Production of Rex Beach's The Spoilers, with its memorable fight between William Farnum and Tom Santschi, set another landmark and proved the virtue of action in the cinema, for it was remade in 1923 with Milton Sills in the male lead and ap peared again in a talking version in 193o.
The popularity of definite and individual acting types was evi denced by Theda Bara's appearance in a series of "vampire" roles. The winsome type, first identified with Mary Pickford, was car ried on by Mary Miles Minter. The matinee idol type had been brought from stage to screen by such favourites as J. Warren Kerrigan and Francis X. Bushman. William S. Hart was pre eminent as the good-badman of the Western spaces. Now came another exponent of action, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., to carve a career with his athletic vigour. The increasing success of Chaplin inspired Harold Lloyd first to imitate, then to originate his own version of the ultimate triumph of the inferior youth in the tortoise-shell glasses.
The World War, just as it touched every other phase of life, affected motion pictures. Actors, writers, and directors returned after the Armistice with a new view of life, generated by experi ences in the struggle. The more haphazard features of picture making before the war, and the propaganda pictures which the con flict inspired, began to give way to more serious endeavour, with a general move toward a higher quality in screen entertainment. The purchase of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from Ibafiez as a screen vehicle marked a turning point from the old plot formula. The film made a world idol of an Italo-American dancer, Rudolph Valentino. With the cessation of European film production, because of the war, the world market became almost wholly American. Henceforth the appeal of the actor was to be dependent upon world-wide taste and approval. The nickelodeon age was passing.
New names came rapidly to the fore. Gloria Swanson, a Sennett bathing beauty, became the first name among the sophisticates. Chaplin's The Kid made a child star of Jackie Coogan. The year 1919 brought The Miracle Man, exploiting Lon Chaney's unique mastery of make-up and the romantic appeal of Thomas Meighan and Betty Compson. In 1921 George Arliss brought his Disraeli to the screen, Pauline Frederick her Madame X, both established stage successes. Meanwhile the Fairbanks athletic fame grew
apace in The Mark of Zorro and The Three Musketeers. Pola Negri had become the new synonym for tempestuous emotion, as in Passion. Charles Ray was finding a niche for his small-town rube. Wallace Reid was popularizing the sports dare-devil. Will Rogers and his homespun philosophy were making an entry into the film scene.
With real competition now developing to maintain position in the expanding industry, the success or failure of individual pic tures began to determine the span of an actor's career. A more rapid turnover in acting personnel was evident from now on, as the search for new faces, to keep pace with changing public tastes, took on greater intensity.
Which names that followed will go down in film history, only the perspective of coming years can tell. But the productions remem bered as milestones between 1923 and 1927-28, when the industry began to cast its own collective vote on the most meritorious contributions of the year, inevitably make their own selection of luminous personalities: The Sheik, with all the ardent fervour of Valentino and Agnes Ayres; Tol'able David, with Richard Barthelmess ; Black Oxen, bringing to the fore the ebullience of Clara Bow ; The Covered Wagon, with Ernest Torrence's delinea tion of the frontier scout remaining a classic of grim and rugged humour and vitality; The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lon Chaney's masterpiece; Robin Hood, with Douglas Fairbanks bounding to the heights in the title role and Wallace Beery estab liLhing himself as a star in his own right as Richard the Lion Hearted ; and A Woman of Paris, with which Chaplin turned to direction and made stars of Edna Purviance and Adolphe Menjou.
Norma Shearer first made her name in 1925 in He Who Gets Slapped, with Lon Chaney and John Gilbert, the latter also to soar, as the dashing and impulsive romantic. That same year saw the master craftsman Emil Jannings, equally skilled in comedy or tragedy, exhibiting his versatility in The Last Laugh. The Sea Hawk, with Milton Sills and Wallace Beery, remains one of the all-time film best-sellers, with, contemporaneously, Fairbanks' The Thief of Bagdad and Cecil B. de Mille's The Ten Command ments, with Theodore Roberts as Moses.