Sidney Drew (US 1915)

A cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for. Henry Newlywed sends a note to his wealthy Aunt Becky, and in his attempt at being diplomatic towards his aunt he manages to put his newlywed wife down. The wife sees the note and not only adds a few lines to it, but gives Henry a taste of what he seemingly wanted, which of course provides the comedy.
This was another of the films that came to USC through the Christopher Bird Collection. It was in varying stages of disrepair – not because Bird or even Ian Maxted had treated them poorly, but because someone 100 years ago had. They were heavily spliced, with extensive edge damage. One of the most interesting and telltale signs of splices being that old are how clean or messy they are. Since not every projectionist in the early days had a fully stocked state-of-the-art booth with union-standardized equipment, they often were forced to improvise. This sometimes meant making splices without any device that could ensure precision. In the case of
Diplomatic Henry this meant scraping two entire frames and sticking them together. This may have ensured a very durable join, but it unfortunately ruined two full frames at every splice point. They all needed to be replaced, since trying to run them through even a sprocketless machine would ensure an unpleasant result, not only where the two images’ information had been scraped away, but the thickness of multiple frames after the join would send the film wildly out of focus, causing the printer or scanning sensor to do its best to adjust as quickly as possible.

This restoration is actually still a work-in-progress, since we ultimately intend to return this to film once we finalize the digital clean-up and main-title re-creation. There is always a fine line between wanting to do the best possible job and making sure that you spread limited resources as far as they will go. We are constantly faced with this dilemma at USC; certain projects can take years. Not an ideal situation, but as a small university-based archive we have a limited annual budget, and a tiny staff. My full-time cataloguer is the only other regular employee, so I often get pulled in a million directions at once: my daily work resembles that of a butterfly darting from flower to flower.

Dino Everett

regia/dir: Sidney Drew.
cast: Sidney Drew (Enrico Oggisposi/Henry Newlywed), Mrs. Sidney Drew [Lucille McVey] (La signora Oggisposi/Mrs. Newlywed), Florence Natol (La zia Becky/Aunt Becky).
prod: Vitagraph.
uscita/rel: 19.11.1915.
copia/copy: DCP, 13′ (da/from 35mm, 900 ft., 20 fps; orig. 1000 ft.); did./titles: ENG.
fonte/source: Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive, University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, Los Angeles.