Get Off The Earth

From arch-Shadowplayer Mark Medin, this poster for a Raymond Griffith comedy that never got made — I think the coming of sound stymied it, since Griffith famously had damaged vocal cords and couldn’t speak above a whisper. In any case, it looks like a gigantic project ~

The sensational comedy novelty of

1926, from “The Ship That Sailed

to Mars” by W.M. Timlin.

THE high-hat comedian absolutely tops every-

thing he has ever done in his life before in this

startling surprise offering! Hurrying down Fifth

Avenue, New York, to his wedding, Raymond sud-

denly spins right off the earth up into a dizzy but

delightful paradise of beautiful damsels, mon-

strous-sized animals and more fun than twenty

normal worlds like ours! Of course Raymond

comes back to earth and marries the girl but — ?

Clarence Badger directed PATHS TO PARADISE which, though sadly incomplete, is perhaps the best surviving R.G. comedy. I recommend it. And if you should find yourself in a parallel universe where GET OFF THE EARTH was made (perhaps with FX by Willis O’Brien, but more likely using the animatronic dinosaur approach put together by William Cameron Menzies and his team for Howard Hawks’ FIG LEAVES), please check it out and report back to me.

Poster was originally uploaded by Bruce Calvert, to whom thanks are due.

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13 Responses to “Get Off The Earth”

  1. I swiped the image from the foremost Griffith collector I know, Bruce Calvert, so he should get credit for posting it online. The vagaries of Griffith’s decline at Paramount and years of futility had only partly to do with the coming of sound. This film, for example, was put off twice for other films, another was shelved, and post-Paramount, Griffith got a contract with The Fountain Of Money, aka Howard Hughes, for whom he (surprise!) didn’t make a film, which wasted the rest of the silent era for him. I’m sure others can fill in better details on exactly what happened, I just got this info from the trades.

  2. I’m adding a credit to Bruce C.

    Hughes did SO much to wreck cinema, but on the other hand we have to be grateful for Scarface. The idea of Griffith wasting even a few months of the silent era is heartbreaking.

  3. James McAndrews Says:

    Here is a very brief bit of info about Raymond Griffith from the November 5, 1926 Berkeley Daily Gazette. Really its just an excuse to look at the movie ads from the era.

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=FTEiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=pKYFAAAAIBAJ&pg=5059,3066156&dq=raymond+griffith&hl=en

  4. Terrific, thanks for the link!

  5. From what I’ve read elsewhere, this article is basically true. Griffith didn’t play around on set, he took his comedy seriously and was a serious guy off set as well.

    The studios were a plus and minus, the plus was if you were a Ray Griffith, the studio put a creative team together in no time and you could start making films immediately. The minus is dealing with the producers/execs. They’d put off production of, or outright shelve movies without a second thought. The longest running gags of the ’20s were how many times Glorifying The American Girl was announced with casts before it ever got near being in production at Paramount, and how often Nize Baby (from the Milt Gross story) was said to be going into production at MGM. The more affluent the studio, the more they could waste time and effort like that.

  6. Yeah, it almost seems a point of pride with MGM to jerk their talent around at the whim of the higher-ups. Still, the independents like Hughes were arguably worse. Preston Sturges later found that out for himself.

    The other minus with regard to the studios was their tendency to flat-out destroy people.

  7. Timlin’s book is lovely; the film adaptation with Raymond Griffith seems indeed to have leaked over from a parallel universe. Ray scooped Disney’s “Treasure Planet” by many decades on the inexplicable usage of sailing vessels for interplanetary travel.

    Paramount might more appropriately have purchased the rights to Harry Stephen Keeler’s only screenplay, “Soapy’s Trip to Mars.”

  8. Or John Carter of Mars? But RG might be slightly counter-intuitive casting for that, despite his experience playing a southern gent in Hands Up! Loincloth and silk hat is a combo rarely attempted.

    Thanks for the info! I should’ve known you’d have read this book. I must delve further into 20s and 30s fantasy myself.

  9. I believe “Ship” has been reprinted by Dover Books recently, so is easier to find than it used to be.

    P.S. If you’re in Los Angeles on March 9, the Echo Park Film Center is screening “The World” (a slightly Tarkovskian feature by my sixteen year old, starring me) along with scenes from the new picture, “Omadox” (a slightly Lynchian feature, kid, me, &c).

    http://omniaexeuntinmysterium.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-world-premiere.html

    Pax vobiscum
    e

  10. As far as destruction, it certainly happened. Then again, I found that in a case like Lee Tracy’s, it was a bit more complex than the general story makes out. After MGM dumped him in light of the Viva Villa incident, both Universal and Paramount were quite eager to sign him up, though as only a featured player. He wasn’t without acting work for long.

  11. He was only a featured player in Viva Villa anyway, I presume (can’t picture him in the title role). I was thinking more of the case of Girl 27…

  12. No, but MGM threw stars like Tracy into featured parts in their big films, as they did in Dinner At Eight. What’s strange about the incident is there was confusion (sowed deliberately?) at what exactly he did even at the time it happened. Some reports even had him taking the fall for someone else. Much like the amazing number of appendicitis cases, there’s a lot of reports that aren’t what they say they are in those old publications.

    As far as Girl 27, if they were to make a film called The Extra Girl now about those times, it would be a pretty ugly exposé.

  13. Well, if Tracy was sacrificed to protect a bigger star, Wally Beery is the only candidate, and I’d happily believe him capable of any atrocity.

    Just acquired for five euros: The Westmores of Hollywood, which seems to be the source for much favourite Ho’wood lore.

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