No More Monkey Business

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August 1, 1925 cover by Garrett Price.

For all of The New Yorker’s attention to the Scopes Monkey Trial, the August 1, 1925 issue had little to say about the trial’s outcome.

The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes was decided in the Criminal Court of Tennessee on July 21, 1925, with Scopes found guilty and fined $100 (equivalent to $1,345 in 2015), but the verdict was overturned on a technicality.

“The Talk of the Town” offered this brief observation under its weekly wrap-up column: “Mr. Scopes, found guilty, goes home to Paducah, Kentucky…”

And then this item toward the end of “Talk,” announcing the death of the Scopes Trial defense attorney (and one of the magazine’s favorite punching bags) William Jennings Bryan:

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“The Graphic Section” offered this cynical twist on the trial’s outcome:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

In a related item under “Of All Things,” Howard Brubaker wrote, “Representative Upshaw of Georgia will introduce an anti-evolution bill in Congress. Upshaw is never happy unless the Ship of State is making twenty thou-shalt-nots an hour.”

Clarence Darrow, a famous Chicago lawyer, and William Jennings Bryan, defender of Fundamentalism, have a friendly chat in a courtroom during the Scopes evolution trial.  Darrow defended John T. Scopes, a biology teacher, who decided to test the new Tenessee law banning the teaching of evolution. Bryan took the stand for the prosecution as a bible expert. The trial in 1925 ended in conviction of Scopes. ca. 1925 Dayton, Tennessee, USA
Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan have a friendly chat during the Scopes Monkey Trial. Following the trial Bryan traveled hundreds of miles, delivering speeches in multiple towns. On July 26, 1925, he returned from Chattanooga, Tennessee to his home in Dayton. After attending church services he ate a large meal, then died during a nap that afternoon, five days after the trial’s conclusion. When someone remarked to Darrow that Bryan died from a “broken heart”, Darrow responded, “Broken heart, hell, he died of a busted belly!” (Wikipedia)

Brubaker also quipped, “Tennessee is not the only State where there is arrested mental development, but it is the only one so far where it has been fined.”

Back to “The Talk of the Town,” the design for a memorial to Teddy Roosevelt was approved, to be erected as part of the east façade of the Museum of Natural History. It was noted that the design featured Ionic columns that Roosevelt “would have detested in favor of a “native expression of the arts…”

The Museum of Natural History façade designed by John Russell Pope. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Talk” continued: “One recalls that Colonel Roosevelt wrote the American Institute of Architects deprecating the use of the lions which doze at the entrance to the Public Library, and advocating the placing there of bisons instead…The memorial to the man who insisted thus on American art, rather than imitation of foreign models, is to be a severely classic as the facade of –let us say—the First National Bank of Dubuque, Iowa.”

Lion guards New York Public Library entrance. Teddy would have preferred the native bison. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Profiles” featured Walter L. Clark, a “genius who made art into business.” The movie reviews included Theodore Shane’s fumings on prudishness of American censors (Will Hays in particular) especially when compared to more liberal European productions by directors such as Ernst Lubitsch:

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In books, the magazine continued its admiration for the jottings of A.A. Milne:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

As for night life, The New Yorker lamented (“When Nights Are Bold) that the rooftop garden at the Biltmore “was the only bower worthy of the name left in town where quiet or startling simplicity reigns”:

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The Biltmore Cascades (Museum of the City of New York)
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Illustration of the Cascades by Helen Hokinson (New Yorker Digital Archive)

And speaking of society pursuits, Philip Pratt offered this parody on falconry, while Hans Stengel took aim at the starving artists:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

And we end with a detail of summertime images (by Helen Hokinson) from the center spread of the August 1 issue:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

Next time: The dog days of summer.

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Monkey Business in Dayton

In its 21st issue (July 11, 1925) The New Yorker was back to taking swipes at William Jennings Bryan and the backward ways of Tennesseans as the Scopes “Monkey Trial” drew near.

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Cover for July 11, 1925, by Bertrand Zadig. It was a low point for the fledging magazine–funds were so scarce that the cover was printed in black and white. (New Yorker Digital Archive)

A four-page feature penned by Marquis James (the longest article to appear in The New Yorker since Issue #1), primarily focused on the trial’s setting—Dayton, Tennessee—and the habits and tastes of its countrified citizens:

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Prosecutor and famed orator William Jennings Bryan had not yet arrived in Dayton, but the townsfolk were plenty enamored of the other star in their midst, attorney for the defense Clarence Darrow. James reported that the agnostic Darrow mixed surprisingly well with the locals:

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James concluded his piece with a description of the carnival atmosphere that gripped the tiny, formerly unknown town that was now the focus of the entire country:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

An illustration by Al Frueh that preceded James’s article makes hay of the “carnival atmosphere,” likening it to a modern-day version of the Inquisition:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

“The Talk of the Town” did its usual breezy wrap up of “The Week” (including the announcement of the birth of Charlie Chaplin’s son (by Lita Grey), and offered a somber note about the dampening effects of Prohibition on the restaurant trade. It also noted that David Belasco had marked 50 years in the theater business (though his influence was waning), and “Texas” Guinan personally opened the door of her nightclub to opera great Mary Garden after a bit of a misunderstanding:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

“Profiles” looked at Clinton Peters, “The Daddy of Sunday Painters,” while “Moving Pictures” cheered Edmond Rostand’s “masterpiece,” Cyrano de Bergerac, starring French actor Pierre Magnier in a “magnificently well—seasoned interpretation.”

Pierre Magnier (left) starred in the hand-tinted color film, Cyrano de Bergerac. (Screen capture)

The film was also “in color,” actually a cross between two-color technicolor and hand-coloring, sometimes using only one process or the other, sometimes both. According to IMDB:

Parts of the film were hand colored using the Pathécolor stencil process, in which groundstone glass is cut with a pantograph in the shape of an object to conform with what is on the 35mm print. A machine then passes a dye-soaked strip of velvet over the film with the glass stencil on top and the film is colored. Cutting the stencils (a stencil for every different color) was a very long and tedious process which delayed the release of the film by almost two years. The color style/scheme of the movie was to imitate the tone, color and feel of 17th Century Renaissance paintings.

In the review of another film, Paths to Paradise, the critic (TS) wrote that “Mr. Raymond Griffith establishes himself as a genuine comedian of the rank of Menjou and Chaplin.”

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Raymond Griffith and Betty Compson in Paths to Paradise (1925) (

The “Sports” section of these early issues of The New Yorker covered mostly polo, tennis, golf and yacht races and regattas, which I will explore more in future posts.

Fay Marbe on the cover of the June 28, 1924 issue of Movie Weekly.

In the section “When Nights Are Bold,” Charles Baskerville (signing as “Top Hat”) reviewed the tango dance performance by Fay Marbe at the Beaux Arts Restaurant: “She is easy on the eyes; and after her performance we were all patting her on the back, because it’s one of the most beautiful ones we have ever beheld.”

And now for the funnies: On the inside front cover, the musings of English cartoonist W. Heath Robinson, best known for his drawings of ridiculously complicated machines for achieving simple objectives:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

And finally, this three-act performance by staff artist Johan Bull. In her book Defining New Yorker Humor, Judith Yaross Lee writes that Bull was a Norwegian immigrant who started out as a caricaturist for the sports department, but was pressed into greater service for his ability to mimic Rea Irvin’s style:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

Up next time. More monkey business in Issue #22:

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