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December 2010, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Dennis Doros <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 6 Dec 2010 17:00:01 -0500
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Dear Scott,

Edward was one of the first film historians and a reliable one, but he did
write his book sixty years after the fact and as I recall, it wouldn't have
been his first mistaken memory. However, you should also try asking this
question on and the Association of Moving Image Archives
listserv (start at and go from there).

As for archival work, there are a ton of people with less qualifications who
entered the field (including me) but we/I got in when everything was less
structured. These days, it definitely helps to have one of the moving image
archival studies certificates or degrees from GEH, UCLA, NYU, East Anglia,
Amsterdam, etc. but there's still people getting jobs in the field without
them. There is a lot of tedious work when you start out, but the eureka
moments are there even at the beginning level and they are memories that
make you all warm and fuzzy when you recall them years later. AMIA is a
great organization to join because it welcomes everybody from studios to
archives to collectors, to academics and students and everywhere in between.
Next year's conference is in Austin, TX.

Milestone Film & Video

On Sun, Dec 5, 2010 at 10:15 PM, scott hutchins <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> I probably asked this a few years ago, but I'll ask it again.
> As many of you may recall, I have been doing long-term research on L. Frank
> Baum and the film industry and have made major contributions on well-known
> aspects of the Baum silents for Wikipedia.
> The late International Wizard of Oz Club secretary Fred M. Meyer once told
> me in a letter (he never moved from manual typweriters, which made
> communication with him a bit cumbersome in the age of the Internet) that the
> scholar Edward Wagenknecht, who was born in 1900, recalled accidentally
> running a clip while a projectionist in 1918 that showed Baum puffing on a
> cigar and apparently telling jokes or stories.  As far as I can tell, no one
> has ever identified this film clip or corroborate its existence.
> Baum has only three acting credits on IMDb.  One is for _The Fairylogue and
> Radio-Plays_, which was screened only in roadshow and is probably
> irrecoverable unless an extra copy made it into a lab archive (the film was
> made in Chicago and hand-colored in Paris), and Baum may or may not have
> been in the film footage, as he toured with the show and participated live,
> interacting with the characters onscreen, who would made to appear to step
> out of the screen, the actors touring with the show as well.  He did not
> appear in any moment in any of the surviving films of the Oz Film
> Manufacturing Company (although I thought he might have been one of the
> bandits in _The Magic Cloak_ (Michael Patrick Hearn, editor of _The
> Annotated Wizard of Oz_, believes that I'm mistaken, but he has been
> skeptical of much of my research, especially since I collected data (and I
> do mean data--titles and dates) from his book on the web without
> acknowledgment), nor in the 1910 _Wonderful Wizard of Oz_ film, and he died
> in 1919, before the Larry Semon fiasco was ever in preproduction.
> The one other known appearance of Baum in film is an adaptation of Moss
> Hart's "Roaring Camp." There is a photograph of this in a number of books
> about Baum, but to my knowledge, none of them ever give the details about
> what it is depicting, other than a stage play, and I've seen only one
> reproduction of the image that does not crop out the names of the other two
> actors.  Mr. Meyer tells me that a crew from Paramount filmed the
> production, but that Paramount no longer had any record of having filmed it.
>  I do not know where he got the information that Paramount got involved.
>  Presumably, this would have been shot prior to when _The Patchwork Girl of
> Oz_ became a box office flop for Paramount. If anyone is familiar with books
> on Baum, the photo in question is the one captioned "Warming his toes for
> the big outing" in which Baum is on a card table having his feet shot at by
> two gunmen played by Dr. Edgerton Carter and Carl De V. Hunt.  Will Rogers
> is believed to have directed the stage production, though he would not have
> been involved in the filming, much as filmed plays and operas today have
> separate credits for stage directors and television directors, with IMDb
> burying the former under "miscellaneous crew".  Was it a typical practice
> for silent film studios to film community theatre?  Baum was not acting
> professionally at this point in his career.
> The other acting credit for Baum is a 1918 film called _The Flash of Fate_,
> and I suspect this attribution is bogus, because it says "(as George
> Brooks)," which was a pseudonym Baum used as a working stage actor in the
> late 1870s prior to redubbing himself Louis F. Baum for the remainder of his
> acting career.  All of Baum's AKAs on IMDB (possibly more than anybody other
> than Joe D'Amato).
> Wagenknecht had met Baum when the latter gave a presentation at a public
> library a few years before this incident, and he was one of the only young
> people present, so I would doubt he was in error about this, as he would
> have recognized Baum's mannerisms in addition to his face.  I am not exactly
> sure when the film cold have been made.  I recall Baum spent quite a bit of
> the end of his life bedridden, but I do not remember exactly when this
> began, other than that he had to remove the manuscripts for his last two Oz
> books from a safe deposit box and revise them rather than write any new
> material.  The books were written with the intent of being published
> posthumously, and they were.
> Being quite a famous person during his lifetime (and certainly not the
> one-hit wonder that many today think he might have been--I get asked all the
> time if _The Wonderful Wizard of Oz_ is worth reading, and my yes is quite
> emphatic--the MGM film is its own animal and not very representative of what
> Baum wrote, even if it's closer than the Semon film), it makes sense that
> film would have been taken of him, but it seems odd that it would not have
> been preserved like some of the brief moments with VIPs that appear in the
> Treasures form the American Film Archives series that appear to have been
> made specifically for the purpose of preservation, as opposed to these other
> films that were produced for entertainment alone.
> This is a particularly obscure question.  Most Oz fans I speak with online
> are not aware of much of what I'm asking, even though by now most have seen
> the surviving silents at least once.  I'm sure many have seen the surviving
> reels of _The Last Egyptian_ when they were screened in Syracuse.  I was
> unable to attend, even though I was definitely an instigator on that one.
>  Michael Patrick Hearn wouldn't believe me for the longest time that Bill
> Morrison used a clip in _Decasia_ that he told me he got from MoMA, but once
> I finally got him to watch _Decasia_, he went to MoMA himself and screened
> _The Last Egyptian_ more or less privately (I wasn't able to attend that
> either, although he invited me--I think I was at work at the time, and I
> wasn't making enough to pay museum admission).  While I still have the
> letter, I would have to search for it, and it is, after all, just a letter.
>  All it proves its that I didn't make it up.  I never met Wagenknecht, but
> from what I know about him, I doubt he was lying, but he could also have
> been mistaken.
> I wish I were a film archivist instead of having just been let go from a
> telecommuting copywriting job and interviewing for a tutoring position... it
> seems like a job full of eureka moments, but I don't think a cinema studies
> degree without archivist training will cut it.
> Scott
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