The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 13, 1939


Site Ed. Note: We have to correct the editorial author's inaccurate memory displayed in "Fairbanks". It was not Pearl White who played the lead in "The Diamond from the Sky". Rather, that was Lottie Pickford. For goodness sakes, everyone knows that. We can see dear Lottie's face glowing from the screen now. Lovely, just lovely. Oh well. The things with which we have to put up here in errata. We ourselves always were partial to the character of Quabba, the Hunchback. Quabba was good, very good. Orral Humphrey as Marmaduke Smythe was quite unforgettable, too. Catch it sometime when it comes to your town.

Also, we should point out that many cried just a little over that performance mentioned by Lionel Barrymore.

And if you are wondering what the "It" was of Ms. Bow, we think it better that you keep such idle questions to yourself in polite company. These, after all, were silent films, not the unmitigated filth with which we must contend today.

Handsome Gifts*

For Which Words Cannot Be Found To Express Thanks

The trouble about giving and works of mercy in our highly ordered civilization is that organization nearly always prevents generosity from receiving its sweet reward. This has to be so, for if there were not organizations to look after the needy, many of the needy would not be looked after.

And so the kind contributors to our Empty Stocking Fund may never comprehend what joy they are purchasing for the Christmases of the poor and unfortunate children of the city. At best, we can only tell them about it afterwards, and that would be secondhand. Besides, are there words to describe the love that a ragged little girl has for a real doll, or the thrill of a boy in some plaything of his own?

Yet, we wish that they could see, these kind people. We wish particularly that there were some way to return handsomely and in person the thanks of all the children whose Christmases are being provided for in the donations to the Empty Stocking Fund, some of which are: $470 from Jim Crockett, the wrestling promoter; $50 from the members of the Charlotte Boxing Commission; $25 from the Engineers Club; $155 from the Charlotte Baseball Club; $100 from James M. Austin.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen. We do not know your faiths or much care about your creeds. But we can assure you that it is written: Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.


Everything Fits Here But That Ten Years Of Time

It is a long way from the wine-dark sea of blooming Homer to the icy waters of the North Atlantic and the Arctic, and a longer way still from the "black ships," which old Odysseus sailed, to the great North German Lloyd liner, Bremen. But the reporters are calling the latter's safe entry into German waters an "odyssey" on its own account.

And rightly. It was a great feat of seamanship, regardless of the bad cause in which it was performed. The President of the United States did his best to stack the cards against the ship's departure toward her home port. What his motive was is not certainly clear. There are reports now that the ship was held up because one of its naval bomb sights was missing from its rack at a flying field in New Jersey--and the Nazis were naturally suspected, though as it turned out the sight had just been moved from one location to another.

Anyhow, she beat the odds against her. When she stole out of the harbor at New York, nobody would have given her even an outside chance to escape the waiting Britishers. But she did, though to make her home port she had, like Ulysses, to take a roundabout course--including a stopover with the modern version of Circe-- Red Russia. The only thing missing is the time--three months as against the old Greek's ten years. But maybe that is merely our modern telescoped tempo. On the whole it's a pretty good name for the voyage--odyssey.

Last Gasp

Old League Of Nations Is Dying, Leaving No Heir

The old League of Nations, already reduced to a mere ghost, is on its final way out as an important chessboard in international politics. If Russia is kicked out, all that will remain will be a council of Britain and France with the smaller nations, and many of these which are located in the vicinity of Stalin and Hitler will probably hasten to pull out, lest the charge that they are really allies of the Allies be used as an excuse for aggression against them.

If the move to take her out fails, say by the vote of China or Latvia, the Geneva establishment will still inevitably collapse. For Britain and France having backed the move to eject the Red Wolf cannot of course afford thereafter to sit down to the council table with her.

It was a foregone conclusion--so long ago as the great battle between Woodrow Wilson and Borah & Co. in 1919. No international council which did not include the balance wheel of the United States had any chance of success. Whether one which did include it would have succeeded, is another matter. Assertions about that now fall into the field of dogmatic opinion and have no value as fact.

For perhaps it is a pity that it was not even tried. For the collapse of the old League will have convinced many people that international co-operation is impossible. And what is worse, the Republican Party has set up a vested interest in the isolationist position--and will of course defend it to the bitter end as against any possible new attempt at a workable league.


His Passing Emphasizes The Passage Of The Years

The passing of Douglas Fairbanks somehow seems finally to round off an era. When he entered pictures in 1914, Mary Pickford was the reigning ingénue of the flickers--and they were flickers then. The six-reeler was just being thought up. Pearl White was coming up over the skyline with the long series of continued thrillers, of which "Perils of Pauline" and "The Diamond from the Sky" are most fondly remembered by a generation that now--unbelievably, to itself--is growing balder and gray around the temples.

Theaters went by such names as Bijou, Little Gem, and Idlehour. The nickelodeon was still around in the big towns, and you sat in them in a cloud of smoke and amidst the machine gun crackle of peanut hulls. A man named Chaplin had only begun to exploit the dead pan and baggy pants, though the custard was already firmly established.

Afterwards there was Mack Sennett and Ben Turpin--of the mismatched eyes--and Rudolph Valentino playing the decadent but still somehow great-hearted gigolo, and Lionel Barrymore passing down the line from romantic leads, as in "Beau Brummel," to character roles, and Brother John growing steadily more unconvincing as a salad idol, and Viola Dana, the heroine of the college boys back in the early Twenties, and La Bow, the "It" girl in those awful meal-bag dresses of the late Flapper era--the crazy, roaring Twenties.

But always it was Mr. Fairbanks who somehow dominated the scene as he leaped from balcony to tower from tree back to balcony and tree back again--performing a headlong series of feats fit only for Gargantua the Great. It was in the twenties that he had his heyday, and with their passing he ceased to count as an actor.

La Pickford is an aging woman now, John Barrymore is getting to be a somewhat doddering old man. And Fairbanks is dead.

China's Stand

She Has Her Reasons To Back Russia, However

This war has produced a good many startling and more or less comic things. But none of them has been more startling--if not more comic--than the spectacle of China lining up (or about to line up) in defense of an aggressor on trial before the League of Nations.

China, of course, is the world's prize victim of aggression, and when she lends her support to keep Russia from being expelled from the League for invading Finland--unanimous consent is necessary to expel--she is in effect justifying Japan's course.

However, China may be excused. If she flouted Russia, she might very well find herself invaded from a new quarter. And in any case, her principal source of arms and war equipment would be cut off.

Before the Russian case comes to a decision, we may see other nations taking the Chinese course. Indeed, it is worth noting that the proposal to expel the Red power comes from Argentina, which is about as far from Russia as you can get. Nations on the American continent are the only ones which are still fairly safe from the Reds and their Nazi friends.

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