film Company--1915-i6: His New Job, A Night Out, The Champion, The Tramp, The Jitney Elopement, In the Park, By the Sea, The Woman, The Bank, Work, A Night in the Show, Shanghaied, Carmen, Police. 

Mutual Film Company- 19 16-17: The Floorwalker, The Fireman, The Vagabond, One A. M., 



The Count, Behind the Screen, The Rink, The Pawnshop, Easy Street, The Cure, The Immigrant, The Adventurer. 

First National, 918-23: Shoulder Arms, Sunnyside, The Idle Class, Pay Day, A Dog's Life, The Kid, A Day's Pleasure, The Pilgrim. 



IT was not my happiness to have heard Yes; We Have No Bananas first in America: and to understand phenomena one must know them in their natural setting. The phrase itself was created, or brought to notice, by Tad; as I have said in my wholly inadequate reference to his work, he is a master of slang and a creator of it; some acknowledgment to him might well appear on the cover of the song. His use of it was immeasurably more delicate and more amusing than the song, because he used it as a contradiction of all the blah and high-hat nonsense in the world; it is in his hands fantastic, funny, and impertinently pertinent. In the song I can't see it; nor am I exceptionally taken with the music, which is largely synthetic. 

However, if I cannot understand the success of the song (or misunderstand it, for it seems to me to be "merely" popular) there are those who understand better. I do not think that my quite secondary powers of analysis would have risen to the following, by J. W. T. Mason, correspondent of the London Daily Express, in New York: 

New York slang usually changes monthly. Of late there has been a falling off in inspiration, and picturesque argot culled from the city's polyglot interminglings has fallen sadly behind New York's quick-witted reputation. At last, however, after months of waiting a creative effort has been made, and one of the most effective phrases descriptive of life in New York has resulted. 


One hears it on the stage, in the drawing-room, in the kitchen, on the streets, everywhere - "Yes; we have no bananas." A song has been written about it, and is the musical rage of the moment. 

Cardboard imitations of bunches of bananas are making their appearance bearing the legend, "Yes; we have no bananas." Business men hang these ornaments in their offices, as a reminder that, after all, there must be a way out of every difficulty. The phrase originated in the fruit shops kept in New York by Greeks, Italians, and Jews, whose knowledge of the English language is limited in verbiage, but not in volubility, nor in willingness to try. 

These ancient races come to the New World for profit, and never like to turn a customer away. So they have evolved a curious positive and negative for the same sentence. Why the slangmakers hit on bananas has not been discovered. It might as well have been any other commodity. But the phrase means that one having asked for bananas in a fruit shop where there are none, the anxious proprietor, seeking to be ingratiating and not desiring to displease, answers: 'Yes; we have no bananas.' Thereupon he may seek to sell a cabbage or a bunch of beets instead, since most fruit shops in New York are vegetable establishments as well. 

The phrase is a tribute to the optimism of the newly arrived immigrant; to his earnest fight to master the language of his temporary country, and so, somehow, is supposed to take on the American characteristic of ('getting there," even though by way of an affirmative in a negative sentence. 

It is, I believe, a generation at least since the English began to say "Yes I don't think." And they talk about the cable having brought the two countries closer together. 0 God! 0 Montreal' 




