Posts Tagged ‘DVDs

Option 1:  Use Scotch tape, scratch remover and melt with a blow torch.

Option 2:  Contact us and we’ll send a speedy replacement.

A customer tried Option 1 and sent us the following unedited message:


burning dvd

“hi, could you please refund me on the dvd disc. I played this dvd disc on my dvd player, and it did NOT work. I took it out and found huge scratches and huge cracks in the disc. I repaired the huge scratches with scratch remover, and I repaired the huge cr acks with scotch tape. I then put it back in the dvd player to see if it would play better, but it would NOT play better AT ALL. the lasers inside the dvd player would NOT even recognize the dvd disc AT ALL. it was too IMPOSSIBLE to even be recognizable AT ALL. my other dvd discs work perfectly normal and great on my dvd player, and my dvd player still works perfectly normal and great as well. it’s just that the dvd disc would NOT even play well AT ALL. my other ones did. I just about tried everything I could even do to repair this dvd disc, but NONE of the ideas worked AT ALL. it was just too IMPOSSIBLE to even be recognizable, and there was absolutely NOTHING else I could even do about it AT ALL. I tried to send the dvd disc back to you, but when I was down in my basement welding something together, I had it with me, and when it fell out of my pocket, i accidentally melted the whole entire item with a blow torch. the whole entire item completely melted down into tiny little specs, and there is absolutely NOTHING left of this item WHATSOEVER. i have absolutely NO replacement for this item WHATSOEVER. so please refund me. i need my money back. thank you.”

Of course, we promptly returned his money along with an apology for his inconvenience.

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black pirates poster

Who needs a real pirate ship?!

What’s more fun to watch than a B-movie produced by Robert L. Lippert?  A double-feature produced by TWO Robert L. Lippert’s (Sr. and Jr.), both featuring B-movie stalwart Robert Clarke, one filmed in AnscoColor with Lon Chaney, Jr. as a priest, and with a script  by Star Trek producer Fred Freiberger.  Oh, and a rowboat for a “ship”!   With a lineup like that, who needs Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, or even a real pirate ship?

I’d about given up hope of finding color film elements on “The Black Pirates” (Lippert/1954) until a few years ago when my friend, producer Sam Sherman, revealed he had been storing the original negative for decades under the Spanish release title, “El Pirata Negro.”  It came into Sam’s possession this way:  In the mid 1940s, Robert L. Lippert and William Pizor formed Screen Guild Productions, which later became Lippert Pictures.  Pizor was in charge of international sales.  (Pizor founded two low budget studios)

In 1954, Lippert acquired distribution rights for seven years to “The Black Pirates,” which was co-produced by Robert L. Lippert, Jr. and Mexican producer, Ollalo Rubio, under the banner of Salvador Films Corp.  For some unknown reason “The Black Pirates” negative ended up in Pizor’s film vault.

Pizor’s son, Irwin, also a producer, took over the vault after the elder Pizor died in 1959, and Sam Sherman maintains it to this day.

Sam gave me the negative. Thank you, Sam!

But, there were problems:  the AnscoColor negative had excellent color, but it had odd looking streaks in some of the reels.  Poor lab work?  (It was done in Mexico)  Improperly stored?  For sure.  Lippert Jr. told me the negative had been stored under hot and humid conditions in El Salvador where the film was mostly shot.  Since I don’t like releasing movies with blemishes, the DVD release was tabled until hopefully a good print or some other usable element could be found.

Then, in 2016, another old friend, Wade Williams, gave me an original 35mm color print, and it had those same blemishes!  Conclusion:  The movie must have been shown in theatres with the same imperfections I’d rejected for a DVD release.   Tiffany Clayton* has done the digital restoration work on the majority of my movies and she tasked with fixing this one, and the resulting image is probably better than when it looked in theatres.

black pirates trailer

One other thing, only the Spanish main and end titles survived, so we used them.  No big deal.

The difficulties I had in locating good film materials is nothing to what Lippert, Jr. endured while producing the movie.  He told me the movie was “shit.”  The experience, yes, the movie – not nearly so bad.   Find out exactly what he had to say about making the movie in a reenacted interview as part of the DVD special features.

TSV Logo small


“The Black Pirates” (1954)

Cast: Anthony Dexter, Robert Clarke, Martha Roth, Lon Chaney, Jr., Toni Gerry, Víctor Manuel Mendoza

Location filming in El Salvador highlights this hot blooded tale of pirates landing in a Latin American town in search of buried treasure, and learning that a church was built over the spot. A pirate chief enslaves the townspeople and forces them to dig for it–but more twists lie ahead.  Script by Star Trek producer Fred Freiberger.

