|Volume 9 Number 1||
WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES GANGSTERS COLLECTION VOLUME 4 - is due for release on September 23, 2008. The features in the set are THE AMAZING DR. CLITTERHOUSE ('38), THE LITTLE GIANT ('33), LARCENY, INC. ('42) (a hilarious sleeper of a little comedy starring Edward G. Robinson), INVISIBLE STRIPES ('39) and KID GALAHAD. ('37). But even if you're not a gangsters fan, get the set for the following shorts that are included:
THE BUSBY BERKELEY COLLECTION VOLUME 2 - due for release on September 16, 2008. The set's features are GOLD DIGGERS OF 1937 ('37), GOLD DIGGERS IN PARIS ('38), HOLLYWOOD HOTEL ('37) and VARSITY SHOW ('37). Again, the set is brimming with extras, including more Vitaphone shorts:
Consider pre-ordering these on www.amazon.com !
Prior to the coming of sound, as well as during a brief period at the transition, most film studios would send musical "cue sheets" along with their features. These were not complete scores, but rather brief portions of musical selections recommended to accompany the action. The "cue" was usually a brief excerpt from a title card or a description of on-screen action. That would be the indication to the pianist or orchestra to begin playing that suggested tune. Bandleader Vince Giordano has perhaps the largest known collection of cue sheets, some dating back to the early silent days.
Recently we were advised of another very large collection, consisting almost entirely of cue sheets for often lost late period silent films. In the case of films that survive, they offer the opportunity to recreate truly authentic accompaniments in modern screenings. Here is a list of the cue sheets in this newly found collection, as well as a few examples of what they look like:
Many of the surviving films like ROOKIES (MGM/'28), BABY MINE (MGM/28), THE SINGLE STANDARD (MGM/'29), LAUGH, CLOWN, LAUGH (MGM/'26), and BEN HUR (MGM/'25) are owned by WB and could be screened on Turner Classic Movies if an enterprising programmer (are you listening?) decided to commission new authentic scores.
If any readers of Vitaphone News know of a way to get these scores heard again and matched with surviving films, please let us hear from you at email@example.com
This time we can report not only the discovery of soundtrack discs, but also film and other materials:
The Motion Picture Academy has found what appears to be a film reel from the lost 1929 Universal musical feature MELODY LANE. The early talkie feature starred vaudeville great Eddie Leonard, whose minstrel inspired act was famous for his renditions of "Ida Sweet As Apple Cider" and "Them Roley Boley Eyes". The film has been lost for years and the sound on the surviving fragment is extremely poor. No discs are currently known. MELODY LANE is notorious in that Universal "borrowed" a Fox Movietone soundtruck allegedly for tests but instead shot the entire feature in a week using it!
Nearly one quarter of Fritz Lang's 1927 silent feature METROPOLIS, missing for decades, has been found in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Upon the film's initial release in the United States, Paramount demanded major cuts, and this footage was thought lost forever. A 16mm print of this footage was discovered in a small cinema museum. For more details of this major film discovery, and a look at some frame blow-ups, go to:
And see elsewhere in this issue for information on the discovery of a huge collection of late 1920's silent movie cue sheets and Rudy Vallee home movies.
We have a VERY limited number of 100% cotton T-shirts left over from our visit to the Syracuse CINEFEST this Spring.
SHAW & LEE CARICATURE SHIRT on white cotton, black ink. Features a previously unknown 1929 line drawing of the stars of Vitaphone shorts "THE BEAU BRUMMELS" (1928) and "GOING PLACES (1930).
WESTERN ELECTRIC - THE VOICE OF THE SCREEN logo shirt - on light blue cotton, black ink.
Because remainders are extremely limited, you must email us first to determine availability at firstname.lastname@example.org
Price is $15 each plus $2.00 postage in US, $5.00 postage elsewhere.
For the first time (shameful!), The Vitaphone Project participated in the nearly thirty year old Cinefest in Syracuse, NY. Each year, four days are jam packed with screenings of super rare silents and talkies in both 16mm and 35mm. Over 400 film aficionados attend, including Leonard and Alice Maltin, representatives from The Library of Congress (James Cozart) and The George Eastman House (Pat Loughney, Anthony L'Abbate and Nancy Kauffman) and lots of friends of the Project like Scott Margolin, Rich Finegan, Rick Scheckman, Joe Yranski of NYPL, Rutgers Professor Richard Kozarski, and so many more. We were thrilled to hear how many of these folks were aware of the Project.
Ron Hutchinson introduced screenings of THE SINGING FOOL (WB/1928) with Al Jolson, and the delightful SHOW GIRL IN HOLLYWOOD (FN/1930) which stars Alice White and has many scene of Vitaphoning on the First National lot. Three Vitaphone shorts were screened in 35mm: IDLE CHATTER (1930) with monologist Lou Holtz, TEX McLEOD (1929) who was kind of a British Will Rogers and always sounded a little out of breath on the Vitaphone microphones, and one of the rarely screened GUS ARNHEIM AND HIS AMBASSADOR ORCHESTRA (1928) shorts featuring the legendary Russ Columbo as both a vocalist and violinist. We caught up with many folks we'd never met face to face, like silent film pianist Phillip Carli, webmaster Patrick Picking, and film producer Richard Gordon.
Needless to say, we plan to attend every Cinefest from now on. Rick Scheckman and Gerry Orlando, who assemble each year's film program, have asked us to participate in the planning for the 2009 show. We've already suggested some very rare and unseen material, so start making your travel plans to Syracuse now!
