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Ackkk!! Where's the sound for Great Train Robbery??


FredCDobbs
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This is silly. I saw this film at least half a dozen times on TV back in the 1950s and it ALWAYS had a piano score.

 

So where is the piano track?

 

TCM could get some church lady at any Atlanta church do add a piano track to this film. Or a student, or a piano teacher.

 

Why is this being shown with no sound track?

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It doesn't make any sense at all. In the very earliest days, even the guys with the portable hand-crank projectors would try to arrange for some local lady to play some piano music along with the films. Every hotel lobby, bar, meeting hall, and many cafes had pianos. Just like in the beginning of that movie "The Spiral Staircase".

 

Every church lady and piano teacher knows many classical tunes by memory and they can make up a sound track as they are seeing the film for the first time.

 

 

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Boy, are y'all fast: I was going to write the same thing. So, do you think we'll get a response

explaining it? At the beginning, it did say that the film was preserved by the Museum of Modern Art: maybe the film came to them that way.

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It could've been a matter of funding: MGM ("Greed") and UA ("The General") were still around

when MoMA acquired those 2 films, and probably either provided the soundtrack or the funding for one; The Edison Company was history.

 

By the way, "The General" is scheduled for showing on TCM on April 16th. at 10 PM EDT.

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Every version of this film that I saw back in the '50s had sound tracks, and so do most of the verisons on YouTube.

 

Is there no piano player in New York who would do the sound track for free, to have a credit at the beginning of the film?

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This is silly. I saw this film at least half a dozen times on TV back in the 1950s and it ALWAYS had a piano score.

 

So where is the piano track?

 

TCM could get some church lady at any Atlanta church do add a piano track to this film. Or a student, or a piano teacher.

 

Why is this being shown with no sound track?

 

The piano player finally succumbed to the gunshot wounds he suffered during the filming of the original robbery. No replacement has been named.

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sheesh, first they complain TCM doesn't show enough old movies, and then when TCM shows a REALLY old one...

Actually, Fred, I had the same reaction you did. One of the great things about watching silents on TCM is hearing what music they're using. (When you guys were talking about having seen "Grass" over on the Good Older Films thread, I'd wondered if you'd seen it with the same score. The quality of the music has to add something to the viewing). Seems like I saw this used in some western set during the early years of the century where a cowboy shoots back at the screen. And even THEN, they had a piano accompaniment.

If anyone knows why TCM chose to show this without, I hope they'll share.

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Loved seeing this for the first time unadorned, undistilled and raw without music accompaniment as it wouldn't have occurred to me to mute the sound had there been a score. This was not so primitive after all and packed a whole lot of action and plot into twelve minutes, beautiful tints- pretty impressive! And it could be true about the piano player getting shot because when this toured the West, the screen had to replaced often because of audience members trying to outshoot George Barnes' colt at the end, kind of like toast and *ROCKY HORROR.* Charming wobbling set and early problems with light diffusion but that's one great little jig sequence. Thanks for the link to the scored version though.

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The same thing happened to me at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art when they had an F.W. Murnau retrospective a few years back. They were going to screen CITY GIRL (1929), and were told by 20th Century Fox that the print that would be provided, had a movietone soundtrack.

Turns out it did not, and they did not think to check before show time. So they ended up showing the film without any music to accompany the film. It was an interesting experience, and the film was still fantastic even without a score.

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>and how come they always show The Great Train Robbery when they could be showing Troubles of a Manager of a Burlesque Show (1904)?

 

It had to do with their evening theme which was (ta da) train robberies. Maybe they'll have a night of "Films Over One Hundred Years Old" and you'll get your wish.

 

Here's hoping.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey, This Dorsey film just showed a sequence of a guy playing classical music on a piano while a silent film was showing. He was just making up the score as the film went along. This is what TCM could do for The Great Train Robbery. All old classical music, nothing copyrighted.

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