Saturday, November 08, 2008

Boots Mallory

Patricia "Boots" Mallory was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 13, 1913. After playing banjo in a all-girl band at the age of twelve and then spending a few years as a vaudeville dancer, she relocated to New York City, where she received recognition in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1931. Her Ziegeld exposure fostered her move to Hollywood. She was soon put under contract to Fox and was cast as the female lead in Walking Down Broadway, Erich Von Stroheim's first sound film directorial and screenwriting assignment.

The film, based on a Dawn Powell play, told the story of a young unmarried pregnant woman. The finished film, however, strongly suggested a lesbian relationship between Boots' character and the character played by ZaSu Pitts, one of Von Stroheim's favorite actresses. Other sexual themes were also considered too daring. As a result, Fox brought in director Alfred L. Werker to make drastic cuts. Stroheim's length of 14,000 feet was cut to 5800 in the released version, which included all the new footage shot. The film was finally released as Hello, Sister! (1933) to little fanfare and lackluster reviews. Von Stroheim's original version was neither copyrighted nor released, and is considered lost.

Stills from the Von Stroheim version of Walking Down Broadway.

Here is Stroheim's take on the situation.

"Sol Wurtzel, one of the chief moguls at Fox, did not understand the story or picture. After it was finished, he had it rewritten, remade and rebaptized. It came out as Hello Sister!—a B picture. Sol Wurtzel wanted to prove to Winnie Sheehan that his [Sheehan's] judgment had been wrong in engaging me to direct during Wurtzel's absence. I happened to be in the middle of a feud between them."

Once again, Stroheim got the short end of the stick, and this is a film he brought in under budget!

This ad appeared in the February 1933 edition of Movie Classic, but by May, Von Stroheim's name was gone and Hello, Sister! hit the theaters.

Handle with Care (1932) was Boots' second film, and marked her debut since the altered and renamed Walking Down Broadway (Hello, Sister!) didn't release until a year later. Handle With Care was well received and Boots was named a WAMPAS Baby Star of 1932. Then in May 1933 Hello, Sister! was released to negative reviews and her career flattened. Over the next few years, she played the lead in several "B" pictures, including the Rin Tin Tin serial The Wolf Dog (1933), Carnival Lady (1934) and Here's Flash Casey (1938). She made her final film appearance in an uncredited role in the Laurel and Hardy's Swiss Miss (1938).

Boots Mallory was first married at the age of sixteen, and by 1932 had married her second husband, actor, producer William Cagney, brother of James Cagney. In 1947 she married Herbert Marshall and remained with him until her death in Santa Monica, California in 1958.

New Movie Magazine - January 1933

Boots Mallory - What do you think - Allure?


Anonymous said...

She is very lovely.
I have been in 2 minds about buying
"Hello Sister" but I shall now put
it on my list. It is a pity about
her career - that it never really

PIGNOUF said...

J'adore !
A bientôt...:)

The Siren said...

She is extremely cute. I am a fan of Herbert Marshall so it is good to know he had what appears to be a very bright and vivacious woman beside him all those years.

Von Stroheim is perhaps the ultimate director maudit, as unlucky as Welles. But we're the truly unlucky ones, stuck with Hello, Sister! instead of his Sapphic vision (yeesh, the revised title just screeches at you, doesn't it?)

Anonymous said...

Just saw Hello Sister on TV...had never seen Boots Mallory and was delighted to see her spotlighted here. She is really very touching in the movie, and reminds me a bit of Anita Page. Thanks for the photos and the historical data. Ciao,

Beth said...

I just saw 'Hello Sister' for the first time on Sunday night. I live in France, so it was pretty surprising. It was even in English, not dubbed into French. What luck!

And how fabulous to see this film on our new, big plasma screen tv. It looked gorgeous and Boots Mallory looked like an angel! What a gracious-looking beauty she was. It's a shame that this film did so much damage to her career. I had no idea. In fact, I thought it was a pretty good film!

Anonymous said...

According to William K. Everson, Sheehan didn't really like "Walking Down Broadway" much either.I think he said that Werker recalled doing the retakes as a favor to SHEEHAN.And I think that the still of a REALLY sunken eyed girl from the original version kind of gives a clue as to what might have made execs other than Wurtzel uncomfortable with the film. Even in pre-code movies nobody looked like that!

Mikey said...