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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Moving Picture Girls: First Appearances In Photo Dramas - Chapter 18. A Hit
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The Moving Picture Girls: First Appearances In Photo Dramas - Chapter 18. A Hit Post by :emersond Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :3218

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The Moving Picture Girls: First Appearances In Photo Dramas - Chapter 18. A Hit

CHAPTER XVIII. A HIT

"Ruth, I do hope it's a success; don't you?" asked Alice.

"Of course I do. It means a whole lot."

"You mean to Mr. Pertell?"

"And to us, dear."

"What do you mean? Tell me."

The two girls were resting after the performance of the play "A False Count." The last scene had been filmed, and the long strips of celluloid, with the hidden pictures, sent to the dark room for development. Not until then could it be told whether the affair had been a success from a mechanical standpoint. And then, later, would come the test before the great public.

"Did you hear what Mr. Pertell said to me?" asked Ruth.

"Well, he said so much, directing us, and all that--I'm sure I don't recall anything special. What was it?"

"Why, he told me that if this play was a success--I mean if we showed up well in it--he'd give us parts in a big drama he's getting ready. Won't that be splendid?"

"Of course it will. But I liked this one very much. I wish I could see the real pictures."

"You can!" exclaimed a voice back of the girls, and, turning they saw Russ. "I'll take you to see them when the positives are made," he said.

"Oh, but I mean in a regular moving picture theater," went on Alice. "I'd like to see how the public takes us."

"I'll do that, too," agreed Russ. "As soon as the pictures are released we'll find some place where they are being shown, and you can watch yourself doing your act."

"That will be fine!" cried Ruth.

"What does 'released' mean?" asked Alice.

"Well, you know the moving picture business is something like the Associated Press," explained Russ. "The Associated Press is an organization for getting news. Often news has to be gotten in advance--say a thing like the President's message, or a speech by a big man.

"The Associated Press gets a copy in advance, and sends duplicates of it out to the newspapers that take its service. And on each duplicate copy is stamped a notice that it is to be released for publication on a certain day--or at even a certain hour. That is, it can't be used by the newspapers until that time.

"It's somewhat like that with moving pictures. The reels of new plays are sent out to the different theaters, and to fix it so a theater quite a distance from New York won't be at a disadvantage with one right here, which would get the film sooner, there is a certain date set for the release of the film. That means that though one theater gets it first it can't use it until the date set, when all the playhouses are supposed to have it."

"Oh, that's the way they do it?" observed Alice.

"Yes," went on Russ. "Of course the best stuff is what is called 'first run,'" he went on to explain. "That is, it is a reel of film of a new play, never before shown in a certain city. The best moving picture theaters take the first run, and pay good prices for it. Then, later on, second-rate theaters may get it at a lower price."

"And is our play a 'first run'?" asked Ruth.

"It will be for a time," answered Russ. "I think you girls did fine!" he went on. "Acting comes natural to you, I guess."

"Well, we've seen enough of it around the house, with daddy getting ready for some of his plays," admitted Alice. "Oh, I wish I could do it all over again!" she cried, gliding over to her sister and whirling her off in a little waltz to the tune of a piano that was playing so that the performers in another play, representing a ball room scene, might keep proper time.

"Did you like your part, Ruth?" asked Russ, after Alice had allowed her sister to quiet down.

"Yes. I always like a romantic character."

"I like fun!" confessed Alice. "The more the better!"

"Oh, will you ever grow up?" asked Ruth.

"I hope not--ever!" laughed Alice, gaily.

Off in another part of the studio Miss Pennington and her chum, Miss Dixon, were going through their parts. They looked over at Ruth, Alice and Russ, and their glances were far from friendly.

"I don't see what Mr. Pertell can see in those girls," remarked Miss Pennington, during a lull, when they did not have to be before the camera.

"Neither do I," agreed her friend. "They can't act, and the airs they put on!"

"Shocking!" commented Miss Pennington.

"Come, young ladies!" broke in the voice of the manager. "It is time for you to go on again. And please put a little more vim into your work. I want that play to be a snappy one."

"Humph!" sneered Miss Dixon.

"If he wants more snap he ought to pay more money," whispered her friend. "All he cares about now are those DeVere girls."

"Attention!" called the manager. "Get some good business into this, now. Mr. Switzer, when you come in, after that scene where you apply for work, and can't get it, you must throw yourself into your chair despondently. Do it as though you had lost all hope. You know what I mean."

"Vot you mean? Dot I should sit in it so?" and the German actor plumped himself into the chair in question by approaching it so that he could sit on it in astride, in reverse position, folding his arms over the rounded back.

"No--no, not that way--not as if you were riding a horse!" cried the manager. "Throw yourself into it with abandon, as the stage directions call for."

"Let me show him," broke in the melancholy voice of Wellington Bunn.

Striding into the scene, which had been interrupted to enable this bit of rehearsal to be gone through with, the old Shakespearean actor approached the chair and cast himself into it as though he had lost his last friend, and had no hope left on earth.

"That's the way--that's the idea--copy that!" cried Mr. Pertell, enthusiastically.

But he spoke too soon.

Mr. Bunn had cast himself into the chair with such "abandon" that the chair abandoned him. It fell apart, it disintegrated, it parted company with its legs--all at once--so that chair and actor came to the ground in a heap.

