Silent Film Distributors (new thread)

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ChaneyFan

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Dec 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/2/97
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>>> I bought an 8mm print of THE GOLD RUSH from Entertainment Films in the
late sixties. It is the worst print I've ever owned--or seen-- of a silent
film!

I think an interesting thread for this group would be a brief discussion of the
various suppliers of silent films that thrived in the 1960's and 70's, only to
go belly up in the 80's when film went the way of 8-track tapes. A brief
summary:

Blackhawk Films: the Rolls-Royce of collections. High quality, high prices, a
tremendous inventory including virtually all the silent and sound Laurel &
Hardys, many of the Fairbanks swashbucklers, incredibly rare silents you've
never heard of before or since (BROKEN HEARTS OF BROADWAY, THE SOCIAL
SECRETARY, THE CLODHOPPER), many, many more titles. Went out of business in
the mid-1980s, but David Shepard bought the collection and now sells films
through National Cinema Service and Festival Films. Many of the S8mm titles
were available only in mediocre quality, but with few exceptions the 16mm
prints were, and still are, the gold standard for silent films.

Griggs Moviedrome: Another premium quality company run by Bob Lee for about
half a century until his death around 1990. The best quality prints of PHANTOM
OF THE OPERA (29), WOMAN IN THE MOON, and METROPOLIS, and many other titles to
boot. Of greater interest was Lee's "private" list which included THE KID
BROTHER, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, THE MAN WHO LAUGHS, IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME, MISS
LULU BETT, CONRAD IN QUEST OF HIS YOUTH, THE CANADIAN, STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD
HEIDELBERG, THE BIG PARADE, WINGS, FLESH AND THE DEVIL, and lots of other
highly desirable titles. The p.d. titles are now sold by National Cinema
Service, and the private list is unfortunately no longer available.

Glenn Photo Supply: One of the few original dealers still in business. Murray
Glass has a large, eclectic collection of titles that range from stunning
quality to unwatchable garbage. A few very nice and rare titles such as a
lovely tinted/toned LOVE NEVER DIES (early King Vidor), THE CRADLE OF COURAGE,
HELL'S HINGES, THE CAT AND THE CANARY, and several of the early Willis O'Brien
and Starevich films (I especially recommend THE MASCOT which is a honey of a
film and print), but you take your chances on quality most of the time, and
prices are about 50% too high.

Museum of Modern Art: Yes, MOMA used to sell 16mm prints of many of their
titles...and as far as I know they still do. Astronomical prices, but some
great stuff like a tinted BROKEN BLOSSOMS, the uncut LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN, and
lots of Griffith Biographs.

Enrique Bouchard: this collector in Argentina duped all sorts of copyrighted
features and sold them mostly in 8mm, with a few in 16mm. He was one of the
early sources for many of the Buster Keaton titles. Quality was usually very
poor, but in the 1970's it was the only place you could get titles like
BATTLING BUTLER and THE THREE AGES. I haven't from him or of him for years and
don't even know if he is still alive, let alone in business.

Cine Service Vintage Films: I discussed them a few days ago. Not much rare
stuff, but they had the most complete print of PHANTOM (1925). Went out of
business in the mid-70's.

Ed Finney: A director of B-westerns, Finney also collected and had a small but
impressive catalog of titles, mostly silent including THE PENALTY, SKY HIGH,
and THE MAN FROM PAINTED POST.

Breakspear Films: A little known British business that sold S8 prints only, but
had some very rare silent material, such as the Lon Chaney's BY THE SUN'S RAYS
and some rare Biograph shorts.

Milestone Movies: An amazing company that was more-or-less a front for Bill
Everson, who provided all the preprints. As a result, several one-of-a-kind
titles such as CITY GIRL, THE LAST COMMAND, THAT CERTAIN THING, and A SHIP
COMES IN were available, but only in 8mm or S8mm.

Manbeck Films: A minor distributor with a handful of negatives such as THE
EAGLE and TOLABLE DAVID. The only noteworthy title they had was the best 16mm
print I have ever seen on CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI.

Reel Images: Jon Sonneborn ran this company, with early help from Marty
Kearns, but eventually he got out of film and into video, renaming the company
Video Images. Not much rare stuff with a few exceptions: the best print of
THE PLAYHOUSE, and nice prints on Fairbanks' MYSTERY OF THE LEAPING FISH and
Hart's THREE WORD BRAND.

Thunderbird Films/Morcraft Films: Thunderbird was run by Tom Donohoo (sp?) who
gave up the business when he went to prison. The business was taken over by
Dermott Morgan until he died a few years back and the negatives were all sold
to a stock footage library. Some interesting titles including some of the
rarer Chaplin shorts, the best print of ECSTASY, a few rare Lloyd shorts, and
other gems.

Niles: the Poverty Row of film distributors. If Niles had a watchable print in
their catalog, I certainly never saw it. Most of the collection consisted of
dupes of other companies' product. Nothing you couldn't get anywhere else, but
they were priced dirt cheap, and you got what you paid for.

National Cinema Service and Festival Films: These two distributors don't
really have their own product, per se, but they act as suppliers for
Blackhawk, Griggs, and other collections and are still actively in business.
These are two of the last places where you can still buy 16mm silent films. I
particularly recommend Festival Films, since Ron & Chris Hall who run it have a
wealth of experience on film quality and offer very good prices.

I'm sure there were others, but these are the main companies that come to mind.
I need Rusty, Bob, Rob, David, Rick, Ed, Chris, and some of the other
long-time collectors in this group to comment on any others I have forgotten.
================
Jon Mirsalis
Chan...@aol.com
http://www.sri.com/biopharm/misc/jonfilm.htm
Lon Chaney Home Page: http://members.aol.com/ChaneyFan

MKELO

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Dec 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/2/97
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<<Enrique Bouchard: this collector in Argentina duped all sorts of copyrighted
features and sold them mostly in 8mm, with a few in 16mm. He was one of
theearly sources for many of the Buster Keaton titles. Quality was usually

very poor, but in the 1970's it was the only place you could get titles
likeBATTLING BUTLER and THE THREE AGES. I haven't from him or of him for years

and don't even know if he is still alive, let alone in business.>>

Mr. B is still around. Recently received his 16mm list. Still has many Keaton
titles. Has LOTS and LOTS of European films.

Best,
Mk
(Michael Kriegsman)

Christopher Jacobs

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Dec 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/2/97
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ChaneyFan wrote:
>
> I think an interesting thread for this group would be a brief discussion of the
> various suppliers of silent films that thrived in the 1960's and 70's, only to
> go belly up in the 80's when film went the way of 8-track tapes.

> Niles: the Poverty Row of film distributors. If Niles had a watchable print in


> their catalog, I certainly never saw it. Most of the collection consisted of
> dupes of other companies' product. Nothing you couldn't get anywhere else, but
> they were priced dirt cheap, and you got what you paid for.
>

Those of us on limited film purchasing budgets had a bit of a soft spot
for Niles, despite the dupes. Actually Niles had a few quite good prints
(very few). The secret to finding them was to check the catalog listings
that boasted the prints were from 35mm nitrates. Their print of
Barrymore's SVENGALI may have been a dupe but it was also amazingly good
and could pass for a reduction. INVISIBLE GHOST and BLUEBEARD had very
nice picture quality but the sound was pretty mediocre. (My Niles prints
of these three titles, alas, suffered some significant flood damage.)

A company you left off was Select Films, which had a 16mm rental library
and a large selection of 8mm prints for sale including a few exclusives
like some PDC DeMille productions. Many of the titles they carried were
from other dealers, as well. They also had a "private" list and had a
lovely 8mm BEAU GESTE that I wish I had brought upstairs before the
flood. When they went out of business, they sold off their rental prints
for next to nothing--some great 16mm deals (like $25/print) if you liked
the remaining choice of titles.

And what about Cinema Eight? or was that the same as National Cinema
Service? And of course many of us got started on Castle, Ken, and
Columbia abridgements...all those "complete" 9-minute versions and
"headline" two-minute versions.

Chris Jacobs

Stan16mm

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Dec 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/2/97
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Chaneyfan asks help from,>Rusty, Bob, Rob, David, Rick, Ed, Chris, and some of

the other
>long-time collectors in this group to comment on any others I have forgotten.

Jon, we have travelled in the same circles for years but, sadly have never
sphered together. I enjoyed your filmic trip down memory lane. Yes there were
many others, Castle, Ken, Atlas, Hollywood Film Enterprises, Famous Films,
DeMaio, Derann, to name but a few, but what I would like to hear about is if
anyone out there remembers International Film Service, run by the late Norman
Levinson, who worked out of Greenvale, Long Island.
He was a very important dealer in films for the 8mm and 16mm collector and had
a nice quantity of negatives. He always discounted the Blackhawk collection
and other distributors by 15%. I met him when I was eleven years old and he
was to me, what the old man was to the boy in Cinema Paradiso. Any film
collectors care to share any memories?

