In 1913, the Thomas Edison Company made talking pictures using a sound-on-cylinder system called The Kinetophone. These pioneering sound movies were shown in theatres for about a year, and featured vaudeville acts, comedy sketches, dramatic scenes and musical performances. Only 8 of the 200 Kinetophone films made survive in both film and cylinder elements, and these have now been digitally restored and synchronized by the Library of Congress, and are presented here for the first time in 105 years.The films:
TRT 76 mins - B&W/color - stereo - 4:3 aspect ratio - unrated - $19.95
produced for DVD by Ben Model.
DVD released by Undercrank Productions.
street date August 7, 2018
8 more rare Marcel Perez comedy shorts have turned up over the 3 years since Undercrank Productions' award-winning first volume of Marcel Perez films was released. These hilarious and inventive one- and two-reelers, released 1916-1923, have not been seen by the general public since their original release. All are presented here in new 2K scans from archival 35mm preservations or original nitrate sourced from the Library of Congress and the Museum of Modern Art.The films:
TRT 97 mins - B&W - stereo - 4:3 aspect ratio - unrated - $19.95
produced for DVD and scored by Ben Model. DVD released by Undercrank Productions.
Released February 27, 2018 Available on Amazon.com
Lon Chaney's film work from th 1920s is well-known and -- with the exception of the notoriously lost London After Midnight (1927) -- is mostly available on home video. In contrast, only 19 of the 118 films Chaney made at Universal in the 'teens survive, and only 11 are complete. For this DVD, Chaney historian Jon Mirsalis has selcted three rare titles that have been preserved by the Library of Congress, has reconstructed missing footage with titles based on contemporary reviews and copyright records, and has created new musical scores for each.
This is the first time that A Mother's Atonement, If My Country Should Call and The Place Beyond the Winds have been mad available in several decads, and each has been newly scanned from thee only surviving 35mm prints, preserved by the Library of Congress.The films:
TRT 82 mins - B&W - stereo - 4:3 aspect ratio - unrated - $19.95
produced for DVD, restoration and musical scores by Jon C. Mirsalis. DVD released by Undercrank Productions, in association with Greenbriar Picture Shows.
Released October 17, 2017 Available on Amazon.com
Just before his sudden death, a businessman accuses his son-in-law of embezzlement. His daughter is convinced of her fiancée's innocence and tries to clear his name and unmask the real villain and is aided by secret messages…from her dead father. Or are they? WHISPERING SHADOWS, a very rare occult creeper, can now be seen by the public for the first time since its release in 1921. It is presented here in a new digital scan with an eerie and atmospheric new theatre organ score by Andrew E. Simpson.
BONUS: THE DEVIL'S ASSISTANT (1917) -- in which a physician enacts revenge on the woman he loves after she marries another by treating her exhaustion with maddening drugs. The film depicts her descent into madness in a red-tinted trip to hell itself.
WHISPERING SHADOWS is sourced from a preservation by the Library of Congress from the sole surviving 28mm print of this title. THE DEVIL'S ASSISTANT is sourced from a rare print in the collection of the USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive.WHISPERING SHADOWS (1921) - 68 mins
TRT 91 mins - B&W/tinted - stereo - 4:3 aspect ratio - unrated - $19.95
produced for DVD and musical scores by Andrew E. Simpson.
DVD released by Undercrank Productions.
Released October 17, 2017 Available on Amazon.com
Marion Davies stars as Mary Tudor in the breakout role and big-budget costume epic that established her as a movie star. Davies plays Mary Tudor, sister of King Henry VIII, whom the king aims to use for political gain by offering her hand in marriage to King Louis XII of France. Look for a young William Powell in his second movie role as one of the story’s villains. For period authenticity, no expense was spared on the production’s costumes, armor and tapestries or on Joseph Urban’s huge, lavish sets.
