F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre and Certain Lost Films

160 views
Skip to first unread message

Bruce Calvert

unread,
Jun 7, 2003, 5:35:30 PM6/7/03
to
I received this message from Mr. F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre today, explaining how
he came to see some of the lost films that he reviewed on the IMDB. He gave me
permission to post this on alt.movies.silent, and he probably will be reading
the responses.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Greetings, all:
My name is F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre: more about that name later. First, I'll "cut
to the chase" (a phrase which I despise, but a trait which I admire).
I stand accused of intellectual dishonesty: namely, of reviewing films which
I've not actually seen ... films which allegedly no longer exist. If these
'lost' films do exist, I have been challenged as to why I do not bring them
forth.
In short, I've been called a liar.
Anyone who wants to call me a liar is welcome to do so. I'm in favour of free
speech. To use William Goldman's annoying phrase, I "could care less" whether
you believe me or not.
Firstly, I'll let IMDb off the hook. I'm not an employee of IMDb: I'm not paid
for my IMDb reviews, nor have I claimed to offer any films (real or spurious)
for sale or rental. So, anyone who accuses me of fraud (or fraudulent behaviour)
is mistaken. Have I cheated you one pennyworth?
Secondly: let's get my name out of the way. Yes, my name 'Gwynplaine' is an
affectation (I've never denied this) ... but no, I did NOT take this name from
Conrad Veidt in 'The Man Who Laughs', much as I admire that actor.
When I was quite young, I read an English translation of Victor Hugo's novel
"L'Homme Qui Rit" and I strongly identified with this novel's protagonist. I
have a few traits in common with Victor Hugo's fictional Gwynplaine. Both of us
were forcibly removed from our respective families, and forcibly expatriated.
(In my case, I was born in Scotland but taken away from my family at an early
age, quite against my will, and I was raised in Australia as part of the "child
migrant" policy created by post-war Britain.) When I returned to Britain as a
young man, I changed my name legally, by deed poll ... so, yes, Fergus
Gwynplaine MacIntyre is my 'real' name but it's not my birthname.
'Fergus' and 'MacIntyre' are not my birthname either. In my early life, my
parents decided they had 'too many' children ... so they permitted HM Government
to repatriate me to Australia, to live in a government-run orphan asylum as a
'child migrant'. Years later, my birth parents tried to bring me back into their
family ... only because one of my brothers needed a kidney donor. So, I utterly
reject them and I have re-named myself as 'Fergus Gwynplaine MacIntyre'. No
cloaks or capes were involved.
Unlike in America, birth certificates in Britain are public documents ... so my
'real' name is on the public rolls in the UK. Feel free to look for it.
In the late 1960s I saw a low-budget Italian film version of 'The Man Who
Laughs' (in which Gwynplaine is re-named), and I assumed that this was the
first-ever film version of my favourite novel. I never saw Conrad Veidt's
version of Gwynplaine until 1984, when I had the honour of viewing William K
Everson's personal print of this film.
By the way, Bob Lipton is half-right about me: he HAS met me at Film Forum. I
spend part of each year in New York City. But he's also half-wrong: I do not
have a British accent. I was raised in Queensland, so I have what Australians
call a Banana-Bender accent.
Enough about me. Now, about the alleged 'lost' films.
Firstly, I've never claimed that I screened 'Convention City'. If you will
**carefully** read my review of this film, you will see I mention that all known
prints and negatives of this movie were destroyed in 1943, and I also state that
my review of this film was based on a public reading of the screenplay. When I
posted my IMDb review of this movie, I prefaced it with the words "I have NOT
seen 'Convention City' (a film which probably no longer exists), but I'm going
to review it anyway." Then I described the public reading, scrupulously
identifying it as such. Annoyingly, IMDb deleted my disclaimer when they posted
my review. I have no control over IMDb's revisions of my reviews. A certain tall
man in Utica, NY has accused me of claiming I saw 'Convention City'. He should
read more carefully.
Secondly, let me briefly address the subject of 'lost' films. The standard claim
is that MGM and Paramount were extremely vigilant about retrieving distribution
prints, so no copies of these films have wandered off. We know this isn't true.
'Mockery', 'The Unknown' (1927), 'The Smiling Lieutenant', 'The Life of the
Party' were all discovered in archives as prints that had gone missing after
their original release. No film should be considered absolutely lost unless --
like 'Convention City', 'Humor Risk', 'A Woman of the Sea' -- it was
deliberately destroyed.
Also, substantial excerpts -- single reels, or long pieces of footage -- from
'The Divine Woman', 'Thunder', 'The Rogue Song' have surfaced **because** they
were illicitly cut out of first-run distribution prints, and the mutilated or
incomplete reels were returned to the studio vaults with nobody tipping wiser.
So much for the "vigilant" studios.
Next: IMDb have made some very arbitrary changes to some of my postings. When I
reviewed WKL Dickson's 1895 experimental sound film, I stated in my review that
this movie is finally available as an audio-visual artefact 'more than a
century' after it was made. For some reason, IMDb changed this to 'nearly a
century' ... creating the impression that I can't do maths.
IMDb's credits for 'Actor' (1978) list Walter Matthau and Howard Duff in the
cast list. They are NOT in the cast. I corrected this in my review. IMDb posted
