Volume 8 Number 2
Summer/Fall 2006


Until three years ago, Colleen Moore's last two silent features were thought to be lost. No prints were known for SYNTHETIC SIN ('28) or WHY BE GOOD? ('29). Both films had specially recorded synchronized musical accompaniment and sound effects. In 2001, the Project acquired all the discs for WHY BE GOOD? The soundtrack is unquestionably one of the jazziest produced for a silent, and experts believe such music greats as Jimmy Dorsey, Phil Napoleon, Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang can be heard. The Project offers the complete soundtrack as a "thank-you" CD. Only three Vitaphone discs are currently known for SYNTHETIC SIN.

The Project's Ron Hutchinson mentioned the WHY BE GOOD? Disc-overy when introducing a Vitaphone program at Film Forum in 2004. He lamented the fact the film was lost. Afterwards, Joe Yranski of the NY Public Library's Donnell Film Center told Ron that the 35mm nitrate for BOTH "lost" features was in an Italian archive. Efforts to obtain restoration funding began immediately, but without success due to costs (over $50,000). Until now.

This summer, Ned Price of Warner Brothers (and a big Vitaphone fan) asked the Project which of their films might be in danger of being lost if not preserved or restored. Virtually all post-1930 Vitaphone shorts and many from 1926-29 have been put onto safety film, even if the sound is still lost. So the list of WB holdings in jeopardy is fairly short. Told of the nitrate-only status of the two Colleen Moore silents, Ned immediately decided to add both to WB's 2007 restoration program budget!

In the case of SYNTHETIC SIN, sound will have to be re-created for all but the three reels for which discs survive.. Fortunately the orchestra score exists. Currently the hope is that the missing soundtrack may be faithfully recreated by Vince Giordano & His Nighthawks. Vince has done authentic, non-intrusive accompaniments for Keaton and Lloyd films, and most recently can be heard in "THE AVIATOR".

These features, when restored, will be enjoyed even by non-silents fans. Surviving stills, scripts, and Joe Yranski's comprehensive knowledge of both films, indicate these will be major re-discoveries. WHY BE GOOD? has Jean Harlow prominently as an extra, and stills confirm the wonderful art deco sets, combined with the jazz accompaniment will produce a unique experience. We will keep you posted.


We've added several more CD's to our list this time to say "thank you" for contributions of $50 or more. Last issue, we added a new CD of favorite Vitaphone dance band tunes. These include tracks from the newly discovered RUDY VALLEE AND HIS CONNECTICUT YANKEES ('29), ABE LYMAN AND HIS BAND ('27), EARL BURTNETT & HIS BILTMORE HOTEL ORCHESTRA ('28), DICK RICH AND HIS MERRY MONARCHS ('28), PAUL TREMAINE AND HIS ARISTOCRATS ('29) and BEN BERNIE AND HIS ORCHESTRA ('30). Great to listen to while relaxing at home or motoring to a film festival.

This time, we add the following early talkie-related CD's to the mix:

Also still available:

Remember that these are unique, non-professional (but highly listenable) recordings of rare early talkie material. No fancy notes or packaging, but we are sure you will enjoy them. Contributions, while not deductible, are greatly appreciated and help us continue to get the word out on our efforts. You may go to our website and contribute via PayPal, or send your check (payable to Ron Hutchinson) to 5 Meade Court, Piscataway, NJ 08854.

My Man
Donate to The Vitaphone Project securely with any major credit card through PayPal!

Checks (not deductible) should be made payable to:

Ron Hutchinson (NOT The Project)
5 Meade Court
Piscataway, NJ 08854


Quite a few interesting soundtrack disc finds since our last issue. Many are reported to us via email from people who find us when Google - ing "Vitaphone". Here is what has turned up in the last six months:


Aurioe Craven Benny Rubin My Man Sheet Music A Modern Hero No No Nanette Advertisement The Desert Song Noah's Ark Advertisement


The latest batch of 11 Vitaphone shorts restorations had their premiere screening at UCLA on July 27, 2006. The packed house saw:

The overall program was entitited "Vitaphone Varieties: 1927 - 1930" and again had original opening titles to introduce the show. As with the 2004 program, "SOUNDS OF THE TWENTIES", Bob Gitt and his team created closing credits with a freeze-frame from each short, accompanied by donor and support acknowledgements. The Jimmy Clemons short was funded by his daughter, Mary Ellen. Scott Margolin funded this second of two Dick Rich band shorts. First time underwriters Frank Buxton and Cynthia Sears funded this second Shaw & Lee short, after having enjoyed THE BEAU BRUMMELS ('28), restorted in 2004. Frank's prolific television credits are on view on the Internet Movie Database, and includes hosting the pioneering childen's science program, DISCOVERY, on ABC-TV. Dudley Heer's underwriting generosity continue with no less than eight shorts: JANS & WHELAN, J.C. FLIPPEN, THE REVELERS, both EARL BURTNETT shorts, ADELE ROWLAND, THE MORRISSEY & MILLER NIGHT CLUB REVUE, and JACK WHITE. Dudley has already committed to funding three more Vitaphone restorations in 2007!
Don Juan Program Cover Don Juan Program Interior
Nearby, at The Mary Pickford Theatre, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences ran a two month salute to the 80th anniversary of Vitaphone. On July 25th, they recreated the entire original DON JUAN ('26) program, including the Will Hays introduction and all of the available shorts. The program was hosted by UCLA's Bob Gitt. The following week, the series presented a batch of restored Vitaphone shorts, including SHAW & LEE in "THE BEAU BRUMMELS" ('28) and BABY ROSE MARIE, THE CHILD WONDER ('29). Musical historian Miles Kreuger hosted, and interviewed Rose Marie herself to the delight of the audience. Restored Vitaphone shorts in 35mm also played a key part of programs presented during the summer of 2006 at the historic Capitol Theatre in Rome, NY as well as the restored Heights Theatre in Minneapolis.



New York City's Film Forum will again present a program of the most recently restored Vitaphone shorts following their 2006 UCLA premiere. The program will be "VITAPHONE VARIETIES: 1927-1930" as described elsewhere in this issue. The program will be held on Sunday, April 15th and will be introduced by the Project's Ron Hutchinson. The Vitaphone show is part of Film Forum's ambitious series on B musicals. For more details, checkout their website at www.filmforum.com.

The Project was proud to partner with The New York Public Library last March to assemble and present fifty vaudeville shorts as part of their "Vaudeville Nation" series. On five consecutive Wednesdays, ten shorts from Vitaphone and other studios were presented to truly packed houses. NYPL Director Joseph Yranski reported that attendance records were broken, with the line raising questions from their neighbor from across the street: The Museum of Modern Art! So successful was the series that another will be presented on Thursdays in March 2007. Program details were still being worked out at press time, but go to the Library's website at www.nypl.org for information beginning in late January 2007.


Allegedly the long lost Pre-Code Warner feature "CONVENTION CITY" (1933) was permanently pulled from release after the '34 season due to pressure from The Legion of Decency. It supposedly was briefly loaned to conventioneers on request, before Jack Warner became concerned even those screenings might get the studio into trouble. It allegedly was not shown to the public in theatres after 1934. This theatre herald from 1937 proves otherwise. Here we see "Convention City" on the lower half of the bill with that year's "CHARLIE CHAN ON BROADWAY". Clearly, a full four years after "Convention City"'s original release, Warners was still shipping 35mm prints of the film to many theatres throughout the US. Perhaps it was edited, but the now lost film was definitely being widely shown long after the myth says all prints were burned.


A number of DVD sets have been released recently that should be of interest to readers of The Vitaphone News. Warner Home Video's "ASTAIRE & ROGERS COLLECTION, VOLUME 2" includes a number of shorts and the Technicolor short SHOW KIDS ('35). Also worthy of note:


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Corresponding Secretary & Editor Ron Hutchinson 5 Meade Court
Piscataway, NJ 08854
(732) 463-8521
FAX: (732) 463-8521
Database Rich Markow richmarkow@aol.com
Treasurer Alan Cooperman 23 Clover Hill Road
Willington, NJ 07946
Co-Founders: John Newton P.O. Box 7191
Wilmington, DE 19803
Sherwin Dunner P.O. Box 1992
New York, NY 10013
Vince Giordano 1316 Elm Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230
Vitaphone Project Web Page http://www.vitaphoneproject.com medusashaircut@erols.com

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