Minor question about Paramount still codes

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mndean

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Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostFri Apr 13, 2012 4:39 pm

I found some stills of a Paramount production released as Only Saps Work. Many of them show a still code of 816, yet I find a few others from the same production with a still code of 1280. I know I need to get the reference books you've been kind enough to recommend to understand this, but curiosity has gotten me to ask the reason for this.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostFri Apr 13, 2012 5:29 pm

Because the east coast (New York) office had one production number, and the west coast (Los Angeles) office had a different production number. Yes, it is confusing as heck! To make things more complicated, Artcraft film codes, which were really just expensive Paramount films, might start with "A", and "New Art" Paramount films by Dorothy Gish start with an "ART".

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Here's Raymond Griffith and Helene Costello in Wet Paint, a Paramount film from 1926, still code 918.

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And here they are in the same costumes for the same film, still code 598.
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mndean

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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostFri Apr 13, 2012 7:12 pm

Thanks! To have different production number sequences for productions filmed in the East or West, I could see that, but for the stills as well? That's something which never would occur to me. Now I can see why such deciphering was not easy, sort of like deciphering the codes on record pressings.

Shame about Wet Paint, the reviews I've read on release make me sorry it's not around.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostSat Apr 14, 2012 12:36 pm

silentfilm wrote:Because the east coast (New York) office had one production number, and the west coast (Los Angeles) office had a different production number. Yes, it is confusing as heck! To make things more complicated, Artcraft film codes, which were really just expensive Paramount films, might start with "A", and "New Art" Paramount films by Dorothy Gish start with an "ART".


In addition, there are F codes, L codes, and M codes. Films released through Realart can have codes from the stars' names such as BD for Bebe Daniels, MAC for May McAvoy and MMM for Mary Miles Minter and apparently also R codes (though I don't think I have seen the latter). Films from independent producers releasing through Paramount may have different types of codes. This is more common in the sound period where, for example, Walter Wanger's productions have WW codes as well as Paramount numerical codes. But an example I have from the silent period is The Mating Call which has code M.C. as well as numerical code 1150. And I am probably leaving some more out.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostWed Apr 25, 2012 8:03 pm

Derek B. wrote:
silentfilm wrote:Because the east coast (New York) office had one production number, and the west coast (Los Angeles) office had a different production number. Yes, it is confusing as heck! To make things more complicated, Artcraft film codes, which were really just expensive Paramount films, might start with "A", and "New Art" Paramount films by Dorothy Gish start with an "ART".


In addition, there are F codes, L codes, and M codes. Films released through Realart can have codes from the stars' names such as BD for Bebe Daniels, MAC for May McAvoy and MMM for Mary Miles Minter and apparently also R codes (though I don't think I have seen the latter). Films from independent producers releasing through Paramount may have different types of codes. This is more common in the sound period where, for example, Walter Wanger's productions have WW codes as well as Paramount numerical codes. But an example I have from the silent period is The Mating Call which has code M.C. as well as numerical code 1150. And I am probably leaving some more out.


This really is a morass! I found the P coded pictures which I assume to be publicity shots of stars and featured players (each with their own number, right?), and don't appear to have connection to any particular films. Then those with Fash. which I assume are fashion shots, but no clue about connections to any particular film (my uneducated guess is no). Also, the Richee and Dyar photos that crop up for Paramount players need no explanation.

One I have a question is those with a P.G.P code. I found a shot of Paramount-era Jean Arthur with that code online and don't get it. Yes, I googled, but got nary a good hit.

I think I've gotten about as far as I can go without a book.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostWed Apr 25, 2012 11:22 pm

I believe that stands for Paramount General Publicity. Yes, each star had their own code.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 8:36 am

missdupont wrote:I believe that stands for Paramount General Publicity. Yes, each star had their own code.


Interesting. I found a few more of those similarly coded, and the players seem to be in costume, rather than fashions of the era.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 9:41 am

missdupont wrote:I believe that stands for Paramount General Publicity. Yes, each star had their own code.


Our Beloved Preceptress was P484:
http://nitanaldi.com/wp-content/uploads ... t-1-sm.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank

Here's what looks like a costume test shot from Blood and Sand, do you know what the last numbers on the code stand for, 2/87?
http://nitanaldi.com/wp-content/uploads ... t-2-sm.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 10:30 am

Frederica wrote:
missdupont wrote:I believe that stands for Paramount General Publicity. Yes, each star had their own code.