my review but deleted the correction.
ERRORS & DISCREPANCIES IN MY REVIEWS
Aye, several of my IMDb reviews contain verifiable errors. I'm embarrassed about
this, and I've contacted IMDb's website editors, endeavouring to correct these.
I've also notified IMDb about errors in **other people's** reviews: for
instance, someone who reviewed 'Outward Bound' for IMDb asserts that Leslie
Howard repeats his role from the Broadway stage production. (Wrong: in the
Broadway cast of 'Outward Bound', Howard played the role which Douglas Fairbanks
Jnr played in the film version. I've repeatedly pointed this out to IMDb, and
they repeatedly ignore it.)
As we all of us are in favour of accuracy, here's my errata list of errors in my
IMDb reviews:
¶ In my review of "The Cat Creeps", I said that the uncredited director on 'The
Phantom of the Opera' was Eddie Sutherland. Of course I meant Edward Sedgwick.
Error due to my bad memory, and IMDb have not permitted me to revise it.
¶ "The Disorderly Room": I stated that Tommy Handley played an army sergeant; he
actually plays a captain. Error due to my bad memory.
¶ "Flight" (1929): I misspelt the name of Roy Riegels, the real-life athlete who
inspired the opening incident in this Frank Capra film. (I seem to be the first
modern film viewer who was even aware of the inspiration for this Capra film.)
¶ "The Godless Girl": I've seen this film only once, in 1986. When I wrote my
IMDb review 16 years later (in 2002), I referred to Lina Basquette as a blonde
(she's brunette), and I refer to Marie Prevost as smoking a cigarette throughout
her performance (she doesn't). These errors are, again, down to my bad memory.
After someone pointed out these errors to me via email, I tried to persuade IMDb
to revise my posting for "The Godless Girl". Because they did not do so, I
inserted a partial correction into my IMDb review of "Show Folks" (which stars
two of the lead actors from "The Godless Girl").
¶ "Jewish Prudence": In this Max Davidson comedy, I said that Johnny Fox plays
Davidson's older son, Spec O'Donnell plays Davidson's younger son, and Jesse De
Vorska plays the lawyer. Again, these errors are down to my bad memory: I wrote
a review in 2002 for a film I had last viewed in 1991. Having re-screened this
film, I now realise that Johnny Fox plays Davidson's younger son, De Vorska
plays the older son, the lawyer is played by Gaston Glass, and Spec O'Donnell
(despite IMDb) isn't in this movie at all.
¶ "Leap Year" (1921) and "The Life of the Party" (1920): I posted IMDb reviews
for both of these Roscoe Arbuckle films on the same day (check the dates), and
in posting them I made a truly stupid error. I stated that 'Leap Year' was
released just before the Virginia Rappe scandal and 'LIfe of the Party' (due to
the scandal) was never released at all. This could only be true if 'Leap Year'
was made first. To anyone who's seen both films (I screened 'Life of the Party'
in a print with Polish intertitles), it's obvious that 'Leap Year' is the later
film, with a much larger budget. In fact, it was "Leap Year"'s release that was
compromised by the Rappe scandal; 'Life of the Party' had completed its release
before this. I wrote both these reviews together, and I accidentally transposed
some information ... creating an error which is blatant to anyone who checks the
release dates of both films. Mea culpa! Again, I've tried to get IMDb to correct
this.
¶ "The Man from Blankley's" and "The Terror": Both these films were released
with soundtracks on Vitaphone discs. In my IMDb reviews for both films, I said
these discs were to be played at 16rpm. I have recently learnt that they were
actually 33.3rpm. In my own defence, I didn't operate the phono discs for either
of these films: in both cases, an archivist worked the Vitaphone discs for me.
In both cases, I saw a print of the film (in a private collection, without its
soundtrack) years after I audited the soundtrack without access to the film.
¶ "The Monkey Talks": I saw this film at the Pordenone silent film festival in
Italy (NOT in a private collection) in October 1998, almost 4 years before I
wrote my IMDb review ... and memory has played hob with me here. The protagonist
in this film is a small man who disguises himself as a chimpanzee. In my
synopsis, I stated that another character substitutes a genuine chimp for the
chimp-man, and that the switch is obvious. Well, yes, but I described this
contrived plotline incorrectly. The *real* chimpanzee in "The Monkey Talks" is
played by a stuntman in a suit, looking far less simian than the human actor who
is portraying a *fake* chimpanzee. I don't know what caused me to mis-remember
this detail. Perhaps it's down to the fact that "The Monkey Talks" stars the
very beautiful Olive Borden, and when I watched this movie I gave much more
attention to sexy Olive Borden than I gave to the two monkey-men. Possibly I
confused this ape-switch with similar monkey business in the silent version of
"The Unholy Three", in which a *real* chimpanzee is unconvincingly cast in the
role of a gorilla ... and which is no more convincing than hiring a man in an
ape-suit to pass for a chimp in 'The Monkey Talks'. Again, I periodically ask
IMDb to revise this posting. So far, they've declined.
Because of errors like these, I now take extensive notes for every movie I
attend. THE DATES ON MY IMDb REVIEWS DO NOT CORRESPOND TO THE DATES WHEN I HAVE
SEEN -- or, for you sceptics, the dates when I **claim** to have seen -- THESE
MOVIES. Many of my IMDb postings are reviews of films I last saw 10 or more
years earlier.
¶ "Old Whiff": I was pleased to post a review for this rare Bert Lahr movie, as
my IMDb posting includes a great deal of information (including production
credits) for this very obscure animated film. Until I posted this review, IMDb
had not been aware that Bert Lahr supplied the voice for the title character.
