Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mamba at the Astor in Melbourne - Part 2

This post is continued from last weeks post about the Mamba world premiere at The Astor in Melbourne on Nov 21 at 8pm.

In the first post I wrote about Mamba's and Tiffany Pictures historical background. In this post I will write about the actors in the leading roles of the film. Unfortunately they are almost forgotten today, at least if you compare them to superstars like Garbo or Gable.

Mamba was very well received by the audience as well as by the press.  Tiffany had made sure the film would become a smash hit by hiring some of the most prominent actors at the time for the lead parts.

Jean Hersholt 1927
August Bolte - Jean Hersholt
Jean Hersholt was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1886, the son of Clair and Henry Hersholt, both actors at the Danish Folk Theatre. From an early age young Jean went on tour performing with his family all over Europe. Back at home in Copenhagen he went to art school and soon got recognition for his fine pencil drawings.

Hersholt drawing von Stroheim (1923)
But it was the acting that really got him. After some years at the art school he went on to acting school at the Dagmar Thaatre in Copenhagen. In 1906 he had roles in three of the earliest films produced for the Danish market. Those were all short comedies, very typical of the times. At 22, in 1908 he left Denmark for Canada and settled down first in Montreal then on to New York. In 1914 he left New York for Hollywood. In 1915 he was hired as responsible for the Danish pavilion at the Pan Pacific exhibition in San Francisco. It was at this time he met Thomas Ince, a Hollywood producer and director. Ince soon realized Hersholt was made of the right stuff and hired him as one of his regulars. Hersholt played in most of Inces films 1918-22. He even got to direct some of the films he played in. Ince is mostly known today because of the scandal surrounding his death in 1924 when he suposedly was killed aboard W.R. Hearst’s yacht.

Thomas Ince
Hersholt’s career took a big leap in 1922 when he got one of the leading roles in John S. Robertson’s Tess of The Storm Country with Mary Pickford. Then on to von Stroheim’s giant epic Greed, in which he played Marcus Schouler, the villain. Showing he was capable to shine in almost any role given to him he quickly became a regular first at Goldwyn and Paramount and later at MGM.

Greed (1924)
Hersholt made the transition to talkies without any difficulties, his Danish accent was no problem. With the arrival of the talkies his roles shifted from villains to caring father figures, teachers and European noblemen. At MGM he had big supporting roles in prestige productions like Grand Hotel (1932) and Dinner At Eight (1933). He was Shirley Temple’s grandfather in Heidi (1937).

Grand Hotel (1932)
But it was the role as a doctor that would provide a continuing vehicle for Hersholt and something of a fateful direction for the actor. The mid-30s were abuzz with the births of the Dionne Quintuplets in Canada. Hollywood jumped on, highlighting the story and the officiating obstetrician, Dr. Dafoe, who was translated into Dr. John Luke, in The Country Doctor (1936). Hersholt brought the right ingredients to the part of Luke and two years later a sequel followed, Five of a Kind (1938). Hersholt was enthusiastic about a series of movies, but Dafoe himself blocked this idea. Nevertheless, in 1937 Hersholt had already germinated a new radio series to continue portraying a dedicated and kindly small town doctor. For a character name Hersholt turned to his most beloved author, his countryman, literary light Hans Christian Andersen, for a name-Dr. Christian. It was a hit and, and he convinced RKO Radio Pictures to bankroll a series of six Dr. Christian films (1939-41). The radio series stayed on the air every week for 17 years, about 800 episodes.

In the early 1940's Hersholt more or less left the movies but stayed in the business working with many different charity projects. In 1939 he funded The Motion Picture Relief Fund, an organization that helped to support industry employees with medical care when they were down on their luck and was used to create the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, CA. This led to the creation in 1956 of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian an honorary Academy Award given to an "individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry". Hersholt was President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 1945-49. Another lesser known function he had was as Chairman of the Hollywood chamber of commerce in the early 1950’s and as such he helped negotiate the rights for the Scandinavian Airlines transatlantic flights in 1954. He was very proud of being Danish, throughout his life he helped spread Danish and Scandinavian culture to the world. One of his major achievements was translating all of Hans Christian Andersens stories to the English language. His translations are still regarded as the best.

Jean Hersholt's home in Hollywood
Jean Hersholt made 443 films, got two honorary Oscars and is one of few who has two stars at the Hollywood walk of fame. One for his contributions to Motion Pictures, the other for his extensive radio work. Jean Hersholt died of pancreatic cancer in 1956, only months after having introduced Dr Christian to TV.

