Puslapio vaizdai

unamused Rio élite. Even if one of us failed to be on the dot ten times a day, the thing would be killed, for the Carioca is nothing if not critical, and of so little patience that word would have gone out at once, had we missed a single performance, that the "novelty" at the Cinema Pathé had failed. So I decided during our second week that we must get and break in a native assistant. Next morning the two principal dailies of the capital contained an appealing announcement. I intended to be particularly insistent on the points of youth, no family, and algo de inglez,-something of English, -but I soon found that we would be lucky even to get the indispensable requirements of cinema experience and a knowledge of electricity. In Buenos Aires mobs had besieged Linton's hotel in answer to a similar advertisement; in New York it would probably have brought out the police reserves at that period. Yet hardly half a dozen applicants turned up at the Praia do Flamengo after our morning swim to inquire languidly our desires. The first was a stupid-looking negro who did not seem to fulfil any of the requirements; the second was a shiftyeyed mulatto with no physique, badly needed for the one-night stands ahead; the third was quite visibly impossible, and not one of them spoke a word of English. I engaged the fourth man to appear. Carlos Oliva was of "Tut's" age, which did not hinder him from

already having a wife and four children. But, then, so do all Brazilians, legally or otherwise. He was a Paulista, that is, born in São Paulo, though of Italian parents,-a practised mechanic and experienced operator of ordinary "movie" films, and he looked intelligent, not to say handsome, which last might lead to complications in the theatrical world ahead. To be sure, he spoke no English, but that fond hope had died early, and it had become apparent that "Tut" would have to learn enough Portuguese to get along when it came time for me to move on ahead of the show and make bookings.

About the day Carlos joined us I found myself up against new and wholly unexpected troubles - silver troubles. It scarcely seems possible that any one would protest at getting too much silver, but many strange things happen in Brazil. There is no Brazilian gold except in theory; its paper does not suffice for small transactions. actions. One day the Rio manager of the Companhia Brazileira met me at our usual noonday conference with the announcement that he would have to pay me a part of our daily percentage in silver. I saw no reason in the world why he should not other than the trouble of carrying it a few blocks to the bank, and accepting 200$000 in paper-wrapped rolls. But when I dropped these down before the receiver's window he declined to accept them. I fancied that the tropical heat had suddenly got the better of his sanity, and went in to see one of


the English "clarks." There I found it was only too true; the banks of Rio do not accept silver! I had heard of South American banks doing all kinds of tricks, but I had never before known one to refuse money. I tried several other banks of various nationalities, with the same result; they all accepted only silver enough to make up odd multiples of ten milreis. The English manager of the British bank, who had lived so long in Brazil that he had lost some of the incommunicativeness of his race, took the trouble to explain the enigma to me. The year before, the agent of a German firm had arranged with certain Brazilian officials to issue a new coinage, and the firm had flooded the country with new and shining (German) silver. At the cinema door we naturally took in much prata, and even after making change a donkey-load of it remained to be divided every noon. buy drafts with it on New York, the Government would not receive it, and being made in Germany, it was hardly worth melting up. Finally, I took to dropping the silver into the bottom of one of our trunks, until this became too heavy to be lifted by hand.


I could not

Summer was already beginning to seethe in earnest when, on the first morning of October, I fled from our quarters on the Praia do Flamengo to the miserable old station of the Central Railway of Brazil. Notwithstanding my rule never to cover the same ground twice, I was returning to São Paulo, where our contract with the Companhia Brazileira specified that we should present the Kinetophone during the month of October. The long lack of rain was everywhere apparent, the

entire country powder-dry and waterlonging. Even the palm-trees looked wilted and bedraggled, drooping as if tired and thirsty. In folds of the

earth clumps of bananaplants, sometimes a few choked coffee-bushes beneath them, called attention to primitive huts in which a black colonist and his numerous brood offered to the sun's caresses impudent bronze skins which it cannot tan. It was a nonchalant life at best, where the earth gives a maximum of return for a minimum of exertion.