I Hate to Get the Morning Yip-Yip-Yap- 

Midnight Leaves for That Mesmerizing Mendelssohn Tune 

Kiss Me 

Wild Cherry 

Call Me Up Some Rainy Next to Your Mother 

Afternoon Who Do You Love 

Grizzly Bear Sweet Italian Love 


When I Lost You I Want to Be in Dixie 

When I Leave the World Keep Away from the Fel- 

Behind low Who Owns an 

Alexander's Automobile 

Band International Rag 

Oh, How In My Harem 

Up in Snooky-Ookums 

(From Somebody's Coming to 

hank) My House 

Everybody's Doing It You've Got Your 

I Want to Go Back to Mother's Big B I u e 

Michigan Eyes 

Ragtime Violine Araby 

When That' My Bird of Paradise 

Choo-Choo This Is the Life 

Alabam' They're on Their Way to 

Mysterious Rag Mexico 

Yiddle, On Your Fiddle He's a Devil in His Own 

My Wife's Gone to the Home Town 

Country He's a Rag-picker 

Along Came Ruth 

Sadie Salome, Go Home 

Piano Man 

When I'm Alone I'm 


Ragtime Soldier Boy 

Goody - Goody - Goody - 

Goody - Good 

Pullman Porters on Pa- 

rade At the Devil's Ball 

Old Maids' Ball 

San Francisco Bound 

If You Don't Want Me, 

Why Do You Hang 


Down in Chattanooga 

When It's Night Time 

Down in Dixieland If That's Your Idea of a  Wonderful Time, Take 

Me Home

The Hula-Hula 

Girl on the Magazine 

I'm Gonna Pin My 

Medal on the Girl I 

Left Behind 

Settle Down in a One 

Horse Town (From 

Watch Your Step) 

Mandy (From Ziegfeld 


A Pretty Girl is Like a 

Melody (From Zieg. 

feld Follies) 

Some One Else May Be 

There While I'm Gone 

My Sweetie 

Good-bye, France 

The Hand That Rocked 

My Cradle Rules My 


I've Got My Captain 

Working for Me Now 

You'd Be Surprised 

If I'd Have My Way 

Cover (Id Be a Farmer) 

I Love a Piano Nobody Knows and No 

The Ragtime Melodrama body Seems to Care 

When I Get Back to the I Never Knew 

U. S. A. Homesick 

(From Stop! Look! All by Myself 

and Listen!) Some Sunny Day 


WHEN YOU Walked Out 

MUSIC Box REVUE,1922: 

Say It With Music 

Everybody Step 

Music Box REVUE, 1923: Lady of the Evening 

Crinoline Days 

Pack UP Your Sins 


By John Murray Anderson and Irving Qtsar 

The scene it is Alaska and beneath the setting sun 

We see a brave young miner toiling He's thinking of the home folks and w there.  To a humble little shack he dot hen his day's work is done, He's dreaming of the happy days h repair. 

When he was but a boy 

The places he frequented long ago; On memories' '  wings he flies again to his dear Mother's knee. 'Tis then we hear him whisper soft and low.  RFFRAIN Good-bye to dear old Alaska. 

I'm going across the sea, 

Back to the dear old home land, 

MY country, the land of the free. can Picture a love nest at twilight 

Where the old folks for me sit and pine,

So good-bye, Alaska, for I'm going home  To that old-fashioned mother of mine.
Once again the scene is changed he3s on a special train  And lands down at the Batter'y safe and sound. He wends his way on Broadway and on every side again  The old familiar faces can be found.


He lingers but a moment as he passes City Hall,  

And there he hears the national anthem sung, 

And just to prove he's Yankee, aye, Yankee through and through, He sings the chorus in his native tongue.  -Sung by Jack Hazzard in "The Greenwich Village Follies," with dissolving views by Walter Hoban. HEAVEN WILL PROTECT THE WORKING GIRL 

Words by Edgar Smith. Music by A. Baldwin Sloane. Copyright, igog, by Charles K. Harris. British copyright secured. 

A village maid was leaving home, with tears her eyes were wet. Her mother dear was standing near the spot; 

She says to her: "Neuralgia dear, I hope you won't forget That I'm the only mother you have got. 

The city is a wicked place, as any one can see, And cruel dangers 'round your path may hurl; 

So ev'ry week you'd better send your wages back to me, For Heaven will protect a working girl.



"You are going far away, but remember what I say, 

When you are in the city's giddy whirl, 

From temptations, crimes, and follies, villains, taxicabs and trolleys, Oh! Heaven will protect the working girl."  Her dear old mother's words proved true, for soon the poor girl met A man who on her ruin was intent; He treated her respectful as those villains always do, 

And she supposed he was a perfect gent. 


