MR. SUICIDE: HENRY "PATHE" LEHRMAN Now Available
Posted: Fri May 12, 2017 2:46 pm
MR. SUICIDE: HENRY “PATHÉ” LEHRMAN AND THE BIRTH OF SILENT COMEDY, by Thomas Reeder, is now available for purchase. This meticulously researched and unbiased study covers Lehrman’s life, career, and his studios in detail, accompanied by an exhaustive 548 entry filmography. Noted film historians Sam Gill and Steve Massa have provided the Foreword and Introduction, respectively. 770 pages, with 339 rare images illustrating the text; soft- or hard-cover editions available through Amazon.com and at the publisher’s site, BearManorMedia.com. Anyone interested in a signed copy can contact the author (that's me) directly, through this site or by email at [email protected]" target="_blank" target="_blank.
Here’s more about Lehrman and the book:
For an immigrant newly arrived in the U.S. in 1906, Henry Lehrman’s rise in the fledgling film industry was, in a word, meteoric. By 1914 he had worked at New York’s Biograph Studios, served as Mack Sennett’s right-hand man at Keystone, co-owned the Sterling Comedy Company with lead comedian Ford Sterling, and ushered in his own L-Ko – Lehrman-Knock Out – Comedies for Universal. By 1916 he had advanced to Fox where he organized the more prestigious Sunshine Comedies, and by 1919 had acquired full independence with his own Henry Lehrman Comedies.
At Keystone, where he directed the likes of Chaplin, Sterling, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and numerous others, Lehrman was instrumental in fashioning the Keystone style. At L-Ko, Lehrman oversaw the company, served as idea man, director, and occasional actor, gaining fame for his anarchic storylines and fast-paced, break-neck comedies that rarely let up for air. The Sunshine comedies saw a growth and comparative maturity, with their longer schedules and more lavish budgets. The eventual formation of his own Henry Lehrman Comedies promised a dream come true, the pinnacle of success with a company truly all his own. “I have a scheme at present which promises so fairly that I am afraid to queer it by telling you what it is,” said Lehrman in an interview five years earlier. “Next time you come to see me you may find me either in a palace or in the poor house.” Unfortunately for Lehrman, the latter came true.
Lehrman has been unfairly demonized over the years, primarily the result of a handful of self-serving autobiographies by the likes of Sennett, Chaplin, and Fred Balshofer. Occasionally referred to by co-workers as “Suicide” Lehrman due to his reputation for putting actors and stuntmen at risk, the reality was that risk-taking in those early days was comparatively common throughout the industry. Lehrman’s inability to manage money sealed the fate of his long sought after independence, leading to a string of bankruptcies that plagued him for the rest of his life. And when Lehrman received word that his good friend Arbuckle was responsible for the death of Virginia Rappe, Lehrman’s lover, his heartfelt but ill-chosen tirade against Arbuckle and the industry as a whole helped to seal his fate.
MR. SUICIDE: HENRY “PATHÉ” LEHRMAN AND THE BIRTH OF SILENT COMEDY takes an impartial and exhaustive look at the life and career of this misunderstood comedy genius. Additionally, the histories of the Sterling and L-Ko studios are covered in full, up until each was shuttered. The extensive and detailed filmography covers every known film that Lehrman was involved with from his beginnings at Biograph up until his death in 1946 while he was employed by 20th Century-Fox. In addition to each film’s cast and credits, a synopsis and contemporary reviews are included, an aid to future researchers in their quest to identify “orphan” films.
In his Introduction to the book, noted film historian Steve Massa calls it “an examination, thorough and unbiased, that establishes Lehrman’s rightful place in film history. Silent comedy scholars and fans, in addition to anyone interested in Hollywood lore, owe a debt of gratitude to Tom for his dogged determination and accurate eye in bringing light to this dark and neglected corner of movie history.”