Stan16mm

Marvin Jones

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Dec 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/2/97
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On 2 Dec 1997 05:34:24 GMT, chan...@aol.com (ChaneyFan) wrote:

>Griggs Moviedrome: Another premium quality company run by Bob Lee for about
>half a century until his death around 1990.

I'm curious about this information. I remember the company being run
by an actor named John Griggs. I even worked in a road company of
Peter Pan back in the '60s with a couple of actors who were good
friends of his and talked about attending screenings of films at his
home. So who was Bob Lee and how did he fit into it?


Christopher Bird

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Dec 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/2/97
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Derann Films still print films on Super 8 (very high quality prints given
the tiny frame area of this format), though I don't think they print any
silents.

There are others in Britain, but the only one I know that still prints
silents is Perry's Movies in London. I have prints of `A Trip to the Moon'
and `The Great Train Robbery' from them, at 20 pounds each, which
arereasonable quality but not great. They also recently reprinted `The
General' which you can biy for 90 pounds. But it's mute, and the quality
probably isn't much better than video, though vastly more expensive.

Christopher Bird


JERFilm

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Dec 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/2/97
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>Mr. B is still around.

Yes, he still advertises in CLASSIC IMAGES....


Jerry Rutledge
Waseca, MN - USA

David P. Hayes

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Dec 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/2/97
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ChaneyFan <chan...@aol.com> wrote in article
<19971202053...@ladder01.news.aol.com>...

> I think an interesting thread for this group would be a brief discussion
of the
> various suppliers of silent films that thrived in the 1960's and 70's,
only to
> go belly up in the 80's when film went the way of 8-track tapes. ...

>
> Niles: the Poverty Row of film distributors. If Niles had a watchable
print in
> their catalog, I certainly never saw it. Most of the collection
consisted of
> dupes of other companies' product. Nothing you couldn't get anywhere
else, but
> they were priced dirt cheap, and you got what you paid for.

Niles had very good prints on Super 8 of Laurel & Hardy's "Utopia" (the
American release version of "Atoll K"), of the Our Gang silent two-reeler
"Derby Day," and of the silent one-reelers "Don't Shove" (Harold Lloyd) and
"Barney Oldfield's Race for a Life" (Keystone). The latter two were
obviously duped from Blackhawk 16mm (Niles even left in the Blackhawk "The
End" title and also the Blackhawk replacement opening titles by blocking
out the "Blackhawk presents" portion of the frame). Still, given that
Blackhawk frequently didn't put the care into Super 8 pictorial contrast
that they did on 16mm, the Niles Super 8 prints were probably better than
the Blackhawk Super 8.

Another responder mentioned that it helped to look for "From 35mm nitrate"
in the descriptions in the Niles catalog. This is true--and I found it
remarkable that Niles so openly implied that the undesignated (as from
35mm) films were from inferior preprint. "Rocketship" (the feature version
of the first "Flash Gordon" serial) was designated as from 35mm; I never
saw their print.

Niles' desperation for business and their willingness to sell for low
prices, came through to me when I ordered a used print from their sales
flier and received a note saying that the item was out of stock and that
delivery would be delayed for about two weeks. After I wrote back saying
that I had ordered a USED print and thus there shouldn't be an issue of
when another print would be in stock, they wrote back saying that they
would be sending me a new print at the used-print price!

Others writing in this thread have mentioned Castle (later Universal 8) and
Ken Films. Although they didn't issue silent films as a policy, each had a
small number (often one-reel abridgments of two-reelers) and the quality
was extraordinary. Castle's one-reel "Railroad Stowaways" was from Mack
Sennett's two-reel "Cannonball Express" (1925) starring Billy Bevan and
Andy Clyde; the picture was sharp, of excellent contrast, and without
scratches. Ken Films had one-reel versions of the two-reelers "Happy Times
and Jolly Moments" and "Good Old Corn." Both had been Vitaphone
compilations of the 1940s that presented highlights of Sennett (and a few
non-Sennett) scenes. By cutting these compilations to one reel each, Ken
Films simply excised some excerpts altogether but kept the others as
Vitaphone had left them. Quality was astonishingly good.

Castle Films' lack of knowledge about their silent product came across in a
long-standing error in one description. "Lonely Luke" was said to be the
lead character in one comedy, although "Lonesome Luke" was apparently
intended.


--
David Hayes

David P. Hayes

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Dec 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/2/97
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ChaneyFan wrote:
>
> I think an interesting thread for this group would be a brief discussion
of the
> various suppliers of silent films that thrived in the 1960's and 70's,
only to
> go belly up in the 80's when film went the way of 8-track tapes.

Missing from listed posted was the company Film Classics Exchange of Los
Angeles. They had a substantial number of obscure silent films:
two-reelers made by Florida-based companies during the late-1910s, several
Larry Semon comedies, no-name feature films, "Rex, King of Wild Horse"
(which no one else had), etc. They sold Stan Laurel's last solo
(non-Hardy) film long before Blackhawk did.


--
David Hayes

David P. Hayes

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Dec 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/2/97
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Bobster123 <bobst...@aol.com> wrote in article
<19971203005...@ladder02.news.aol.com>...
Regarding Thunderbird Film's owner,
> Just what did Tom Dunahoo go to prison for? Is he still
> there/around?

He went for child molesting. He was released about ten years ago. Last I
heard, he was part of a religious organization.

> About three years ago, I called Morcraft after seeing their ad in THE BIG
REEL.
> The guy I talked to said he was looking into releasing more Thunderbird
titles
> on video. Was wondering recently whatever happened to them.

I got the idea that Morcraft didn't do much video business. I visited
Morcraft a couple of times circa 1987, and what came across was that they
were making 16mm prints of features for television stations, but it should
be obvious that once such prints were in circulation, broadcast-caliber
tapes would be made from them and that the business would dry up. It also
seems to have happened that public domain distributors to television found
much more 35mm source material.

> Thunderbird was
> a really hot and cold company. Sometimes you'd get a fabulous print-
other
> times it would be unwatchable. A lot seemed to have to do with their lab
work,
> which I believe was done in-house.

Some was in-house, some not. In one of the 1970s catalog, Tom reported
about his experiences with outside labs and what he was doing about the bad
experiences.

> Niles had an excellent collection of Our Gang silents, though. I often
> wondered why they offered such a big selection, and Blackhawk (who had
the
> rights to the copyrighted Our Gang titles) didn't.

Sales figures, presumably.

> Was Niles duping Blackhawk prints this way illegal? I mean, I know the
films
> themselves were public domain, but didn't Blackhawk copyright their own
> releases of them? Or is it legal just as long as the Blackhawk logo
isn't
> used?

Niles duping Blackhawk, from a legal standpoint, shouldn't be any different
than Blackhawk copying from the original studio's materials. Blackhawk
could claim ownership of their historical introduction titles (although I
can't recall their copyrighting them) or translations of intertitles
originally (or found) in a foreign language (and Blackhawk did so), but as
for "their releases" of 16mm and 8mm copies of what were originally 35mm
films, these are not eligible for copyright. The copyright law is clear on
mere quirks of mechanical reproduction not constituting grounds for
copyright protection. Therefore, Blackhawk might recognize their print had
been copied as a result of a tell-tale scratch or from frames missing some
emulsion in specific locations, but such unique aspects of a print do not
constitute creative expression and therefore cannot be copyrighted
separately.

--
David Hayes


Bobster123

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Dec 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/3/97
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>From: "David P. Hayes" <david_...@msn.com> wrote:
>Niles had very good prints on Super 8 of Laurel & Hardy's "Utopia" (the
>American release version of "Atoll K"), of the Our Gang silent two-reeler
>"Derby Day," and of the silent one-reelers "Don't Shove" (Harold Lloyd) and
>"Barney Oldfield's Race for a Life" (Keystone). The latter two were
>obviously duped from Blackhawk 16mm (Niles even left in the Blackhawk "The
>End" title and also the Blackhawk replacement opening titles by blocking
>out the "Blackhawk presents" portion of the frame)

The best prints of UTOPIA came from Thunderbird. In fact, I think they had the
original 35mm print of it. I heard that Tom Dunahoo bought the 35mm print from
a Big Reel ad. Just what did Tom Dunahoo go to prison for? Is he still
there/around?


About three years ago, I called Morcraft after seeing their ad in THE BIG REEL.
The guy I talked to said he was looking into releasing more Thunderbird titles

on video. Was wondering recently whatever happened to them. Thunderbird was


a really hot and cold company. Sometimes you'd get a fabulous print- other
times it would be unwatchable. A lot seemed to have to do with their lab work,
which I believe was done in-house.

A friend of mine bought NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD from Niles. They left in the
Hollywood Film Exchange logo- but the quality was so overexposed that you
couldn't even see it!


Niles had an excellent collection of Our Gang silents, though. I often
wondered why they offered such a big selection, and Blackhawk (who had the
rights to the copyrighted Our Gang titles) didn't.

