splash  Windy Riley Goes Hollywood is a short comedy which centers on Windy Riley, a cocky blow-hard who attempts to revamp the publicity department of a Hollywood studio. The film was Louise Brooks’ first after returning from Europe, the first to feature her actual voice (Brooks’ earlier talkies, The Canary Murder Case and Prix de Beauté, had been dubbed), and her first and only short.

The film was directed by Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, who was working under the name William B. Goodrich; a blacklist on the comedian’s employment in Hollywood was still in effect. Windy Riley Goes Hollywood was promoted as a behind the scenes look at the movie capital. The film’s press sheet overstated its case when it proclaimed “One of the first pictures ever showing the interior of a sound stage and the actual operation of talking pictures. . . . The actual cameras, microphones, etc., used in picture production will be shown in some of the big scenes.”

At times, story details surrounding character Betty Grey (played by Brooks) curiously parallel Brooks’ own career. Near the beginning of the film, Grey is set to star in The Box Car Mystery, a title of which calls to mind Brooks’ role in Beggars of Life. Later, while at lunch at the Montmarte (a famous Los Angles café once frequented by Brooks and others in Hollywood), Riley boasts he was responsible for the successful advertising campaign mounted by Klux Soap. In real life, Brooks was among a handful of actress who regularly appeared in print ads for Lux Soap. And, at the end of the film, it is announced that Grey will wed the director The Box Car Mystery. A few years earlier, Brooks married Eddie Sutherland, who directed her in It’s the Old Army Game.

The film’s few reviews were largely negative, and the film suffered from a lack of exhibitor interest. Consequently, few likely saw Windy Riley Goes Hollywood at the time of its release. Except for a three-month period in mid-1931 when it played in Toronto, there are few records of this short film having been shown in any large cities. What exhibition records have been found suggest the film was shown as program filler in mostly smaller markets.

STORY SYNOPSIS:
Near the end of a cross-country road trip from New York to San Francisco, cocky Windy Riley ends up in Hollywood by mistake. His car is repossessed, but the repo man gets into an  accident with a movie mogul and blames Windy. As Windy has no money, the mogul puts him to work in the studio’s publicity department. The studio’s star actress, Betty Grey (Louise Brooks), has been warned that her contract will be terminated if she gets any more bad publicity. Unaware, Windy kidnaps Betty’s director, LaRoss, and hides him in a railroad boxcar, intending to reap publicity for Grey’s new film. A reporter learns LaRoss is missing and prepares to break the story. Windy retrieves LaRoss, who then gives the reporter a different story to print — that he and Betty are getting married.”

RELATED MATERIAL:

  • Promotional Materials
  • Posters & Lobby Cards
  • Scene & Publicity Stills

RELATED LINKS:

PREVIOUS Louise Brooks Film

NEXT Louise Brooks Film

PRODUCTION HISTORY:
Filming took place in and around Hollywood in early 1931.

CAST:

Jack Shutta
Windy Riley
Louise Brooks
Betty Grey
William Davidson
Joseph La Ross
Dell Henderson
Allen
Wilbur Mack
Walter Snell
Walter Merrill
Eddie Lane, Daily Tribune Reporter
E. H. Allen
.

CREDITS:

Studio:
Educational Pictures
Distributor:
Educational Film Exchanges, Inc. / Fox Film Corporation
Presenter:
E.W. Hammons
Producer:
Jack White (uncredited)
Director:
William B. Goodrich (Roscoe Arbuckle)
Assistant Director:
John Burch
Writing Credits:
Ken Kling (story, adapted from Kling’s comic strip character), Ernest Pagano & Jack Townley (continuity and dialogue)
Cinematography:
Dwight Warren
Sound:
W. C. Smith
Format:
Sound – black & white (recorded by RCA Photophone; film to wax transfer on March 23, 1931)
Running Time:
2 reels (1,862 feet), given as 20 1/2 minutes or 21 minutes
Copyright:
May 3, 1931 by Educational Pictures (L2394)
Release Date:
May 3, 1931
Country of Origin:
United States

ALTERNATE TITLES:
Under its American title, Windy Riley Goes Hollywood, documented screenings of the film took place in Canada and Sweden. In the United States and Canada, the film was occasionally shown under the title Windy Riley Goes to Hollywood, while in England it was exhibited under the title The Gas Bag. Elsewhere, this motion picture was known to have been shown under other-language titles including Windy Rileyová jde Hollywood (Czechoslovakia).

STATUS:
The film is extant. It has been released for home video on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray, with the best version available from KINO. (Paired with Diary of a Lost Girl, the KINO version was mastered from one of a few surviving prints, but still suffers from visual decomposition and poorly-recorded audio.)

REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES:
articles to come

TRIVIA: about the film

Windy Riley Goes Hollywood, based on an original story by Ken Kling, was adapted from Kling’s comic strip Windy Riley. The New York cartoonist started the strip about a wisecracking braggart in 1928. At the time of the film’s release, the strip ran in some 170 newspapers across the country.

— Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, depressed and still working under a pseudonym because he was under an industry blacklist, directed the film. Years later, Brooks told Kevin Brownlow, “He made no attempt to direct this picture. He sat in his chair like a man dead.”

— Dell Henderson started as an actor in 1908, and was a frequent associate of director D.W. Griffith, and less so, with producer Mack Sennett. Henderson also directed nearly 200 silent films between 1911 and 1928. In the late 1920s, he returned to acting and played important supporting roles in King Vidor’s The Crowd (1928) and Show People (1928). The advent of sound stalled his career, and he was thereafter cast in small parts. In the 1930s, Henderson appeared as a comic foil for W. C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy, and The Three Stooges.

— The group of dancers seen in Windy Riley Goes Hollywood were recruited from the chorus of George Olsen’s Culver City nightclub. Olsen was a popular bandleader and recording artist married to Ethel Shutta. Her brother Jack Shutta, a stage performer making his screen debut in the title role of Windy Riley, managed Olsen’s nightclub. Along with Ethel Shutta and Louise Brooks, Olsen and his orchestra performed at the Ziegfeld Follies of 1925.

— In 1935, the Bell and Howell Company of Chicago offered Windy Riley as a Filmosound rental subject.