Worcester native Ed Rorso has quietly made a name for himself since embarking on new projects after retiring from a career that included college professor and author.
In addition to restoring abandoned silent films and producing them for DVD, he is busy selling them to organizations such as Turner Classic Movies and showing the films at various venues and festivals.
Lorso, now living in Belgrade, Maine, and a film historian and composer, is 22 years old to fund his latest restoration project, Ruth’s Awakening, a 1917 film starring Shirley Mason. We launched our second Kickstarter campaign on our online crowdsourcing platform on January 1st with a goal of $3,000. rice field. Lorusso is working on restoring the film and plans to announce another of his Kickstarter projects in the spring.
“Ruth’s Awakening” takes place on a “fictional island off the coast of Massachusetts,” Rorso said. I’m here. Her father, Ruth, died and her pastor and doctor sent her to New York City to visit her and study her music. However, she “will have romantic complications.”
Brooklyn native Mason (1901-1979) starred in more than 100 silent films, but you probably don’t hear her name these days.
Marion Davies (1897-1961) may be a more familiar name. She was a silent film actress who also made some of her early sound films and was also the mistress of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.
Lorso restored nine of Davies’ silent films and wrote a book called The Silent Films of Marion Davies.
Throughout January, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) honored Davis as “Star of the Month” for the first time. The screening will also include three of Davis’s films that Lorso had restored and sold to his TCM: ‘Beautysworth’ and ‘The Bride’s Play’ (both 1922 productions) and ‘Little Old New York’ (1923). )contained. The movie was released on January 3/4.
“Little Old New York” will also screen at the Kansas Silent Film Festival in Topeka on February 25, paying homage to the 100-year-old film.
Lorso, meanwhile, helped rescue the 1919 US romantic drama film Valley of the Giants, starring Wallace Reed and Grace Darmond. This story of a lumberman fighting to save a sequoia has not been widely seen for over 100 years. The film was thought lost until a print was found in his Gosfilmofond archives in Moscow in 2010, but was recently re-released with the title translated from Cyrillic.
LoRusso’s restoration is set to premiere at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles on February 11th.
He noted that Reed, the number one box office star of the day, was injured in a train accident while filming “Valley of the Giants” and was put on morphine for pain so he could continue. . By the time filming ended, he was addicted. He died from complications of poisoning on January 18, 1923, 100 years before him.
Lorso has been restoring silent films since 2014.
His restorations include composing and hiring composers to write and perform scores, and even design the covers for the DVD versions. Almost all of his projects are available on disc from Grapevine Video and Undercrank Productions.
Lorusso holds bachelor’s and graduate degrees from the University of Maine and a Ph.D. in Contemporary American Literature from the University of New Mexico. He has taught contemporary American and English literature at the University of Maine, the University of New Mexico, and Trinidad State Junior College in Colorado. He then moved to Los Angeles, New Mexico where he worked as a Technical His Rising at Alamos National Laboratory, where he managed several outreach teaching groups before retiring and returning to Maine.
But his personal journey began in Worcester, where he was born and raised. He was Doherty’s first graduate of his Memorial High School in 1967. Lorso attended Classic High School, but it closed the previous year, so he moved to the new Doherty High School where he was in his senior year.
Lorusso has a brother who lives in Oxford, and he keeps in touch with former classmates on the Doherty High School Facebook page, but other than that, he doesn’t have much contact locally.
“The last time I drove through Worcester, I didn’t even recognize it,” he said. Everything is no longer school.
After graduating from Doherty High School, he worked for the Evening Gazette (now part of the Telegram & Gazette) as an office messenger for a year, attended what was then Worcester State University (now Worcester State University), and then moved to Maine.
“It was an eye opener,” he said of the Evening Gazette and characters such as late editor Kenneth J. Botti.
It was also remarkable how Loruso discovered the world of silent films.
America’s silent feature film era lasted from 1912 to about 1929, with nearly 11,000 feature films made, of which over 70% were completely lost and considered lost forever.
“They are lovely little stories. They’re beautifully photographed. And it’s fascinating to see what the world looked like in 1917,” he said of the many talked about the movie.
On location (many of the films were shot outdoors), you often see dirt roads and farms, he said. “It’s interesting to see what the world looked like at that point.”
“Valley of the Giants” was filmed in Northern California. “This is an incredibly pristine wild countryside with no roads. It’s a world long ago. Everything is accessible now, but there were a lot of places that were really off the beaten path.