But she found different when one night she went with him to dine 

Into a table d'h6te so blithe and gay. 

And he says to her: "After this we'll have a demi-tasse!" 

Then to him these brave words the girl did say: 


"Stand back, villain; go your way! here I will no longer stay, 

YoAlthough You were a marquis or an earl; 

u may tempt the upper classes with your villainous demi tasses, 

But Heaven will protect the working girl."



I CANNOTwrite about Eva Tanguay-not in the way of Aleister Crowley, at any rate. Here are fragments from his appreciation: 

Eva Tanguay! It is the name which echoed in the Universe when the Sons of the Morning sang together and shouted for joy, and the stars cried aloud in their courses! I have no words to hymn her glory, nay, not if I were Shelley and Swinburne and myself in one-I must write of her in cold prose, for any art of mine would be but a challenge; I rather make myself passive and still, that her divine radiance may be free to illumine the theme. Voco! per nomen nefandum voco. Te voco! Eva veni! 

Eva Tanguay is the soul of America as its most desperate eagle-flight: . Her spirit is tense and quivering, like the violin of Paganini in its agony, or like an arrow of Artemis-it is my soul that she hath pierced! 

The American Genius is unlike all others. The "cultured" artist, in this country, is always a mediocrity. Longfellow, Bryant, Emerson, Washington Irving, Hawthorne, a thousand others, all prove that thesis. . . . 

Eva Tanguay is the perfect American artist. She is alone. She is the Unknown Goddess. She is ineffably, infinitely sublime; she is starry chaste in her colossal corruption. In Europe men obtain excitement through Venus, and prevent Venus from freezing by invoking Bacchus and Ceres, as the poet bids. But in America sex-excitement has been analyzed; we recognize it to be merely a particular case of a general proposition, and we proceed to find our pleasure in the wreck of the nervous system as a whole, instead of a mere section of it. The daily rush of New York resembles the effect of Cocaine; it is a universal stimulation, resulting in a premature general collapse; and Eva Tanguay is the perfect artistic expression of this. She is Manhattan, most loved, most hated, of all cities, whose soul is a 


Delirium beyond Time and Space. Wine? Brandy! Absinthe? Bah! such mother-milk is for the babes of effete Europe; we know better. Drunkenness is a silly partial exaltation, feeble device of most empirical psychology; it cannot compare with the adult, the transcendental delights of pure madness. . . . Why titillate one poor nerve? why not excite all together? Leave sentiment to Teutons, passion and romance to Latins, spirituality to Slavs; for us is cloudless, definite, physiological pleasure! 

Eva Tanguay is exactly and scientifically-this Soul of America. She steps upon the stage, and I come into formal consciousness of myself in accurate detail as the world vanishes. She absorbs me, not romantically, like a vampire, but definitely, like an anaesthetic, soul, mind, body, with her first gesture. She is not dressed voluptuously, as others dress; she is like the hashish dream of a hermit who is possessed of the devil. She cannot sing, as others sing; or dance, as others dance. She simply keeps on vibrating, both limbs and vocal chords without rhythm, tone, melody, or purpose. She has the quality of Eternity; she is metaphysical motion. She eliminates repose. She has my nerves, sympathetically irritated, on a razor-edge which is neither pleasure nor pain, but sublime and immedicable stimulation. I feel as if I were poisoned by strychnine, so far as my body goes; I jerk, I writhe, I twist, I find no ease; and I know absolutely that no ease is possible. For my mind, I am like one who has taken an overdose of morphine and, having absorbed the drug in a wakeful mood, cannot sleep, although utterly tired out. And for my soul? Oh! Oh!-Oh! "Satan prends pitie' de ma longue misre!" Other women conform to the general curve of Nature, to the law of stimulation followed by exhaustion; and by recuperation after rest. Not so she, the supreme abomination of Ecstasy! She is perpetual irritation without possibility of satisfaction, an Avatar of sex-insomnia. Solitude of the Soul, the Worm that dieth not; ah, me! She 


