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WHY BE GOOD? Returns! Restoration finally completed!

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  :) Huge Breaking News from Ron Hutchinson at The Vitaphone Project! This update was just posted earlier this morning on his Facebook page.

"I am happy to finally announce that Colleen Moore's last silent, WHY BE GOOD? (FN/'29) has been synchronized with my Vitaphone disks by Warner Bros, and will be screened at the end of this month at Il Cinema Ritrvato 2014 in Bologna, Italy! This film was consider lost for decades, when during an intro I was making at a Film Forum show, I casually mentioned that I acquired all the film's soundtrack disks. "It's not lost, I know where it is" yelled film historian Joe Yranski to the laughter and applause of the audience. So began an a lost decade long effort to retrieve the lone surviving 35mm print from an Italian archive, and restore it with its super hot dance music soundtrack --- which includes Jimmy Dorsey, Phil Napoleon, Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang. This is a big budget, heavily art deco flaming flapper film which also has Jean Harlow as a dress extra.

Ned Price, Warner's Chief Preservation Officer, negotiated getting the print and has bveen working to restore and synch it up over the last year. He called me excitedly this week, and noted how extremely Pre-Code the film is. He was the first person to see and hear this film in 85 years.

When I'm permitted, I will let you know when the US screenings will be held. But once again, a great preservation story I am so proud to have been a part of! Stay tuned."




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Always great to hear of a previously lost film that will be seen again due to the love and effort of film  preservationists. I hope it will eventually become available on DVD.


Thanks for the news, gagman.

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Hi gagman, warm regards! Seven years it's been an we're still here!


I've always admired your undying passion and dedication to the films of that 1920's era. It's a passion I share myself! I've also admired your depth of knowledge about them and your willingness to share that knowledge with us has enriched these message boards and readership.


I appreciate this update! Nice to hear that there is something good going on to report about concerning these 1920's films. I'm also glad to hear that the film will be synched up with period recordings and sound track. As a music enthusiast, I've always liked the musical styles of that era. Very, very few composers and arrangers today really understand or have internalised the "musical mindset" of that time. I often find modern soundtracks added to old silent films an ordeal to put up with.


Our early film legacy has a mortal foe- it is us. It is our collective indifference, our neglect, our culture's obsession with newness and dismissal of the past. It is the ahistoricalness that is part of who we are as a people. We want the latest toys, the newest distractions. Hollywood understands this all too well and responds accordingly. Films that don't have a large commercial following, nor a sufficiently large "market" with the right "demographics" are relegated to a twilight zone. They might as well never have been made; they might as well never have survived the passing of time.


Holy Cow! Somebody in the Warner's organisation even heard of this film? They actually had somebody who cared about it's restoration? How did that happen? Was their HR not doing a good enough job screening out the eccentrics and oddballs from employment? Is the man responsible going to be lectured by his bosses about the "realities" of the media and entertainment business and told to "get back on track"? My cynicism has taken a mild setback here!



PS: Lovely picture!! Did you color that yourself (gagman is very good at this folks!) or is it an old colorised lobby card? Did this film have any early Technicolor?

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Very nice to talk with you. Thanks for the informed response. Yeah, I worked on that photo probably last November or so. Along with a bunch of other stills from WHY BE GOOD? In addition, SYNTHETIC SIN (1928) has also been transferred to Safety film by Warner's, but only one of the Vita-phone sound discs has been found. They have long kicked around the idea of having Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks Orchestra recreating the rest of the score as it exists on paper in it's entirety. Rather this is still planned or not I don't know? You can't do better then Giordano to recapture the flavor of the music of that era.


I would give anything for a TCM debut of the restored HER WILD OAT (1927) as I have been waiting since 2006. And since 2010 it has supposedly been on "TCM's Radar" So I was hoping we would have seen it by now. I have suggested that Percherine Ragtime Orchestra an extremely talented group of young musicians headed by Andrew Green be approached for this project. I just talked to him yesterday, and he said they would be delighted to score any Silents for TCM.


Of course, I would be happy with any Colleen Moore premiere. IRENE (1926), TWINKLETOES (1926), ORCHIDS AND ERMINE (1927), LILAC TIME (1928). At least something. Any of those would be great to see in a crisp new transfer, not to mention ful-length form. LILAC TIME seems the most commercial because of Gary Cooper. Besides SYNTHETIC SIN, another Colleen Moore feature NAUGHTY BUT NICE (1927) has since been discovered complete. As far as I know the print is still stashed in a vault in Spain. This discovery took place I believe in 2009. The film is notable as the first appearance of "Loretta Young" on screen. Although she had been in other films going back to a baby, she was previously known as Gretchen Young, It was Colleen Moore who suggested the name of Loretta, and she adopted it from that point onward.


I'm really hoping that TCM picks up the newly restored RAMONA (1928) with Dolores Del Rio and Warner Baxter. It has had three screenings now since March. The L.A. screening on March 29th at the Billy Wilder Theater was exactly 86 years and two days after the original L. A. Premier at the United Artists Theater on March 27th 1928. It was shown again at last weeks San Francisco Silent Film Festival.  Rodney Sauer and The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra has completed a full score, which they have preformed live now twice, and will be preforming again later this year.