Our Beloved Preceptress was P484:
http://nitanaldi.com/wp-content/uploads ... t-1-sm.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

Here's what looks like a costume test shot from Blood and Sand, do you know what the last numbers on the code stand for, 2/87?
http://nitanaldi.com/wp-content/uploads ... t-2-sm.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank


Thanks for confirming something for me, I thought those shots with the slash numbering were costume tests for the films indicated.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 10:32 am

I believe 2 means scene 2 and 87 means the 87th still shot.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 10:59 am

missdupont wrote:I believe 2 means scene 2 and 87 means the 87th still shot.


So that's not a costume shot? it's a scene still? I guess a short primer on the types of photos generated for publicity purposes would come in handy.
Fred
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 11:12 am

The Paramount stills that I have with a still code consisting of the production number and two other numbers separated by a slash seem to all be production/publicity photos that don't necessarily represent a scene from the film.

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This still of Frank Tuttle directing Raymond Griffith and Vera Veronina from Time To Love has a code of "1070-2/1".

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This still of Raymond Griffith and a bevy of extras from Wedding Bill$ has a code of "1053-2/2".

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This still of Raymond Griffith and explorer Richard Byrd is definitely an on-set still from Wedding Bills. Code "1053-2/4A".

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This production still shows visitors to the set of Hands Up, with director Clarence Badger standing on the left,
Raymond Griffith standing center, and Noble Johnson in Native American headdress. Code "840-2/2A".

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Griffith hands out candy to the extras on the set of Wet Paint. Code "918-2/1".
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 11:37 am

For most studios, the first number is the scene number and the second is the still number for the number of stills shot on the film. That's how the Herrick has stills organized, particularly for MGM titles.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 11:39 am

missdupont wrote:That's how the Herrick has stills organized


Still gotta get out there and see what they got!!
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 11:44 am

silentfilm wrote:The Paramount stills that I have with a still code consisting of the production number and two other numbers separated by a slash seem to all be production/publicity photos that don't necessarily represent a scene from the film.

Image
This still of Frank Tuttle directing Raymond Griffith and Vera Veronina from Time To Love has a code of "1070-2/1".


Aside: I believe that's Hollenbeck Park Lake (formerly Eastlake Park). Now back to your scheduled still code discussion.
Fred
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 12:36 pm

I'm beginning to suspect that still code format for films isn't quite so straightforward. I still haven't seen a slash code that doesn't start 2/, which is a major point. Off the top of my head, is it possible that the 2/ code was given to shots taken which wouldn't be used to promote the film? There's one of Mary Brian in a dress she wore in the film in The Marriage Playground coded with that film's number which has a slash code, and one with a dress she did not wear in Only Saps Work which also is similarly coded. Both look like costume tests. There's one from Only The Brave which doesn't appear slash coded (can't tell for sure, the resolution is not good), but has William Powell in evening dress in it, while Cooper and Brian are in costume.

Did I just open a can of worms?
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 12:45 pm

There are photos of Cecil B. DeMille the same way, and obviously he's not posing for costume stills.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 3:16 pm

silentfilm wrote:The Paramount stills that I have with a still code consisting of the production number and two other numbers separated by a slash seem to all be production/publicity photos that don't necessarily represent a scene from the film.

My experience is the same as Bruce's. I think that at Paramount an NNN - 2/N code can be any publicity still related to film NNN that is not a scene still. It may be a candid, a gag shot, a costume shot, etc.

One other thing to note is that at least initially at Paramount (and later at RKO during the sound era), for the same still with different prefixes the suffix is often not the same. This can be seen in stills that have both codes on them. Here is an example of a Paramount still for The Great Impersonation (1921) I provided for Bruce's site with 385-93 and L382-105 codes.
Image
I am almost certain that a little later on for Paramount the suffix would always be the same with both prefixes.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 4:10 pm

Derek B. wrote:
silentfilm wrote:The Paramount stills that I have with a still code consisting of the production number and two other numbers separated by a slash seem to all be production/publicity photos that don't necessarily represent a scene from the film.

My experience is the same as Bruce's. I think that at Paramount an NNN - 2/N code can be any publicity still related to film NNN that is not a scene still. It may be a candid, a gag shot, a costume shot, etc.


This seems to be more consistent to what I'm seeing and would make sense as exhibitors would want scene stills to sell the film, but some, with the principals in costume could also have promotion value for the exhibitor. For example, there are some Only Saps Work stills (no slash) which do not correspond to a particular scene, just comic posing with the principals. That Only The Brave still I found with Wm. Powell not having that 2/n code is more unusual, as Powell is not in the film. I did a bit of "enhancement" with the photo trying to tease out a hidden slash number, and still only see 781-2 (yes, that 2 is what made me wonder if I was missing something). If it was a still I found on ebay as I think it was, and it's still listed, I guess I ought to ask the seller about the number.

I'm unaware of policy regarding stills here, which is why I'm not putting up any I grabbed for my personal research.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 4:26 pm

mndean wrote:I'm unaware of policy regarding stills here, which is why I'm not putting up any I grabbed for my personal research.