Eleanor Boardman - Photoplay January 1928
Helen von Linden - Eleanor Boardman
Born in Philadelphia 1898 to strict, Presbyterian parents. After graduation from The Academy of Fine Arts in her home town she left for New York hoping for a career on Broadway. When that didn’t work out as expected, she became a model for Kodak. This worked out splendidly and she eventually became the official Kodak Girl. With her face on posters all over the country she was of course hoping for some movie mogul to spot her and take her to Hollywood.

Eleanor Boardman early in her career
After some time as Kodak girl she heard that the Selwyn Organization, a major producer of Broadway plays, was looking for girls with no stage experience. Since she was more than qualified in that respect, she tried out for the job and before she knew it she was in the chorus line of a production called "Rock-a-Bye-Baby" until the show closed three months later. Unfortunately she caught laryngitis and temporarily lost her voice, making it difficult to continue on the stage. It was at this time that a casting director for Goldwyn Pictures hit the Broadway scene looking for new faces. She tested for him and impressed him enough that he finally picked her out of a pool of more than 1000 young girls who tested for the opportunity to go to Hollywood.

Well in Hollywood followed months of fruitless effort until one day Rupert Hughes saw her riding a horse and gave her a part in a film and she quickly began to attract audiences. She was chosen by Goldwyn Pictures as their "New Face of 1922", through which she signed a contract with the company. After several successful supporting roles, she played the lead in 1923's Souls for Sale. Her growing popularity was reflected by inclusion on the list of WAMPAS Baby Stars in 1923. Her contract was renewed in 1924 when Goldwyn merged with Metro and became MGM.

Souls For Sale (1923)
She appeared in fewer than forty films during her career, achieving her greatest success in Vidor's The Crowd in 1928. Her moving performance in that film is widely recognized as one of the outstanding performances in American silent films. She ultimately stayed with MGM until 1932. Boardman retired in 1935, and retreated completely from Hollywood and public life. Her only subsequent appearance was in an interview filmed for the Kevin Brownlow and David Gill documentary series Hollywood in 1980.

With James Murray in The Crowd (1928)
1926-31 Boardman was married to the film director King Vidor, with whom she had two daughters, Antonia born 1927, and Belinda born 1930, just before shooting of Mamba started . In September of 1926 fellow actors John Gilbert and Greta Garbo had planned a double wedding with them, but Garbo broke off the plans at the last minute. Boardman's second husband was Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast to whom she was married from 1940 until his death in 1968. She died in Santa Barbara, California at the age of 93.

Eleanor Boardman and King Vidor
Eleanor Boardman has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to Motion Pictures.
Mamba was her first talkie and the only film she made in color.

Ralph Forbes by Clarence Sinclair Bull (1928)
Lieutenant Karl von Reiden - Ralph Forbes 
There is a lot of confusion about Forbes birth date. The date varies from 1896, 1901 to 1904. According to the Civil registration records in the UK, September 30, 1904 is the correct date. Born in an acting family in London, England. Both his parents and little sister were stage actors so the choice of profession might have been easy for young Ralph. He started his career on stage as a teenager in London. This led to some roles in British films, among them the early color movie His Glorious Adventure, shot in Prizmacolor 1922, and also a Swedish version of Charley's Aunt shot in England and Sweden between 1922-26 before leaving for Hollywood in 1926 to play fellow Englishman Ronald Coleman's brother in the Paramount big budgeter Beau Geste.

Beau Geste (1926)
In 1924 Forbes married the celebrated Broadway actress Ruth Chatterton who was eleven years his senior. The couple settled down in Hollywood and Chatterton soon also made her debut on the silver screen.

Ralph Forbes and Ruth Chatterton
Forbes striking looks made things easy and he got quite important roles almost immediately. He was cast against many of the biggest names right from the start. Norma Shearer, Lon Chaney, Dolores Del Rio, Clara Bow, Corinne Griffith and so on.
Forbes and Clara Bow in Her Wedding Night (1930)
Ralph Forbes was perhaps not one of the bigger names in Hollywood, some might even describe him as an MGM bit player, but considering he made about five films a year throughout the 30's and who he made those films with I think it's fair to call him a true movie star.
Forbes about to hit John Barrymore in the face in 20th Century (1934)
Forbes and Chatterton divorced in 1932. Forbes Movie career basically ended in the early 40's but got some new life with the arrival of TV and the Playhose series. In 1951 Forbes fell ill and passed away far to early, he was 46.

Eleanor Boardman and Jean Hersholt in Mamba
Mamba is a phenomenal early all color talkie that deserves its place in Movie history. Come see for your self and have a chat with me on Monday night at the Astor in Melbourne. Tickets are still on sale!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mamba World Premiere in Melbourne Nov 21

It's not without pride I can announce that Tiffany Pictures 1930 all color triumph Mamba will be shown in public for the first time in about 80 years. This very special event will take place at The Astor Theatre in Melbourne, Australia November 21.

My collaborator Paul Brennan and I will be there in person to present the film together. It was Paul who found the long thought lost nitrate reels in 2009, I then edited the whole thing together into a presentable format. Since 2009, when Mamba was found, the complete soundtrack has been added to the film elements thanks to a kind contribution from the UCLA Film & Television Archives.

With all the different elements in place Mamba is now ready to be properly restored. However, when the opportunity to present the film before a live audience came about, and at such a wonderful place as The Astor we immediately decided to share this remarkable discovery even though it's still a work in progress.

"The Astor was built in the 1930s and still retains the art-deco charm of that period. The theatre is a classic, single-screen cinema with stalls and a dress circle, the overall seating capacity of 1,150 is reduced from the original 1,700 - and the auditorium has the same, soft ambience that you will have enjoyed in the foyers. Beautiful curtains cover the screen - there are no jarring, advertising slides to greet you!

But there is nothing "old-fashioned" about The Astor's facilities. The fully air-conditioned cinema boasts a state-of-the-art sound system and now has Australia's first installation of the superb, Barco 4K Digital Projector which is capable of providing resolution that is up to four times higher than the industry standard." Thus a splendid venue for such an important event.

This is the first of two articles about Mamba, it's importance in film history and more information about the people who made it. The story about how the film was found can be found here.

Mamba is one of the earliest all talking all color features ever made that also survives complete. The use of color throughout an entire talking feature was something completely new in 1929 and for such a small studio as Tiffany it was unheard of. It’s clear Tiffany decided to take a risk with hopes to become a bigger player in the Hollywood studio system. In the fall of 1929 Hollywood was not only a turmoil of sound but also color. Every studio of note was wiring for sound and the bigger players also wanted color in their productions, if only just short sequences.

One should note that at this time only about a dozen Technicolor cameras were available in Hollywood altogether. The studios had to battle to use them and the schedules were tight. The big studios monopolized the color cameras quite thoroughly but Tiffany got lucky, probably by some sort of divine intervention and could shoot an entire feature in color. All color talkies was clearly the next big thing and Tiffany decided to go all in right from the start. They were even planning to take technology a step further and shoot it in 3D according to this article in the Film Daily published Nov 12, 1929

Mamba was shot during approximately 10 weeks, from the end of September to early December 1929. At the time production begun, only two all talking, all color features had been released. Those were two backstage musicals from Warner Bros, On With The Show! released in July and Gold Diggers of Broadway in late August. None of the two have survived intact.

 When production wrapped in December, two more WB musicals were ready for release. The two hour extravaganza The Show Of Shows opening late November and the Jerome Kern operetta Sally starring Marilyn Miller just before Christmas 1929. These two have survived in black and white only, save from short fragments in color.

The fifth all color talkie The Vagabond King from Paramount had its NYC gala premiere late February 1930 (it wasn’t released to the general public until April). It has survived and has been restored by UCLA. Then comes Mamba, released March 10, which makes it the sixth all color talkie ever produced, and the earliest known all color talkie that wasn’t a musical or came from a major studio. It is intact and in quite good shape but it needs to be restored.

Tiffany Pictures was formed in 1921 as an independent production company by silent superstar Mae Murray and her then husband and director Robert Z. Leonard. Probably inspired by United Artists, formed two years earlier by Pickford/Fairbanks/Chaplin/Griffith, Tiffany's main goal was to produce Mae Murray vehicles, distributing them through Metro. After having made eight features together, Mae Murray divorced Leonard and left Tiffany for MGM in 1925. She eventually came back to Tiffany in 1929 to remake her 1922 success Peacock Alley as a talkie. It didn't work out well and Murray's talkie career was more or less over within a year. She sued Tiffany accusing the company having ruined her career. She lost the case and eventually left the movie business. The rest of her life is a mentally unstable, rather sad story. Mae Murray left us in 1965, a year after her last attempt for a come-back at 75. She was the real Norma Desmond.

Mae Murray in The Merry Widow 1925
What happened to Tiffany Pictures right after Murray's departure is somewhat unclear. My guess is that it was in limbo for a while until someone decided to pick up the pieces. There are indications of Tiffany being reformed from the scraps of the MGM merger in 1924. Considering its close relationship with Metro, many redundant people left over from Metro (and Goldwyn) who wasn't transferred to MGM was probably hired by Tiffany. With a new management and a staff of skilled craftsmen the company was ready for big business.

Tiffany is often referred to as a poverty row studio. I'm not sure if the term poverty row is a correct label for a company like Tiffany. I think independent studio would be more suitable. After all, they had their own studio from 1927, The Reliance Majestic Studios which had been the home of DW Griffith. The Birth of a NationIntolerance and Broken Blossoms were all partially or fully shot at the studio.

The Tiffany-Stahl Studio 1929 
Poverty row units normally had to lease facilities, often cameras and other equipment, sets and sometimes even actors from other studios when they wanted to make a picture. The classic poverty row production was generally a poorly funded venture with very unclear distribution. In an era when the bigger studios also owned the major theatre chains, getting an independent picture into movie houses was a challenge. I guess the Tiffany studio may have served as a base for other smaller companies, thus linking it to the poverty row epithet.

With the acquisition of the Reliance Majestic in 1927 came the new boss the MGM director and producer John M. Stahl who stayed in power until 1930 when he sold his interest in Tiffany and became a director at Columbia. I guess Stahl was largely responsible for the "New expanding Tiffany" as it coincides exactly with his time as CEO. Stahl was generally considered a really competent and nice man, liked by both staff and actors.

From August 1929 Tiffany had a very lucrative agreement with RCA. The deal was very straight forward - If a cinema owner agreed to book a block of 26 Tiffany films, RCA would wire the theatre for sound for $2,995, which was a bargain for most managers. By February 1930 no less than 2,460 theaters had signed up for the deal. Tiffany had thus a distribution network, at least for a while.

John M. Stahl
After Stahl left Tiffany in 1930 the company sunk back among the B-players concentrating on westerns, shorts and cheap monkey movies. They finally went out of business in 1932, much because of the ongoing depression, a general lack of funds and a hard time getting their films out to the theaters. According to my sources the main reason for their demise was because "they had no profitable distribution network." So I guess the departure of Stahl also ended the profitable RCA distribution agreement. The studio was sold and the main part of the Tiffany legacy, including most of the original negatives went up in smoke during the filming of Gone With The Wind in 1939.

John M. Stahl later directed several great pictures for Columbia in the 1930's and later for 20th Century Fox, his best known film is the brilliant Technicolor noir Leave Her To Heaven. 1950's melodrama master Douglas Sirk remade no less than three of Stahls pictures from the 30's. Magnificent Obsession is one of them.

My next post will give you more Mamba magic. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Artist (2011)

Just before the holidays I heard about a new film that had had its premiere at the Cannes festival in May. Normally I don't comment on movies made after 1935 but in this case I have to make an exception. French director Michel Hazanavicius new movie The Artist is a silent movie with synchronized score and sound effects and a short scene with dialogue at the end, just like if it was made in 1928. Technically it's thus a part-talkie, but it doesn't stop at that. The story takes place in Hollywood 1927 where swashbuckling film star George Valentin is facing the arrival of the talkies. A film about the transition to talkies naturally has its place on this blog.

Unfortunately I had no possibility to attend the Cannes festival premiere and the movie does not become available to the general public until this fall so I haven't actually seen it yet, but I found this nice review by Sukhdev Sandhu in the online edition of the UK paper The Telegraph.

"Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin, a dashing and rather arrogant actor whose dynamic, swashbuckling roles in films such as A Russian Affair and A German Affair have made him a huge star of the pre-talkie era. But he’s caught off-guard by the arrival of sound: “If that’s the future, you can have it!” His roles dry up, his wife leaves him, and a move into directing doesn’t work out.

