Mordaunt Hall

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Mordaunt Hall
Born Frederick William Mordaunt Hall
(1878-11-01)November 1, 1878
Guildford, Surrey, England
Died July 2, 1973(1973-07-02) (aged 94)
New York City, New York, United States
Occupation Writer, critic

Mordaunt Hall (1 November 1878 – 2 July 1973)[1] was the first regularly assigned motion picture critic for The New York Times, working from October 1924 to September 1934.[2]

His writing style was described in his Times obituary as "chatty, irreverent, and not particularly analytical.… The interest of other critics in analyzing cinematographic techniques was not for him."[3]

Biography[edit]

Born Frederick William Mordaunt Hall in Guildford, Surrey, England,[4] and known to his friends as "Freddie",[5] he later claimed his full name was Frederick Wentworth Mordaunt Hall.[6] His father was a school headmaster in Tottenham.[7]

Hall immigrated to the United States, residing in New York, in 1902[8] and worked as an advance agent for Buffalo Bill's Wild West show from around 1907, by which time he was already referred to as "an old newspaper man."[9] In 1909 the theater impresario Oscar Hammerstein I accused Hall and another reporter of assaulting him outside New York's Knickerbocker Hotel.[10] The case was suspended when Hammerstein left for Europe.[11] He worked at the New York Press from 1909 to 1914, when he joined the New York Herald.[12]

He married Helen Rowe, an American, in 1909.[13] She died in 1972.[14]

Hall was commissioned a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during World War I, and did intelligence work.[15] He wrote about the wartime experiences of others in the book Some Naval Yarns (1917). He returned from service in 1919.[16]

In 1919, Hall returned to England,[17] where in the early 1920s he wrote movie intertitles, with young Alfred Hitchcock designing and lettering them, at the Famous Players-Lasky studio in the London borough of Islington.[18] The Halls returned to America in 1922,[19] and his byline first appeared in the New York Times that year. After retiring from the Times in 1934, he hosted a New York radio program on movies and movie players in 1934–1935, and was a drama critic for the Boston Transcript from 1936 to 1938.[20] On December 10, 1941, two days after the United States entered World War II, Hall became a U.S. citizen.[21] He was working for the Columbia Broadcasting System in New York in 1942.[22] He later joined the Bell Syndicate as a copy editor,[23] and occasionally wrote articles.[24] He died in New York City at age 94.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Social Security Death Index.
  2. ^ "Mordaunt Hall, Wrote of Screen," New York Times, July 4, 1973, p. 18.
  3. ^ "Mordaunt Hall, Wrote of Screen," New York Times, July 4, 1973, p. 18.
  4. ^ Free BMD. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1881 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004. Mordaunt Hall was the name of an 1849 novel by English author Anne Marsh-Caldwell.
  5. ^ "Mordaunt Hall, Wrote of Screen," New York Times, July 4, 1973, p. 18.
  6. ^ Inventory of Sardi's Caricatures, 1925–1952, Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library.
  7. ^ Ancestry.com. 1891 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
  8. ^ Frederick William Mordaunt Hall, petition for naturalization No. 379086, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
  9. ^ "Personal and Social" (column), The Evening Times, Cumberland, Maryland, Sept. 12, 1907, p. 8.
  10. ^ "Hammerstein Calls Reporter 'That Thing'", The Hartford Courant, January 30, 1909, p. 1.
  11. ^ "City Brevities," New York Times, May 15, 1909, p. 5.
  12. ^ "Mordaunt Hall, Wrote of Screen," New York Times, July 4, 1973, p. 18.
  13. ^ Passenger list of the S.S. Orotava, Port of New York, Dec. 20, 1909. Passenger list of the S.S. Homeric, Port of New York, 4 May 1922, sheet 6, line 6. Frederick William Mordaunt Hall, petition for naturalization No. 379086, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Passenger list of the S.S. Liberte, Port of Plymouth, England, June 20, 1960. Descendants of Wolphert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven, Person Page 1894.
  14. ^ Helen Hall, born 3 February 1886, died November 1972. Ancestry.com. Social Security Death Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2008.
  15. ^ "Mordaunt Hall, Wrote of Screen," New York Times, July 4, 1973, p. 18.
  16. ^ Ancestry.com. Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007.
  17. ^ Passenger list of the Carmania, port of Liverpool, 25 November 1919. Ancestry.com. UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2008.
  18. ^ Donald Spoto, The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock, Da Capo Press, 1999, p. 55. ISBN 0-306-80932-X. John Russell Taylor, Hitch: The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock, Da Capo Press, 1996, p. 39. ISBN 0-306-80677-0.
  19. ^ Frederick William Hall, passenger list of the Homeric, port of New York, 4 May 1922. Ancestry.com. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.
  20. ^ Wood Soanes, Curtain Calls (syndicated column), Oct. 16, 1936. Walter Winchell, On Broadway (syndicated column), Sept. 27, 1938.
  21. ^ Ancestry.com. New York Petitions for Naturalization [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007.
  22. ^ Ancestry.com. U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007.
  23. ^ "Mordaunt Hall, Wrote of Screen," New York Times, July 4, 1973, p. 18.
  24. ^ E.g., guest writing Ray Tucker's syndicated column "The National Whirligig" on Dec. 2, 1955.

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