Bossing the World part 2, 1921

The following article comes from the 1921 collected edition of “Our Paper,” put out by the Massachusetts Reformatory. The first part was posted previously:

Bossing the World

by John B. Wallace

The property men of the various studios about Los Angeles, where two-thirds of the motion pictures are made, work harmoniously and borrow and rent various properties from one another.

The advent of the motion picture has created a number of new businesses in Los Angeles. Not only are there several establishments that rent exclusively to the studios but some of the large retail furniture houses and department stores have rental departments devoted to supplying the needs of the film colony. The visitor may also see the unusual spectacle of antique shops refusing to sell their curios to collectors, because they prefer to rent them to the studios. This is easily explained, however, when the rental price of certain rare antiques is learned.

While expense is the bugbear of the property man it is the least of the worries of the directors and some of them will go to any extreme to get just what they want for a certain scene.

But even with the dozens of antique dealers scouring the remote spots of the earth the property man often runs against what seems like a hopeless impasse. It is then he must bring ingenuity into play.

For instance, Mr. [Howard] Wells told me of a particular scene that was supposed to be laid in Scotland. In a city like Los Angeles, where the architecture embraces every variety known to civilized man, it was easy to find a house that would pass for a Scotch manor house.

But the rub came when Wells learned that he must supply a lawnmower for the principal character of the scene, to operate on the lawn. An English lawnmower differs in several particulars from an American machine. There was not time to send abroad for one, and as far as Wells knew there was none in the country.

To make it worse, Wells had never seen one of the foreign grass cutters. With the aid of the research department Wells finally found a book containing a picture of an English lawnmower. He studied it carefully, then took an American lawnmower and made it over so that an expert could not distinguish the difference in appearance when it was shown on the screen.

Wallace, John B. “Bossing the World.” Our Paper. Vol. 38. N.p.: Massachusetts Refomatory, 1921. 153. Google Books. Web. 24 Nov. 2015