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'The Jest' Stills 1919 & 1926 ACJ, Bruguiere, Vandamm & Unknown Parody
by jane for historicalziegfeld Feb 6, 2009
2016 Aug: I've lost the first posting where the "Unknown Parody" was discussed. I thought it was Charley Chase but apparently I was the only one who thought that. Something about Hank Mann was also talked about. I contacted a person who was expert in such things but he'd never seen the stills before. I thought then - and do now - that they're incredibly funny! Anyone know what they're from? Thanks, jane
Plymouth Theatre, (4/9/1919 - 6/14/1919)
Preview: Total Previews:
Opening: Apr 9, 1919
Closing: Jun 14, 1919 Total Performances: 77
Category: Play, Comedy, Tragedy, Original, Broadway
Setting: At Tornaquinci's house, At Ginevra's house, and The pillar
Opening Night Production Credits
Produced by Arthur Hopkins
From the Italian of "La Cena Delle Beffe" by Sem Benelli
Opening Night Cast
E. J. Ballantine - Fazio, Gianetto's Servant
John Barrymore - Giannetto Malespini, A Young Painter
Lionel Barrymore - Neri Chiaramantesi, A Captain of the Mercenaries
George Casselberry - Nencio, Calandra's Servant
Cecil Clovelly - The Doctor
Rankin Davenport - Lapo, Ginevra's Servant
Maude Durand - Cintia, Ginevra's Servant
Arthur Forrest - Tornaquinci, A Friend of the Medici
Alexander F. Frank - The Executioner
Maude Hanaford - Ginevra, A Fishmonger's Daughter
Paul Irving - Calandra, Tornaquinci's Servant
Jacob Kingsberry - A Lieutenant
Martha McGraw - Lucrezia
H. Charles Smith - Camus, Calandra's Servant
Gilda Varesi - Fiametta
This site: http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=6683
has similar information about the re-opening at the same theater for another 102 performances after the strike had been settled. The play closed for the summer before the strike, however. It was revived in 1926 without the Barrymores and ran for another 77 performances.
Kathie was nice enough to type out info about and the review of this show from "The House of Barrymore" by Margot Peters:
The Jest with Lionel and John Barrymore
by Kathie (kittyinva) Jun 1, 2009
From "The House of Barrymore" by Margot Peters:
"Early in 1919 Ned Sheldon... adapted Sem Benelli's "La Cena della Beffe" for Jack. Set in Florence in the days of the Medici, "The Jest" tells of the terrorizing of an effete young painter, Gianetto Maelspino by the brutal Neri Chiaramentesi and his brother - the timeless conflict of the weakling and the bully. Gianetto had, in fact, been played by a woman onstage, giving point to Neri's taunt, "Are you cock or hen?" Central to the quarrel is Ginevra, Gianetto's betrothed, whom Neri also loves. In the end the persecuted Gianetto manages to turn the tables on his tormentors, causing Neri to kill his own brother and go mad. "The Jest" would reunite Jack and Lionel: the lurid melodrama appealed immensely to both brothers. Rape, blood, lust and murder - "The Jest", said Jack, was like a bullfight in a brothel.
Magnificently set and lit with fire and moonlight, "The Jest" opened on April 9, 1919 and overnight was the sensation of the season, perhaps the decade. 'The Jest has fallen across the sky of the declining season like a burst of sunset color," rhapsodized the New York Times as people stampeded the Plymouth eager to be bathed in the lurid glow. Some were stunned. "My God!" a dazed playgoer was overheard to exclaim at intermission, "I brought my MOTHER and my SISTER to this?"
