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|Volume 13 Number 1||
Red flags went up this summer when scaffolding was constructed around the surviving Vitagraph smokestack at the rear of the property. The studio name is emblazoned in brick on the 107 year old survivor. Inquiries revealed the scaffolding was a safety precaution installed as protection from falling bricks. However the action reinvigorated efforts to attain preservation status protection to prevent its eventual demolition. A Facebook "Save The Vitagraph Smokestack" petition received over 500 signatures. In early December, the Vitaphone studios received a double dose of bad news. In addition to the announced demolition of the entire block of studio buildings, the "newer" soundstages constructed by Warner Brothers in 1930, and most recently used to film AS THE WORLD TURNS, were to be gutted by the City of New York and occupied by a health services division. The cavernous studios include a pool for water scenes and are reportedly haunted by the ghost of "Fatty" Arbuckle. Closed in 1939, they were purchased in the early fifties by NBC and used for productions of "spectaculars" like Peter Pan. Sold to JC Studios in the nineties, a subsequent buyer 3 years ago went bankrupt, triggering the City's takeover.
Earlier campaigns to protect the facility from demolition by securing historic preservation status, fell upon deaf ears a few years ago and was revisited earlier this year.
The Vitagraph/Vitaphone studio buildings have been used by the Shulamith girl's high school for about 25 years. The facility was bought directly from Warner Bros and in 1991 Rabbi Zwick gave members of the then-fledgling Vitaphone Project a tour. He noted that the school's new gym and auditorium were constructed by installing walls and ceiling inside the two sound stages. OId Kleig lights and soundproofing were left in place, and might be found during demolition.
The Project and community leaders are banding together to hopefully either stop the massive housing project --- which residents say is out of place in this area --- or at the very least require the developer to repair and preserve the VITAGRAPH smokestack. The issue has received coverage in the NY DAILY NEWS and on local radio as well as extensively on Facebook. Check in regularly at the Project's FB page, "The Vitaphone Project" for the latest developments.
The exhibition In Glorious Technicolor, opening January 24, 2015, celebrates the vivid history of one of the most widely recognized names in the American film industry—a company whose revolutionary motion picture color process enabled such Hollywood masterpieces as The Wizard of Oz (1939), Gone With the Wind (1939), and Singin' In the Rain (1952). Composed of stunning visual displays, this exhibition features original artifacts and projected video clips to explore Technicolor's wide-ranging impact on the form and content of cinema. An online version of the exhibition will also be available, made possible in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. To be launched in January 2015, the site will allow users to explore Technicolor's rich history through original artifacts in the museum's collections. It will also act as a portal for audiences to engage in other Technicolor centennial celebrations occurring throughout 2015 at the museum, including the film series, gallery exhibition, and book launch. The website will facilitate access to highlights from George Eastman House's unparalleled equipment and documentation collections that have previously been accessible only to on-site researchers. Creative, corporate, and technological milestones in the company's history will be illustrated with high-quality digital reproductions of historical artifacts, new animated graphics, and interviews with curators and experts. The multimedia website will be live on January 24, 2015, and can be found by visiting http://www.eastmanhouse.org/technicolor100.
While the Technicolor process was developed starting in 1915, its use hit its first peak during the 1929-30 season primarily in early talkie musicals and musical sequences in otherwise black-and-white features. Almost coinciding with Technicolor's anniversary was this year's discovery in England of many 35mm color nitrate fragments from 1929 musicals, as reported in our last issue.
The Dawn of Technicolor, 1915-1935 is the first detailed history of Technicolor's formative years. The lavishly illustrated book draws on a wealth of previously untapped internal documentation, studio production files, and firsthand accounts. Written by James Layton and David Pierce and edited by Paolo Cherchi Usai and Catherine A. Surowiec, The Dawn of Technicolor includes the first comprehensive filmography of two-color Technicolor titles. The book will have its official launch during the 65th Berlin International Film Festival within the framework of the Retrospective "Glorious Technicolor."
The Vitaphone Project has worked with James in the past, most recently on Technicolor shorts restorations. Both he and David gave their "Dawn of Technicolor" presentation in London in the fall of 2014.
The 448 page book is available now for pre-order and will ship by February 1, 2015. The best deal seems to be through Amazon.com at :
An Australian collector of radio transcriptions (which are usually 16" in diameter) also had accumulated a number of 1927-31 movie soundtrack disks as they are the same size. He kindly shared a list of the 66 Vitaphone-style disks he had, and has generously offered to make available any that are needed for future restorations. A complete list of the collection is included in our DISK-OVERIES column in this issue.