"Oh, my! I am injured! A physician, I beseech you!" moaned Mr. Bunn, while others of the cast rushed to help him to his feet. He was soon pulled from the ruins of the chair.

"Ach! So. I unterstandt now!" exclaimed Mr. Switzer. "I haf your meaning now, of vat 'abandon' is, Mr. Pertell. I am to break der chair ven I sits on it, yes? Dot is 'abandon' a chair. Vot a queer lanquitch der English is, alretty. Vell, brings me annuder chair und I vill abandon it!"

Mr. Pertell threw his hands upwards in a despairing gesture.

"No--no!" he cried. "I didn't mean that way."

"Than vot you means?" asked the German, puzzled.

Meanwhile Wellington Bunn was painfully walking over to a more substantial chair.

"That was all a trick!" he cried. "You did that on purpose, Mr. Snooks. You provided a broken chair!"

"I did not!" protested the property man. "It was the way you threw yourself into it. What did you think it was made of--iron?"

"I knew something would happen!" observed Mr. Sneed, gloomily. "I felt it in my bones."

"Und I guess me dot he veels it in his bones, now," chuckled Mr. Switzer. "I am glat dot I, myself, did not abandon dot chair alretty yet."

The play went on after a little delay, and for some time after that the Shakespearean actor was very chary of offering to show other actors how to put "abandon" into their parts.

So far as could be told by an inspection of the negatives of the first important play in which Ruth and Alice had appeared, it was a success. Of course how it would "take" with the public was yet to be learned.

Meanwhile other plays were being considered, and Mr. Pertell repeated his promise, that if "A False Count" was successful he would give Ruth and Alice real "star" parts. They were eager for this, and, now that their father had seen how well they did, he was enthusiastic over them, and very glad to let them go on in the moving picture business.

"Who knows," he said, "but what it may mend the broken fortunes of the DeVere family?"

One evening Russ came over to the apartment of the girls.

"Come on out!" he called, gaily.

"Where?" asked Ruth.

"To the moving pictures. I've got a surprise for you. They are going to try my new invention for the first time."

"May we go, Daddy?" asked Alice, anxiously.

"Yes, I guess so," he answered, absentmindedly, hardly looking up from the manuscript of a new play he was studying.

So Russ took the girls.

"Oh, let's see what is going on!" begged Ruth, as they came to a halt outside a nearby moving picture theater.

"No, don't bother now!" urged Russ, gently urging them away from the lithographs and pictures in front of the place. "We're a bit late, and we want to get good seats."

He got them inside before they had more than a fleeting glimpse of the advertisements of the films that were to be shown, and soon they were comfortably settled.

"I wonder what we'll see?" mused Ruth, looking about the darkened theater. The performance was just about to start.

"I wish we could see our play," spoke Alice. "When do you think we can, Russ?"

"Oh, soon now," he answered, and the girls thought they heard him laugh. They wondered why.

The first film was shown--a western scene, and the girls were not much interested in it, except that Ruth remarked:

"The pictures seem much clearer than usual."

"That's on account of my invention," said Russ, proudly. "I'm glad you noticed it." Then the girls were more interested. A little later, when the title of the next play was shown, Ruth and Alice could not repress exclamations of pleased surprise. For it was "A False Count!"

"Why, Russ Dalwood!" whispered Alice. "Did you know this was here?"

"Sure!" he chuckled.

"Oh, that's why you hurried us in without giving us a chance to see what the bill was," reproached Ruth.

"Yes, I wanted to surprise you."

"Well, you did it all right," remarked Alice.

And then the girls gave themselves up to watching the moving pictures of themselves on the screen.

It was rather an uncanny experience at first, but they soon became used to it, and gave themselves up to the enjoyment of the little play, made doubly delightful from the fact that they had helped to make it.

"I'd hardly know myself," whispered Alice.

"Nor I," added her sister.

From the darkness behind them came a voice saying:

"I saw this play this afternoon, Mollie. It's fine. I like the tall actress best," and she referred to Ruth, whose presentment was then on the screen. "She's so romantic, I think."

"Listen to that!" Alice said to her sister. "Don't your ears burn?"

"Indeed they do. Oh! isn't it queer to see yourself, and hear yourself criticised?"

"Wasn't that fine?" demanded the unseen critic behind the sisters, as Ruth did an effective bit of acting. "Oh, I know I'm just going to love her. I hope she is in lots of films."

"So do I," added her companion. "But I like the small one best--the one that was in the scene before this."

"Oh, you mean the jolly one?"

"Yes."

"That's you, Alice," whispered Ruth. "Now it's your turn for your ears to burn."

"I thought you'd like this," commented Russ. "This film is a hit, all right."

And so it seemed, for the audience applauded when the little photo play was over, and that is a pretty good test.

"I think they were perfectly splendid," said another voice off to the left.

"Who, those two girls in that play?" some one asked.

"Yes. They're new ones, too. I haven't seen them in any of the Comet's other plays."

"Yes, I guess they must be new," and this was a girl's voice back in the darkness of the theater. "Oh, I'd like to meet them! I wish I could act for the movies!"

"She doesn't know how near she is to meeting us!" whispered Alice to her sister, as the next film was flashed on the white screen. "Did you ever have an experience like this before?"

"I never did!"

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