ChaneyFan

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Dec 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/3/97
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Thanks to those of you who suggested additional titles. I had certainly
forgotten about Select and Charlie Tarbox. I didn't list Ken, Durann, and
Castle, because to my knowledge they did not sell any silent features uncut,
and certainly didn't have anything silent that you could not get elsewhere.

I thought of another important one I forgot to mention. Historical Films in
Hollywood was (I believe) operated by Kemp Niver, and had an enormous catalog
that consisted almost exclusively of prints from the LOC paper print
collection. Quality was variable, prices were high, but he literally had a
couple of hundred Biographs that no one else had, and hundreds of other prints
from Edison and other early studios. A few unusual titles he had were several
of the rare Wm S. Harts, and these were from nitrates, not paper prints. I am
doing this off the top of my head, but I believe the titles were SAND, THE
TESTING BLOCK, WHITE OAK, and O'MALLEY OF THE MOUNTED. I have no idea what
became of all these negatives, but I have a suspicion that they were donated to
either UCLA or USC.

Robert Birchard

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Dec 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/3/97
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David P. Hayes wrote:
>
> Niles' desperation for business and their willingness to sell for low
> prices, came through to me when I ordered a used print from their sales
> flier and received a note saying that the item was out of stock and that
> delivery would be delayed for about two weeks. After I wrote back saying
> that I had ordered a USED print and thus there shouldn't be an issue of
> when another print would be in stock, they wrote back saying that they
> would be sending me a new print at the used-print price!


Actually, their used print list was a scam for advertising
copyrighted titles as used prints so they wouldn't be accused of
bootlegging. As far as I remember all their "used" prints were new
prints.

Niles was an interesting company. It started out with great
quality and great integrity--but success made one of the owners go
"Hollywood." The once-conservative midwestern gentlemam started
sporting gold chains, open front shirts, and longish hair and he began
to take frequent trips to Hollywood to indulge in the pleasures of the
flesh. As his extracirricular activities increased, the qulaity of the
films and the service deteriorated to the point where the company had no
good will left. They finally went bankrupt.


--
Bob Birchard
bbir...@earthlink.net
http://www.mdle.com/ClassicFilms/Guest/birchard.htm

Michael Gebert

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Dec 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/3/97
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> Therefore, Blackhawk might recognize their print had
> been copied as a result of a tell-tale scratch or from frames missing some
> emulsion in specific locations, but such unique aspects of a print do not
> constitute creative expression and therefore cannot be copyrighted
> separately.

Apparently, though, you can claim restoration work, no? It seems to me
that there's a big gray area here that would get settled on a case by case
basis (for instance, if Raymond Rohauer was copying you, he would
interpret the law one way, but if you were copying him, he would interpret
it another, and if you were continuing to sell something of yours that he
had copied in the meantime., he would interpret it a third way, and if the
film was lost but it was in his catalog anyway....)

David P. Hayes

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Dec 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/3/97
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Michael Gebert <mg...@mindspring.com> wrote in article
<mgmax-03129...@pool-207-205-139-30.chia.grid.net>, starting with a
quote from me:

Raymond Rohauer made a practice of altering the original films in order to
secure a new copyright. He would change the titles so that they were in a
new lettering style and with minor changes of wording. (In one case,
though, he changed "there" to "where" (as I recall; it may have been a
similar "change"), and failed to realize that the alteration rendered the
dialogue unintelligible. Such changes were called grounds for claiming
that new creativity had been expended and that the new prints were
protected by separate copyright. Adding a soundtrack to a silent film has
long been grounds for claiming a new copyright on a public-domain movie,
although it seems understood that if the picture is unchanged, someone else
can strip off the soundtrack and legally duplicate the movie.

Restoration is a trickier area. Here, the claim is that painstaking effort
goes into making the work look as it originally did--hence, success is
achieved when there is NO creativity (except the of overcoming mechanical
obstacles). UCLA has registered their restoration of "Becky Sharp," but
whether the new copyright would be upheld in court is a different matter.

It may seem an outrage that long hours and exorbitant expenditures would
not be rewarded by legally-enforceable exclusivity. I'm not arguing that
one way or the other; I'm attempting here merely to communicate what the
law says to the best of my understanding. I can tell you that the Supreme
Court ruled earlier in this decade that telephone directories were not
eligible for copyright because no creativity was involved in what the court
saw as a mere compilation of factual information that was
readily-accessible to the telephone companies. It was shortly after that
ruling that multiple brands of CD-ROM editions of the U.S.'s phone
directories began to appear. (Previously PhoneDisc U.S.A. (which since
then has been renamed Digital Directory Assistance, or DDA) had the field
to themselves). Right now, there are many such CD-ROMs, and can be bought
for very low prices at local retailers.

At the time of that ruling, I was working for a distributor of computer
databases. In that capacity, I soon thereafter spoke with an executive of
one of the major producers of databases, and she told me that the reporting
of the Supreme Court decision was correct, that many people in her company
were speaking of it often with regards to how it might affect them and the
industry as a whole, and that she was aghast. As it happened, she had
previously worked in management for a phone company, and she knew that
apart from the arguable lack of creativity (the Court was referring to the
pages all having the same design, the use of a single typeface throughout
the listings, etc.), there was an exhausting amount of work involved. Such
had had no (overriding) bearing on the Court when it ruled on how it should
interpret the laws passed by Congress.

I trust the readers of this newsgroup will understand that I turned the
subject from movies to database because that enabled me to explicate on
copyright law that applies also to movies. There are undoubtedly other
facts that could be reported on this issue. Anyone?


--
David Hayes

David P. Hayes

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Dec 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/3/97
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Robert Birchard <bbir...@earthlink.net> wrote in article
<348595...@earthlink.net>...

> Niles was an interesting company. It started out with great
> quality and great integrity--but success made one of the owners go
> "Hollywood." ... the qulaity of the
> films and the service deteriorated to the point where the company had no
> good will left. They finally went bankrupt.

Not only that, the people "disappeared" such that they couldn't be located.
Tom Dunahoo told me that he wanted to buy Niles' negatives (I wondered why
he would want many of them) but had been unable to locate the people or
assets. He shook his head, "they're just gone." Several years later, JEF
Films in Canada would announce that they had acquired the Niles materials,
were planning to overhaul many of them, and that the titles were available
again. It came too late in the film-collecting business.

Michael Gebert

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Dec 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/3/97
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In article <01bd0067$7d88f100$03502299@whatever>, "David P. Hayes"
<david_...@msn.com> wrote:

> Raymond Rohauer made a practice of altering the original films in order to
> secure a new copyright. He would change the titles so that they were in a
> new lettering style and with minor changes of wording.

Sometimes it was quite a bit more than that, though. The Keaton films'
titles had to be significantly un-Rohauered

And that wasn't all he did. The other things I named-- such as copying
something you had found or even buying a print from you, then
recopyrighting it himself and going after you when you continued to
distribute your film-- were among his charming practices.

FIREZINE

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Dec 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/3/97
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dsu...@concentric.net wrote:
>
> In article <01bd0067$7d88f100$03502299@whatever>, "David P. Hayes"
> <david_...@msn.com> wrote:
>
> > It may seem an outrage that long hours and exorbitant expenditures would
> > not be rewarded by legally-enforceable exclusivity.
>
> I would be outraged if "legally-enforceable exclusivity" WAS applied. No
> matter how much time and effort you put into an out-of-copyright work, it
> should remain an out-of-copyright work. Otherwise people start getting
> strange ideas - akin to "squatter's rights" for film (i.e., "I've owned
> the only print of this out-of-copyright film for thirty years, therefore I
> own all the rights!").
> Doug

Boy this sounds frightingly familiar. Does this apply to symbols put onto
the film itself? Would just the symbols be copyrightable and not the
image itself?

ChaneyFan

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Dec 4, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/4/97
to

>>>He went for child molesting. He was released about ten years ago. Last I
heard, he was part of a religious organization.

Actually, I had heard it was for statutory rape for his involvement with two
teenage girls.

Unless I am mistaken, Donohoo died many years ago.

dsu...@concentric.net

unread,
Dec 4, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/4/97
to

FilmGene

unread,
Dec 4, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/4/97
to

<<Otherwise people start getting
strange ideas - akin to "squatter's rights" for film (i.e., "I've owned
the only print of this out-of-copyright film for thirty years, therefore I
own all the rights!").>>

Not so strange. If one owns the only copy of a film and does not distribute it,
one effectively controls that film. The question of "rights" are moot. It is a
question of private property.


Gene Stavis, School of Visual Arts - NYC

ChaneyFan

unread,
Dec 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/5/97
to

>>>I can tell you that the Supreme Court ruled earlier in this decade that
telephone directories were not eligible for copyright because no creativity was
involved in what the court saw as a mere compilation of factual information
that was readily-accessible to the telephone companies.

