Carlyle Blackwell -
the "Teen-era Matinee Idol" - Films with Review Rating and Plot Summary - Links

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Carlyle Blackwell

A work in progress
Loads more to come!

Carlyle Blackwell was a rather dashing matinee idol, the height of his popularity during the mid-teens. He is often mentioned in the film magazines of that era, his handsome face sometimes featured on the cover (see above!)

Film Reviews - Plot Summaries and Ratings

His films are rare, I have currently only seen two of them - here's my film reviews:

  • The Ocean Waif (1916) - "NIGHT - When all is peace and beauty sleeps, genius wakes and the robber creeps" - a choice title card from this film. Silent film telling the tale of Ronald Roberts (Carlyle Blackwell), a successful young novelist who goes ashore from his yacht to work on his next book. He finds an abandoned manor house, reputed to be haunted by a female ghost, and decides it's the perfect place to write. But - unknown to him the house is already inhabited, and not by a ghost, but by a pretty young lady named Millie aka "The Ocean Waif" who has found refuge in the house after running away from her cruel, bad-tempered "foster father". As Millie snitches food, Ronald's valet gets spooked - but soon the mystery of the "girl ghost" is solved as Ronald finds her asleep in the attic. Yes, she's real attractive, so naturally he falls for her. But - soon his "fiancee" - a-hum - arrives and catches him kissing Millie, so Millie heads back home to her foster father. Though by all appearances it doesn't seem like she's been gone all that long, the father suddenly realizes she is a woman and he "ain't her father" and asks to marry her - ugh. Soon a crime, then a trial puts Ronald and his relationship with the fiancee in jeopardy - and all's well that end's well, you might say. This is a rather charming film, though it is dampered by quite a bit of nitrate deterioration to the print as well as missing footage here and there. Still - I found what could be followed of the story entertaining and the two lead stars very appealing and attractive. Carlyle Blackwell, so popular during the teen era of silent film, is, well, handsome and charismatic - I love his smile. Actress Doris Kenyon, who plays Millie, is rather delightful and looks very cute when she's dressed in overalls. The Kino DVD release of this film features a really nice piano score done by Jon Mirsalis. Nice film. * 8/10 stars *

  • On Dangerous Ground (1917) - Reasonably entertaining spy melodrama about an aggressive woman who uses her wiles to get what she wants. At the brink of WW1, an Alsatian woman (Gail Kane) desires to escape Germany - along with a secret vile she is to bring into France. A good-looking young American doctor (Carlyle Blackwell), at school in Berlin, is leaving Germany and has the much-needed Passport to get himself out of the country. Well, next thing you know, her bagful of mainly undergarments is in his hotel room on his way out of town (he bashfully sorts through the bag) - seems her plan for escape is to pretend she is his wife, though they have never met. She promptly arrives at the room, tricks the hotel bellman into thinking they are a real couple, and forges his passport by adding on the words "accompanied by wife" (no name needed, hmm) - and he goes along with all this, I guess 'cause he really wants a girlfriend or something. Now we get a series of situations in which they must convince various authorities that they are married. The film, of course, includes the two of them being forced into a room overnight featuring one smallish bed and one rickety wooden chair (you can probably guess who ends up on which). Anyway, the inevitable happens (no, I don't mean THAT) as romance blooms and he nicknames her "His Little Comrade". A German friend from his past helps out when all seems lost. By the way, one thing I learned from watching this film - Carlyle Blackwell looks pretty darn hunky when his shirt is all ripped and hanging off of his body for part of the film. Could I be remembering wrong - or is the point where the shirt gets ripped up about the point where she starts to fall for him?! The attractiveness of this once popular teen era matinee idol was enough to hold my interest in this film and keep it enjoyable - other than that, it is mildly entertaining fare. * 7/10 stars *

My Most Wanted: ??

Trivia and Tidbits

  • born January 20, 1884 in Troy, Pennsylvania (source: Draft registration cards) - died June 17, 1955

  • Carlyle had a son, Carlyle Blackwell Jr., who was also an actor.

  • His World War I Draft registration card lists Carlyle as Height - tall, Build - slender, Dark eyes, Brown hair. His wife at this time was named Ruth. His residence is listed as the "Lamb Club" (huh) in New York City - his occupation: actor.

  • His World War II Draft registration card lists Carlyle's address as 148 East 48 St. - his place of employment: Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe at the Paramount Hotel, New York, New York. His appearance: Height - 5'11", Weight - 140, Hair - black, Complexion - dark.

  • Carlyle Blackwell has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - address: 6340 Hollywood Blvd.

  • WIFE ACCUSES MOVIE STAR - Carlyle Blackwell testifies he has to pay $6,000 for clothes. - - - That's a headline in the New York Times, dated April 1, 1920. "Supreme Court Justice Hendrick began the trial of Mrs. Ruth H. Blackwell's suit for a separation from Carlyle Blackwell, movie star, on the ground of abandonment. Mrs. Blackwell said her husband left her in 1914 when they and their two children were living at the Claridge. She said he told her some time ago that he had refused a five-year contract at $500 a week from the Vitagraph Company and she told him he would have to take the $500 if he couldn't do better because she would insist on her alimony being paid. .... Blackwell testified that he was compelled to spend $6,000 a year for his wearing apparel. "So exacting is the public when it comes to the attire of one whose abode, speaking professionally, is among the Gods on high Olympus" said Blackwell. The trial will continue today." (hmmm, I guess that's why the "Ruth" listed on his draft registration card is living at a different address while he dwells at the Lamb Club).

  • Links / Resources

    IMDb: Carlyle Blackwell - Filmography and mini biography.

    Wikipedia article

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