**new release: scheduled for Sept 29, 2015**
9 rare/lost silent comedy shorts in new digital HD transfers and with piano and organ scores by Ben Model.
Read more at the Kickstarter page for this project.
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 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.
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: 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: 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.
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 (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.