The way most places have gotten around this is by inserting a bogus reference
into their list of phones, films, whatever. For example, there is one bogus
reference in the AFI teens book (very funny when you find and read it). If
someone copies the book and includes this reference, thereby proving they
copied the book instead of doing independent data collection, they will be
caught. Likewise, mailing lists usually include a bogus address to their own
PO box so if someone copies the list they will get mailings to that box.

The cards are clearly stacked in favor of someone who goes to the effort to
create or restore a film...as well they should be. If someone really wanted to
go after dupers, they could successfully do it using a variety of tools. The
question would become whether it would be worth the money. Fora silent film
the answer is nearly always no.

ChaneyFan

unread,
Dec 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/5/97
to

>>>Otherwise people start getting strange ideas - akin to "squatter's rights"
for film (i.e., "I've owned the only print of this out-of-copyright film for
thirty years, therefore I own all the rights!").

Whoa!!! Hold on! It depends on what you do with it. I made a dig at a guy
yesterday for saying that he could trade videos of THE SCARLET CAR in exchange
for MR. WU. Consider my case:

Through donations and other activities that cost me time and money, I
negotiated a deal to get the nitrate on THE SCARLET CAR(1917 w/Lon Chaney) out
of LOC. It was sent to Film Technologies, possibly the most expensive, but
highest quality, lab in the country. I had a 16mm negative made, but it was
out of sequence, missing opening titles, and generally a mess. I spent hours
and hours putting it together only to discover a reel was missing. I then
tracked down the missing reel, which was only available on 35mm safety. This
went back to Film Tech. for an additional negative. I eventually pieced this
together (and gave all the notes to LOC who could then fix the continuity on
their print), shot new titles, created some continuity break bridging titles,
created all new opening credits, and that's why you can now see a more-or-less
complete print of it today. I put a copyright notice on the print as "Restored
Version."

Now what did I do with this? First, I ran ads to sell 16mm prints at $50 above
print cost to anyone who wanted to buy it. Then I cut deals with Sinister
Cinema and Kino to put it out on video. Anyone who wants to get THE SCARLET
CAR get buy reasonably priced 16mm prints or video tapes.

After all this effort, I have still not broken even on this. I'm close, but am
still in the red by a few hundred bucks. So do I think I have a legal and
moral right to go after anyone making bootleg copies when they can get it
legally? You betcha!

EckHarDT50

unread,
Dec 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/5/97
to

>
>>>>He went for child molesting. He was released about ten years ago. ...

>Actually, I had heard it was for statutory rape for his involvement with two
teenage girls.
>
>Unless I am mistaken, Donohoo died many years ago.>>

From overexertion?

David P. Hayes

unread,
Dec 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/5/97
to dsu...@concentric.net

In article <dsulpy-0412...@ts006d33.pri-nj.concentric.net>,

dsu...@concentric.net wrote:
> In article <01bd0067$7d88f100$03502299@whatever>, "David P. Hayes"
> <david_...@msn.com> wrote:
> > It may seem an outrage that long hours and exorbitant expenditures would
> > not be rewarded by legally-enforceable exclusivity.
> I would be outraged if "legally-enforceable exclusivity" WAS applied. No
> matter how much time and effort you put into an out-of-copyright work, it
> should remain an out-of-copyright work. Otherwise people start getting

> strange ideas - akin to "squatter's rights" for film (i.e., "I've owned
> the only print of this out-of-copyright film for thirty years, therefore I
> own all the rights!").
> Doug

Your comment points up the desirability of law that would recognize a
difference analogous to that between squatters and homesteaders. Those
who genuinely add value to a property ("homesteaders") would be granted
rights. Those who make no efforts or only superficial, unsubstantive
ones (properly defined) on an out-of-copyright work (these film-holders
being the "squatters") would not be granted legal protection against new
prints unauthorized by them.

David Hayes

-------------------==== Posted via Deja News ====-----------------------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Post to Usenet

David P. Hayes

unread,
Dec 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/5/97
to

I previously wrote:
> ...I can tell you that the Supreme Court ruled earlier in this decade

that
> telephone directories were not eligible for copyright because no
creativity was
> involved in what the court saw as a mere compilation of factual
information
> that was readily-accessible to the telephone companies.

ChaneyFan <chan...@aol.com> wrote in article
<19971205044...@ladder01.news.aol.com>...


> The way most places have gotten around this is by inserting a bogus
reference
> into their list of phones, films, whatever.

My recollection of the telephone-directories case was that phony entries
did not constitute enough creativity, in the opinion of the Supreme Court.
The subject was brought up at the time, and did not stop the avalache of
CD-ROM telephone directories. Also on the subject of phony entries: the
makers of the Trivial Pursuit board game were sued by the creators of a
trivia book who realized that the questions and answers in the game had
been duplicated from their work. The trivia-book people could point out
instances of errors and oversights they had put into their publication, but
the court nonetheless ruled that the use by Trivial Pursuit was permissable
use of the information. Sad.

> Likewise, mailing lists usually include a bogus address to their own
> PO box so if someone copies the list they will get mailings to that box.

This is different. Compilers of mailing lists rent out their data with
contracts stipulating that buyers are entitled to a limited number of uses.
If the list-renter exceeds the usage he paid for, he can be sued for
violation of contract, which is different from violation of copyright.
Incidentally, my understanding is that mailing-list-compilers usually put
in several phony addresses, to dissuade users from gambling that if they
mail to just half of the list that they'll have a 50% chance of avoiding
detection. Mailing lists use as their phonies what seem to be genuine
street addresses in cities far from their place of business; a phony name
attached to a legitimate address can alert the recipient to misuse of the
mailing list.

> The cards are clearly stacked in favor of someone who goes to the effort
to
> create or restore a film...as well they should be.

I certainly sympathise with your position, Jon. I read your comments
regarding restoration of "The Scarlet Car." I understand your investment,
and I champion your efforts. If I should ever want to commercially use
"The Scarlet Car," I know that my options are: (a) negotiate an arrangement
with you, or (b) check out the out-of-order materials from the Library of
Congress and the repository for the otherwise-missing reel, and to go
through the effort of determining the proper sequence of the shots, and
then to do the work and arrange for lab services; the latter would be an
unnecessary repetition of your work, so you can see what I regard as the
best decision.

Respectfully yours,

--
David Hayes

Stan16mm

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Dec 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/5/97
to

Regarding Norman Levinson and the wait for films....... Since I always went
there to pick up my orders, I never had any problem with him. But for anyone
who had to wait for orders from him, let me tell you what the place looked
like. He worked from his house and he had a filmic mess all around. Like
Oscar Madison, only in a celluloid sense. Now it was the kind of mess that
any film collector would love to be around but if you were waiting on an order
from him, it would be easy to get lost in there.

Stan16mm

Eric Grayson

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Dec 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/5/97
to

On Thu, Dec 4, 1997 12:18 AM, FIREZINE <mailto:FIRE...@INTREPID.NET>
wrote:

>dsu...@concentric.net wrote:
>>
>> In article <01bd0067$7d88f100$03502299@whatever>, "David P. Hayes"
>> <david_...@msn.com> wrote:
>>
>> > It may seem an outrage that long hours and exorbitant expenditures
would
>> > not be rewarded by legally-enforceable exclusivity.
>>
>> I would be outraged if "legally-enforceable exclusivity" WAS applied. No
>> matter how much time and effort you put into an out-of-copyright work,
it
>> should remain an out-of-copyright work. Otherwise people start getting
>> strange ideas - akin to "squatter's rights" for film (i.e., "I've owned
>> the only print of this out-of-copyright film for thirty years, therefore
I
>> own all the rights!").
>> Doug
>
>Boy this sounds frightingly familiar. Does this apply to symbols put onto
>the film itself? Would just the symbols be copyrightable and not the
>image itself?
>

This is really correct. Once a film is in the public domain, it usually
stays that way. For example, several years ago, when It's a Wonderful Life
was still in the public domain, it was colorized. The colorized version
was copyrighted. However, the copyright only covered the new aspects to
the film. So you would be in copyright violation if you made a copy of the
film in color, but in perfect compliance to law if you copied the same tape
in black and white!

The same goes for symbols embedded in the picture. This practice started
several years ago on the networks. They were sick of people taping live
video feeds of important news events and then selling the tapes. If all
networks used the same camera, the results were indistinguishable and
prosecution was difficult. With the logos, you can easily tell where the
tape came from...

Eric

Rob Farr & Kathy Lipp-Farr

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Dec 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/5/97
to

Based on the telephone book ruling, I wonder if a filmography is
copyrightable? A good filmography compiles data from a variety of
sources both primary and secondary, but in the end, is just a list, like
the phone book. Filmographies which incorporate plot synopses based on
personal viewings or original reviews might be arguably more "creative"
since the author uses editorial skills to whittle a plotline down to a
few sentences.

