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Bartkong

Auditioning
Joined
Feb 3, 2021
Messages
5
Real Name
Bart Pierce
Hi Robert,
My name is Bart Pierce and I to worked in film restoration during the time you were doing the same. I worked for 20th Century Fox Video and produced the majority of their special editions on the laserdisc. I am probably best known as the designer of special photographic effects for the original EVIL DEAD (in particular the climactic meltdown sequence which I executed with the marvelously talented, Tom Sullivan. We both animated. Tom drew the storyboards and created props while I designed and executed the effects for each shot). I also recently got to work with my two sons, who wrote, produced and directed THE WRETCHED, a phenomenon that held top grossing film honors for five weeks during the rise of the drive-in theaters during our covid crisis. Like you, my successes in restoration leaned heavily on historical research on films. I'm interested in learning the history of the foreign dubbing process and I would like to locate the M&E tracks for KING KONG (1933).
While the I was doing the mastering of films for 20th Century Fox home video, we used to include a separate, synchronous track on the laser disks and DVDs of the music or music and effects track. I personally loved this feature and promoted it shamelessly. Obviously, it was only made possible when I was able to locate the original music and effects tracks (unfortunately Fox, in a cost-cutting move, had dest years earlier royed most of their materials in the UK to save money on storing what they assumed were just additional inferior copies of their Hollywood-based materials). But my company had no rights to KING KONG and so I never got to work on it directly. But it never stopped my dreaming of a Hi-Rez digital copy of the complete score of KING KONG (Note: thank you Ray Faiola for your magnificent mastering of a significant portion of the original score on CD).
Over the years I've come across some tantalizing facts:
The BFI (British Film Institute) has 2 complete 1933, combined (sound and picture), 35mm nitrate negatives and 2 complete 1933, sound only, 35mm nitrate optical track negatives. It seems plausible that at least one these 4audio tracks (2 composite negatives and 2 sound only optical track negatives) would be a music and effects track that was used for the European sound mixes (or perhaps a mixed foreign track). The BFI has no soundtracks identified as "music and effects only." But, in general, it appears they do not identify the language or information on the tracks they hold. Nor has Turner or Warner provided that information (they looked at the tracks and, of the 4 tracks, chose to use 1 of the 2 composite duplicate negatives for their transfer). We do know that the British soundtracks were a slightly different mix from the American soundtracks. This difference would most likely reflect that Hollywood did a separate English sound mix for the tracks being sent to Britain (this would guarantee a first-generation quality on the soundtrack) in addition to the discrete music and effects track generated for the other non-English foreign tracks to be mixed and manufactured overseas (it is also possible the British mix was done using the M&E tracks sent to them for the foreign mixes).
The history is this:
The popular opinion (which I don't necessarily ascribe to) is that a 35mm master positive was provided to the United Kingdom. Europe was interested in stopping Hollywood from making money on the manufacturing of foreign prints (and they also wanted to encourage the growth of the European film industry). There was also a tax or fee placed on importing prints into European countries (they often charged Hollywood for the sound mix also). I believe it is therefore likely that any and all master positives or duplicate negatives would've been sent (in this case, personally carried. See below) to the UK and distributed, from there.
The Film Daily, March 3, 1933 reported "prints would be hand carried to England in late March of 1933." (Just after the New York City release on March 2, 1933, the March 15, 1933 Baltimore release and the March 24, 1933 Los Angeles release). This would allow lots of time for the countries to do their sound mixes (release dates for London, France, Spain, and Germany were April 17th., September 29th, October 9th, and December 1rst respectively).
In the early 30s (more specifically: early to mid 1933) France, Germany passed laws to forbid dubbing outside of their country. King Kong would've been one of the first Hollywood films that required the dubbing mix be performed in the European country in which it was released and so a set policy of what materials would be required would not, as yet, been set. But, a new multiple-track Moviola, that was first used on KING KONG, had made synchronisation easier and it was possible to mix several tracks at once, making foreign dubbing much easier. There had been complaints that the dubbing done in the United States reflected Germans or Frenchmen with American accents or idiosyncrasies that the country's audiences didn't appreciate (in truth, they were trying to discourage the plethora of American releases in favor of encouraging the German or French film industries). The response of the American film companies was to construct dubbing studios in each of these countries. So, not only is it likely the foreign titles of King Kong were probably produced in the US (the French titles were definitely produced in Hollywood), but the dubbing in foreign countries was overseen by the American film industry.

