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Volume 12 Number 3
Fall/Winter 2013


As this is written, the year 2013 is coming to a close. It was undoubtedly the most exciting and productive year in The Vitaphone Project's history. Beginning with the re-discovery of the long-lost Stooges Technicolor short HELLO POP (and its subsequent preservation and exhibition), the year also saw many disk discoveries, continued progress on 53 1926-30 Vitaphone restorations, beginning work by George Eastman House on three early Technicolor talkie musical shorts restorations, and Project visibility at the Association of Moving Image Archivist conference.

While no one can predict what exciting developments 2014 holds, the year is poised to deliver a number of riches that are now in the pipeline. These include:




Elmer Raguse was the Academy Award nominated sound engineer at the Hal Roach Studios.
Thanks to Craig Raguse for the use of these photos!


American film historians recently came across a fascinating discovery when they found the Czech National Film Archive has the only surviving print of the 1929 US movie, The Mysterious Island. The epic American movie The Mysterious Island, loosely based on the French writer Jules Verne's adventurous novel, was released in 1929. The Technicolor film starred, among others, the Oscar- winning actor Lionel Barrymore. But it became a financial and critical disaster.

Film historians long believed no complete print of the film had survived - until experts in the US discovered that the movie had been preserved in the Czech National Archive. Deborah Stoiber from the George Eastman House film archive recently visited Prague to present a film from their own collection - and to examine the sole existing copy of The Mysterious Island. "I decided to take advantage of my trip here to visit the archive and to take a look at this wonderful feature film, to see quality of the image and the quality of the print, and take that information with me to the US so that we can hopefully find funding to do full preservation on this material."

James Layton of George Eastman House was doing research on his book on Technicolor (with David Pierce), and asked the Archive if they had any true Technicolor films. The response that they had a color print of "Mysterious Island" was a real surprise. You'll recall The Vitaphone Project is teaming with James and GEH on the restoration of several 1929-30 Technicolor Vitaphone and MGM shorts.

A complete set of soundtrack disks for the film resides at UCLA, and our Vitaphone Project Database confirms some other disks are held in private collections.


Amended caricature courtesy of Joe Busam, Sr.
The Library of Congress just announced the selections for their 2013 National Film Registry, and we're happy to report that KING OF JAZZ (Univ./'30) was one of the selections. As you know from earlier issues, there have been recent discoveries of an original and complete 35, Technicolor nitrate print, as well as many sound disks. The film is in extremely fragile condition, but its colors are far more rich and vivid than the washed out circulating copy of the 1933 reissue.

Some test work has already been done on KING OF JAZZ, and we hope that the film's well deserved addition to the National Film Registry will escalate restoration and allocation of funds to complete it over the next several years. This is a very costly project, estimated at over $600,000.


Mark Viera, author of the essential book Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-Code Hollywood, has just come out with a luxurious and equally essential new one: George Hurrell's Hollywood: Glamour Portraits 1925-1992. It beautifully chronicles the work of the studio glamour photographer who was dubbed "The Rembrandt of Hollywood". The book includes over 400 mostly previously unpublished portraits by the great photographer.

Good friend Irv Hyatt has just come out with the definitive book on the 1942 All Star Bond tour which featured Laurel & Hardy, Cary Grant, Jimmy Cagney, Bert Lahr, Groucho Marx and many others. Irv's Ultimate Hollywood Victory Caravan Scrapbook: A color pictorial history of America's largest bond drive is 344 pages and boasts over 100 photos, most never seen before anywhere.



Noted film historian and archivist David Pierce, has just completed a comprehensive report titled "The Survival of American Silent Feature Film 1912-1929" It is the first exhaustive look at which American films survive, where they are, and provides detail about completeness, format and condition. Only 25% of American features made during this period are known to survive either in 35mm or in some complete or fragmentary state in another format. David does a wonderful job in describing this period's production practices and how the various studios fared.

As a report from The Library of Congress, this report is free and may be read or printed as a pdf file here:

In addition, he has created a searchable database of features made during the 1912-29 period, so you can look up a desired title and find out what, if anything, survives. Give it a try yourself with a favorite film:

While the report's focus is on silent, the database contains status information on hundreds of 1927-29 features that had a synchronized track. David and George Eastman House's James Layton have partnered on a book covering Technicolor through 1932 and it promises to be a must-have for every reader of VITAPHONE NEWS. We'll let you know when it's published.