Rob Farr

David P. Hayes wrote:
> I can tell you that the Supreme
> Court ruled earlier in this decade that telephone directories were not
> eligible for copyright because no creativity was involved in what the court
> saw as a mere compilation of factual information that was

dsu...@concentric.net

unread,
Dec 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/6/97
to

In article <3488CA...@ix.netcom.com>, Rob Farr & Kathy Lipp-Farr
<lipp...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:

> Based on the telephone book ruling, I wonder if a filmography is
> copyrightable?

No. Information is NOT copyrightable. If you were to review the films or
actually write about them, that would, of course, be covered.

Doug

dsu...@concentric.net

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Dec 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/6/97
to

In article <8813569...@dejanews.com>, david_...@msn.com wrote:

> In article <dsulpy-0412...@ts006d33.pri-nj.concentric.net>,


> dsu...@concentric.net wrote:
> > In article <01bd0067$7d88f100$03502299@whatever>, "David P. Hayes"
> > <david_...@msn.com> wrote:
> > > It may seem an outrage that long hours and exorbitant expenditures would
> > > not be rewarded by legally-enforceable exclusivity.
> > I would be outraged if "legally-enforceable exclusivity" WAS applied. No
> > matter how much time and effort you put into an out-of-copyright work, it
> > should remain an out-of-copyright work. Otherwise people start getting
> > strange ideas - akin to "squatter's rights" for film (i.e., "I've owned
> > the only print of this out-of-copyright film for thirty years, therefore I
> > own all the rights!").
> > Doug
>

> Your comment points up the desirability of law that would recognize a
> difference analogous to that between squatters and homesteaders. Those
> who genuinely add value

.. ah, but who's to determine "value"? Rohauer could claim, for instance,
that his new title cards increased the value of a Keaton film, while film
purists would say that ditching the originals DECREASED it.

> ...to a property ("homesteaders") would be granted


> rights. Those who make no efforts or only superficial, unsubstantive
> ones (properly defined)

... again, who's to define this?

> ... on an out-of-copyright work (these film-holders


> being the "squatters") would not be granted legal protection against new
> prints unauthorized by them.

I would like to see a "use it or lose it" rule established. To me, silent
film is a cultural artifact and belongs to our culture more than it
belongs to some person or entity who had no part in creating it in the
first place, but simply holds the "legal rights". I believe that it would
be reasonable that, after X amount of years, ANYONE has the right to
exploit a silent film. This will insure that the film will circulate and
give it a better chance to survive.
Doug

Michael Gebert

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Dec 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/6/97
to

In article <B0AE0D...@199.3.65.142>, "Eric Grayson"
<wolf...@indy.net> wrote:

> This is really correct. Once a film is in the public domain, it usually
> stays that way. For example, several years ago, when It's a Wonderful Life
> was still in the public domain, it was colorized.

Usually... but not always. In the case of It's a Wonderful Life, RKO was
able to reassert copyright based on the still-operative underlying
copyrights in the original story and the music. Maybe that would stand up
in court and maybe it wouldn't, but it succeeded in scaring off dupers and
TV stations showing old PD prints. (I assume this is the reason why some
PD prints of the similarly accidentally-out-of-copyright 1939 Love Affair
have new music; the only thing standing in the way of their distributing
it was the score.)

On the other hand, Raymond Rohauer tried to gain control of Birth of a
Nation by buying the rights to the two Thomas Dixon novels it was based
on, and he didn't succeed.

>A good filmography compiles data from a variety of
sources both primary and secondary, but in the end, is just a list, like
the phone book.

No. Pure facts are not copyrightable, even when you've put some work into
compiling them. (Incidentally, speaking of the AFI fake film, for my book
The Encyclopedia of Movie Awards I wanted to slip their fake movie into my
lists so I could spot someone who used my book as a source, but alas, it
was too early, it would have stood out among the few awards given then.
In their spirit, though, I still slipped one fake winner in, and did some
other things that will enable me to recognize myself as a source-- for
instance, compilations of National Board of Review winners always list a
film called Vier von der Infantrie, without realizing that that's the
movie we all know as Westfront 1918. I'll be pretty sure that anybody in
the future who does list it as Westfront 1918 will have gotten it from
me. But all I will get from that is a little satisfaction, I don't own
the lists any more than the sources I copied from.)

>Filmographies which incorporate plot synopses based on
personal viewings or original reviews might be arguably more "creative"

Yes, you certainly are getting closer to plagiarism/copyright violation,
though in practice there would have to be a large number of examples to
make a case stick. I read a sentence about the Oscars in Entertainment
Weekly a while back that was almost word-for-word from my book, down to
the examples given-- but it was only one sentence.

Michael Gebert

unread,
Dec 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/6/97
to

> Your comment points up the desirability of law that would recognize a
> difference analogous to that between squatters and homesteaders. Those

> who genuinely add value to a property ("homesteaders") would be granted


> rights. Those who make no efforts or only superficial, unsubstantive

> ones (properly defined) on an out-of-copyright work (these film-holders


> being the "squatters") would not be granted legal protection against new
> prints unauthorized by them.

Sounds great. Unfortunately, I know exactly how it will be used. Whites
moving into a property would be evidence of improvement. Non-whites would
be evidence of unsubstantive improvement. (I live in Chicago, where such
distinctions are drawn all the time.)

FilmGene

unread,
Dec 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/6/97
to

<<The same goes for symbols embedded in the picture. This practice started
several years ago on the networks. They were sick of people taping live
video feeds of important news events and then selling the tapes. If all
networks used the same camera, the results were indistinguishable and
prosecution was difficult. With the logos, you can easily tell where the
tape came from...>>

Which recalls of course the wonderful "AB" logo which was conspicuously placed
on the sets of Biograph films so that even dupes would contain the company's
logo.

FilmGene

unread,
Dec 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/6/97
to

<<I would like to see a "use it or lose it" rule established. To me, silent
film is a cultural artifact and belongs to our culture more than it
belongs to some person or entity who had no part in creating it in the
first place, but simply holds the "legal rights". I believe that it would
be reasonable that, after X amount of years, ANYONE has the right to
exploit a silent film. This will insure that the film will circulate and
give it a better chance to survive.>>

"Simply holds the legal rights" -- a small phrase, but contains a complete
negation of the rights of private property. Now, maybe you disagree with the
notion of private property. Yous should say that rather than cloaking it in
"good for society" disguise. What you are suggesting is confiscation.

"Cultural artifacts" are not exempt from property rights. Perhaps if you were
an artist or the descendant of an artist, this might be clearer to you.

The copyright law does in effect provide a period of years after which a work
is in the public domain. There are scads of works which are legitimately in the
public domain and do not circulate at all.

Michael Gebert

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Dec 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/6/97
to

In article <19971206203...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,
film...@aol.com (FilmGene) wrote:

Yes. If I ever make a movie I intend to put an AB logo on the set
somewhere, in homage. Weren't there other companies that did the same
thing? I seem to remember spotting them several times in different shorts
in that Before Hollywood touring program, though Biograph is obviously the
most familiar example of this to us now.

dsu...@concentric.net

unread,
Dec 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/7/97
to

In article <19971206204...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,
film...@aol.com (FilmGene) wrote:

> <<I would like to see a "use it or lose it" rule established. To me, silent
> film is a cultural artifact and belongs to our culture more than it
> belongs to some person or entity who had no part in creating it in the
> first place, but simply holds the "legal rights". I believe that it would
> be reasonable that, after X amount of years, ANYONE has the right to
> exploit a silent film. This will insure that the film will circulate and
> give it a better chance to survive.>>
>
> "Simply holds the legal rights" -- a small phrase, but contains a complete
> negation of the rights of private property. Now, maybe you disagree with the
> notion of private property. Yous should say that rather than cloaking it in
> "good for society" disguise. What you are suggesting is confiscation.

Get lost, Gene. When great films can be kept from being seen by something
as silly as changing a title card or buying up copyright on a song in the
film, there's obviously something wrong with the system, and scumbags
should not be allowed to exploit loopholes in the law to claim films for
themselves that are out-of-copyright. I'm not arguing against private
property, I'm arguing that once the film becomes public domain it is
PUBLIC property, and should remain that way.


>
> "Cultural artifacts" are not exempt from property rights. Perhaps if you were
> an artist or the descendant of an artist, this might be clearer to you.

I have a Master's in Fine Arts (I just don't put credentials after my
name, like you do), but I'm not talking about art. If someone's owned a
Rembrandt for 300 years and passed it down through their family - fine.
Undoubtedly a reproduction of that painting has been published, and a copy
is available for public inspection. I'm not even arguing that films are
exempt from property rights, I'm merely arguing that once they go public
domain, they should remain there.


>
> The copyright law does in effect provide a period of years after which a work
> is in the public domain. There are scads of works which are legitimately
in the
> public domain and do not circulate at all.

Irrelevant. Provided the source material is available, they're still there
for exploitation (which, to me, equals preservation) if someone desires.

