Show posts and discussion about NitrateVille's classic movie podcast
NitrateVille Radio Episode 17: Jon Mirsalis on Lon Chaney and Finding "The Battle of the Century"
Lots of us got our start reading about old movies in a place like Famous Monsters of Filmland, learned that films could be lost, and dreamed that someday maybe we'd find something rare that everyone was looking for. In this episode, I talk with someone who did all of that! Dr. Jon C. Mirsalis is a Lon Chaney scholar who recently released three early Chaney films through Ben Model's Undercrank Productions, complete with his own accompaniment, in the new DVD Lon Chaney: Before the Thousand Faces. (53:22)
Lon Chaney in The Place Beyond the Winds
But he's also been in the news recently because he found one of silent comedy's holy grails: the complete second reel pie fight from Laurel and Hardy's The Battle of the Century, previously known only from the excerpts in a Robert Youngson compilation.
Here's Battle of the Century as it existed before the missing footage was found.
So we talk about all of that, as well as Jon's involvement with the Library of Congress's Silent Film Project for preserving collector-held 16mm films. If you click on the link, you can watch one of Jon's features as transferred and preserved by LOC, complete with Jon's own score, East Side West Side, from 1923. Oh, and notice that Jon makes reference to a French version of the Passion Play that he had, that the Library scanned. Remember a couple of years ago when I posted about visiting the Packard Campus and saw a restorer working on... a version of the Passion Play?
Here's how the conversation flows:
(2:22) Lon Chaney's early career
(14:46) Rescuing and releasing early Chaney films
(26:29) The Silent Film Project at LOC
(36:46) The Battle of the Century
By the way, this episode must set a record for references to things talked about in other episodes. So learn more about the Dawson City films and restoring Laurel & Hardy in Episode 7, Mostly Lost in Episode 4, and homebrew-releasing silent films in Episode 9.
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“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
It's good to hear from Dr. Mirsalis. His contributions to AMS were always welcome, and I wish he had more time for Nitrateville. However, i certainly can't complain about what he's been doing for our hobby and this was a great episode of Nitrateville Radio!
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells
— Bob Fells
So there's a real nice print of the 1923 Hunchback?
Thanks for another great episode, and thanks to both Jon and Michael for the kind words about what I've been trying to do with Undercrank Prods. DVD releases.
Awesome episode. I liked hearing about the casual way the extra footage of Battle of the Century was discovered.