Glad to hear from you, especially with such good reportage.
Please share this information below with your class, as I suspect it
will be helpful to all.
Where the edited stories and edited newsreel packages are is a
difficult question, newsreel archiving being such a mess in almost
every instance. Here is what I have learned in trying to track
1. The material may not survive.
2. The Fox newsreels and Fox Movietone News materials that
did not go to the University of South Carolina in 1980 remained with
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. The originals were
mostly in a New Jersey warehouse until 2000, when the Library of
Congress agreed to take them in. Fox News in New York has
videotape versions of much of this material. The Library of
Congress has just begun to process the acquisition, which includes
paper records as well as celluloid.
3. Peter Bregman is the sole librarian/archivist at Fox
News in New York. He knows a lot and is an advocate for the
archiving and preservation of the collection. While Fox does not
advertise the fact that its collection is accessible, Peter tells me
that the Movietone material can be researched (and licensed).
(212) 301-5977 fax
(212) 301-3045 phone
4. Cooper Graham at the Library of Congress is the staff
researcher who has recently taken on the Fox Movietone project for LC
MBRS. While most of their holdings date from 1935 on, they do
hold some pre-1935 materials. In theory, edited stories or
magazines from the 1920s could be in this collection. But I
don't know if there is a finding aid or catalog at LC yet.
5. The National Archives has among its newsreel holdings a
good bit of Fox newsreel material, including 1920s footage. I
only learned of this in the past year. In the research room at
Archives II in College Park, Maryland, there is a wall of binders that
contain finding aids for newsreels. A few of them are for Fox.
In my cursory check of it the holdings appeared to be a hodgepodge,
but definitely contained edited stories. A call to National
Archives may reveal more. My limited checking in their online
catalog did not yield any answers, but this may have been updated
recently. Worth re-checking.
6. Bill Murphy, the National Archives newsreel specialist
until his retirement in 2000, gave a talk on newsreel preservation at
the first Orphan Film Symposium. (See attached.) In it he
"Fox newsreels are the most extensive
still extant from the 1920s.
However, Fox went further than most to destroy the original
order of newsreels since they cut and rearranged their silent
newsreels by subject matter, assigning individual stories a Dewey
decimal-type classification number. Maintaining original order of
documents is one of the cannons of archival science.
Restoration of a single issue to replicate what it looked like
to its contemporary audience would be an arduous if not completely
impossible task. [my italics]"
One of the things Cooper Graham and I talked
about doing was taking a Movietone News story from 1935 or 36 (in the
LC collection) that used Fox library materials and tracking down
extant outtakes from the SC Newsfilm holdings that match up. No
one has yet done this sort of research, so we are not sure what we
would find or what it would reveal.
7. There are other archives and private collections that
have Fox Movietone newsreels, but these scattered and generally have
small holdings. Fox had many overseas offices, each editing its
own versions, often in different languages. Where these
materials are (if they are anywhere) is another thing yet-to-be
researched. I know, for example, that German and Austrian
archives have Fox Movietone Wochenschau material (just as LC holds
some of Fox's own Wochenschau film). So it's always possible
that UCLA or Archive Films or some other archive may have a Movietone
item one is seeking.
8. Finally, as to your last question:
I don't have specific knowledge about the Fox newsreel unit
shooting footage for Fox features, but it certainly sounds plausible.
Another researcher who may be able to shed some light on this is Janet
Bergstrom, professor in UCLA's Dept. of Film-Television. She has
been recently asking similar questions about early Movietone,
primarily because she is interested in reconstructing the
program of shorts and newsreels that were shown at the premiere of
Murnau's SUNRISE (1928), which also used a Movietone soundtrack.
I am so glad to hear that the Movietone project is going well and
that it is not without its pleasures.
Always happy to help at this end.
9. I briefly met with one of your NYC Noise Abatement
collaborators when I was at LC on Friday. I mentioned to her
that this bit of Movietone was used in National Public Radio's
coverage of the Orphans 3 symposium and broadcast on "Weekend All
Things Considered" September 28, 2002. If you go to the
link below, you'll find another link that will enable you to listen to
Professor of Film Studies
Dept. of Art / McMaster 318
1615 Senate Street
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
(803) 777-9158 off
(803) 777-0535 fax
(803) 771-9335 res
(803) 479-2118 cel