Wednesday, July 19, 2017

HOPALONG CASSIDY is Disintegrating

Leonard Maltin, respected film historian, wrote a piece on his blog that warrants everyone's attention. The potential decay of 66 Hopalong Cassidy archival negatives and photos of decomposing nitrates of Hopalong Cassidy film footage never seen before. My two favorite cowboys are The Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy, which is why this strikes a personal chord with me. 

Decomposing nitrate stock footage of unseen Hopalong Cassidy films.

I would like to add, before you read this piece, that film preservation for many movie franchises faces the same problem. Even though all Hopalong Cassidy 66 motion-pictures are available commercially on DVD, the print transfers were never spectacular. Today many film studios continue to transfer film stock to digital and while many are quick to use the words "remastered," many times the studio did no such thing. Today's technology and equipment is advanced compared to equipment 30 years ago, giving fans the appearance that the new transfer was cleaned up or restored. As a result, a new print transfer today with the best equipment money could buy would ensure better quality for a future DVD release.

More importantly, most of the films were shot on location at Lone Pine, under the production of Harry Sherman. Unlike most B-Westerns of the time, the Hopalong Cassidy pictures were above average both in story and cinematography. They looked like A-class productions. Russell Harlan, who won six nominations for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, including two in 1962 for Hatari! and To Kill a Mockingbird, was responsible for the beautiful scenery in most of the Hopalong Cassidy movies. 

Are there other cowboy western series that need restorations from original film elements? Sure there are. But the cinematography alone warrants new print transfers for Hopalong Cassidy. After reading Leonard Maltin's recent piece, I suggested in the comments section that they start a GoFundMe account. Thinking outside of the box succeeded for many projects like these. And if they do start a fund raiser, I will be a major advocate at film festivals to encourage people to donate to this cause.

Visit here:

Friday, July 7, 2017

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Documentary

Christmas is less than six months away but it does not hurt to order your copy of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Rick Goldschmidt, a 216 page hardcover documenting the making of the 1964 television special. This book is chock full of archival documents, reprints of storyboards, the 1963 draft of the script, how the puppet-motion effects were accomplished, behind-the-scenes photographs... literally every aspect of the holiday special is documented. This is the kind of book you read from the first page to the last and then sit back and watch the special to gain a different perspective -- in-jokes, censorship and alterations... a treasure trove of material.

Housed in an old building formerly used by test fighter plane engines, the Tokyo "Animagic" artists took Romeo Muller's script and Antony Peters' storyboards and turned them into a stop-motion animated holiday TV classic. That television special airs annually over CBS, sometimes twice in December, and I don't know a kid at heart that did not memorize every line to the holiday classic. With Johnny Marks title song and several classic tunes for the show, Bernard Cowan directed a talented cast of Canadian vote actors, Burl Ives gave a memorable performance, and Maury Laws oversaw the musical soundtrack. Produced by Rankin and Bass, the television special remains the highest-rated in history.

Special thanks to Rick Goldschmidt who took thousands of hours to assemble the production files, contracts, sheet music, recording sessions, photographs and tons of materials to create this book. If you are a fan of the annual Christmas special, this is the book you want to have. Makes a perfect Christmas gift this holiday for your friends!

You can buy your copy direct here:

Free postage and be sure to click the box that asks for something personal -- you'll get your copy autographed at no charge but you need to check that box! 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July, Hollywood Style

Celebrating the 4th of July, Hollywood Style!

Ava Gardner

Ann Sheridan

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford

Thursday, June 29, 2017

"Lost" SHADOW Radio Programs Discovered

Earlier this week Radio Spirits, a mail order company based out of Wallingford, Connecticut, released their summer 2017 catalog. Unlike other mail order companies specializing in old-time radio, Radio Spirits continues to release uncirculated recordings -- and their latest catalog offers a number of surprises. A casual look on page three in the catalog, for example, reveals more than 40 uncirculated "lost" recordings of George Burns and Gracie Allen, with the most recent collection containing at least 15 recordings from 1946 never available until now. 

In the past four years, Radio Spirits was responsible for thousands of "lost" recordings for The Green Hornet, The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show, The Charlie McCarthy Show, Amos and Andy, Red Skelton Show, Duffy's Tavern, The Lone Ranger, Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, Mr. District Attorney, The Man From Homicide, Somebody Knows, Big Town, Lights Out!, and Nick Carter, Master Detective.

Add The Shadow to that list. Over the past few years over two dozen uncirculated "lost" episodes were discovered and released through Radio Spirits and just when that stockpile was exhausted, another dozen was recently unearthed -- all of them were included in their latest box set. Anyone who is a fan of The Shadow radio program knows of wealthy dilettante Lamont Cranston who led a double life as a mysterious crime fighter, facing off against racketeers, kidnappers, globe-threatening villains, mad scientists, and insane masters of the occult. Even though I devoted a number of years reading radio scripts to every radio broadcast not known to exist in recorded form, I found listening to these newly-discovered recordings just as enjoyable today as they were when I first discovered The Shadow on audio cassette in the early 1980s. 

Regrettably, the numbers are not in our favor. These new recordings might be the last of the "lost" shows to surface in the coming years. Speaking realistically -- not pessimistically -- there may not be another large stockpile of "lost" episodes. I only know of two discs still gathering dust in the hands of a private collector and I fear they may never see the light of day. Two episodes that exist partially (such as the first half of "The Headsman of the Camerons") have never been released commercially. 

Whenever "lost" episodes of radio broadcasts are made available in Radio Spirits box sets, die-hards such as myself (along with a few close friends) scrutinize the catalogs and compare broadcast dates to collector lists and determine what episodes are not available anywhere else. Regrettably, Radio Spirits rarely promotes the fact that they are responsible for "lost" radio programs. It seems only the die-hards in the hobby who take time to check their holdings are aware of this fact. Last week someone made mention on Facebook that Radio Spirits was repsonsible for "lost" radio programs and dozens of people chimed in with surprise and awe. So it is my hope that this blog post brings awareness to collectors of old-time radio programs: Radio Spirits will continue to release uncirculated radio programs and they could use your support. Visit their website at www.radiospirits.com and check out their online catalog. Where else can you go and buy four box sets a year, each containing at least 18 "lost" episodes of The Green Hornet?  

In case anyone is curious to know which episodes were recently found, the list below contains the eleven "lost" episodes now available through Radio Spirits. (Others in the set that were existing are upgrades, FYI.)

"Cold Death" (December 19, 1937)
"Murder in the Ballpark" (October 8, 1939, also known as "The Diamond Murders")
"Village of Doom" (October 15, 1939)
"The Dragon's Tongue Murders" (October 12, 1941)
"The Devil's Hour" (October 26, 1941)
"The Organ Played at Midnight" (November 9, 1941)
"Death Imported" (December 21, 1941)
"Death Pulls the Strings" (January 4, 1942)
"The Drums of Doom" (January 11, 1942)
"The Thing in the Swamp" (January 18, 1942)
"Dead Man's Revenge" (January 25, 1942)

You can order the box set with these episodes here: