NFPF Preservation Grantee: George Eastman House

Stills from "Hollywouldn't," 1925; courtesy George Eastman House

Hollywouldn’t (Lou Carter, US 1925) – 35mm b/w & tinted nitrate positive print in two reels; 1,750 ft.; shrinkage of material base from .1.95% – 2.0% moderate base and emulsion scratches; broken perforations and heavy edge damage

The George Eastman House has won a 2012 Basic Preservation Grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to restore and publicly present Hollywouldn’t, a 1925 film by Lou Carter.

The short film, originally released by Trem Carr Productions, is a free-wheeling satire on the Hollywood industry at the height of the silent era, the Eastman House said in its application to the NFPF.

It was in a series of “Biff Comedies” that skewered Hollywood sacred cows. The Eastman House calls it “a small, but significant entry into the ‘saved’ column on the lost film balance sheet.”

At the beginning of a film, a title card announces: “This picture deals with a new emotion – Love in Hollywood – So what we’ve joined together, let no critic put asunder.”

At the Wrex Film Company (proud producer of “The Ten Commandments made at half the price – they only used five”), director Mr. Cecil Von Cruse and leading lady Dolly Dove share the screen with a love-struck cowboy and an equally smitten gent from Indiana. As bad film-related puns abound amidst heaps of action, Hollywouldn’t achieves “a level of success all its own,” the Eastman House wrily said. “As a warning to other wannabe stars, it concludes by offering timeless advice: ‘Moral – it is better to stay at home and be thought a fool than to travel and remove all doubt.’”

With a cast of Johnny Sinclair, Charlie King, Billy Jones, Dorothy Dorr, and Sailor Sharkey the film casts a skeptical eye on the “Golden Age” of Hollywood, and yet also adds to that age, one that a huge public reveres and film scholars have enshrined in countless studies.

Trem Carr Productions apparently wanted to present a less iconic face of Hollywood, a not particularly glamorous place that provided uncertain work and outsized hope to scrabbling directors and actors. But Hollywouldn’t, the Eastman House argued in its grant application, celebrates the often-charming, low-budget films that such strugglers created and that “filled out countless hours of theatre programming.”

Restoring it is warranted because “countless little films have been lost through corporate neglect, lack of pedigree, and indifference,” urged the Eastman House. “Abandoned, forgotten by history, and on the brink of oblivion, these products of long defunct production companies are indeed the orphans of the film industry.”

The organization’s copy of the film is the only one known to exist, and came to it through the American Film Institute and New Zealand Film Archive Repatriation Project in 1994. Eastman House archivists have found no registration for the film, although it did receive distribution, which explains how the extant copy got to New Zealand.

Eastman House archivists believe that producer Samuel Bischoff, owner of the California Studios where Hollywouldn’t was filmed, may have re-arranged the credits for the 1926 foreign release.

No video or DVD copies are currently available for commercial distribution or video channels, but NFPF awards come with urging to provide some sort of public access.


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