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WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Past chats with our guests.

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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby moira finnie » December 3rd, 2016, 3:54 pm

I would love to know more about Trixie Friganza too, Ron!

I understand that you unveiled a Molly Picon short recently as part of The Vitaphone Project's Unseen Vitaphone Varieties — Part 1. While I cannot come to the NYC area to enjoy your events. many of us may remember the diminutive Ms. Picon from her late life appearances in films and television of the late '60s & early '70s. How did you find this enticing sounding short and what was the vaudevillian like in her early days?

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Above: Molly Picon

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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Vitaphone » December 3rd, 2016, 4:03 pm

Sue Sue Applegate wrote:That's so interesting. Can you share with us other gems that you might have found in the Lewis collection?



Actually, Jerry Lewis did not even know he had the Trixie Friganza disk! My friend, 3-D expert and preservationist Bob Furmanek was working for Jerry c. 1990 cataloguing his collection. In a stack of 16 inch transcription disks of audience reactions to Martin & Lewis film previews, were 2 Vitaphone disks. They likely came from the theatre that had the Martin & Lewis disks. The other disk he had was one for a 1927 Vitaphone short starring later Tin Man Jack Haley with his wife, JACK HALEY AND FLO McFADDEN IN 'HALEYISMS". No film for that one.

Other than those two disks, Jerry did not have any other early talkie material.

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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Vitaphone » December 3rd, 2016, 4:10 pm

moira finnie wrote:I would love to know more about Trixie Friganza too, Ron!

I understand that you unveiled a Molly Picon short recently as part of The Vitaphone Project's Unseen Vitaphone Varieties — Part 1. While I cannot come to the NYC area to enjoy your events. many of us may remember the diminutive Ms. Picon from her late life appearances in films and television of the late '60s & early '70s. How did you find this enticing sounding short and what was the vaudevillian like in her early days?

Image
Above: Molly Picon

Thanks very much for visiting with us and for your life work!


Hi Moira! I too am a big fan of Molly Picon, who was also "Mrs. Bronson" on CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU?

She made her first sound film, a 1929 Vitaphone short titled MOLLY PICON, THE CELEBRATED COMEDIENNE in the newly wired Brooklyn studio. The soundtrack disk was missing for 80 years, and the mute 35mm picture was at The Library of Congress, In 2011, I was alerted to a large cache of Vitaphone soundtrack disks at an estate in New Haven, CT. I arranged to visit and see what they had. There were 80 (!) disks on the dining room table and as I went through each, I separately stacked those I knew that had film surviving but for which these disks had been missing. In all, 22 of the disks in that collection translated to new restoration opportunities, including the Molly Picon short. The others have either been recently restored or are in our current restoration pipeline with Warner Bros.

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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Vitaphone » December 3rd, 2016, 4:14 pm

Here's the stack of Vitaphone disks I found (including one for the Molly Picon short) in New Haven, CT in 2011.
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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 3rd, 2016, 5:45 pm

I love Molly Picon, too! So fabulous you found those, Ron.
One of our previous guests, Shayna Ochoa, wrote a little about Molly Picon in her book, Stella! The Mother of Modern Acting, a biography of Stella Adler.

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Shaw and Lee....

One of the bloggers covering the TCM Film Festival 2016 stated that your presentation at The Egyptian on Saturday was "one of those festival events that could stand alone as a remarkable night at the movies, much like the hand-cranked films presented at TCMFF 2015." I was working as a TCM Film Festival Social Producer, and unfortunately missed your exciting presentation. What was so special for you about your screenings in Hollywood?
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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby WarrenHymersMoll » December 3rd, 2016, 6:19 pm

Hi Ron!

Thank you so much for spending your weekend answering our questions! I'm really looking forward to seeing your Vitaphone presentation on TCM! Also a fan of Molly Picon from her appearances on Car 54, Where Are You?

In your work with the project, have there been times when you thought certain films or sound disks must be absolutely lost forever, only to have them turn up in unlikely places? Also, are there certain lost films or lost sound disks that are on your personal "wish list" to find?

