Film of Hank Williams and other early fifties country stars has been discovered in San Diego California. Thanks to Marvin Kaplansky for the heads up on this release on UPI and story at Country Standard Time.
This is a tremendous find. It has always been a strange twist of history that although Hank Williams lived in the age of film, there is almost no visual record of Hank Williams in performance, at least none that is generally available to the public.
The best known video is on You Tube and comes from Hank’s appearances along with other Grand Old Opry stars on the Kate Smith show in March and April 1952.
I’ve always been amazed that such fantastic film of Jimmie Rodgers who died in 1933 is available. This is because he made a sort film for Columbia Pictures, a movie short as they called them. His brilliance as a guitarist, singer, writer and performer are all on display today. Marty Robbins, Lefty Frizzell, Hank Snow, Webb Pierce and other country stars are available from TV shows which were filmed some in brilliant colour in the 1950’s after Hank’s death.
Like the Mother’s Best radio releases over the last two years these new films when released will become a major event in the Hank Williams’ story.
It looks like Reelin in the Years Productions which controls the footage is a really a top of the line organization specializing in re releasing and licensing vintage film of music stars from the early years. Their products look as if they are very tastefully and carefully made.
Thank goodness the film, which was made by John Banks of California radio station KRDU, was rescued from the garage of his widow. When you think of how most of us deal with stuff that’s been stored in an old shed or garage, it a miracle these films have been found and restored and not thrown away and lost forever.
And as I said, it seems that they are in good hands with the Reelin in the Years company.
We’ll wait for a release, just as we had to for the Mother’s Best Box Sets, but let’s hope it’s not quite as long. Gives us something to look forward to!
If anyone has more information on this find, especially as it relates to Hank Williams, please give us a shout.
I guess the enthusiasm I unleashed in the above article based on the releases I linked to above may have been somewhat over the top. According to information on Robert Ackerman’s email newsletter, the film may not be as long as indicated, and does not have sound. It’s still a wait and see since there hasn’t been much from Reelin in the Years.
But until we get more facts wee’ll have to keep lamenting the sorry lack of live performance material featuring Hank Williams with sound!!
Although ‘Reelin’ has an impressive catalogue of DVD’s of vintage artists for sale, this footage will apparently be available for licensing only.
Here’s another version of the story from Antimusic.