Silent "Our Gang" question (not the usual one)

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Michael J Hayde
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Silent "Our Gang" question (not the usual one)

Postby Michael J Hayde » Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:38 pm

I've just spent a few dan-dan-dandy hours perusing old issues of THE BILLBOARD on Google Books, and came across something: a couple of articles (from 1955 and '56, respectively) that mention a package of silent "Our Gangs" having gone into distribution, courtesy of "Onyx Picture Corporation." I couldn't locate a trade ad or any other details, save that Pick Temple's Washington DC kid's show would henceforth be playing this package in lieu of westerns (this from the March 1955 article).

Interstate Television's package of Roach "Little Rascals" had gone into distribution the previous fall and by spring was wiping up the competition.

The Maltin-Bann book states that National Telepix Corp distributed "The Mischief Makers," which - courtesy of the wonderfully mind-boggling website theluckycorner.com - I know came about in 1960 (and, according to tvparty.com, swiftly departed the following year, at least in NYC). The book couldn't identify the distributor of the other silent "Our Gang" package, "Those Lovable Scallawags with Their Gangs." Could this be the Onyx package? Or did Onyx merely distribute Pathe (and/or Exclusive) prints with/without music tracks? Does anyone know?

The only further mention I can find of "Onyx Pictures Corporation" is that in 1957 they distributed a feature film, "Carib Gold," starring Ethel Waters and featuring an uncredited Cecily Tyson.

Michael

Richard M Roberts
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Re: Silent "Our Gang" question (not the usual one)

Postby Richard M Roberts » Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:10 am

Michael J Hayde wrote:I've just spent a few dan-dan-dandy hours perusing old issues of THE BILLBOARD on Google Books, and came across something: a couple of articles (from 1955 and '56, respectively) that mention a package of silent "Our Gangs" having gone into distribution, courtesy of "Onyx Picture Corporation." I couldn't locate a trade ad or any other details, save that Pick Temple's Washington DC kid's show would henceforth be playing this package in lieu of westerns (this from the March 1955 article).

Interstate Television's package of Roach "Little Rascals" had gone into distribution the previous fall and by spring was wiping up the competition.

The Maltin-Bann book states that National Telepix Corp distributed "The Mischief Makers," which - courtesy of the wonderfully mind-boggling website theluckycorner.com - I know came about in 1960 (and, according to tvparty.com, swiftly departed the following year, at least in NYC). The book couldn't identify the distributor of the other silent "Our Gang" package, "Those Lovable Scallawags with Their Gangs." Could this be the Onyx package? Or did Onyx merely distribute Pathe (and/or Exclusive) prints with/without music tracks? Does anyone know?

The only further mention I can find of "Onyx Pictures Corporation" is that in 1957 they distributed a feature film, "Carib Gold," starring Ethel Waters and featuring an uncredited Cecily Tyson.

Michael



Onyx Pictures has caused all sorts of interest in anyone studying Hal Roach due to their publicity flyer that basically listed all the Hal Roach titles released by Pathe as their catalog. Yet I have never come upon one 16mm print of any Hal Roach title that I can trace to being an Onyx print. So I am still waiting to determine of they ever actually distributed any syndicated prints at all.

The Scallawag's was in fact, put together by Charlie Tarbox of Film Classics Exchange, who attempted several different packages of syndicated television material from his huge collection in the 1950's, of which the Scallawag's was the only one to have any sort of success. He also did a series featuring Cliff Arquette as a host who would do a comic narration over a complete silent dramatic short, the oddity of this case being the narration was actually funny.

RICHARD M ROBERTS

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Re: Silent "Our Gang" question (not the usual one)

Postby Michael J Hayde » Sat Feb 27, 2010 10:27 pm

Richard M Roberts wrote:Onyx Pictures has caused all sorts of interest in anyone studying Hal Roach due to their publicity flyer that basically listed all the Hal Roach titles released by Pathe as their catalog. Yet I have never come upon one 16mm print of any Hal Roach title that I can trace to being an Onyx print. So I am still waiting to determine of they ever actually distributed any syndicated prints at all.


Well, on that last point - and realizing this is purely circumstantial - WTOP Channel 9 was Pick Temple's station. The only 1955 TV GUIDE I have for the Balto-DC area is the week of August 6. According to the listings, Temple's 30-minute weekday program was alternating L&H talkie shorts with "Crash" Corrigan westerns. However, at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, WTOP aired an hour-long "comedy" show, Captain Nine. On August 6, the films scheduled were "Wacky Westerners" (L&H) and "The Champeen" (Our Gang). WTOP had to get that latter title from somebody, and since Onyx had been listed in Billboard as their silent Our Gang supplier, well.... there's one.

