2008 Vitaphone Program
June 14, 2008
A variety of music, vaudeville, and comedy from the first decade of talking pictures. Those wishing to own some rare restored 1926-30 Vitaphone shorts should purchase the 3-DVD deluxe JAZZ SINGER set from Warner Home Video. It includes 24 early Vitaphone shorts, a dozen more shorts and cartoons, a documentary on The Dawn of Sound and the digitally restored Jolson feature.
- CONVENTION CITY (WB/1933) is the most recently made Hollywood feature thought to be completely lost. A risqué pre-Code comedy with an all-star Warners cast, this Peter Mintun recreation of the opening titles will demonstrate why the Project has begun an all-out worldwide search for this film.
- VITAPHONE HEADLINERS (Vitaphone/1936) – This is part of the studio’s “Big Time Vaudeville” series of one-reel shorts, intended to recreate a vaudeville presentation. Comedy, novelty and one top star (this time Nick Lucas) were blended into tight presentations like this one.
- GENTLEMEN OF POLISH (MGM/1934) is a rare musical short unseen since its initial release. It stars vaudeville favorites Shaw & Lee and uses many outtakes and unused material from the MGM feature HOLLYWOOD PARTY. The segment with Shirley Ross and Rhythm Boy Harry Barris is actually a filmed rehearsal.
- Clip from SAFE IN HELL (WB/1931) – Here is a brief but wonderful musical segment from this outrageous pre-Code Dorothy Mackaill feature. In it, hotel owner Nina Mae McKinney croons “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South” to her lecherous guests.
- MEET THE KERNEL (Vitaphone/1934) – This is one of a number of musical shorts bandleader Dave Apollon made at the Brooklyn Vitaphone studios during the thirties. He always blended wild ethnic humor, eccentric dancing, first rate mandolin playing and peppy band arrangements both in films and in stage presentations.
- THE BIG BENEFIT (Universal/1933) – A super rare Universal short, few of which have seen the light of day since the 1930’s. The plot here has the neighborhood kids raising funds for a swimming hole by recreating the show they just saw at the Palace. The kids turn into the actual vaudeville headliners, including Bill Robinson, Rae Samuels, and Mayer & Evans. A major treat!
- PLASTERED (Paramount/1930) – Willie, West & McGinty were a top knock-about vaudeville team who bring their act intact to the talkie screen. They were always on everyone’s top ten list of best vaudeville acts. An extra treat in this short is the use of Paramount tunes from both shorts and features as background music.
- SPEEDY JUSTICE (Universal/1935) – Another rare and long unseen Universal short, this one features Eddie Foy, Jr., squeaky voiced comic Lew Hearn and the hot Southland Rhythm Girls.
- ZIEGFELD MIDNIGHT ROLIC (Paramount/1929) – Released in March, 1929, this film was lost for seven decades until found in a theatre several years ago. It recreates Eddie Cantor’s midnight show atop the Amsterdam Theatre where his Broadway hit Whoopee! was playing. Cantor is particularly relaxed and extemporaneous in this short, which features Eddie Elkins band.