Rio Rita (1929)

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Brian Paige

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Rio Rita (1929)

PostWed Mar 28, 2018 4:36 pm

I just got the Criterion blu ray of King of Jazz in the mail yesterday and the terrific restoration makes me wonder if something like this is possible for Rio Rita (1929)? This is a topic that has been discussed at various points on this board, but let me share what I have heard.

A few years ago I contacted NYU and the Eastman House people about a 16mm reel they have (the one mentioned in Ed Watz's book in the Rio Rita chapter). It apparently was a little of missing footage but not the entire 30 minutes of deleted scenes. I hit the wall on that line of inquiry and didn't know where else to contact, aside from a pointless discussion with someone at the Museum of Modern Art.

What I find odd is that a couple of numbers have popped up on You Tube over the years, such as the missing Kinkajou number and a chorus number on the ship.

Anyway, I know this film has fans on here. Let's get some momentum going to get this film restored to its full length.
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Phototone

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Re: Rio Rita (1929)

PostThu Mar 29, 2018 1:05 am

Well, 65% of the original camera negative survived on King of Jazz. Plus a couple of very nice original prints. What survives on Rio Rita? That was RKO wasn't it? Didn't Turner/Warner wind up with RKO? What are the archive materials on this?
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moviepas

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Re: Rio Rita (1929)

PostThu Mar 29, 2018 5:42 am

Over the years MOMA has had a lot to answer for. They had possibly 3 fires in the 1940s and lost rare originals that have been documented but may exist elsewhere. I hear tales that the earliest head (Curator) of the film division, iris Barry, was hard to deal with. Anyway, they are supposed to have had a complete version(Roadshow?) and loaned it out and it never came back. If that was so, who was it loaned to?, Why would you load out of the archive a rare film copy? I wouldn't without backup in any era.

I also would like to see a better version on disc, Blu ray for preference. WB thru their Turner collection was rumored to have a more complete version but nothing to prove it. I had a faulty DVD-R WAC that stuck at 20mins or so into the film. The only way to correct it was to use some software to repair it and I got a clean playable right thru copy. That was some years ago now. I was able to do the same with a disc in a UK BFI Chaplin shorts set. There had been an error in the menu codings preventing Play All. They did send me a new disc that was fine as they were aware of the fault but just the same it was good to be able to do the repairs.

An orchestral version of The Kinkjou was the Saturday afternoon opening theme for a radio show on Community Radio in Melbourne/Australia for many years but not sure if it still goes. The recording was a 1920s version of the piece. The stage show was popular in Australia at the time with a local favourite(Soprano, Gladys Moncrieff) in the Bebe Daniels role.
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boblipton

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Re: Rio Rita (1929)

PostThu Mar 29, 2018 5:57 am

There is little doubt that the industry in days past had, in comparison to yer average Nitratevillain, a cavalier attitude towards their treasures, which they often viewed as a commercial product with a limited street life. One studio (Eclipse?) invited the reporters in and burned all the films in their vault as a pledge that their movies would always be new. Melies destroyed his archives in a rage and it has taken ninety years to find most of them. MGM wore out the the master print of The Cameraman showing it internally and lost the silent Ben-Hur; Universal dumped almost all of its silents in the ocean in 1946 because they were worthless and likely to turn into explosives at any moment. Even early preservationists didn't have an accurate understanding of the occasional durability of nitrate, the unreliability of whom they lent their prints to and -- a problem that we still suffer from -- where to get the money to take care of all these riches.

Interested in these old things as we are, so often valuing them differently, and, I hope, aware, that people will someday judge us for our failures, we should have a little compassion for the sins of others. Kyrie eleison.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Brian Paige

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Re: Rio Rita (1929)

PostThu Mar 29, 2018 11:05 am

The MoMA has always been a dead end. I tried contacting them at one point and they denied ever having an uncut copy of Rio Rita and the only clip they even had at this point was a 6 minute color bit of "Sweetheart, We Need Each Other" with W & W slapping each other. Any way they don't really have anything notable on Rio Rita at this point.

According to the Watz W & W book the original negative of Rio Rita was too worn even in 1932 to strike future prints, hence the foreign negative was used for the 105 minute reissue. The only hope for the deleted footage was a battered 16mm print, and that's where things got weird. I tried tracking it down and the Eastman House people screened it to see what was there but there was only 1 Rio Rita number and a bunch of other random stuff from other early talkies. No idea whether they screened the wrong reel or if Watz was making it all up.

Either way you can't tell me there isn't any usable footage for a proper restoration. Not when people quite literally have some of the footage on You Tube.
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David Alp

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Re: Rio Rita (1929)

PostSun Apr 01, 2018 6:25 pm

105 minutes seems very long for a 1929 film -- i.e 1 hour 45 minutes. What was the original running time to "Rio Rita" then? (Unfortunately I know very little about "Rio Rita" because I dislike Wheeler and Woolsey so much -- they are most definitely "American-only" humourists -- their comedy just doesn't translate to the UK. No offense guys please. I'm just sayin')

Also, Bob Lipton -- what is the story behind the silent "Ben-Hur" being a lost film? I have that on DVD, so I assume you mean the original negative is lost? What's the story behind its loss? Thanks all in advance.

