|Volume 6 Number 2||
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Following the October 3, 2002 Film Forum Vitaphone program, we were contacted by long time supporter Jeff Cohen and, through him, NY Public Library archivist Joe Yranski regarding Colleen Moore’s lost last silent feature, WHY BE GOOD? (First National, 1929).
This holiday season offers a treasure trove of books and CD’s for fans of Vitaphone. Please encourage more such offerings with your purchase. First, the essential book for every Vitaphoniac is finally here! Roy Liebman’s mammoth Vitaphone Films: A Catalog of the Shorts and Features (McFarland, ISBN 0-7864-1279-8) lists detailed info on every known Vitaphone short and feature. This hardcover, 400 page volume will be available in December 2002. Roy scoured the index cards and files in the WB archives at USC, and supplemented his exhaustive research with reviews of catalogs, trade papers, stills, and film-by-film file folders. The Project has been happy to work closely with Roy on this wonderful book, and provided many of the over 100 stills that it contains. Vitaphone Films may be ordered through amazon.com or directly from McFarland at 1-800-253-2187. Cost is $95.00 plus shipping.
Rose Marie’s Hold The Roses (University of Kentucky Press, ISBN 0-8131-2264-3) traces the legendary performer’s career from her vaudeville, Vitaphone and radio days as Baby Rose Marie, through television, Broadway, Las Vegas and every other facet of show business (“except circus” as she told a UCLA crowd). “Baby Rose Marie, The Child Wonder” (‘29) was the first short The Vitaphone Project was involved with restoring. This wonderful bio is strongly recommended. The hardcover, 203 page book is available on amazon.com for $17.50 plus shipping and is officially available in February, 2003 (but you can place your order it now!)
Here is the updated listing of restored early Pathe talkie shorts and features offered by Gary Lacher. You’ll recall Gary found nearly 30 films and discs for the shortlived home talkie 16mm system and has done a great job of restoring and resynching them. Many of these films were previously “lost” and survive only because the home talkie system used 16mm safety, rather than nitrate, film.
Volume One: AESOP FABLES CARTOONS: (1928-1930) WOODCHOPPERS; SKATING HOUNDS; FLY'S BRIDE; ROMEO ROBIN; SNOWTIME; WESTERN WHOOPEE; THE OFFICE BOY
Volume Two: TWO PLUS FOURS (1930) Bing Crosby and the Rhythm Boys; TWO FRESH EGGS (1930) Al St.John, Jimmy Aubrey; CHILLS AND FEVER (1930) Al Shean
Volume Three: SIXTEEN SWEETIES (1929) Eddie Elkins Orchestra, Thelma White, Sy Wills; NEAT AND TIDY (1930) (British) All star music hall comedians; HIGH TONED (1929) Buck and Bubbles
Volume Four: I'LL TAKE THAT ONE (British) (1930) Directed by Monte Banks, with George Clark; MIND YOUR BUSINESS (1930) with Bobby Agnew: A PERFECT MATCH (1929) Paul Baron and Ann Butler
Volume Five: LOVE, HONOR AND OH, BABY! (1929) Evalyn Knapp: FAIRWAYS AND FOUL (1929) James and Lucille Gleason; MUSICAL BEAUTY SHOP (1930) British Music Hall Revue
Feature: SAILOR'S HOLIDAY (1929) Alan Hale (Sr.) Sally Eilers, Directed by Fred Newmeyer. Running time: 60 minutes
Feature: PARIS BOUND (1929) Fredric March, Ann Harding. Running time: 77 minutes
All films have been re-mastered in a digital process format. Program and studio notes are included with each issue. Each package of shorts runs about 60 minutes. VHS tapes: $19.95 each, DVD's: $29.95 each. Tapes are sent first class in US. Please include $3.50 postage and handling for shipment. Add $1.50 for each additional tape or DVD. Send to:
Programs of twelve recently restored 1926-29 Vitaphone shorts at UCLA (August 3rd) and NYC’s Film Forum (October 3rd) were enthusiastically received in full houses. The shows included shorts restored over the past two years, and which made their first theatrical appearance since their initial release. Restoration funding was provided by Dudley Heer (WARING’S PENNSYLVANIANS [‘27], GRACE JOHNSTON & THE INDIANA FIVE [‘29], HARRY WAYMAN’S DEBUTANTES [‘29], CHAZ CHASE, THE UNIQUE PERFORMERS [‘28], and ROY FOX & HIS MONTMARTRE CAFE ORCHESTRA [‘29]), Anthony Ponaras (MAYER & EVANS [‘28]), Scott Margolin (JACK OSTERMAN in ‘TALKING IT OVER [‘29]), and Count Robert Deiro (GUIDO DEIRO, THE WORLD’S FOREMOST PIANO-ACCORDIONIST [‘28]). Also on the bill were BILLY JONES & ERNIE HARE, THE HAPPINESS BOYS [‘26] and KRAFT & LA MONT [‘29]. UCLA premiered the program, then generously allowed the east coast screening two months later.
A number of relatives of on-screen performers were able to attend the Film Forum show. Comedian Jack Osterman’s grandson Michael Klein was there, along with five relatives of members of The Indiana Five.