is the Vulture of Prometheus, and she is the Music of Mitylene. She is the one perfect Artist in this way of Ineffable Grace which is Damnation. Marie Lloyd in England, Yvette Guilbert in France, are her sisters in art: but they both promise Rest in the end. The rest of Marie Lloyd is sleep, and that of Yvette Guilbert death; but the lovers of Eva Tanguay may neither sleep nor die. I could kill myself at this moment for the wild love of her. . 

And so on-until French intervenes. 



Mr John Alden Carpenter has been good enough to permit me to reprint the programme note attached to his ballet of Krazy Kat, performed Friday, January 20, 1922, at the Town Hall, in New York, and several times thereafter. The piano transcription of the score, decorated with many attractive designs by Herriman, is published. The note is: 

To all lovers of Mr Herriman's ingenious and delightful cartoons it must have seemed inevitable that sooner or later Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse would be dragged by some composer into music. I have tried to drag them not only into music but on to the stage as well, by means of what I have called, for obvious reasons, a Jazz Pantomime. 

To those who have not mastered Mr Herriman's psychology it may be explained that Krazy Kat is the world's greatest optimist-Don Quixote and Parsifal rolled into one. It is therefore possible for him to maintain constantly at white heat a passionate affair with Ignatz Mouse, in which the gender of each remains ever a delightful mystery. Ignatz, on the other hand, condenses in his sexless self all the cardinal vices. If Krazy blows beautiful bubbles, Ignatz shatters them; if he builds castles in Spain, Ignatz is there with a brick. In short, he is meaner than anything, and his complex is cats. 

After a few introductory bars the curtain is raised and Krazy is discovered asleep under a tree. Officer Pup passes, swinging his club. All is well. Then comes Bill Poster, a canine relative of Officer Pup, with his bucket and brush, and pastes upon the wall an announcement of the grand ball which will shortly be given for all the animals. The job finished, Bill departs. 

Krazy wakes up; he rubs his eyes and reads the exciting poster. He is moved to try his steps; he finds his feet heavy 


and numerous. Of a sudden he spies on a clothes line which the moving scenery has brought into view, a ballet skirt. Undoubtedly it is his costume for the ball. He approaches the clothes line, first with restraint, then with eagerness. He snatches the skirt from the line, claps it on, and comes bounding forward in high abandon. 

He is interrupted by the appearance of Old Joe Stork, drilling by with his bundle on his back. He passes on, but he has carelessly dropped his pack. Krazy sniffs at it, filled with curiosity. He picks it up and carries it triumphantly to his tree in the corner. He opens the bundle, and finds that it contains not what you thought it would, but a vanity case, mirror, rouge, powder-puff, lip-stick and all, complete, including a beautiful pair of white cotton gloves. 

He abandons himself to the absorbing task of make-up for the ball. Meanwhile the moving scenery has brought into view the house of Ignatz Mouse. The door opens, and Ignatz' head appears. Opportunity has knocked. The Mouse steals forward and is about to seize an inviting brick when Officer Pup (thank heaven!) arrives in the very nick of time and drives him from the scene. The unsuspecting Kat, in the meantime, has completed his make-up. He now arises, draws on his white cotton gloves, and then by way of further preparatory exercise, he indulges in a bit of a Spanish dance. 

