Keaton's The Blacksmith

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Robert Arkus
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:11 pm

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Robert Arkus » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:24 am

Richard Warner wrote:Over the years I've seen four different versions of The Blacksmith and I'm wondering if there are any other permutations out there. Also, do any Mafia Members know which is the "definitive" version? By "definitive" I mean the final cut for American release. These are the versions I've seen:
We don't see how Big Joe gets out of jail.
Virginia's mother causes her horse to bolt.
Keaton proposes to Virginia in front of a haystack.
Big Joe bursts through the side wall of the jail.
An exploding manhole causes Virginia's horse to bolt.
Keaton proposes to Virginia with the two of them sitting by the roadside.
No jail escape.
( I briefly owned this one on an 8mm print from Glenn Photo Supply back in the 1970s, so this is from distant memory.)
Same as version one, except Big Joe is seen simply walking free from the front of the jailhouse. This is followed by an additional sequence with Keaton trying to evade Joe by pretending to be part of a roadside advert for a car. In fact, he's sitting on a plank sticking out the back of a truck and gets whisked offscreen when it drives away.

Version three is the Kino one. David Shepard mentioned in an article that this was a composite of the domestic and foreign versions, so I guess that's eliminated.
Any clarifications would be much appreciated.
Richard Warner

Wow, that's interesting how version four has that last gag, which sounds like the scene where the newly discovered footage (that's been posted), picks up. That was a Glen photo Supply 8 mm print? I had the Blackhawk, which is the same as the Killiam version ... I always thought that was the definitive version until I saw the alternate takes in the Lobster version!!

Richard Warner
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 5:31 am

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Richard Warner » Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:00 am

Well, the roadside ad gag is in both the French 9.5mm version and the Glenn one, but the Glenn print had Big Joe walking free from the front of the jailhouse. That little bit seems to be unique to the Glenn version.

Bob Birchard

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Bob Birchard » Sun Aug 25, 2013 4:26 pm

Following up on Richard's post about there being no definitive versions, everything he says is true, although one could argue that the definitive versions of the Chaplin silents are the ones currently in circulation as authorized by Chaplin himself, though none of these "definitive" versions is what first time domestic audiences would have seen.

Chaplin's contract called for delivering four complete neagtives to his distributor--so popular were his films, and so concerned was the distributor that the negatives would be damaged or wear out. As pointed out, these negatives might include second camera takes (with slight variations in angle and length) or they might include completely alternate takes (since usually there were only two cameras running during any single shot.

The the two foreign negatives would have these issues, and might even include occasional dupe scenes.

Then jump to the late 1930s when Chaplin had Rollie Totheroh compile a "Best Version" from the four surviving negatives to create the final archival version.

Also, as Richard points out, silent film release prints were assembled in the lab by a department called Positive Assembly." They would assemble the prints in screening order from rolls that were originally assembled in tinting order and pulled apart to go through the tinting and toning baths. Nine time out of ten (since there were sequence-to-sequence guide numbers) the prints would be assembled in proper order, but occasionally shots would be assembled out of order (there is a misplaced POV shot in MoMA's material on William S. Hart's "O'Malley of the Mounted" for example), but the ossasional shot could also be mistakenly left out altogether. And, as Richard said, if the "A" negative was damaged, the damaged footage was sometimes replaced with dupe footage, but just as often with material from outtakes and alternates.

It is interestuing to see variant versions back-to-back. We know, for example that the Lloyd estate has the domestic versions of "The Kid Brother" and "For Heaven's Sake," and LOC has the foreign negative versions, and there are variations--but mostly they are minor. Usually the goal was to make something as close to the domestic "A" negative as possible----

Oh, and don'r for get local censors. Censor cuts may also have prompted studios to supply alternate footage to fill out a censor-evicserated cut.

Agnes McFadden
Posts: 72
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:51 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA (Western Suburbs)

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Agnes McFadden » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:38 pm

Paul E. Gierucki wrote:Richard W,

You are welcome to post on any topic here! We are not nearly as menacing as we might appear,
I clock in at 6'5" tall, Richard at a whopping 6'8", all questions and comments are welcome.
The Mafia protects its own.

-- Paul E. Gierucki

(Great, now I have The Friendly Giant theme song stuck in my head...)

I ask them both a lot of questions. They are both very knowlegable and informative.
But, at 5'3" , I try not to sit directly behind either of them at a film festivals.

Agnes McFadden

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