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The Three Stooges in Hello, Pop!

& Other Amazing Archival Discoveries


Introduced by Ron Hutchinson of The Vitaphone Project

Piano preludes by Peter Mintun

Following an MGM vault fire in 1967, the two-reel backstage musical Hello, Pop! (1933), starring Ted Healy “and his Stooges” Moe, Larry and Curly, was long considered the “lost” Three Stooges short. That is, until the discovery this past December...

Below,  Ron Hutchinson of the Vitaphone Project explains what happened next:

HELLO POP (1933) has for over seven decades been the only Three Stooges short that was lost. In December 2012, The Vitaphone Project received an email from Australia. The question was simple: Was HELLO POP a lost film?  The Project confirmed it was, which led the other shoe to drop.  The sender had a Technicolor 35mm nitrate print! This triggered a series of communications to verify the true existence of the print, confirm that the collector was willing to share it, and then to make arrangements to get it to the United States for restoration. The collector is in his mid-eighties, and has acquired 35mm film most of his life. He was extremely cooperative, and simply wanted to ensure HELLO POP went to the right place.

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Ned Price, Chief Preservation Officer at Warner Brothers, was immediately contacted. Ned is responsible for pulling together UCLA, The Vitaphone Project, The Library of Congress, and others on the many Vitaphone shorts restorations. He instantly guaranteed support to get the print to the States and to cover the restoration.  Eric Aijala of YCM Laboratories, was also enlisted to receive the print and do any needed restoration work on it. Preservation of the 35mm print was completed this summer, and Film Forum is the first to screen it for an audience in 80 years.

Australia and New Zealand have yielded many previously lost American films. This is largely due to the fact that once prints were shipped to theatres from Hollywood, it was too costly or troublesome to ship them back.  As a result, previously lost films like a reel from GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY, part of the 1928 Technicolor feature THE PATRIOT, and others have turned up “down under”.

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The story of how this collector, and others in Australia, came to acquire these films is itself a fascinating saga. In the early 1960’s, most of the Hollywood studio film exchanges in Australia began to drastically downsize or close.  Competition from television and the closing of many large theaters necessitated this retrenchment. Film exchanges were large building used to store thousands of reels of theatrical film for distribution to theatres.  By the early sixties, demand for silent and early talkies was negligible, so those titles were the first to go. As the collector related to the Project, garbage trucks were loaded with reels of film to be hauled off to the dump.  Some of the collectors, then in their twenties, got wind of this and paid the drivers to swing by their homes to unload the film instead. Little did these collectors know that they were helping to save some films that subsequently were lost through decomposition or fire.

Besides HELLO POP, our  Lost… Now Found program also includes a new 35mm print of Robert Benchley’s equally-unseen short Your Technocracy And Mine (1933), a parody of an faddish economic theory of the Depression era; Gobs Of Fun, a 1933 Vitaphone comedy with an appearance by Shemp Howard (who later took over as the third Stooge from his ailing brother Curly); rare examples of early Technicolor from George Eastman House; and two astounding and hilarious Vitaphone vaudeville shorts from 1928:  Conlin and Glass in Sharps And Flats (1928), starring future Preston Sturges stalwart Jimmy Conlin and his wife Myrtle Glass, and The Beau Brummels (1928), with the absurdist comedy team of Shaw and Lee.  Program approx. 100 min.

Special thanks to Ned Price (Warner Bros), Bob O'Neil, Paul Ginsburg (Universal), Rob Stone, Mike Mashon (Library of Congress), James Layton (George Eastman House), Malcolm Smith, Harry Furner, and Paul Brennan (Australia)