Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich
USA 1928
13 min

Vorkapich fired with the ironical, foolish little manikin effect of Hollywood personalities, who jump at the pull of a string and watch each other with magpie like attention to see what the other fellow is going to do - only to do the same thing themselves with jester-like mocking, suggested such a story to Florey. Florey was immediately impressed. No one would listen to him. Vorkapich laughed at it all and said: «Florey, you get me 100 dollars and I'll make you a picture in my own kitchen.» During the summer of 1927, Vorkapich and Florey «conceived and executed» together a 13 minute film. A known Belgian actor and dancer, Jules Raucourt, appeared in the title role - Mr. Jones, 9413.
The caricature of a Hollywood celebrity, Mr. 15, the Star, was played by Vorkapich's countryman and friend, George Voya, a former Yugoslav diplomat and adventurer, who later established a considerable career in European films. Salary expenses were three dollars, cigar boxes and cardboard were used for sets - the most expensive costing a little over a dollar, and the total cost was 97 dollars. Gregg Toland, assistant cameraman to George Barnes, was brought in for certain close-ups and slow motion effects Vorkapich couldn't do with his camera. Vorkapich remembers his photography of the dying extra: «We had two 500-watt-lamps and one of them burned, so we shot everything with one 500-watt-lamp, perhaps that's when the single-lighting in Toland's work appeared.» So Mr. Jones arrives in Hollywood with a letter of instruction to Mr. Almighty, a casting director. Despite being reduced to a number - 9413, written on his forehead - he dreams of becoming a star, a desire thwarted by the constant message «No casting today». His failure is contrasted with the success of number 15, who achieves 9413's dream. Finally 9413 collapses and dies. His spirit ascends to heaven where the number is removed.
The most resonant shot is 9413's death: holding the phone from which issue constant rejections, slipping to the floor with only cheap wallpaper as witness. Given that it is rife with hints of things to come, expressionist devices which would later flower in the context of mainstream Hollywood cinema, it may well be that 9413, as the «first of the independents», has been historically misplaced. Vorkapich recalls that about a week later he got a call from Paramount director Harry D'Arrast who told him that he had originally wanted to hire Robert Florey to work for him as a special effects expert, but von Sternberg had corrected him and said that if he wanted to hire the «real», Vorkapich was the man. And so Vorkapich entered the film industry and began work at Paramount.

This film is screened together with <filmlink id=\"2803\">Hollywood Boulevard</filmlink>.
1928, Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich, Greg Toland, ca. 11’

  • Jules Raucourt
  • George Voya
  • Adriane Marsh
  • Robert Florey
Robert Florey
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