Unfortunately, my review states that the physical appearance of the villain in
"Old Whiff" is copied from Jay Ward's cartoon villain Boris Badenov. I should
have checked this: now I've learnt that "Old Whiff" was released **before** the
Badenov character was created. It may be that Boris Badenov was copied from the
villain in "Old Whiff".
¶ "Third Dimension Murder": I stated in my review that this movie begins with a
painted image of a woman holding a 3-D viewer. Bad memory; it's a live shot of
an actress.
¶ "Treasure Island": This error is IMDb's fault. In this film, Charles Ogle
plays the peglegged pirate Long John Silver. In my review, I said there are
several scenes in which a piece of set dressing hides Ogle's left leg, or the
left side of his body is kept out of frame ... saving Ogle the ordeal of wearing
the peg in these shots. This happens several times during the movie, but *not*
throughout the entire film. Without consulting me, IMDb truncated my review,
implying that Ogle does not wear a pegleg **at all** in this film. I've
repeatedly asked IMDb to revise this ... with no response.
Right, that's sorted. Now, the main course:
ALLEGEDLY 'LOST' FILMS
Except for 'Convention City', I maintain that I HAVE VIEWED EVERY FILM & T.V.
SHOW WHICH I'VE REVIEWED for IMDb. In many cases, the film was incomplete or
seriously deteriorated, or both ... but I have SEEN every one of these films in
SOME form.
Feel free to cry 'Liar!'.
If these films exist: how did they survive, and where did I see them?
I shan't bore you with my life story (which even Erich Von Stroheim would say is
several reels too long!), but this much is relevant. Before I returned to
Britain and I legally changed my name to MacIntyre, I spent my early life in
Australia's Northern Territory and Queensland. During my adolescence in the late
1950s, I worked for a family in Queensland whose back garden contained an
Anderson shelter. Beneath this Anderson was a concrete-lined cellar with a
low-tech form of climate control. In the cellar were several shelves containing
cinematic films from the 1920s and '30s (made in England, the USA and
Australia), stored in airtight canisters. Someone had made an effort to preserve
these films, as opposed to merely bunging them into a cupboard.
This family's grandfather had been a projectionist in a cinema in Sydney in the
1920s-30s; over the course of 15+ years, he wilfully kept a substantial number
of films instead of shipping them back to their distributors. Having experience
with nitrate prints, he took some trouble to protect them. He was well dead by
the time I met his daughter and her husband and their children, who had kept the
films after the projectionist's death because 'Gran-Da wanted them saved'. This
family had some vague plan to sell the films to somebody somewhere sometime. I
took a quick look at the film canisters (I was not permitted to open them) and I
put them out of my thoughts, as in those days I had more urgent priorities.
In the mid-1960s, in London, I was working for the television producer Lew Grade
(later Sir Lew and then Lord Grade). While employed by the Grade Organisation, I
met a prominent financier who does not want me to divulge his name in this
context. (I will explain this presently.) After long discussion with his
lawyers, he has allowed me to identify him to this extent only: he was younger
than 35 when I first met him (in 1966), and much of his wealth was inherited. He
is still alive as of 2003 and in good health for his age. For the sake of
convenience -- and not as an attempt at cleverness -- I'll call him Mr McGuffin.
(Surely I need not explain the source of that name.)
I was present during a conversation between Lew Grade and Mr McGuffin when I
overheard the latter remark that he collected old films and other memorabilia.
More to do him a favour than for any other reason, I spoke up that I had once
met a family in Queensland who had some old films to sell. Mr McGuffin was
extremely interested. I told him the name and address of this family, and
thought no more about it.
Two months later, Lew Grade summoned me to his office and told me that Mr
McGuffin had located this family, had done a deal with them to purchase their
films, and that he was extremely pleased with the transaction. Mr Grade told me
that Mr McGuffin wanted to see me at his London office. (I shan't say if London
is the centre of his business operations, or merely one branch.)
Mr McGuffin asked me a lot of questions about myself. He was intrigued that I
had transcended my very lowly origins, and he was also impressed that Lew Grade
vouched for me so favourably. Mr McGuffin gave me a standing offer: if I would
keep an eye out for any memorabilia in private hands (including, but not
exclusively, old films), and if I informed Mr McGuffin or his subordinates of
any discoveries, I would be well compensated for each useful find.
This conversation took place in 1966. Over the years, I have (directly or
through intermediaries) done many business transactions with this man, to our
mutual satisfaction ... **SOME** of them involving the acquisition of old films.
Mr McGuffin is not my 'employer', because I only do work for him on a sporadic
basis. It's more accurate to call him my 'patron'.
A sceptic has accused me of claiming that my patron indulges me to first-class
air travel all over the world, at his expense. If I heard such a claim, I'd be
sceptical too.
Here's how it works: my patron pays me a **small** semi-annual retainer while I
go about my own business. I don't make any money writing IMDb reviews. I'm a
full-time journalist and free-lance writer. Here's a silent-film article I wrote
last year, which was read by 5 million people when it was published in the New
York Daily News. You can read it on the Daily News website. (Notice my name in
the byline.) Here's the URL:

