It’s been reported on the Classic Horror Film Board that Ron Hutchinson, a film aficionado, has announced that the lost Three Stooges short Hello Pop (1933) has been discovered. It is a complete Technicolor print of the MGM Colortone short subject that was believed lost when the only known print was destroyed in the infamous MGM vault fire. On May 13, 1967, an electrical fire erupted in vault #7 the MGM studio in Culver City, CA. Hundreds of films were destroyed, most of which are now “lost”. Some are surely waiting to be rediscovered somewhere but, realistically, most of those films will never be seen again. Hello Pop is in need of restoration, which Ned Price at Warner Brothers has confirmed will happen. Following the 2008 discovery of a more complete print of Metropolis (1927), this has renewed hopes that other “lost” films will eventually be discovered.
For comedy fans, there’s no denying that Hello Pop and The Rogue Song (1930), starring Laurel and Hardy, were at the top of the wish list. There is evidence that The Rogue Song was copied, dubbed and sent to Russia at one point. Hats Off (1927), another lost Laurel and Hardy short, is also among many fans wish lists. It was very successful upon its release and helped established the boys as box office gold. While it is more likely that someone will eventually find it as it was filmed on a more stable black and white film stock, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that The Rogue Song could someday turn up in someone’s basement in downtown Moscow. This discovery of Hello Pop is proof that it could happen.
For horror fans, there are two holy grails that are usually at the top of the wish list. First, London After Midnight (1927), also destroyed in the MGM fire. In 2002, Turner Classic Movies used film stills to partially reconstruct this Lon Chaney classic. While well received from horror fans everywhere, all it really did was just whet the appetite of those who want to see the original in its entirety. The Cat Creeps (1930) is another “lost” classic that doesn’t get quite as much press. It is a sound remake of the 1927 silent film. However, some people believe it would be better than London After Midnight as some early reviews of the Chaney film were less than stellar. There are always rumors of a print of these films existing here or there. I personally believe they do exist but are either sitting in a personal collection of someone with no desire to share it or that a person may have a copy and not even realize the entire film community is looking for them.
The recent discovery of radio episodes of The Shadow is further proof that “lost” gems are just waiting to resurface. These 11 radio episodes weren’t only lost, nobody knew they even aired. Yet there they sat for some 70 years in the vault of a former Goodrich tire executive. Listening to those episodes has taken me back to the late 70s when I first discovered old time radio, listening to Shadow records in the dark with my dad. I for one am now anxiously waiting to add Hello Pop to my “complete” Three Stooges collection. It’s moments like these that being a film collector are beyond exciting.