At its conclusion Krazy is suddenly confronted by the Mysterious Stranger. The sophisticated audience will observe that it is none other than Ignatz disguised as a catnip merchant. Very formidable indeed! The Stranger steps briskly forward and holds out to the ever-receptive Kat a bouquet-an enormous bouquet of catnip. Krazy plunges his nose into the insidious vegetable, inhales deeply to the very bottom of his lungs, and then goes off at once into what Mr Herriman calls a Class A fit. It is a fit progressive, a fit de luxe, the Katnip Blues, in which the wily Ignatz joins as additional incitement. When the frenzy  


has achieved its climax, the Mouse throws off his disguise, seizes his brick, dashes it full in the face of the Kat, and escapes. Krazy staggers back, stunned and exhausted, but yet undaunted. There is the moment of ecstatic recognition-Ignatz Dahlinkas he totters and reels back to his little tree. He sinks down wearily under its protecting boughs. The moon comes out. Krazy sleeps. Krazy dreams. Indominatable Kat! 


great grace. His little trick of taking a glass full of beer out of his pocket at the end of each tumble is not new, but he does it extremely well, and he has the sense of gait as well as the sense of costume and impression. 



IT begins to look as if we will have to find a new explanation for the French. Since that would be 

difficult, I suggest that we hold fast to the old one, with variations. Let us continue to say that they are moribund and explain any outburst of activity as a death struggle. The last gasp. History provides 

plenty of precedent, and we who find pleasant things in their art and letters will rank ourselves with those cultivated persons who cannot begin to care for Latin until it becomes a highly corrupt language. 

I do not know whether seeing new opportunities and developing them quickly are the best signs of 

degeneracy, for I seem to remember reading about these things in the advertisements, where nothing as irrevocable as degeneracy is permitted. The adaptability of the moving picture scenario to something be- 

sides moving pictures was a thing easy to guess; the thing has been done in both America and 

England in burlesque of the films-an adaptation requiring and receiving very little intelligence. 

It may be slightly beside the point, but it is interesting to note that the cinema influence in literature in France is almost exactly opposite to what it is here. There it seems to make for brevity, hardness, 

clarity, brilliance. You will find it in the extraord' nary stories of Paul Morand and Louis Aragon; and 

you will find in neither of these those characteristic sloppinesses which American authors are beginning to blame on the movies. If they would take the trouble 


of studying the pictures, instead of trying to make money out of them, and discover the elements in the cinema technique which are capable of making their own work fruitful, we might have better novels, and we certainly would have a few less bad pictures. 

Two Frenchmen have, at the same time, used the scenario as a method of fiction, and each of them has written a highly ironic piece which is capable of being transferred to the film, but which reads sufficiently well to be considered as an end in itself. 

Blaise Cendrars, poet, responsible for the Anthologie N~gre, is the author of La Fin du Monde and of La Perle Fie'vreuse; the second of these is running as a serial in a Belgian magazine, Signaux. Both are called Novels; the third instalment of The Pearl adding the word cinematographic. The End of the World is a cosmic cinema-novel in fifty-five Swift, concisely told scenes. 

It deals with a sort of deity, resident on a planet accessible to all the mechanical comforts of this earth, who is induced to travel to Mars as a propagandist for his own religion. Like many propagandists he errs in his psychology and, in a Billy Sunday frenzy of the imagination, shows the Martians all the cruelties his religion is capable of. Too late he learns that "the Martians are disillusioned and confirmed pacifists, iodophages living on the peptonic vapours of human blood, but incapable of bearing the sight of the least cruelty." The mission failing, he decides to 


make good on certain prophecies uttered in his name. The following scenes are left a little in the air; con!tinuity is lacking. One begins again with the sculptured angel on Notre Dame blowing a blast on her trumpet and the whole world rushing towards Paris and crumbling into dust. Thereafter, with the aid of retarded and accelerated projection, we see the world slowly dissolving into its elements, through those stages so graphically presented to us by H. G. Wells. There is chaos, and then annihilation. 