As detailed in the last issue of VITAPHONE NEWS, the re-discovery after eighty years of the sole "lost" Three Stooges short HELLO POP (MGM/'33) was an incredible development. Thanks to the generosity of Australian film collector Malcolm Smith, whose print it was, the short is lost no longer. The 35mm nitrate Technicolor print came back to America in January 2013 and YCM Laboratories, under the direction of Eric Aijala, and with funding from Ned Price at Warner Bros, a preservation safety print was made per the Project's request.

That print was show to audiences first at New York's Film Forum on September 30 and October 1. Lines formed in front of the theatre hours before each show. Deliberately screened last, after a number of other talkie rarities, the audience anticipation was palpable. Cheers began immediately as the Technicolor Leo The Lion roared at the start of HELLO POP. The screening was exactly 80 years to the month since the short's premiere.

HELLO POP was next screened at California's ALEX Theatre as part of the annual Three Stooges Festival. That screening was attended by Moe Howard's daughter and the son of Stooges supporting player Emil Sitka.

Any additional screenings will be limited as there was only one preservation 35mm print struck. Warner Archive has confirmed that HELLO POP, along with all of the other MGM shorts by Ted Healy and the Stooges, will be released as a set on DVD sometime in 2014. Work has also begun on the second Shemp/Vitaphone shorts DVD.

Thanks again to Malcolm, his friend Harry Furner who contacted us, and Paul Brennan, who personally shepherded the film for shipment and is now on a search for other hidden film rarities in Australia.


The Vitaphone Project was honored to be part of a panel presentation this November at the annual international Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) conference. Each year film preservation and restoration professionals from all over the world gather to discuss the latest technologies, developments and trends. This year's conference was in Richmond, Virginia, and was attended by over 250 members from as far away as France, Africa, Italy and England.

Carla Arton of The Library of Congress suggested that a panel on Vitaphone restorations be assembled and proposed to AMIA for the conference. Through her perseverance and supervision, the proposal was accepted and our panel assembled. Ron Hutchinson of the Project first covered a history of sound films through Vitaphone, and a capsule discussion on the Project's history. Ken Weissman of LoC discussed in detail the entire process and flow of a Vitaphone restoration. Bob Heiber, of Chace/Deluxe described --- with many audio examples - the challenges of getting the best sound from Vitaphone disks and the wide range of conditions and problems that are encountered. Carla closed the panel with a detailed look at the 1928-31 show-at-home talkie market and how in many cases the safety prints for home use now are the only surviving copies of early talkies.

The panel's presentation was very well attended and received. It was nice to see such long time supporters of the Project as Geo Willeman and Rob Stone of LoC, "The Talkies" author Donald Crafton, and George Eastman House's Anthony L'Abbate and James Layton among many others.

Cinefest Flyer

One of the biggest, most enjoyable and most widely attended vintage film events each year is Cinefest in Syracuse, NY. Rare silent and sound shorts and features are shown almost around the clock, both in the hotel's transformed ballroom in 16mm and digitally, as well as at the Saturday morning excursion to the local historic Palace Theater for 35mm screenings, with silents receiving accompaniment by some of the top photo-players in the world, including Dr. Jon Mirsalis, Dr. Andrew Simpson and Jeff Rapsis. This year's Cinefest will be held March 14th through 17th, and promises to be the best yet!

The program is stlll being assembled at press time.

To register, and to keep up with Cinefest's schedule of screenings, go to or Also, visit their Facebook site at


Your generous donations help to keep our Project going. Escalating printing and mailing costs make your support even more important than ever. While not tax-deductible, your donation allows us to continue spreading the word and seeking out disks and film elements for future restorations. Large donations for actual restorations go directly to UCLA Film and Television Archive (where support is tax deductible).

NEW!     NEW!    NEW!    NEW!    NEW!   NEW!

This issue we offer two NEW thank-you gifts, each for a $50 donation (or both for $75):

A new BRITISH PATHETONE VIDEO DVD, featuring sound clip of bands and vaudeville. Includes Duke Ellington, Gracie Fields, Sophie Tucker, Casani Club Orchestra, Bert Lahr and Buddy Rogers, the Roy Fox, Jack Payne and Teddy Brown bands, and more. An hour of unseen material.
A CD of hot and peppy 1928-32 78's that will keep your feet tapping. Great tunes from the early talkie era.

