Tuesday 5 September 2017

Digitisations, Restorations and Revivals (32) - Academy Film Archive restoration screenings in Washington DC

Associate Editor (Restorations and Revivals) Simon Taaffe has come across the following films being screened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.  

From the website of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC advice is received of a season of films recently restored by the Academy (i.e The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the people who give out the Oscars) Film Archive. The NGA website explains as follows: Since its creation in 1991, the Academy Film Archive has been an institutional sponsor of the preservation, restoration, documentation, and exhibition of motion pictures, housing one of the most diverse collections in the world. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences acquired its first film in 1929, and today the Archive’s collection comprises 85,000 titles — from Oscar-nominated films to documentaries, amateur works, experimental shorts, early Hollywood features, screen tests, interviews, and even filmmakers’ personal collections. This series includes a range of recent restorations from the Archive, and is presented in partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Film preservationists Mark Toscano and Heather Linville will be present to introduce a number of these screenings.

The films include (with some notes on some of the notes from the NGA website titles. Click on the film title for info):

A Les Blank Sampler: Restorations from the Academy Film Archive

The Savage Eye preceded by Five Ways to Kill Yourself and The Secret Cinema
Gus Van Sant’s short comedy featuring Van Sant himself and Michael Parker, Five Ways to Kill Yourself (1986, 16mm, 3 minutes), is followed by an early short by Roger Corman collaborator Paul Bartel — the madcap, no-budget The Secret Cinema, about a Manhattan secretary who obsessively imagines she’s being spied on and filmed. (Paul Bartel, 1966, 35mm, 30 minutes) The Secret Cinema was restored in 2017 by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation with funding provided by The George Lucas Family Foundation. Premiere of the restoration

A poetic portrait of Los Angeles culture in the 1950s, The Savage Eye was assembled in part from footage contributed by different cinematographers (including Haskell Wexler and Helen Levitt) and woven together with a fictional narrative about a down-and-out divorcée (Barbara Baxley) making a fresh start. (Ben Maddow, Joseph Strick, and Sidney Meyers, 1959, 35mm, 68 minutes)

The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

The Balcony
Joseph Strick and Ben Maddow’s arresting adaptation of Jean Genet’s The Balcony, resourcefully made on a shoestring budget, finds Shelley Winters, Peter Falk, Leonard Nimoy, and Lee Grant leading a first-rate cast. As uprisings rage outside in the streets, the encounters inside a Brechtian-style brothel reveal that human relationships have been reduced to cold and detached performances. (Joseph Strick, 1963, 35mm, 84 minutes)
Cock of the Air
Howard Hughes made the most of his fascination with flight when he produced this earthy aviation comedy set during World War I and starring Chester Morris as a womanizing pilot and Billie Dove as a spicy Parisian cabaret star who tries to put him in his place. Cock of the Air’s restoration includes images originally removed by the censors, plus newly recorded dialogue that replaces lost deletions from the original soundtrack. (Tom Buckingham, 1932, 35mm, 80 minutes)

Aloha Wanderwell Baker: Film Adventuress

The Front Page
The first of several adaptations of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s classic play stars Adolphe Menjou and Pat O’Brien as the Chicago newsmen Walter Burns and Hildy Johnson. For many years available only in low-quality copies of a foreign release version that cut many American cultural references, the film is restored from a print of the domestic version, discovered in Howard Hughes’s private collection — with adjusted timing, restored dialogue, and evidence of Milestone’s pioneering long takes. (Lewis Milestone, 1931, 35mm, 98 minutes) Restored in 2016 by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.

Key Frames and Inbetweens: Restored 35mm Experimental Animation

Pacific Coast Highway: Restored California Psychedelia

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