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UCLA’S FESTIVAL OF PRESERVATION

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by Leonard Maltin
February 28, 2013 2:29 PM
3 Comments
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Ernest Lehman and Geza Herczeg provided the story, Mary Loos and Richard Sale the screenplay for "The Inside Story" (1948), a Republic Picture starring (left to right) Robert Shayne, Gail Patrick, William Lundigan, and Marsha Hunt; the prolific Allan Dwan directed.

Once again, the UCLA Film and Television Archive is presenting some of its latest preservation efforts on the big screen at the Hammer Museum in Westwood. The series ranges from mainstream Hollywood features to live television broadcasts, documentaries, newsreels, and early short subjects that only survive because paper copies were printed from the original negatives in order to secure their copyright. Some of the titles may not be rare but the opportunity to see them in newly-struck 35mm prints definitely is—and the knowledge that they will exist in this form offers great satisfaction.

A perfect example of the latter category is the Archive’s ongoing Laurel and Hardy project, which is attempting to undo decades of neglect and bring these timeless comedies back to pristine condition. If you love Stan and Ollie and haven’t yet contributed to this campaign, I urge you to do so. I wrote about this endeavor some time ago; you can read the article HERE.

I’m especially intrigued by some of the rare film noirs (saved in conjunction with the Film Noir Foundation) and neglected titles from the Republic Pictures library, like The Inside Story (1948). There’s so much to discover here.

Here’s what Archive director Jan-Christopher Horak has to say in his introduction to this year’s Festival program:

After last year’s herculean effort to put together the massive L.A. Rebellion program, now touring North America, the Archive has not rested on its laurels, but has put together a new UCLA Festival of Preservation for 2013. It is my great pleasure, as director of UCLA Film & Television Archive, to introduce the 2013 “FOP,” which again reflects the broad and deep efforts of UCLA Film & Television Archive to preserve and restore our national moving image heritage. Even in an era of tightening budgets and ever decreasing University-State funding, the Archive is committed to protecting and celebrating our film and television assets.

Our Festival opens with the restoration of Gun Crazy (1950), directed by Joseph H. Lewis, and one of the most celebrated film noirs made on Hollywood’s poverty row. Produced in part locally in Montrose, California, and starring Peggy Cummins, this reworking of the “Bonnie and Clyde” story served as a template for Arthur Penn’s more famous film. The Festival also features a number of other films noirs, including The Chase (1946), completed by our late preservationist, Nancy Mysel, and based on Cornell Woolrich’s classic serie noire novel, The Black Path of Fear. That film will double feature with High Tide (1947), another low-budget noir gem. And then there is Cy Endfield’s The Sound of Fury (1950), based on the same source as Fritz Lang’s classic, Fury (1936), which chronicles a brutal lynching and the media frenzy surrounding it.

Independent cinema also continues to be a major focus of the Archive’s preservation efforts. After premiering our restoration of Robert Altman’s Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982) in 2011, preservationist Jere Guldin this year introduces Altman’s first major feature, That Cold Day in the Park (1969), again funded by our good friends at The Film Foundation and the Hollywood Press Association. Preservationist Ross Lipman contributes restorations of further independent films, such as Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer (1985), directed by Thom Andersen, Fay Andersen and Morgan Fisher, and Shirley Clarke's Ornette: Made in America (1985). And the independents continue with a special program of films from the L.A. Rebellion, which were discovered or preserved after last year’s monumental program. We are also proud to present a compliment of silent features, including Clara Bow’s Mantrap (1926), and the German feature, Different from the Others (1919), preserved in conjunction with the Outfest/UCLA Legacy Project.

John Bunny was one of the screen’s first great comedy stars, but he’s almost forgotten today. This shot is from "Bunny as a Reporter" (1913).

Finally, this Festival of Preservation marks the arrival of our new Head of Preservation, Scott MacQueen, who has contributed several Hollywood features from Paramount in the 1930s, including Double Door (1934), International House (1933), and Supernatural (1933).

Our newsreel preservationists, Blaine Bartell and Jeffrey Bickel, present their restoration of a German war documentary that had been considered lost for decades, With the Greeks in the Firing Line (1913), which documents the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, as well as a second program of selected newsreels from the Hearst Metrotone News Film Collections.

We are also very happy to continue preserving and screening classic television shows. Dan Einstein presents “October Story” from the 1950s omnibus series Goodyear Television Playhouse, starring Julie Harris. Two other classic television shows, CBS Playhouse’s “The Final War of Olly Winter” (1967) and ABC Stage 67’s “Noon Wine” (1966), round out the program.

As is always the case, the Archive’s internationally recognized preservationists will appear in person at many Festival screenings to introduce the films and discuss their work with audiences. All of our preservation work and public programs—including this Festival—are funded by donations from individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies. We are most thankful for the generosity of these organizations and individuals.           

For a complete calendar of programs, click HERE.

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3 Comments

  • Norm | February 28, 2013 10:12 PMReply

    Let the Festival commence...Viva Le Festival...maybe a "Bunny" tribute...

  • Brian | February 28, 2013 9:53 PMReply

    Thank you Leonard for reminding us of John Bunny -- it's amazing to think that he was the world's biggest movie star....in 1913. Sad to say that only a handful of his shorts survive, but should all be put together in a commemorative dvd set (probably 2 discs at the most) -- also his life story would make a great tv movie (it wouldn't make a cent at the box office, but would be ideal for the small screen).

    If only Ernest Borgnine was still around (especially when he was old Ernest), he would have been perfect as John Bunny -- this would be a great role for a character actor of a certain stature and age, so to speak, as would Bunny's regular co-star Flora Finch who was nearly as famous as he was and they were quite a duo on screen, not quite Tracy and Hepburn, but close.

    In the wake of John Bunny's decline and death, she continued in movies, her last role was as 'Maw' in the early scenes of "Way Out West" with Laurel and Hardy -- one suspects Stan and Oliver remembered Flora's work and persona and had her in the movie and make a most memorable appearance in that classic.

    My Facebook profile picture is of John Bunny, I'll keep the flag flying -- I think is both amazing and terribly tragic, how a star, probably the world's first, can in 1913 be everywhere and with the arrival of Charlie Chaplin, be erased - literally - from the face of the earth.

  • Tony | December 18, 2013 10:05 PM

    Brian, I'm working on a Bunny documentary.

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