|Volume 4 Number 2||
Yes. You read that correctly! Dick May, who is now in charge of the combined Warner and Turner film vaults, reports that Warner Brothers has supported his proposal to preserve to safety film, and restore from separated disc and picture elements, a program of roughly 100 Vitaphone 1926-39 short subjects per year. Besides the obvious impact of such a welcome restoration program on saving these films, this project has the added benefit of making it possible for people to see these films again. Once restored or preserved, the titles are added to Warner Brothers list of films available to both Turner Classic Movies for broadcast and ultimately for potential home video release.
At Dick's request, The Vitaphone Project provided him with a comprehensive list of over 300 "worthy" Vitaphone shorts titles for consideration. Dick has essentially adopted that list. A large number of these titles are 1930-39 Vitaphone shorts which may only exist on 35 mm nitrate and therefore need preservation on safety film. There is no "master" list anywhere of all Vitaphone shorts now on safety, so a title-by-title check with The Library of Congress is now being made. Some of these titles may already have been put onto safety film. In those cases, they will be put on Warners "available" list. The nitrate-only titles will be preserved. Over 75 disc-and-picture shorts from 1926-30 are also targeted for restoration.
This massive project supplements the ongoing and, in fact growing, restoration work being done by Bob Gitt at UCLA. We've included a very small exerpt elsewhere in this issue of sample titles to be preserved. The significance of the performers (from DeWolf Hopper and Lew Fields to Colonel Stoopnagle and Budd and Jimmy Stewart!) is obvious.
If there is really a God of Nitrate, he is definitely smiling down on Dick May!
|Title||Length||Stars/Comments||THE CAMPUS MYSTERY||2 reel||S.S. Van Dine mystery||THE HIGH SCHOOL HOOFER||2 reel||Hal LeRoy musical||ARTISTIC TEMPER||2 reel||Ruth Etting musical w/ Eddie Lang||BYE-GONES||2 reel||Ruth Etting musical||THE CANDID KID||2 reel||Tab musical w/Phil Silvers||CRASHING THE GATE||2 reel||Ruth Etting musical||DOUBLE OR NOTHING||2 reel||Academy nom. w/Phil Harris||DUBLIN IN BRASS||2 reel||Morton Downey Sr. musical||FRESHMAN LOVE||2 reel||Ruth Etting musical||HERE'S YOUR HAT||2 reel||Musical comedy w/ Phil Silvers||HOTEL A LA SWING||2 reel||Eddie Foy, Jr. musical comedy||IN THE SPOTLIGHT||2 reel||Hal LeRoy/Dorothy Lee musical||MAIN STREET FOLLIES||2 reel||Hal LeRoy tab musical||OH, EVALINE!||2 reel||Hal LeRoy musical||PICTURE PALACE||2 reel||Hal LeRoy/Dawn O'Day musical||PRIVATE LESSONS||2 reel||Hal LeRoy/Dawn O'Day musical||PUBLIC JITTERBUG #1||2 reel||Hal LeRoy/Betty Hutton musical||RHYTHMITIS||2 reel||Hal LeRoy/Toby Wing musical||SEASONED GREETINGS||2 reel||Lita Grey Chaplin/Sammy Davis, Jr.@4||SKY SYMPHONY||2 reel||Stoopnagle & Bud musical comedy||THE SUBWAY SYMPHONY||2 reel||Frances Langford tab musical||SWING FOR SALE||2 reel||Hal LeRoy/June Allyson musical||SYNCOPATED CITY||2 reel||Hal LeRoy/Dorothy Dare musical||UP IN LIGHTS||2 reel||Pat Rooney tab musical||USE YOUR IMAGINATION||2 reel||Hal LeRoy/Mitzi Mayfair musical||WASH YOUR STEP||2 reel||Hal LeRoy/Preisser Sisters musical||YOURS SINCERELY||2 reel||Tab version of "Spring Is Here"||ALIBI TIME||1 reel||Radio Ramblers imitation comedy||BENNY MEROFF & HIS ORCH.