The Film Mystery
13. Marilyn Loring
The magic of Manton's name admitted us to the studio courtyard, and at once I was struck
by the change since the day before. Now the tank was a dry, empty, shallow depression
of concrete. The scenery, all the paraphernalia assembled for the taking of water stuff,
was gone. Except for the parked automobiles in one corner and a few loitering figures
here and there the big quadrangle seemed absolutely deserted.
In the general reception room Kennedy asked for Millard, but was told he had not been
out since the previous day. That was to be expected. But Manton, it developed, was away
also. He had telephoned in that he would be detained until late afternoon on important
business. I know that I, for one, wondered if it were connected with Fortune Features.
"It's just as well," Kennedy remarked, after convincing the boy at the desk it was
Manton's wish that we have the run of the place. "My real object in coming was to watch
the cast at work."
We found our way to the small studio, called so in comparison with the larger one where
the huge ballroom and banquet sets were being built. In reality it possessed a tremendous
floor space. Now all the other companies had been forced to make room for "The Black
Terror" on account of the emergency created by the death of Stella Lamar, and there were
any number of sets put up hastily for the retakes of the scenes in which Stella had
appeared. The effect of the whole upon a strange beholder was weird. It was as though a
cyclone had swept through a town and had gathered up and deposited slices and corners
and sections of rooms and hallways and upper chambers, each complete with furniture
and ornaments, curtains, rugs, and hangings. Except for the artistic harmony of things
within the narrow lines of the camera's view, nothing in this great armory-like place had
any apparent relation to anything else. Some of the sets were lighted, with actors and
technical crews at work. Others were dark, standing ready for use. Still others were in
varying states of construction or demolition. Rising above every other impression was the
noise. It was pandemonium.
We saw Werner at work in a distant corner and strolled over. The director was bustling
about feverishly. I do not doubt that the grim necessity of preparing the picture for a
release date which was already announced had resulted in this haste, without even a day
of idleness in respect for the memory of the dead star, yet it seemed cold-blooded and
mercenary to me. I thought that success was not deserved by an enterprise so callous of
human life, so unappreciative of human effort.
Most of the cast were standing about, waiting. The scenes were being taken in a small
room, fitted as an office or private den, but furnished luxuriously. Later I learned it was
in the home of the millionaire, Remsen, close off the library for which the actual room in
Phelps's home was photographed.