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|Volume 10 Number 4
FIFTY MORE VITAPHONE SHORTS IN WB RESTORATION PIPELINE FOR 2012!!
Ned Price, Chief Preservation Officer at Warner Brothers, has again secured funding to restore another large group of early Vitaphone sound-on-disk shorts. As with the batch of 53 restorations done by Warners in 2009-10, the studio will do the restoration in-house and does not require projectable 35mm prints. The Vitaphone Project's donors, primarily Dudley Heer, will provide funding to UCLA to make prints of each restored short, thereby allowing exhibition to theatre audiences. This partnership worked out well last time, and was quickly followed by a Warner Archive DVD set release (VITAPHONE VARIETIES), with sixty shorts.
At Ned's request, the Project updated the list of restorable Vitaphone shorts. That is, both mute 35mm prints (most at The Library of Congress) and matching soundtrack disks (from many sources) exist and can be married into a sound-on-film restoration print. In the process of updating the 'restorable' shorts, the Project found that nearly a dozen more shorts than previously known had both surviving elements. This was largely due to the fact that disks in the database might be titled differently than the surviving film list. For example, many of the vaudeville shorts have the titling format of JOHN DOE IN 'XXX XXXX'. The film might be cataloged that way, but the disk cataloged as just 'XXX XXXX'. Drilling down to the film number on each helped confirm new matches.
Work by Warner Brothers will begin in early 2012 and will likely continue throughout the year. It is not expected that any completed restorations will have available projectable prints until early 2013. After this batch of Vitaphones is restored, there will still be nearly another 50 more awaiting restoration. And that number will almost surely grow as more disks are located.
Here is a list of ALL restorable Vitaphone 1926-31 shorts as of this issue. A *Bolded title indicates a title that the Project has suggested be included in Ned's 2012 effort.
- #2142 The Monastery Quartet in 'In A Monastery Cellar' 1927
- *#2513 The Klein Brothers in 'Jest Moments' (comedy team) 1927
- *#418 Miss Pauline Alpert in 'What Price Piano?' 1927
- *#420 The Rollickers (close harmony pop group) 1927
- *#423 Margaret McKee 1927
- *#425 Rex Schepp Famous banjo player 1927
- #434 Fleeson & Baxter 1927
- *#435 Fleeson & Baxter 1927
- *#436 John Barclay, Impersonator 1927
- *#482 The Revelers (pop singing quartet) 1927
- *#490 Moscow Art Ensemble in 'A Russian Wedding Celebration' 1927
- *#492 Johnny Marvin 1927
- *#503 Utica Jubilee Singers (black gospel group) 1927
- #524 Rosa Raisa 1927
- *#544 The Four Aristocrats (top harmony group) 1927
- *#571 The Four Aristocrats (top harmony group) 1927
- *#2147 Sally Fields, America's Greatest Comedy Entertainer 1927
- *#2233 Hobart Bosworth in 'A Man of Peace' 1927
- *#2247 Hyams and McIntyre in 'All in 'Fun' 1927
- *#2279 Irene Rich in 'The Beast' 1927
- #2280 The Imperial Russian Cossacks 1927
- *#2290 'Papa's Vacation' with William Demarest 1927
- *#2296 Billy & Elsa Newell (comedy team) 1928
- *#2299 Xavier Cugat and his Gigolos 1928
- *#2419 Jimmy Lyons 1928
- *#2561 Ed Lowry & His Orchestra 1928
- #2628 Joseph Regan, America's Foremost Irish Tenor 1928
- *#2693 Larry Ceballos Crystal Cave Revue 1928
- *#2735 Gil Wells, A Breeze From The South 1928
- *#2736 The Croonaders in "Melodious Moments" (singers) 1928
- *#2755 Timblin & Raymond (comedy team) 1928
- *#2758 Ulis & Clarke (comedy team) 1928