WHEN KNIGHTHOOD WAS IN FLOWER (1922) is presented here in a brand new restoration, with a new theatre organ score by Ben Model. The film was scanned from an original 35mm nitrate print preserved by the Library of Congress, its color tints have been reinstated and the hand-colored sequence has been digitally replicated. This is the first time the film has been seen as it appeared in the 1920s.
The package includes a 16-page illustrated booklet with film notes by Lara Gabrielle Fowler, as well as both Blu-ray and DVD editions of the film. Both discs are region-free.
Ordering links, as well as more details about When Knighthood Was In Flower, plus info about the Undercrank Prods. releases of Marion Davies in The Bride's Play and Beauty's Worth are HERE.
Douglas Fairbanks presents
The Three Musketeers
90th Anniversary Edition
Over the years, there have been many screen adaptations of the story of Alexandre Dumas’ musketeer D’Artagnan, going all the way back to 1903 and portrayed by the likes of Gene Kelly, Don Ameche, Michael York and Chris O’Donnell, but it is Douglas Fairbanks’ 1921 production that set the bar for movie versions of The Three Musketeers as well as for the swashbuckler genre itself. This new 95th anniversary edition brings this classic Fairbanks silent to DVD with a new musical score, authentic color tints and digital restoration.
This 95th anniversary DVD edition presents the film in a restoration originally done by Karl Malkames, newly scanned and digitally restored; this is the first time the Malkames restoration has been available to the public. This DVD release features a brand new theatre organ score by silent film accompanist Ben Model. This edition was produced for video by Bruce Lawton and Ben Model.
TRT 119 mins - color tinted - stereo - 4:3 aspect ratio - unrated - $19.95
produced for DVD by Bruce Lawton and Ben Model. DVD released by Undercrank Productions, in association with Verdoux Vision.
Released December 13, 2016 Available on Amazon.com
Accidentally Preserved: Volume 4
8 Rare/Lost Silent Films in Vintage 9.5mm Prints
This fourth volume of rare/lost silent comedy shorts in the Accidentally Preserved series reaches even further into the realm of obscure or hard-to-find titles, sourcing American silent films released to the European home movie market on 9.5mm safety film.
The 9.5mm home movie format was introduced in Europe in 1922 by Pathéscope, just one year before Kodak debuted its 16mm home-use format. 9.5mm film was more compact, and its perforations were down the center of the film, in-between each frame. Pathéscope released silent films on 9.5mm film for both sales and rental from 1922, just a couple years before the Kodascope Library launched, all the way through 1959. Many titles in the catalog were not available from the U.S. 16mm home-use companies, and suriving prints, such as most of the titles offered on this disc, are the only known copies of these films.
The films on the Accidentally Preserved: volume 4 DVD have been sourced from the USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive. All films are seen in new digital HD transfers and with piano and organ scores by Ben Model.DVD contents:
Nonsense (1920) - Sid Smith and Jimmie Adams - 22 mins
The Ninety And Nine (1922) - Warner Baxter and Colleen Moore - 10 mins
Meet Father (1924) - Bobby Ray - 10 mins
The Wages of Tin (1925) - Glenn Tryon - 10 mins
Tides of Passion (1925) - Mae Marsh - 21 mins
A Man's Size Pet (1926) - 17 mins
Walter's Paying Policy (1926) - Walter Forde - 22 mins
'Morning, Judge (1926) - Peggy Shaw, Flora Finch - 9 mins
TRT 121 mins - B&W - stereo - 4:3 aspect ratio - unrated - $19.95
produced for DVD by Ben Model/Undercrank Productions, in association with Greenbriar Picture Shows and the USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive. Released November 15, 2016 Available on Amazon.com
What's in a name? Thousands of films have been preserved by film archives, but because their main titles are missing no one knows what they are. Thanks to the annual Mostly Lost film identification workshop, this is changing. This DVD contains eleven extremely rare films preserved by the Library of Congress that were ID’ed recently — nine silent shorts starring comedians like Hank Mann, Snub Pollard and Jimmie Adams, plus two early sound comedies, one of which is William (Fred Mertz) Frawley’s vaudeville act.
