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The House That Shadows Built

The House That Shadows Built
Produced by Adolph Zukor
Jesse L. Lasky
Starring Gloria Swanson
Kay Francis
Gary Cooper
Noah Beery
Ruth Chatterton
Marx Brothers
Claudette Colbert
Clara Bow
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • 1931 (1931)
Running time
47 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The House That Shadows Built (1931) is a short feature film from Paramount Pictures, made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the studio's founding in 1912. The film was a promotional film for exhibitors and never had a regular theatrical release.

The film includes a brief history of Paramount, interviews with various actors, and clips from upcoming projects (some of which never came to fruition). The title comes from a biography of Paramount founder Adolph Zukor, The House That Shadows Built (1928), by William Henry Irwin.

Marx Brothers segment

The film is known for a six-minute segment starring the Marx Brothers—with Davison Clark playing Mr. Lee, Theatrical Producer—intended to promote their forthcoming film Monkey Business (Clark later played the role of the frustrated Passport Official in Monkey Business). The segment, containing material which was never included in any other Marx Brothers film, is a re-working of the first scene of their first successful Broadway revue I'll Say She Is (1924) — which Groucho considered to have been the funniest work in the Brothers' career. Except for a few name changes and additional gags, the scene is almost completely the same as the script used for the stage production. Some of the gags from I'll Say She Is were worked into the lobby scene in The Cocoanuts (1929), and a bit involving a series of Maurice Chevalier imitations was incorporated into the script of Monkey Business (1931).

The Marx Brothers' segment is currently available as a special feature on the direct-to-DVD documentary film Inside the Marx Brothers, albeit in poor condition. Recently, Marx Brothers fans have begun referring to their segment simply as I'll Say She Is, in light of its source material.

Scenes from silent Paramount films

Scenes from silent Paramount films shown in The House That Shadows Built:

Silent film performers in unidentified silent films

The Lon Chaney Sr. segment is one of only two short sequences which survive from The Miracle Man (1919). The other clip is featured in one of Paramount's Movie Milestone series, Movie Memories (1935), showcasing the studios' greatest achievements. This latter clip shows both a segment from the conclave in Chinatown as well as the healing scene which is in The House That Shadows Built. A nitrate print of Movie Memories is reportedly at the UCLA Film and Television Archive but has not yet been preserved. [1]

Then-current Paramount stars

The film moves on to show segments with Paramount players of the 1931-32 season, including George Bancroft, Nancy Carroll, the Four Marx Brothers, Charles Rogers, Clive Brook, Phillips Holmes, Sylvia Sidney, Eleanor Boardman, Frances Dee, Jackie Searl, Kay Francis, Judith Wood, Regis Toomey, Peggy Shannon, Jackie Coogan, Lilyan Tashman, Eugene Pallette, Anna May Wong, Juliette Compton, Stuart Erwin, William Boyd, Miriam Hopkins, Wynne Gibson, Jack Oakie, Ginger Rogers, Robert Coogan, Carmen Barnes, Charlie Ruggles, Richard 'Skeets' Gallagher, Mitzi Green, Richard Arlen, Carole Lombard, Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Paul Lukas, Tallulah Bankhead, Gary Cooper, Ruth Chatterton, Marlene Dietrich, and Maurice Chevalier.

These stars are announced as appearing in upcoming films, including some never produced or released by Paramount:

Scenes are shown that were shot for the following films:

See also


External links