Volume 7 Number 4
Summer/Fall 2005

LOST COLOR NITRATE FOUND FROM
"Gold Diggers" and "On With The Show!"

Seventy five years or more after they were made, it is increasingly difficult to find the surviving elements of Vitaphone sound-on-disk films. Most of the shellac 16 inch discs were returned to Warner Brothers and destroyed, were broken, or discarded. But when they survive, they tend not to deteriorate. Nitrate film, though rarely survives. Highly unstable, the film usually decomposes to a highly volatile goo or powder. Anthony Slide's book NITRATE WON'T WAIT details this process and the countless explosions and fires that have traced nitrate film's decomposition cycle.

For this reason, the discovery of any lost nitrate footage after eight decades is reason to celebrate. Collector Darren Nemeth contacted us this fall with not one but two color Technicolor nitrate discoveries of major importance. While brief in duration (30-45 seconds each), he had obtained spools of great condition coor footage from GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY (WB/1929) and ON WITH THE SHOW! (WB/1929). In the case of the GDOB footage, it represented picture elements that were previously not believe to have survived. For On With The Show!, the film exists in black and white, but the portion Darren found was unknown to have survived in color.

As of this writing, details are being worked out to preserve and restore both segments of the color nitrate. It is still to be determined which reel of GDOB this discovery is from. Once this is confirmed, the plan is to take the full soundtrack (which exists) and to use existing stills for the still missing picture portion. Then the newly discovered color footage ill take over. Anthony L'Abbate from George Eastman House has generously loaned the Project copies of over 100 GDOB key book stills to consider for use in this restoration. For On With The Show!, the job will be easier. The existing black and white reel will have the restored color section --- featuring character comedian Sam Hardy in a bright red outfit --- dropped into the appropriate section.

GOLD DIGGERS' restoration history has been the most piecemeal and interesting of any early talkie. Until the 1990's, no picture element from the film was known to survive, although the entire soundtrack existed. Then, one color reel was discovered in England and was restored. A second color reel was found in Australia in the mid-1990's and was restored by UCLA. Now, the discovery of less than a minute more color footage continues this film's slow reconstruction.

Money, at least in part, will come from funds generated for the recent HEIGHTS THEATRE Vitaphone fundraiser, which is described in this issue.


SAMPLE FRAME OF 2-COLOR NITRATE FROM "GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY" (1929)


SAMPLE FRAME OF 2-COLOR NITRATE FROM "ON WITH THE SHOW!" (1929)


SPOOLS OF NITRATE AS THEY WERE RECENTLY DISCOVERED


ARBUCKLE DVD SET INCLUDES EARLY TALKIE
Award-winning filmmakers Paul E. Gierucki and William Hunt have prepared a new DVD collection featuring thirty-two (32) titles starring silent comedy legend Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. The 4 DVD set is available through Mackinac Media

Digitally remastered from original archival materials, or the only known surviving print, each film features completely restored titles, intertitles, and several films include previously lost or alternate footage. Silent entries debut newly-created scores from Philip Carli, David Drazin, Ben Model, The Mont Alto Orchestra, The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, Rodney Sauer and Donald Sosin.

The set includes 23 silent shorts, the rare Arbuckle feature LEAP YEAR (1921), four silent shorts directed by Arbuckle with other stars, the long unseen Arbuckle directed talkie short BRIDGE WIVES ('32) with Al St. John ---- made just before his comeback Vitaphone starring shorts, a 2005 music video THE ARBUCKLE SHUFFLE, plus a 32 page booklet, detaiis on the incredible restorations, and a number of secondary audio tracks.

To order, go to http://www.MackinacMedia.com


"BAND FAVORITES" IS OUR LATEST "THANK YOU" CD

We are very grateful to all of the readers (both hardcopy and on the web) of VITAPHONE NEWS for financial support of our efforts. Large donations are redirected to UCLA for specific restorations. But your contributions of $20, $50, etc. are used to pay for the printing and distribution of this newsletter, and for stationery, postage and supplies. As each issue now costs us about $750 to print and distribute, you can see why all of the donations go into this important networking activity. If you’ve contributed already, THANKS! If not, please consider doing so.

