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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Friday, 7 June 2013

The smell of success

Sunday, June 7th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Frank Vernon came for lunch Tuesday and had no progress to report.

The Edgar Selwyn's came for lunch and tea on Friday.
See also, 'Sailing for home' - November 30th., http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/sailing-for-home.html
Edgar told us about Alf. Woods, once a cheap-theatre manager, thence out of that by cinemas, and now one of the chief N.Y. producers. It was he who said after 1st Act of "Milestones", "Who is this guy Bennett?" ; after second, "No, you couldn't give it me!" and after 3rd, "He's got me. It'll never stop running in N.Y."

Albert Herman Woods (1870 – 1951), born Alad├ír Herman, was an American theatrical producer who sometimes worked with Sam H. Harris. Born in Hungary, Woods emigrated to the United States where he produced over one hundred of the most successful shows on Broadway during the 1910s and 1920s, sometimes under the name of the production company Al Woods Ltd. or A. H. Woods. Woods also built the Eltinge Theatre, named for one of his most successful and profitable stars, Julian Eltinge
Woods initially made his success with unpretentious melodramas, like "Nellie the Beautiful Cloak Model" and "Bowery After Dark", that appealed to common people. His modus operandi was to come up with a catchy title and an eye-catching poster, then have a writer pen the play to fit. Woods had a stable of favourite playwrights, including Theodore Kremer, Owen Davis and Hal Reid. At this time Woods earned the sobriquet 'King of Melodramania'.

He says he smells a good or bad play. Showing MS. of an accepted play to Edgar he said: "Smell that. Smell it. Doesn't it smell good?" Once, when listening to an idea for a play, he sniffed all the time - sniff, sniff, sniff - and at the end said: "No, that doesn't seem to me to smell very good." Once Michael Morton intruded on him; he refused to listen, but Michael made him. Michael said: "My idea is for a little Russian girl who wants to study, and she can't get away unless she takes the prostitute's ticket - the yellow ticket as it is called. That's what they have to do you know." Said Woods, startled: "It is? It is? I'll buy your play." Morton said it wasn't finished. "Never mind, I'll buy," and he bought it on the spot. He always thus makes up his mind at once, and won't wait. The legend is that he never makes a mistake. But it can't be so.

Yesterday I finished 1st chapter of "These Twain", 5,900 words, and I think it fairly good.

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