74 min | Color | 1.87:1/widescreen | NR

“Tales of Robin Hood” (1952)

Cast: Robert Clarke, Mary Hatcher, Paul Cavanagh, Wade Crosby, Whit Bissell, Ben Welden, Robert Bice

In 12th-century Nottinghamshire, ruthless tax collectors oppress the simple folk. Meanwhile, deep in the shadows of Sherwood Forest, a new hero is born: Robin Hood a sharp-witted swashbuckler joined by his Merry Men steals from the rich and gives to the poor–AND, on his own, romances the lovely Maid Marian.  Some scenes were filmed on the set of “Joan of Arc” (1950). Originally produced as a TV pilot, but released theatrically.

1952 | 60 min | B&W | 1.37:1 |NR

Bonus Features:

Interviews with Robert L. Lippert, Jr. and Robert Clarke by Tom Weaver (reenactments)

Original trailer to “The Black Pirates”

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No way…I’m still finding too many interesting movies to release on DVD/Blu-ray.

Hard to believe Kit Parker Films just celebrated its 45th year in the distribution of classic motion pictures! Back in 1971 the 16mm non-theatrical industry was thriving, but it was largely owned by corporations which were passionate about money, but dispassionate about films, and the quality of the film prints showed it. I saw a niche to be filled — renting out quality prints at affordable prices, and Kit Parker Films was born.

The 16mm library expanded throughout the years until home video made inroads into the industry — the quality of VHS was marginal at best, but the price was right. By the 90s I branched out into the 35mm theatrical arena, eventually becoming the go-to source for classics in the 35mm film format.

In the late 1990s I realized the days of projecting celluloid were going to be replaced by DVDs, so slowly phased out the “old” KPF, and in 2001 began purchasing the copyrights to vintage films. Over the next 15 years my collection grew to include hundreds of feature films, television programs, serials and shorts.   Many of my acquisitions required a great degree of patience and detective work to clear rights and locate suitable elements, but those efforts unearthed many films that had seen little or no exposure for decades.

Launching my library on DVD was a success, but like other producers, my profit was far too diluted by wholesalers, and their related “expenses” that I had to pay for, but that was the traditional method media (starting with books) made its way to stores and customers for over 100 years.

Amazon has been amazing for people like me who don’t like to go to stores. By 2015 they were by far the #1 seller for my DVDs.  Over time I noticed that some items I’d buy would say “Sold by ‘Acme Company’” and “Fulfilled By Amazon.” Amazon is making 90% of my DVD sales…I had a lightbulb moment! I can’t say why it took so long for me to figure out I could sell exclusively through Amazon, pay their fulfillment fee and continue to grow my business.

This means I can continue to augment my release schedule and continue to take a chance on projects that may not even recoup their costs. How many people are going to buy a silent serial, or an obscure cult film?  In this business you never know, but I’ve built my career on taking new risks.

So, I did it, and my new company, The Sprocket Vault, was born. Although TSV was created originally to sell my own DVD/Blu-rays, other producers have started approaching me to sell theirs…so my company is growing, and that means lots of new releases of interest for you.






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The following movies were eventually released on good quality DVD’s:


APACHE RIFLES (Admiral-Fox/1964)

Picture and sound track were a jumbled mess. Technician at VCI eventually matched everything up.  (I still owe someone a steak dinner!)


THE COWBOY (Lippert/1954)

35mm color negative ruined by mold. Used 16mm color “EK” (print from the original color negative) for the DVD.  Black and white duplicate negative and color “separation negatives” survive.  BTW, I had a blast producing the commentary track with the authentic old cowboys who were the stars of the film.


THE GLASS TOMB (Hammer-Lippert/1955)

Original 35mm material missing. Used 35mm release print borrowed from the British Film Archive



35mm color material missing. Used a 16mm color “EK.” 35mm black and white negative survives.


LIKE IT IS (Psychedelic Fever) (Lima/1968)

Missing sound track. Used audio from a bootleg VHS bought on eBay.  Sometimes pirates serve a useful purpose!



Master 35mm material was cut for release in the UK and the excised scenes scrapped. Used missing footage found in a 35mm US release print.  Scenes that were deleted prior to its US theatrical release were found in a Spanish dubbed print and are included as a Special Feature on the DVD.


MASSACRE (Lippert-Fox/1956)

Color camera negative survived – without titles. Used titles off a like-new 1956 16mm color print I bought from a collector on eBay.  Not the first time a film collector has saved the day.