We've added yet two more rare soundtrack CD's to thank those who contribute to The Vitaphone Project. The latest additions are Volumes 1 and 2 of 1929-30 Universal Studios music themes used to intro segments of their ewsreels and shorts. Each selection runs only 30-40 seconds and would be a jazz, traditional or popular theme that would somehow tie to the action. Each CD contains over 80 (!!) selections. If you would like either or both of these CD's, specify:
UNIVERSAL 1929-30 THEMES VOL. 1
UNIVERSAL 1929-30 THEMES VOL. 2
Each counts as one CD.
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. You may go to our website and contribute via PayPal, or send your check (payable to Ron Hutchinson) to 5 Meade Court, Piscataway, NJ 08854.
Checks (not deductible) should be made payable to:
We greatly appreciate all of you who have generously supported The Vitaphone Project in the past. With the latest increase in postage and printing, getting out each issue now runs over $800. Over 450 hard copies are mailed out twice a year, and while we do not require a contribution to receive it, there are a number of recipients we have not heard from in many years.
So… if you've contributed in the last few years, thank you! If not, please consider any size donation to help keep this newsletter coming. The contribution, while not tax deductible, is GREATLY appreciated. Please make checks payable to:
Another discovery by Getty Image's John Leifert has bee more of Rudy Vallee's home movies. Valle was an early fan of making 16mm silent home movies, and later even shot some sound-on-film 16mm footage in the late 1930's The earliest footage in the latest batch discovered by John includes on-the-set shots during the making of Valle's talkie debut in VAGABOND LOVER (RKO/'29) where Marshall Neilan is seen directing, and Vallee, Sally Blane and Marie Dressler are clowning. Shots of the brand new RKO lot and buildings, sound trucks and gagging by his Connecticut Yankees abound. Even more fascinating is footage taken during the making of Vallee's two early Paramount one reel musical shorts, MUSICAL JUSTICE ('31) and KNOWMORE COLLEGE ('32). The elaborate sets, Hollywood quality cameras, director Aubrey Scotto, a young Harriet Hilliard, composer Sammy Timberg and rehearsals are all seen. There is precious little on-set footage surviving that shows the making of shorts, so this is a real find.. Also among the discoveries are production home movies made at the Fox Movietone studios while shooting GEORGE WHITE'S SCANDALS ('34) with Alice Faye, Jimmy Durante and Cliff Edwards, and glimpses of guests on his Fleischman Hour, including Leslie Howard.
John advises there are still hours of Vallee home movie footage to screen, so who knows what else will be found?
The Al Jolson Forum website at http://forums.delphiforums.com/aljolson reported a huge jump in hits following the release of THE JAZZ SINGER DVD set and screening of Jolson films on TCM.
Brian Decker of the Jolson society recorded a multi-part interview with Ron Hutchinson for the "Jolson And Friends" blog. It can be heard at www.JolsonBlog.com
The Project will also have a presence at the annual Jolson convention in August 2008 on Long Island.
We continue to follow-up on leads, and truly hope to report in a future issue that this elusive film has finally been found!
In the meantime, film music researcher Richard Finegan sent along this ironic entry from a January, 1960 TV Guide:
Retired UCLA Film Preservation Officer Robert Gitt reports that his role in assisting and consulting on Warner Brothers' restoration of over 50 1926-30 Vitaphone shorts is yielding results "we can be very happy with". Bob should know, as he personally supervised the restoration of over 85 Vitaphone shorts and several features while at UCLA. The sound work on the current huge batch of restorations is being done by the same team that worked on the recent JAZZ SINGER release.
Bob advised that UCLA has moved its bi-annual film preservation program from summer 2008 to sometime early in 2009. It is hoped that a sufficient number of shorts will have been completed by that time, and can be show. We hope to obtain details from WB's Ned Price on the project for our next issue, but were unable to do so in time for this one.
We were flattered to have been asked to participate in a day long panel discussion on "Vaudeville At The Brooklyn Paramount" this past March. The 1929 theatre hosted countless vaudeville and film stars --- from Bing Crosby, Rudy Vallee and Russ Columbo, to Bill Robinson, Clara Bow, Duke Ellington, and Mary Pickford.
Discussions included the history of vaudeville, female vaudevillians, black performers on the Paramount's stage, and individual stars. Ron Hutchinson of The Vitaphone Project showed some early talkie shorts of stars who performed at the theatre. David McCain discussed and exhibited films of The Boswell Sisters. Also speaking were nostalgia legend Joe Franklin, bandleader Vince Giordano, screenwriter (BLAZING SADDLES, MY FAVORITE YEAR] Norman Steinberg and NY Times film critic Dave Kehr.
The best quote of the day came from Mr. Kehr himself, who greeted Ron with the heartfelt "You are doing God's work!"
Recipients of Vitaphone News domestically recently got a complimentary copy of The Theatre Historical Society's publication, MARQUEE. We wrote a story on Vitaphone and the coming of sound, especially from the theatre exhibitors' perspective. We hope you enjoyed it and may consider subscribing. Ken Bloom, who edits MARQUEE, kindly arranged for the mailing to those on our domestic mailing list.
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|VITAPHONE NEWS||ISSN 1066-5951|
|Corresponding Secretary & Editor||Ron Hutchinson||5 Meade Court|
Piscataway, NJ 08854
FAX: (732) 463-8521
|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://email@example.com|
|Leonard Maltin's Site||http://www.leonardmaltin.com|
|Jeff Cohen's "Vitaphone Varieties" Site||http://vitaphone.blogspot.com|