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Hollywood Gets Drunk on Itself in SOULS FOR SALE

January 15, 2016

Sister Celluloid

In the early 1920s, Hollywood was in for a good spanking. And not the fun kind.

Director William Desmond Taylor had been murdered. Wallace Reid, known as “the screen’s most perfect lover,” was lost to the embrace of morphine. And Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle had endured three sordid trials before finally being cleared of murder, but his reputation and the industry’s took a brutal beating in the process.

The tongue-clucking among church groups, women’s auxiliaries, and various legions of decency was growing downright deafening, and the studios were running out of ideas for damage control. Until they hit upon the most obvious one: a movie.


Enter Souls for Sale. This wildly lavish apologia for all things Hollywood started life as a novel by Rupert Hughes (uncle of Howard), who produced and directed his own adaptation for the screen in 1923.

Our story—and what a story it is!—begins innocently enough: A new bride…

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