Doug

FilmGene

unread,
Dec 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/7/97
to

Doug wrote:

<<Get lost, Gene. When great films can be kept from being seen by something
as silly as changing a title card or buying up copyright on a song in the
film, there's obviously something wrong with the system, and scumbags
should not be allowed to exploit loopholes in the law to claim films for
themselves that are out-of-copyright. I'm not arguing against private
property, I'm arguing that once the film becomes public domain it is
PUBLIC property, and should remain that way.>>

What he actually initially wrote was:

<<To me, silent
> film is a cultural artifact and belongs to our culture more than it
> belongs to some person or entity who had no part in creating it in the
> first place, but simply holds the "legal rights". I believe that it would
> be reasonable that, after X amount of years, ANYONE has the right to
> exploit a silent film. This will insure that the film will circulate and
> give it a better chance to survive.>>

These are not consistent. By reducing the argument to films which have fallen
into the public domain he defeats the essence of his argument which was that
anyone should be able to use silent films if they do not distribute them after
a period of time. If Doug wishes to revise his theory, he should do so.

<<I have a Master's in Fine Arts (I just don't put credentials after my
name, like you do), but I'm not talking about art.>>

Having a Masters in Fine Arts does not make one an artist. I did not say that
you were not an artist, just that what you said seemed to me inconsistent with
someone who makes a living through his art.

And, I use my school affiliation not as self-promotion but as identification.
Note that no degree is mentioned. For all you know, I could be the custodian.

David P. Hayes

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Dec 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/7/97
to

Michael Gebert <mg...@mindspring.com> wrote in article
<mgmax-06129...@pool-207-205-139-176.chia.grid.net>...

> In article <B0AE0D...@199.3.65.142>, "Eric Grayson"
> <wolf...@indy.net> wrote:
>
> > This is really correct. Once a film is in the public domain, it
usually
> > stays that way. For example, several years ago, when It's a Wonderful
Life
> > was still in the public domain, it was colorized.

Actually, there have been TWO colorized versions of "It's a Wonderful
Life." In the mid-to-late 1980s, Colorization Inc. did a job of it. (Hal
Roach Studios issued it on VHS.) Colorization Inc. began by negotiating
with Frank Capra to secure Capra's cooperation, and for awhile it looked as
if that would happen, but they had a falling out and Colorization Inc.
realized that the public-domain status meant that they could proceed
without anyone's authorization, so they did. Some time later, Capra and
Jimmy Stewart denounced the whole concept of adding color, saying nothing
of the failed cooperation.

Years later, Republic contracted American Film Technologies (the only
colorizer of the three companies doing it that used pixel-by-pixel
replacement) to do a new job. The color choices were entirely new and not
based on the earlier effort. Republic has since used its claim of holding
the film's "copyright" to force the Hal Roach Studios tapes off the market.



> Usually... but not always. In the case of It's a Wonderful Life, RKO was
> able to reassert copyright based on the still-operative underlying
> copyrights in the original story and the music.

It was never RKO doing the asserting. RKO distributed the film to theaters
in 1946, but Liberty Films owned it. Liberty sold to National Telefilm
Associates (NTA), which changed its name to Republic, which has since been
acquired by Spelling, which was bought by Paramount/Viacom.


--
David Hayes

Michael Gebert

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Dec 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/7/97
to

In article <01bd033d$277e02e0$19502299@whatever>, "David P. Hayes"
<david_...@msn.com> wrote:

> > Usually... but not always. In the case of It's a Wonderful Life, RKO was
> > able to reassert copyright based on the still-operative underlying
> > copyrights in the original story and the music.
>
> It was never RKO doing the asserting. RKO distributed the film to theaters
> in 1946, but Liberty Films owned it. Liberty sold to National Telefilm
> Associates (NTA), which changed its name to Republic, which has since been
> acquired by Spelling, which was bought by Paramount/Viacom.

Whoops, of course you're right, I was conflating two old studios that
began with "R." Actually, I think your account of that very strange
corporate history isn't quite right-- Republic at one point acquired our
old friend Blackhawk; later Republic was acquired by Wayne "Blockbuster"
Huizenga and I think Blockbuster bought Spelling separately, later selling
that whole ball of wax to Viacom (which also bought Paramount, also
separately)-- although some of the ex-Blackhawk/Republic catalog business
was sold off to Critics' Choice, then owned by Playboy, and the archival
material went to David Shepard. Finally, anyway, now Huizenga is running
his car-dealer business with the name Republic Industries. So in a very
strange way, now, you can buy a Toyota from Blackhawk Films-- not to
mention from Vera Hruba Ralston....

Marta Dawes

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Dec 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/7/97
to

There is also some controversy now about them even being able to
copyright a movie based on the ownership of the music within. This
whole story may flipflop around for years.

Marta

David P. Hayes wrote:
>
> Michael Gebert <mg...@mindspring.com> wrote in article
> <mgmax-06129...@pool-207-205-139-176.chia.grid.net>...
> > In article <B0AE0D...@199.3.65.142>, "Eric Grayson"
> > <wolf...@indy.net> wrote:
> >
> > > This is really correct. Once a film is in the public domain, it
> usually
> > > stays that way. For example, several years ago, when It's a Wonderful
> Life
> > > was still in the public domain, it was colorized.
>
> Actually, there have been TWO colorized versions of "It's a Wonderful
> Life." In the mid-to-late 1980s, Colorization Inc. did a job of it. (Hal
> Roach Studios issued it on VHS.) Colorization Inc. began by negotiating
> with Frank Capra to secure Capra's cooperation, and for awhile it looked as
> if that would happen, but they had a falling out and Colorization Inc.
> realized that the public-domain status meant that they could proceed
> without anyone's authorization, so they did. Some time later, Capra and
> Jimmy Stewart denounced the whole concept of adding color, saying nothing
> of the failed cooperation.
>
> Years later, Republic contracted American Film Technologies (the only
> colorizer of the three companies doing it that used pixel-by-pixel
> replacement) to do a new job. The color choices were entirely new and not
> based on the earlier effort. Republic has since used its claim of holding
> the film's "copyright" to force the Hal Roach Studios tapes off the market.
>

> > Usually... but not always. In the case of It's a Wonderful Life, RKO was
> > able to reassert copyright based on the still-operative underlying
> > copyrights in the original story and the music.
>
> It was never RKO doing the asserting. RKO distributed the film to theaters
> in 1946, but Liberty Films owned it. Liberty sold to National Telefilm
> Associates (NTA), which changed its name to Republic, which has since been
> acquired by Spelling, which was bought by Paramount/Viacom.
>

> --
> David Hayes

David Pierce

unread,
Dec 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/7/97
to

David P. Hayes wrote:
>
[snip]
>
> Adding a soundtrack to a silent film has
> long been grounds for claiming a new copyright on a public-domain movie,
> although it seems understood that if the picture is unchanged, someone else
> can strip off the soundtrack and legally duplicate the movie.
>

I have filed a good number of these registrations
for various producers (such as the Lumivision/
Eastman House version of THE LOST WORLD), and the
Copyright Office is not asleep at the switch.

You can copyright changes to the original work,
but the CO policy is that choice of transfer speed,
tinting and format (including typeface) of titles
are not protectable. Registration of a new music
track would provide no protection for the film itself.

>
> Restoration is a trickier area. Here, the claim is that painstaking effort
> goes into making the work look as it originally did--hence, success is
> achieved when there is NO creativity (except the of overcoming mechanical
> obstacles). UCLA has registered their restoration of "Becky Sharp," but
> whether the new copyright would be upheld in court is a different matter.
>

Actually, UCLA only registered their "preface" to
the restored "Becky Sharp," not the restored version
itself. From my experience, I am not sure that the
restored version would be protectable, since the
Supreme Court determined that "sweat of the brow"
effort alone was not sufficient for a copyright.
You can find more about the telephone book decision
than you ever wanted to know at:
http://announce.com/wb270/Feist.htm

David Pierce

Silent Film Sources
http://www.cinemaweb.com/silentfilm
Updates and news the first of every month
http://www.cinemaweb.com/silentfilm/monthly.htm

The Silent Film Bookshelf
http://www.cinemaweb.com/silentfilm/bookshelf (new address)

ChaneyFan

unread,
Dec 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/8/97
to

>>>No. Information is NOT copyrightable. If you were to review the films or
actually write about them, that would, of course, be covered.

But I think in the case of the "fake film" in the AFI book, they wrote a
synopsis, created a fake cast, etc. In fact, it is very funny and clever, and
I think most jurors would consider this creativity. If someone then simply
lifted the title, cast, and credits and stuck them in a book somewhere (that
was sold...it is tough to claim damages via copyright infringement if no money
changes hand...but not always), AFI could legitimately claim that someone had
stolen this copyrighted piece of creativity, since it existed nowhere else and
could only have been obtained by copying it from the book.

