Monday, May 30, 2016

Lost Film Photo: The Callahans and the Murphys (1927)


In this now-lost MGM film, Polly Moran and Marie Dressler play neighboring Irish-American housewives who feud across the alley that divides their tenement apartments. To complicate matters, their children have fallen in love, and when Mrs. Callahan's daughter ends up pregnant, Mrs. Murphy's son disappears. Based on a novel of the same name by Kathleen Norris, the film was not well received by many Irish-Americans, who objected to a string of stereotypical elements in the film, including the fact that the families live in bug-infested apartments, drink heavily, and have rowdy fights to the extent that even a St. Patrick's Day picnic leads to several arrests. Polly Moran and Academy Award-winning Dressler would be teamed for more films afterwards, but Dressler's death in 1934 resulted in few subsequent roles for Moran. Most sites report that no parts of The Callahans and the Murphys exist, but the Library of Congress lists a very small fragment among its holdings. It is rumored that MGM may have destroyed the negative following its withdrawal from circulation due to the Irish backlash.


2 comments:

  1. Fascinating - and good that something remains of it at least, especially given that the percentage of missing silent features is so high

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