Johnny (I'm not getting familiar but he refuses to be associated with the title Mr. Hines) suggested lunch at a very quiet restaurant in Central Park. No objection on my part.
He drives a very sporty Locomobile. You know the kind you would like everybody you ever met to see you in.
Graciously and kindly he related to me the details of his life. He admits being just a bit over twenty-eight. At least he says so. Johnny was born in Golden, Colo., though he spent most of his life in Pittsburgh. He comes from a theatrical family, his sister and brothers having appeared on the legitimate and vaudeville stage for many years. But Johnny is not the sort of a person to infringe on the family name, so he started out for himself. Johnny says, "Success lies in what you do with what you have. Bananas never brought any real money till they set 'em to music," and so at first when things seemed gloomy, he stuck to it because he believed "he had the goods."
Later he teamed with his brother in a vaudeville act and, before they knew it, they were in musical comedy.
In 1915, Johnny first graced the screen with the Old World Film Company. His first film portrayal of importance was that in which he was featured, "The Cub," a picture that made him famous in a week. Then came the Torchy series which won a firm place in the admiration of motion picture fans. When he began making feature length comedies - well, there was no stopping. Each one outdid the other until now at the age of twenty-eight he is producing his own pictures - pictures that he can well be proud of.
Johnny admits that his pictures are not artistic - they are not supposed to be. But they are brimful of the everyday silly hokum that delights his audiences and provides mirth and laughter. But don't think for a moment he doesn't take his work seriously. There is no question that comedy productions are a very arduous and serious undertaking and, unless you have the gift, you can't make them.
To watch Johnny work during production time and then see his finished product is almost unbelievable. Everything in the picture rests on his shoulders. Although possessed of plenty of originality, he is ever alert for new ideas, new gags for his comedies. He listens to suggestions from everyone and many times puts them to use.
By the way, Johnny is now working on a new picture which will be called "The Live Wire."
There has been a great deal of comment about this year being comedy year, so naturally I asked Johnny for his opinion.
Here it is:
"I am of the opinion that this year is in no way a comedy year more than any other year. However, I do think that exhibitors are awakening to the fact that seventy percent of the patrons prefer comedy entertainment. There is nothing people enjoy more than a good laugh, and this is proven by the fact that many of the comedy films draw much more than the so-called sex films. These triangle love affairs of the screen, and the sex pictures, as many people are wont to call them, fill a certain gap, but in my humble opinion, the good clean comedy is the most acceptable."
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