||1 reel||Great performing band||THE BIG HOUSE PARTY||1 reel||Hilarious Earl Carpenter band short||FRANK & MILT BRITTON||1 reel||Comedy band before Spike Jones||A CABINET MEETING||1 reel||Radio Ramblers imitation comedy||CHARLES AHEARN & HIS MILLIONAIRES||1 reel||Band & comedy||GUEST STARS||1 reel||Radio Ramblers, Lionel Stander||HELLO, GOOD TIMES||1 reel||Comedy musical to end the Depression||MILT BRITTON & HIS WORLD FAMOUS BAND||1 reel||Comedy destruction band||NIGHT CLUB REVELS||1 reel||Walter O'Keefe musical||OFFICE STEPS||1 reel||Modern office set to music||PLAYING WITH FIRE||1 reel||Firehouse antics set to music||RADIO RAMBLERS IN 'NUTVILLE'||1 reel||Marx Bros. & other imitations w/music||RAILROAD FOLLIES||1 reel||Night club musical on a train||ROAD KNIGHTS||1 reel||Cultured tramps discuss Einstein theory.||SKY HIGH||1 reel||Hot musical w/Janet Reade,Larry Adler||CAPTAIN BLUE BLOOD||2 reel||Georgie Price musical (poss. in color)||THE CITY'S SLICKER||2 reel||Musical comedy w/many acts||CLEANING UP||2 reel||Cross & Dunn, Grace McDonald music.||THE DOORMAN'S OPERA||2 reel||Ray Heatherton in tab musical||HEAR YE, HEAR YE||2 reel||Yacht Club Boys musical comedy||HOLD THAT BALL||2 reel||Campus musical comedy w/many acts||KATZ' PAJAMAS||2 reel||Fifi D'Orsay, Pauline Alpert musical||LET'S PLAY POST OFFICE||2 reel||Musical set in a post office||LITTLE GIRL WITH BIG IDEAS||3 reel||Featurette w/ Molly Picon||MURDER IN YOUR EYES||2 reel||Musical in girls' detective school||MUSICAL MYSTERY||2 reel||Books come to life in this musical||OPERATOR'S OPERA||2 reel||Donald Novis musical||PARIS IN NEW YORK||2 reel||Irene Bordoni musical||POOR LITTLE RICH BOY||2 reel||Phil Baker musical comedy||POSTAL UNION||2 reel||Funny Georgie Price musical||RADIO SILLY||2 reel||Cross & Dunn musical w/many acts||RAINBOW'S END||2 reel||Essential! Eddie Leonard stars||RISE AND SING||2 reel||Cross & Dunn musical on cruise ship||ROMANCE OF THE WEST||2 reel||Technicolor musical w/Dorothy Dare||RUSH HOUR RHAPSODY||2 reel||Musical if B'way controlled subways||SCRIPT GIRL||2 reel||Musical comedy in film studio||SHAKE MR. SHAKESPEARE||2 reel||Shakespeare in swing music||SHOESTRING FOLLIES||2 reel||Eddie Peabody musical comedy||THE SONG PLUGGER||2 reel||Joe Frisco musical comedy||SOUND DEFECTS||2 reel||Rufe Davis comedy w/sound effects||SPEAKING OF OPERATIONS||2 reel||Musical w/ tab minstrel show||SPRINGTIME IN HOLLAND||2 reel||Technicolor musical w/ Dorothy Dare||STUDY AND UNDERSTUDY||2 reel||Music filled girls' college musical||TICKETS, PLEASE||2 reel||Song filled Georgie Price comedy||WHEN YOU'RE SINGLE||2 reel||Act filled musical in a small town||ART TROUBLE||2 reel||Jimmy Stewart's 1st film. Slapstick!||BUZZIN' AROUND||2 reel||Arbuckle's best sound short||DIZZY AND DAFFY||2 reel||Slapstick w/ Dizzy & Daffy Dean||HEY, POP!||2 reel||Funny Arbuckle talkie. His first.||HOW'VE YOU BEAN?