|Volume 8 Number 2
WB TO RESTORE TWO "LOST" COLLEEN MOORE VITA-SCORED SILENTS
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.
NEW THANK-YOU CD's OFFERED
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:
- WHEELER & WOOLSEY TUNES (2 CD's) -includes virtually every one of the songs from their 1929-37 features. For real fans! (2)
- OF PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE, Vol. 1 - features musical selections from 1929-38 Paramount shorts and features. (1)
- FOX MOVIETONE MUSICAL 78's - Prepared for audience entrance music at Film Forum's recent "Fox Before The Code" series, this CD features commercial 78's of songs from 1929-34 Fox Movietone musicals. Bands include George Olsen, The High Hatters, McKinney's Cotton Pickers and Anson Weeks. Toe tapping! (1)
- GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY ('29) Vitaphone discs - 99% of the sound from this still substantially lost early Vitaphone feature. (1)
- MY MAN ('28) - all available discs from the lost Fanny Brice feature, plus trailer disc and contemporary 78's of film tunes. (2)
- 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)
- MISS FRANCES WILLIAMS - 78's, radio transcriptions and film soundtracks by this popular and sophisticated singer, 1927 - 1937. (1)
- VITAPHONE SOUNDTRACKS - Vol 1-4 Selections from soundtrack discs from vaudeville, band and feature films. (4)
- 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)
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.
Donate to The Vitaphone Project securely with any major credit card through PayPal!
- $50 - Pick any one
- $75 - Choose any two CDs
- $100 - Pick any three CDs
- $150 - Pick any six CDs
- $200 or more - Pick any eight CDs
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:
- Discs for Episodes 5 and 6 of KING OF THE CONGO, a 1929 Mascot serial which includes Boris Karloff in the cast. Much of this serial still survives without sound
- TRAIL OF DANGER ('32) discs for reels 2 through 6
- discs for reel 1 through 6 for THE RECKLESS RIDER ('32)
- reel 2 for TIMES SQUARE ('29) a potboiler feature from Gotham Productions, whose president Sam Sax soon became head of the Brooklyn Vitaphone studios
- a British disc for the one-reel Vitaphone short PAPERHANGING WITH JOHNNY ARTHUR ('29)
- the 16mm mute film portion of the Show-At-Home version of HOTSY TOTSY ('29) a Benny Rubin one-reeler
- an untraced Vitaphone disc with number, V-319, found in Australia, has about 30 seconds of what is titled "Vitaphone Fanfare". It's number would put it at around July 1926. It sounds like a speeded up version of the fanfare used to introduce 1928-30 Vitaphone trailers
- disc for reel 7 of GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY ('29) was found in England
- 12 inch disc for the trailer for PRISONERS ('29) with Bela Lugosi in cast
- three reels of discs for THE BIG TIMER (Col., '32)
- reels 5 and 7 for ROBERTA (RKO, '35). This is the latest American feature from a major studio for which discs have been reported to date
- reels 6 and 8 of THE SONG OF SONGS (Par, '33)
- reel 9 for OH SAILOR BEHAVE ('30) with Olsen & Johnson
- 12 inch discs for three early Fleisher Song Cartunes: ANY LITTLE GIRL THAT'S A NICE LITTLE GIRL ('31) and the incredibly hot SWING YOU SINNERS! ('30), ALEXANDERS RAGTIME BAND ('31)
- disc for an apparent United Artist short, SANTA LUCIA
- reel 1 for SURRENDER (Fox, '31)
- discs for Hal Roach shorts: reel 2 for Laurel & Hardy's ANGORA LOVE ('29), reel 1 for LAUGHING GRAVY ('31), and reel 1 for Our Gang's LAZY DAYS ('29)
- a Cinephone disc for the Mickey Mouse cartoon WILD WAVES
and a batch of discs for very early Vitaphone short. An (F) means matching nitrate films was also found! : #439 - ALBERT SPAULDING, #553 - ARDEN & OHMAN (F), #447 - POET & PEASANT OVERTURE, #546 - THE FOUR ARISTOCRATS, #2142 - THE FRIARS, "462 - EVOLUTION OF DIXIE OVERTURE (F), #294 - ANNA CASE, (F) #428 - WARING'S PENNSYLVANIANS, (F) #263 - DON JUAN OVERTURE, #275 - MISCHA ELMAN, #2103 - EDDIE PEABODY, #392 CHARLES HACKETT, #302 - ROY SMECK (F). In the case of #2103, this Eddie Peabody banjo short from 1927 is now restorable, as film was previously unknown
- Vitaphone test T-320 dated 7-26-26, which has test frequencies recorded on it
- reels 2 & 5 for Sono Art Worldwide's UP THE CONGO
- Brownagle Productions (?) WILLIAM TELL
- reels 1 4 for THE RECKLESS HOUR (FN, '31) , Pennsylvania and England Censor Versions
- And a bunch of very early, often pre-Vitaphone, soundtrack discs. Some are acoustically recorded: Artophone PHANTOM DESGLUKES; Acts 5 and 10 for NAPOLEON (perhaps the Abel Gance silent?); Messter FANTASIA SERAPHIN & MERRY WIDOW; Gramophone Cinema SALOME; Polydor Cinema STRASSEN GROISHA; Cinephone Starkton Record (c. 1911) CARMEN - TOREADOR SONG
VITAPHONE ON THE BIG SCREEN
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!