And then, by an accident in the projection room, the film begins to reverse and so, naturally, one gropes upward out of the slime and returns to the first scene-to which is added the single phrase "It's bankruptcy." It opens with the deity "at his American (roll-top) desk. He hastily signs innumerable letters. He is in his shirt sleeves with a green eye-shade on his forehead. He rises, lights a big cigar, looks at his watch, strides nervously up and down the room 

He makes notes the ash which falls from Suddenly he snatches 'phone furiously. . .  on his pad and blows away 

his cigar between the leaves. 

the telephone and begins to

That is American movie technique which M Cen 

drars has evidently learned all too well, because he 

uses it, in all its tedious detail, in La Perle Fie' 

vreuse, for which he is publishing not a scenario but a 

director's script, with the cutbacks and visions and 

close-ups all numbered and marked. It is in the 


manner of the old Biograph movies with what may turn out to be not such innocent fun at the expense of the detective film. Among its characters are Max Trick, director of Trick's Criminal Courier, the great daily which specializes in criminal news. He is marked "Type: le President Taft" and is first shown in his office with twenty-five telephones in front of him; among his collaborators are Nick Carter and Arseine Lupin, Conan Doyle and Maurice Leblanc. 

What Jules Romains has accomplished is much more remarkable, for he has pushed the method of the cinema forward a long and significant step, and, while using everything it can give, he has produced a first class work of fiction. The plot of DonogooTonka you will see at once, is entirely suitable to filming; it is not perhaps suitable to commercial success, but that can be, if it isn't, another matter. 

It begins in Paris with the unfortunate Lamendin, who is about to commit suicide. A friend gives him a card with the legend: "Before committing suicide . . . don't fail to read the other side," and on the reverse is the advertisement of Professor Miguel Rufisque, director of the Institute of Biometric Psychotherapy, who guarantees to give you, within seven days, a violent love of life. Lamendin goes to the consulting room and after a fantastic examination is given certain instructions which eventually land him in the library of Prof. Yves Trouhadec, a geographer. Trouhadec would be certain of election to the Geo- 


graphic Institute if he hadn't, many years before, placed on a map of South America the wholly imaginary town of Donogoo-Tonka, in the gold-mining area. Lamendin now proposes to float a company, start an expedition, and insure the Professor's election by actually creating the place. 

In the second reel Donogoo-Tonka is launched; in the third we have adventurers in all parts of the world preparing to rush the gold fields, while Lamendin tarries at home making fake moving pictures of the place. At the end of the reel the adventurers have penetrated into the heart of the South American desert and, too wearied to go forward, aware of the deception practised upon them, encamp where they are. Derisively they call the place Donogoo-Tonka. 

Later, a second group of adventurers comes. They are disappointed in the look of the place. But they are interested to hear that gold is being found; and while Lamendin at last sets sail, the DonogooTonka Central Bar and the London & DonogooTonka's Splendid Hotel are going up; it is obviously the intention of the earlier arrivals to mulct the later. 

And then, of course, gold really is found in the river bed and the price of all provisions goes up fif ty per cent. 

Regrettably, en voyage, Lamendin tells his pioneers that Donogoo does not exist. On his arrival at Rio de Janeiro he receives a cable from the Professor, demanding immediate results; and as he turns  


in despair he reads the announcement by Agence Meyer-Kohn, of the next caravan to the gold fields of Donogoo-Tonka. He arrives; he takes possession; he founds an empire, in which the religion of Scientific Error is established. Trouhadec, still living, is deified; he becomes Trouhadec, Father of his Country. The utility of geography is one of the prescribed subjects for public lectures intelligent than most of the adventure things one sees in the movies. It is in the detail and in the presentation of an idea, the idea of scientific error, that M Romains has pressed beyond the professional technique of the moving picture without once exceeding its natural limitations. For instance in the waiting room where Lamendin sits with the other would-be suicides: 

