"Ella Cinders"

With the start of 1926, the question of Colleen's next few films was still in the air. It was largely thought her next film would be Shebo, based on a Tiffany Wells story, and newspapers reported the film would be retitled Miss NobodyThis was not to be (Miss Nobody was later made by First National with Anna Q. Nilsson, about a penniless heiress who takes to the rails as a hobo... it would have been compared to Louise Brook's later Beggars of Life.) Winifred Dunn had completed her 

"Miss Nobody" and "Beggars of Life"

Above left: Anna Q. Nilsson in Miss Nobody (1926)
Above right: Louise Brooks, Beggars of Life (1928)
Right: Colleen, publicity image (c. 1925)
treatment for Twinkletoes, a vehicle she would advocate strongly in favor of for Colleen, though the story was set in the
crime-riddled Limehouse district of London in the 1800s, and told through a layer of grime and a haze of opium smoke. The story would continue development; in the meantime John McCormick had settled on Ella Cinders as Colleen's next film. It was a busy period for John and First National, as the company was about to begin construction on a new studio in Burbank.


“The buildings will be erected in a most decorative manner and will be along Colonial, Spanish or Moorish lines….”
--“Burbank Gets Costly Studio,” Los Angeles Times, January 28th, 1926, page A1.

John McCormick managed to arrange an additional year of employment for Mervyn LeRoy, “the youthful funster” who had become an invaluable gag man for Colleen. On January 25th John requested that Rowland amend Colleen’s contract to provide payment to her of $125,000 per picture. It was the beginning of negotiations that would last until March.

Ella Cinders
started production on February 19th, a modern re-telling of the Cinderella story ("Cinderella" = "Ella CInders") that had originally been conceived of as a vehicle for Bebe Daniels, though it had been rejected. The writers instead bought space in the Los Angeles Times and ran the comic strip for a year, hoping to catch the attention of one of the studios. They caught John's attention (and the strip itself would be so popular that it would continue to run for 40 years).  Location work would be done in Chino, California, and on the United Studio lot (filling in for the fictional "Gem Studio" of the film. Al Green, director of Ella CInders, would play the part of the director of the Gem Studio production, and many notables would play parts in the film, including comedian Harry Langdon (Colleen would put an appearance in on of Harry's films, but the scene ended up on the cutting room floor).

While production continued on Ella CInders, Colleens' next production had still not been decided on. Shebo, as a vehicle for Colleen, had dropped out of the running. The two new candidates were Delicatessen and Twinkletoes. Work on Ella Cinders was finished on April 6th, about two weeks behind schedule. 

First National Studio

The groundbreaking for the new Burbank studio was on March 28th; construction was underway by April.  Just before the groundbreaking, John had completed negations for Colleen’s new contract. The last contract for Colleen, calling for twelve photoplays from Colleen for $83,333.33 each, was cancelled. Starting May 18th, 1925, Colleen was engaged for twelve photoplays, now at $125,000 per photoplay.


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