Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

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Paul E. Gierucki

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Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostTue Apr 17, 2012 1:41 pm

While doing research for CineMuseum's Mack Sennett collection I discovered that the longtime owner of the Educational film library, author and historian Maurice H. Zouary died on June 7, 2010 at the age of 88. His passing in 2010 appears to have gone undocumented in newsgroups until now.

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sethb

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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostWed Apr 18, 2012 6:09 am

If I recall correctly, Zourary also had something to do with restoring and preserving the Lee DeForest sound films produced in the mid-1920's, and I believe he may have been involved with the "paper prints" filed with the Copyright Office in the early 1900's. SETH
"Novelty is always welcome, but talking pictures are just a fad." -- Irving Thalberg
"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk ?" -- Harry Warner
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Richard M Roberts

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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostWed Apr 18, 2012 12:31 pm

sethb wrote:If I recall correctly, Zourary also had something to do with restoring and preserving the Lee DeForest sound films produced in the mid-1920's, and I believe he may have been involved with the "paper prints" filed with the Copyright Office in the early 1900's. SETH



Zouary did own the Lee Deforest negatives, but had nothing to do with the paper prints. He also owned what survived on the Educational Pictures sound films.


RICHARD M ROBERTS
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moviepas

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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostThu Apr 19, 2012 8:44 pm

Zouary also wrote a book of Lee DeForest about a decade ago which was available on line as a PDF(around US$6 & book form at around US$12. I got the PDF and read it in full back them but I could not transfer it when I was taking material off my first Harddrive(15gb)to disc and appear to have lost it. I had a new set up a few years ago put together and the drive worked when I got the machine back and when I went to transfer it to a new larger drive the 15gb no longer worked and all tests proved fruitless in getting it going again. I have tried to locate the book or download since but no go. It was a good read and I now have a number of those shorts as published on DVD.

I assume Zouary was the guy who wanted a fortune for those Educational Films a few years ago as recently mentioned on this forum. Know archival OCN etc elements were said to have been lost in the 1937 Fox fire in NJ, they then being the theatrical distributor of these and Terrytoons. What has happened to Zouary's Educationals since his death or did he get rid of them before he died?
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Ralph Celentano

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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostMon Apr 23, 2012 7:01 pm

His lawyer is about the same age. Is he living?

I have a large collection of Educational titles including some Zouary didn't have.
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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010) Case.

PostWed May 02, 2012 1:27 pm

I'm sorry that Mr. Zouary has passed, but I had a problem with an aspect of his documentary "First Sound of Movies" (Yes, all I do is complain). He told viewers that Fox simply stole De Forest's Phonofilm process for no good reason, by changing part of it. BOO, HISS, BAD FOX. He skips over Theodore Case, who shared the patent, going to them, and of course ignores Case's improvements. And when we do see Case, He's called "Cass"! Did Zouary have some old grudge against Mr. Case?, or did he want a good anti-capitalist story?
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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostMon May 28, 2012 5:27 pm

I spoke to Maurice Zouary's widow a few weeks ago. She still seems to have custody of those 307 two reel talkie shorts of Educational but she's not prepared to enter into discussions unless someone offers $500,000. They have been notionally on the market for years but who'sgoing to pay that sort of price for them?
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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostMon May 28, 2012 6:58 pm

I frequently talked to Maurice during the 1993-2009 years and he asked me to assist in disposing his entire Educational 2 reel shorts collection.Back then he wanted $1.5 million (!) and needless to say there were no takers. I approached TCM and in fact they were very interested, but not at that price. Let's remember these are all PD. But his attorney, who was older than him (I think) implied the buyer would also get music rights to all music used in the films. He came down to $600,000 but still way too high. In my last conversation with him I told him about the success of the Warner Archive Vitaphone shorts DVD sets and suggested he consider putting out a DeForest set, but uncut and unadulterated. Nothing happened there either.

So all this stuff still sits in Brooklyn, condition unknown (at least to me), and likely to stay there unless the asking price come down to the $100K range.

At the Vitaphone Project, 99.9% of collectors are reasonable and even loan their disks or dubs to make a restoration possible. But we're currently dealing with a collector with some needed disks and wants $500 apeice, about $450 too high. So my position is to just pass.
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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostTue May 29, 2012 6:57 am

My view on Vitaphone's being offered discs at $500 is the same as his. Like he says 99.5% come to the party. I would always do the same. I guess we don't know what quality the discs are? Might be badly scratched and distorted? Takes all types, I guess.

