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!? STUDIO I \ I GOSSIP I } I THEATRE j| p NEWS i:

BEHIND THE SCENES IN STAGE ADVENTURES Crash That Became a Success

(By CAPT. FRANK HURLEY) AS a maker of adventure films, I consider the pinnacle of ad venture to be in the theatre presentation. After devot ing a year or so and expending a fortune on a production, how will fortune spin her wheel? Not the least exhilarating part is in, what showmen term 'putting it over,9' by personal appearances. Having indulged in this device in most parts of the civilised and uncivilised world, it is natural that I should have run the gauntlet of many gruelling and amusing experiences before the micro scopic gaze of critical and curious audiences. I will tell of a few.

TT is a long time since enthralled audiences gazed at the epic film of the Roes Smith flight from England to Australia. Although it was not my good fortune to have taken part in the flight until the pioneere arrived at Charleville, I now make confession that I 'produced' the film by black magic and editorial licence. I also did much to 'put it over'! During the season in Sydney Town Hall Sir Ross Smith was delivering the open ing passage to the film £o a crowded house of hero worshippers A faint blue light illumined the platform, on which an awe-inspiring Alpine scene had been erected A phantom-like Vickers Vimy moved across the mountain tops, storm tossed and perilously Clouds swept the ecene. wind screamed and thunder shook the great hall. It was an impressive illu sion. SENSATIONAL CRASH * ON MOUNTAIN A SOUL-STIKK1NG climax was reached ?'? when something went wrong with the mechanics of the phantasmagoria. The Vimy stuck on the crest of a jagged mountain! Horror-struck, the audienct observed the machine making desperai efforts to free itself from the devastating pinnacle. Doom was inevitable. A mighty crash! Then mountains cann toppling down, the sky was rent, cloud. and drop curtain fell to reveal to 4,000 disillusioned eyes the thunder maker at the grand organ, the brewer of winds turning a drum of coarse canvas over lathes, and myself holding aloft a lony pole to which the cardboard Vickew? Vimy was secured! It wae a fearfu revelation! That intrepid airman Sir Ross, with characteristic presence of mind, took a few paces forward, and in clear, steady voice said: — 'It seems as if we have crashed! This really didn't happen — but it might have.' Taking the cue, I wen; into a flat spin and crashed uiycelf ami machine down on the 6tage The audience rose to the occasion, cheering and clap ping in ecstatic approbation. - We had scored a hit— a most palpable : hit. The contretemps caused such a stir that Sir Ross proposed we should drama tise the incident with each presentation. * * * SPOKE TO AN AUDIENCE OF FIVE My supreme hour before the screen was when, with Sir Ernest Shaekleton, I officiated at a command screening of ''South' before the King at Buckingham Palace, and the most humiliating which pricked and burst the bubble of egotism for all time was when I presented 'Pearls and Savages' in the cavernous immensity of the Symphony Hall, Philadelphia, to ! an audience of five. The hall fireman, ' a constable, two casuals, my dearest enemy, my agent, and the hollow echo { of my own voice. An error had been; made in the booking dates! Silence is golden when delivering the introductory to your 'latest master piece.' During the Shaekleton season in | the Lyceum Theatre. Sydney — it was ! before the days of talking pictures — I was ' recounting the stdry of the great adven ture, synchronised to the motion picture on the screen. I noticed that 'the audience occupying seats in the body of the house was unusually attentive, though paying little attention to the screen itself. The people were not interested in the visual part of the entertainment, the etory had gripped them hypnotically. I could not account for the apparent phe nomenon at the time, but later, when speaking of it. with the theatre manager. I was painfully enlightened. There were more than 300 blind men in the house. The institution had sent them to hear the story. It was my greatest tribute. GIFTS OF LOBSTERS AND DIAMONDS 'T'HE following incidents eloquently de ?*? monstrate that temperaments of audiences in various lands are as diverse as lobsters and diamonds. During a gala (screening of one of my films in Sydney a horde of 'undergrade' with whom I had dined wisely and well earlier in the evening sang the praises of the produc tion by lowering on to the stage lobsters that 'hummed,' well-ripened tomatoes, bunches of carrots, cauliflowers, and other bouquets. This flattering demonstration was sur passed by an exalted and, may I add, even more profitable manifestation in Santiago. Chile. It happened after the rescue of the castaway members of the ill-starred Shaekleton expedition from Elephant Island by a veSsel of the Chilean Navy. To a glittering audience — the grandees of Chile's beautiful capital — I recounted the epic of the glorious failure and of our wellnigh phantaetic adventures. The crowning climax came as I described the heroic rescue effected by their own Com mandante Pardo and his gallant seamen Boisterous enthusiasm reijrned and gift* showered. Trinkets, coins, cigarette cases, cigars jewellery, and a gladsome miscellany of personal furniture with which the ostentatious Chileans delight in adorninc themselves. NO GENTLEMAN COULD REFUSE TyiTH swelling hearts and bulging pocket* I returned to my hotel, and upon examining the souvenirs was not displeased to discover some gems of worth among them. That night T retired to golden -?leen and precious dreams. Early next morning I hnd a visitor. He was remorseful. In the heat of enthusiasm

he had thrown a diamond 6olitaire on to the stage. Ah! yes — that was the identi cal one I was wearing. Would I be so kind as to return it! Being a perfectly good Australian, I re tained the gem. A while later a sweet, tearful creature craved my indulgence. Would the brave caballero graciously restore her pearl pendant? Zounds! but she was beautiful. To refuse was unthinkable. The pearl was restored

MARION DAVIES has able support \rom Mary Duncan and Leslie Howard in 'Fire and Ten' at Regent Theatre, in tchich sfte plays the part of a 'poor little rich airlj* tciih wealth but not love.

MARION DAVIES has able support \rom Mary Duncan and Leslie Howard in 'Fire and Ten' at Regent Theatre, in tchich sfte plays the part of a 'poor little rich airlj* tciih wealth but not love.

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