History is where you find it, ranging from rare film clips of early Technicolor, silent-era Disney and more, newly posted online, and works of true scholarship, to amazing discoveries hiding in plain sight.
Last week Film Forum in New York City screened Fritz Lang’s Hangmen Also Die (1943), the story of the notorious Nazi “Hangman” Richard Heydrich. The indefatigable Bruce Goldstein, who runs their retrospectives, followed up on a tip that the German DVD had about one minute of footage that was cut from the movie’s U.S. release. Bruce dutifully projected those rare moments for his audience after the movie’s conclusion, and says, “According to Patrick McGilligan it would have been Hollywood’s first depiction of Nazi atrocities.” Fascinating.
Like anyone who’s spent much of his life in libraries and archives, hearing a young person claim that you can find “everything you need” to do research online is upsetting, to put it mildly. One can easily find simple information, and misinformation, but if you’ve devoted hours and days digging through vintage film publications or studio production files you know that acres of primary research materials don’t exist on the Internet.
Even if you’re lucky enough to have access to great collections like the ones held by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, or the New York Public Library in Manhattan, you’re limited to how many hours or days you can spend taking notes and making photocopies.
One dedicated film scholar and archivist is trying to change all that. David Pierce has initiated a privately-funded project called Media History Digital Library, which is described—
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