As for the Educational Library I would buy any DVD-R issued if it happened. Some several years ago, maybe around 2005?, a man around 'Frisco area had series of DVD-R of Pathe sound features and shorts available. I think he wanted US$29.95 per disc and I wanted these then lost track of him and never heard of them or him again. There was some Pathe English shorts amongst the material. Anyone get any?
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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostTue May 29, 2012 7:48 am

Vitaphone, I think we spoke about this collection years back. MZ passed the Collection on into various other hands, money men rather than aficionados. Who's the lawyer? I was contacted out of the blue recently by Dierdre Steinhaus Ainbinder of New York accountants Kempisty & Company to give me Mrs Z's home phone number. She must have found my details somewhere in the records. I explained to her exactly what I wanted, and that my financial situation was not such that I had $500,000 in my back pocket for transactions such as this. But Mrs Z was still very abrupt. Anybody who didn't have that sort of money was a timewaster, and she refused to discuss anything about the Collection with me. And DSA is not answering my follow-up emails.
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vitaphone

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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostTue May 29, 2012 8:50 am

I forget the lawyer's name but a Ray Pointer of Inkwell Productions was also involved. Everyone was unrealistic as to the selling price so, to this day, nothing has happened.
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Paul E. Gierucki

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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostTue May 29, 2012 12:03 pm

We also made several serious attempts to purchase the library in 2004 but, unfortunately, the terms of the deal changed on a daily basis and we had to walk away.
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Ralph Celentano

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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostTue Jun 05, 2012 8:32 am

If you are fortunate enough to acquire the early 16mm prints, you might have the best known material.

I saw 2 Lloyd Hamilton Educationals recently on video. There was heavy decomposition on the source material.

Earlier prints of these titles had no problems.
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RayPointer

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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostFri Jun 22, 2012 6:37 am

For 25 years, Maurice H. Zouary was on a mission to produce a documentary on Dr. Lee deForest. He had gone as far as producing screen credits on 35mm high contrast film stock. He was greatly affected when his partner passed away, and was further defeated in a lawsuit by Paramount over an assumed Public Domain HOPALONG CASSIDY film that he was distributing.

I met Mr. Zouary in New York in June, 2000. Shorly afterward I purchased from him the negatives to a number of MAX Fleischer SONG CAR-TUNES, which I reconstructed and released in VHS and DVD as MAX FLEISCHER'S KO-KO SONG CAR-TUNES (With the Famous Bouncing Ball). This small documentary showcase program won a Platinum Award at the Houston International Film and Video Festival.

In 2001, we entered into a three picture agreement that included the repackaging and distribution of two classic German feature films, NO MAN'S LAND-HELL ON EARTH (1931), MARTIN LUTHER: REBEL PRIEST (1927), and a deForest documentary. Mr. Zouary commissioned me to produce FIRST SOUND OF MOVIES with a goal of airing it on PBS. Accordingly, it was structured with reference to his self-published book, DEFOREST: FATHER OF THE ELECTRONIC REVOLUTION. It was very difficult working with Mr. Zouary, especially with respect to the issue of Theodore Case. Case is mentioned in Dr. deForest's autobiography and the details of his applying Case's developments to the Phonofilm process. Mr. Zouary was very dismissive of the subject to the extend of actually blotting out in ink Case's name on the main titles of the films made during the two years he worked with Case. I refused to show any titles with such an obviously hand inked censor wiggling on screen. It would have been a much stronger documentary had I been allowed to offer contrasts in points of view from contemporary subject matter experts, as well as details about Case who deserves recognition in the development of the sound-on-film process.

I worked diligently to get the production ready to meet the submission deadline for the Houston Festival in the spring of 2004 since we arranged to have the premier public screening there on the 80th anniversary date of the first display of the deForest Phonofilm process. It was well received, and received the Gold Remi Award for Historical Documentaries.