- *#715 The Original Hillbillies 1928 (incomplete film)
- *#3280 DIck Henderson in 'At The Church Festival' 1929
- *#3300 'Head of the Family' with Little Billy 1929
- *#707 Mexican Tipica Orchestra 1929
- *#712 Jim and Betty Morgan in 'Songs as You Like Them' 1929
- #726 Dorothy & Rosetta Ryan in 'Mirth & Melody' 1929
- *#750/751 Willie & Eugene Howard in 'My People' 1929
- *#760 Raymond Hitchcock in 'An Evening At Home With Hitchy' 1929
- *#761 Sessue Hayakawa in 'The Man Who Laughed Last' (first reel of 2 only) 1929
- *#763 Harry Horlick and his A&P Gypsies 1929
- *#793 Carolina Seguera, The Cuban Nightengale w/ Don Alberto & His Argentines 1929
- *#837 Riva Reyes, The Piquant Senorita (singer) 1929
- *#840 The Big Paraders 1929
- *#845 Edison & Gregory in 'Two College Nuts/Joe College' 1929
- *#863 Nan Halperin, America's Favorite Satirist 1929
- *#875 Dave Apollon & His Russian Stars
- *#878 The Kiddies Kabaret 1929
- #911 Marie Vero
- *#913 Bobbe Arnst & Peggy Ellis 1929
- *#917 Molly Picon (Ron has disk)
- *#919 Zelda Stanley in 'Little Miss Everybody' 1929
- #921/922 Robert Emmettt Keane in 'Room 921' 1929
- *#929 Summers and Hunt in 'Some Pumpkins' 1929
- *#1043 The Yacht Club Boys in 'A Private Engagement' 1930
- *#933 Herschel Henlere 1929
- #934 'The Letter Box' 1929
- *#936 Al Trahan 1929 (Ron has disk)
- *#941 Barry & Whitledge in 'Jest Awhile' 1929 (Ron has disk)
- *#946 Jack McLallen and Sarah in 'Oh Sarah!' 1929
- *#965 'Gym Jams' with Lew Mayor (Juggler) 1930
- #969 Chester Conklin in 'The Master Sweeper' 1930
- *#2554 Daphne Pollard in 'Wanted - A Man' 1928
- *#1177 Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy in 'Donkey Business' 1931
- #1195 Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy in 'Hocus Pocus' 1931
- #3238/3239 Harrison Ford in 'The Flattering Word' 1930
Optical tracks for following are also at LoC for:
- *#2814 The Serenaders
- *#2568/2569 Charles Ruggles & Company in 'Wives, Etc.'
- *#527 & 528 The Yacht Club Boys (1927)
- *#865I Irene Franklin in 'Those Were The Days' 1929
- *#1046 'Everything Happens To Me' with Lucille Lortel 1930
- *#958 Frank Hunter & Co.in 'MOVING DAY' 1929
- #956 Scott Sanders in 'SCOTCH TAFFY' 1929
Operatics & Classical shorts (disk soundtracks):
(2-3 may be selected for this next batch of WB restorations)
- #414 Beniamino Gigli in 'Cavalleria Rusticana' 1927
- #1143 Charles Hackett & Rosa Low in 'Romeo et Juliette Tomb Scene' 1927
- #517 Gigli in selections from 'Opera La Gioconda' 1927
- #488 Giuseppe De Luca singing 'Largo al Factotum' 1927
- #418 John Charles Thomas in two selections 1927
- #414 Marion Talley, DeLuca, Gigli and Jeanne Gordon in quartette from 'Rigoletto' 1927
- #204 Martinelli in 'Celeste Aida' 1927
- #509 Martinelli in duet from Act IV of 'La Juive' 1927
- #474 Martinelli in Selections from 'Carmen' 1927
- #524 Rosa Raisa & Giacomo Rimini duet from 'Trovatore' 1927
- #380 Schumann-Heink singing 'By The Waters of the Minnetonka' & others 1927
- #379 Schumann-Heink singing 'Danny Boy and others' 1927
- #2254 Pasquale Amato in 'A Neopolitan Romance' 1928
- #2379 Charles Hackett in 'Who is Sylvia?' 1928
- #899/900 Charles Hackett in 'Faust', asst. by Chas. Baromeo 1929
- #916 Charles Hackett singing 'Il Mio Tesoro Intanto' & 'O Paradiso' 1929
- #932 Martinelli singing 'M'Appari' from 'Martha' 1929
- #943 Francis Alda singing 'Ave Maria' 1930
- #974 Martinelli in 'Prison Scene from 'Faust'' 1930
- #1024 Martinelli in Temple Scene from 'Aida' 1930
- #953 Martinelli singing 'Celeste Aida' 1930
- *MGM Movietone 'Sunshine Sammy' (Morrison)
THE GODFATHER OF THE VITAPHONE?