I also think that, in 1933, it would be a better idea for Hollywood to send combined duplicate negatives of the American mix and the original music and effects, optical track negative that was generated from the M&E sound mix. This is because, at this time, superior duplicate negatives from master positives (called lavenders) were being manufactured in Hollywood and Europe was using noticeably inferior duplication stocks for their duplicate negatives and master positives. It would make sense to provide a superior quality composite duplicate negative (which could later be used as a printing negative) of the Hollywood picture and audio and a separate first-generation optical track negative of the M&E to the United Kingdom to generate all the prints and dubbing materials necessary for KONG. Why send a master positive if only a single negative is required for each country. The United States is a much larger country and its policy was to print off the single original negative in order to maintain high quality prints (and that's what we did. And we wore that KING KONG's original negative out). So it's odd that a country much smaller than the United States would require the 2 printing negatives (both printed in 1933) that the BFI has. Is it not more likely that one of those soundtracks is a music and effects track.
The only support (i.e. research material) for the idea that it was a master positive (lavender) that was sent to the UK exists in the following interview with Warner Bros. executives conducted by yourself on October 25, 2005:

Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings by Robert A. Harris.
Recorded 10/25/2005. If you would like to read the entire article, you can find it here:

Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings by Robert A. Harris (thedigitalbits.com)

Robert A. Harris, a highly respected film producer, historian and preservation expert: “I was able to track the original negative for 10 or 12 years. I know they made a lavender which went to the UK" (Note: I sure would like to speak to you about the tracking of this original negative and your certainty that a lavender went to the UK. Bart). "The original negative has disappeared. I don't think anyone ever found any destruction records on it.”

Ned Price, VP of Mastering for WB Technical Operations on King Kong: "I think the best element was the dupe negative from London. That was 1933. It was manufactured from the lavender."

Robert A. Harris: "It was from the '33 lavender then. And we don't know if the lavender exists."

George Feltenstein, Senior VP Theatrical Catalog Marketing for Warner Home Video: "No, we don't."


I suppose it's possible that if the European countries were originally sent master positives they may have been combined/picture and sound (the sound being a music and effects track only). In support of this idea that master positives were sent for the foreign sound mixes, in this timeframe, I did find BFI had:

1. A tinted (?) Combined Master Positive on 1932 stock of BIRD OF PARADISE (1932) – what is recorded on the soundtrack is not noted.
2. A partial Combined Master Positive on 1933 stock of BED OF ROSES (1933) – what is recorded on the soundtrack is not noted.
But, I wonder why they have 2 printing negatives for KONG in Britain (listed as printed in 1933) instead of just one?
I don't know what the policy for providing materials for foreign mixes was then, but, I know that much later on (while I was working in the industry) the policy was to provide a foreign M&E track as well as an American version, 35mm composite print (so the voice actors could see and hear the original performance) and an English dialogue script (used to create a foreign translation).
In the United States the policy was to print off the original negative in order to maintain high quality prints (and that's what we did. And we wore that KING KONG's original negative out). Still it's odd that a country much smaller than the United States would require 2 printing negatives. I wonder if the BFI ever checked to see if any of those negative soundtracks were music and effects only tracks?
Thought I’d include this. It’s a list of the 1933 nitrate materials at the BFI (I decided not to include the additional 1951 black and white positive nitrate print).

1_ 35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Sound - 94 Feet - Stock date: 1933 - - C-85992
Master - Restricted access to preserved film

2_35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Combined as Mute - 94 Feet - Stock date: 1933 - - C-85993
Master - Restricted access to preserved film

9_ 35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Combined - 8921 Feet - - C-85995
Master - Restricted access to preserved film

7_ 35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Combined - 8914 Feet - - C-85996
Master - Restricted access to preserved film - suitable for duplication

10_35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Sound - 8921 Feet - Stock date: 1933 - - C-85997
Master - Restricted access to preserved film

6_35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Sound - 8880 Feet - Stock date: 1933 - - C-85998
Master - Restricted access to preserved film - suitable for duplication

Sorry I got carried away here. But I think you get the sense that this has been a mystery I have long wished to see solved. Can you shed any light on your tracking of the original negative and the creation and delivery of the master positive lavender to the UK and/or elsewhere? Do you think that Ned Price (I don't know if he's still at Warner Bros.) would know if those BFI tracks may contain an M&E? Maybe Richard Dayton and Eric Aijala at YCM are still in business? I'd appreciate any help you can offer.
Thanks for your time.
 