As Executive Producer, Mr. Zouary had the responsibility of getting FIRST SOUND OF MOVIES placed on the PBS fall schedule for 2004 as part of the AMERICAN MASTERS series. He failed to do this, and I submitted it for the deadline for pick up consideration by American Public Television. They passed on it stating in a political remark that it "did not meet broadcast standards." This was not true since it was professionally engineered by an established Post-production house in Los Angeles that produces broadcast standard programming Masters. This rejection seems related to Mr. Zouary's insistence that clips from his holdings had been used unauthorized in a previous AMERICAN MASTERS program, VAUDEVILLE. Mr. Zouary did not reveal that there was any legal complication between him and PBS, but I later discovered that he attempted to sue, which gives light to this rejection. This also explains why my phone calls were not returned when I called WNET in New York. In order to help Mr. Zouary recoup his investment, my company, Inkwell Images sold hundreds of copies in VHS and DVD form until our agreement expired in 2006. It has been withdrawn from circulation since.

I have had recent requests to make FIRST SOUND OF MOVIES available, and I have considered remaking it as a more accurate and contemporary feeling program in order to more properly present this subject in the manner that it deserves.
I am sure we can all agree that this is a very important part of film history that deserves greater exposure.
Last edited by RayPointer on Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostFri Jun 22, 2012 7:19 am

vitaphone wrote:I forget the lawyer's name but a Ray Pointer of Inkwell Productions was also involved. Everyone was unrealistic as to the selling price so, to this day, nothing has happened.


I was not directly involved with the attempted sale of the Educational Library but was being contacted by several people interested in buying it. You were one of those people vitally interested, and you also called me and we had a nice conversation leading to my referring you to Mr. Zouary's representative. After that the results are easy to conclude.

I also felt that the asking price was unreasonable, but was not in a position to discuss this matter. Aside from the asking price there was a perceived technical issue due to the fact that the majority of the films exist in 16mm since the 35mm elements deteriorated in the late 1940s. Part of the argument was with respect to HD-TV and 16mm not being considered high enough resolution. This is a ridiculous argument since first, the films are not being projected at as large of an image as 16mm film would be, and second, 16mm is the only form that many important films survive in. So this was part of the argument surrounding the sale price of the Educational Library, which continues to sit in the dark.

This unreasonable thinking was typical of the situation when I dealt with Mr. Zouary, as I indicate in my account of FIRST SOUND OF MOVIES. As for releasing the deForest Phonofilms "uncut." The samples in FIRST SOUND OF MOVIES and the follow up THE BIRTH OF THE TALKIES contained the films in their complete versions as they existed. I believe you meant to suggest a collection of the films outside of the context of a documentary. In either case, there is a tremendous problem in doing this, mainly expense. Some are not the best picture and sound quality, having been duped several generations in 16mm. As much as I wanted to use them, I simply had to pass on them until better versions surfaced. To date, none have.

Part of the problem is related to what appears to have been the mishandling of the films by Mr. Zouary. When Mr. Zouary transferred the films to Safety Film by Movie Lab in New York in the late 1960s, they were not properly cleaned. So in the duplicating process dirt and abrasions were printed in. Composite negatives were made this way, which means that the picture and soundtrack are on a single negative. This presents two problems. First, the position of the soundtrack is 20 frames behind the corresponding picture frame, which is the original placement distance for the original Phonofilm Sound Head. Standard soundtracks have a 19.5 frame advancement, with the Sound Head below the projector's Film Gate, a detail explained in the documentary. With the picture and track already locked in, they have to be realigned either by re-recording the original tracks and making new track negatives, or realigned electronically in video Post-Production. The other problem is that the original film speeds were not all 24fps. Many were 20 or 22. When The Library of Congress released a collection of the deForest films, they attempted to compensate for this problem through Step Printing. But this produced a halting, stopping-starting impression due to the periodic duplication of every second or fourth frame, etc. Our transfers converted the films electronically for both image and sound, looking and sounding more natural.

An additional problem with the way the films were transferred is related to the soundtracks and the film stocks that were used. The dilemma is that the soundtracks were a Variable Density method. It is difficult to determine at this point in time how much noise and distortion was added when the films were copied onto the Safety Film picture stock instead of soundtrack stock. The films seem to have been balanced for an average picture Gamma (contrast range). Variable Density requires a difference gamma, which can affect its clarity and volume. Too long of processing and underexposure lowers volume since light penetration is limited. Too little processing and overexposure produces a thin track with high noise and signal distortions. Since the original films have disintegrated, there is no way of knowing what the true quality and clarity was with or without the noise reduction methods that came into being in the 1930s. But we now have methods of cancelling out much of the grain noise and distortions that may have been added due to the reckless way that the films were duplicated.

