By Marilyn Ferdinand
I know this is going to sound incredible, but not a day after I wished for a commentary by Colleen Moore, a reclusive Chicagoan who knew Ms. Moore very well produced a wire recording of her talking about Ella Cinders that includes some long-buried remarks about this seminal comedy. Here’s an excerpt:
“When I did this scene, it was from a painful memory. That s.o.b. director, Ally, that’s what I called Al Green because he was such a tomcat, didn’t think I could get that surprised look on my face. He broke in on me in my bath, and that’s what he said he wanted. That s.o.b.
“That’s the crew for the film. You can read my lips in this. ‘I’m awfully sorry. I didn’t know this was a movie.’ I stuck to the lines. I remember Mary Pickford getting caught out talking like a sailor in The School Teacher and the Waif, and guess who she played. She wasn’t much fun after that, I can tell you. You can’t do that with movies these days. Sound killed the inside joke.
“Oh, and here’s sweet Harry Langdon. A pity what happened to him. He was a real gent, even if he did pinch me under the blanket in this scene. I had a hard time getting the timing right for the up and down part. He pinched me to keep my cues in this part, too. Now that I think about it, Harry had a few problems. I guess it’s not so surprising what happened to him after all. The s.o.b.”
Ella Cinders (1926)