The Project heard from Francis Ford Coppola this summer, regarding the fact that his grandfather, Agostino, had been tapped by Bell Laboratories c. 1924 to help resolve some mechanical issues with their sound-on-disk equipment, and to create custom parts and equipment in his lower Manhattan machine shop. This is a Vitaphone connection we knew nothing about! Here are two stills Mr. Coppola provided, showing his grandfather in his Canal Street shop with prototype Vitaphone equipment:
NEW-OLD VITAPHONE SHORTS BY MODERN PERFORMERS
Several performers who are also fans of early talkies have decided to make their own 'Vitaphone' shorts. While the sound is not recorded on a disk, the films still attempt to create the feel of those pioneering sound shorts. Fortunately, their work can be readily seen and heard on the Internet.
Singer Janet Klein regularly performs in and around Hollywood, and specializes in tunes from the first three decades of the twentieth century. Janet also performs many tunes from actual Vitaphone shorts on her many CDs. She is backed up by her 'Parlor Boys' and can be seen in her very own 'JK Varieties' Vitaphone-style short, YIDDISH HULA BOY at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hSSJVpSYNA
West coast bandleader Dean Mora and his Modern Rhythmists performs twenties and thirties tunes, and have created what is essentially a Vitaphone newsreel. Blending vintage clips of flappers and Broadway, Dean's effort can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVhPVTABV6s
And vaudeville aficionado, author and performer Trav S.D. has created an entire channel of newly made vaudeville shorts at his VAUDEPHONE site. He promises regular productions and postings of his Vitaphone-esque shorts at: http://travsd.wordpress.com/category/contemporary-variety/vaudephones/
Here is a shot of an unknown c.1930 Vitaphone exchange and staff. The dolls are a mystery!
NEW VITAPHONE SOUNDTRACK CD GIFTS FOR DONATIONS OVER $50!
ALL DONATIONS ARE WELCOME!
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!
We've just added a new thank-you gift for a donation of $50. It's a set of twelve 3x5 note cards and envelopes, each with a terrific vintage Vitaphone short still. Twelve different cards include pictures of bands, vaudevillians, the Vitaphone camera booth guys, and more. A unique way to send your friends a note the old fashioned way. Just specify you'd like the note cards when contributing.
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)
VICTOR PICT-UR-MUSIC DISCS Vol 1 (1)
VICTOR PICT-UR-MUSIC DISCS Vol. 2 (1)
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)
- $50 - Pick any 1 CD
- $75 - Choose any 2 CDs
- $100 - Pick any 3 CDs
- $150 - Pick any 6 CDs
- $200 or more - Pick any 8 CDs
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:
5 Meade Court
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Friend us on facebook 'The Vitaphone Project'
OVERSEAS PROJECT EMMISSARIES
UK: Malcolm Billingsley
AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND: Paul Brennan
SCANDANAVIA: Jonas Nordin
STILL TIME TO FUND A VITA RESTORATION!
