Archive for August 2016
I’m researching the 1928 Weiss Brothers-Artclass Pictures serial, “The Mysterious Airman.” It’s the only silent Artclass serial that survives in its complete form – complete except for Chapter 9, Reel 1.
All I had on the missing reel are records from New York Motion Picture Commission (then part of the State of New York Education Dept.), which was little more than a censor board.
A number of states had movie censor boards. As late as 1970 I recall seeing “Airport” (1970) in Baltimore, complete with a spliced on 1950s-looking black and white (spread out to Cinemascope) censor seal.
Between 1921 and 1965, distributors were required to submit all feature films, serials (each chapter had to be applied for separately), shorts, cartoons and newsreels to the Commission for screening. Objectionable scenes had to be cut from the prints before a license to exhibit in New York would be granted.
As you’ll see, the censors demanded “views of a machine gun” cut before a license would be granted, Reason? “…they will tend to ‘incite crime!’”
We first met in 1979 at a private tour of the Hearst Castle, “Xanadu” of “Citizen Kane.”
The Kit Parker Films staff and their guests were invited to a special behind the scenes tour as a reward from the Hearst people for giving them some silent newsreels produced by their patriarch, newspaper baron, William Randolph Hearst. The tour was remarkable. It also turned out to be life changing personally and professionally:
34 years ago today I married one of the KPF guests. Her name is Donna.
She’s not only my life partner, but Kit Parker Films’ greatest supporter, cheerleader, sounding board, and sometimes crying towel. Although not involved in the KPF daily activities, Donna’s behind the scenes input through the years has been invaluable.
When I met her she could only recall seeing three classics, “The Wizard of Oz,” “Gone With the Wind,” and “Psycho.” To this day Donna is not what you’d call a super movie buff, although she does enjoy good films of all eras. I doubt she’s seen a fourth of my library, in many cases for good reason.
Donna is a trouper, perfectly willing to listen to esoterica exchanged between film buffs. She’s been known to refer to some of the more extreme ones as “mushrooms” (live in the dark, have no social life, and reproduce asexually). She once told me, “When the conversation degrades to a dissertation on Cinecolor, I’m outta here.”
Kit Parker Films, and now The Sprocket Vault (she’s in charge of social media), would not be the same today had it not been for her. I know I wouldn’t.