The second problem is that of image cleanliness. There is a great deal of restoration work necessary to clean up the films.
Aside from the printed in dirt and thumbprints, there are other abrasions, bad splices, and scratches to be removed. In previous years when restorations were begun, the process was to return to original negatives and make new prints. This is impossible for many of the films since they now exist in forms generations removed from the original sources.

Mr. Zouary had Nitrate duplicate Nitrate negatives on most of the films, but they had shrunken and were drying out, showing signs of warping. So I had to work with the best positive prints he provided, which already had flaws printed in. These days, computer programs such as After Effects can eliminate these problems, but it is a time consuming process. And with today's High Definition standards, it is imperative that these film treasures be cleaned up in order to meet those standards. So in a sense it is the new technology standards, the desperate need for restoration, and the expectations of the public that stands in the way.
Last edited by RayPointer on Tue Jun 26, 2012 6:09 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostFri Jun 22, 2012 8:23 am

Ray, many thanks for sharing this frustrating but fascinating background. Warner Archives continues to have much success in selling their several Vitaphone shorts DVD sets, and all are consistently among their biggest sellers. A well done, and unadulterated or altered, set of available DeForest Phonofilms (no pop-ups, subtitles, etc.) could do very well.
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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostFri Jun 22, 2012 10:15 am

As I stated, I am open to repackaging Phonofilms as well as redoing FIRST SOUND OF MOVIES the right way. As you have seen, I have an intimate relationship with the subject matter and welcome serious proposals to see this to fruition.
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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010) Case.

PostTue Jun 26, 2012 6:23 am

antoniod wrote:I'm sorry that Mr. Zouary has passed, but I had a problem with an aspect of his documentary "First Sound of Movies" (Yes, all I do is complain). He told viewers that Fox simply stole De Forest's Phonofilm process for no good reason, by changing part of it. BOO, HISS, BAD FOX. He skips over Theodore Case, who shared the patent, going to them, and of course ignores Case's improvements. And when we do see Case, He's called "Cass"! Did Zouary have some old grudge against Mr. Case?, or did he want a good anti-capitalist story?


The documentary stated that Western Electric "stole" the process. The deForest lawsuit was largely against Western Electric, which had acquired the process in a joint venture between Sponable, Case, and Fox. The process was first put to use in The Fox Movietone Newsreels as early as 1926. To accommodate the space for the soundtrack, the aspect ratio became square, known as "Movietone" aspect ratio, which continued until 1931, when Academy Standard returned films to the original 1:33 to 1 proportion by reducing the image size on film negatives. This in turn resulted in wider frame lines that were able to hold butt splices, which were outside of the projection field and not visible on screen. So these are additional details vital to this history that are not generally known.
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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostTue Jun 26, 2012 8:07 am

vitaphone wrote:I frequently talked to Maurice during the 1993-2009 years and he asked me to assist in disposing his entire Educational 2 reel shorts collection.Back then he wanted $1.5 million (!) and needless to say there were no takers.attorney, who was older than him (I think) implied the buyer would also get music rights to all music used in the films. He came down to $600,000 but still way too high.


At the time, Maurice had been out of the business for many years, but was trying to hold onto his old ways of doing business, which was in the 16mm syndication sales area. That no longer exists. The dilemma was that he wanted too much money, yet wanted money. It was suggested that if he could not reach a satisfactory outright sale, he could consider Braodcast Licensing. I believe that arrangement might have worked for TCM. On the other hand, I do not know that anyone, including TCM made a license offer.

The film library is now in the hands of Mr. Zouray's widow. They have no heirs that I know of, so we do not know what the future of these holdings may be.
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AA_ANTIQUES

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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 4:05 pm

hi, anyone still have any interest in Maurice H. Zouary entire film, and personal collection ? I have acquired all of it. Thanks Joe
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vitaphone

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Re: Maurice H. Zouary (1921 - 2010)

PostThu Sep 07, 2017 5:30 am

Hi AA_ ANTIQUES.! Ron Hutchinson from The Vitaphone Project here. I worked with Maurics for a number of years in trying to help him sell his collection. I still have his booklets listing all his holdings, which included just about every 1929-38 Educational two reeler. Circa 1999 I even was able to get Turner Classic Movies interested but he and his partner were asking a prohibitively ridiculous price (over a million!!) so that and other efforts were always stymied by Maurice's expectations.

Feel free to email me at [email protected] as our the years I have heard from a number of folks interested at the right price. Where is the material now? Still in Brooklyn?

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