http://www.nydailynews.com/city_life/big_town/v-bigtown_archive/story/27545p-26184c.html

Here's an article I wrote for the NY Daily News about Chaplin (again, notice my
byline):

http://www.nydailynews.com/city_life/big_town/v-bigtown_archive/story/34663p-32804c.html

Here's another Daily News article I wrote, about the Marx Brothers' early life
in Yorkville. Instead of recycling other people's research, this article I've
written actually increases the public knowledge about the Marx Brothers. For
this article, I located the source of Harpo Marx's 'Gookie'. Harpo claimed he
copied the facial expression of an Italian cigar-maker named Gookie. I am
apparently the first person ever to deduce that this name was actually 'Gucci'.
In 1992, the Broadway producer Alexander Cohen introduced me to lyricist Irving
Caesar, who grew up in the same neighbourhood as the Marx Brothers. I asked him
if he recalled a local merchant named Gucci, and he straight away identified
Amadeo Gucci, the long-lost father of the Gookie. Read all about it in my
article on the Daily News website. Here's the URL, and please notice my byline:

http://www.nydailynews.com/city_life/big_town/v-bigtown_archive/story/36908p-34847c.html

Now, back to the so-called 'lost' films and how I've found them. Because I'm a
free-lance journalist, I travel widely. I do this as cheaply as possible, all on
my own tuppence, occasionally getting partial reimbursement from a publisher.
Some of my travel expenses are tax-deductible if I can produce a book or a
magazine article from the experience. NOBODY BUYS ME ANY LUXURY TRAVEL. While I
travel, I actively seek rumours of tucked-away artefacts (including but not
specifically films), and I investigate these when possible. (That's what the
retainer is for.) **WHEN AND IF** I locate an item (a film or anything else)
which my patron wants to acquire for his collection, he reimburses me for all
the expenses involved and he gives me a nice finder's fee. If my search comes up
dry, I get no compensation from him. Many of my searches are dead-ends.
Where necessary, I employ translators or local assistants: I get reimbursed for
some of this, but not all. I carry a Steenbeck film-viewer when I travel, but
only when I am specifically investigating a rumour of an available film.
In 1994, in Hungary, I met an elderly woman who was a former mezzo-soprano with
the Budapest Opera. For many years (apparently unaware of the fire hazard), she
had owned a quantity of American films from the 1920s and '30s, made in
Hollywood. Sometime circa 1938, she tried to project one of these films, and had
damaged it in the attempt; ever since then, she had kept all the films in their
canisters, as mementos of the friend who had given them to her. Now she needed
money, and she reluctantly wanted to sell these films.
I asked the obvious question: who gave her these films? During the years just
before WW2, she had known a man named Hargitay or Hargitai (??spelling??) who
occasionally sang baritone in the Budapest Opera's chorus on an amateur basis.
By profession, this man Hargitay was the owner-manager of a cinema in Budapest.
I had difficulty believing that such a large quantity of films from Hollywood's
studio era could just "forget" to go back to their source studios, but here they
apparently were. (As I found out later, this was not what had happened.) I
contacted the legal representative of my patron. A wire transfer was made: the
old woman got the money, and my patron got the films.
HOW DID THESE FILMS SURVIVE SO LONG? THEY DIDN'T. NOT EXACTLY.
After I located these nitrate prints, a lab expert -- who knows **a lot more
than I do** about film stock and film printing -- had a look at them on behalf
of my patron. These prints were not made by U.S. film labs. These were American
films bearing release dates in the 1920s and early '30s, but -- according to
this lab technician -- they were printed on nitrate stock made in Europe in the
late '30s and (in some cases) the early 1950s. Some of the films were silents,
with the original English-language intertitles removed and German, French or
Hungarian intertitles substituted ... but these silent title-cards were part of
the SAME film stock as the images, not spliced in separately. Also, the lab
technician was certain that these nitrate prints were second- and
third-generation positives, not original release prints.
The cinema-manager Hargitay, or someone on his behalf, had **copied** the
American release prints: probably by striking negatives from the positives, then
making next-generation positives with some loss of detail. The original American
prints of these movies had gone back to Hollywood following their European
release ... so the studios didn't "miss" these copies, which were probably made
illegally.
One of the films in this Hargitay collection was an American film made by a
Hungarian director: "The Last Moment". In my IMDb review of this film, I claimed
that I screened it in 'a European film archive'. At the time, I felt that
'archive' was the best word to use. The truth is, I Steenbecked the first reel
of this movie in the attic of a retired opera singer in Budapest who should
consider herself damned lucky that these nitrate prints hadn't combusted yet.
But, yes: I saw this movie.
Feel free to shout 'Liar!'. Feel free to do anything you like.
In 1999, I met a Russian emigre in London who told me about a warehouse that
included many old items, including some film cans with German labels. This
'warehouse' was actually a former Russian Orthodox church in Uzkoe, near Moscow,
which had been nationalised by the Soviet government before WW2. During the war,
regiments of Stalin's Red Army had looted sites in Nazi Germany and brought back
war booty. Much of this booty -- including cans of film -- had been left in this
warehouse with little or no attempt to organise it or catalogue it.
I visited this building in March 2000, returning in May 2000. The local
government council (post-Glasnost) were aware that these old films were a
potential fire hazard, and they were eager to get rid of them ... especially if
money was involved. I contacted the legal representative of my patron, and a
wire transfer was made.
One of the films in this hoard was a seriously decomposed print of "Der Golem
und die Tanzerin" ... which, by the way, is a really AWFUL film! In my IMDb
review, I claimed that I saw this film 'catalogued in an eastern European film
archive'. I was being politely euphemistic. At some point during WW2 or later,
some Soviet bureaucrat had written down an inventory of all the artefacts in
this hoard (most of which were NOT films), and the inventory included a list of
the titles on the film canisters, in German and in Russian. This is the
'catalogue' that I consulted.
Again, feel free to call 'Liar!'. You are not obligated to believe anything.
Do I claim that I personally discovered every so-called 'lost' film I've
reviewed? *NO!* My patron has acquired a substantial number of artefacts and
memorabilia -- including old films -- from many sources. In many cases (for
reasons I'll get to in a moment), he has permitted me to view films and film
excerpts which he acquired without my assistance. I have not asked him about the
provenance of any of these items.
Now you're going to ask:
HOW DO **WE** GET TO SEE THESE FILMS?