In addition to our long standing collection of early soundtrack disc CD's to say "thank you" for contributions of $50 or more, we've just compiled a new CD of favorite Vitaphone dance band tunes. These include tracks from the newly discovered RUDY VALLEE AND HIS CONNECTICUT YANKEES ('29), ABE LYMAN AND HIS BAND ('27), EARL BURTNETT & HIS BILTMORE HOTEL ORCHESTRA ('28)", DICK RICH AND HIS MERRY MONARCHS ('28), PAUL TREMAINE AND HIS ARISTOCRATS ('29) and BEN BERNIE AND HIS ORCHESTRA ('30).
Great to listen to while relaxing at home or motoring to a film festival. This single CD is yours for a donation of $50.

You may select from a growing choice of “thank you” Vitaphone CD’s when making your (non-deductible) donation. Remember that these are unique, non-professional (but highly listenable) recordings of rare early talkie material. No fancy notes or packaging, but we are sure you will enjoy them. Contributions, while not deductible, are greatly appreciated and help us continue to get the word out on our efforts. Just let us know your pick:

Available Vitaphone CD’s. # CD’s avail in () :
My Man
Donate to The Vitaphone Project securely with any major credit card through PayPal!


Checks (not deductible) should be made payable to:

Ron Hutchinson (NOT The Project)
5 Meade Court
Piscataway, NJ 08854


HEAR VITAPHONE SONGS PERFORMED LIVE

Janet Klein Janet Klein Janet Klein with Patrick Picking Patrick Picking with Keaton Talmadge

On a recent trip to Los Angeles The Vitaphone Project webmaster Patrick Picking was lucky enough to catch the wonderful sold out performance of talented singer Janet Klein and Her Borscht Belt Babies at the Steve Allen Theater. The show was a vaudeville show similar to what would have been seen at the early 20th century. Several of the acts featured descendants of actual vaudeville acts, such as Buster Keaton’s great-granddaughter Keaton Talmadge, actress Zasu Pitts' grandson, "eccentric dancer" Rubberlegs Lou’s son, musician Nino Demagio’s nephew, and world-class prestidigitator Marty Klein’s granddaughter Janet Klein.

Hosted by acclaimed band leader Janet Klein, who brings with her a charming Yiddish sex symbol personality reminiscent of the great Vaudeville legend Fanny Brice. The show featured Janet’s comedy numbers, Yiddish novelty tunes, a Vitaphone song or two, knife throwing, and more!

Janet's regular show is Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys, which consists of "obscure, naughty and lovely" tunes of the 1910s 20s and 30s (featuring early hot jazz and peppered with Yiddish novelty numbers). If you're in the Los Angeles area, catch this show! To see more of Janet Klein, buy her CD's, and view the schedule of her upcoming appearances please visit her website at http://www.janetklein.com.


DISC-OVERIES

The unearthing of movie soundtrack discs worldwide continues unabated. In addition, since our last newsletter, a significant number of Vitaphone shorts stills --- almost all from 1927 --- have been found in New York and New Jersey. Both stills finds were unrelated, yet both were of exclusively west coast releases, 1927 primarily, and with duplications of a few stills between collections. Very bizarre!

