Off Topic Messages

"lost" Three Stooges short surfaces

Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:14 pm

http://nypost.com/2013/09/28/long-lost- ... -surfaces/

Long-lost ‘Three Stooges’ short surfaces

By Lou Lumenick

September 28, 2013 | 6:47pm

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Photo: Everett Collection

All surviving negative and positive materials for “Hello Pop” — a Three Stooges short in early two-color Technicolor that MGM released in September, 1933 — were believed destroyed in a 1967 vault fire at the Culver City studio (that also claimed Todd Browning’s “London After Midnight” and most outtakes from “The Wizard of Oz.”) Fifty-five years later, the Vitaphone Project — a New Jersey-based group whose mission has expanded from reuniting long-missing soundtrack discs for early musical shorts with mute prints in archives to worldwide searches for missing features and shorts from the post-Vitaphone era — was contacted by an Australian film collector asking if “Hello Pop!” was a lost film. Indeed, it’s the only short or feature with the prolific Stooges not known to exist in any form.

The Vitaphone group’s Ron Hutchinson, contacted Ned Price, head of preservation at Warner Bros., which holds the rights to the pre-1986 MGM film library, and made arrangements for the two-reel short (on highly flammable nitrate film) to be repatriated to the United States for restoration and preservation.

Hutchinson will introduce the film at 3 p.m. Sunday as well as 3 and 6:30 p.m. on Monday at Film Forum in Manhattan as part of a program called “Lost… Now Found.” The show also includes “Gobs of Fun” (1933), a Vitaphone short with Shemp Howard, an original member of the Stooges who rejoined the team following a long solo career after his brother Curly was sidelined by a stroke, as well as “rare examples of early Technicolor” from George Eastman House.” I’m particularly interested in seeing a newly-struck print of “Technocracy and You,” the only short that humorist Robert Benchley made at Universal Pictures, which as far as I can tell has been unseen since it was released in 1933.

Directed by Jack Cummings (who later headed a unit producing musicals at MGM) and featuring songs by Irving Berlin with incidental music by Dimitri Tiomkin, the backstage musical “Hello Pop” features the Stooges’ then employer, Ted Healey (who they split with the following year when the Stooges began their long affiliation wth Columbia Pictures), sometimes foil Bonny Bedell, and, as you can see from this still, Edward Brophy — as well as Henry Armetta, singer-dancers Vivian and Rosetta Duncan, as well as the Albertina Rasch dancers (including Ann Dvorak).

“Hello Pop” is part of a cache of hundreds of hundreds of early sound features and shorts that were acquired by a group of young Australian collectors when distributors cleared their shelves of nitrate prints in the 1960s. The collectors — who paid drivers of garbage trucks to deliver the prints to their homes instead of landfills — are now mostly in their 80s and are working with the Vitaphone Project to catalogue, repatriate and restore films that are not known to exist in this country. Australia and New Zealand have been especially fertile areas for rediscovery of lost films in recent years, as the American studios found it too expensive to have prints shipped back from such remote areas.

“It’s a lesson to never give up hope on supposedly lost films,” says Ned Price of Warner Bros., who has worked with the Vitaphone Project on a number of restorations. “The collector who held ‘Hello Pop” didn’t even know it was a lost film because he doesn’t have access to the Internet.”

Price says a “deep search” of Warners’ own vaults recently turned up “a few” two-color Technicolor negatives for features that were only believed to exist in black-and-white versions created for the early TV market (he didn’t disclose any titles). “The belief was that we didn’t keep any of them. But you can’t take anything at face value.”

Re: "lost" Three Stooges short surfaces

Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:31 pm

Awesome, thanks for the post, i can't wait to watch this.:D

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Re: "lost" Three Stooges short surfaces

Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:37 pm

My friend Bill Cappello is one of the top Three Stooges researchers in the world. He got to see the screening and says that what Larry Fine told him in 1974 is true. Hello Pop was the best of the films. Even then it was thought to be unplayable and Larry was sad about it being gone. Well now it isn't and I think one stooge in particular is mighty happy. No not Bill :smt003

Re: "lost" Three Stooges short surfaces

Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:38 pm

I meant best of the pre "Punch Drunks" films. They did not have their personas down until then.