I'm curious as to how you're able to eliminate Onyx as the source of any Roach Pathe 16mm print; especially if they're as ancient-looking as some of the "Exclusive" prints I've seen on various DVDs (i.e., Grapevine). If you're not inclined to reply in writing, this would make a good excuse to finally introduce myself to you at Cinevent or Slapsticon, as opposed to silently marveling at your informed introductions of various programmes.

Thanks,
Michael

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Re: Silent "Our Gang" question (not the usual one)

Postby Richard M Roberts » Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:01 am

Michael J Hayde wrote:
Richard M Roberts wrote:Onyx Pictures has caused all sorts of interest in anyone studying Hal Roach due to their publicity flyer that basically listed all the Hal Roach titles released by Pathe as their catalog. Yet I have never come upon one 16mm print of any Hal Roach title that I can trace to being an Onyx print. So I am still waiting to determine of they ever actually distributed any syndicated prints at all.


Well, on that last point - and realizing this is purely circumstantial - WTOP Channel 9 was Pick Temple's station. The only 1955 TV GUIDE I have for the Balto-DC area is the week of August 6. According to the listings, Temple's 30-minute weekday program was alternating L&H talkie shorts with "Crash" Corrigan westerns. However, at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, WTOP aired an hour-long "comedy" show, Captain Nine. On August 6, the films scheduled were "Wacky Westerners" (L&H) and "The Champeen" (Our Gang). WTOP had to get that latter title from somebody, and since Onyx had been listed in Billboard as their silent Our Gang supplier, well.... there's one.

I'm curious as to how you're able to eliminate Onyx as the source of any Roach Pathe 16mm print; especially if they're as ancient-looking as some of the "Exclusive" prints I've seen on various DVDs (i.e., Grapevine). If you're not inclined to reply in writing, this would make a good excuse to finally introduce myself to you at Cinevent or Slapsticon, as opposed to silently marveling at your informed introductions of various programmes.

Thanks,
Michael


Well, we have no proof that the print of THE CHAMPEEN that they ran was an Onyx print do we? And THE CHAMPEEN was available in both the Scallawags package and in plenty of home and rental prints.

Basically, among the literally hundreds of Hal Roach films I have prints of in my own collection, or have gone through my hands in over forty-five years of collecting,I do not have any that are either a mystery source, or traceable to Onyx Films, either by titles, leader, or what have you. I do not know of any other collector who has had one, and I have indeed asked. I have Roach prints that came from Kodascope, Pathegrams, Show at Home, Exclusive, Mar-Lu Telefilm, Charlie Tarbox, Interstate Television, Library Films, Regal Television, Film Classics, Blackhawk, foreign sources, but nothing that wasn't traceable to another source or had any thing tie-ing it to Onyx. If this is indeed where the Pathe' negatives ended up, I think they ended up somewhere else very quickly, and obviously National Telepix had access to some original neg material when they did the MISCHIEF MAKERS and COMEDY CAPERS package because some of the materials they used were razor sharp and pristine, but interestingly not all. So if there were any, they didn't make many, nor did they end up in any sort of major circulation.

RICHARD M ROBERTS

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Re: Silent "Our Gang" question (not the usual one)

Postby Richard M Roberts » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:51 am

Reviving another ancient thread, I can now state that I indeed have found a true Hal Roach print from Onyx Pictures! A print of THE MYSTERIOUS MYSTERY that I picked up awhile back has an Onyx Pictures THE END title on it! A nice print, with original opening and inter-titles, but the replaced Onyx end-title.

So somewhere, somehow, they did actually exist.


RICHARD M ROBERTS

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Re: Silent "Our Gang" question (not the usual one)

Postby Gary Johnson » Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:46 am

What with this and the Langdon discovery, you've been on quite a roll this past month solving your own lifetime film mysteries.

Richard M Roberts
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Re: Silent "Our Gang" question (not the usual one)

Postby Richard M Roberts » Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:53 pm

Gary Johnson wrote:What with this and the Langdon discovery, you've been on quite a roll this past month solving your own lifetime film mysteries.



No, I 've had this print quite awhile, I just noticed yesterday that we had a thread talking about this from ages ago.



