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|Volume 14 Number 1!||
The Vitaphone Project's Ron Hutchinson and TCM host Ben Mankiewicz on the set filming eleven introductions for the December 5, 2016 airing of the channel's salute to the 90th anniversary of Vitaphone.
During the summer of 2016, Turner Classic Movies' Programming Director, Dennis Millay, asked the Vitaphone Project's Ron Hutchinson to program a full day of Vitaphone shorts and features to recognize Vitaphone's 90th anniversary. Ron proposed just over 60 one and two reel Vitaphone shorts along with five Vitaphone scored or talkie features from the system's earliest days. The assignment quickly expanded when TCM asked Ron to join host Ben Mankiewicz in the Atlanta studios in order to tape eleven intros and outros for the prime time segment of the marathon.
The taping went smoothly, and it was very clear that Ben really got into some of the Vitaphone restorations. Shaw and Lee's 1928 short, THE BEAU BRUMMELS, was his personal favorite. Ben's lineage includes screenwriters Herman J. Mankiewicz (grandfather) and Joseph Mankiewicz (great uncle) who, between them wrote such classics as ALL ABOUT EVE, CITIZEN KANE, MANHATTAN MELODRAMA, and PRIDE OF THE YANKEES.
The Vitaphone marathon gave countless TCM viewers who had never seen a Vitaphone short or feature the opportunity to do so. Just prior to the December5th airing, Ron participated in a three day Q&A on Vitaphone on TCM's online Silver Screen Oasis in which viewer questions were posed and Ron answered them.
Here's a rundown of the Vitaphone shorts and features shown. Because of schedule timing adjustments, TCM added about five more shorts into this schedule
(Times shown are Eastern)
Each year, a panel of judges selects 25 American films for recognition in the National FilmRegistry. This year, for the first time, a restored Vitaphone short was chosen for that honor. The 1928 Vitaphone short SHAW AND LEE, THE BEAU BRUMMELS, joined Hitchcock's THE BIRDS, BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, EAST OF EDEN, FUNNY GIRL and THE LION KING for this distinctive and important national honor. This vaudeville “Vitaphone Variety” was restored about 15 years ago by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, with funding developed by The Vitaphone Project. This short became an immediate audience favorite due largely to Al Shaw and Sam Lee's dead pan delivery, so-bad-they're-good jokes, and eccentric dancing. The Project connected with the grandsons of both performers, who are thrilled about this recognition.
Early soundtrack disks found since our last issue:
James Layton and David Pierce's sumptuous new book, KING OF JAZZ, PAUL WHITEMAN'S TECHICOLOR REVUE, was officially released at an event on November 14, 2016 at IGUANA, a mid-town Manhattan restaurant where Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks play each Monday and Tuesday night. The evening was filled with Whiteman tunes by the Nighthawks, including all of them used in the film, and one, “My Lover”, which was cut before release. Vince even located and played an original 1930 orchestration of a KING OF JAZZ medley by British band leader Debroy Somers. Present at the book release event were relatives of the film's art director, Herman Rosse as well as film historian and Rutgers professor Richard Koszarski and his wife Diane who spent three decades researching KING OF JAZZ. The book may still be ordered at:
The previous month, both authors received the prestigious Theatre Library Book Award for their DAWN OF TECHNICOLOR 1915-1935.
Universal's beautiful restoration of KING OF JAZZ ('30) continues to get many screenings worldwide. Since our last issue, audiences in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City (again), Cincinnati, Australia and England have enjoyed the Technicolor revue.
Film Forum in NYC held several Vitaphone programs this fall in NYC, each hosted by the Project's Ron Hutchinson. In September as part of FF's salute to vaudeville, Ron presented the best-of-the-best Vitaphone vaude shorts in “A Night At The Palace”. Later that same month, the first of two programs of recently restored 1928-29 Vitaphone shorts were shown. In October, a double feature of a second set of just-restore Vitaphone shorts was paired with the also recently restored 1928 Vitaphone scored Alice White feature SHOW GIRL. At this program, the grandkids of two of the Vitaphone shorts performers --- imitator Zelda Santley and musical comedian Herschel Henlere --- were in attendance. They got to hear the great audience reactions to their relatives' long forgotten acts.
As we go to press, we expect Warner Archive to issue Volume 3 of VITAPHONE VARIETIES on DVD soon. The announcement should be made before the end of March 2017. This set will include about twenty recent and previously unissued early Vitaphone shorts restorations from 1928-30. The previous two volumes contained over 70 early vaudeville, band, comedy and playlet shorts from 1927-31 and are must-haves for any fan of Vitaphone.
To order Volume 3, or any other Vitaphone DVD set, go to Warner Archive's site at:
You can also search the website with “vitaphone”. Again, the new volume may not be available until sometime in March, so check in regularly.
Paramount's last silent feature was REDSKIN ('29), starring Richard Dix and was mostly Technicolor production with a full synchronized score. This beautiful film, directed by Victor Schertzinger, had only surviving disks for reels 1, 3 and 8 when it was restored by The Library of Congress about 15 years ago. The missing score was replaced with a piano accompaniment. In 2011, the Project's Ron Hutchinson acquired nearly 80 disks in New Haven, CT. Included were REDSKIN disks for reels 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8. In November, 2016, Michael Cumella alerted Ron to yet another disk for the film, for reel 6. This was successfully acquired, and with the disk for reel 4 residing in the collection of a Delaware collector, all the disks for REDSKIN are now known.
As of this writing, the Project is working with Mike Mashon at The Library of Congress to best determine how an upgraded restoration with the full soundtrack may proceed.
Chris Horak, head of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, has announced that the restoration of MAMBA (Tiffany/1930) has finally been completed. The film is of great importance as the first non-musical, all Technicolor feature. The long lost 35mm (but mute) Technicolor nitrate print was found in Australia by Paul Brennan about 10 years ago. The Project connected Paul with UCLA which had all of the disks and the final reel of nitrate. A tentative synchronization of picture and sound had been done by Jonas Nordin, and screened at Cinefest in 2012. While needing some visual cleanup, the color of the surviving film was quite vibrant.
The restoration was supervised by longtime Vitaphone Project UCLA partners Todd Wiener and Scott MacQueen, with whom we work on Vitaphone shorts restorations.
The MAMBA restoration is to be included in UCLA's March 2017 “Festival of Preservation”.
Even if you are not currently on Facebook, we strongly urge you to join (it's free) if only to be able to check in on the regular posts at our page. Postings of discoveries, stills, recordings, questions, screenings announcements, film clips, and other info is posted often several times a day. We now have over 2300 followers! The material shared on this site greatly exceeds by many times what could be included in any single issue of VITAPHONE NEWS. Here's the link:
Just go to the page and click on “Join Group” to join.
Your generous donations help to keep our Project going. Escalating printing and mailing costs make your support even more important than ever. While not taxdeductible, your donation allows us to continue spreading the word and seeking out disks and film elements forfuture 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!
Here's a summary of all of the thank-you CDs now available for donations of $50 or more:
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!
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|VITAPHONE NEWS||ISSN 1066-5951|
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