In the near term, you don't. I've attempted to persuade my patron to share some
of these films with other viewers, for the sake of scholarship. He respects my
opinions, but I have very little influence with him. He is now well on in years.
Maybe you'll see these movies after my patron dies, and his estate passes to his
heirs. (I am not one of his heirs.) My patron is a capricious man, interested in
collecting things and acquiring things but not necessarily interested in
**using** them.
Having cleared this with his lawyers, I can tell you that my patron gets some
pleasure from **owning things nobody else owns** ... even if he doesn't use
them. In at least once case, he possessed the only known print of an old film
.. but when another copy surfaced elsewhere, he disposed of his copy privately.
If somebody else owns the movie, he doesn't want to own it.
My patron is aware of the hazards in storing nitrate films. He has a substantial
amount of real estate, which includes at least one fireproof vault. I have very
little direct contact with this man. Through intermediaries, he occasionally
permits me to access his collection. Partly, he does this as a favour to me, so
that I will continue my loyalty to him and his privacy. The main reason why my
patron allows me to access his collection is so that I can inspect his films and
grade them for two criteria: (#1) aesthetic quality of the movie, and (#2)
physical integrity of the print. I make notes of specific defects and their
locations (frame numbers, etc).
My patron allocates some funds to preserving these films and transferring them
to acetate stock: not ENOUGH funds, in my opinion ... but it's his lolly to
spend, not mine. I submit reports to my patron's staff, rating his films on the
two criteria above. The films which I consider aesthetically significant but in
poor physical condition are given first priority for preservation. The films
which are in good condition, but which are not good movies aesthetically, are
given the lowest priority for preservation. My patron maintains two part-time
employees who know much more than I do about film restoration and acetate
transfer, but these two staffers are making only very slow headway in preserving
these films.
If this seems odd to you, I respectfully point out that there are many
accredited film archives in the USA and Europe which are not preserving and
transferring their holdings at a prudent rate.
WHY CAN'T **WE** SEE THESE FILMS? AND WHY HAVEN'T I NAMED THIS MAN?
Someone has told me quite bitterly that these films should be available to
'everybody'. Sounds good to me ... but you can't guarantee that 'everybody' does
not include someone claiming to represent the holders of copyright in these old
films. I don't know a damned thing about the current legal status of Germany's
Ufa, or Al Christie's Educational Studios, or many other production companies.
Anybody at all, with no evidence, could claim to hold a proprietary interest in
these retrieved films. My patron does not want to deal with such people. I do
not have the authority to bring visitors to this man's collection. Even if I
did: if I bring **you** inside to see these movies, then I bring **everybody**
inside ... and 'everybody' could include one dodgy chancer with what is known in
the legal profession as a 'nuisance suit': a legal action designed purely to tie
up a wealthy individual's property, in the hope of prising a large cash
settlement out of that individual's bank balance.
My patron pays me modest retainers (and finder's fees, plus some expenses)
through an intermediary financial institution. He does not want any trail that
can be traced through me to himself or his corporate holdings. I have signed a
confidentiality agreement, preventing me from identifying him.
Like you, I've heard rumours of private collectors sitting on prints of
copyrighted films, hoping to profit when the copyrights lapse. I make no such
claims for my patron. Most of the films in his private collection are of
interest only to an esoteric subgroup of film-lovers. Very few people would buy
a video of 'The Last Moment'. Copyrights aside, my patron doesn't need the small
amount of money that might hypothetically accrue from marketing his films on
home video or DVD.
Do NOT tell me that I have an 'obligation' to 'posterity' or to 'film-lovers
everywhere' to make these films available. My obligation is to my part-time
patron, who has made my troubled life much easier. You WANT to see these movies,
but you don't NEED to see them. My patron NEEDS his privacy, and he has a legal
right to his privacy. As have I, to mine.
When I began reviewing this man's holdings for IMDb, I obtained permission from
his legal staff to do this. I am permitted to discuss the *content* of these
movies, but not their provenance (this email has been vetted by my patron's
solicitors). My patron is aware that my reviews have provoked some curiosity,
and he finds this greatly amusing. (I *am* allowed to tell you that he has a
healthy sense of humour!) He and his legal advisors agree that I have not (so
far) violated my agreement, as I have not made any public statement enabling you
to determine his identity. He has encouraged me to conduct this entire
controversy in a manner that will encourage your *DIS*belief rather than your
belief. The more of you who believe I am lying about the existence of this man
and his films, the fewer of you who are likely to bother him in future.
So, by all means, feel free to call me a liar.
I also raise the following possibility: in case my actions have brought too much
attention to my patron's collection of old films, perhaps I have DELIBERATELY
inserted factual errors into a few of my IMDb postings (such as 'The Monkey
Talks') so that you will conclude that this entire matter is bull-cookies ...
and you will suspect I never saw any of these movies in the first place, and
that no such collection (nor its owner) actually exists.
Go ahead. Feel free. This is Liberty Hall.
Want to call me a liar? Very well, then I'm a liar. Want to call me delusional?
Right, then I'm delusional. Want to call me a three-headed kangaroo? By all
means, I'm a three-headed kangaroo. If it floats your dinghy, I had breakfast
with Elvis on Mars. Say whatever you like. Do it in the front window of
Harrod's.
But mind how you go, and do not call me a FRAUD ... because I have neither made
nor solicited a single penny from my IMDb reviews. I do not purport to offer
these movies for sale or rental. If you wish to consider me a liar or a hoaxer,
that's your privilege. But steer clear of accusations of fraud. No fraud has
occurred.
WE DON'T BELIEVE A WORD OF THIS, UNLESS YOU PROVE IT. WHERE ARE THE FILMS?
Right. Don't believe me. I would like to make everyone happy, but the respect
and reciprocated loyalty which I receive from my some-time patron is more
important to me than convincing you good people that I'm telling the truth.
Do I hear a shout of 'Bull-cookies'? That'll do nicely.
I will entertain email correspondence from anyone who has more to say or more to
ask, but I reserve the right to limit my replies.
Straight on till mourning,
F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre
Borroloola (at) aol.com
(In case anyone is still wondering, 'Borroloola' is a town in the outback where
I misspent part of my youth.)


