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|Volume 12 Number 4||
Beginning with DON JUAN, Warner Brothers announced that all of their features would be released with a synchronized music and sound effects Vitaphone soundtrack. Theatres not equipped for Vitaphone would show these films with their own orchestral accompaniments.
Warner Brothers was riding high with the success of Vitaphone, and in September 1928 bought First National Pictures along with all of the star contracts that studio owned. Colleen Moore was First National's top star, and so her pictures got the full Vitaphone treatment.
Once WHY BE GOOD? was completed, a print of the film was sent to the Victor Talking Machine Company in Camden, NJ. There, an original musical accompaniment drawn largely from popular tunes of the day was created to match each scene. Judicious sound effects (like door knocks, horns honking, etc.) were also added.
As the musicians watched the film, they played from the original score that was recorded on a 16 inch wax master. Noteworthy for the Colleen Moore feature disks is that the musical performances are jazzy, toe-tapping and highly reflective of the late 1920's. Jazz historians have identified such legendary musicians as Jimmy Dorsey, Phil Napoleon, Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang on the disks.
Until the late 1990s both SYNTHETIC SIN (her next to last silent) and WHY BE GOOD? were thought to be lost. There is an extremely high mortality rate for films released during the 1927-29 transition period. A large fire at Warner Brothers in the 1950's destroyed the then-known prints.
Fast forward to 2002 and New York's Film Forum. Prior to a screening, Ron updated the audience on latest activities of The Vitaphone Project. He casually mentioned that he recently acquired all the soundtrack disks for Colleen Moore's WHY BE GOOD? , and said something to the effect that "unfortunately, this is a lost film."
Film historian Joe Yranski, who ran the film library at the Donnell Media Center, was a friend of Colleen Moore and knew more about this film than probably anybody on the planet, yelled out "No it's not! I know where it is!" The full house at Film Forum cheered.
Since then, the Project and Warner Bros have worked towards getting the lone 35mm nitrate print of WHY BE GOOD? along with Moore's previous scored silent SYNTHETIC SIN ('28), back to the US for restoration. Last year Ned Price succeeded in negotiating with Cineteca Italiana di Milano to do just that. Disks were transferred by sound engineer Seth Winner. And the print was finally synchronized and finished in early June.
Hear some of the soundtrack for WHY BE GOOD? here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_GyYapvkcw
Just as we were going to press, the restored WHY BE GOOD? was screened in Bologna, Italy at the Cineteca Bologna "Il Cinema Ritrovato" festival on July 4th. This was the first time the public saw and heard this film in 85 years. One friend of the Project was there, and kindly sent us this capsule review of the event:
"The room was packed with at least fifty people standing on the sides -- "the most anticipated movie of the whole festival" I heard someone nearby say. Ned Price of Warner Brothers gave a short intro that was most gracious -- stressing how this was a collaboration and specifically thanking you (Ron Hutchinson) by name and the Project.
The film started -- no sound! So it restarted again, and wow what a difference. First of all, it looks amazing (no exaggeration) -- absolutely pristine. And the soundtrack was synched to physical actions (honking cars, blaring trumpets, etc.) so it felt almost like a score plus actual effects -- what a huge difference it made. The movie itself is a total Jazz Age romp -- fantastic scenes of Deco penthouse parties, Charleston dancing contests, with funny slangy intertitles. The audience loved it. And I heard someone else say, "That was the best movie I saw all week!"
You (personally) and the Vitaphone Project are also thanked in a title card.
Congratulations -- this one's a real crowd pleaser and the discs really add to it."
Arrangements have already been made for George Eastman House to receive the spools for restoration and ultimately synchronize with surviving Vitaphone disks. In the case of ON WITH THE SHOW, which was the first all Technicolor talkie feature, a black and white print survives. So the color fragment could be dropped into the appropriate reel. The same applies to SALLY, and SHOW OF SHOWS, which each had brief Technicolor sequences found and restored about 25 years ago. Unrelated to this most recent discovery are 60-90 second Technicolor fragments of previously lost GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY and ON WITH THE SHOW footage found by Darren Nemeth. These will now most likely be folded into the George Eastman House project. That work will be overseen by GEH's Technicolor guru James Layton, who recently completed work on three early color talkie shorts restorations: PIRATES (MGM/'30), MANHATTAN SERENADE (MGM/'29) and THE SULTAN'S JESTER (Vitaphone/'29). James reports those restorations are now just completed and plans to screen them are in the works.
|Volume 2 is now available! Click on the image to the left to order your copy now!
Shemp Howard's rise as a solo comedian in four short years is charted in this series of twenty shorts, including his famed run as Knobby Walsh in the Joe Palooka series based on the hit comic strip. Titles on the DVD are listed below:
Vitaphone soundtrack disks are rare. But the metal stampers used by Victor Talking Machine Company to press them are far more rare. These approximately 18 inch diameter metal masters were used to press the several hundred copies of shellac Vitaphone disks that were then shipped to theatres with accompanying (otherwise mute) film.
Readers of VITAPHONE NEWS will recall an earlier issue in which we reported that in 1941, thousands of stampers were melted down for their scrap value. That is why their survival rate is so low.
So when the Project recently heard from Warner Bros sound engineer Edward Stephens that he had found 26 mainly 1926-29 Vitaphone soundtrack metal stampers, we were amazed. These were apparently always there on the old First National --- now WB --- lot since the earliest days of Viatphone. We've listed what was found in our "Disc-overies" report in this issue. The earliest stamper is for Vitaphone #189 for THOMAS M. WATSON SPEECH. Recorded on June 4, 1926, it's one of the earliest Vitaphones recorded at the studio, and has Alexander Graham Bell's assistant describing the invention of the telephone.
Several of the stampers represent the only known surviving sound element portion for previously mute shorts. We've noted which films are now restorable as a result of this find. The stampers can be played back directly using a "U" shaped styli which rides the portion of the surface that stamped the grooves into the shellac.
He can also accept money orders and personal checks. Please email him (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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….
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!
NEW with this issue - we now are offering TEN new CDs of peppy, hot dance and personality 78s from the early talkie era. If you ordered our "hot and peppy 78s" CD last time there are still nine more new ones now available! You can email us at email@example.com for content. First CD for a $50 donation, $75 for two, $100 for 4 and get all ten CDs for a contribution of $200!
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.
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/1928) (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)
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:
Friend us on facebook 'The Vitaphone Project'
Search for Vitaphone items to buy on E-Bay here!
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|
Piscataway, NJ 08854
FAX: (732) 463-8521
|Vitaphone Project Web Page Designer||Patrick Pickingfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|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|
|"The Vitaphone Project"||Friend us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/113444792025031/|
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