The Companhia Brazileira operated eight cinemas scattered throughout the city, which were in the habit of changing their programs nightly instead of twice a week. As we were to play in them all under similar conditions, I set to work to shift our numbers in such a way that we had more than twenty-five combinations of program with our fifteen films, both in the hope that those who might already have heard one number would be attracted by the other two, and because the Brazilians will not stand for sopa requentada (reheated soup), as they call a repetition of program. I had been disgruntled, though not greatly surprised, to find that our coming had not been advertised, except with a small portrait of Edison in some of the newspapers, the ex-bootblack being a true Latin-American in never believing a promise until it has been fulfilled. This was quite contrary to our contract, yet it would have caused us to lose not one day, but several days, had I not forced the Spaniard to let us open

at one of his theaters the following night and to plunge at once into advertising, which I aided by giving a special performance to the press and "influential citizens" at six that afternoon.

I decided to try my own genius at

flimflamming the public. The usual posters, newspaper notices, and banners were all very well, but I wanted something special, something exotic, that could not fail to impress upon every one that the "Kinetophone, the wonderful talkingmoving pictures, the marvel of the age," and so on, was in São Paulo for a very limited time indeed,-só trez dias (only three days)-after which it would move to another theater a few blocks away. I hired a little Italian I hired a little Italian dwarf who had been hanging around appealing for a job to parade the streets as a sandwich man. That particular form of advertising had apparently never been seen there. Using two of our large half-sheet portraits of Edison as a background, I had special sandwich-boards made on an original design of my own; but the painter, frightened at any suggestion of novelty, reduced my idea to the commonplace, and then told another man to complete the sandwich-boards. This he did eventually, under my stern supervision, and I turned the innovation loose on São Paulo, and an hour later met my dwarf carrying the two boards above his head in the form of a banner, which had been the "last cry" in Brazilian advertising for at least a decade. He had some maudlin excuse to make for

not carrying out my plans as I had laid them, and next day he left even the banner loafing on a corner while he worked at a better job during the best hours of Saturday, leaving me no choice but to turn him back into the ranks of the disgruntled unemployed.


$ 4

All my other troubles as a theatrical potentate, however, were as nothing compared with my struggle against "deadheads." "deadheads." Though our contract called for "complete suppression of the free list during this engagement," the carrying out of that clause was quite another matter than inserting it. The excuses for entering a theater in Brazil without paying the admission fee are innumerable. One might think that a justice of the Supreme Court would be ashamed to use his office to force his way into a "movie" house, the admittance fee to which was barely the equivalent of a quarter, but that was by no means the worst of it. He not only demanded free admission, but usually took his entire family with him, and the average Brazilian family can fill many seats. It is the custom in Brazil for theaters to send annual passes to all the higher politicians. Thus a richly engraved yearly pass is given to the judge, and is marked as untransferable and for his personal use only. But he cannot, of course, be expected actually to show it, like a popular, or common fellow, or to have questioned his right to bring with him such guests as he may choose; that would be far beneath his official dignity. It is the business of every one connected with the theater to know the judge and not put him to the annoyance and degradation of showing that pass, which would be an insult almost compara

ble to dunning him for a debt. So he thrusts the obsequious gateman haughtily aside and marches in with his whole progeny, and a little later a barefoot negro boy appears with an elaborately engraved pass that states that he is a justice of the Supreme Court, and must be let in without questioning, lest one have to answer next day for contempt of court.

We were incessantly pestered by official mendicants and well-to-do beggars, by friends of the management or of the cinema employees, and by "influential people" in droves. Favor to a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, the friend of a friend's friend, to any one with an authoritative manner, and the lack of moral courage that goes with it, was the curse of all São Paulo's doorkeepers. If a man had ever met a person connected in any way with the institution, he expected to get the glad hand and a smiling invitation to "go right in." It was not so much that they were trying to save money; the milreis admission fee was not serious to the official and influential class: it was fazendo fita, showing off by stalking past the cringing ticket-collector with an air daring him to challenge them. To march in with his whole decorated, upholstered, and perfumed family gave a man the sense of being a person of superior clay for whom there are no barriers. At the "Cinema High Life," which prided itself on attracting le monde chic of São Paulo, I counted 215 "deadheads" one night out of an audience of barely six hundred, and I missed a number when duties took me away from the door, and did not count the score or more in uniform, or the friends of the stage hands who saw the pictures from the rear.