"Absurdity, given off by so many brains, becomes palpable. One begins to distinguish a sort of very subtle exhalation which disengages itself from the human bodies and little by little charges the atmosphere." The settings in this scene are very much in the manner of Caligari. Or there is the debate in the soul of Professor Trouhadec who knows that he will profit by a fraud. From the beginning the spectator must realize that the debate is only on the surface; that in his heart Trouhadec is going to accept; the spectator is to see him thinking of truth with a capital T and, much deeper down, of himself as a member of the Institute. Just as in the exploitation 


of Donogoo-Tonka we see a man coming up the steps of a subway station with the words Donogoo-Tonka written on every step; until, as he emerges, his skull ceases to be opaque, and we see the twelve little letters dancing in his brain. M Romains has even carried the thing over into Keystone farce, so sure is he of his medium. During one of the lectures "his eloquence is so persuasive, his thought opens such penetrating channels into human nature that, little by little, little by little, a soft down begins to sprout on the bald head" of a man in the audience. (Ca c'est du Cinema, as M Cendrars says. 

M Romains has also a complete understanding of projection. He protests, in a preface, against the monotonous speeding-up of pictures and urges that this one be taken and shown in the rhythm of ordinary life, with a shading toward slow, especially in the scenes "where the only events which pass before us are the thoughts of the characters" (required reading for Mr Griffith and Mr de Mille for one year is in those words). - In the scenes which exploit the shares in Donogoo-Tonka we enter into the minds of individuals, of groups, of crowds; at the end the very framework of a building succumbs to the madness of the idea. And then, with a technical mastery not yet put into practise, M Romains directs that the various scenes just projected be shown again, side by side, with a gradually accelerated rhythm. In the scenes of the adventurers we get glimpses at Marseilles, 

London, Naples, Porto, Singapore, San Francisco; then we see the groups starting out; the lines of their voyage converge. These scenes are projected first in succession and then simultaneously. Each time we see them we recognize some of the individuals we have seen before. "And when by chance the faces are turned towards us, we have a feeling that they, too, recognize us." The cinema has not yet accomplished that; chiefly, I fancy, because it never has been asked to. 

M Romains is the prophet of unanisme, and it would be remarkable if he did not use the moving picture to push his point. The end of DonogooTonka is pure poetry. 

The horizon has receded before the Palace and the chief figures look out into a light which has its own laws. Paris appears deep in the background. "But so close, perhaps, that we are troubled to see it and would like to fall back a step. 

"As if, yielding to friendly pressure, the world has renounced for one evening its concept of space and all its habits." 



I OWE so much to others in connexion with this book that if I were to set down the names and the reasons it would appear, quite properly, that I have done little except collect and theorize about material presented to me; it might also appear that I wish to make others responsible. Virtually everyone I know has contributed something-and in many cases they did so before I had thought of writing this book. I can therefore make only specific acknowledgments. Above all to two managing editors, John Peale Bishop and Edmund Wilson, Jr., of Vanity Fair and to their editor, Frank Crowninshield; they pub-lished several essays which later served as the raw material for chapters here, published portions of other chapters written expressly for this book, and otherwise encouraged and prospered me-to such an extent that I owe to them and to my fellow-editors of the Dial the holiday which made it possible for me to write at all. Except as otherwise acknowledged, the illustrations are reproduced with the permission of the artists; in addition, I have to thank the editors of the two journals mentioned for joining their permission in the case of work they originally reproduced, the firm of Albert and Charles Boni for the liberal use of Frueh's Stage Folk, and H. T. Parker of the Boston Transcript for letting me reprint A Conversation in Old Athens. For technical information and exceptionally painstaking criticism I am indebted to Sara and Gerald Murphy, Martin Brown, Alexander 



Steinert, Deems Taylor, Lewis Galantie're, H. K. Moderwell, and Dorothy Butler; for the material in the appendix to Charles Chaplin, Irving Berlin, Bushnell Dimond, Walter Hoban, and Sophie Wittenberg. My indebtedness to those whom I do not know-those I have written about-is too apparent to 'need emphasis, and too great to be adequately acknowledged. 

Back | Contents