Here are the soundtrack discs found since our last issue:

and found in the deep recesses of the old Herald Square Loews Theatre:


UCLA CATALOGING = MORE RESTORABLES

Dino Everett, who works at UCLA's Film & Television Archive in Hollywood, recently contacted the Project to assist on dating the Vitaphone discs in their collection. In the process of doing so, we found a number of discs that had not previously appeared on lists of holdings. After cross checking availability of mute picture element, it was discovered that the following ADDITIONAL Vitaphone shorts can now be restored, as both film and sound exist:


1929 SHOWBOAT DISCS FOUND

The 1929 version of SHOWBOAT was partially reconstructed with most, but not all, of the soundtrack discs for a 1990's laserdisc set. Several reels had no surviving sound, and excerpts from existing discs were used to fill in the gap. Among the missing were discs for reels 9 and 11. Both were found this summer and are now held by the Project. We will make them available to Warner Home Video when they assemble their planned 2007 DVD set of all three versions of SHOWBOAT (1929, 1936 and 1951) to commemorate the Broadway show's 80th anniversary. The newly discovered discs include dialogue, music and singing throughout, so are a significant find.


VAUDEVILLE NATION PROGRAM IN NYC
The Vitaphone Project, Lincoln Center, and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts have collaborated on VAUDEVILLE NATION. This is a multi media program which includes an exciting exhibition at the Oenslager Gallery at 40 Lincoln Plaza from November 15, 2005 through April 1, 2006. Admission is free. There will also be a series of vaudeville programs and lectures at the Cullman Center, 111 Amsterdam Avenue, beginning February 4, 2006. And a series of five all-vaudeville shorts film shows, 10 shorts each, (the first hosted by the Project's Ron Hutchinson) on consecutive Wednesdays at 2:30PM beginning March 1, 2005 at the NY Public Library's Donnell Library Media Center at 20 West 53rd Street. For further information, call 212-621-0609 or go to the New York Public Library's website at http://www.nypl.org/press/vaudeville.cfm


PEOPLE


NEW BERKELEY DVD SET ON WAY!

Warner Home Video Senior VP George Feltenstein let us know that The Busby Berkeley Boxed Set is being released on March 21st with 6 discs. 4 new features (GD of 33, 35, FOOTLIGHT PARADE and DAMES) all restored and remastered, the previously available 42nd St. and a new DVD iteration of THE BUSBY BERKELEY DISC that was on laserdisc. It will only be available as a boxed set, with the single disc of 42nd St. still available on its own. The box is priced at $59.92 SRP which is a great bargain, and will likely be discounted by retailers and online outfits. Each new feature will have a new short docu, vintage shorts and cartoons, and trailers. Here's the line-up:


HEIGHTS PROGRAM RAISES DONATIONS

Tom Letness, who operates the historic Heights Theatre in Minneapolis ran an enthusiastically received program of early restored Vitaphone shorts on September 25th. Nearly 200 attendees viewed and applauded every film, often multiple times during a single film. Tom got considerable local publicity, and did some great poster graphics (which are viewable on our website). The program was introduced by film historian and Project supports Bob DeFlores. Over $1200 was raised, all of which will be used to restore the recently discovered color nitrate fragments from GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY and ON WITH THE SHOW!. Tom plans to run a similar fundraiser in 2006.


RESTORATIONS IN THE PIPELINE

At press time, the following films have been funded and are being restored. It is planned to have all or most of these films shown at UCLA's Film Preservation program during the Summer of 2006.


IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE NOTIFIED WHEN NEW ISSUES ARE ADDED TO THIS WEB SITE:

Add me to the Vitaphone Project E-Mail List!


VITAPHONE NEWS ISSN 1066-5951
Corresponding Secretary & Editor Ron Hutchinson 5 Meade Court
Piscataway, NJ 08854
(732) 463-8521
FAX: (732) 463-8521
ron@vitaphoneproject.com
Database Rich Markow richmarkow@aol.com
Treasurer Alan Cooperman 23 Clover Hill Road
Willington, NJ 07946
Co-Founders: John Newton P.O. Box 7191
Wilmington, DE 19803
Sherwin Dunner P.O. Box 1992
New York, NY 10013
Vince Giordano 1316 Elm Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230
Vitaphone Project Web Page http://www.vitaphoneproject.com Ron@vitaphoneproject.com



This web site is maintained by:  patrick@picking.com
Copyright 2001-2006