RICHARD M ROBERTS

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Re: Silent "Our Gang" question (not the usual one)

Postby Michael J Hayde » Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:56 pm

Richard M Roberts wrote:Reviving another ancient thread, I can now state that I indeed have found a true Hal Roach print from Onyx Pictures! A print of THE MYSTERIOUS MYSTERY that I picked up awhile back has an Onyx Pictures THE END title on it! A nice print, with original opening and inter-titles, but the replaced Onyx end-title.

So somewhere, somehow, they did actually exist.


RICHARD M ROBERTS


Marvelous! And I just found, courtesy of Lantern, an article in the November 19, 1956 issue of BROADCASTING-TELECASTING that Onyx and Hal Roach Studios had filed suit against Tarbox, Film Classics, NBC and George Bagnall & Associates for pirating the Roach Pathés. "The suit claims Mssrs. Tarbox and Bagnall gained access to old silent films and made unauthorized prints for tv and charges copies were poorly made, title cards omitted and unauthorized sound tracks added. NBC-TV was cited for having the films despite alleged warnings from Roach and Onyx. They include old Our Gang, Charlie Chan (sic; presumably this should be "Chase") and some Laurel and Hardy and Will Rogers comedies."

SPONSOR's May 14, 1960 issue mentions that National Telepix, "a new company, has acquired 500 silent comedies for $1.5 million from the Hal Roach receivership," while a BROADCASTING article from August 13, 1962, concerning National Telepix's plans to offer stock through the NYSE, states that the firm had purchased the assets of Onyx Pictures, although the piece doesn't specify when. The President of Onyx, Sam Lake, was a National Telepix VP by '62.

From the sound of it, It's a pity there aren't more Onyx prints around and a sad irony that National Telepix ended up doing exactly what Tarbox and Bagnall had done to the films.

Michael

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Re: Silent "Our Gang" question (not the usual one)

Postby Richard M Roberts » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:22 am

Michael J Hayde wrote:Marvelous! And I just found, courtesy of Lantern, an article in the November 19, 1956 issue of BROADCASTING-TELECASTING that Onyx and Hal Roach Studios had filed suit against Tarbox, Film Classics, NBC and George Bagnall & Associates for pirating the Roach Pathés. "The suit claims Mssrs. Tarbox and Bagnall gained access to old silent films and made unauthorized prints for tv and charges copies were poorly made, title cards omitted and unauthorized sound tracks added. NBC-TV was cited for having the films despite alleged warnings from Roach and Onyx. They include old Our Gang, Charlie Chan (sic; presumably this should be "Chase") and some Laurel and Hardy and Will Rogers comedies."

SPONSOR's May 14, 1960 issue mentions that National Telepix, "a new company, has acquired 500 silent comedies for $1.5 million from the Hal Roach receivership," while a BROADCASTING article from August 13, 1962, concerning National Telepix's plans to offer stock through the NYSE, states that the firm had purchased the assets of Onyx Pictures, although the piece doesn't specify when. The President of Onyx, Sam Lake, was a National Telepix VP by '62.

From the sound of it, It's a pity there aren't more Onyx prints around and a sad irony that National Telepix ended up doing exactly what Tarbox and Bagnall had done to the films.

Michael



That is indeed interesting, check and see if there is anything on how that suit was settled, because it may explain a few things. First, by 1956, due to Roach’s failure to renew any Pathe’ titles before December 1926 release dates makes a lot of their case pretty hard to win, and it might explain how and why those last couple of years of Pathe’ releases (most of those released AFTER December 1926) got renewed. Charlie Tarbox was indeed distributing a package of Our Gang and other Kid Comedies to Television under the title of THOSE AMAZING SCALLAWAGS AND THEIR PETS, but it was mostly earlier titles that would have fallen into the Public Domain by the time of the lawsuit.

I’ve always known there had to be a connection between National Telepix and Onyx Pictures, especially if Onyx had purchased the negatives of the Pathe’s from Roach (and their catalog basically listed most of the non- Harold Lloyd Roach-Pathe’ titles in their holdings) because it is obvious that a number of the Roach-Pathe Comedies showcased in the COMEDY CAPERS series came from original negative materials (for example, the most sparkling material on SLIPPING WIVES is the COMEDY CAPERS version, sadly sans any subtitling and somewhat trimmed). I did not know of Sam Lake’s participation in National Telepix, but that makes total sense.

Now, what happened to National Telepix’s materials? Dick Bann once cryptically implied to me that Kirsch Group had gotten a hold of it, but I’ve never seen actually evidence of that in terms of any restored or preserved materials. Could there still be a warehouse out there on the East Coast with all the Roach-Pathe’ negs sitting in it?


RICHARD M ROBERTS


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