All he has left is his Jack Russell terrier and is his memories of the delightfully-named Peppy Miller (Berenice Bojo). She’s the all-smiling, high-stepping would-be actress with whom he’d fallen in love even before her career went into overdrive. They’d never done anything untoward together, but they’ve always looked at each other longingly. Now that he’s seen as “old meat”, now that he’s yesterday’s news, a relic of an abandoned art form, will Peppy still remember him? Does she still carry a flame for him?

The Artist is not a film that thinks it’s superior to the movies it evokes (I was going to use the word 'pastiche', but that seems inappropriate; 'pastiche' sounds cold, a touch heartless - the very opposite of what this is). Hazanavicius has evidently immersed himself in the silent period, seeing in it liberation rather than restriction: he’s in love with its melodramatic intensity, its lack of irony, the importance it places on lighting and photography. Cinematographer Guillaume Schiffman, drawing on deathless classics such as Murnau’s City Girl (1930), makes black and white look wonderfully warm rather than austere. Ludovic Bource’s score is charming and amplified by two exquisitely clever breaks in the film’s otherwise complete eschewal of natural sounds.

Dujardin and Bojo excel together, reining in any desire to compensate for their lack of dialogue by exaggerating the physicality of their roles, and offering up some delightful dance routines too. Hazanavicius himself is wise enough not to stuff the screenplay with lots of dialogue just to placate audiences unused to watching silent; the intertitles are kept to a minimum. By the end, it’s all you can do not to cheer on the seemingly star-crossed lovers and not to sigh about how they don’t make films like this anymore. Except, of course, Hazanavicius just has."

Let's take a look at the trailer. It gives you a good idea of the style. The trailer editor's choice of music is a bit odd though. I don't see why they went for Louis Prima's swing classic Sing Sing Sing written in 1936 instead of a peppy 1928 fox-trot. But I guess you can't have it all. I will definitely watch the movie as soon as I possibly can and I advise all transition geeks to do likewise.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rio Rita - Lost footage found on You Tube

Original promotional material published in Film Daily in July 1929

The other day I got a mail from my friend Brian who told me about a sensational find he had made on You Tube. Someone had decided to upload two fragments from the supposedly lost 1929 version of Rio Rita. To me this is a sensation! Judging from the number of showings it has, not many people have found it yet. There is almost no information about it other than the uploader says the footage comes from a reel of film he found in an estate sale a while ago.

The two snippets Mr McClutching has posted are indeed from the original 1929 version of Rio Rita. The footage is not present in the 1932 re-release version that is in circulation today. The snippets seems to be filmed straight off a screen or a wall but look fantastic nevertheless. The film elements appears to be in almost perfect condition considering its age. The color depth looks amazing, almost too good to be true. Let's take a look at it!

The first snippet comes from the beginning of the movie where Dorothy Lee is introduced with a little number called The Kinkajou. As I understand this was the first musical number in the movie. It has been entirely removed in the 1932 version.

The second clip is a fragment from the latter half of the Sweetheart We Need Each Other reprise aboard the pirate barge. This clip comes from the massive color segment towards the end of the movie.

The beginning of the number and more information about the cut/uncut version of Rio Rita can be found in my previous post about cut musical numbers.

Watching these resurfaced fragments it becomes somewhat easier to understand why this footage was cut in the 1932 version. The most obvious reason was of course the running time. A 105 minute move was (and is) an easier sell than a 140 minute movie. But which scenes could be cut without crippling the plot too much? The easiest way was of course to cut songs as they usually don't move the plot forward. But this must have been difficult since Rio Rita was an operetta. Why was the peppy Kinkajou song cut and other slower songs saved? The Kinkajou was after all a major hit and one of the better known songs from the 1927 Broadway show. My guess is that it has something to do with the performance.

Here's a Ampico piano roll of The Kinkajou published in 1927, recorded by Ferde Grofé

In 1929 talkie musicals were something completely new. Methods of cinematography and sound engineering had not found their final form. The crew that made Rio Rita were pioneers in many ways. They had no recipe, they had to improvise.
In 1932 however the movie musical stood before its second coming. Almost every aspect in moviemaking had evolved incredibly fast during the three years between the two versions. What was groundbreaking in 1929 was not even yesterdays news in 1932.

My guess is that most of the cut material in Rio Rita was considered old-fashioned. Let's face it, Dorothy Lee was adorable in almost every way, but her rendition of The Kinkajou seems a bit clunky and the choreography isn't exactly top notch. The staginess of parading chorus girls walking up and down stairs in the second fragment is very 1929 but had no place in 1932. The 1932 audience was experienced and probably found Rio Rita quite dull even after it had been "modernized". Let's hope these fragments ends up in a complete 1929 version soon. Until then, it feels great knowing they exist and appears to be in great shape.