||2 reel||Arbuckle talkie comedy||IN THE DOUGH||2 reel||Arbuckle talkie comedy w/Shemp||TOMALIO||2 reel||Arbuckle talkie comedy||BROADWAY BUCKAROO||2 reel||Early Red Skelton comedy||Dr. CUPID||2 reel||Ken Murray comedy||THE IMPERFECT LOVER||2 reel||Jack Haley, Claire Trevor comedy||PAREE, PAREE||2 reel||Bob Hope in great 2 reel version of "50 Million Frenchman" w/all songs||SEEING RED||2 reel||Early Red Skelton comedy||CIGARS, CIGARETTES||1 reel||Marjorie Beebee slapstick comedy||THE DUEL||1 reel||Lew Fields comedy||FOR TWO CENTS||1 reel||DeWolfe Hopper comedy||GHOST TO GHOST HOOKUP||1 reel||Radio imitators in haunted house||GINSBERG OF NEWBERG||1 reel||Ethnic comedy w/Eddie Lambert||GOING PLACES||1 reel||Great eccentric dancers Shaw & Lee||GOOD MOURNING||1 reel||Eddie Foy, Jr. comedy||GOOD PIE FOREVER||1 reel||Funny Thelma White slapstick||THE GRAND DAME||1 reel||Patsy Kelly comedy - her first||GREAT LIBRARY MISERY||1 reel||Grouch Club comedy by Nat Hiken||MOVIE DUMB||1 reel||Funny Naggers comedy at a studio||PALM BEACH KNIGHTS||1 reel||Chas. Ahearn hobos put on a show||THE RIDING MASTER||1 reel||Great Poodles Hanneford comedy||ROCK-A-BYE-BYE||1 reel||Zany Doc Rockwell inventions comedy||AT THE ROUND TABLE||1 reel||At Algonquin w/all the greats||RURAL HOSPITALITY||1 reel||Rural vaude act w/ Roger Imhoff||THE STILL ALARM||1 reel||Comedy w/Clifton Webb, Fred Allen||23-SKIDOO||1 reel||Lew Fields comedy playlet||THE WRONG,WRONG TRAIL||1 reel||Funny Block & Sully comedy||A PRIVATE ENGAGEMENT||1 reel||Yacht Club Boys musical comedy||THE BARD OF BROADWAY||2 reel||Walter Winchell, Madge Evans||HATS AND DOGS||2 reel||Joey Faye, Wini Shaw musicomedy||HER WEDDING NIGHTMARE||2 reel||Thelma White, Fanny Watson slapstick||HIGH, WIDE AND HANSOM||2 reel||Funny comedy w/bizarre Herb Williams||IN THE FAMILY||2 reel||Very funny White & Watson slapstick||LIFERS OF THE PARTY||2 reel||Yacht Club Boys musical comedy||LUCKY 13||2 reel||White & Watson comedy in car race||ONE ON THE HOUSE||2 reel||Legendary Willie, West & McGinty act||PRETTY POLLY||2 reel||Polly Moran comedy||SERVICE WITH A SMILE||2 reel||Leon Errol musicomedy in gas station||SLIDE, NELLIE, SLIDE||2 reel||Herman Bing girls's softball musical||SWEETHEARTS AND FLOWERS||2 reel||Preisser Sisters in musical comedy||THEY'RE OFF||2 reel||Yacht Club Boys nightclub comedy||TAKE THE AIR||2 reel||Eddie Foy, Jr. comedy in radio studio||DOUGH NUTS||2 reel||Yacht Club Boys musical comedy||THE VODKA BOATMEN||2 reel||Yacht Club Boys musical comedy||BED TIME VAUDEVILLE||1 reel||Kiddie vaude acts||CHILDHOOD DAYS||1 reel||Kiddie vaude acts||BACKYARD BROADCAST||2 reel||Top kiddie acts||REG'LAR KIDS||2 reel||Meglin Kiddies musical||STARLETS||2 reel||Excellent kiddie musical||TOYLAND CASINO||2 reel||Entertaining kiddie musical acts||TROUBLE IN TOYLAND||2 reel||Fun kiddie musical acts for Santa||HIP ACTION||1 reel||Bobby Jones golf short w/ W.C. Fields||THE ALMA MARTYR||1 reel||Tuneful Waring's Pennsylvanians||MEET THE KERNEL||1 reel||Funny Dave Apollon band short||DAVE APOLLON & HIS ORCH.||1 reel||TWO SHORTS w/this title -both good||DAVE APOLLON & HIS CLUB CASANOVA ORCHESTRA||1 reel||Great band w/ eccentric dancer, too.||DAVID MENDOZA & HIS ORCH.||1 reel||Vitaphone house band on camera||EDDY DUCHIN & HIS ORCH.||1 reel||Band and Sylvia Froos||DON BESTOR & HIS ORCH.||1 reel||Top radio & recording band||HOT FROM PETROGRAD||1 reel||Entertaining Apollon band short||ISHAM JONES & HIS ORCH.