Re: "lost" Three Stooges short surfaces

Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:38 am

It's now on DVD: http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Shorts-Dr ... A+Volume+3

http://nypost.com/2014/09/30/lost-three ... es-on-dvd/

Lost Three Stooges short surfaces on DVD

By Lou Lumenick

September 30, 2014 | 5:35pm

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Larry Fine, Moe Howard and Curly Howard of The Three Stooges.
Photo: Everett Collection

Three Stooges completists thrilled by the recent discovery of the boys’ long-lost 1933 short “Hello, Pop!” can now buy it as part of the “Classic Shorts From the Dream Factory: Volume 3″ collection from the Warner Archive Collection.

All copies of this short were believed destroyed in a vault fire on the MGM lot in 1967, but thankfully, a nitrate print diverted from a landfill by an Australian collector surfaced in 2013.

And the video transfer shows it’s remarkable shape, one of the best surviving examples of two-color Technicolor to be released on DVD to date.

Like four other shorts in the set, “Hello Pop!” has the Stooges (billed as “Howard, Fine and Howard”) playing second bananas to their painfully unfunny longtime employer, Ted Healy. He’s trying to put on a vaudeville show despite the shenanigans of his middle-aged “children”— Moe, Larry and Curly.

The team’s fourth short during their one year-stay at MGM, it’s very similar to their first, “Nertsery Rhymes,” which was also in two-color Technicolor, also directed by Jack Cummings and also features Healy’s scantily-clad real-life girlfriend, Bonnie Beddell, as the “Good Fairy” who tries to help Ted put his mischievous children to sleep.

And, like “Hello, Pop!” and several other in the series, it interpolates color pre-code production numbers from earlier MGM musicals, including the never-released “March of Time.”

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The Three Stooges in “Hello, Pop’.”
Photo: Turner Entertainment

The other Healy-Stooges shorts (all with Beddell) are in black-and-white. The funniest and the one closest to their classic Columbia Pictures shorts is the last, “The Big Idea,” a Hollywood spoof released in 1934 after the boys had parted ways with MGM and Healy.

The outlier in the set (in garish two-color Technicolor) is “Roast-Beef and Movies,” another Tinseltown comedy that teams a solo Curly (billed as Jerry Howard) with George Givot and Bob Callahan, who are barely funnier than Healy — by all accounts a nasty drunk whose post-Stooges career ended when he was beaten to death in a brawl in 1937 (but not, as rumored, by Wallace Beery):
http://selfstyledsiren.blogspot.com/201 ... rumor.html .

Two-color Technicolor, with its limited range of shades, was succeeded in 1934 by glorious three-strip Technicolor. For a mouth-watering example of the latter technology, check out another recent Warner Archive release — the 1943 version of “The Desert Song,” which was out of circulation for 60 years because of rights issues.

This second film version of a 1920s Sigmund Romberg operetta was revamped as an anti-Nazi melodrama starring Dennis Morgan as the covert American leader of Riff rebels out to stop a railroad across the Sahara — when he isn’t singing at Gene Lockhart’s cafe.

Endearingly silly kitsch directed with great style by Robert Florey (“The Beast With Five Fingers”), this plays more like an extended version of one of Warners’ Technicolor shorts than an “A” feature, despite quite a bit of location shooting.

Of special interest to buffs are extensive color views of the Morocco streets sets that were recycled for “Casablanca,” filmed immediately after “The Desert Song.”

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Photo: Turner Entertainment

Marcel Dalio, the croupier from “Casablanca,” plays a comic censor in the earlier film, and there are lines and situations, especially one involving Vichy water, that anticipate that classic.

Paramount comic Lynn Overman, looking unwell as a foreign correspondent shortly before his premature death, joins Warner stock players like Irene Manning, Bruce Cabot, Faye Emerson and Victor Francen, as well as the inimitable heavy Jack LaRue.

Warner Archive has also released the straighter 1953 remake of “The Desert Song” starring Morgan’s successor as WB’s top musical star, Gordon MacRae, and Ann Blyth.

