"Little Mickey Grogan" Restoration
Made by FBO before financier Joseph Kennedy sold the studio to RKO in 1928/1929, "Little Mickey Grogan" is a 60-minute feature centered on a pair of street children (Frankie Darro and Ahern) who are taken in by a generous woman (Jobyna Ralston), as they, in turn, try to help a penniless blind architect (Carroll Nye) recover his sight. Meanwhile, when not dodging the police, they put on lively street shows with "Our Gang" regular Ernest “Sunshine Sammy” Morrison, allowing the young stars to showcase their accomplished dance and acrobatic skills with infectious dynamism and zest.
A number of important aspects related to the film make it worth saving. Besides the idea of rescuing a silent film that would otherwise not be restored, they include the fact that it comes from a minor studio (FBO) from which few movies survive today. In addition, it marked the first time in which Frankie Darro, an actor whose career would continue to the 1970s, was given the opportunity to star in a picture where he quickly emerged as one of the studio’s top draws. In addition, the work of co-writer Dorothy Yost, one of many female scriptwriters of the silent era, has been the object of feminist analysis, as evidenced by her inclusion in the valuable Women Film Pioneers Project. Historically and culturally, too, the appearance of Ernest Morrison, the first African-American performer ever to land a contract in Hollywood, adds further value, especially because it was one of the rare occasions during the silent era in which he acted in a role that was not part of the Our Gang franchise. Finally, there’s the unique situation in which the film’s lead female performer, Lassie Lou Ahern, is still with us, and would dearly love to see "Little Mickey Grogan" restored before she passes.
In March, 2015, there was a successful GoFundMe campaign to raise money to obtain a digital copy of the print from Paris, as well as to pay an entertainment lawyer to do due diligence in determining the holder of the film’s copyright. Forty-nine individuals contributed $1,610 toward these ends. In this second, and final, crowdsourcing campaign, monies will be raised to complete the restoration in every aspect, including a planned screening of the film at Pordenone in Fall, 2017.
Here’s an itemized cost breakdown regarding the budget for what promises to be a quality restoration:
Contrast correction: $250
Dirt removal: $1,250
Titles rearted and reinserted: $125
A film out: $4,000
Music Score: $3,000
Travel cost to Pordenone : $5,000
3% GoFundMe processing fee on $15,000: $450
Unexpected cost overruns and/or emergency costs: $500
What can contributors expect to find in the finished Lobster Films dvd of "Little Mickey Grogan"? Well, besides the restored film, there will also a bonus track featuring an informative 50 minute interview with Lassie Lou Ahern, talking about her gorgeous career in silent pictures. In addition, there will also be Criterion Collection-style liner notes about the film that locate the film culturally, historically, and aesthetically within its time period. And, what’s more, everyone who contributes to this project will, like those who donated to the March, 2015 GoFundMe, see their names featured in the closing credits as those who made this restoration possible.
Working on this project besides Serge Bromberg and Lobster Films is well-known restorationist Eric Grayson.
Producing this work is Jeffrey Crouse, a film historian at Nevada State College, who is has written extensively on Lassie Lou Ahern and Diana Serra Cary.
Please help us save and preserve "Little Mickey Grogan" for future generations.
Step 1 , that of stabilizing each frame of "Little Mickey Grogan's" six reels is complete, and now this restoration has moved to Step 2. This second stage, a most important one, involves cleaning up the image by removing dirt and scratches found on this 90-year old film. For this part of the process, we've hired a top specialist in this field, Thad Komorowski. Here's some information about him, courtesy of his web page:
"Thad Komorowski is a lifelong devotee to the arts and sciences, be it through his work as a journalist, reporter, restoration artist, or animation historian. Whether you need thought-provoking commentary, a cultural news piece, a snappy new comic, or a stunning film restoration, Thad K. is your one-man answer.
Always expert, critical, and analytical, Thad spent several years of research working on his first book, Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story, which was published in 2013 and garnered unanimous praise from critics, artists, and fans alike. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Ithaca College and a Master’s from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Currently he wears a variety of hats: you can hear his arts and entertainment reports regularly on WBGO News (88.3 FM, Newark), see his digital restoration work on upcoming classic film Blu-Ray releases (including the Criterion Collection), and read his scripts in the IDW Publishing line of Disney comic books."
For more information about him and his work, see: http://www.thadkomorowski.com/
This restoration/preservation process only works with the best, and I appreciate that Thad, with his busy and demanding schedule, is part of what we're doing!
Say, as this is the close for the 2016 tax year, I want to make a pitch regarding those who might be interested to contribute to this restoration. Lassie is thrilled that her movie restoration/preservation dream is out of the station and proceeding at an impressive clip. If you haven't made a donation to this worthy endeavor, please consider doing so.
All best to everyone,