Yesterday I wrote about my fascination with lost films–movies of the 20s and 30s that have vanished into the ether seemingly with no explanation. The truth is that most movies of the time were considered largely disposable after their initial run in theaters and little effort was made to preserve them. One of the greatest losses of this kind is ‘Paris’, a 1929 American pre-code musical with songs by Cole Porter, featuring Irene Bordoni. It was filmed with Technicolor sequences–four of the film’s ten reels were originally photographed in Technicolor. Only fragment film elements of Paris are known to exist but the entire soundtrack does exist, due to the fact that the movie was shot and recorded on the early Vitaphone disc system (the soundtrack was on large records that were synced to the projector). One of the missions of The Vitaphone Project has been to search out discs that exist for lost films and hopefully marry them to ‘mute’ films that have been looking for their poor, long lost discs for decades.
The film was adapted from Cole Porter’s first Broadway show of the same name. Though the score contained some forgettable early Porter tunes (‘Don’t Look At Me That Way’, ‘Babes in the Woods’) it also introduced the eternal ‘Let’s Do It’. Above is the only known surviving fragment of the movie version.