The 1929 trailer for Rio Rita

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A stolen waltz

In 1929, when the talkies flooded the world, all the musicals produced had to be filled with songs. Naturally all these musicals became a fantastic opportunity for aspiring songwriters to get recognition. Sometimes the songs were brilliant, sometimes not. The music publishers quickly hired songwriters who wrote songs more or less off the cuff. The need for songs seemed never ending. Inspiration wasn't always at hand, so some of the songwriters recycled chord progressions and even parts of melody that had worked before, if only to get a song placed. The songs at this time had to fit the three minute limitation of a record, the radio and now the talkies. Basically, a quite strict template for hit songs was created. This template would be used more or less untouched until the advent of Television and Rock'n'Roll.

Many of the late silents and early talkies indeed included some brilliant songwriting. Many of the songs became evergreens even if the film it was performed in quickly fell into oblivion. One of the most popular types of theme songs in the late 20's was the romantic waltz. Ramona, Diane, Charmaine, Coquette to name a few, almost every film had one. The theme song was often performed throughout the picture in many different versions and styles just to show off how versatile it was. Very often it was even turned into a snappy fox-trot. The goal was of course to induce it as much as possible to get it to stick properly with the audience. It was important to get a hit song. With the increasing output it became more and more difficult to tell which songs would work the best. Sometimes publishers were even lurking outside the theatres just to pick up which songs people were humming when leaving.

The theme song in Our Dancing Daughters in 1928 was no exception to the rule. I Loved You Then As I Love You Now, written by the team Axt-Mendoza-MacDonald is perhaps not well remembered today but it’s still a very efficient song that is very characteristic. There are several 1928 recordings of it so it was definitely a hit back then. Here is the fox-trot rendition of it from the party scene in the movie:

The chorus works rather well as a fox-trot even if it was conceived as a waltz. If we slow down the tempo a bit, change the meter to ¾ and attach the verse, in its original form it sounds like this, performed by Louis Wick:
Our Dancing Daughters was released early September 1928 in the US. It was a silent movie but it had a rather elaborate soundtrack, still not synchronized but it included some off camera dialog.
Now we fast forward about six months. The young Swedish songwriter Jules Sylvain was hired to write some songs for the first Swedish talkie Säg Det I Toner (Say It With Songs) in the summer of 1929. Sylvain had seen The Singing Fool in Berlin late 1928 and immediately understood where it all was heading. According to Sylvain's memoirs the occasion was not only the first time he saw a talkie but also the premiere of talkies in Europe all together. On his return to Stockholm he immediately started lobbying for Swedish talkies. Naturally he saw the opportunity to promote his own songwriting. So when SF, the leading studio finally decided to make a talkie it was quite obvious which composer to hire for the project.

However, Sylvain apparently had trouble finding appropriate songs for the picture. He even admits it in his memoirs. After all he had no experience writing for movies. To get the hang of it he saw as many talkies he possibly could. When shooting was to begin he was over in London where it was much easier to catch a talkie than I Stockholm where only one cinema had installed a Vitaphone system.

This might sound controversial but I think he must have seen Our Dancing Daughters sometime during the summer of 1929 and contrary to the official story he more or less nicked the theme song from it to use in “his” film. Judge for yourself but I think the similarities are apparent.
Sylvain’s theme song to Säg Det I Toner is in the same key, the verse has basically the same melody and the general feel of the songs are very much alike even if the chorus is different in the Swedish song. I'm sure he thought the original was a great waltz and believed he would get a away with murder borrowing parts of it. Actually, I think he did!

Sylvain wasn't the only one who borrowed stuff from fellow composers. Here's another example, not as evident but every time I hear one of these songs I always sing the melody to the other one on top just because it can be done, well almost.

Tip-Toe Through The Tulips With Me (Burke-Dubin) From Gold Diggers Of Broadway (1929)
Performed by Nick Lucas and chorus.

Everyone Says I Love You (Kalmar-Ruby) from Horse Feathers (1932)
Performed by The Marx Bros.

A special thank you to Aubyn/Rachel at The Girl With the White Parasol presenting me with a Stylish Blogger Award!

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