Everyone felt the physicality of the brothers. Lionel's muscular legs were bare, his arms huge, his heavy sensual face half hidden by long matted hair; for the first time on stage he kissed a woman "long and lingeringly." Jack was aspen-slim but sizzling with sexuality. No woman had ever been costumed more provacatively than this Gianetto; with a crotch swollen by padding and green tights that left nothing to the imagination. Jack made sure artist Gianetto was a cock. Even more sensual was his portrayal of the artist's psyche: Gianetto is a coward who yet gets a voluptuous thrill out of being in personal danger, an effiminate youth who burnt with sexuality. Watching him boil and froth in the presence of his stage lover Ginevra, his wife Blanche suffered the jealousy of the woman who must share her lover with every man and woman in the audience. Jack himself, however, was characteristically flippant about his sex appeal, declaring that in the infamous green tights he resembled nothing more dangerous than "a decadent string bean".
While some argued that the sets and costumes made The Jest a sensation, other claimed it was all Barrymore. Alexander Wollcott, for example, thought the designer's contribution wildly overrated; without the Barrymores The Jest would be "unthinkable"; with the Barrymores it could be played in a high school auditorium and no one would notice the difference. Dorothy Parker agreed. The Barrymores were, indubitably, "quelques family". She had only one piece of advice for those who still had not fallen under their spell: "park the children somewhere, catch the first city-bound train, and go to the Plymouth Theatre, if you have to trade in the baby's Thrift Stamps to buy the tickets...You ought to be able to get nice comfortable standing-room any time after Labor Day."
One standee could have had Booth Tarkington's seat after the first act. "I could write a book about that play and about NY's spasms of ecstacy over it - the paens from the critics," complained Tarkington to John Peter Toobey. "Penrod wrote plots like that - especially the tauntin' of the scoundrel in a celar (sic); and I haven't seen such acting since the old time elocution teacher left the Boy's Classical School in Indianapolis in 1884 to join Jas. C. Milne the preacher-actor. This is confidential however: the Barrymore boys are friends of mine. They have got the innocentest nerve I ever saw and New York is - well, I can hardly bear it alone: you BET it's a Jest!"
2016 Aug: I was very confused :)
I'd posted the first pic as being by ACJ with id's (in the Misc Pics by ACJ folder) but then one day a week or so ago, I ran across the next two that I've scanned and added here.
I was stunned when I came across the second image which noted that Bruguiere was the photographer! Someone I'd never heard of and then a few days later in a book purchased, there was the third pic signed by ACJ.
Both the 2nd and 3rd pics seem to have the wrong info in the text portions when it comes to who is who played by who and none of the actors, except for perhaps the actor standing in the first photo, seem to be the same. And I had all the wrong actors noted in the one I'd posted.
There was a revival of this hugely popular Broadway show in 1926 and David told me that Bruguiere did an ACJ homage portrait (similar to the one (or ones) done for the 1919 show) which would be the one shown in the second photo.
I've spent many days, too many days, trying to figure all of this out, looking for more photos by Bruguiere, and for more info on The Jest. I'd appreciate some input on these please, anything!
Is the first by ACJ or by Bruguiere? What year? It appears it may possibly be from a 1926 revival but the actors don't appear to be the same as in The Theatre mag photo to me.
And who is actually who in these?
The only thing that's certain for me right now is that Bruguiere photographed the second image in 1926 and that ACJ photographed the last still in 1919 and that in it is John Barrymore as the painter Giannetto, Maude Hanaford as Generva, and Arthur Forrest as Tornaquinci.
- The Jest 1919 1 ACJ Hanaford, Barrymores, Forrest jane
- The Jest 1919 1a ACJ Hanaford, Barrymores, Forrest jane
- The Jest 1919 2 ACJ
- The Jest 1919 2a ACJ a
- The Jest 1919 2a ACJ v
- The Jest 1919 3 ACJ Barrymores
- The Jest 1919 3 ACJ Barrymores Photoplay Jul 1920
- The Jest 1919 3 ACJ Barrymores v
- The Jest 1919 4 ACJ Barrymores
- The Jest 1919 4 ACJ Barrymores v
- The Jest 1919 5 ACJ Lionel Barrymore a
- The Jest 1919 5 ACJ Lionel Barrymore v
- The Jest 1919 5a ACJ Lionel Barrymore jane
- The Jest 1919 6 ACJ Lionel Barrymore a
- The Jest 1919 6 ACJ Lionel Barrymore v