ChaneyFan

unread,
Dec 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/8/97
to

Gene Stavis said:
>>>There are scads of works which are legitimately in the
public domain and do not circulate at all.

The main reason this is true is because the only extant print is in an archive.
Archives do not acknowledge public domain (neither do studios). In the
opinions of the archives, if the film was donated by Paramount, it is owned by
Paramount, regardless of copyright status. If you think this isn't true, try
writing LOC to get access to public domain films such as VICTORY (1919) or THE
ENCHANTED COTTAGE (1924).

This is especially true for Library of Congress. Most people don't realize
that many major studios donated all their nitrate to LOC, they took a big tax
writeoff for the donation, they got tax payers to pay the millions of dollars
in restoration and preservation costs, and the studios then get free storage
and free access to their material, all at taxpayer expense. These films will
remain restricted forever due to the instrument of gift or other document
between the studios and archives. The copyright status has absolutely nothing
to do with whether the film will become available. This is your tax dollars at
work!

Don't like it? Write your Congressman or Senator.

dsu...@concentric.net

unread,
Dec 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/8/97
to

In article <19971207182...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,
film...@aol.com (FilmGene) wrote:

> Doug wrote:
>
> <<Get lost, Gene. When great films can be kept from being seen by something
> as silly as changing a title card or buying up copyright on a song in the
> film, there's obviously something wrong with the system, and scumbags
> should not be allowed to exploit loopholes in the law to claim films for
> themselves that are out-of-copyright. I'm not arguing against private
> property, I'm arguing that once the film becomes public domain it is
> PUBLIC property, and should remain that way.>>
>
> What he actually initially wrote was:
>
> <<To me, silent
> > film is a cultural artifact and belongs to our culture more than it
> > belongs to some person or entity who had no part in creating it in the
> > first place, but simply holds the "legal rights". I believe that it would
> > be reasonable that, after X amount of years, ANYONE has the right to
> > exploit a silent film. This will insure that the film will circulate and
> > give it a better chance to survive.>>
>
> These are not consistent. By reducing the argument to films which have fallen
> into the public domain he defeats the essence of his argument which was that
> anyone should be able to use silent films if they do not distribute them after
> a period of time. If Doug wishes to revise his theory, he should do so.

In my initial post, I unthinkingly wrote with the assumption that all
silent films were now out of copyright. Obviously that's incorrect. Sorry
for the confusion.


>
> <<I have a Master's in Fine Arts (I just don't put credentials after my
> name, like you do), but I'm not talking about art.>>
>
> Having a Masters in Fine Arts does not make one an artist.

Boy, you can say THAT again :-)...

I did not say that
> you were not an artist, just that what you said seemed to me inconsistent with
> someone who makes a living through his art.

I can't see this, because I'm clearly assuming that anyone who had
anything creative to do with making silent films is now dead.

>
> And, I use my school affiliation not as self-promotion but as identification.
> Note that no degree is mentioned.

Yeah... I guess that's to differentiate you from all the other Gene
Stavis' who post here.

> ... For all you know, I could be the custodian.

dsu...@concentric.net

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Dec 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/8/97
to

In article <19971208045...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,
chan...@aol.com (ChaneyFan) wrote:

When you say "access" do you mean being able to walk in and view a film,
or do you mean being allowed to make a print?

oksana dykyj

unread,
Dec 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/8/97
to

In article <19971208044...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,
chan...@aol.com (ChaneyFan) wrote:

> >>>No. Information is NOT copyrightable. If you were to review the films or
> actually write about them, that would, of course, be covered.
>
> But I think in the case of the "fake film" in the AFI book, they wrote a
> synopsis, created a fake cast, etc. In fact, it is very funny and clever, and
> I think most jurors would consider this creativity. If someone then simply
> lifted the title, cast, and credits and stuck them in a book somewhere (that
> was sold...it is tough to claim damages via copyright infringement if no money
> changes hand...but not always), AFI could legitimately claim that someone had
> stolen this copyrighted piece of creativity, since it existed nowhere else and
> could only have been obtained by copying it from the book.

Jon:

Is it possible for someone not familiar with silent film, or even with
basic knowledge, to assume that this "fake" was actually produced and
citing it in a research paper? I'm concerned about an authority's
"misinformation" being used as factual information.
Oksana

--
Oksana Dykyj
Concordia University
Montreal

Michael Gebert

unread,
Dec 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/8/97
to

> >>>No. Information is NOT copyrightable. If you were to review the films or
> actually write about them, that would, of course, be covered.
>
> But I think in the case of the "fake film" in the AFI book, they wrote a
> synopsis, created a fake cast, etc. In fact, it is very funny and clever, and
> I think most jurors would consider this creativity.

I'm not sure what precedents exist, if any, for how little text is
required to establish plagiarism. In a practical case, though, the
offender could claim that he was simply trusting that the AFI catalog was
a reliable source. And after all, the point of reference books is to be
used-- I certainly hope people copy from my awards book, especially in
those areas where I corrected long-standing errors from other sources.

Incidentally, if anyone thinks it was irresponsible of the AFI to make up
a film, know that the Oxford English Dictionary contains a made-up word--
though no one's ever found it in the 65 years the OED has been out. After
all, where would you turn to verify it?

ChaneyFan

unread,
Dec 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/9/97
to

>>>Is it possible for someone not familiar with silent film, or even with basic
knowledge, to assume that this "fake" was actually produced and citing it in a
research paper? I'm concerned about an authority's "misinformation" being used
as factual information.

No intelligent source could make this mistake. They make references in the
synopsis to the Kennedy assasination and other modern events. If you read it
the whole film and synopsis is a riot, but someone who was simply going through
copying information without reading it would never notice.

ChaneyFan

unread,
Dec 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/9/97
to

>>>When you say "access" do you mean being able to walk in and view a film, or
do you mean being allowed to make a print?

I primarily mean copying the film. It can sometimes restrict the ability to go
in and see the film also. If a film at LOC truly has no restrictions (no
copyright, no instrument of gift, no donor restrictions, not from a studio) you
can in fact request (in fact, demand) that LOC make you a copy. You will pay a
fortune and get lousy lab work, but they will do it.

dsu...@concentric.net

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Dec 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/9/97
to

In article <oksana-0812...@audiovisual-43-24.concordia.ca>,
oks...@vax2.concordia.ca (oksana dykyj) wrote:

> In article <19971208044...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,
> chan...@aol.com (ChaneyFan) wrote:
>
> > >>>No. Information is NOT copyrightable. If you were to review the films or
> > actually write about them, that would, of course, be covered.
> >
> > But I think in the case of the "fake film" in the AFI book, they wrote a
> > synopsis, created a fake cast, etc. In fact, it is very funny and
clever, and

> > I think most jurors would consider this creativity....

I don't think it would matter. The "creative" entry was obviously
presented as FACT in the midst of thousands of other facts. You could
never prove anyone's intent to violate creative copyright under these
circumstances.

Doug

David P. Hayes

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Dec 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/9/97
to
> In article <8813569...@dejanews.com>, david_...@msn.com wrote:
> > ... Those

> > who genuinely add value to a property ("homesteaders") would be granted
> > rights. Those who make no efforts or only superficial, unsubstantive
> > ones (properly defined) on an out-of-copyright work (... the
"squatters") would not be granted ...

> Sounds great. Unfortunately, I know exactly how it will be used. Whites
> moving into a property would be evidence of improvement. Non-whites
would
> be evidence of unsubstantive improvement. (I live in Chicago, where such
> distinctions are drawn all the time.)

In my post, I specifically wrote "...properly defined..." to preclude
misapplications such as the one you cite.


--
David Hayes

Moviephile

unread,
Dec 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/9/97
to

>If a film at LOC truly has no restrictions (no
>copyright, no instrument of gift, no donor restrictions, not from a studio)
>you
>can in fact request (in fact, demand) that LOC make you a copy. You will pay
>a
>fortune and get lousy lab work, but they will do it.
>================
>Jon Mirsalis

Once again its all in who you know when it comes to the quality part, paying a
fortune is not correct, a fourtune and a half would be the right sum.
D.W. Atkinson

David Pierce

unread,
Dec 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/9/97
to oksana dykyj

oksana dykyj wrote:
>
>
> Jon:

>
> Is it possible for someone not familiar with silent film, or even with
> basic knowledge, to assume that this "fake" was actually produced and
> citing it in a research paper? I'm concerned about an authority's
> "misinformation" being used as factual information.
> Oksana
>

While Jon's point was that the AFI catalog included
a made-up entry to catch anyone who copied the book
wholesale, Oksana is concerned about the hapless
researcher who expects to be able to rely on reference
books.

To that, I believe that _all_ reference books need
to be approached with a certain amount of skepticism.
For example, a few years back there was a dreadful
book on the films produced by PRC- low budget, bottom
of the barrel program pictures of little artistic
merit. The research was (apparently) conducted entirely
from secondary sources.

