MacIntyre was best known as a genre author whose sporadic output included science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery stories as well as a science fiction novel and a book of light verse and humorous pieces once praised by Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. Reportedly, a number of unpublished manuscripts were burned in his apartment fire.
MacIntyre responded the next day.
Greetings to Thomas Gladysz (do you pronounce it Gladdish?) from Fergus (F. Gwynplaine) MacIntyre, whom you contacted regarding the film A Social Celebrity.
Although I've read your IMDb review of Looking for Lulu, and your email address is an obvious tribute to Brooks, I'm surprised to learn that you're writing a book about her. Surely every possible fact about Louise Brooks has long since been unearthed?
I wish you good luck with your book, and I encourage you to avoid the cliche which several other authors (including Brooks herself) have perpetrated when writing about her: please do not refer to Brooks as 'Lulu'. Lulu was one of the characters she played onscreen. Louise Brooks was a far more fascinating and complex person than Lulu was.
To answer your question: yes, I have seen a print of A Social Celebrity. It was a 'flash print', meaning that it possessed the original (Paramount) intertitles, but they ran for only a few frames each; the print was intended for distribution in a non-Anglophone market, and the local exhibitor was supposed to use the flash titles as a guide for translations, which would occupy more footage than the flash versions and be onscreen longer. I viewed this print more than ten years ago, and it was already slightly deteriorated due to nitrate instability.
This print is (or was) in the personal collection of a private film collector in Europe, who does not wish to be publicly identified. He owns several original nitrate prints of films that were released in the 1930s and earlier. I was given some limited access to some of the films in his collection, solely in order to examine their physical deterioration, and to advise him as to which reels of film in his collection were most urgently in need of restoration or duplication to acetate safety stock.
Normally, when a reel of film has deteriorated to the point where I'm unwilling to subject it to the vagaries of a motorised projector, I will inspect the footage through a hand-held Steenbeck viewer. Several reels of the Social Celebrity print had begun to decompose, so I Steenbecked them rather than running them through a projector.
I have offered to put this collector into contact with several professional film restorers in Europe and Britain, and it is my understanding that he will eventually have most of the nitrate films in his collection converted to acetate stock. I have very little ability to influence his actions in this matter.
This collector is a private individual who only very rarely grants access to his film collection. I was given very limited access to his collection, solely in order to inspect his films as physical artefacts in need of restoration. I do not have direct contact with this gentleman; I contact him only through his attorneys, who are strongly inclined to refuse all requests for access to his collection. He has made it clear that he will not grant public access to his collection. As this gentleman has been helpful to me in my own business endeavours, I must respect his privacy.
Thank you for reading my IMDb reviews. I'm not an employee of IMDb, and they don't pay me for my reviews. I'm a full-time journalist and author. If you log onto www.amazon.com and go to their Books section, then key a search for my by-line "F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre", you'll see the covers of two books that I wrote and illustrated. One of these is my Victorian erotic horror/romance novel: The Woman Between the Worlds, featuring Conan Doyle, Aleister Crowley, GB Shaw, WB Yeats, Arthur Machen, Sir William Crookes and several other eminent Victorians united to aid an invisible she-alien during an invasion of London by alien shape-changers. This novel got rave reviews from Harlan Ellison on his Stateside cable-tv show. I'm also the author and illustrator of a humour anthology which was praised by Ray Bradbury and other authors: MacIntyre's Improbable Bestiary, likewise available on Amazon, which contains some original material I wrote about Lon Chaney and silent films.
To whet your appetite, here's the cover (my artwork and typography) of my anthology: http://images.amazon.com/images/P/1587154722.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg
I took some notes while I was Steenbecking A Social Celebrity. If you have any specific questions about the content of this film, I will gladly try to answer them for you, but I must decline any request to give you access to the print.
Straight on till mourning, Fergus (F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre)
A few days later, I wrote MacIntyre again. “I am not sure you received my email. I am glad to know that a copy of A Social Celebrity still exists in some form - even if that copy is unattainable - and may one day be given to a public archive. I shall await that day!” I never heard from him again. And as time passed, I began to feel this curious character with unsubstantiated claims had been pulling my leg.
The New York Times noted MacIntyre worked night jobs in order to spend his days at the New York Public Library researching things which interested him. Those subjects included early film, of which he was by all accounts knowledgeable. Undoubtedly, he relished their depictions of days gone by – and of a world, made safe through the passage of time, which no longer existed.
MacIntyre was something of a pastiche artist - witness his own description of his sole published novel. To me, his reviews of silent films he couldn’t have seen read like a kind-of critical pastiche of reviews found in the old film periodicals housed at the New York Public Library. That occurs to me now when I reread his IMDb review of A Social Celebrity. Its last line, “Louise Brooks is as seductive as usual, but she has very little to do here,” echoes the kind of observation made by a number of film critics in the 1920’s.
It’s hard to know why MacIntyre claimed to have seen A Social Celebrity and other lost films – and thereby muddied the historical record. He must have known it irritated others. Perhaps it was a game. Perhaps it was one way of getting attention. Perhaps it was his way of asserting control over a world in which he felt increasingly out-of-sorts. We’ll never know.
MacIntyre was an enigmatic, intellectual loner. He once wrote, “I collect the fragments of time that other people throw away, and I put these to good use.” Not everyone agreed.