Starting in 2012, the Library of Congress has hosted Mostly Lost, an annual free workshop held at its National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, VA. Attendees range from writers, scholars, archivists, and filmmakers to just plain film buffs and students interested in film or preservation. During the three-day workshop, silent and early sound films are screened that have been unidentified, under-identified or misidentified. All genres of films are shown, including comedies, dramas newsreels and actuality films.
Attendees shout out things during screenings as they recognize them or find them online – anything from car models, city landmarks, actors, production companies or even the title of the film. In addition to films from the LoC’s collection, Mostly Lost features material from other film archives around the world.
This DVD is comprised of a selection of treasures from the Library of Congress' vaults that were identified during the Mostly Lost conferences held 2012-2014
The 9 silent films on the disc feature new piano scores by silent film accompanists Philip Carli, Ben Model, or Andrew Simpson, who also provide live musical accompaniment at all Mostly Lost workshop screenings.
The Nickel Snatcher (1920) - Hank Mann - 9 mins
Fidelity (1911) - Pathé drama - 10 mins
The Paperhanger's Revenge (1918) - Bud Duncan - 11 mins
A Brass Button (1911) - Reliance drama - 12 mins
Jerry's Perfect Day (1916) - George Ovey - 11 mins
One Million B.C. [test footage] (1940) - 7 mins
Ventriloquist (1927)** - William Frawley - 9 mins
Fifteen Minutes (1921) - Snub Pollard - 8 mins
In And Out (1920/21) - Monty Banks - 12 min
Grief (1921) - Jimmie Adams - 8 mins
The Joyride (1928)** - George LeMaire and Joe Phillips - 10 mins
All films silent except where noted by **.
TRT 107 mins - B&W - stereo - 4:3 aspect ratio - unrated - $19.95
produced for DVD by Ben Model/Undercrank Production.
Released March 2016
Available on Amazon.com
The Family Secret (1924) starring Baby Peggy
Just a few weeks after Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid was released in 1921, 2½ -year-old “Baby Peggy” Montgomery began making comedy shorts for the Stern Bros. Century Film Company. The series, which initially co-starred Baby Peggy with Brownie the dog, had a successful 3-year run and led to her starring in features. The Family Secret (1924) is one of her best feature films, and is presented here in a brand new restoration by the Library of Congress, made from archival 35mm and 16mm elements.
Also on the DVD are two new-to-video and very-rare Baby Peggy shorts and two newsreels of Baby Peggy. All of the films on the DVD are sourced from archival 35mm materials, and are seen in brand-new 2K digital transfers.
TRT 98 mins - B&W - stereo - 4:3 aspect ratio - unrated - $19.95
produced for DVD by Ben Model/Undercrank Productions, in association with Greenbriar Picture Shows.
Released October 2015
Available on Amazon.com
The Marcel Perez Collection
Perhaps the best silent film comedian whom no one's ever heard of is Marcel Perez. Part of the first generation of screen clowns, his career began in 1900 and flourished until 1928. During that time he helped create the ground rules for the genre in Europe and continued to refine the basics in America. An international favorite, Perez was, along with Max Linder, one of the few direct links between European and American silent comedy, and made over 200 starring shorts. The obscurity that he's fallen into today is due to the scarcity of his surviving work combined with the gypsy-like way he traveled through early screen comedy — constantly renaming himself and his screen character.
For the first time, a comprehensive selection of Perez's films has been gathered together. Ten films — five made in Italy and five from America — have been carefully chosen from the collections of the Library of Congress and the EYE Filmmuseum (Netherlands), most of them from the only known surviving print. Presented in new HD digital transfers and with new scores by Ben Model, this DVD collection provides a loving and long overdue second look at this original and most neglected of silent clowns.