||1 reel||Excellent 1932 band short||IT'S A PANIC||1 reel||Benny Meroff Band in poor house||NICK LUCAS & HIS TROUBADORS||1 reel||Lucas performs his many standards||ROGER WOLFE KAHN & HIS ORCH.||1 reel||Top band in mid-thirties||SMASH YOUR BAGGAGE||1 reel||Hot black band in train station||SWING STYLES||1 reel||Hot Adrian Rollini short, Frazee Sisters||HARRY WARREN, AMERICA'S FOREMOST COMPOSER||1 reel||Warren performs his top compositions||EDDIE PEABODY||1 reel||Banjo great performs many tunes||GOLD DIGGING GENTLEMEN||1 reel||Mini musical w. Marie Gambarelli||LISTENING IN||1 reel||Great singer Irene Taylor, others||MUSICAL NOVELTIES||1 reel||Act filled musical comedy||STRONG AND WILLING||1 reel||Comedy w/ Trixie Friganza||VAUDEVILLE HITS||1 reel||Multiple vaude acts||VAUDEVILLE INTERLUDE||1 reel||Multiple vaude acts w/Harmonica Rascals|
Our last issue reported that over 600 early talkie soundtrack discs had turned up in four months. Over two hundred more discs, including several particularly important ones, have been found since July of 1998. Here's a rundown of some of what has been located since the last VITAPHONE NEWS
My Man, the 1928 part-talkie feature starring Fanny Brice, has been considered a lost film since its initial release. No film element is known to exist. Until recently, only the disc for the trailer and one reel (with her "I Was A Floradora Baby" number) survived. Late this summer, three discs (apparently master pressings not ever played with the film) turned up in California. They represent reels 3, 4 and 11, and show this film to have been largely a talkie with relatively brief, "silent" passages with music and effects scoring. One disc duplicates the existing "Floradora Baby" reel. However the other two include an extended version of the song "My Man", and a full length version of Brice's "Mrs. Cohen At The Beach" and "I'm An Indian" routines.
We can only hope that like its contemporary "lost" features GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY and IS EVERYBODY HAPPY?, film elements will now start to turn up. Sophie Tucker's '29 feature "HONKY TONK" still has no surviving picture element, but after 68 years with only a couple of discs, three complete sets of discs covering all reels (including a foreign version) are now known.
We at the Project have a particular love for late twenties jazz and hot dance bands. A number of such Vitaphone shorts have been restored at UCLA over the years, including three by Gus Arnheim's Orchestra ('27 and '28), Red Nichols ('29), Tal Henry and His North Carolinians ('29), Ben Pollack ('29), Horace Heidt's Californians and Leo Reisman ('29). There are still a number of true jazz shorts still missing elements. These include "Low Down: A Bird's Eye View of Harlem" ('29), Reb Spikes Band ('27), and two 1927 shorts with Roger Wolfe Kahn's Orchestra (one of which also includes the great Mound City Blue Blowers, jazz violinist Joe Venuti and legendary guitarist Eddie Lang).
Among this previously unrestorable group is the 1929 short coupling the great pop singer Grace Johnston with the legendary Indiana Five jazz band. A picture portion has existed for years at The Library of Congress, but no soundtrack was known. Until October 1998.