By the way Brian -- I think its an awesome idea to start up a thread on "Rio Rita" to drum up a bit of interest in the same way we did on "KOJ" because I am a massive fan of 2 colour Technicolor, and in the limited 2 or 3 times I have watched "Rio Rita" I have kinda skipped straight to the last half, just to watch that stunning Technicolor finale.
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boblipton

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Re: Rio Rita (1929)

PostSun Apr 01, 2018 6:38 pm

David, the IMDb gives a runtime of 140 minutes for the 1929 Rio Rita. The other examples of of lost films are pulled from my memory, so about 20 years of Nitrateville and its predecessor, Alt.movies.silent, as well as another twenty years of less intensive study. I have little doubt that if I gave an incorrect example or three, others could be cited that would serve as well.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Salvidienus

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Re: Rio Rita (1929)

PostMon Apr 02, 2018 2:35 pm

I've heard a rumor years ago that the print of "Rio Rita" seen of at MOMA is in Miles Kreuger's collection.... and that circulating 16mm prints are derived from that. Have no idea as to its veracity. Since he was involved with the project... seems plausible that he would know.... if he is still around.
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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Re: Rio Rita (1929)

PostTue Apr 03, 2018 2:12 am

Salvidienus wrote:I've heard a rumor years ago that the print of "Rio Rita" seen of at MOMA is in Miles Kreuger's collection.... and that circulating 16mm prints are derived from that. Have no idea as to its veracity. Since he was involved with the project... seems plausible that he would know.... if he is still around.


Looks as if he is....
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aldiboronti

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Re: Rio Rita (1929)

PostTue Apr 03, 2018 5:37 am

David Alp wrote: (Unfortunately I know very little about "Rio Rita" because I dislike Wheeler and Woolsey so much -- they are most definitely "American-only" humourists -- their comedy just doesn't translate to the UK. No offense guys please. I'm just sayin')



Well, it certainly translates to this part of the UK. I love them and I've met many other English fans. As for a full version of Rio Rita anything is possible but I'm not holding my breath. I'd be happy just to see a watchable version of the Kinkajou dance, the clip on Youtube is of atrocious quality.
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wingate

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Re: Rio Rita (1929)

PostTue Apr 03, 2018 8:04 am

I have all their films and enjoy them.The late Phillip Jenkins on used to show extracts from Rio Rita at his shows at the BFI South bank.
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Ed Watz

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Re: Rio Rita (1929)

PostWed Apr 11, 2018 10:19 am

Brian Paige wrote:The MoMA has always been a dead end. I tried contacting them at one point and they denied ever having an uncut copy of Rio Rita and the only clip they even had at this point was a 6 minute color bit of "Sweetheart, We Need Each Other" with W & W slapping each other. Any way they don't really have anything notable on Rio Rita at this point.

According to the Watz W & W book the original negative of Rio Rita was too worn even in 1932 to strike future prints, hence the foreign negative was used for the 105 minute reissue. The only hope for the deleted footage was a battered 16mm print, and that's where things got weird. I tried tracking it down and the Eastman House people screened it to see what was there but there was only 1 Rio Rita number and a bunch of other random stuff from other early talkies. No idea whether they screened the wrong reel or if Watz was making it all up.

Either way you can't tell me there isn't any usable footage for a proper restoration. Not when people quite literally have some of the footage on You Tube.


Hi Brian -- the 135-minute running time of the original RIO RITA comes from RKO correspondence which Richard May of Turner allowed me to examine when I was researching my book in 1989. Bill Everson had a 16mm print of the numbers that were deleted for RIO RITA's 1932 reissue; these scenes together run a total of 29 minutes and 42 seconds. Bill loaned me his print, which unfortunately was a very poor reduction copy (washed-out,fuzzy image, and a hissing soundtrack) which he had done on the cheap; he didn't always have the funds to properly copy everything that he wanted. To top it off, the 35mm preprint was an end-of-the-line original, covered in rain lines and splicy. I made an audio cassette copy of the soundtrack for reference -- and even that is muffled -- but there was no way I would invest in a reversal copy of that awful-looking print.
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Brian Paige

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Re: Rio Rita (1929)

PostFri Apr 13, 2018 9:38 am

Okay cool. Thanks for the extra info, Ed. Sorry if I implied anything against you in the previous post. I do wonder where that particular reel has gone, since Eastman House has something else that isn't a big discovery. It's entirely possible from what they told me on the phone that Everson traded it with someone before he died and it's a collector they don't know.

At this point I think the best bet is someone overseas in a vault somewhere has an unedited version.

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