Bruce Calvert
--
Visit the Silent Film Still Archive
http://home.attbi.com/~silentfilm/home.htm

Stacia

unread,
Jun 7, 2003, 8:39:17 PM6/7/03
to
Bruce Calvert<silentf...@attbi.com> writes:

[on the off chance FGM will see this, or care:]

>My name is F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre: more about that name later. First,
>I'll "cut to the chase"

He did anything but "cut to the chase". He sounds like someone trying
to make himself come across as smarter than he really is. He can't just
answer a question briefly, can he? Are all you silents collectors so
zany? I"m so down to earth it's scary. My Arabian house boy will
confirm this when he's done fluffing my boas.

>Have I cheated you one pennyworth?

Is this guy for real?

>Firstly, I've never claimed that I screened 'Convention City'.

>Annoyingly, IMDb deleted my disclaimer when they posted my review.

No, it's right there, the first paragraph states it clearly. It doesn't
look like they revised your review at all, except truncating it at the end
of the twelfth (!) paragraph.

>Aye, several of my IMDb reviews contain verifiable errors.

Jeez, that was a lot of errors. No offense, but it seems reasonable for
people who enjoy silents to be somewhat offended that the most-used
source of film info on the web contains so many errors about the movies
they love.

>I shan't bore you with my life story

Am I a cynic? I don't believe a word of this post or of the other lady
who posted recently. Coincidentally they both post in similar formats, in
mind-numbing detail, and with lots of big words to make them look smart.
But thanks to Bruce for checking into it all.