Marcel Perez: The International Mirth-Maker is a companion book to the DVD, written by noted silent comedy historian Steve Massa, and published by Undercrank Productions. The book examines the life and career of perhaps the best silent film comedian whom no one's ever heard of. One of the founding fathers of film comedy whose career spanned the silent era as a comic, director, and writer, Marcel Perez is a missing link between the early European and American cinemas, and in the book author Steve Massa follows his work, and also explores the very beginnings of film comedy. Tracking Perez's career through industry trade journals and film fragments from archives all over the world, Massa also includes a detailed filmography and lavishly illustrates with more that 50 rare photographs.
Published February 2015.
Available on Amazon.
The Mishaps of Musty Suffer
The Mishaps of Musty Suffer was a series of comedy shorts released weekly, in three series of ten films, from 1916-17. It was popular, successful and well-reviewed…and yet it is almost completely forgotten today. Playing Musty Suffer was Ziegfield Follies headliner comic Harry Watson, Jr.…also forgotten. 24 of the 30 "Musty" films survive and have been in the collection of the Library of Congress since 1959 but are rarely seen.
The films are hilarious, full of cartoony and surreal settings and slapstick, and have a circus influence. This DVD contains 8 of the best of the surviving Musty shorts, seen for the first time ever on video in new HD transfers from master material preserved by the Library of Congress, and featuring brand new musical scores by Ben Model.
Be sure to pick up the companion guide by Steve Massa with detailed film notes and history on the series and a complete Musty filmography. The booklet even fits inside the DVD case for handy reference!
Curated by Steve Massa and Ben Model
117 mins - B&W - stereo - 4:3 aspect ratio- NTSC - region 0 (all-regions)
Released April 2014.
Available on Amazon.
The Mishaps of Musty Suffer: Volume 2
This second volume of "whirls" from the 1916-17 silent comedy film series The Mishaps of Musty Suffer features four more entries in which Musty Suffer works in an arcade and as a messenger boy, has his body and face repeatedly mangled in the hopes of getting a meal, and is gifted a pantomime horse by the itinerant Fairy Tramp for a business opportunity. Also on the DVD as bonuses are Bickel & Watson's first film from 1915, and a 1910 newsreel that contains footage of them as members of a clown band as well as of Bert Williams doing some of his boxing routine.
These films have been preserved by the Library of Congress and have never been available on video. New musical scores for all six films have been composed and recorded by Ben Model.
Accidentally Preserved: Volume 1
Accidentally Preserved: Rare and Lost Silent Films from Vintage 16mm Prints is a collection of nine short films made from 1920-1928, presented in new HD transfers with new musical scores on piano or theatre organ by Ben Model. The films are all new to DVD, and three of them have not been seen by anyone in several decades.
During the 1930s and 1940s companies like the Kodascope and Universal Show-At-Home libraries made 16mm copies of silent movies for people to rent and watch at home. It was like Netflix for the art deco era. Because these movies were on 16mm safety film, many of them have outlived the original 35mm nitrate prints of silent films that are now lost or extremely rare. It's as if these movies were...Accidentally Preserved.
Renowned silent film accompanist/historian Ben Model has taken nine of the rare and lost silent films in his 16mm collection and produced this Accidentally Preserved DVD, bringing these rarities to a new audience in new HD digital transfers. Each film on this DVD has a new musical score by Ben Model performed on piano or theatre organ. Unavailable to the public for decades, these delightful comedy shorts -- as well as the lost, unknown Elgin Watch factory film -- return to screens to entertain us once more.
Be sure to pick up the new companion guide, Accidentally Preserved: notes on the films, published by Undercrank Prods. and available exclusively on Amazon! The booklet, written by Steve Massa and Ben Model, contains background info on the films and fits perfectly inside the DVD case.
Accidentally Preserved: Volume 2
Accidentally Preserved: Rare and Lost Silent Films from Vintage 16mm Prints is a DVD series of rare/lost silent film shorts, presented in new digital HD transfers with new musical scores on piano or theatre organ by Ben Model. This second DVD release in the series contains 9 more rare/lost silent film shorts. The films on volume 2 are all new to DVD, and two of them have not been seen by anyone in several decades.