Once in a while, though by no means often enough to make up for the "deadhead" losses, men went to the other extreme in fazendo fita. A fop would now and then come in all alone and buy an entire box for himself; or a well-known man in the community would come the first night with his family, thrusting the doorkeeper aside, and take seats in the parquet, and the next night, when he came with his bejeweled mistress, he would take the best box available, and pay for it, less out of a sense of fairness than for the purpose of advantageously displaying his prize to his envious fellowcitizens.

§ 5

We found that the Kinetophone appealed less and less as we descended the scale of wealth and education. In


the working-man's districts of Barra Funda and the like we were escorted by mobs of urchins until we felt like a country circus, but there was little gain in playing to such audiences. In the slang of Brazil, "wire was lacking," and we gave matinées to scatterings of "deadheads" and halfprice children, and eve

ning performances to thin, apathetic houses. The young toughs we would not let in free took revenge by mutilating our cloth-mounted posters of Edison, the managers lost our newspaper cuts, and nearly half our slight share of the receipts was paid in nickel.

But our engagement with the Companhia Brazileira was drawing to a

close at an old theater out by the gasworks, and the hour had come for me to find out whether I was a real "movie" magnate or merely a tickettaker; for the carrying out of a contract made by some one else is a wholly different thing from faring forth into the world and making contracts. I set out for the interior of the State of São Paulo, therefore, with misgiving not only as to my own abilities, but also because "Tut" and Carlos, who did not speak the same language, were left to run the show. However, either of them now knew both ends of the job well enough not to need to talk about it, and "Tut" could be depended upon to hang around the door whenever he was at leisure, and at least count the "deadheads" even if he could not keep them out.

I was bound for Campinas, third city of the state, but the town of Jundiahy "looked good to me" as we drew into it, and I dropped off there. It was a straggling coffee center of perhaps sixteen thousand inhabitants, rather picturesquely strewn

over a rolling hillside, at the summit of which rose a big yellow building bearing the familiar name "Polytheama." In the electric light plant next door I learned the name of the manager, but had visited a dozen other buildings before I ran him down, only to find that the real owner

and contract-maker was the prefect and chief mogul of the town. I found him surrounded by much ceremony in his inner sanctum of the prefeitura, introduced myself with as brief formal

ity as possible, and told him that the Kinetophone was to finish in São Paulo on November 12, and that it might be to his advantage, as well as to that of Jundiahy, to have it stop there for the night of Friday, the thirteenth, on our way to Campinas. He replied that he had made a special trip down to São Paulo to see this new "marvel of the American wizard," but he had never dreamed we might be induced to come to Jundiahy.

He was indeed highly flattered, but could he and his modest little town really afford so remarkable an entertainment? I offered to book the attraction for $150. He looked up the rate of exchange in the São Paulo morning paper, smiled sadly over the figures he penciled on the margin of it, and regretted that it was impossible to pay a fixed sum, especially in those hard times. I took leave of him and turned back toward the station, intending to drop the matter and seek larger towns; but I felt almost superstitious at the thought of failing in my first attempt to make a contract, and yielded to the entreaties of the manager beside me to return and seek some other basis of arrangement. The prefect showed more pleasure than surprise at my return, and offered to rent me the Polytheama for one night at 80$, we to pay for orchestra, light, license, employees, and all the rest of it. I declined. "Tut" could scarcely be expected to handle so complicated a proposition to our advantage. It being then my move, I dug down into my portfolio and brought forth a contract that Linton had by some stroke of luck or genius made in a small town of Chile, giving him seventy per cent. of the gross receipts. I would have accepted the "fifty-fifty" basis on which

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