|Volume 6 Number 3||
Winter 2002/Spring 2003
|The book that every fan of Vitaphone has been waiting for is finally coming out! Roy Liebman’s massive Vitaphone Films: A Catalogue of the Features and Shorts is a reference every reader of VITAPHONE NEWS will want to have. The Vitaphone Project worked closely with Roy, supplying many of the 163 photographs and material from early release catalogues and soundtrack disc labels. The finished book lists all known New York productions 1926-1940, followed by West Coast productions from 1927 - 1970 (yes, the “Vitaphone” name was still being used that late!) For shorts, information when known includes title and alternate titles, instrumental and vocal selections performed, composer(s), performers, release date, film synopsis, names of major cast members, director, set info, and even the amount paid to early performers. For features, entries list release date, genre, and major cast members. A section on performers in shorts is also included.
This essential Vitaphone reference is available from McFarland & Company [1-800-253-2187 or www.mcfarlandpub.com] as well as through amazon.com.
As rare as soundtrack discs are, color nitrate film is even rarer. Over 70 years after original production, it is physically more likely to find the relatively inert shellac discs than the highly unstable nitrate film.
Nevertheless, Chad Hunter, the Preservation Officer of the Motion Picture Division of The George Eastman House reports discovering nitrate two-color Technicolor 35mm film for a 1929 Vitaphone musical short, THE SULTAN’S JESTER and HELLO BABY! (1930) with Ann Pennington as well as a reel of the Vitaphone feature SUNNY (1930) with Marilyn Miller. As luck would have it, soundtrack discs exist for all three films. As this story just broke as we went to press, we will let you know of restoration plans in a future issue.
You may now select from a growing choice of “thank you” Vitaphone CD’s when making your (non-deductible) donation. Just let us know your pick:
FROOS FILMOGRAPHY (Courtesy of Rich Finegan)
The following Vitaphone shorts are currently in the UCLA restoration pipeline with funding developed through The Vitaphone Project:
We are frequently asked how one can go about arranging a public Vitaphone program at a local theatre. Regular programs have run at UCLA, AMPAS, and New York’s Film Forum, and the Capitol Theatre in Rome, NY has assmbled one for this summer.
A public venue like a theatre, arts center, or college is best for such a program, and consideration must be given to the fact that prints must be rented from Warner Classics or UCLA. For a program of ten shorts, assume a total rental and shipping/insurance cost of roughly $2000. A quality 35mm projector and operator is essential.
The Vitaphone Project would be happy to assist you at no cost in selecting shorts for your theme, year, or even to match shorts originlly show at the theatre.
Author Edwin Bradley is finalizing his work on a book covering sound short subjects from 1928 through 1931. The Project is helping him proof this comprehensive effort which covers all the major and many minor studios. In addition to providing historical background on sound shorts and a history of each studio, Ed is also including a listing of thousands of shorts with cast and release information. Stills from shorts will also be included in this McFarland & Company book due out in 2004. Those thinking they know everything about sound shorts will find many surprises. In proofing the Fox section, we found a previously unknown W.C. Fields sound appearance in a Movietone newsreel from mid-1929 in which The Great Man gets golfing lesson!
Speaking of Fields, his definitive biography has just been written by James Curtis in W.C. Fields, A Biography, from Knopf (ISBN 0-375-40217-9). Fields sued Vitaphone when they filmed “The Family Ford” routine he owned in 1929. He succeeded in holding up the short’s release until Warners settled financially with him. The book is full of previously unknown material, and Jim had access to family materials not available to earlier authors. Highly recommended!
Author Armond Fields, descendant of the great Lew Fields of Weber and Fields, has a knack of turning out first class biographies of performers with Vitaphone connections. He has already produced a bio on Eddie Foy, whose kids all worked in Vitaphone shorts together (“CHIPS OFF THE OLD BLOCK and FOYS FOR JOYS both 1928) or separately (Eddie, Jr. and Charley in many shorts and features for WB, and Bryan producing shorts then features for Vitaphone.)
Armond’s latest book is Sophie Tucker from McFarland & Company (ISBN # 0-7834-1577-0). Tucker starred in the still lost HONKY TONK (1929), for which only discs, but no picture, survive.
San Francisco collector Chuck Lindsley owned thousands of 78 rpm records (Crosby was a specialty) and also possibly the largest private collection of Vitaphone soundtrack discs. The discs are primarily for 1928-32 features, although there are discs to about a dozen shorts. There are normally 8-12 discs per feature. Some may include overtures. These features were produced by MGM, Columbia, RKO, WB, UA, Paramount and smaller independents like Tiffany.
Chuck’s friend, Chris Snowden, is assisting him in disposing of the entire soundtrack collection due to Chuck’s age and health issues. At press time it had not yet been determined where this massive (imagine a 6 foot high stack of discs!) collection would go. Discussions are underway to donate it to the UCLA Film and Television Archive although other options are also being considered. Discs for about a dozen shorts are intermixed with those for the following features:
THE CAT CREEPS
THE W PLAN
THE DEVIL TO PAY!
FREE AND EASY
COHENS & KELLYS IN SCOTLAND
THREE LIVE GHOSTS
NEW YORK NIGHTS
EYES OF THE WORLD
DUBARRY, WOMAN OF PASSION
SHOW GIRL IN HOLLYWOOD
OUR BLUSHING BRIDES
SILVER HORDE |
MAN IN POSSESSION
THE MAN FROM BLANKLEYS
LADIES MUST PLAY
HALF SHOT AT SUNRISE
WHAT A WIDOW!
LADY TO LOVE
LAUGH AND GET RICH
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
Relatively few discs have been uncovered since the last issue, although a verified report of a nearly two-foot high stack of soundtrack discs in the midwest bodes well for the near future. Since our last report
Rose Marie’s fascinating biography, HOLD THE ROSES (University Press of Kentucky, 208 pages, ISBN # 0183122643) details her incredible career from vaudeville and early talkies, through radio, Broadway and television. The book can be ordered through amazon.com.
As a special “thank you” to Vitaphone Project contributors, the Project now offers a privately made CD of all of Baby Rose Marie’s 78’s, soundtracks from her 3 Vitaphone shorts, other soundtrack excerpts, and even a complete 1938 radio show. This special gift goes to supporters contributing $75 to the Project (non-deductible) and this disc is not available in stores. Coutesy of Derek Tague
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|VITAPHONE NEWS||ISSN 1066-5951|
|Corresponding Secretary & Editor||Ron Hutchinson||5 Meade Court|
Piscataway, NJ 08854
FAX: (732) 463-8521
|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|