The unexpected hit of the program was MAYER & EVANS, whose fresh tongue-in-cheek act convulsed audiences (a second Vitaphone short they made in 1928 is restorable). Unknown monologist JACK OSTERMAN also went over quite well, with a funny, unrehearsed kind of delivery . Jazz fans were treated to a hot rendition of “Clarinet Marmalade” by The Indiana Five, and the bizarre CHAZ CHASE had audiences in disbelief as he ate a steady string of stuff, including string itself. But all the films went over well and have already prompted funding of more Vitaphone shorts.
Visit their website for more information: http://www.filmforum.com
You may now select from a growing choice of “thank you” Vitaphone CD’s when making your (non-deductible) donation. Remember, these are unique, non-professional (but highly listenable) recordings of rare early talkie material. No fancy liner notes or slick packaging, but hours of enjoyment await you! Just let us know your pick:
Checks (not deductible) should be made payable to Ron Hutchinson (NOT The Project) and sent to 5 Meade Court, Piscataway, NJ 08854.
Archaeologist Neal Ackerly was searching through New Mexico mines this summer and was surprised to find a number of (sadly empty) 35mm film cans from the short-lived early talkie producer Fowler Studios. Fowler produced a series of 1929-30 one-reel shorts variously called “Fowler Varieties” and “The Voice Of Vaudeville”. Each reel featured three acts, and included such performers as black singer Tessie Maize, Roy Fox and his Orchestra, Ray West, and others. A number of these shorts have been included in Yazoo’s videos “Times Ain’t What They Used To Be” and “At The Jazz Band Ball”. The films were produced at the Fowler studios on Lillian Way in Hollywood. The studio was previously where Buster Keaton produced his independent shorts and features. It's unknown how or why these film cans ended up in New Mexico mines. No other film related material was found.
Warner Brothers, through the initiative and guidance of Chief Preservation Officer Dick May, continues to work with The Library of Congress in preserving hundreds of 1930-45 Vitaphone shorts onto 35mm safety film. These films are from the post-disc period, and include many on and two reel musicals, comedies, three-strip Technicolor and specialty shorts. Over 200 shorts have already been preserved through this effort. Just a few shorts now saved and ultimately available again for viewing, broadcast and eventually home video, are:
and over 175 more so far!
Warner Home Video is now completing work on a DVD which will present a restored and improved soundtrack (direct from discs) for THE JAZZ SINGER (WB, ‘27). Versions currently shown use an early 1930’s sound-on-film print and digital technology can now significantly improve the sound quality by working directly from discs provided by the Project’s John Newton and UCLA. The DVD will also include visual materials (posters, programs, etc.), intermission music, and several still to be determined shorts (although Jolson’s A PLANTATION ACT (‘26) and the JAZZ SINGER trailer are definite as of this writing.
Author Charles Cohen was putting the finishing touches on his Random House biography on Dr. Seuss, and uncovered two previously unknown screen credits for him. Two Vitaphone animated cartoons, ‘NEATH THE BABABA TREE and PUT ON THE SPOUT were released on 6/1/1931 and appear to be short advertising films for Flit insect spray. “These cartoons predate the earliest Seuss-related animation by more than 10 years,” says Charles, “as the Bob Clampett adaptation of HORTON HATCHES THE EGG (4/42) and George Pal’s Puppetoons of THE 500 HATS OF BATHOLOMEW CUBBINS (4/43) and AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET (6/44) were his earliest previously known animated work.
Consultation with Dick May turned up no prints in the WB vaults and animation experts Leonard Maltin, Will Friedwald and Jerry Beck, Don Crafton, Mike Barrier, the LOC and others also came up empty. The cartoons were definitely released, and appeared in theatres during a brief period in the early 1930’s when commercial shorts were shown before the feature. Clark & McCullough and Ruth Etting, among others, made commercial shorts. They rapidly wore out their welcome. Charles continues his investigation, and plans to contact Exxon (current corporate reative of Flit). Any readers who can shed some light on these films, or where they might be, is urged to contact the Project.
Let us recommend some great vintage CD’s with a Vitaphone flavor. Checkout Janet Klein’s web site at http://janetklein.com and see her many CD’s in the “mail order” section. Her latest includes several Vitaphone shorts-inspired tracks. And longtime Project member Vince Giordano has a number of vintage 1920’s - 1930’s CD’s available if you can’t make his Monday/Thursday shows at NYC’s The Cajun. Check them out at http://www.jazzbymail.com/artists/giordano.html
Courtesy of Peter Mintun
|VITAPHONE NEWS||ISSN 1066-5951|
|Corresponding Secretary & Editor||Ron Hutchinson||5 Meade Court|
Piscataway, NJ 08854
FAX: (732) 336-2603
|Newsletter, Advertising, Publicity||Alan Cooperman||23 Clover Hill Road|
Willington, NJ 07946
|John Newton||P.O. Box 7191|
Wilmington, DE 19803
|Sherwin Dunner||P.O. Box 1992|
New York, NY 10013
|Vitaphone Project Web Page||http://www.vitaphoneproject.com||Ron@vitaphoneproject.com|