MGM changed my name to Philip Trent
`THEY just don't make movies like that any more!'' That's the complaint I hear every time I screen one of the many pictures I made while in Hollywood. It seems the public is longing to revert to the wholesomeness we were brought up on, where decency and quality and virtue were triumphant. I have made more than 100 personal appearances with several of the movies I appeared in. I was Baby Leroy's father in the W.C. Fields comedy ``Tillie and Gus.'' I was Spencer Tracy and Colleen Moore's son in ``The Power and the Glory,'' and I eloped with the lovely Frances Dee in ``Coming-Out Party.'' I danced with Garbo and I was in ``Gone with the Wind.'' I played leading roles in nine plays on Broadway and appeared in more than 35 films, so, you see, I have paid my dues.
It was great fun working with W.C. Fields. He was a real character. You've heard stories of his hatred of children and dogs. The funniest thing was that the baby couldn't stand him. He would take one look at Fields's bulbous beak and let out a yell that would bring the roof down.
Working with Spencer Tracy was one of the highlights of my career. He was a great guy and so supportive. We go back a long way. We both worked in stock for Stuart Walker. We both played leads with George M. Cohan and here we were working together. Spencer gave a magnificent performance in the picture. It was the picture that brought him real stardom, and we all thought he would win the Academy Award, but that was the year FDR declared a bank holiday and the awards went down the drain, as did my contract. I free-lanced from then on.
The moving picture industry has made great strides technically. The visual effects, developments in lighting, and improvements in camera techniques are to be commended. But why so much emphasis on car chases, murder, and degradation when there is so much good that could and should be more evident?
The advent of VCR tapes has greatly enhanced our ability to be more selective in the type of entertainment we wish to take in. We can enjoy the golden oldies and we can also reflect on the wonders that have been wrought in the technical advancements shown in modern films. We have the best of two worlds and two art forms ... and right in our own living rooms.
The arts today seem to be in a healthy condition. There is a decided interest in upgrading the quality of performances and making them more appealing and more accessible to the general public. However, the student of the theater and dance doesn't have the benefit of the practical training and experience we were readily able to take advantage of in the early days of stock companies. I spent the early part of my career in stock companies and vaudeville under my name Clifford Jones before making it to Broadway. Then after half my credits in moving pictures, MGM changed my name to Philip Trent, and so I have remained.
Fortunately, sincere students of the arts are receiving excellent training in the regional theater and amateur groups that are providing so much worthwhile entertainment. Unfortunately, the early moving picture studio talent schools are no more.
I definitely relish my years in the theater and Hollywood, and I am having a whole new career with personal appearances with some of the movies I have been in. I feel it is my contribution to bringing joy and happiness and a bit of nostalgia to audiences. They love the golden oldies and I love them. Those golden oldies are far from extinct and so am I. We are both going stronger than ever.