>http://www.nydailynews.com/city_life/big_town/v-bigtown_archive/story/34663p-32804c.html

This didn't bring up anything for me about any movie older than "The
Matrix Reloaded". Did anyone else get this link to work?

>http://www.nydailynews.com/city_life/big_town/v-bigtown_archive/story/36908p-34847c.html

This got me the same page as the previous link. Am I doing something
wrong?

>When I began reviewing this man's holdings for IMDb, I obtained permission
>from his legal staff to do this.

But why? You're not disclosing anything and in fact, by your own
admission, you're making a lot of errors.

>(this email has been vetted by my patron's solicitors).

I hope they were paid well, sheesh.

>My patron is aware that my reviews have provoked some curiosity,
>and he finds this greatly amusing. (I *am* allowed to tell you that he has a
>healthy sense of humour!)

So basically you're rambling on and posting inaccurate information to
the IMDb because some old coot gets the giggles from it. Some rich old
coot with so much money he will pay his staff of lawyers to read your
rambling, nonsensical emails, and your reviews to the IMDb. Who enjoys
collecting things which he may not even have the right to own, but who
doesn't mind you posting his possibly illegal activities all over Usenet,
where it's archived and where it's seen by people who care enough about
silents and film preservation that they may actually try to do something
about it.
Right.

>controversy in a manner that will encourage your *DIS*belief rather than your
>belief.

[snip]


>I also raise the following possibility: in case my actions have brought
>too much attention to my patron's collection of old films, perhaps I
>have DELIBERATELY inserted factual errors into a few of my IMDb postings

And here's the "out".
If by some strange chance one iota of truth existed in your post - we
all thank you for putting the needs of a crazy old coot above the needs of
those who seriously want information about a film they will never be able
to see.
This is silly. Even if the guy is for real he's a jerk who isn't doing
anyone any good except a rich old coot hoarding films, and if the guy
isn't for real he's just getting his rocks off on the hoax.

* * *
Stacia * sta...@world.std.com * http://world.std.com/~stacia/
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death
your right to say it." - Evelyn Beatrice Hall

Eric Grayson

unread,
Jun 7, 2003, 10:54:49 PM6/7/03
to
I have a problem with this.

a) I know several reclusive collectors, and they're as annoying as hell.
But they all seem to WANT you to know what they have because the joy they
get out of it is that you can't see it. The irritating Mr. J in LA is a
leading proponent of this. My hero, Dr. Phil, says that all human behavior
is for a reason. So what the hell does this guy get out of it? He doesn't
watch the films, he doesn't let them out, he doesn't brag about it, he
doesn't make money off them. Where's the payoff here?

b) With the rumor network of what is out there in the silent/early film
world, I can't imagine that NO ONE else has heard about this cache of films
and seen a few.

c) Ya know how it is that no one is ever reincarnated from just some boring
person? Well, F. Gwnplaine doesn't claim to have seen oddball films like
The Unknown Purple or Silk Stocking Sal. He only sees the good ones that
don't exist. His benefactor had the foresight only to preserve the films
that no one else preserved and his taste was impeccable... only the major
films with major stars and directors.

Do you know how heavy a Steenbeck viewer is? Why would someone carry that
around with them? I'm psychotic... I carry around a list of Eastman edge
codes in my wallet, and even I don't carry a Steenbeck.

I'm waiting for F. Gwnplaine to post a picture of him holding a single foot
of a "lost" picture.

The Everson connection "Bill Knew about it!" is the most tenuous of all, as
I have said before. Everson would lend you his own vest if you asked nice,
and never held back on the titles of film he knew about, although he might
not tell you where it was or who had it. The thought that Everson knew
where LAM was is unthinkable. I asked him about it, as did Jon, Richard,
and probably everyone else here.

Trust but verify.

Eric


PhantomXCI

unread,
Jun 7, 2003, 11:23:07 PM6/7/03
to
<<A certain tall
man in Utica, NY has accused me of claiming I saw 'Convention City'.>>

I guess that's my cue (even though there are people in Utica named "Tallman").
It's a good thing you're not a writer, because your typing is terrible!

I apologize for accusing you of having seen a film you didn't see (CONVENTION
CITY). I know it was a horrible, thoughtless thing for me to do, and I hope
you don't suffer any long-lasting effects. I also did some investigating and
admit that it is possible you saw THE MONKEY TALKS. I was previously unaware
that it had been shown at Pordenone. But I'm afraid your faulty memory excuse
doesn't quite explain how you could confuse a real chimpanzee with a man in a
monkey suit, and then base your entire review upon that mistaken point!
However, since the film does exist in an archive, I'm willing to admit that my
accusation MIGHT have been unwarranted.
But in your lengthy reply, you still raised many other points which prevent me
from taking you seriously.

<<I carry a Steenbeck film-viewer when I travel, but
only when I am specifically investigating a rumour of an available film.
>>

You must be an extremely strong man. Steenbecks are usually the size of a
large office desk, weighing hundreds, if not thousand, of pounds..