Robert Harris

Archivist
Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
13,858
Real Name
Robert Harris
Hi Robert,
My name is Bart Pierce and I to worked in film restoration during the time you were doing the same. I worked for 20th Century Fox Video and produced the majority of their special editions on the laserdisc. I am probably best known as the designer of special photographic effects for the original EVIL DEAD (in particular the climactic meltdown sequence which I executed with the marvelously talented, Tom Sullivan. We both animated. Tom drew the storyboards and created props while I designed and executed the effects for each shot). I also recently got to work with my two sons, who wrote, produced and directed THE WRETCHED, a phenomenon that held top grossing film honors for five weeks during the rise of the drive-in theaters during our covid crisis. Like you, my successes in restoration leaned heavily on historical research on films. I'm interested in learning the history of the foreign dubbing process and I would like to locate the M&E tracks for KING KONG (1933).
While the I was doing the mastering of films for 20th Century Fox home video, we used to include a separate, synchronous track on the laser disks and DVDs of the music or music and effects track. I personally loved this feature and promoted it shamelessly. Obviously, it was only made possible when I was able to locate the original music and effects tracks (unfortunately Fox, in a cost-cutting move, had dest years earlier royed most of their materials in the UK to save money on storing what they assumed were just additional inferior copies of their Hollywood-based materials). But my company had no rights to KING KONG and so I never got to work on it directly. But it never stopped my dreaming of a Hi-Rez digital copy of the complete score of KING KONG (Note: thank you Ray Faiola for your magnificent mastering of a significant portion of the original score on CD).
Over the years I've come across some tantalizing facts:
The BFI (British Film Institute) has 2 complete 1933, combined (sound and picture), 35mm nitrate negatives and 2 complete 1933, sound only, 35mm nitrate optical track negatives. It seems plausible that at least one these 4audio tracks (2 composite negatives and 2 sound only optical track negatives) would be a music and effects track that was used for the European sound mixes (or perhaps a mixed foreign track). The BFI has no soundtracks identified as "music and effects only." But, in general, it appears they do not identify the language or information on the tracks they hold. Nor has Turner or Warner provided that information (they looked at the tracks and, of the 4 tracks, chose to use 1 of the 2 composite duplicate negatives for their transfer). We do know that the British soundtracks were a slightly different mix from the American soundtracks. This difference would most likely reflect that Hollywood did a separate English sound mix for the tracks being sent to Britain (this would guarantee a first-generation quality on the soundtrack) in addition to the discrete music and effects track generated for the other non-English foreign tracks to be mixed and manufactured overseas (it is also possible the British mix was done using the M&E tracks sent to them for the foreign mixes).
The history is this:
The popular opinion (which I don't necessarily ascribe to) is that a 35mm master positive was provided to the United Kingdom. Europe was interested in stopping Hollywood from making money on the manufacturing of foreign prints (and they also wanted to encourage the growth of the European film industry). There was also a tax or fee placed on importing prints into European countries (they often charged Hollywood for the sound mix also). I believe it is therefore likely that any and all master positives or duplicate negatives would've been sent (in this case, personally carried. See below) to the UK and distributed, from there.
The Film Daily, March 3, 1933 reported "prints would be hand carried to England in late March of 1933." (Just after the New York City release on March 2, 1933, the March 15, 1933 Baltimore release and the March 24, 1933 Los Angeles release). This would allow lots of time for the countries to do their sound mixes (release dates for London, France, Spain, and Germany were April 17th., September 29th, October 9th, and December 1rst respectively).
In the early 30s (more specifically: early to mid 1933) France, Germany passed laws to forbid dubbing outside of their country. King Kong would've been one of the first Hollywood films that required the dubbing mix be performed in the European country in which it was released and so a set policy of what materials would be required would not, as yet, been set. But, a new multiple-track Moviola, that was first used on KING KONG, had made synchronisation easier and it was possible to mix several tracks at once, making foreign dubbing much easier. There had been complaints that the dubbing done in the United States reflected Germans or Frenchmen with American accents or idiosyncrasies that the country's audiences didn't appreciate (in truth, they were trying to discourage the plethora of American releases in favor of encouraging the German or French film industries). The response of the American film companies was to construct dubbing studios in each of these countries. So, not only is it likely the foreign titles of King Kong were probably produced in the US (the French titles were definitely produced in Hollywood), but the dubbing in foreign countries was overseen by the American film industry.