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.
- One of the oldest living American directors, Sam White, died on October 16, 2006. Sam was one of three comedy director brothers, the others being Jules (who established the Columbia shorts unit) and Jack (who ran Educational in the twenties trough the beginning of sound. Sam directed Clark & McCullough at RKO among countless other comedy greats (including Vitaphone's Thelma White)
- Elaine Mae Woo is a documentarian finishing up a film on Anna May Wong. She was pleased to learn from the Project that the restoration of the three-strip Technicolor MGM short HOLLYWOOD PARTY ('37) includes the only known color footage of Wong. She hopes to include a clip in her documentary, which is set for release in 2007
- Hearing from Vitaphone performer relatives is always a treat. Since the last issue, we have heard from bandleader Paul Tremaine's (PAUL TREMAINE & HIS ARISTOCRATS, '29) daughter Carol, the family of '30's Vitaphone comedienne Billie Leonard (PAREE, PAREE ('34), SOFT DRINKS & SWEET MUSIC ('34)), and several Shemp Howard shorts, the daughter of one of The Wallace Sisters (RED NICHOLS AND HIS FIVE PENNIES ('35)), and Michael Shaw, grandson of Al Shaw of the hilarious team of Shaw & Lee (THE BEAU BRUMMELS ('28), GOING PLACES ('30). Michael was able to see the shorts out in Los Angeles, and the restorations have triggered a search among film buffs for the team's many feature appearances. We're still looking for "Hollywood Varieties" ('49), "Skipalong Rosenbloom" ('51) and "In Paris, A.W.O.L." ('37). Research also revealed the team made three previously unknown starring shorts at MGM, Universal and Columbia in the early 1930's
- Vitaphone expert Jeff Cohen saw a newsgroup on-line mention that a silent clip from the otherwise lost QUEEN OF THE NIGHTCLUBS ('29, with Texas Guinan) appears in the 1932 Jimmy Cagney feature OTHER MEN'S WOMEN ('32). The clip, minus original sound, shows George Raft leading a band while Guinan whips the crowd into a frenzy
- Project friend and head of the American Museum of Vaudeville Frank Cullen, just had his comprehensive two-volume book on vaudeville published. It is titled "Vaudeville, Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America" from Routledge Publishers. At 1375 pages, this work chronicles more than 150 years of vaudeville and variety
- Early Vitaphone feature starlet Marian Marsh died at the age of 93 on 11/9/06. She had a small party in Howard Hughes' HELLS ANGELS ('30) then appeared in many pre-Code features at Warners, including SVENGALI ('31), TRILBY ('31), UNDER 18 ('32) and BEAUTY AND THE BOSS ('32).
FILM FORUM VITA SHOW SET FOR APRIL
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.
"VAUDEVILLE NATION" REDUX AT NYPL
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.
"CONVENTION CITY" MYTH DEBUNKED
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.
NEW DVD's WORTH CHECKING OUT
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:
- PRESTON STURGES - THE FILMMAKER COLLECTION
Some of the funniest sound comedies ever made, and ironically include a number of early Vitaphone shorts stars like William Demarest, Jimmy Conlin, Harry Rosenthal, Roscoe Ates, and Frankin Pangborn.
- FORBIDDEN HOLLYWOOD
Presents three Pre-Code features, including the recently restored Vitaphone feature BABY FACE ('33) with Barbara Stanwyck, Some five minutes of previously excised footage have been restored, making this Legion of Decency-baiter even more shocking! Also included: WATERLOO BRIDGE ('31) and RED-HEADED WOMAN ('33) with Jean Harlow.
- BING CROSBY: SCREEN LEGEND COLLECTION
Beautiful transfers of three features, including IF I HAD MY WAY ('40) which had consistently had a section chopped out with vaudevillian's Blanche Ring, minstrel Eddie Leonard, and female impersonator Julian Eltinge. The set also includes DOUBLE OR NOTHING ('37), HERE COME THE WAVES ('44), EAST SIDE OF HEAVEN ('39) and WAIKIKI WEDDING ('37). The entire set costs under $30 on Amazon!
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