Work soon resumes on the next batch of Vitaphone shorts restorations. Cost is $4500 (fully deductible, payable to UCLA.) Interested? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reports of soundtrack disks continue to be reported to the Project, bringing the total in our database to over 3,500. Patrick Picking continues to update our database, which is located for your review on our Project website at http://www.picking.com/vitaphone-database.html. Since our last issue, here is what has turned up:
- Exit music disk for WEARY RIVER (WB/'29)
- reels 5, 6, 7 and 8 for BRIGHT LIGHTS (WB/'30)
- reels 1 and 3 for LADY WHO DARED (FN/'31)
- reels 2 & 4 for Hitchcock's BLACKMAIL (BIP/'30)
- all disks for WHOOPEE! (UA/'30), A FREE SOUL (MGM/'31) and UNHOLY NIGHT (MGM/'29)
- disks 1 through 7 for THE WOLF SONG (Par/'29)
- full sets of disks for THE SINGING FOOL (WB/'28) and SAY IT WITH SONGS (WB/'29)
- a full set of disks for HELLS ANGELS (UA/'30)
- Vitaphone shorts disks for DeLuca singing BARBER OF SEVILLE ('27), ROSA RAISA & GIACOMO RIMINI singing IL TROVATORE ('27), WINNIE LIGHTNER, THE SONG A MINUTE GIRL ('28), and RUDY VALLEE AND HIS CONNECTICUT YANKEES ('29)
- and what turns out to be a full set of the earliest format of disks for THE JAZZ SINGER. During its first few months of release to the handful of theatres able to present Vitaphone,, there were over 20 disks required for a single screening of this historic feature. That is because each time the film switched from music and effects (only) to actually synchronized talk or singing, the projectionist had to switch to another projector and disk, then back again. Disks at this early stage were a combination of both 12 and 16 inch diameter. The Project's John Newton notes that there were four separate 12 inch disks for the following Jolson vocals: BLUE SKIES, MOTHER OF MINE, KOL NIDRE, and MY MAMMY. Jolson's two other vocal numbers, DIRTY HANDS, DIRTY FACE and TOOT TOOT TOOTSIE were on separate 16 inch disks. John's disks from this earliest incarnation of THE JAZZ SINGER were used for WB's restoration in 2007. This latest batch of initial disks for the film were found by Barbara Miller, the Collection Coordinator at The American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY.
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. Phillip Carli, Dr. Andrew Simpson and Jeff Rapsis.. This year's Cinefest will be held March 15th through 18th, and promises to be the best yet!
The program is stlll being assembled at press time, but the centerpiece will be the first American screening of the long lost first all-Technicolor dramatic feature MAMBA (Tiffany/1930) in over eighty years. While this feature still awaits full restoration once funding is found, Cinefest will digitally present a version which Paul Brennan and Jonas Nordin have created by synching UCLA's soundtrack disks to a transfer of the 35mm color nitrate film. See our article on MAMBA elsewhere in this issue. We are also posting a number of color frame enlargements from the film, courtesy of Paul, on our website.
To register, and to keep up with Cinefest's schedule of screenings, go to www.syracusecinefest.com or their Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cinefest-Annual-Convention-Hosted-By-The-Syracuse-Cinephile-Society/362213446516
Patrick Picking also updates his Cinefest page with all Cinefest forms, and updates as they are announced with links to the films at the Internet Movie DataBase: http://www.picking.com/cinefest.html
LONG AWAITED "KING OF JAZZ" RESTORATION BEGINS IN 2012
While we have been asked not to go into too much detail yet, recently leaked reports in other venues allow us to give VITAPHONE NEWS readers some preliminary background on the long awaited restoration of Universal's all-Technicolor 1930 musical THE KING OF JAZZ. Starring bandleader Paul Whiteman in the title role, this film has circulated in washed out VHS versions for years, and then only in the cut-down 1933 reissue length. As often happens with film discoveries, a beautiful but fragile 35mm nitrate print of the original 1930 version turned up, at The Library of Congress, while half a country away in Texas, record auctioneer Kurt Nauck, located and was selling the complete set of 16 inch Vitaphone disks, again for the 1930, not 1933, version.
Hopefully in our next issue, we can provide more detail on this important and challenging restoration. Suffice it to say that it will be done with the utmost attention to providing the best sound and picture quality that modern technology allows. Rutgers film Professor Richard Koszarski and his wife Diane have researched the making of THE KING OF JAZZ for over 30 years, accumulating a massive amount of documentation on the film in its nine different language versions. It is hoped that the completed restoration can be further enhanced with a book or at least an extensive set of notes utilizing the Koszarski's research.
Paul Whiteman and Carl Laemmle, Jr. on the Universal lot during the 1929 filming of THE KING OF JAZZ.