I also think that, in 1933, it would be a better idea for Hollywood to send combined duplicate negatives of the American mix and the original music and effects, optical track negative that was generated from the M&E sound mix. This is because, at this time, superior duplicate negatives from master positives (called lavenders) were being manufactured in Hollywood and Europe was using noticeably inferior duplication stocks for their duplicate negatives and master positives. It would make sense to provide a superior quality composite duplicate negative (which could later be used as a printing negative) of the Hollywood picture and audio and a separate first-generation optical track negative of the M&E to the United Kingdom to generate all the prints and dubbing materials necessary for KONG. Why send a master positive if only a single negative is required for each country. The United States is a much larger country and its policy was to print off the single original negative in order to maintain high quality prints (and that's what we did. And we wore that KING KONG's original negative out). So it's odd that a country much smaller than the United States would require the 2 printing negatives (both printed in 1933) that the BFI has. Is it not more likely that one of those soundtracks is a music and effects track.
The only support (i.e. research material) for the idea that it was a master positive (lavender) that was sent to the UK exists in the following interview with Warner Bros. executives conducted by yourself on October 25, 2005:

Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings by Robert A. Harris.
Recorded 10/25/2005. If you would like to read the entire article, you can find it here:

Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings by Robert A. Harris (thedigitalbits.com)

Robert A. Harris, a highly respected film producer, historian and preservation expert: “I was able to track the original negative for 10 or 12 years. I know they made a lavender which went to the UK" (Note: I sure would like to speak to you about the tracking of this original negative and your certainty that a lavender went to the UK. Bart). "The original negative has disappeared. I don't think anyone ever found any destruction records on it.”

Ned Price, VP of Mastering for WB Technical Operations on King Kong: "I think the best element was the dupe negative from London. That was 1933. It was manufactured from the lavender."

Robert A. Harris: "It was from the '33 lavender then. And we don't know if the lavender exists."

George Feltenstein, Senior VP Theatrical Catalog Marketing for Warner Home Video: "No, we don't."


I suppose it's possible that if the European countries were originally sent master positives they may have been combined/picture and sound (the sound being a music and effects track only). In support of this idea that master positives were sent for the foreign sound mixes, in this timeframe, I did find BFI had:

1. A tinted (?) Combined Master Positive on 1932 stock of BIRD OF PARADISE (1932) – what is recorded on the soundtrack is not noted.
2. A partial Combined Master Positive on 1933 stock of BED OF ROSES (1933) – what is recorded on the soundtrack is not noted.
But, I wonder why they have 2 printing negatives for KONG in Britain (listed as printed in 1933) instead of just one?
I don't know what the policy for providing materials for foreign mixes was then, but, I know that much later on (while I was working in the industry) the policy was to provide a foreign M&E track as well as an American version, 35mm composite print (so the voice actors could see and hear the original performance) and an English dialogue script (used to create a foreign translation).
In the United States the policy was to print off the original negative in order to maintain high quality prints (and that's what we did. And we wore that KING KONG's original negative out). Still it's odd that a country much smaller than the United States would require 2 printing negatives. I wonder if the BFI ever checked to see if any of those negative soundtracks were music and effects only tracks?
Thought I’d include this. It’s a list of the 1933 nitrate materials at the BFI (I decided not to include the additional 1951 black and white positive nitrate print).

1_ 35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Sound - 94 Feet - Stock date: 1933 - - C-85992
Master - Restricted access to preserved film

2_35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Combined as Mute - 94 Feet - Stock date: 1933 - - C-85993
Master - Restricted access to preserved film

9_ 35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Combined - 8921 Feet - - C-85995
Master - Restricted access to preserved film

7_ 35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Combined - 8914 Feet - - C-85996
Master - Restricted access to preserved film - suitable for duplication

10_35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Sound - 8921 Feet - Stock date: 1933 - - C-85997
Master - Restricted access to preserved film

6_35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Sound - 8880 Feet - Stock date: 1933 - - C-85998
Master - Restricted access to preserved film - suitable for duplication

