|Volume 4 Number 1||
Thanks to networking, the internet, and digging by many Project supporters, more than six hundred soundtrack discs have been located in the December 1997 - March 1998 period. In some cases, these discoveries will now make restorations possible, as only previously mute film elements had been held in archives. These recent finds range from a single San Francisco collection with over 300 discs for 1929-33 features, to individual discs long held in private collections. Even more surprising have been the concurrent discovery of film elements. In a handful of cases, both film and matching discs were found in the same collection.
The internet is an increasingly valuable tool in the search for Vitaphone elements. We particularly thank Steve Ramm, who has spread the word of our efforts via Vintage Jazz and Dance Music on 78rpm Records, a phonograph and disc collectors' web page. Patrick Picking also started up a Vitaphone Project webpage since our last issue and this, too, has expanded awareness of our goals. Patrick's tireless efforts in building this page from scratch are reported elsewhere in this issue.
Old fashioned detective work and personal inquiries on our behalf have also yielded great results. Pianist Peter Mintun (see our CD's column) located not only the 300+ feature discs at a friend's home in San Francisco, but also discovered discs AND FILM for a batch of 1929-30 Columbia and Universal shorts. These were located in the S.F. garage that services Peter's 1938 Buick (talk about synchronicity!). Like the 28 show-at-home Pathe shorts and discs found in the northwest by Gary Lacher, Peter's discovery represented 16 inch discs and 16mm safety prints (for most ) for a home Vitaphone arrangement. Universal, Columbia and Pathe would issue sound films for home use at the same time the shorts were released to theatres. By 1932, this cumbersome home sound-on-disc system was abandoned and replaced, in 1934, with 16mm sound on film projectors. Because only safety film was allowed for home use, these prints often represent the only surviving picture element of 1929-30 shorts. It is not clear yet if the picture elements for the 1929 Universal shorts in this cache exist in any other form.
Via the internet, we've heard from individuals with 1 to 30 discs each. Tom Brown had a large number of cracked, but playable, discs. Many were from unrecognizable studios. They were the sound portions of shorts made by many short-lived studios, mainly based in New York City, and gone before the end of 1930.
Here is a partial summary of the discs that have been uncovered in the last few months:
All discs (usually 8-12 reels each) for the following 1929-33 features:
|ALIBI||BAD ONE||BE YOURSELF||CIMARRON||THE CAT CREEPS||W-PLAN||GUILTY||CAUGHT SHORT||DIXIANA||DEVIL TO PAY||MAMBA||FREE AND EASY||HELL HARBOR||DAMES AHOY||HIDEOUT||LUMMOX||YOUNG DESIRE||SHIPMATES||INDISCREET||COHENS & KELLY'S IN SCOTLAND||BORROWED WIVES||THREE LIVE GHOSTS||PARADISE ISLAND||LOTTERY BRIDE||MELODY MAN||NEW YORK NIGHTS||UNDERTOW||EYES OF THE WORLD||DUBARRY, WOMAN OF PASSION||SHOWGIRL IN HOLLYWOOD||OUR BLUSHING BRIDES||LEATHERNECKING||SILVER HORDE||SIN SHIP||RAFFLES||MAN IN POSSESSION||MR. ANTONIO||MILLIE||THE MAN FROM BLANKLEY'S||PARTY GIRL||LADIES MUST PLAY||JOURNEY'S ENDHOT CURVES||GREAT LOVER||THE TRESPASSER||HALF SHOT AT SUNRISE||HELL HARBOR||HELLS ANGELS||WHAT A WIDOW!||13th CHAIR||STORM||STEPPING OUT||LADY TO LOVE||LAUGH AND GET RICH||BORDER ROMANCE||CRACKED NUTS||CONDEMNED||THE DRAKE CASE||HELL'S HEROES||MADAM SATAN||HOLD YOUR MAN||LADIES OF LEISURE||THE LOCKED ROOM||REACHING FOR THE MOON||PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ||ONE ROMANTIC NIGHT||SHANNONS OF BROADWAY||THE ROYAL BED||MADAM SATAN|
[Note: UCLA has been looking for sound elements to the 1930 big budget Tiffany feature, MAMBA, as it has two beautiful Technicolor reels, including the spectacular finale. As all the discs for MAMBA have now been found, this restoration is being considered.]
Discs (and accompanying 16mm safety film where indicated *) for:
Plus over twenty more Victor Pict-Ur-Discs, 12 inch, for silent film accompaniment, found by Vince Giordano in the BMG/VICTOR archives.
We have a number of recent books and CD's to recommend this time. "Our Movie Heritage" [ISBN 0-8135-2431-8, Rutgers University Press, Tom McGreevey and Joanne L. Yeck) is a wonderful and comprehensive view of film preservation in America which covers not only our losses, but what's being saved, how the work is actually done and by who. Loaded with pictures of restoration success stories, vault explosions, and many friends of the Project, this handsome volume truly covers all aspects of the mechanics and art of film preservation and restoration....
"Smile When The Raindrops Fall" [ISBN 0-8108-3377-8, Scarecrow Press, Brian Anthony and Andy Edmonds] chronicles the life and films of comedian Charley Chase. The Project assisted Brian regarding the early Chase talkies, which the Roach studios released only in sound-on-disc versions. Of the five 1929 Chase shorts that were missing soundtack discs five years ago, three now have all accompanying discs and are in various stages of restoration thanks to Richard W. Bann. This book is a delight, and covers Chase's entire career, and the volatile (as in alcohol) off-screen life that led to his early death in 1940. Highly recommended....
"Banjo Eyes" [ISBN 0-19-507402-5, Oxford University Press, Herbert G. Goldman] is the highly detailed biography of comedian Eddie Cantor. Typical of Goldman's thoroughness as in his Jolson and Brice bios, the book is a wealth of new details of Cantor's life, his foray into films (beginning in 1913 at Edison!) and his personal life. A full listing of all of Cantor's stage, film, radio, and television appearances, plus a full discography, are provided. Cantor began making talkies for DeForest Phonofilms in 1924 (he made two, although only one is currently known and preserved. The second is referred to on sheet music held by Project co-founder John Newton). He then made five one-reel talkie shorts for Paramount in 1928-30 (the disc for "The Cockeyed News" was just found)...
And Volume 4 of Scribner's "History of the American Cinema" series is finally out! It's "The Talkies: American Cinema's Transition To Sound, 1926-1931" [ISBN 0-684-19585-2, Charles Scribner's Sons, Donald Crafton]. This long awaited book is an incredibly comprehensive look at the most fascinating period of American cinema, in our view. At 639 pages, with countless previously unpublished photos, this is overflowing with industry perspectives never before reported. Even the most knowledgeable film buffs will learn many new things from Don Crafton's work here. Like talkies and the popcorn connection. Many Vitaphone shorts are described and pictured. This book is an absolute must for every reader of Vitaphone News! ....
Project booster Leonard Maltin's latest book is "The Great American Broadcast: A Celebration of Radio's Golden Ag