He pointed out that in movies shot in cities such as New York City, you can see what the city was like and the clothes people wore there. Dialogue intertitles “give us clues to language usage. Everything is completely different,” he says Lorusso.
Other works by Richard Duckett:Cirque du Soleil’s Delightfully Artistic ‘Corteo’ Comes to DCU Center
Other works by Richard Duckett:Calliope Productions Hosts Fundraiser for Students Fighting Cancer
Of the film’s merits, he said, “The film was incredible at the time. You have to accept the era in which it was made.”
“One thing about silent films is you don’t depend on anything else, so they had to have a good story.
Even the drama had a sense of humor, Lorso said, and was full of broad topics and storylines, such as the use of Ouija boards and the supernatural.
In “Little Old New York,” Lorso said Marion Davies plays a woman who has to dress up and pretend to be her brother in order to inherit money. “It’s comedy, but it says a lot about what power perception is.”
Lorusso finds and purchases digitally preserved silent films in the Public Domain Archives of the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress has the largest collection of American silent feature films in the world.
Initially, he restored the film at his own expense. “Then he found Kickstarter. I was told to run a project on Kickstarter. I would receive money up front to make his DVD of the movie,” he said.
His first KickSarter project was the 1921 Marion Davies film Enchantment.
“I did it on purpose,” he said. Then someone dared him to send the restored film to his TCM. “Done.” TCM purchased. Overall, five of his films have been bought by and air on TCM. His Marion Davies movie starring in this month’s ‘Star of the Month’ was previously screened by TCM.
After purchasing the film from the Library of Congress, Lorusso downloads the digital file and works within the digital scan of the film.
“I don’t deal with ‘film’ film,” he said, but there are conservators and restorers who do.
Restoring the film “could take a lot of work,” he said. The films he works on can be in “incredibly clean” condition, or they can be damaged.
Opening credits can be lost, but if lost or corrupted, Lorusso can create new credits and even add intertitles throughout the film. According to Lorusso, there are programs for digital work that may not have been designed with silent films in mind but work well in the restoration process. You can control it. If the film has been tinted and has lost its tint, Lorusso can re-tin the film.
As a composer, he can write scores and record music to accompany films. He also commissions composers on several projects.
“I got the digital files back[with the music]and they’re there,” he said of the DVD-ready restored film.
“The movies I want to see aren’t made by big distributors,” Rorso said. “Films are coming out like never before. Otherwise they would have been in the archives.”
The Kickstarter sums he asks for projects are usually modest (around $3,000, but they usually bring in about double), but get films from the Library of Congress, technical editing, Helps in acquiring composers and paying for other matters. Materials related to DVD production.
He’s become well known for his work, and “I have a backer for the project,” Lorusso said.
Kickstarter backers get a professional hardcopy film version of the project.
Lorso also collaborated with David Weiss at the Northeast Historic Film Archive in Bucksport, Maine, as part of a collection of surviving films shot by Edgar Jones and Holman in the Augusta area in 1919-21. I’m getting new digital scans of old Maine movies. day (only 6 survive). These may be screened at film festivals in the future, Lorso said.
“It’s amazing how many silent films have been made in New England,” he said.
The island off Massachusetts in “Ruth’s Awakening” was actually an island off Maine, he said.
1917 was a “breakthrough year” for Mason. Her career ended with the emergence of sound. On her Kickstarter page for “The Awakening of Ruth,” Mason wrote, “Made her debut all-her talkie starring in a low-budget film from Biltmore Productions called ‘Dark Skies.'”‘. There was no mention of her having a bad voice, but the reviews were terrible. ”
Although Davies’ career continued well into the sound era, Lollso’s Silent Films of Marion Davies is a detailed chronology of the 30 silent films in which she appeared.
“‘Citizen Kane’ ruined her career,” Lorso said of Orson Welles’ 1941 film widely believed to be based on Hearst. people thought the character Susan Alexander Kane was Davis.
Loruso, impressed by what he saw in Davis’ performance, sought to bring her back into the public eye in his film restoration.
But now, in terms of movie rights and availability, “I basically ran to the end of what I could do with her movie.”
But it’s clearly not the end of what Lorso is doing with silent films.
“I was hooked. There are always new people to discover,” he said.
“But nothing was filmed in Worcester,” he said, to the best of his knowledge.