“HELLO POP” (or) how lost films get found—
“HELLO POP” (MGM/’33) has for over seven decades been the only
Three Stooges short film that was lost. The
only known 35mm Technicolor print of this two-reeler burned in an MGM vault
fire in 1967. This was the same fire
that destroyed the only known copy of Lon Chaney’s “LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT” (’27),
Laurel & Hardy’s “THE ROGUE SONG”, Technicolor scenes from “CHASING RAINBOWS”
(’30) and “THE BROADWAY MELODY” (‘29) and some 1927-28 Our Gang shorts, among
In December 2012, The Vitaphone Project received a short email from
Australian Harry Furner, on behalf of a film collector friend. His question was
simple: Was “HELLO POP” a lost film? We
confirmed it was, which led the other shoe to drop. His friend had a Technicolor 35mm nitrate
print! This triggered a series of communications to verify the condition of the
print, confirm that the collector was willing to share it, and then to make
arrangements to get it to the United States for preservation. The collector is
in his mid-eighties, and has acquired film most of his life. He was extremely
cooperative, and simply wanted to ensure “HELLO POP!” went to the right place.
(Editor’s note: Film prints sent from Hollywood to far-off or remote countries were supposed to be returned to the studios, however since this was usually the last stop for many of these already battered prints it wasn’t worth the expense of shipping them back, so they were often left to be disposed of. In some cases, the films found homes in unlikely places & it is by chance or accident that they survive…)
As all this was developing, The Vitaphone Project, notified Ned Price, Chief
Preservation Officer at Warner Brothers. Ned is the one responsible for pulling
together UCLA, The Vitaphone Project, The Library of Congress, and others on
the many Vitaphone shorts restorations. He instantly guaranteed support to get
the print to the States and to cover the restoration. Eric
Aijala of YCM Laboratories, was also enlisted to receive the print and do any
needed restoration work on it. But first, the 35mm nitrate print of “HELLO POP” had to be
shipped. That was not a simple task. Nitrate film is considered, by
international regulations, to be a “flammable solid”. Unstable nitrate film can
ignite or explode. Therefore, normal methods of shipment cannot be used.
Fortunately, The Vitaphone Project has an Australian “office” in the person of
Paul is a film buff and ran a theatre for many years near
Sydney. It was Paul who found and promoted the synchronization of the only
surviving print of “MAMBA” (Tiffany, 1930), which was the first Technicolor feature in sound that was not a musical.
Since Paul had to ship the nitrate “MAMBA” reels to UCLA in 2012, he knew all the
steps to get it packaged, labeled and transported within the applicable
regulations. He visited the collector and helped to make all of the shipping
arrangements. That was completed in early
January 2013, with the print of “HELLO POP” transported by FedEx’s Pacific route
to China, the Philippines, Texas, and ultimately Los Angeles and YCM
Laboratories. Work has now been completed on the film’s preservation.
The film was screened at Film Forum in New York City on September 30, 2013. Warner Archive released “HELLO POP” on September 24, 2014 on DVD in region 1 as part of the Classic Shorts From The Dream Factory series, Volume 3 DVD set (featuring Howard, Fine & Howard). The film was released with the five other Ted Healy-3 Stooges shorts made for MGM.