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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Vitaphone » December 3rd, 2016, 7:37 pm

Hi! I've learned after 25 years of The Vitaphone Project that you can never say never. Since our inception in 1991, we've found over 6000 soundtrack disks in private hands worldwide. As to your "lost forever" question, in 1993 The Library of Congress found a film can labelled "JAZZ SINGER TRAILER". But when they ran it, they immediately saw that's not what it was. Instead, it was Al Jolson's 1926 short AL JOLSON IN A PLANTATION ACT. It had been lost since 1933 and no disk was known. LoC asked us to search for the missing disk. Incredibly, within a year, the disk cracked in 5 places) was found in a barn in Towson, MD. The pieces had been glued together such that the grooves didn't line up and it wouldn't play We enlisted a 78 rpm disk restoring expert who was able to carefully separate the pieces, line up the grooves and we were able to digitally transfer the disk. I was there when we did it and knew I was hearing Jolson's voice in the film for the first time in 8 decades. So this was a "lost forever" disk that wasn't. Synchronicity!

As to disks we'd like to find, there are 320 shorts for which picture exist, but disks don't. S we'd like to find more of those. Included in that mix is Jack Benny's 1928 short, a number of jazz bands and important vaudevillians. About 3 dozen disks turn up annually so there is always hope.

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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Vitaphone » December 3rd, 2016, 7:48 pm

Sue Sue Applegate wrote:I love Molly Picon, too! So fabulous you found those, Ron.
One of our previous guests, Shayna Ochoa, wrote a little about Molly Picon in her book, Stella! The Mother of Modern Acting, a biography of Stella Adler.

Image
Shaw and Lee....

One of the bloggers covering the TCM Film Festival 2016 stated that your presentation at The Egyptian on Saturday was "one of those festival events that could stand alone as a remarkable night at the movies, much like the hand-cranked films presented at TCMFF 2015." I was working as a TCM Film Festival Social Producer, and unfortunately missed your exciting presentation. What was so special for you about your screenings in Hollywood?


I was so surprised at the attendance and response to my 2016 Festival Vitaphone show at the Egyptian. As a 9AM Saturday show, I figured a hundred or so would attend. Instead nearly 600 attended, filling up the theatre. Most attendees had never seen a Vitaphone short, or maybe one. So the response to our presentation of some of the best was particularly enthusiastic! Here's a shot of the Egyptian audience enjoying SHAW AND LEE, THE BEAU BRUMMELS (1928).
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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 3rd, 2016, 8:38 pm

Lovely photo, Ron! And I so enjoyed hearing about the synchronicity of your "treasure hunt."

Your presentation was one of the most popular events at the festival, and you are to be congratulated. Pass holders are still talking about how wonderful it was. :D
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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 3rd, 2016, 9:49 pm

The article by Marilyn Ferdinand on the San Francisco Film Festival website extolls the virtue of Why Be Good?, a film I was privileged to see at the SFSFF in 2015:

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"The recovery of Why Be Good? is a story of two people coming together in the right place at the right time. In 1994, Ron Hutchinson, founder of the Vitaphone Project, presented a program of restored Vitaphone short films at New York’s Film Forum. In his opening remarks, he brought the audience up to date on activities of the organization formed in 1991 to locate soundtrack disks for early Vitaphone and other talkie shorts and features and reunite them, if possible, with their films.

Writing about the occasion, Hutchinson recalled, “I casually mentioned that I recently acquired all the soundtrack disks for Colleen Moore’s Why Be Good? I said something to the effect that ‘unfortunately, this is a lost film.’ Film historian Joseph Yranski, who ran the film library at the Donnell Media Center [a now-closed repository of the New York Public Library system], was a friend of Colleen Moore and knew more about this film than probably anybody on the planet, yelled out ‘No it’s not! I know where it is!’ The full house at Film Forum cheered.” Those cheers were premature, however. It was not until 2012 that Cineteca Italiana di Milano, which housed the print, returned it to the United States for restoration. It was synched with the jazzy Vitaphone soundtrack, which is available on the Warner Bros. DVD. The Silent Film Festival is presenting the film with live music, as was common during the transition to sound.


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With the new availability of Why Be Good?, it becomes clear what a crucial find it is. Extant copies of other Colleen Moore films display her physical dexterity, dead-on comedic timing, fresh-faced beauty, and, in talkies like The Power and the Glory (1933), her dramatic abilities. Yet none before has given us the image that launched her into Hollywood’s pantheon of stars—the flapper."