Sorry I got carried away here. But I think you get the sense that this has been a mystery I have long wished to see solved. Can you shed any light on your tracking of the original negative and the creation and delivery of the master positive lavender to the UK and/or elsewhere? Do you think that Ned Price (I don't know if he's still at Warner Bros.) would know if those BFI tracks may contain an M&E? Maybe Richard Dayton and Eric Aijala at YCM are still in business? I'd appreciate any help you can offer.
Thanks for your time.
Try some of these:
KK1.jpg

KK2.jpg


KK3.jpg

KK4.jpg


KK5.jpg


KK6.jpg

KK7.jpg
 

JoeDoakes

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2009
Messages
3,033
Real Name
Ray
There were a lot of complaints about the blu for King Kong. Did WHV use the best materials available? Could it stand to be rescanned at this point?
 

MarkantonyII

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Dec 17, 2016
Messages
56
Real Name
Mark
I’m not sure what complaints you refer too, but it was a near 80 year old film, full of effects shots and taken from a non first-gen source.

Short of better source material turning up, i don’t think any newer master is going to be a revelatory experience, just very slightly better/cleaner.

M
 

ahollis

Premium
Joined
Mar 1, 2007
Messages
8,032
Location
New Orleans
Real Name
Allen
IIRC, Warner's restoration was a significantly state-of-the-art for the time, using 4K scans of the dupe negative. Sure, they could probably improve on it now (what wouldn't be?) but the Blu-ray still looks amazing to me.
I agree. I watch the Blu at least twice a year and find no real complaints.
 

JoeDoakes

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2009
Messages
3,033
Real Name
Ray
I read many comments that the blu didn’t improve much on the dvd. Maybe it does
 

Patrick McCart

Premium
Joined
May 16, 2001
Messages
7,970
Location
Georgia (the state)
Real Name
Patrick McCart
I read many comments that the blu didn’t improve much on the dvd. Maybe it does

Since they're from the same source master, it's not exactly night and day, but you get all the expected benefits of 1080p vs 480p. I recall that the Spider Pit recreation is presented in true HD, too. And checking online, seems like it's between pressings.
 

TheSteig

Screenwriter
Joined
Jan 11, 2011
Messages
1,666
Real Name
David
I also love my Blu-ray of Kong BUT would just love it if footage for the spider-pit sequence was actually found along with the Styracosaurus scene and included on the next Kong release, which is more or less a given at some point.
 