As I recall there was a scathing review in Films in Review,
which pointed out that the book even claimed that PRC had
released a serial, which was untrue. The author responded
that another book, "King of the Bs," said that they released
a serial, so it must be true! He felt no need to verify
anything found in other books.

Wonderful as they are, the AFI catalogs are not without their
faults (for example, the two Paramount features missing from
the 20s volume). They are one source for information- not _the_
source- and any student who believes that they can stop
with the catalogs deserves that "F" on their paper!

Robert Birchard

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Dec 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/9/97
to

ChaneyFan wrote:

>
> David said:
> >>>Wonderful as they are, the AFI catalogs are not without their
> faults (for example, the two Paramount features missing from
> the 20s volume).
>
> The *two* films? TWO films?? David is being overly kind. Here is a list of
> silent titles missing from the teens, 20's, and 30's AFI books. You can argue
> some of these (too short to be qualified as feature, not a true U.S. release,
> etc.), but the point is that there is a lot missing. I gave this list to
> Patricia Hanson who was Executive Editor, and a day later she was on the phone
> with me arguing over several titles she thought shouldn't be on the list. I
> define "feature" as anything over 3 reels, so some of the long Chaplin shorts
> (A DOG'S LIFE, SHOULDER ARMS) qualify. Many of these are long, American-made
> features though that simply aren't listed. . . [snip]
>
> I'm curious if anyone else has found other missing titles in these otherwise
> truly fine books.

Two feature Westerns that come immediately to maind as missing from
the AFI '20's catalogue are:

"Big Stakes" a 1922 Western starring J. B. Warner (Murray Glass sells
this)

"The Outlaw Herder" (Goodwill, ca. 1926) starring Yakima Canutt.
Hollywood Film Enterprises used to sell prints of this and I know of at
least two extant prints.

--
Bob Birchard
bbir...@earthlink.net
http://www.mdle.com/ClassicFilms/Guest/birchard.htm

ChaneyFan

unread,
Dec 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/10/97
to

Dennis said:
>>>Once again its all in who you know when it comes to the quality part,
paying a fortune is not correct, a fourtune and a half would be the right sum.


The last time I looked into it, they would send the safety reference print (not
the nitrate, not the fine grain) to their local (crummy) lab and charge you
double lab cost.

If you do someone a favor you can often get a favor in return. For example,
the way I got THE SCARLET CAR was that I donated a rare silent to them (THE
SACRED MOUNTAIN, starring a German actress/director I dare not mention in this
group) and in return they gave me access to the nitrate print. At the time I
had great connections there but, alas, many of my friends who assisted this
transaction are long gone.

But it is still within the realm of possibility. Like if you came up with the
40-reel GREED camera negative (but not merely a safety 35) they might give you
access to a workprint of an Educational Comedy.

ChaneyFan

unread,
Dec 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/10/97
to

David said:
>>>Wonderful as they are, the AFI catalogs are not without their
faults (for example, the two Paramount features missing from
the 20s volume).

The *two* films? TWO films?? David is being overly kind. Here is a list of
silent titles missing from the teens, 20's, and 30's AFI books. You can argue
some of these (too short to be qualified as feature, not a true U.S. release,
etc.), but the point is that there is a lot missing. I gave this list to
Patricia Hanson who was Executive Editor, and a day later she was on the phone
with me arguing over several titles she thought shouldn't be on the list. I
define "feature" as anything over 3 reels, so some of the long Chaplin shorts
(A DOG'S LIFE, SHOULDER ARMS) qualify. Many of these are long, American-made

features though that simply aren't listed. Format is title, year, Studio.

Teens:

Almost Good Man, The 17 UNIV
Back to God's Country 19 SHPMN
Beauty and the Barge 14 CROMP
Bishop's Carriage 13 FMPLY
Black Brook, The 16 GENRL
Bootle's Baby 15 PAR
Brigadier Gerard 16 UNIV
Brother Officers 15 PAR
Call of the Wild, The 14 FMPLY
Choosing a Wife 19 AFN
Christmas Carol, A 13 CROMP
Conquering Christ, The 18 ?????
Day of the Dog 13 FMPLY
Derelict 14 PARMS
Dog's Life, A 17 CHPLN
Folly of Desire, The 16 UNIV
Ghost in the Garrett, The 20 NWART
Golden God, The 14 LUBIN
Held for Ransom 14 ISP
Her Paternal Right 16 PARGN
His Neighbor's Wife 13 FMPLY
House of Temperly 13 PARMS
Jeanne Dore 16 UNIV
King and the Man 13 FMPLY
Kingdom of Love, The 17 FOX
Lawyer Quince 13 CROMP
Leaves of Memory 14 ECLTC
Like Most Wives 14 BSWTH
Long Chance, A 18 UNIV
Me An' Me Pal 17 UNIV
Message from Mars, A 13 ????
Money God, The aka/Do Riches Bring Happiness14 MTROP
Mother 17 AFN
My Old Dutch 15 UNIV
Number 17 20 FOX
On the Bread Line 15 MAJES
Passing of the Third Floor Back 18 AFN
Pathways of Life 16 ????
Price of Justice, The 15 APEX
Queen of the Smugglers, The 14 SAYRF
Red Saunders Plays Cupid 17 UNIV
Rival of Perpetua, The 15 SHUBT
Rose of Granada 19 PAR
Rupert of Hentzau 16 UNIV
Secret of the Mountain, The 14 ECLTC
Seventh Person 19 FOX
Shoulder Arms 18 CHPLN
Sight Unseen, A 14 LENRD
Silent Accuser, The 14 ECLTC
Sky Monster, The 14 UNIV
Sons of Satan, The 16 UNIV
Souls Triumphant 15 RLNCE
Stain, The 14 ECLTC
Stork's Nest, The 15 COLUM
Strikers, The 15 APEX
Sunnyside 19 CHPLN
Three Black Trumps, The 15 PICPF
Thumb Print, The 14 MLIES
Tiger Band 19 WARNR
Under Suspicion 16 UNIV
Warrior, The 17 AFN
West of the Sacred Gem, The 14 ECLTC
Wild Animal Life 13 FMPLY
William Tell 14 PARMS
Woman and the Law 18 PAR
Woman of Debt, The 15 IMP
World of Today, The 15 GRNBM

20's

Alice Through a Looking Glass 28 Pathe
Better 'Ole, The 27 Warner Bros.
Blizzard, The 24 Fox
Bottom of the World 30 Talking Picture Epics
Dancing Vienna 29 First National
Desert's Toll 26 MGM
Devil's Garden, The 21 First National
Dinty 21 First National
For Your Daughter's Sake 22 J.W. Film Corp.
Hardboiled 26 Fox
Her Rise to Fame 27 Excellent
Honeymoon Abroad 29 Sono Art
Lady of Whims, The 25 Arrow
Let's Sing 30 Talking Picture Epics
Life 21 Paramount
Marquis Preferred 29 Paramount
Masquerade 28 UA
Monna Vanna 23 Fox
Nineteen and Phyliss 21 First National
Old Dad 21 First National
Over the Hill 21 Fox
Pawns of Passion 29 Sono-Art
Prince and the Dancer 29 Sono-Art
Red Russia Revealed 23 Fox
Secret Spring, The 26 Paramount (French?)
Shadows of Fear 28 First National
She Couldn't Help It 21 Realart
Terror Mountain 28 FBO
Venus 29 UA
Water, The 26 Garson

The 30's book is better, but is still missing a few:

Forbidden Territory (38) HOFBG
Forgotten Women (36) IMPER
In Old Louisiana aka/Louisiana Gal (37) CRSNT
Morning After, The (34) MAJES
Three on a Honeymoon (34) FOX
Story of Two Orphans aka/Bondage of Fear (32) ?????

I'm curious if anyone else has found other missing titles in these otherwise

truly fine books. By the way, the 40's book will be out next year at about
$250.

Bobster123

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Dec 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/10/97
to

>From: chan...@aol.com (ChaneyFan) wrote:

>The last time I looked into it, they would send the safety reference print
>(not
>the nitrate, not the fine grain) to their local (crummy) lab and charge you
>double lab cost.

So a typical two-reel comedy would cost about how much to get from LOC on 16mm?
The going rate for a Blackhawk or Glenn Photo print right now is about $175.

ChaneyFan

unread,
Dec 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/10/97
to

>>>So a typical two-reel comedy would cost about how much to get from LOC on
16mm? The going rate for a Blackhawk or Glenn Photo print right now is about
$175.

Most of their stuff is 35mm, so you would have to do a reduction negative. Lab
cost is probably around $0.70/ 16mm ft now, and double that would be around
$1120, the first timed answer print would be around $300, and subsequent
release prints would run a little over $100 each. So to get to your first
release print would set you back abiyt $1500. Blackhawk prices are starting to
sound better and better, aren't they.

Of course you could do like I do and try to sell some extra prints and make
lots of money. (Note extreme degree of sarcasm)

oksana dykyj

unread,
Dec 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/10/97