Ep.17: Jon Mirsalis on Lon Chaney & lost Laurel & Hardy
Posted: Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:12 am
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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