After riding all night without the slightest idea where I was being taken, we arrived here at a sheep ranch some place way up north where we are making most of "The Night Cry" with Rin-Tin-Tin.
The first thing I recall seeing was thousands of sheep at least, it looked like thousands but I was later shown how to count them and discovered there were only nine hundred. For every black sheep in the flock there are supposed to be one hundred white ones.
There are two interesting old Mexican shepherds here. In spite of having studied Spanish for four years at Hollywood High, I'm not so good as an interpreter. It's fortunate that we have Don Alvarado with us. He spends all of his odd moments talking with the two old fellows, and in the evenings, when we gather round the fire, has many weird stories to repeat to us.
These two Mexicans have been herding sheep for so many years that they almost look like sheep themselves, and they never leave the hills. They had never seen a portable radio before.
To those of us who have been raised in the city, this location the northern sheep country is a great treat. The first day I was here, I hiked over the low, rolling hills, stopping to rest under the giant oaks. When I reached the top of the range and looked over into the next valley what a view! It looked exactly like a huge mirror reflecting a lot of little white clouds. Thousands and thousands of white sheep, interspersed with the occasional black ones. I missed lunch day-dreaming.
Rin-Tin-Tin is the only one in our troupe who really shows any intelligence regarding a sheep ranch. Though he has never tended sheep, his forefathers for generations have done so. He seems absolutely at home among them. It is a lot of fun watching him work with the shepherd dogs. It looks at times as though he were actually telling them how they should mind their own sheep. He sometimes runs miles and miles to bring back some little lost lamb.
The first day we were here, we had a terrible time. These are not trained movie sheep, and no sooner would Mr. Raymaker get everything ready to shoot than one would wander off and all the rest would follow. One of the assistants would dash around oh, his intentions were all right and the frightened sheep would go in every direction.
One day Rin-Tin-Tin met his match. This part of the country is a beautiful, rolling, grassy, tree-dotted garden. In the higher mountains are deer which not infrequently stray down to crop the luxuriant bunch grass. One day, a splendid twelve-point buck and four does came close to where the company were working.
"Rinty" was after them like a flash, apparently determined to round them into the flock. But they soon winded him, and in half an hour he returned, tired and panting, with a hurt, puzzled expression in his eyes. He just didn't understand those amazingly fleet animals who refused to stay with the herd.
Today Johnny Harron and the baby and I were seated at the table for a supper scene, Rin-Tin-Tin beside me. Suddenly, a huge nanny goat decided she craved food, and walked into our set and started eating. No one had the nerve to stop her, because she had been on a butting rampage all day. As long as the camera was cranking, Rin-Tin-Tin would not move. But just one word from Lee Duncan, his trainer, and Rinty was after the goat and out of the scene she went.
John Harron has to his own satisfaction exploded the ancient theory of comic artists and columnists: that goats have a gastronomic weakness for tin cans. With a whole flock of woolly beauties to experiment on, he threw onto the grass the tin foil from a package of cigarettes. A nanny spied the glittering object, nose it, then chewed it with a beatific expression, finally swallowing it. Johnny offered the goat a cigarette which it consumed with relish.
Next, Nanny ate an entire package of cigarettes with great gusto. No untoward effects resulted. Johnny then presented a can of salmon. Nanny nosed it, carefully licked it out clean, and then passed on to a tuft of bunch grass. Johnny offered the can again. Nanny turned it down.
"Somebody lied," said Johnny, "or at least they exaggerated. I will give the truth to the world: a goat will eat tin foil, but not tin cans."
And while I'm telling tales Irving Asher, our business manager, drives a bright-red roadster. Coming back from the village yesterday, he took a short cut through what he thought was an empty field. Suddenly he heard a snort and a bellow and right in front of him was a raging bull making for his nice, new, shiny automobile. (This is his story.) He swung sharply and the bull went plunging off down the field. He said the animal was so close that he was afraid its hot breath would take the paint off his car.
Little Mary Louise Miller, my child in "The Night Cry," has absolutely no fear. In one scene today, she and I had to walk through the flock of sheep. Mary Louise picked up her little stick and walked right into the midst of the herd.
We poke a lot of fun at Gayne Whitman. He is one of the Mexicans in the picture, has grown a scraggy beard, and isn't allowed to comb his hair not much like the stock matinee idol we remember of a year or so ago! The old Mexican shepherds decided he must be of their nationality and engaged him in conversation, but when he replied in English and looked puzzled, they gave him a most disgusted look and wouldn't have anything more to do with him.
I wish I had time to tell you about the canons we discovered
and the skeletons and bones, but they are calling me now to come
and take care of my child and to keep the Mexicans from shooting
Rin-Tin-Tin, so 'by while I act heroic for the camera.
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