A disc for this short turned up in northern California in a group with 24 other soundtrack discs. Hearing the performances of "Bashful Baby" and "Glad Rag Doll" by Johnston, separated by a very hot version of "Clarinet Marmalade" by The Indiana Five confirmed that this belonged in the same category as the Nichols and Pollack shorts.
Restoration is being generously funded in its entirety by Larry Rubenstein. Larry is the nephew of prolific songwriter Milton Ager ("Happy Days Are Here Again", "Is She My Girlfriend?", "Ain't She Sweet?"). He had been searching to underwrite a restorable short which included one of his uncle's songs. Ager's "Glad Rag Doll" closes this short.
Restoration work is expected to begin shortly at UCLA under Bob Gitt's direction.
Patrick Picking's wonderful work in developing, linking and updating The Vitaphone Project website at http://www.picking.com continues to payoff. A number of soundtrack discs have been located as a result of folks surfing the Net. If you haven't checked out this site, please do so. Back issues of VITAPHONE NEWS, a photo gallery, Frequently Asked Questions, and articles are included.
Thanks to Patrick for his work in helping to take our message worldwide, with tangible results after just a few months!
We often learn of film discoveries which do not fall into the narrow category of 1926-30 sound on disc sound films. Such was the case in October, 1998, when we were contacted about 10 reels of silent 16mm black and white silent home movie film taken by Earl Carroll's Vanities bandleader Ray Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh's niece found the film in the family's eastern Massachussetts home, and asked us to help identify the content.
What we saw was a pristine glimpse back into 1928-33 Broadway. Clear, long takes of onstage routines from the 1928, 1929, 1930, and 1933 Vanities, plus the 1931 show "Murder At The Vanities", were unreeled for nearly two hours. Extended shots, taken during rehearsals and actual performances, show Vanities star W.C. Fields performing his "Dentist" sketch (much more risque than in his Sennett short), a schoolroom sketch, and other routines. We also see Patsy Kelly, Jack Benny, Jimmy Savo, comic Will Mahoney, Al "Rubber Legs" Norman, William Demarest, and countless others both on stage and clowning at the stage entrance. There are also shots of the Earl Carroll theatre under construction in 1930, lots of marquees, shots of the Roxy across the street, and much more.
It was easy to be transported back to late-twenties Broadway because the films look like they were shot yesterday. Plans are in the works to make these films available, both in documentaries ("Broadway" and Betsy Baytos' eccentric dance project) as well as possibly as a home video. We'll keep you posted.
We've just received word from documentary producer Tom Santorelli that he is beginning work on a two hour documentary on the history of Vitagraph studios. Tom indicates he may continue his story slightly into 1925-26 to cover the Warner Brothers' acquisition of the Vitagraph Stuidios and exchanges, and their conversion of the studios to talkies. Because NBC Television still shoots several of its soap operas in the 1928 Vitaphone studio building in Brooklyn, the site qualifies as the oldest still-operating production studio.
Bob Gitt and his staff at the UCLA Film & Television archives have a very full fall restoration schedule. As we go to press, work is being finished on the 1929 Technicolor ROGUE SONG trailer with Lawrence Tibbett and Laurel & Hardy, CHIPS OFF THE OLD BLOCK (Vitaphone, '28), another Technicolor reel of GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY (WB, '29), BUTLER & BRENNAN (Vitaphone, '29), WARINGS PENNSYLVANIANS (Vitaphone, '27), HAWAIIAN NIGHTS (Vitaphone, '27), SWEETHEARTS AND WIVES (a 1930 Billie Dove WB feature), WHEN A MAN LOVES, a February '27 WB silent feature starring John Barrymore and having a score entirely composed and original for the film, JONES & HARE, THE HAPPINESS BOYS (Vitaphone, '27), VAN & SCHENCK (Vitaphone, '27), and, thanks to Leith Adam's (of the Warner Museum's) suggestion, our long desired restoration of GEORGIE PRICE in 'DON'T GET NERVOUS (Vitaphone, '29) co-starring on-screen director Bryan Foy trying to calm the nervous Price about making his first Vitaphone short in Brooklyn.
