Yes it is a shame about the condition of this print. I should know, it was I who supplied the copy to the BFI !! It was a lost film. It was in the possession of an elderly 35mm film collector from Bradford, Harold Frost. (Amongst many other titles he also had a print of the companion title, SOFT LIGHTS AND SWEET MUSIC which I also supplied to the BFI).
Harold had a tiny 4-seater 35mm cinema in the cellar of his back to back house in Halifax Road. I first met him through a friend in about 1965. We got in the habit of visiting him on Tuesday evenings and he would screen a film, and of course CALLING ALL STARS was one of those. The print was on highly inflammable nitrate stock, and Harold stored them in 1000ft cans (about 10 minutes screen time). They had little if any leaders and tails and of course over many years the ends of the reels got shorter, losing a frame or two every time! This explains the jump cuts and wear/damage near the end of each reel. (Although in general the rest is excellent). One day I asked him why he did not store them on 2000ft reels and the answer was: he simply didn't have any cans that size!! Of course I then supplied him with some and from then on at least his films ran for 20 minutes! Eventually he died and I purchase most of his collection, from his daughter. I heard that the BFI needed this film (and SOFT LIGHTS) and offered it to them free in return for new safety prints, to which they agreed. That is how they got this wonderful musical and as has been said, better it is not perfect than not at all. I am pretty sure that the nitrate print was the last existing copy (though the film exists on 9.5mm sound).
I still of course possess the safety prints which are amongst the pride of my collection. That by the way is the reason for the Bentleyfilms logo at the head of the film.
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