Below are frame enlargements of the re-discovered Technicolor print of THE KING OF JAZZ, courtesy of The Library of Congress's Geo Willeman. Thanks George!
'WINGS' GETS NEW MUSIC & SOUND EFFECTS SCORE
Just in time for Paramount Pictures' 100th anniversary, WINGS ('27) has been given a brand new full orchestral score, supplemented with appropriate sound effects. The first film to win a 'Best Picture' Academy Award, WINGS was screened in Hollywood with full orchestral accompaniment late in 2011. Concurrently, famed sound engineer Ben Burt, himself a recipient of 2 Oscars and 26 (!) nominations, contacted the Project regarding getting authentic sound effects. We were happy to provide Ben with samples of 1927-29 recorded effects that would parallel what was used during the film's first non-Vitaphone release in 1927. At that time Brunswick created sound effects disks (non-synchronous) to accompany the dogfight scenes. In 1928, the film was re-released with a full synchronized Vitaphone score. Unfortunately, none of those disks have turned up, with only the intermission music disk known to survive. The new DVD set for the restored and rescored WINGS goes on sale in January 2012, and is now available through Amazon.com
WARNER ARCHIVE CONTINUES EARLY TALKIE RELEASES
In addition to the over 200 early talkie shorts released on the VITAPHONE VARIETIES, VITAPHONE CAVALCADE OF MUSICAL COMEDY, JAZZ SINGER (3 DVD), CLASSIC MUSICAL SHORTS FROM THE DREAM FACTORY and BIG BAND sets, Warner Archive has released more than 2 dozen Pre-Code and early musical features. And 2012 promises even more. Some, like HOLLYWOOD PARTY, even include extras of previously unreleased material. So checkout the Warner Archive site often at
And thanks to George Feltenstein for keeping this great stuff from the vaults coming!
THE (VITAPHONE) SHIRT OFF HIS BACK!
Long time Project supporter and Sons of the Desert stalwart Doug Gerbino created this wonderful Vitaphone T-shirt, and has decided to torture us with a picture of it, since it's not for sale. We still wanted to share it with our readers!
- The human side of The Vitaphone Project continues to be the most rewarding, with regular contacts from relatives of Vitaphone performers and technicians. Kenneth DuPar of Scotland is the nephew of pioneering Vitaphone cameraman Ed DuPar. Ed photographed some of the earliest Vitaphone shorts, including Will Hays' welcoming of Vitaphone, THE BETTER 'OLE ('26) and the first all-talking feature THE LIGHTS OF NEW YORK ('28). He later moved east to the Brooklyn studios where he filmed nearly 100 Vitaphone shorts until the studio closed in 1939. Later, he worked in television, as cameraman on such series as HAWAIIAN EYE, MAVERICK, and (appropriately) THE ROARING TWENTIES. Kenneth decided to screen a retrospective of some of Ed's Vitaphone films, and we were happy to assist
- The Project's Sherwin Dunner and Mark Cantor began what promises to be a productive and lengthy review of the University of Southern California at Los Angeles Warner Brother Archives. The studio always insisted that employees 'put it in writing', and as such there are thousands of boxes of studio documents now archived at the University. Starting with the extensive and tantalizing CONVENTION CITY archives, Sherwin and Mark continue to look at the Vitaphone short subjects files. Many thanks to Ned Comstock and Sandra Joy Aguilar at USC for helping to make this happen!
