Scen.: Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich; Int.: Jules Raucourt (9413), George Voya (the star), Robert Florey (cast director), Adriane Marsh (13); Prod.: Robert Florey; Pri. pro.: 17 giugno 1928. 35mm. D.: 11’ a 24 f/s. Bn.
The Life and Death of 9413 – A Hollywood Extra was (…) certainly Florey’s first complete and important attempt to make a non-commercial film. It had a long gestation period. Within a few years of arriving in Hollywood, he conceived the idea of making a short picture based on the impressions of an ‘everyman’ actor who arrives in the movie capital, dreaming of becoming a star, only to have his hopes crumble. This concept was perhaps inspired by Florey’s contact, while correspondent for “Cinémagazine”, with many aspiring performers, both successful and not, who found their careers dependent on the whims of public fancy and the vagaries of producers. (…) [Slavko] Vorkapich became responsible for the construction of the miniature sets, made mostly of paper cubes, cigar boxes, tin cans, children’s toys, and other odds and ends. Days were spent on this task, Florey cutting the cardboards from laundered shirts and shaping them into squares, while Vorkapich painted them impressionistically to resemble buildings. The “effect of a golden pavement” in heaven was derived from the “skillful placement of some polished sardine cans”. (…) Upon its completion, Florey showed his little film to Charlie Chaplin, who was so impressed that he watched it five times and then invited the Hollywood’s elite to a screening at his home. The audience merely expected one of the comedian’s gags. Florey, fearing a negative reaction from the guests because of his satire of Hollywood, hid in the projection booth and snipped his name from the credits. But to his surprise “the producers and stars present (…) were vitally interested in this new tecnique and at the unexpected angles of the shots”. When Chaplin divulged the identity of the movie creator, Florey was cheered. Douglas Fairbanks was moved to offer Florey his editing facility to prepare A Hollywood Extra for public exhibition. The enthusiasm was echoed even by such a traditional director as Henry King: “Everybody went wild over it (…) It was way ahead of its time (…) a stroke of genius (…) it was the most original thought I ever saw”.
Brian Taves, Robert Florey, the French Expressionist, The Scarecrow Press, Metuchen/New York/London 1987