The Project was also was happy to help Bob on an eleventh-hour addition to the just-restored feature EVANGELINE (UA, '29). UCLA had used as many discs as existed, but several (reels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9 were still missing shortly before the screening. Bob had used excerpts of other discs to fill in the gaps. Through the Vitaphone Project, Bob was put into contact with collector Michael Thomsen of Denmark, who had discs for reels 2, 4 and 9. Michael kindly transfered his discs to digital audio tape and sent this to Bob in time for last minute incorporation into the restoration. Now, only sound for reels 1 and 3 is missing. Does anyone out there have these?
Some quick news briefs on Vitaphone Project Activities Ron Hutchinson was honored to be among the presenters on May 29th (alongside Betty Comden) of the Lincoln Center's awards for excellence in Performing Arts books. Ron presented an award to Don Crafton for his outstanding book, "THE TALKIES" (Oxford University Press). You MUST have this book if you are at all interested in the transition to sound.
Sound restoration wizard Seth Winner spent nearly four hours in his Long Island studios upgrading the sound from the sole disc for the ROGUE SONG trailer. The disc found by collector Bruce Miller aquired was poorly recorded originally by MGM, and was badly worn. Taking seconds at a time, Seth upgraded the sound dramatically and provided a DAT to UCLA for synching up with the newly struck safety print of the Technicolor trailer.
The Project's Dave Goldenberg and Ron Hutchinson spoke on the Project to a packed house for two hours at the annual Record Collectors' Bash June 21st in South Plainfield, NJ. Despite sweltering conditions in the meeting room, no one left!
Film collector Murray Glass, whose Glenn Photo Supply markets many early sound restorations of PD items [818-881-8110), has volunteered to restore three early sound shorts whose 16mm and 16" discs were discovered in a San Francisco garage last year by pianist Peter Mintun last year. They are POP AND SON ('29) with Benny Rubin, HE'S A SHE ('29) with Sunny Jim, and a 1929 TONY SARG MARIONETTE short.
Many thanks to Sheldon Hochheiser of the AT&T Archive in Warren, NJ for providing the Project with a 300+ page copy of the Archive's Vitaphone shorts catalog, including deleted titles and a wonderful May 1927 supplement.
Professor Roy Liebman of Cal State continues to go over the data he collected during three months sabbatical in the USC Warner Brothers archives. Roy focused on learning more about the Vitaphone shorts numbering system, and the hope of finding a "magic bullet" complete list of every short and number. Here are some highlights of what he's learned so far:
With the Project's success has come increased expenses, largely for the printing and mailing of VITAPHONE NEWS. Our mailing list is now over 450 per issue, with roughly 10% going overseas at around $1.00 each. We will soon have to pare down our distribution list, so it's important that if you are receiving this issue and have not written or contributed to us in over a year, that you do so as soon as possible. It's important for us to know that you are still interested in our efforts and in receiving the newsletter.
If you've already written in the last year or donated, no need to contact us. Otherwise, please write now. Thanks! Checks should be payable to RON HUTCHINSON (not the Project). While not deductible, they are appreciated!
|VITAPHONE NEWS||ISSN 1066-5951|
|Corresponding Secretary||Ron Hutchinson:||5 Meade Court|
Piscataway, NJ 08854
|Data Base||Rich Markow & Sherwin Dunner:||P.O. Box 1992|
New York, NY 10013
|Newsletter, Advertising, Publicity||David Goldenberg:||840 Winter Road|
Rydal, PA 19046
|and John Newton:||P.O. Box 7191|
Wilmington, DE 19803
|Vitaphone Project Web Page:||http://firstname.lastname@example.org|
Do you have film soundtrack discs (Vitaphone, Paramount, MGM, etc.),
production information, stills, or other ephemera on pre 1940 short films?
We urgently need this data for a major film restoration program.
Replies will be kept confidential. Project endorsed by copyright
THE VITAPHONE PROJECT
To contact The Vitaphone Project write to:
5 Meade Court
Piscataway, NJ 08854
or email Ron at email@example.com
or project member Bill Cappello at firstname.lastname@example.org