Of particular importance in this cache are the only known disks for the 1928 MGM short 8 VICTOR ARTISTS which stars Billy Murray, Henry Burr Monroe Silver and other important recording artists. Most never appeared in a sound film, and the 35mm picture portion of this short survives. Early Vitaphone shorts by pianist Pauline Alpert, vaudevillians Jim and Betty Morgan, the Mexican Tipica Orchestra, quick change impersonator John Barclay and the Imperial Russian Cossacks can now be restored with their surviving picture elements. Lots of other important finds in this collection too.
Newly appointed Film Preservation Head Scott MacQueen reports that the 35mm sound-on-film nitrate print is in generally good shape, with some minor, but reparable, water damage to the soundtrack in a few spots. A bonus is that it is a nicely tinted print. Restoration work is expected to be completed in early 2015, and any screenings will be reported on our Vitaphone Project Facebook page.
As reported in our last issue, Colleen Moore's last two previously lost silent features, which had synchronized Vitaphone soundtracks, have been restored. WHY BE GOOD? and SYNTHETIC SIN have been screened internationally to great acclaim. In July 2014, WHY BE GOOD? got its first screening in 85 years at the Bologna film festival. It was subsequently shown in London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, and New York City. The Chicago screening was particularly appropriate, as the film's star help found the international annual film festival of which it was a part. SYNTHETIC SIN (which lacks all but its final reel's disk) was screened in NYC at Film Forum, with piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner.
Both features were directed by William A. Seiter, and his grandson, screenwriter Ted Griffin) attended the Film Forum screening. At that venue, each restoration's screening was introduced by the Project's Ron Hutchinson and film historian (and personal friend of Moore's) Joe Yranski. Moore's daughter and other relatives attended the Chicago showing of WHY BE GOOD? We will report any additional screenings for 2015 on the Vitaphone Project Facebook page.
Read more about the discovery and restoration of these two films here: https://sites.google.com/site/colleenmooresite/lost-no-more-the-re-discovery-and-restoration-of-why-be-good-and-synthetic-sin
WHY BE GOOD? is now available on DVD from Warner Archive here:
and from The National Library of Norway, they report having four discs the soundtrack for a 1909 Feuillade film LES HEURES, made on the 1902 Gaumont sound system Cyclophone
And permit us to remind you of these important books, published a few years ago, but still an essential part of any Vitaphoniac's bookshelf…..
He can also accept money orders and personal checks. Please email him (email@example.com) for his address & when using personal checks, Ships after check has cleared the bank. Orders will ship as soon as they are received.
2-color silkscreen logo on Royal Blue tee. Port and Company 100% cotton shirt. Sizes: S M L XL $14 + USPS Priority shipping.
Shipping cost: 1-3 shirts:$6, 4-6 shirts:$12, 2XL add $2, 3XL add $3, 4XL add $4, 5XL add $5, 6XL add $6. Larger orders, $6 for every three shirts.
Sizing (L x H): S: 27"x18" M: 29"x20" L: 30"x22" XL: 31"x24" 2XL: 33"x26" 3XL: 34"x28" 4XL: 35"x30" 5XL: 36"x32" 6XL: 37"x34"
If your order isn't in the drop down below, Please order from Tim Reed via PayPal to KJ5KX@yahoo.com and specify "Vitaphone Shirt". These are not stock items, so Tim must take orders for a short time and then have the shirts manufactured. Delivery times will be affected accordingly.
Here are a few numbers we're often asked about:
The rediscovered and restored 1929 Colleen Moore WHY BE GOOD? with jazzy soundtrack and sound effects is also now available. If you haven't gotten them already, volumes 1 and 2 of VITAPHONE VARIETIES contain almost 100 1926-31 restored shorts. And the WB BIG BAND, JAZZ AND SWING set (actually contains many pre-1936 band shorts) has 63 Vitaphone music shorts.
Friend us on facebook 'The Vitaphone Project'
Movies and books related to Vitaphone can be purchased through Amazon.com by clicking on the items here!
|VITAPHONE NEWS||ISSN 1066-5951|
|Corresponding Secretary & Editor||Ron Hutchinson||5 Meade Court|
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FAX: (732) 463-8521
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|Vitaphone Project Web Page||http://email@example.com
|Jeff Cohen's "Vitaphone Varieties" Site||http://vitaphone.blogspot.com|
|Leonard Maltin's Site||http://www.leonardmaltin.com|
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