Early 1920’s car in silent movie?

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BobD
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Early 1920’s car in silent movie?

Post by BobD » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:06 pm

While watching TCM silent movie “Bride’s Play” this elegant car made an appearance. An online search didn’t turn up much. Year of film is early 1922. Any ideas as to make?
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BobD
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Re: Early 1920’s car in silent movie?

Post by BobD » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:07 pm

After a little more digging, I have answered my own question. From the Old Motor site, it appears this is an early Harley Earl creation based on a 1914 Renault for Fatty Arbuckle. How it ended up in this movie is a bit of a mystery. http://theoldmotor.com/?p=135425


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Re: Early 1920’s car in silent movie?

Post by Tom Hicks » Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:55 pm

Neat looking car. Are any extant?
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Re: Early 1920’s car in silent movie?

Post by Aarongriffey » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:25 am

It’s a Renault, maybe a ‘23.

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Re: Early 1920’s car in silent movie?

Post by BobD » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:43 am

Found out that 1914 Harley Earl Renault still exists today. It was on exhibit at the Peterson Automotive Museum.https://old.petersen.org/portfolio-item ... t-type-ef/
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Re: Early 1920’s car in silent movie?

Post by Tom Hicks » Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:53 am

It just looks fast. Maybe something about the windshield.
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Re: Early 1920’s car in silent movie?

Post by Rich Bingham » Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:20 pm

I love it when these "puzzles" are posted to the forum, as it's always an opportunity to learn more about "old cars".

In this case, as this 1914 Renault was presented as a "Harley Earl creation", I got to wondering about what little I know about him. The short story is fascinating in its background. Seems Harley's father was a carriage maker in the horse-drawn era, who very early on began making custom bodies for automobiles. Situated near Hollywood, when the movie industry bloomed there, the "Earl Automobile Works" (founded 1908) produced custom bodies for the autos of big stars like Tom Mix, and of course . . . Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. It would be interesting to know if the car in question was fit with an Earl Automobile Works body when new, or if it was acquired by "Fatty" later, and fitted with that body ?? Any road, as it appears in this movie in . . . 1921-22, it would be interesting as well to learn just how involved the young Harley Earl was involved in the design . . . he would have been around 26 or 27 at the time the movie was made, and a kid barely of voting age when the Renault was new.

Sometime (?) in the mid-1920s the "Earl Automobile Works" was sold to Don Lee, a Cadillac dealer, to provide custom bodies for his notable clientele. Very soon, this aspect of Lee's enterprise came under the notice of Lawrence P. Fisher, general manager of GM's Cadillac division. (Yes, he was a scion of the venerable Fisher Body Corp., and had come up in the trade). Fisher commissioned Harley Earl to design the 1927 LaSalle, a new marque launched that year under the auspices of Cadillac. The LaSalle was so successful, GM president Alfred P. Sloane determined to create an "Art and Color" department within General Motors, and hired Harley Earl to run it. The company section was renamed "Styling" in 1937. Harley Earl remained influential in the design of all GM products until his death in 1969.

Harley Earl is responsible for the concept of what he called "Dynamic Obsolescence" (really, planned obsolescence) and a focus on yearly model change to entice buyers with the impression that newer models were greatly improved year by year over previous offerings. The notion of "keeping up to date" as an aspect of prestige was thus easily accomplished by visual impact. Automobile buyers have never been particularly knowledgeable about mechanical improvements, and in truth, through the pre-WWII period, GM was less invested in engineering advances than many "independents" which failed to survive the Depression. Who cared ? New styling, snazzy color and lots of chrome sold cars easily. Gears and machinery . . . not so much.
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Re: Early 1920’s car in silent movie?

Post by BobD » Wed Mar 20, 2019 3:12 pm

Rich, thanks for the interesting information regarding the “Earl Automobile Works”. It would be interesting to know the timeline on this 1914 Renault. With the order and build time taken into consideration, it was probably completed later than 1914. Another thing to bear in mind, Arbuckle commissioned the Harley Earl designed monster 1919 825 cu. in. 6 cylinder Pierce Arrow as well. How the Renault ended up in the silent movie “Brides Play” is another mystery. Roscoe Arbuckle was involved in a scandal in 1921. The film starring Marion Davies was produced by William Randolph Hearst in January 1922. Is it possible Hearst owned the vehicle at this time?

Below, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckles 1919 Pierce Arrow Touring.
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Re: Early 1920’s car in silent movie?

Post by Rich Bingham » Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:45 am

By the time Arbuckle was acquitted after three trials in March of 1922 he owed his defense attorneys over $700,000 and was forced to sell his cars and his house to pay them. From that, one may assume he owned the Renault sometime prior, and possibly had purchased it new. Doubtless the Pierce was also sacrificed for legal fees.
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