<<... if I informed Mr McGuffin or his subordinates of


any discoveries, I would be well compensated for each useful find.
This conversation took place in 1966.>>

According to your internet biography, you were born in 1948/9. That would have
made you 17 or 18 when you were hob-knobbing with multi-millionaire businessmen
and network executives. I'm impressed!

<<I also raise the following possibility: in case my actions have brought too
much
attention to my patron's collection of old films, perhaps I have DELIBERATELY

inserted factual errors into a few of my IMDb postings (such as 'The Monkey
Talks') so that you will conclude that this entire matter is bull-cookies ...
and you will suspect I never saw any of these movies in the first place, and
that no such collection (nor its owner) actually exists.
>>

That is exactly what I suspect, and how open of you to willingly admit that you
may very well be lying. That phrase alone destroys all the credibility you
tried to build up in the preceeding 148 pages.

Mr. MacIntyre, we don't ask much... just proof. One single iota of PHYSICAL
proof that these films do exist. A 35mm copy, a 16mm copy, a videotape, a
single frame enlargement. Anything! But you continue to hide behind tales of
convenient legal obligation, and make extraordinary claims which cannot be
verified... which, of course, is very convenient for someone who claims to know
the whereabouts of over 40 lost films.

Jay Salsberg

PhantomXCI

unread,
Jun 7, 2003, 11:35:57 PM6/7/03
to
>Well, F. Gwnplaine doesn't claim to have seen oddball films like
>The Unknown Purple or Silk Stocking Sal

Ahhh... but he HAS! He posted a review for THE UNKNOWN PURPLE just about 2
weeks ago!

Jay Salsberg

John Soister

unread,
Jun 8, 2003, 6:34:22 AM6/8/03
to
I just read the aforementioned "review" of The Unknown Purple on IMDB, and found
it to be a plot re-cap, preceded by a tad of common sense, initiated with a
spurious claim. I've also just read Mr. McIntyre's verbose apologia(s), and I
can only confess to great envy. Would that I, as a teenager, had been brought
into the employ of an eccentric zillionaire who sent me thither and yon for the
express purpose of finding, viewing, acquiring, and then - according to one of
the myriad theories presented - purposefully misrepresenting them to the public
so said eccentric zillionaire can have a chuckle. I also envy Mr. McIntyre his
superhuman physical strength and his omniscience; it is quite understandable
that the man may have made several unimportant errors in memory over the
decades, burdened as he has been by such awesome powers and weighty
responsibilities.
----I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it!

John Soister

Rob Farr

unread,
Jun 8, 2003, 6:39:00 AM6/8/03
to
Thanks for the service you're doing here, Bruce. My newsgroup reader
(Outlook Express) is typical in that it blocks long messages. So I was only
able to read Mr. MacIntyre's full response by finding it in Google, then
printing out the nine pages. Most of the time, folks who post long articles
break in into three or more parts to avoid this kind of blockage. If you
re-post it using this method, more people will see it and can comment on it.

Rob Farr
--
Slapsticon July10-13, 2003
http://www.slapsticon.org

"Stacia" <sta...@world.std.com> wrote in message
news:bbu0jl$596$1...@pcls4.std.com...

Bustm

unread,
Jun 8, 2003, 9:23:54 PM6/8/03
to
"Eric Grayson" <wolf...@indy.net> wrote in message
news:BB080F8...@209.183.120.48...

> I have a problem with this.

Eric, please don't feed the trolls....

Evaluation

unread,
Jun 10, 2003, 10:18:30 AM6/10/03
to
There ARE a number of articles with Mr. MacIntyre's byline in the NY
Daily News.

The simple tactic would be to get in touch with an editor at the
newspaper and see who actually wrote them. Undoubtedly they sent a
check someplace to someone.


On Sun, 8 Jun 2003 00:39:17 +0000 (UTC), sta...@world.std.com (Stacia)
wrote:

SNIP

John Soister

unread,
Jun 10, 2003, 11:00:47 AM6/10/03
to
In article <m2qbevg1clrh1vfgi...@4ax.com>, Evaluation says...

>
>There ARE a number of articles with Mr. MacIntyre's byline in the NY
>Daily News.
>
>The simple tactic would be to get in touch with an editor at the
>newspaper and see who actually wrote them. Undoubtedly they sent a
>check someplace to someone.
>
>
>On Sun, 8 Jun 2003 00:39:17 +0000 (UTC), sta...@world.std.com (Stacia)
>wrote:
>
>SNIP
>>

I don't doubt that there IS an individual named Fergus Gwynplaine MacIntyre -
even if said person DOES admit that his two Christian names are assumed (albeit
legally). I just doubt that he's seen the stuff he's seen. For instance, isn't
it an easy out to claim that one's confusion over The Monkey Speaks - which MAY
be viewed, if one makes the effort - is due to becoming mixed up with one's
memories of The Gorilla - which is nowhere to be found (save for this
gentleman's experiences)? I mean, what a facile excuse!

John Soister

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages