Sunnyside Up. 1929. USA. Directed by David Butler. With Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, El Brendel. 121 min.
The first work written for the movies by the popular songwriting team of Buddy DeSylva, Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson, this original musical propelled Fox’s silent-screen lovers Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell into the sound era and became one of the runaway hits of the early talkies. The film’s famous opening shot—an extreme long take that explores both sides of a New York street, the camera rising and falling to catch fragmentary scenes unfolding in half a dozen different departments—seems designed as a pointed demonstration of the superiority of Fox’s flexible sound-on-film Movietone process over Warner Bros.’s unwieldy sound-on-disc Vitaphone. This is the premiere presentation of a new digital restoration funded by Twentieth Century Fox and based on the only surviving nitrate print, a 121-minute workprint version from MoMA’s collection.