35mm sound track decomposed. Used track from 16mm Armed Forces negative, which was longer than the theatrical release version. Extra scenes are part of the DVD special features.



Nitrate picture and track negative decomposed. Used a “fine grain” master print borrowed from the British Film Institute


OUTLAW WOMEN (Howco/1952)

Original 35mm Cinecolor material decomposed. Used mint 35mm Cinecolor print


SEA DEVILS (Coronado-RKO/1953)

Combined 3-strip Technicolor negatives located at Technicolour in London and restored by Canal+, owner of Eastern Hemisphere distribution rights.


SHOTGUN (Champion-Allied Artists/1955)

Badly faded camera negative was all that survived. VCI technician was able to bring the color back to life in a tedious process of correcting the color scene by scene. (Another steak dinner, this one due Doug at Film and Video Transfers)


SINS OF JEZEBEL (Lippert/1954)

Original 35mm color negative missing. Used mint 35mm AnscoColor print labeled “Roadshow Version”.  Could find no difference between the Roadshow and Regular release; not surprising given its penurious producer, Robert L. Lippert.   Note:  Fortunately AnscoColor, unlike widely used Eastman Color, does not tend to fade.



No color film elements known to exist. Used 35mm AnscoColor release print borrowed from the British Film Institute.  16mm black and white negative survives.



As with “Apache Rifles,” picture and sound track were a jumbled mess. Technician at VCI eventually matched everything up.  (Guess I owe three steak dinners.)

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There are movies which Kit Parker Films owns rights but cannot find suitable elements.  Maybe you can help!


“God’s Country” (Lippert/1946)

Original Cinecolor nitrate negative decomposed in the 1960s. 35mm and 16mm black and white duplicate negative and sound track survive.


“Highway 13” (Lippert/1948)

Not really missing, but we had to use the 16mm negative which was less than optimal.  I was told not to bother because the whole movie took less than 3 days to produce but, hey, it’s a mini-masterpiece!


“Rawhide Trail” (Terry and Lyon-Allied Artists/1958)

Nothing at all. The Allied Artists library was split between Warner Bros. and Paramount years ago, but this independent production was not among them.


“Mr. District Attorney in the Carter Case” (Republic/1941)

Nitrate negative decomposed. Not released to television so no duplicate negatives produced.


“The Incredible Face of Dr. B”

and “House of Frights”

Mexican films from 1963 that were also released in English language versions. Although the Spanish negatives survive, the English versions apparently do not.


“Let’s Live Again” (Seltzer-Fox/1948)

Only a mediocre 16mm negative and print survive.


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You see it every day on television. Scratches, splices, specs, and hairs added by computer to reenacted scenes in order to make them appear “old.”    They do it to vintage film, and pre-HD video tape as well.  I watched a story about NASA on network TV that used video tape from the “ancient” 1980s, and they even “antiqued” it.

I’ve spent over 40 years trying to take away scratches. Whatever happened to adding “archive footage” in small letters at the bottom of the screen instead of defacing the image?

Enough grousing. In my business it is a constant chore finding suitable film material to make our DVD’s look good.

Here is a brief primer on what we look for in film materials to make our DVD’s look good.

The basic principal of film is positives are made from negatives, and negatives from positives.

1st choice for producing digital masters –

35mm Camera Negative (“EK”) – The film that actually went through the camera.  Best and sharpest element to work with.

2nd choice –

35mm Fine Grain: A positive copy made from the camera negative. Grain and contrast are kept low because each successive generation (the duplicate negative and subsequent prints as described below) add both grain and contrast.

3rd choice –

35mm Duplicate Negative:  A “dupe negative” is the source of manufacturing release prints.

4th choice –

35mm Print:  A release print as shown in theatres.

5th choice –

16mm Duplicate Negative:  Before digital, this element was used to manufacture prints for television stations, and non-theatrical exhibitors such as colleges and libraries.

6th and last choice –

16mm print. Although on rare occasions I’ve found 16mm prints struck off the 35mm camera negative, or dupe negative, normally 16mm prints are at least 4 generations from the camera negative, with expected result…loss of clarity. I use 16mm material only after we’ve searched the world for good 35mm elements.

There are many thousands of cans of films in my collection going back to 1923 stored at the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the Academy Film Archive (part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Both institutions offer state of the art facilities with carefully monitored cold temperature and low humidity vaults.  Both institutions are dedicated to preserving our motion picture heritage, and are a pleasure to work with.

