• Brigette Cook Jones

An Interesting Conversation


I attended the unveiling of a James Whitcomb Riley mural on the old Southside of Indianapolis on Sunday, June 28th - and ran into this gentleman - Eric Grayson, film historian and restorer at that event.

I had corresponded with Eric several years ago about a variety of things - one being the "Little Orphant Annie" film of 1918. This film features Colleen Moore in the lead role, and also has clips of the Hoosier Poet himself, James Whitcomb Riley - telling her story. I have a DVD version of this film; however, after doing some research and talking with Eric - I know that the version that I have is very cut-up and incomplete.

I was introduced to him as someone I might be interested in talking with as far as early film, etc. Of course, I recognized the name immediately, and said - yes - I knew who he was. We had corresponded one time about the Selig Polyscope 1918 film, "Little Orphant Annie." He was thrilled to finally meet me - and he had some exciting news on that particular film. He showed me an image of some nitrate film in a canister in questionable condition. He said that this was an original copy of the 1918 film - and while some was not in good shape - for the most part - it was.

The DVD that I have is 58 minutes in length; however, Mr. Grayson says that this film is over 100 minutes long. So we know that a lot has been cut from the original print for the DVD. Grayson said that this copy of the movie is in the Library of Congress - and he has been given permission to restore it and make a modern copy. He believes that there are extant pieces of the film elsewhere to be able to splice into the bad parts of this film. Plus - he said that the images are still good, clear and bright.

I of course was thrilled to hear this - and he said that he would love to come to Greenfield to do a presentation of the film after it has been restored. He would bring a projector - and all we would need to provide would be a location. Of course - the H. J. Rick Center in Greenfield would be the perfect place - and it seats over 300 people.

I knew that the DVD was a chopped up job - because I had corresponded with Jeff Codori, who had written a biography on Colleen Moorie. He actually emailed me copies of some of the papers that he got from the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on the "Little Oprhant Annie" film. Those papers show there was much more script to the film than what appears on the DVD.

I am very excited to find out about this restoration - and who knows this may shed some further light on the evolution of the Little Orphant Annie character.


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