Robert Harris

Archivist
Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
13,858
Real Name
Robert Harris
Hi Robert,
My name is Bart Pierce and I to worked in film restoration during the time you were doing the same. I worked for 20th Century Fox Video and produced the majority of their special editions on the laserdisc. I am probably best known as the designer of special photographic effects for the original EVIL DEAD (in particular the climactic meltdown sequence which I executed with the marvelously talented, Tom Sullivan. We both animated. Tom drew the storyboards and created props while I designed and executed the effects for each shot). I also recently got to work with my two sons, who wrote, produced and directed THE WRETCHED, a phenomenon that held top grossing film honors for five weeks during the rise of the drive-in theaters during our covid crisis. Like you, my successes in restoration leaned heavily on historical research on films. I'm interested in learning the history of the foreign dubbing process and I would like to locate the M&E tracks for KING KONG (1933).
While the I was doing the mastering of films for 20th Century Fox home video, we used to include a separate, synchronous track on the laser disks and DVDs of the music or music and effects track. I personally loved this feature and promoted it shamelessly. Obviously, it was only made possible when I was able to locate the original music and effects tracks (unfortunately Fox, in a cost-cutting move, had dest years earlier royed most of their materials in the UK to save money on storing what they assumed were just additional inferior copies of their Hollywood-based materials). But my company had no rights to KING KONG and so I never got to work on it directly. But it never stopped my dreaming of a Hi-Rez digital copy of the complete score of KING KONG (Note: thank you Ray Faiola for your magnificent mastering of a significant portion of the original score on CD).
Over the years I've come across some tantalizing facts:
The BFI (British Film Institute) has 2 complete 1933, combined (sound and picture), 35mm nitrate negatives and 2 complete 1933, sound only, 35mm nitrate optical track negatives. It seems plausible that at least one these 4audio tracks (2 composite negatives and 2 sound only optical track negatives) would be a music and effects track that was used for the European sound mixes (or perhaps a mixed foreign track). The BFI has no soundtracks identified as "music and effects only." But, in general, it appears they do not identify the language or information on the tracks they hold. Nor has Turner or Warner provided that information (they looked at the tracks and, of the 4 tracks, chose to use 1 of the 2 composite duplicate negatives for their transfer). We do know that the British soundtracks were a slightly different mix from the American soundtracks. This difference would most likely reflect that Hollywood did a separate English sound mix for the tracks being sent to Britain (this would guarantee a first-generation quality on the soundtrack) in addition to the discrete music and effects track generated for the other non-English foreign tracks to be mixed and manufactured overseas (it is also possible the British mix was done using the M&E tracks sent to them for the foreign mixes).
The history is this:
The popular opinion (which I don't necessarily ascribe to) is that a 35mm master positive was provided to the United Kingdom. Europe was interested in stopping Hollywood from making money on the manufacturing of foreign prints (and they also wanted to encourage the growth of the European film industry). There was also a tax or fee placed on importing prints into European countries (they often charged Hollywood for the sound mix also). I believe it is therefore likely that any and all master positives or duplicate negatives would've been sent (in this case, personally carried. See below) to the UK and distributed, from there.
The Film Daily, March 3, 1933 reported "prints would be hand carried to England in late March of 1933." (Just after the New York City release on March 2, 1933, the March 15, 1933 Baltimore release and the March 24, 1933 Los Angeles release). This would allow lots of time for the countries to do their sound mixes (release dates for London, France, Spain, and Germany were April 17th., September 29th, October 9th, and December 1rst respectively).
In the early 30s (more specifically: early to mid 1933) France, Germany passed laws to forbid dubbing outside of their country. King Kong would've been one of the first Hollywood films that required the dubbing mix be performed in the European country in which it was released and so a set policy of what materials would be required would not, as yet, been set. But, a new multiple-track Moviola, that was first used on KING KONG, had made synchronisation easier and it was possible to mix several tracks at once, making foreign dubbing much easier. There had been complaints that the dubbing done in the United States reflected Germans or Frenchmen with American accents or idiosyncrasies that the country's audiences didn't appreciate (in truth, they were trying to discourage the plethora of American releases in favor of encouraging the German or French film industries). The response of the American film companies was to construct dubbing studios in each of these countries. So, not only is it likely the foreign titles of King Kong were probably produced in the US (the French titles were definitely produced in Hollywood), but the dubbing in foreign countries was overseen by the American film industry.

I also think that, in 1933, it would be a better idea for Hollywood to send combined duplicate negatives of the American mix and the original music and effects, optical track negative that was generated from the M&E sound mix. This is because, at this time, superior duplicate negatives from master positives (called lavenders) were being manufactured in Hollywood and Europe was using noticeably inferior duplication stocks for their duplicate negatives and master positives. It would make sense to provide a superior quality composite duplicate negative (which could later be used as a printing negative) of the Hollywood picture and audio and a separate first-generation optical track negative of the M&E to the United Kingdom to generate all the prints and dubbing materials necessary for KONG. Why send a master positive if only a single negative is required for each country. The United States is a much larger country and its policy was to print off the single original negative in order to maintain high quality prints (and that's what we did. And we wore that KING KONG's original negative out). So it's odd that a country much smaller than the United States would require the 2 printing negatives (both printed in 1933) that the BFI has. Is it not more likely that one of those soundtracks is a music and effects track.
The only support (i.e. research material) for the idea that it was a master positive (lavender) that was sent to the UK exists in the following interview with Warner Bros. executives conducted by yourself on October 25, 2005:

Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings by Robert A. Harris.
Recorded 10/25/2005. If you would like to read the entire article, you can find it here:

Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings by Robert A. Harris (thedigitalbits.com)

Robert A. Harris, a highly respected film producer, historian and preservation expert: “I was able to track the original negative for 10 or 12 years. I know they made a lavender which went to the UK" (Note: I sure would like to speak to you about the tracking of this original negative and your certainty that a lavender went to the UK. Bart). "The original negative has disappeared. I don't think anyone ever found any destruction records on it.”

Ned Price, VP of Mastering for WB Technical Operations on King Kong: "I think the best element was the dupe negative from London. That was 1933. It was manufactured from the lavender."

Robert A. Harris: "It was from the '33 lavender then. And we don't know if the lavender exists."

George Feltenstein, Senior VP Theatrical Catalog Marketing for Warner Home Video: "No, we don't."


