Rex Ingram - Director

Nationality: Irish/American. Born: Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock in Dublin, 15 January 1893. Education: Saint Columba's College, Dublin; studied sculpture at Yale, 1911. Military Service: Served in Canadian Air Force (wounded in action), 1918. Family: Married 1) actress Doris Pawn, 1917 (divorced 1920); 2) Alice Terry, 1921. Career: Immigrated to United States, 1911; actor in England, 1912; assistant for Edison Co., New York, also scenario writer for Stuart Blackton and screen actor, 1913; moved to Vitagraph, 1914; hired by Fox, changed name to Rex Ingram, 1915; director for Universal, 1916; contracted by Paralta-W.W. Hodkinson Corp., 1918; joined Metro Pictures, 1920; moved to France, 1923; modernized Studios de la Victorine de Saint-Augustin, Nice, 1924; established Ingram Hamilton Syndicated Ltd. production company, London, 1928; moved to Egypt, 1934; returned to Hollywood, 1936. Awards: Honorary degree, Yale University; Légion d'honneur française. Died: In California, 1950.

Rex Ingram (with megaphone)
Rex Ingram (with megaphone)

Films as Director:


The Great Problem (Truth) (+ sc); Broken Fetters ( A Human Pawn ) (+ sc); Chalice of Sorrow ( The Fatal Promise ) (+ sc); Black Orchids ( The Fatal Orchids ) (+ sc)


The Reward of the Faithless ( The Ruling Passion ) (+ sc); The Pulse of Life (+ sc); The Flower of Doom (+ sc); Little Terror (+ sc)


His Robe of Honor ; Humdrum Brown


The Day She Paid


Under Crimson Skies ( The Beach Comber ); Shore Acres ; Hearts Are Trumps


The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (+ pr); The Conquering Power ( Eugenie Grandet ); Turn to the Right


The Prisoner of Zenda ; Trifling Women (+ sc) (remake of Black Orchids ); Where the Pavement Ends (+ sc)


Scaramouche (+ pr)


The Arab ( L'Arabe ) (+ sc)


Mare Nostrum (+ co-pr)


The Magician (+ co-pr, sc)


The Garden of Allah


The Three Passions ( Les Trois Passions ) (+ sc)


Baroud ( Love in Morocco ; Passion in the Desert ) (+ pr, co-sc)

Other Films:


Hard Cash (Reid) (role, sc); The Family's Honor (Ridgely) (sc); Beau Brummel (Young) (role); The Artist's Great Madonna (Young) (role); A Tudor Princess (Dawley) (role)


Witness to the Will (Lessey) (role); The Necklace of Ramses (Brabin) (role); The Price of the Necklace (Brabin) (role); The Borrowed Finery (role); Her Great Scoop (Costello and Gaillord) (role); The Spirit and the Clay (Lambart) (role); The Southerners (Ridgely and Collins) (role); Eve's Daughter (North) (role); The Crime of Cain (Marston) (role); The Circus and the Boy (Johnson) (role); David Garrick (Young) (role); The Upper Hand (Humphrey) (role); Fine Feathers Make Fine Birds (Humphrey) (role); His Wedded Wife (Humphrey) (role); Goodbye, Summer (Brooke) (role); The Moonshine Maid and the Man (Gaskill) (role)


Should a Mother Tell? (Edwards) (sc); The Song of Hate (Edwards) (sc, role); The Wonderful Adventure (Thompson) (sc); The Blindness of Devotion (Edwards) (sc); A Woman's Past (Powell) (sc); The Galley Slave (Edwards) (co-sc, uncredited); The Evil Men Do (Costello and Gaillord) (role); Snatched from a Burning Death (Gaskill) (role)


The Cup of Bitterness (sc)


Mary of the Movies (McDermot) (role as a guest)


Greed (von Stroheim) (co-ed 2nd cut)


By INGRAM: articles—

Interview with L. Montanye, in Motion Picture Classic (Brooklyn), July 1921.

Interview with J. Robinson, in Photoplay (New York), August 1921.

Article in Motion Picture Directing , by Peter Milne, New York, 1922.

On INGRAM: books—

Predal, Rene, Rex Ingram , Paris, 1970.

O'Leary, Liam, Rex Ingram, Master of the Silent Cinema , Dublin, 1980.