- In our last issue, we mentioned the discovery of the long lost Victor recording ledgers for early (1928-32) movie soundtracks. At that time, in deference to the confidentiality surrounding the discovery, we didn't ID the finder We can now. It is none other than the legendary Founder of The Institute of the American Musical, Miles Kreuger! It was Miles who found and carefully preserved the ledgers, which at over 1000 fragile pages, provides a day-to-day record of Victor's recording of musical accompaniments to silents as well as film-to-disk transfers of early talkies for MGM, Educational, Pathe, Universal, RKO and other studios. Once again, Miles has helped to preserve and expand the world's knowledge of the musical and the many contributors to the early years of the sound film
- Thanks to perennial Vitaphoniac Leonard Maltin for his wonderful and heartfelt salute to The Vitaphone Project's twentieth anniversary. You can read Leonard's bouquet to the Project at http://blogs.indiewire.com/leonardmaltin/vitaphone
- Sadly, we must report the passing of several early talkie and Vitaphone performers. Silent and early sound film actress Barbara Kent died at age 103 on 10/13/11. Retiring in 1935, Kent appeared in over a dozen silent as well as transitional talkies, including LONESOME ('29), Harold Lloyd's first talkie WELCOME DANGER ('29) and Lloyd's FEET FIRST ('30). Checkout the nice salute to Barbara Kent at http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2011/10/barbara_kent_last_silent.php
- Child star and later adult actor and director Jackie Cooper died 5/3/11 at 88. Cooper performed in early Our Gang shorts for Hal Roach from 1929-31, and in important early sound features like SUNNYSIDE UP (Fox/'29) and FOX MOVIETONE FOLLIES OF 1929. Cooper later moved to Paramount and MGM, making many notable features. One of the few child actors able to make the transition to adulthood both on and off screen, Cooper's most notable later work was as Perry White in the Superman film series. He married the daughter of Laurel & Hardy director James Horne in 1944, and was the nephew of director Norman Taurog
- Former child star Sybil Jason, who made a number of Technicolor Vitaphone shorts in the mid-thirties and co-starred with Al Jolson in his 1936 feature THE SINGING KID, died at age 83 on 8/23/11. Groomed by Jack Warner as his studio's answer to Shirley Temple, Jason eventually appeared with Temple in two features. Later in life, she generously shared her recollections of growing up in Hollywood in three books: My Fifteen Minutes: An Autobiography of a Child Star of the Golden Era of Hollywood, What's It All About, Sybil? and Five Minutes More. She was a regular at film retrospectives and it was our pleasure to really get to know her at the 2007 premiere of the restoration THE JAZZ SINGER.
VITAPHONE DOES 'MAMBA'!
Relentlessly diligent Australian film preservationist and historian Paul Brennan learned of the existence of the mute 35mm Technicolor print of MAMBA (Tiffany/1930) several years ago. He then began a mission to seek out the disks and ultimately get this long-lost first dramatic all-color feature screened and fully restored. Paul contacted the Project, and we were happy to connect him and Todd Wiener at UCLA (which has a full set of soundtrack disks. While a full restoration, at an estimated $100K, has not yet happened, Paul did realize his dream to show the landmark color feature, with sound, to audiences after eight decades.
On November 21, 2011, MAMBA was shown digitally to Australian audiences at the historic Astor Theatre. The painstaking synchronization was done by Jonas Nordin, who flew from Stockholm to be there for the re-premiere. Directed by Albert S. Rogell, MAMBA marked poverty row Tiffany's attempt to break into the big time. Costuming is elaborate, and a huge African settlement was constructed. The film stars Jean Hersholt, Eleanor Boardman and Ralph Forbes. While popular upon its release. The sheer cost of the production and Technicolor prints soon led to Tiffany's demise.
MAMBA will get its first American screening in 82 years at the 2012 Cinefest in Syracuse this March (see separate article with details). We have posted over a dozen color frame enlargements from the film below.
ANOTHER CLUE IN SEARCH OF THE LONG LOST 'CONVENTION CITY'
Our quest to find the still lost 1933 Pre-code WB comedy CONVENTION CITY never ends. We are convinced that there survives at least one print of this popular and widely distributed film. Recently, we received a letter from John P. Darling of Westbury Wilts, England. His father was in the Royal Navy in WWII and John wrote that in September 1942, his dad saw screening of CONVENTION CITY.
This is the first confirmation that prints of the film were being screened for the troops during the war, almost surely in 16mm prints. This latest tidbit has triggered a renewed search in a previously untapped area. We've already started contacts with our own Department of Defense, (thanks to Alex Hassan) overseas military agencies and elsewhere. Whether or not this latest lead will finally uncover a copy of CONVENTION CITY remains to be seen!
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