Pearl White — Good-by Boys, I’m Through (1924) 🇺🇸

Pearl White — Good-by Boys, I’m Through (1924) |

August 31, 2023

Pearl White is lost to the movies. The bravest girl in pictures has done her last stunt.

by Bland Johaneson

“I’ll never work in another picture. I only did ‘Terror’ because I was talked into it,” said the valiant Pearl. And she announced that all her future connection with the films will be in the capacity of a director. Not only have the melo-serials lost their courageous and harassed heroine who was pursued to the depths of the sea and the heights of the air, but Pearl has abandoned the land of the neighborhood movie altogether. She is a Parisienne now, a real one, with a high-necked nightie and black Georgette underwear.

She was wearing the former the first time I saw her on her recent flying visit to New York. What runaway locomotives and wrecked balloons had failed to, laryngitis had accomplished. Pearl was laid low by it.

She has grown both prettier and plumper. “I can’t talk,” she whispered from among the mufflers and blankets. “I haven’t anything to say, anyway. I’m only here for a few weeks to try to sell my picture. Then I go back to Paris where it’s cheaper to live — and I use the word ‘live’ advisedly.”

Pearl muttered of economy in a suite at the St. Regis strewed with jewels and chinchilla. “I’ve been studying French for two years and you’ve no idea what a few ‘c’est trop chère’s’ can accomplish.”

With this the door opened to admit, or rather disgorge, the exuberant Miss Blythe Daly, ingénue daughter of Arnold, who squealed, Pearl, you look wonderful!” and implanted an enthusiastic kiss upon the patient.

My admiration for Pearl White doubled. She was running a temperature, but I never have seen such perfect composure.

“Go in the other room and sit down. Read a book,” she said evenly, and Blythe departed with a gurgle of, “Darling, you look marvelous!”

A long time ago, a mutual friend told me that Pearl White was strange, so matter-of-fact that if she was occupied with bridge or something and a stranger entered the room she would disregard the introduction until later when her attention was free and she could be genuinely interested. This sounded like the rankest rudeness. I put Pearl down as an underbred and ill-mannered person.

But I was wrong. She is unquestionably an unusual young woman. But what savored of social eccentricity, was nothing more or less than Pearl’s abounding sincerity. She has the “take it or leave it attitude toward life. She makes no efforts to please or to impress. She evokes no false interest. She has the profound detachment of an aristocratic cat, and whatever she gives of interest or affection may be treasured as the genuine article. It would be difficult to imagine Pearl White doing a deliberately mean thing. Her personality is exactly what one would expect who has seen her work, cool, fatalistic, although she is devout.

“Don’t ask me about my having gone into a convent,” she said. “It makes me furious. It took me six months to get in. I was sincere. What I wanted was to get away from questions, and I’ve had nothing but questions ever since.” Pearl referred bitterly to her sensational “rest” in a convent not so long ago.

“I will tell you that this Terror is the last picture in which I am going to work. I want to direct, but I was talked into playing it. I wrote the story. But I think this business of being the whole show is a bad idea. You lose your perspective. After this I’m going to direct stories other people have written. Terror is a stunt picture. It’s fast. The first picture to be made in the American style by an American company in Paris. I guess it’s the first picture ever made right in the traffic there, and it is really the first time the famous sewers of Paris ever have been photographed. We took lights down there and got some great stuff.”

Pearl went on about the sewers which are an underworld city in themselves, and about her contrast in using with them one of France’s most beautiful Chateaux.

“American films are losing their ground over there,” she said. “The French are making some pretty good ones. They’re vastly different from ours, of course. More character studies. Some are desperately sad. Not the conventional happy ending — young love idylls they demand over here.”

Artlessly Pearl told me (in confidence) that a certain athletic stunt comedian was the French favorite among our American stars. But she wasn’t exactly truthful. The opinion of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez I have heard confirmed by everyone who recently has come from the snails’ Last Stand: That Pearl White is the continent’s most popular movie star, and that she is truly “the darling of Paris.”

In the films she has abandoned, Pearl White’s achievements stand unmatched. Week after week this dauntless heroine packed the theaters, with impossible stories, crude photography, by the sheer thrill of her daring and fearlessness. Pearl White was the Girl of that Hour when the movies were really movies, before they made pretentious claims to Artiness and lofty essays at psychologizing, when a villain was a villain and he shot to kill.

“Oh, I’m not so very brave,” said Pearl White, slyly. “You see, Terror is positively my last film.”

But she admits she was talked into making that. And her native and foreign fans can live in the hope that her friends will go right on talking. Pearl White belongs to the movies for life.

Pearl White — Good-by Boys, I’m Through (1924) |

“I was talked into making this picture,” she says. “But no more”

Intends to abandon acting for the megaphone and become a director

Pearl White — Good-by Boys, I’m Through (1924) |

Collection: Photoplay Magazine, April 1924