From our last issue, we still offer

Selections from the unique early studio recording disks reported in this issue. Includes actual on-set recordings with studio chatter before and after from early MGM shorts and features, Cliff Edwards, and unissued material from GOLDWYN FOLLIES
A fantastic compilation of 1930-37 Warner Brothers opening titles music, many by musical director Ray Heindorf. Assembled by Peter Mintun.

2012 VITAPHONE ACQUISITIONS - has the newly found audience entrance, exit and intermission music for HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929, MAL HALLETT AND HIS ENTERTAINING ORCHESTRA (Vitaphone, 1929), Vitaphone #427 FRED WARING AND HIS PENNSYLVANIANS (1927) and the Overture disk for WARMING UP (Par/’28) (with Billy Murray).

If you've sent in a donation lately, thanks! If you are receiving Vitaphone News and have not made contribution lately --- or ever -- please consider doing so now. In addition to thank-you audio CDs listed below, we are adding a few new items:

Selected from the 70+ Vitaphone disks acquired earlier last year are two new CDs:

2011 DISK-OVERIES VOL. 1 -includes soundtracks for 1929 shorts by Molly Picon and Dave Apollon, Ruth Etting with Arden & Ohman, Phil Baker and more.

2011 DISK-OVERIES VOL. 2 includes tracks from REDSKIN, a Vitaphone 1929 theatre holiday promo, Charles King in the lost 1929 MGM Colortone CLIMBING THE GOLDEN STAIRS and Al Trahan, plus more.

The above 2 CDs are individually for a $50 contribution, both for $75.

For a $50 donation receive our DVD of twenty band, singing and vaudeville excerpts from 1930-39 British Pathetone shorts. Includes the bands of Billy Cotton, Harry Roy and Jack Hylton (recording at HMV in 1932!), plus Sophie Tucker, two clips with Al Bowlly, and many fun music hall and vaude acts. Just request our PATHETONE DVD when contributing!

For donations of $50, you can choose from one of the listed CDs, or you can receive a great Shaw and Lee caricature T-shirt.

And the following audio CDs are still available as thank-you gifts. These are unique, non-professional (but highly listenable) recordings of rare early talkie material. No fancy notes or packaging, but we are sure you'll enjoy them. Just let us know your choice (number of CDs is in parentheses)

  • KRAZY KAT CARTOON '29-'30 SOUNDTRACK (total of 10 tracks) (1)
  • '29-'30 COLUMBIA VICTOR GEMS SOUNDTRACKS (Vol 1 & 2) (1 CD each)
  • "TALES FROM THE ATTIC" - VITAPHONE ON WDVR (11/09) with Vitaphone Project's Ron Hutchinson. Nearly 3 hours (2) Ron Hutchinson on the air!
  • BABY ROSE MARIE, THE CHILD WONDER ('29) - all known 1929-38 78's by this popular child star, plus tracks from her 3 Vitaphone shorts, features and even her 1938 radio show. (1)
  • WHY BE GOOD? Soundtrack - the complete jazzy Vitaphone discs for this soon to be restored 1929 silent starring Colleen Moore. Believed to feature Jimmy Dorsey, Phil Napoleon and Eddie Lang among others. (1)
  • MY MAN ('28) - all available discs from the lost Fanny Brice feature, plus trailer disc and contemporary 78's of film tunes. (2)
  • GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY ('29) Vitaphone discs - 99% of the sound from this still substantially lost early Vitaphone feature. (1)
  • VITAPHONE SOUNDTRACKS - Vol 1-4 Selections from soundtrack discs from vaudeville, band and feature films. (4)
  • WHEELER & WOOLSEY TUNES (2 CD's) - includes virtually every one of the songs from their 1929-37 features. For real fans! (2)
  • Click on the button below to donate to The Vitaphone Project securely with any major credit card through PayPal!

    If you wish to send a check (not tax deductible) please make it payable to RON HUTCHINSON (NOT The Vitaphone Project) and send it to:

    Ron Hutchinson
    5 Meade Court
    Piscataway, NJ 08854


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    Corresponding Secretary & Editor Ron Hutchinson 5 Meade Court
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