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UNDERCRANK: Accidentally Preserved, Vol. 1, The Crackerjack

08/01/2013 | by David Greenstreet
There's a new silent film label that is receiving rave reviews from the blogosphere all the way to the New York Times' Dave Kehr -- it's Ben Model's Undercrank Productions.

The silent film accompanist's new label has already produced two sterling releases so far this year: Accidentally Preserved, Vol. 1 and The Crackerjack -- which we now have available for rent. We also have the former for sale for only $15.99.

More are on the way from Undercrank too as at least two more DVDs are in the works.


Accidentally Preserved - Rare and Lost Silent Films from Vintage 16mm Prints is a collection of nine short films made from 1920-1928, presented in new HD transfers with new musical scores on piano or theatre organ by Ben Model. The films are all new to DVD, and three of them have not been seen by anyone in several decades.

During the 1930s and 1940s companies like the Kodascope and Universal Show-at-Home libraries made 16mm copies of silent movies for people to rent and watch at home. It was like Netflix for the art deco era. Because these movies were on 16mm safety film, many of them have outlived the original 35mm nitrate prints of silent films that are now lost or extremely rare. It's as if these movies were...Accidentally Preserved.

Renowned silent film accompanist/historian Ben Model has taken nine of the rare and lost silent films in his 16mm collection and produced this Accidentally Preserved DVD, bringing these rarities to a new audience in new HD digital transfers. Each film on this DVD has a new musical score by Ben Model performed on piano or theatre organ.

Unavailable to the public for decades, these delightful comedy shorts -- as well as the lost, unknown Elgin Watch factory film -- return to screens to entertain us once more.

Visit the Accidentally Preserved website to read detailed film notes by historian Steve Massa and to find out more information about this series.
CONTAINS:

Wallace Lupino in The Lost Laugh (1928, 9 min.)
Wallace and his wife have a rough start to their day – waking, showering and breakfasting. Wallace tried to keep a sense of humor about it all, in spite of a visit from a washing-machine salesman and the washing-machine he sells them.

Jack Duffy in Loose Change (1928, 11 min.)
Wealthy-but-cheap Scottish uncle Jack Duffy pays a to visit nephew Neal; things get complicated with Neal's wife's friend decides to vamp him as a prank.

Monte Collins in Wedding Slips (1928, 9 min.)
Newlyweds Monte and Lucille Hutton are driving to their honeymoon spot and crash into a gypsy caravan and are kidnapped by the leaders of the gypsies and a gorilla.

Paul Parrott in Shoot Straight (1923, 10 min.)
Paul Parrott goes a-hunting, and tangles with rabbits, ducks, a bear and more in this near-solo turn with gags out of a WB cartoon from the '40s.

Elgin Watch Company - The House of Wonders (Ca. 1931, 23 min.)
Industrial film on the Elgin Watch Company, showing its factory, its observatory, and the step-by-step assembly of an Elgin watch from start to finish.

Clyde Cook in The Misfit (1924, 12 min.)
Hen-pecked Clyde Cook must help wifey shop then paint the living room floor. He escapes by joining the Marines, but fares no better in basic training.

Cliff Bowes in Cheer Up (1924, 10 min.)
Cliff and Eddie Boland are rivals for Virginia Vance's hand in marriage, and the rivalry does not end after Cliff and Virginia wed.

Koko The Clown in Mechanical Doll (1922, 7 min.)
Koko is dropped into a running projector at a movie theater, then falls in love with a life-size wind-up doll that Max Fleischer draws for him.

Billy Franey in The Water Plug (1920, 12 min.)
Franey hatches a scheme to fleece automobile owners with a portable hydrant from a pawn-shop.


The Crackerjack finds silent screen star Johnny Hines as a breezy go-getter who falls in love with a young woman (Sigrid Holmquist) and helps her father thwart a revolution in Esquasado using stuffed pickles. This comedy classic is presented here with a brand new score by Ben Model.

Reminiscent of Harold Lloyd’s Why Worry? (1923), as well as later films like Woody Allen’s Bananas (1971) and Paul Mazursky’s Moon Over Parador (1988), in The Crackerjack Hines takes on a variety of gag sequences including impersonating one of the fictional south-of-the-border country’s dignitaries. The film ends in a large-scale battle and comedy chase and will delight fans of silent movies. 

Johnny Hines made fifteen starring features between 1923 and 1928, most of which were released either independently or through First National. While Johnny Hines is not as well known today as Chaplin, Keaton or Lloyd, his films — most of which were directed by his brother Charles — kept movie fans laughing while they were waiting for the next release from silent comedy’s luminaries.

Here's what critics had to say about "The Crackerjack" when it was released in May 1925:

  • A fast and furious comedy…plenty of imagination and dash. -- New York Time
  • 'The Crackerjack' is built entirely for laughing purposes…virtually a scream from beginning to end. -- Variety
This edition of The Crackerjack features a brand-new piano score by renowned silent film accompanist Ben Model. This video edition was mastered from a vintage 16mm print which shows some wear and which may be missing a scene or two; new intertitles have been created to replace missing ones.
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