I suppose it's possible that if the European countries were originally sent master positives they may have been combined/picture and sound (the sound being a music and effects track only). In support of this idea that master positives were sent for the foreign sound mixes, in this timeframe, I did find BFI had:

1. A tinted (?) Combined Master Positive on 1932 stock of BIRD OF PARADISE (1932) – what is recorded on the soundtrack is not noted.
2. A partial Combined Master Positive on 1933 stock of BED OF ROSES (1933) – what is recorded on the soundtrack is not noted.
But, I wonder why they have 2 printing negatives for KONG in Britain (listed as printed in 1933) instead of just one?
I don't know what the policy for providing materials for foreign mixes was then, but, I know that much later on (while I was working in the industry) the policy was to provide a foreign M&E track as well as an American version, 35mm composite print (so the voice actors could see and hear the original performance) and an English dialogue script (used to create a foreign translation).
In the United States the policy was to print off the original negative in order to maintain high quality prints (and that's what we did. And we wore that KING KONG's original negative out). Still it's odd that a country much smaller than the United States would require 2 printing negatives. I wonder if the BFI ever checked to see if any of those negative soundtracks were music and effects only tracks?
Thought I’d include this. It’s a list of the 1933 nitrate materials at the BFI (I decided not to include the additional 1951 black and white positive nitrate print).

1_ 35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Sound - 94 Feet - Stock date: 1933 - - C-85992
Master - Restricted access to preserved film

2_35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Combined as Mute - 94 Feet - Stock date: 1933 - - C-85993
Master - Restricted access to preserved film

9_ 35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Combined - 8921 Feet - - C-85995
Master - Restricted access to preserved film

7_ 35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Combined - 8914 Feet - - C-85996
Master - Restricted access to preserved film - suitable for duplication

10_35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Sound - 8921 Feet - Stock date: 1933 - - C-85997
Master - Restricted access to preserved film

6_35mm Dupe Negative - Nitrate - Sound - 8880 Feet - Stock date: 1933 - - C-85998
Master - Restricted access to preserved film - suitable for duplication

Sorry I got carried away here. But I think you get the sense that this has been a mystery I have long wished to see solved. Can you shed any light on your tracking of the original negative and the creation and delivery of the master positive lavender to the UK and/or elsewhere? Do you think that Ned Price (I don't know if he's still at Warner Bros.) would know if those BFI tracks may contain an M&E? Maybe Richard Dayton and Eric Aijala at YCM are still in business? I'd appreciate any help you can offer.
Thanks for your time.
For further info, the BFI would have to be engaged to fully identify their elements.

One thing that's troubled me for years is the disappearance of the original nitrate Selznick print that seems to have gone to vapor somewhere between UCLA, a lab (where I believe protection may have been produced), and AMPAS, as I believe portions were projected for a gathering on special effects at which Lin Dunn commented.

It must be somewhere.

As to the OCN, it may also survive in someone's hands, as there seem to be no annotations of destruction.
 
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Chip Hess

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It was always my (mis?) understanding that the OCN on Kong was lost in a fire, much like the one that took Kane. Is that incorrect?
 

Bartkong

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I believe that they used O. Selznick's personal print for TCM's 1988 restoration (wasn't the screening you refer to prior to this, in the early to mid 80s?).

I quote here from the January 1989 American Cinematographer magazine article by Scott McQueen:
"One other print from the camera negative is known to survive: Executive Producer David O. Selznick's personal print. It was borrowed from The University of Texas and compared with the studio print on a light box. Manufactured in 1943, Selznick's print unfortunately exhibited many of the same negative imperfections as the 1942 print."

I assume that they either kept and stored the print or returned it to its owner (was that UCLA?).
(Although, you never mention its use for the 2005 restoration in your WB interview). There was a very active collector's market that existed in the late 80s and 90s and in tracking prints in the past it was not unusual to find a beautiful print sent out by the studios for a public or private screening and a lousy print of the same title returned. Some print collector had interceded and replaced his old print with a new one. The studio would never checked. I did. Sometimes it was heartbreaking because the missing print would contain lost scenes. Of course Selznick's print was the edited version, but, rare nonetheless.

I want to thank you for those shots of the Kong negative records. They answer a lot of questions I've had for a long time. Not all of my questions. There's still more detective work to do but, they have been an enormous help. I'll keep you updated.

