Monday, July 20, 2009

El Brendel comes to Capitolfest!

In 2009, I thought the film going public were lucky when the brains behind Cinefest picked the 1933 El Brendel feature "The Last Trail" to screen last March, but JUST IMAGINE my utter surprise when I got word the SUPERB film festival, Capitolfest, picked El’s flick, “Movietone Follies of 1930” to be included in the schedule at their 7th annual fest to take place August 7th-9th in lovely downtown Rome, New York!! HOO-RAYY!!!

This year will mark my fourth journey to what I consider one of the top film shows in the United States. Billing itself as “a vacation, not a marathon” the leisurely pace of the festival and the fact the films shown are screened in 35mm (with the exception of the “pre-glow” show on Friday night), make this a CERTAIN stop for me every year since I found out about from my friend Rich Finegan.

So just what are they showing this year? Well, if you want to see a full schedule you can go here, but for me here is what I am excited about seeing:

Of course, the big draw for me is the rarely screened “Movietone Follies of 1930” starring this website’s namesake, but also featuring diminutive firecracker Marjorie White in one of her early roles. Miss White is probably best known to the general public today from her final film appearance in The Three Stooges first short for Columbia, 1934’s “Women Haters” (as Larry Fine’s new bride. Marjorie is in the above photo on the right), but film fans know her better for the roles she did at Fox Films which always showed off her wild enthusiasm and sex appeal. Her untimely death in a car accident in 1935 brought her the cult status she enjoys today.

The Charley Chase 1939 short, “The Awful Goof” (a scene above), was one of four shorts the comedian did for Harry Cohn at Columbia that was NOT released in the package distributed by Screen Gems for television in 1959. It is my understanding that this film has only had one other public screening since its original release date.

Since this year’s Capitolfest is a tribute to Boris Karloff, what a better way to honor the man by showing a rarely seen Universal from the same year he made “Frankenstein”.
1931’s “Graft” is not one I can comment on because, frankly, I haven’t seen it and haven’t heard much about it, but I am excited to view it !

The 1928 First National feature, “The Barker” (above) looks enticing from the one still I have for it (YOW-ZA Dorothy Mackaill!). The note on the film, from the Capitolfest website, has a great mini-review from the December 15th, 1928 issue of Harrison’s Reports that states, “The picture has been done exceedingly well. One, in fact, is made to feel as if seeing real people and not mere shadows.” PLUS, it has an early appearance by Douglas Fairbanks Jr., so that should rope you in.

Also on the bill are an assortment of shorts, most famously from the Vitaphone series (including Pat O'Brien in 1930’s “Crimes Square”) and an intriguing mysterious one from Germany’s UFA Studios called “The Eagle’s Nest” that even the people putting on the show don’t know what it is!

I urge anyone who is interested these type of films to try to make the trip to Rome and check the festival out and even if you can’t make it drop them an email and let them know that we ALL appreciate the good work they are doing by sharing these treasures to a whole lot of adoring fans.


KING OF JAZZ said...

This sounds like a dream! I've heard the soundtrack to MOVIETONE FOLLIES, but thought in effect it was a lost film. C'mon, Fox Movie Channel--show this film too!

Louie said...

WOW! I've only heard bits of the soundtrack and would LOVE to hear the whole thing!

KING OF JAZZ said...

Actually, maybe I've heard only what you've heard--a handful of the songs. I wish we could learn more about the restoration and why it's still an elusive title to see. It seems miraculous that it exists, given how many early Fox films were destroyed in a 1937 fire.

Louie said...

I know that a number of early Brendel titles do exist at UCLA in 35mm, but most are not available for festivals to show.

Louie said...

According to the UCLA website here is the preservation info for "Movietone Follies":

PRESERVATION HISTORY: Preserved at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Preserved from a 35 mm. nitrate studio print, in cooperation with Twentieth Century Fox. Laboratory services by Film Technology Company and YCM. Funding by the American Film Institute/National Endowment for the Arts Preservation Grants Program.

KING OF JAZZ said...

Very interesting...but I wonder why they are rarely available?

Louie said...

I am no means anybody to ask that question but it's probably because no one asks for it! The others that are there probably are not preserved for film festival showings but are available in their archives.

This is somewhat true of "Mr. Lemon of Orange" which I have requested Capitolfest get every year I have attended (they pass out flyers during the festival asking patrons to request films for next years show) and according to UCLA it isn't available. But a collector in the know says that it HAS been preserved onto safety film, so maybe they haven't struck any "show prints"??

KING OF JAZZ said...


I find myself sputtering over the fact that UCLA has these titles and yet there's no one there trying to get them out of the vault? TCM should have a look. I mean, yumpin' yiminey ad finium, anything rare and restored should be seen! TCM is running ON WITH THE SHOW next week, and wouldn't MOVIETONE FOLLIES be a fine double bill?

Louie said...

I believe at one time I was told that it costs 7-10k (if not more) for a preservation print and I don't know how much to make a broadcast quality tape or digital copy, so I can see why the studios are careful about what they do.

As much as anybody I would LOVE to see all this stuff out. Open the vaults and let's see it all!

KING OF JAZZ said...

10K seems like small change for a studio to do such a pivotal task in saving a film from obscurity. 10k wouldn't even pay for a day of food services on a feature film schedule! Heck, if I won Lotto I'd gladly fund a dozen films from the UCLA vaults!