On INGRAM: articles—

Obituary in New York Times , 23 July 1950.

Geltzer, George, "Hollywood's Handsomest Director," in Films in Review (New York), May 1952.

O'Laoghaire, Liam, "Rex Ingram and the Nice Studios," in Cinema Studies (England), December 1961.

Bodeen, Dewitt, "Rex Ingram and Alice Terry," in two parts in Films in Review (New York), February and March 1975.

O'Leary, Liam, "Rex Ingram," in Film Dope (London), July 1983.

Graham, Ian, "Rex Ingram: A Seminal Influence, Unfairly Obscured," in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), vol. 74, no. 4, April 1993.

Bourget, J.-L., "Entre Stroheim et David Lean: le roi Ingram," in Positif (Paris), no. 404, October 1994.

On INGRAM: film—

Graham, Dan, The Conquering Power: Rex Ingram 1893–1950 , 1990.

* * *

Rex Ingram's work has tended to be overlooked and forgotten as a result of his retirement from films in the early 1930s, an era when sound had taken over the world of cinema. He began his career in films in 1913, working as designer, scriptwriter, and actor for Edison, Vitagraph, and Fox. In 1916 he directed his own story, The Great Problem , for Universal at the age of only twenty-three. His educational background was that of an Irish country rectory and the Yale School of Fine Arts, where he studied sculpture under Lee Lawrie and developed an aesthetic sense which informed all his films.

The early films Ingram made for Universal have disappeared. His version of La Tosca , transferred to a Mexican setting as Chalice of Sorrow , and a 1922 remake of Black Orchids titled Trifling Women , earned critical attention for the quality of the acting and their visual beauty. Cleo Madison starred in both these films. The fragment that exists of The Reward of the Faithless shows a realism that is reminiscent of von Stroheim, who was later to acknowledge his indebtedness by allowing Ingram to do the second cutting on Greed. It may be noted also that greed was the theme of The Conquering Power. A characteristic element of Ingram's work was the use of grotesque figures like dwarfs and hunchbacks to offset the glamour of his heroes. After a period of ups and downs, he made another film for Universal in 1920, Under Crimson Skies , which won critical acclaim.

With the release of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in 1921 Ingram achieved top status in his profession. Ordinarily, Valentino dominates discussion of this film, but Ingram's work on the feature is of the highest quality. Armed with his team of cameraman John Seitz and editor Grant Whytock, Ingram went on to make a dazzlingly successful series of films for Metro. His financial and artistic success gave him carte blanche and his name became a box-office draw. The Conquering Power, The Prisoner of Zenda , and Scaramouche featured his wife, the beautiful and talented Alice Terry, and the latter two films introduced a new star, Ramon Novarro, who also played with Alice Terry in the South Seas romance Where the Pavement Ends. Ingram made stars and knew how to get the best out of players. He came to be considered the equal of Griffith, von Stroheim, and DeMille.

In 1924 the formation of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer saw a tightening up of front office control over the creative director and Ingram sought fresh fields to conquer. He made The Arab with Terry and Novarro in North Africa, a region that he fell in love with. He next moved to Nice, where he founded the Rex Ingram Studios and released his masterpiece Mare Nostrum in 1926 for "Metro-Goldwyn." (He would never allow his arch-enemy Louis B. Mayer to have a credit.) In this work Alice Terry gave her best performance as the Mata Hari-like heroine. This film as well as The Four Horsemen , both of which were authored by Blasco Ibañez, were later suppressed because of its anti-German sentiments.

The German-inspired The Magician featured Paul Wegener (the original Golem ) and was based on a Somerset Maugham story. After The Garden of Allah Ingram broke with MGM in 1926. The Three Passions , with an industrial background, followed in 1929. His last film, Baroud , a sound film in which he himself played the lead, completed a distinguished career.

Ingram sold his studios in Nice, where he had reigned as an uncrowned king; as the Victorine Studios they were to become an important element in French film production. Ingram retired to North Africa and later rejoined his wife Alice Terry in Hollywood. He indulged his hobbies of sculpture, writing, and travel.

Ingram was the supreme pictorialist of the screen, a great director of actors, a perfectionist whose influence was felt not least in the films of David Lean and Michael Powell. The themes of his films ranged over many locations but his careful research gave them a realism and authenticity that balanced the essential romanticism of his work.

—Liam O'Leary

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