On Sunday, February 3rd, the family of film historian Ron Hutchinson shared the sad news that he had passed away from cancer on Saturday. He was 67. The classic film community has been reeling ever since, both shocked by the suddenness of the event and deeply saddened by the loss of a true giant in film preservation.
Hutchinson was the co-founder of The Vitaphone Project, a group of passionate historians and collectors which aimed to rediscover and restore Vitaphone films. This early sound process (spanning the years 1926-1931) recorded dialogue and sound effects on discs which were then synchronized with the projected films. If you’ve ever taken in an early talkie or one of those late silents with sound effects–say, the magnificent King of Jazz(1930) or Colleen Moore’s Why Be Good?(1929)–chances are you’re quite literally hearing some of Hutchinson’s hard work.
From Ron’s Facebook page.
Hutchinson had both discovered and assisted in the restoration of literally hundreds of early talkies, both shorts and features (especially “Vitaphone shorts,” which served as pre-feature entertainment in theaters). And as so many have attested in the past couple days, he was an enthusiastic and helpful supporter of countless preservation projects. He leaves behind a loving family and too many friends in the classic film community to count.
A memorial service for Hutchinson will be held on Saturday, February 9th from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Piscataway Funeral Home in Piscataway, New Jersey. There is also talk of a special memorial event to be held later this year, possibly as a benefit for his beloved Vitaphone project.
My friend Annette at Hometowns to Hollywood wrote a detailed article about Vitaphone and The Vitaphone Project here–it’s highly recommended!
Hutchinson was a fellow columnist on Classic Movie Hub, and his detailed articles on all things Vitaphone can be read here.
Well, whaddaya know? Today, Silent-ology turns five years old!
Norma’s happy to help me cut the cake.
We’ve been celebrating the unique, beautiful, quirky, inspirational silent era together for half a decade! This is all thanks to your continued visits, comments and support, which makes this huge, multi-year project such a fulfilling labor of love. I couldn’t ask for a more good-natured, appreciative audience, and that’s a fact.
And now, a respectable selection of 1924 silent film stars will join me in saying a very sincere:
By the way, I’m extra excited this year because…well…five is my favorite number. 😀 SO LET’S PARTY!!!
Whew, getting tired from all that partying? Let’s take a break and recap some of this blog’s highlights from 2018. Continue reading →
Happy New Year’s, everyone! It’s a day to celebrate, preferably Lilian Harvey-style:
As you do.
And as usual, it’s time to look back on the various silent-related film discoveries, DVD and book releases, and other noteworthy events from the past twelve months. I keep a running list of film news all throughout the year, so hopefully this “year in review” post is pretty thorough. But if I managed to miss anything important, please let me know in the comments! (And remember that it needs to be an event/discovery/release from 2018 specifically.)
A very MERRYCHRISTMASfrom Miss Movie! Or so the fairy in this 1917 Motion Picture Magazine is called:
I was amused by the fact that “Also a Merry Christmas!” is a wee afterthought at the bottom. In fairness, this is a January issue, but the December issues don’t seem to have an abundance of Christmas ads either. Times have sure changed, eh?
I’m hoping that all Silent-ology readers have a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, wherever you may be! No matter what you’ll be doing today or how busy or how quiet it’ll be, know that I’ll be raising a glass to you at some point.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
–From “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon
After four years of the extended commemoration, we’ve reached the very tail end of World War I’s centennial (not counting 2019’s recognition of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles–don’t worry, WWI buffs, I haven’t forgotten). So it’s fitting that in these final days of 2018, the new war documentary They Shall Not Grow Old should be in theaters (limited numbers of screenings and all).
What’s also fitting, in my opinion, is that Peter Jackson is at its helm. He’s proved in the past that with care and preparation he can churn out stunning works like the Lord of the Rings trilogy (which has a practically transcendent effect on me to this day–by the way, that Hobbit trilogy doesn’t exist). They Shall Not Grow Old is an excellent addition to his filmography, and is certainly a milestone within the genre of war documentaries. Continue reading →
Hear ye, hear ye! I am pleased to announce the return of Silent-ology’s prestigious blogathon, devoted to that inimitable thespian of the enigmatic visage and whimsical porkpie chapeau, the singular Joseph Frank Keaton:
Can you believe this blogathon is in its fifth year? I can hardly believe it myself. (That also means my blog is about to turn 5 years old–I can hardly believe that, too!) And thus, once again I would like to extend the cordial invitation to all my fellow film bloggers to join in this annual celebration of everything Buster Keaton–one of the most important and unique figures in cinematic history.
So thanks to several carefully-planned Hollywoodtrips, I’ve been very fortunate to visit some really cool silent-related locations, such as the site of the former Keystone studio, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Roosevelt Hotel, the Chaplin studio, Buster Keaton’s gravesite, the Egyptian Theatre, Musso & Frank’s, and the closest a stranger can legally get to Buster’s Italian Villa.
About this close (before the guard comes out).
I’ve also had priceless experiences at both the Buster Keaton Convention in Muskegon, Michigan and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. For a classic film lover, each and every one of these experiences was a dream come true–from the big festivals to the little moments like relaxing in L.A.’s Echo Park and thinking, “That’s the same lake all those Keystone comedians had to jump into!”
If the water wasn’t…questionable, I would totally jump in too.
But there’s still several places I’m bound and determined to visit one day, and as of right now these sites are in my top 6: Continue reading →
If it seemed a bit quiet on Silent-ology lately, it’s because my beloved Grandpa passed away last week on Independence Day. He was 91 and had, without a doubt, enjoyed a “life well-lived.” He leaves behind his wonderful wife of nearly 70 years, a dozen children, dozens of grandchildren and great-grand children, and even one great-great-grandchild.
And of course, he leaves behind countless memories for all of us to share with each other during each holiday gathering, BBQ or impromptu get-together. And for me, a few of those memories involve bringing over Buster Keaton shorts to watch with him and Grandma.
During my recent Hollywoodland trip, there was one place I was determined to finally visit: the Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard.
Haven’t heard of it? Well, my friends, if you love classic films then you need to know this heavenly place exists. It’s something exceedingly rare in today’s L.A.: a venerable and perfectly-preserved restaurant that’s served generations (and generations!) of stars. Having first opened in 1919, it’s been a Hollywood institution for almost a full century–and its commitment to tradition is refreshingly strong.