On the Blu-ray front, Warners’ “75th Anniversary Ultimate Edition” of “Gone With the Wind” utilizes the same superb transfer from the 70th anniversary Blu-ray, which I reviewed in 2009:
http://nypost.com/2009/11/08/seeing-scarlett .

And despite what I was led to believe, it ports over ALL the previous special features — among them a two-hour making of documentary, one-hour profiles of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, as well as a 90-minute TV movie starring Tony Curtis as David O. Selznick — again in standard definition on a single Blu-ray disc.

Also back is a two-sided DVD containing the excellent six-hour documentary “MGM: When the Lion Roars,” narrated by Patrick Stewart.

There is one major new feature — a 27-minute featurette, “New South/Old South,” that turns out to be far more provocative than what sounded like a bland travelogue in Warner Home Video’s marketing materials, delving deeply into the problematic racial politics of “Gone With the Wind” and how they’re rooted in still-extant Southern fantasies about slavery and the Civil War:
http://nypost.com/2014/09/28/why-gone-w ... -forgotten .

The film “is a national epic in a sense for white Southerners,” says James C. Cobb of the University of Georgia, one of several academics who are interviewed in Gary Leva’s documentary.

He says the Oscar-winning classic “enshrines both the old South myth of elegance and gentility and the myth of the lost cause of the gallant outmanned confederates fighting to their last against Yankee invaders.”

Cobb complains that even his students are in denial about slavery as the driving force behind the South’s secession: “The first thing you have to do is destroy the ‘Gone With the Wind’ image of what the Civil War was about. There are so many people today, not just Southerners, who want to believe that it was about almost anything but else [but slavery].”

“Before the war, white southerners knew very well the war was fought for slavery,” explains Randy J. Sparks of Tulane University. “It’s only after their defeat that white southerners are able to create this prevailing myth that the war was not about slavery at all.”

As novelist Kathryn Stockett (“The Help”) puts it, the film “has the magical quality to actually alleviate a white Southerner’s guilt and make us believe that’s how it really was. You actually think for a second, ‘Wow, I wish those days really existed.’…You have these [slaves] who are working for these white families…as if they get a paycheck, and it’s something they choose to do.”

Cobb calls the film “seductive” and says, “it would have you believe that there could be these rich and powerful people who would never abuse that power — and the [slaves] who were exploited to create the wealth and sustain that power would never, for a second, resent it or hold a grudge.”

Lolis Eric Evie, a columnist for the New Orleans Times Picayune, says the film “attempts to have it both ways, portraying black people as being happy in the context of slavery. But they also have Ashley [Wilkes] saying, ‘I would have freed my slaves once my father died.’ Well if they were so happy, why would he want to free them?”

Some unreconstructed Southerners may be more comfortable with the other new special feature that shares the disc with “New South/Old South” — 12 minutes of newsreel footage, much of it unfamiliar, of the film’s Atlanta premiere and the gala events that preceded it in December 1939.

Besides the film’s stars and their spouses — Leslie Howard, who had returned to England immediately after war broke out that September is conspiculously absent — there are some unlikely participants as Claudette Colbert and bandleader Kay Kyser.

Besides the two new featurettes (both in HD on a separate disc), all that’s different this time around is a handsome new box cover, a profusely illustrated 36-page booklet on the film’s fashions by designer Austin Scarlett and a couple of premiums: a miniature music box that plays (what else?) “Tara’s Theme” and a replica of Rhett Butler’s handkerchief.

Also new on Blu-ray is the superb extended version of Sergio Leone’s haunting gangster epic “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984), which had its U.S. premiere over the weekend at the New York Film Festival: http://nypost.com/2014/09/21/fresh-once ... ery-second .

CBS, which badly botched the Blu-ray debut of “My Fair Lady” (1964) with a horrible transfer in 2011, will try again with a 50th anniversary edition scheduled for December 9.

The new 4K transfer was supervised by Robert Harris, who restored the film in the 1990s.

Audrey Hepburn fans will also be finally getting a Blu-ray of King Vidor’s “War and Peace” (1956) on January 20 from Warner Home Video. Her husband Mel Ferrer and Henry Fonda co-star in this VistaVision epic.