There is a very good chance that TCM will run Ed Lorusso's LOC Kickstarter Rescue project of Marion Davies ENCHANTMENT (1921) later this year. He has been in contact with them, and TCM has shown allot of interest. I have seen the results and the film looks sensational. It is also a very good movie. Although a Safety-copy was struck in 1976 from a near flawless original Nitrate print , the film had never been transferred to any form of digital media, and was rarely screened. Ed got over 90 contributions to the project, including myself, and half of the cost was funded in just one day. We are looking into doing more of these Kickstarter fundraisers in the future. Hopefully one of them, possibly the next one might be a Colleen Moore movie. Were considering a number of potential candidates.


Someone really needs to start a fun raiser to restore BEAU GESTE (1926). This is long overdue. The film was slated to be restored by UCLA in 2011, but the project got put on the back-burner due to lack of funding.


Constance Talmadge EAST IS WEST (1922) has been restored from an original tinted Nitrate-print by The Netherlands EYE Institute of Film in Amsterdam Holland. I would love to see this pop up on TCM. The Eye has restored allot of stuff Including  Herbert Brenon's THE SPANISH DANCER (1923) with Pola Negri and Antonio Moreno to full-length in 35 millimeter. Also three previously believed lost Olive Thomas features.


Another rare film that should be showing up on TCM soon hopefully in the fall, is Karl Brown's STARK LOVE (1927). From what I understand it has been ready to go for quite some time. But the broadcast has been delayed thus far for various reasons. Paramount does not hold the copyright, so that can't be part of what is holding it up. I have not spoken with TCM Programmer Chuck Tabesh since probably last fall.

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Hi gagman!


Wow, what a great post! I'm delighted to hear about a couple of musical groups you have mentioned, such as Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks Orchestra , Percherine Ragtime Orchestra and The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. (I'm going to google and youtube them!) These kinds of dedicated musicians are what these old films need. Any group striving for period authenticity is refreshing as well as a novel experience for modern audiences. I think it an excellent idea to publicly screen silent movies with a live orchestra; that kind of experience could help create a new audience and appreciation in our time.


I am also glad that you mention working with the original legacy score. Many of these silent films had them, composed by the studio and many of these have survived. They should be used when resurrecting silent films or when such films are released for video. One huge advantage we now have over the world of the 1920's is our vastly superior and improved sound recording and playback technologies. A good retro orchestra, recorded with the latest audio tech, renders the full musical richness of that era!


I am pleased to hear of your close personal contacts and involvement with preservation groups like Ed Lorusso's LOC Kickstarter Rescue project. Tell me, what kind of money are we looking at for restoring one of these films? How long does it usually take? How do they recoup the restoration costs at distribution? How big is their pipeline of planned future projects? How do they raise money? Can they get through to indifferent owners like Universal (who is sitting on a lot of unreleased early Paramount films) and cut deals with them? You know a lot of this stuff is just sitting in vaults, owned by people who don't know what to do with them.


One final question: do you have a short list of such active film preservation societies that you would like the readers here to know about? I'm sure there are people within the TCM community that might like to get involved or donate!

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Well, Ed had set up a Paypal account for donations just to make it easier. You can get a copy of ENCHANTMENT directly from him for a $25.00 minimum donation. All of the proceeds will go towards funding the transfer of the next Kickstarter Rescue Project, and subsequent processing. I don't think that the Paypal link is currently up, because the next project hasn't been determined at this point.


Portions of Mont Alto's new score for RAMONA were actually based on the original compositions of Hugo Reisenfeld for the L. A Premiere in 1928. About 20 pages of his RAMONA score on paper were found. Not all of it was used however. There is a chance that RAMONA (1928) will be coming to DVD and Blu-ray, but I am not sure of the distributor as of yet. Probably either Flicker Alley, Kino, or Milestone. I'm still waiting for TCM to debut CHICAGO (1927), as it's been on DVD from Flicker Alley since July of 2010. One of the best preserved Silents around anywhere. Perfect for their Lost And Found series.


The restored WINGS was released on Blu-ray by Paramount a couple years ago with a re-creation of the original 1927 Orchestral score by J. S. Zamecnik. One of the most prolific of Silent film music composers.  But original scores are rare. There have been a few others. The Kino DVD and Blu-ray of NOSFERATU. Has a recreation of the original 1922 Hans Erdmann Orchestral score it is spectacular. I wish TCM would finally pick up this version. The one they have been showing in a much older transfer from the 90's from much lesser quality elements.


Ed's initial rescue project I think cost somewhere in the neighborhood of Thirty-three-hundred and some odd dollars all told. What they did at The Library Of Congress was make a High Def copy onto a Pro-drive, and composer Donald Sousin provided a Musical score. The Pro format Hard-drive copy can be used to author DVD's or even Blu-rays. All contributors to the project of $25.00 or more got a free DVD-R copy of the movie. Ed, took the Pro-drive to a Maine Archival lab for professional processing of the DVD-R's. The results are superb. But again ENCHANTMENT was a film with no copyright ties, or Donors fee's attached. Those would likely coast a good deal more. But if we could raise funds for a Transfer of like LILAC TIME to be shown on TCM that would be spectacular. It's only been within the past few years that all 11 reels of LILAC TIME have been accounted for. Along with some extra footage and alternate footage from a foreign release version. However, as far as I know three of the sound discs are still considered missing. The rest have been accounted for. Copyright's on some of the scoring material might prevent it from being re-recorded.


As far as I know, only the Library of Congress/Packard Foundation will do these transfers for private collectors. I don't know about George Eastman House, The Museum of Modern Art, UCLA Film And Television Archive, EYE, BFI. Etc. I don't think that those institutions offer such a service?

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