A few weeks ago, the restored print of the 1924 film ROARING RAILS had its premiere at the Capitol Theatre in Rome, New York as part of the 30th Cinefest Film Festival. Viewing the finished film on the screen in a 1928 movie palace with live organ accompaniment by Dr. Philip C. Carli— and a very appreciative audience— was a satisfying conclusion to a job that we had been working on for over a year.
The starting point of our restoration was the nitrate print repatriated from Holland, which had Dutch intertitles. Since no known script exists, we had 2006 Selznick School graduate Elisa Mutsaers, a resident of The Hague, do the translation of the titles for us. After creating the new English language titles, new color prints (which replicate the tints in the nitrate print) were made at the Haghefilm laboratories in Amsterdam. Any time new preservation materials are made, we look at them on flatbed viewers down in the Motion Picture Department for quality control. We then ran ROARING RAILS at a preservation screening in the Dryden Theatre for the Selznick School students. We never play any music when watching a silent film at preservation screenings, which sometimes makes for a dull screening.
Scenes from the 1924 film ROARING RAILS, starring Harry Carey
Finally seeing it at Cinefest with music and an audience really brought it to life. Many people at the screening commented on how good it looked and what a fun film it was. I’m glad I was able to be there and be part of a special afternoon.
Anthony L'Abbate is a preservation officer in the Motion Picture Department. Some of the films he has worked on are HUCKLEBERRY FINN; ROARING RAILS and FLOWER OF DOOM. He also created new English language titles for repatriated American silent films.