Once the best film material is selected, it is retrieved from the vault and let stand for a day or two to be brought up to room temperature. Then it is sent to the lab for digitization.  The subsequent digital master is sent to VCI Entertainment where imperfections are minimized as best as possible using special computer programs…or sometimes frame by frame (by a very patient technician.)  If the final output is to be a DVD, special features (the fun part) and menus are added.

BTW, while distributing the Warner Bros. classics library on film, I discovered some prints of Clint Eastwood movies struck from the original camera negatives. Clint came to my office to discuss using some of my footage for his documentary about Carmel, California, “Don’t Pave Main Street,” and during our conversation (he made it clear he was not interested in reminiscing about his work before “Rawhide”!), and I mentioned the EK’s, which were subsequently turned over to him.

(Photo of actual decomposed film courtesy NFSA)


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“An announcement to the trade that will prove a big surprise to the trades will be made next week” – Not!

In 1922 the Weiss Brothers purchased U.S. rights to a rather uninspired 52-reel Italian epic, “La Bibbia” (Appia Nuova/1920), supposedly filmed in Egypt and Palestine.   Artclass already had it in circulation  through National Non-Theatrical Pictures, Inc., as “The Holy Bible in Motion Pictures,” in 30 separate reels, each telling a specific Biblical story, serialized to schools and churches on a one-per-week basis.

Artclass cut it down to 11 reels and re-titled it “After Six Days,” accompanied with an elaborate ad campaign touting, “A Weiss Production” and “A $3,000,000 entertainment for the hundred millions.”  Although it was technically crude, Louis said he had “proof” it cost at least $1 million!

The release plan was to play at distinguished legit houses which offered stage presentations, as well as road show films.  Six weeks went by as they attempted to secure a Broadway booking, including bids for The Astor, Metropolitan Opera House, Gayety, Cohan and Harris, and others.  When they weren’t able to clear a date, it was decided to premier at English’s Opera House in Indianapolis on October 22, 1922, which was still a plum engagement considering the theatre had only allowed two previous motion pictures to be shown, D. W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” (Epoch/1915), and “Way Down East” (U.A./1920).  Dates followed in Minneapolis, Cleveland and Detroit.

“After Six Days” wasn’t exhibited in New York City until December 15, 1922, at the Columbia University School of Journalism in New York.  Some of the bookings that followed were the Woods, Atlantic City; Premier Theatre, Brooklyn; St. Denis Theatre, Montreal; and Ocean Grove Auditorium, Ocean Grove (N.J.) and Boston’s Tremont Temple.

Adam and Eve sequence from “After Six Days” (1922)

But there was trouble the next year.  Famous Players-Lasky accused Artclass of expanding the title to “After Six Days, Featuring Moses and the Ten Commandments,” in order to unfairly capitalize on Cecil B. DeMille version of “The Ten Commandments” (Paramount/1923), a claim supported by the “National Vigilance Committee,” who asserted the title confused the public.  The Brothers vehemently denied the charges, but went ahead and removed all reference to the offending part of the title, holding steadfast for years afterwards that they gave in on the lawsuit because they couldn’t afford a legal battle with a major studio.

“The History of the Bible in Motion Pictures” single reel versions continued playing non-theatrically through the 1920s.  Also, in the late 1940s Adrian announced a ten-part series of two-reel 16mm sound versions under the series title, “The Epic of the Ages,” although I can find no record that they were ever actually produced.  “After Six Days” proved to be an evergreen for Artclass, and was reissued in the early 1930s in a 7-reel sound (music, narration and effects) version, and in the mid-1940s, Adrian Weiss, prepared a hokey trailer in the hope of reissuing it theatrically as “An Adrian Weiss Production,” but wisely abandoned the idea.

The next Artclass release was a jungle drama, “The Woman Who Believed” (Artclass/1922). Then, controversy and legal problems rose again, this time revolving around a two-reel short, “Sawing a Lady in Half” (Clarion/1922), [aka “Sawing a Lady in Half, How It is Done,” and “Sawing a Lady in Half – Exposed,” to satisfy censorship issues in certain states] wherein magician John Coutts exposed the illusion made famous by magician Horace Goldin, whose name was synonymous with the act.  Goldin had previously obtained an injunction against another magician who performed the illusion, so Coutts modified the performance somewhat.

Goldin filed a suit anyway, claiming the movie violated, among other things, the copyright to a filmed version he supposedly deposited at the Copyright Office in 1921 [I could not find a record of any such deposit], and exhibition of the Coutt film seriously jeopardized his contract with the Keith Circuit (which was true) where he had been a consistent big draw for some time.  However, the Weiss’ lawyer successfully argued that Goldin didn’t originate the act, even arguing that the basis of the illusion could be traced back as far as 3766 B.C. Egypt, which the magic community found absurd.