A couple more questions you might have the answer to: I know that 629 Fort Lee refers to Consolidated Film Industries (CFI), the New Jersey film lab that produced all of RKO's prints and stored their negatives. But, do you know what the numbers 247 D, 250 D, 252 D, 259 D, 267 D and 875 D refer to on the Fort Lee shipments? Also, does 630 9th Ave. refer to the Film Center building (as it is now called) in New York/Manhattan? It appears it is a distribution center for original negatives and intermediates (nothing is stored there, but, they receive and send out printing materials). Do you know if that's the case? And did you find these records at UCLA? Its one of the places I'm headed once our pandemic has been resolved.
Thanks again, Bart
.
 

Robert Harris

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I believe that they used O. Selznick's personal print for TCM's 1988 restoration (wasn't the screening you refer to prior to this, in the early to mid 80s?).

I quote here from the January 1989 American Cinematographer magazine article by Scott McQueen:
"One other print from the camera negative is known to survive: Executive Producer David O. Selznick's personal print. It was borrowed from The University of Texas and compared with the studio print on a light box. Manufactured in 1943, Selznick's print unfortunately exhibited many of the same negative imperfections as the 1942 print."

I assume that they either kept and stored the print or returned it to its owner (was that UCLA?).
(Although, you never mention its use for the 2005 restoration in your WB interview). There was a very active collector's market that existed in the late 80s and 90s and in tracking prints in the past it was not unusual to find a beautiful print sent out by the studios for a public or private screening and a lousy print of the same title returned. Some print collector had interceded and replaced his old print with a new one. The studio would never checked. I did. Sometimes it was heartbreaking because the missing print would contain lost scenes. Of course Selznick's print was the edited version, but, rare nonetheless.

I want to thank you for those shots of the Kong negative records. They answer a lot of questions I've had for a long time. Not all of my questions. There's still more detective work to do but, they have been an enormous help. I'll keep you updated.

A couple more questions you might have the answer to: I know that 629 Fort Lee refers to Consolidated Film Industries (CFI), the New Jersey film lab that produced all of RKO's prints and stored their negatives. But, do you know what the numbers 247 D, 250 D, 252 D, 259 D, 267 D and 875 D refer to on the Fort Lee shipments? Also, does 630 9th Ave. refer to the Film Center building (as it is now called) in New York/Manhattan? It appears it is a distribution center for original negatives and intermediates (nothing is stored there, but, they receive and send out printing materials). Do you know if that's the case? And did you find these records at UCLA? Its one of the places I'm headed once our pandemic has been resolved.
Thanks again, Bart
.
I've not researched this further. Camera neg is probably in Brazil with that other film.
 

Bartkong

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I've not researched this further. Camera neg is probably in Brazil with that other film.
So, is that where they send films to die? Brazil? The home of more Spanish dialects than anywhere else in the world?

As an aside, I thought you might be interested in something I found on the King Kong paperwork. Please note below, circled in red is the name of one of the stars of King Kong, Harriet Hagman.

Harriet Hagman? No, I never heard of her either and she's not mentioned on any of the credit lists of King Kong (I think IMD he has the longest list).

So who is she?

How about this:. Hagman was an actress contracted to RKO who made 2 movies in 1932 and that was it. If she's in King Kong (even if she's uncredited) I've never seen her. And I've watched King Kong a lot. But she's not written in as an uncredited actress. She is written in as one of the stars. That implies she had a speaking part. Now I really know she wasn't in the film. But wait. There was one speaking role in King Kong that was reshot as a non-dialogue scene. The "Wrong Woman" scene in which the actress Gertrude Sutton is pulled out of a New York apartment building window and callously dropped to her death by King Kong. It was originally shot as a dialogue scene with a different actress, playing a character named Mabel, on the phone talking to her boyfriend and then pulled out of the window to drop to her death.

There is one photo of the scene in which the actress playing Mabel can be seen. I married it to a shot of Harriet Hagman for your comparison below. I've also included some additional head shots of Harriet in 1932.

So what you think? Is the "Wrong Woman" from the unused scene in Kong Harriet? Why is her name on the negative record? I mean, Harriet should've been cut out of the film (I don't think she was ever in it) by the time the final cut negative was sent for printing. Someone must have provided her name as one of the accredited actresses to the distribution center in New York. Who would that be? And from where did they pull the information on Harriet Hagman?

Tantalizing little mystery. Hope you enjoyed it. Any thoughts?
 

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