Convention City (1933)

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sethb

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Convention City (1933)

PostThu Apr 05, 2018 8:47 am

I just noticed a very interesting blurb on the "In the Balcony" website (http://www.inthebalcony.com" target="_blank) that Warner Archive is releasing "Convention City" (1933), and in Blu-ray, no less!

I recall that folks have been looking for this particular film for quite a while. There were rumors that this picture helped to usher in the 1934 Production Code (but I thought "Baby Face" had that honor). I also heard that the film was "lost" because Warners destroyed the negative and all release prints after the Hayes Office refused to issue a Seal of Approval for an edited re-release version in the late 1930's. In any event, over the years nothing had turned up for this supposedly notorious picture. Of course, I'm pretty sure that at this point in time, the film is more amusing than scandalous, if that ever was the case.

So what's the story here? How and where did "Convention City" come to be released on DVD? I'm hoping that perhaps Ron Hutchinson and others can shed some light on this. And unless the Blu-ray release is just a marketing gimmick, the use of higher digital quality usually (but not always!) means that film elements of better quality have been found for the DVD release. Whatever the answers are, I expect they will be interesting. 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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Mike Gebert

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Re: Convention City (1933)

PostThu Apr 05, 2018 9:15 am

I'm guessing that this is an underplayed April 1 joke. If it were found, I think it would get bigger play than being hurried out on DVD, like playing the TCM Film Festival.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir
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vitaphone

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Re: Convention City (1933)

PostThu Apr 05, 2018 10:18 am

The honorable Mr. Gebert is correct. CONVENTION CITY is still sadly lost. That was someone's April Fool's gag. They apparently gave LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT a rest this year.

BTW, I have a blog coming up later this month on CONVENTION CITY and why I believe it will be found one day. It will appear on the CLASSIC MOVE HUB site mid-month.
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sethb

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Re: Convention City (1933)

PostFri Apr 06, 2018 8:48 am

Thanks for the info --- I did get fooled on April Fool's Day, and very badly!!

But of course, I also do hope that a print of CONVENTION CITY will be found one day, even if it's just another WB "programmer" with nothing special to recommend it. And that goes for LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT, too!! 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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vitaphone

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Re: Convention City (1933)

PostFri Apr 06, 2018 10:15 am

Seth, having read the script, seen it performed twice with actors, and knowing the 1933 speedd and casting at WB, I can assure you this is no sleepy programmer. Wild and funny and popular at the time as well as later illicit reissues.And the cast is decidedly "A". Fingers crossed that one day we will find it.
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sethb

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Re: Convention City (1933)

PostFri Apr 06, 2018 11:22 am

I share your hope, and am glad to hear that it is in fact something well worth finding and preserving.

That's always the problem with trying to decide what to preserve --- insofar as it's financially and practically possible, we ought to try and preserve everything, because no one knows what will be worth saving in the future. Look at all the film, both silent and talkie, that the studios discarded and destroyed because they thought it was worthless! 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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Thad Komorowski

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Re: Convention City (1933)

PostSun Apr 08, 2018 12:22 pm

It's a pre-code Warner picture with Joan Blondell in it. 'Nuff said. I'd certainly welcome a million buck restoration/salvaging of something actually watchable like this.
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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Re: Convention City (1933)

PostMon Apr 09, 2018 2:24 am

Thad Komorowski wrote:It's a pre-code Warner picture with Joan Blondell in it. 'Nuff said. I'd certainly welcome a million buck restoration/salvaging of something actually watchable like this.


So was HAVANA WIDOWS (1933), which I watched last week. Although being 'lost' would be a cruel fate even for a disappointingly routine outing like that one.
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CoffeeDan

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Re: Convention City (1933)

PostMon Apr 09, 2018 6:40 am

(Reposted from another thread)

The review of CONVENTION CITY by "Beverly Hills" from the February 3, 1934 issue of Liberty offers a tantalizing look at this "deliberately misplaced" film:

* * (out of four) CONVENTION CITY

With no disrespect intended for Warner Brothers' stable of actors, it might be a good notion to farm a few of them out to other companies in the near future. They have been used together so many times that when you see Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, Guy Kibbee, and Frank McHugh cavorting in the convention halls and the hotel rooms of a town which, at a shrewd guess, might have been meant to represent Atlantic City, it is a little hard to overcome the expectation that the chorus of GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 is hiding under the board walk, ready to appear for an old-fashioned Warner Brothers first-night finale.

Aside from this slightly academic defect, CONVENTION CITY is a first-rate comedy, smartly written, neatly directed, and accented by an observant sarcasm in sequences like the one in which a drunk staggers into a large room full of people and oratorically urges that "our merchandise be placed in slot machines on every corner, in case of emergency" before he finds out that he is addressing the wrong convention.

The story is mainly about the president of a rubber company (Grant Mitchell) and three of his hirelings (Adolphe Menjou, Dick Powell, and Guy Kibbee) who hope to be chosen for the job of general manager. Kibbee fails to get it because -- as usually happens when Kibbee gets friendly with a blonde -- Joan Blondell inveigles him into a situation which turns out to be embarrassing when his wife appears. Menjou, a much slicker operator, gets into difficulties of the same sort, and the job finally goes to a befuddled drunk who has had the good fortune to catch Grant Mitchell on the point of paying a visit to a lady exterminator ("Exterminating Done at All Hours, Day and Night").

The picture contains one song which deserves to be remembered -- a paean to the president of the J. B. Honeywell Rubber Company, called "Oh, Honeywell," and sung to the air of "My Maryland."


FWIW: The headline for this article, which also includes reviews of QUEEN CHRISTINA and GOING HOLLYWOOD, reads thusly: "ROYALTY, RADIO, REUNION: Garbo Plays Queen Christina, Mr. Crosby Croons to Miss Davies, and That Gay Warner Gang Gets Together Again."
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precode

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Re: Convention City (1933)

PostWed Apr 11, 2018 8:26 pm

Someone did a mockup of a CC Blu-Ray, so I copied and saved it for April Fool's Day on my Facebook page. Most of my friends knew it was a gag and reacted appropriately, but a few actually fell for it. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Mike S.
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vitaphone

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Re: Convention City (1933)

PostThu Apr 12, 2018 5:47 am

For those who are interested, here is my essay on CONVENTION CITY, which dispels many myths about this still-missing film. It was not recalled and destroyed and appeared in theaters long after it's official post-Code withdrawal.

http://www.jazzage1920s.com/conventionc ... oncity.php
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Dean Thompson

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Re: Convention City (1933)

PostThu Apr 12, 2018 6:15 am

Very illuminating essay, especially about John Leifert's discovery of the twenty-minute collection of shots intended for use in the film. Thanks, Ron!
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Thad Komorowski

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Re: Convention City (1933)

PostFri Apr 13, 2018 12:30 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
Thad Komorowski wrote:It's a pre-code Warner picture with Joan Blondell in it. 'Nuff said. I'd certainly welcome a million buck restoration/salvaging of something actually watchable like this.


So was HAVANA WIDOWS (1933), which I watched last week. Although being 'lost' would be a cruel fate even for a disappointingly routine outing like that one.


Well, yeah. I've had my share of relocating/restoring some real potboilers, but at least the cracks in history are filled, so if someone wants to see the full story in the future, it's possible. But with a cast like Convention City's, there's guaranteed to be something resembling genuine entertainment. My guess is that it's sitting somewhere, unlabeled and unnoticed, like so many other lost films.

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