However, Goldin won on appeal to the Supreme Court of New York where it was ruled that the earlier so-called comparable acts submitted by Clarion’s lawyer had little or no relationship to Goldin’s illusion, and the title of the film was an obvious attempt to capitalize on Goldin’s act, and must be changed.  This is still considered a landmark case with respect to intellectual rights to magic methods.   (In 1923 Goldin deposited a patent application for the specific device used in the illusion, that he later regretted because the illusion became part of the public record.)

Alfred Weiss (no relation) started his motion picture career in 1904, and by 1922 he was long an acknowledged VIP in the industry.  He knew the Weiss Bros. since at least 1921, when Goldwyn Pictures, to which Alfred was one of the founders, purchased Artclass’ “The Revenge of Tarzan.”

In November 1922 he announced his departure from Goldwyn to become the new President and General Manager of Artclass.  Alfred proclaimed that a slate of “high class” productions and four “big special productions” would be released annually through national distributors.

“Der müd Tod” / “Between Worlds” (1922)

The first was to be “Between Worlds” an “entirely different…great spectacle,” which turned out to be Fritz Lang’s German “Der müd Tod” aka “Destiny” (Decla-Bioscope/1921).  It had everything going against it; “arty,” no star power, produced in a country the U.S. still bitterly resented, and released by a States Rights distributor.  Nonetheless, it opened at the prestigious 4,000 seat Capitol Theatre in New York City, clearly a result of Alfred’s clout.  The film was reissued by Artclass in 1928 as “Between Two Worlds.”


Alfred’s boast that…a big surprise to the trades will be made next week,” never came to be, and I can find no evidence he had any involvement with the Weiss Brothers other than the one film.

Between 1924 and 1926, Artclass released almost 50 five-reel westerns.  Most were produced by Lester F. Scott, Jr.’s Action Pictures, and many starred “Buffalo Bill, Jr.” (Bill Drake) (Years later Louis Weiss purchased the name and character “Buffalo Bill, Jr.”), Wally Wales (Hal Taliaferro) and Buddy Roosevelt, with future star, Jean Arthur, often playing the romantic interest.  In 1979 I asked her about appearing in those westerns, and she quickly changed the subject.

“Grimm’s Fairy Tales” (1927)

They began producing their own series of one-reel shorts; “Guess Who” (1925), “The Scandal of America” (1926), “Screen Star Sports” (1926), “Radio Personalities” (1926-7), “Embarrassing Moments” (1928), and “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” (1927),  which were three-reelers.

Poodles Hanneford in “Circus Daze” (1927)

The most successful Artclass short subjects was a slate of ten separate slapstick comedy series produced between 1926-28; “Ben Turpin Comedies” and “Snub Pollard Comedies,” starring silent comedy stalwarts who by then were past their prime; low-profile comics, “Poodles Hanneford Comedies” and “Jimmy Aubrey Comedies”; and six other series, “Hairbreadth Harry Comedies,” “Winnie Winkle Comedies,” “Izzie and Lizzie Comedies,”  “Crackerjack Comedies,” “Lucky Strikes Comedies” and “Barnyard Animal Comedies” comedies.  Calling them “Comedies” may have been a stretch for the majority, but many are quite good.  Historian and silent comedy expert, Richard M. Roberts, cherry-picked the very best, and they are featured in the DVD collection, “Weiss-O-Rama”…in razor sharp prints with new piano scores and in depth commentaries.

Three ten-episode serials, “Perils of the Jungle” (1927), “Police Reporter” (1928) and “The Mysterious Airman” (1928), completed  the Artclass release schedule for the silent era.

A complete Weiss Bros. silent-era filmography appears in the next blog.

American Film Institute,   Exhibitor’s Herald 6/24/22, IMDb,  Kit Parker Collection/Margaret Herrick Library, AMPAS, Moving Picture World 10/7/22; 10/14/22; 11/11/22, New York State Archives, New York Supreme Court, New York Times 5/14/24, Martin Weiss, Steve Weiss, U.S. Copyright Office

Special thanks to Bob Dickson, Margaret Herrick Library, AMPAS

Weiss Bros. – Artclass Pictures on DVD –


“After Six Days” (Artclass/1922) and “Yesterday and Today” (UA/1953)  

“Weiss-o-Rama” Weiss Bros. comedy shorts from the original negatives  

Adrian Weiss’ “Bride and the Beast” (Allied Artists/1958), and Louis’ Weiss’ “The White Gorilla” (Weiss-Landress/1946); both from the original negatives:

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