Renowned silent film accompanist/historian Ben Model has taken eight more of the rare and lost silent films in his 16mm collection – plus one from the collection of film archivist Dino Everett – and produced this 2nd Accidentally Preserved DVD, bringing these rarities to a new audience in new HD transfers. Each film on this DVD has a new musical score by Ben Model performed on piano or theatre organ. Unavailable to the public for decades, these delightful shorts return to screens to entertain us once more.
Accidentally Preserved: Volume 3
A third volume of rare/lost silent comedy shorts in the series, this time featuring titles held by other film collectors. All films are seen in new digital HD transfers and with piano and organ scores by Ben Model.
Flying Luck - starring Monty Banks
Monty Banks wants to be like his hero Charles Lindbergh, and will do anything to learn to fly a plane. After building his own doesn't go so well, he winds up enlisting in the Army. During basic training, Monty falls in love with the Colonel's daughter (played by a young Jean Arthur), tangles with a mean drill sergeant (Kewpie Morgan) and is mistaken for a visiting French dignitary. But eventually Monty winds up in a plane and wins the big Army-Navy air polo match!
On May 20, 1927 Charles Lindbergh successfully performed the first transatlantic solo flight, captivating the nation, if not the world. Two months later, motion picture trade papers announced that comedian Monty Banks’ next feature-length comedy would be An Ace in the Hole — which was released on December 5, 1927 as Flying Luck. This aviation-inspired comedy was the last produced of a string of Monty Banks features made 1924-27.
Monty Banks entered films in 1916 and, after supporting other comedians for a few years, had a successful series of starring shorts from 1920 to 1924. Banks is probably best known for the climactic reels of his thrill comedy feature Play Safe (1927), which were featured in Robert Youngson's compilation movie The Days of Thrills and Laughter (1961).
Flying Luck capitalizes on the 1927 airplane craze and co-stars a young Jean Arthur (Easy Living, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Shane). This extremely rare silent film has never been available on home video, and is seen here in a transfer from a rare, vintage 35mm nitrate print.
BONUS: This DVD includes 40 minutes of newsreels covering Lucky Lindy’s infamous flight from New York to Paris from "weeklies" (newsreels) produced by Kinograms, the William J. Ganz Company and Pathé News.
100 mins, B&W, unrated; stereo - NTSC - 4:3 aspect ratio
Produced for video by Bruce Lawton and Ben Model
Released March 2014
Available on Amazon.
The Crackerjack - with Johnny Hines
The Crackerjack (1925) finds silent screen star Johnny Hines as a breezy go-getter who falls in love with a young woman (Sigrid Holmquist) and helps her father thwart a revolution in Esquasado using stuffed pickles. This comedy classic is presented here with a brand new score by Ben Model. Reminiscent of Harold Lloyd’s Why Worry? (1923), as well as later films like Woody Allen’s Bananas (1971) and Paul Mazursky’s Moon Over Parador (1988), in The Crackerjack Hines takes on a variety of gag sequences including impersonating one of the fictional south-of-the-border country’s dignitaries. The film ends in a large-scale battle and comedy chase and will delight fans of silent movies.
Johnny Hines made fifteen starring features between 1923 and 1928, most of which were released either independently or through First National. While Johnny Hines is not as well known today as Chaplin, Keaton or Lloyd, his films — most of which were directed by his brother Charles — kept movie fans laughing while they were waiting for the next release from silent comedy’s luminaries.
This edition of THE CRACKERJACK features a brand-new piano score by renowned silent film accompanist Ben Model. This video edition was mastered from a vintage 16mm print which shows some wear and which may be missing a scene or two; new intertitles have been created to replace missing ones.
67 mins - B&W - stereo - 4:3 aspect ratio - NTSC - region 0 (all-regions)
Released February 2013
Available on Amazon.