Please share with us some of the joys of this project, Ron.
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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Vitaphone » December 4th, 2016, 6:39 am

To add to what you posted about how the long-lost WHY BE GOOD? was rediscovered.... other neat aspects were being able to connect with Colleen Moore's children and their attending some of the many public screenings of the restoration. They got to enjoy the film with large audiences and to take in how much they enjoyed their mother's performance. Since nearly half of Colleen Moore's films no longer survive, the rediscovery, restoration and public screenings of both WHY BE GOOD? and SYNTHETIC SIN (found at the same time) triggered a resurgence in the appreciation of her talent. At our Film Forum screening in NYC, the grandson of both films' director, William A. Seiter, also attended and saw the reaction.

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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 4th, 2016, 9:24 am

Ron, I adore all these stories about the connections you have made with family and industry professionals from these films. You are the treasure who has restored so much of our screen history.

What might you say is the lasting legacy of vaudeville and its performers?

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Can you share with us about Bob Hope in this film? Will it be screened tomorrow?
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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Countessdelave » December 4th, 2016, 2:50 pm

Hi Ron,

Thanks for being here to answer our questions.

I loved the Vitaphone program at this year's TCM Film Festival and am very much looking forward to tomorrow's schedule on TCM. I'm especially eager to see the "Shaw and Lee" and "Sharps and Flats" shorts again.

I'm a big Colleen Moore fan and love the story of how "Why Be Good?" came to be restored. Am I correct that only a few sound disks survive for "Synthetic Sin"? Is WB interested in restoring this film without complete sound or is it destined to be viewed only occasionally, when there is live accompaniment? Will you please discuss this film and where it stands in regards to restoration?

Thanks!

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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Vitaphone » December 4th, 2016, 3:47 pm

I think vaudeville has a major lasting legacy both in films after 1930 and still today. So many of the vaudevillians who saw their livelihood disappear around 1930 --- due to radio, talking pictures and the Depression. Some vaudevillians became big stars in movies and on radio, like Jack Benny, Bob Hope and Burns and Allen. Others like Jimmy Conlin, whose 1928 Vitaphone short is so entertaining, made their living in the movies by doing small bit parts for decades, cast by people at the studios who remembered their talent from vaudeville. Conlin, for example, is in nearly a hundred films in small parts, including almost all of Preston Sturges' films.

Bruce Goldstein did a wonderful presentatoion on vaudeville's impact on movies at the 2016 TCM Festival. His closing argument used THE WIZARD OF OZ, since Judy Garland, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger all came out of vaudeville.

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Re: WELCOME TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER RON HUTCHINSON DECEMBER 3 & 4.

Postby Vitaphone » December 4th, 2016, 5:02 pm

Countessdelave wrote:Hi Ron,

Thanks for being here to answer our questions.

I loved the Vitaphone program at this year's TCM Film Festival and am very much looking forward to tomorrow's schedule on TCM. I'm especially eager to see the "Shaw and Lee" and "Sharps and Flats" shorts again.

I'm a big Colleen Moore fan and love the story of how "Why Be Good?" came to be restored. Am I correct that only a few sound disks survive for "Synthetic Sin"? Is WB interested in restoring this film without complete sound or is it destined to be viewed only occasionally, when there is live accompaniment? Will you please discuss this film and where it stands in regards to restoration?

Thanks!



Great question. Only one Vitaphone disk, for the last reel and exit music, is known to survive. It is played when the film is screened, with the missing soundtrack replaced with live accompaniment. Until funding, which is substantial, is developed to recreate the missing soundtrack, SYNTHETIC SIN will not be issued on DVD. Warner Bros owns many dozens of silents whose picture survives but which still require accompaniment. As funds are always limited each year for restoration work, focus continues to be on newly found films rather than scoring those which have been preserved visually.

As the music cue sheets survive for SYNTHETIC SIN, it is possible to accurately recreate the Vitaphone soundtrack if funding is eventually developed.

Here is the link to my Vitaphone disk for SYNTHETIC SIN's audience exit music, played right after THE END title....

https://soundcloud.com/search?q=Synthetic%20Sin


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