No problem to post them, although they need to be hosted off-site.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 4:48 pm

MGM had general publicity codes that include MGM, MGMP, MP, MG, etc. These could be for films, people, theatres, subjects, places, etc.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 4:50 pm

William Powell could have been in the picture, and then his part was cut or reshot. A great example of this is TIDE OF EMPIRE, in which some scenes were shot with Joan Crawford, and there are stills for that, but then it was recast with Pola Negri, and there are those stills. There are often photos for scenes that are cut from films as well, so you can track the development and editing processes of a film.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 5:22 pm

Derek B. wrote:I think that at Paramount an NNN - 2/N code can be any publicity still related to film NNN that is not a scene still. It may be a candid, a gag shot, a costume shot, etc.

In the Production Photos topic we had here a couple of years ago I showed these photos with Paramount -2/N codes: director and main actors of Are Parents People? and gag still of Bebe Daniels and the LA County Prohibition Chief for Feel My Pulse.

Re P-NNNN codes for Paramount actors, note that an actor who returned to Paramount after an extended absence could apparently get a new code on their return. I am sure Gloria Swanson got a new code at the time of Sunset Blvd. And in the early 1930s Pauline Frederick had code P1387, in the same range as P1396 for Cary Grant and P1400 for George Raft, but she presumably had a much lower code when she was at Paramount earlier.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 5:32 pm

Danny Burk wrote:
mndean wrote:I'm unaware of policy regarding stills here, which is why I'm not putting up any I grabbed for my personal research.


No problem to post them, although they need to be hosted off-site.


Thanks. Now I need to find a new hosting site! I lost hosting many older photos at one site recently when they held my earlier uploads for ransom and I wouldn't pay. I'll try to have something up very soon.

Missdupont, what you say could be possible, but the fact that Powell is in evening dress that doesn't look to belong to the Civil War period while the others are in period costume is unusual.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 5:43 pm

Image
I found one more, as Writer Paul Bern, Raymond Griffith, Director Dimitri Buchowetzki and Ben Lyon clown around on the set of Lily of the Dust, without Pola. Code 656-2/2.

Image
Paramount stills like the one Derek posted that start the production number with an "L" were produced by Jesse Lasky's company. Here's one of Gloria Swanson in The Affairs of Anatol (1921). Code L367X-288. I don't know what the X means.

Image
And here's the "P" publicity portrait for Raymond Griffith. Code P613-37.

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Paramount codes starting with an "F" are from the "Famous Players" studio. Here is Kate Bruce, William J. Butler, Irene Fenwick, and Owen Moore in A Girl Like That (1917). Code F137-85.

Image
Adding to the confusion, here's Kate Bruce, Irene Fenwick and William J. Butler in apparently the same film, but it has a different production number and has no "F"! Code 139-4.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 5:57 pm

missdupont wrote:William Powell could have been in the picture, and then his part was cut or reshot. A great example of this is TIDE OF EMPIRE, in which some scenes were shot with Joan Crawford, and there are stills for that, but then it was recast with Pola Negri, and there are those stills. There are often photos for scenes that are cut from films as well, so you can track the development and editing processes of a film.


The still popped up on ebay today, so here is a direct link to the photo:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/20673317/pih15941.jpg
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 6:14 pm

That is William Powell visiting the set of ONLY THE BRAVE, which has been discussed on another thread. Bruce 139 is for A GIRL LIKE THAT (1917), which features the same actors, and Butler plays a clergyman.
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostThu Apr 26, 2012 9:14 pm

missdupont wrote:That is William Powell visiting the set of ONLY THE BRAVE, which has been discussed on another thread.


In this context? I can't find reference to other discussion of the still using the search function here.

Frankly, as with the zoom question I asked elsewhere, I'm ready to let the whole matter drop right now. :roll:
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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostFri Apr 27, 2012 12:49 am

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Re: Minor question about Paramount still codes

PostFri Apr 27, 2012 12:16 pm

missdupont wrote:Here's the ONLY THE BRAVE thread:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=12075&p=83043&hilit=only+the+brave#p83043" target="_blank


Thank you! I sorta remember that thread since I started it (okay, that's a little mean but I do search Nitrateville before I post questions, just as a matter of course), and neither stills nor the anomalous appearance of Powell are mentioned in the thread. I was surprised to see a still of the film with Powell sans slash code for OTB and thought this thread a better place to ask, as our conversation here is more on point. I don't know if those star visits to sets would be considered part of a film's publicity package to theaters, and wished to know that as a point of information that could explain its existence.

With that, I think I'll still (sorry, unintentional humor) drop the matter for now.
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