Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Showing the Love, Just a Wee Bit Late

"It's the new Margo. But she's just as late as the old one."




If it's good enough for Margo Channing, it's fine for the blogathon, too. As I was informed by my For the Love of Film comrade Marilyn Ferdinand, late donations continued to flow this week. And as of today, the new total is (drum roll, please)

$12,135




This will be enough money, according to our pals at the National Film Preservation Foundation, to restore a feature comedy AND a cartoon.



Do we of Greater Blogistan rock, or what?

But wait, there's more. Here is the list of the winners of the poster and DVD sets being given away in appreciation by the NFPF. The winners were selected in a random drawing from among the blogathon donors.

They are...

Eddie Selover – Poster

Samantha Kelley – Treasures III

James Wolcott – Treasures III

Gloria Porta – Treasures IV

Kenji Fujishima – Treasures IV


Congratulations to the lucky winners. And now, in the immortal lines from Ninotchka, "What's the hurry? Let us be happy...give us our moment...We are happy, aren't we?"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Imitation of a Takedown


When it comes to Internet squabbles, the Siren has been on the wagon for a while, give or take an occasional flare-up.

And then she comes across something like this, where the inimitable Jeffrey Wells does a "respectful takedown" of Douglas Sirk using, of all things, the director's masterpiece, Imitation of Life.

Now the proper thing to do is make like Clark Gable: "I apologize again for my shortcomings," and for being a "film dweeb" who appreciates Douglas Sirk.

Then again, screw propriety, when someone is waving a bloody-fire-engine-red cape like this in my face.


Sirk is generally regarded as a pantheon-level guy because the film dweebs have been telling us for years that the dreadfully banal soap-opera acting, grandiose emotionalism and conservative suburban milieus in his films are all of an operatic pitch-perfect piece and are meant as ironic social criticism. (Or something like that.)...


Now why, I wonder, have people been doing that? Just to irritate Wells? Come on Glenn, fess up. You too, Filmbrain.

Wells illustrates his post with a scene from Imitation of Life. Trouble is, the scene is enthralling, and it isn't even a high point of the movie. It's a relatively simple sequence wherein ultra-blonde Susie (Sandra Dee) finds out that mixed-race Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner) is seeing a white boy in the town. Wells says this is bad acting. The Siren raises the point, once again, that there are different styles of acting that are appropriate to different movies. Sirk films work with artificiality; they show how people play roles. Kohner is just beginning to grasp the power of her beauty. Watch her take off her shirtwaist almost like the stripper she will later become, turning to give Dee a good look and sashaying over to the bed as if to say, "I'm better-looking than you, white girl, and I always have been." See the flick of hatred, rising up and quickly suppressed, as Sarah Jane looks at her privileged friend. And look at Susie's clueless reaction to Sarah Jane's secret, the hasty way she tries to cover up her gaffe about the "colored boy," the platitudes she mouths while knowing on some level that Sarah Jane has a point. There's nothing wrong with the acting; it isn't naturalistic, and nor should it be. It's perfectly in keeping with the style and themes of the movie.

And the visuals--how in the name of Lana Turner's hair dye can anyone who loves movies not love the visuals? The angle through the railings as Dee knocks on Kohner's door. The shot through the window of Kohner hiding from her mother. Kohner taking off her dress. The impeccable framing. The way the conversation is blocked, the camera moving at just the right moments and the two girls positioned in just the right way to convey their relationship.

Mr. Wells flatters himself when he styles this as a takedown. Rather, it is the lament of a schoolboy--a dweeb, if you will--forced to watch icky girl stuff instead of the manly men doing manly things in manly ways who form the proper study of all serious critics. Sirk's subject matter, it seems, is a large part of the rap against him:


Sirk was mostly dismissed by critics of the '50s and early '60s for making films that were no more and no less than what they seemed to be -- i.e., emotionally dreary, visually lush melodramas about repressed women suffering greatly through crises of the heart as they struggled to maintain tidy, ultra-proper appearances.


Four assumptions lurk here. One, that contemporary critics are a good yardstick by which to measure a film's worth. Because if you want to know how time is gonna judge a director, the first place to look is Bosley Crowther. Second, that the sufferings of tidy, proper women are somehow a lousy subject for a filmmaker. Surely this argument was put out of its misery by Virginia Woolf all the way back in 1929. Three, that "visually lush" is a negligible quality. The Siren has nothing to say to that; it's on the level of the Emperor complaining to Mozart about "too many notes." Four, that there is nothing below the visually lush surface of a Sirk film. That is the shakiest assertion by far.

You see, when we film snobs have the secret clubhouse meetings wherein we plot ways to force people to watch movies about boring girls and their poky old mothers, we come armed with the words of Douglas Sirk, who gave some long interviews late in life after he went blind, a fate he bore patiently. And in those interviews he shows, repeatedly, that he knew precisely what he was doing:


The stories that I got were, without exception, very trite, without any element of life to them. But still the content of the trite novel could be vivified--you could wake it up--you could put something into it.


It isn't particularly difficult to grasp what is going on in a Sirk movie. Just because there is depth to the movie doesn't mean you need the secret decoder ring they hand out in film studies to find it. In fact, the Siren could introduce Mr. Wells to a whole flock of people who get teary over this movie; it still plays to the emotions, if you watch it with an open mind. Imitation of Life is a shattering statement on American attitudes about race, about working women and their relationships with their children, about how children and mothers are often fated to bring one another agony. It's all right there on screen. You just have to get past the fact that the movie is done in a style that has disappeared--much to our loss, I'd say.

As the Siren has always said, the only rule at her own place is "No dissing Citizen Kane." Some of her commenters dislike Sirk. And (here the Siren adopts her Stuart Smalley voice) that's okay. But please, Mr. Wells, don't try to make your case by pretending a filmmaker was all surface, when even a cursory glance at the films and the words of the filmmaker shows otherwise. Most of all, please don't insult those of us who do like him.

And now I really need that ice pack.

Monday, February 22, 2010

For the Love of Film: Wrap Party


After more than one hundred posts from more than 60 bloggers, critics, archivists, students, food writers, film collectors and just plain cinephiles, the blogathon is over, and the Siren is at something of a loss for words. It has, simply, been one hell of a great week. The response to this, the film blogosphere's first effort to come together and raise money for the art form we love, has been tremendous.

When I first zinged the idea past Marilyn Ferdinand, I told her I thought it would be a nice way to raise a few hundred for a preservation organization. Pay the electrical bill at the restoration labs for a while, that sort of thing. Later, when we started to realize that the level of enthusiasm was higher than anticipated, Marilyn and I dreamed that we might hit $10,000.

And so it came to pass. We've raised $10,000 and change for the National Film Preservation Foundation. That should be enough to save an entire three-reeler--a film that will go on living because people took the time to write and donate. The NFPF is working on a special project, and our donations will be applied to it; details should be announced in June. When the film is restored, they want to make note of the fact that it was done with money from this, our film preservation blogathon.

In future, if anyone tries to tell you bloggers are all talk, point 'em to the Movie Preservation Blog, which will house a master list of all the posts and participants. And then tell them about the film we saved.

As Marilyn writes at her place,


The blogathon ads Greg made were plastered all over the blogosphere, and we got shout-outs from James Wolcott at Vanity Fair, The Auteurs, Lou Lumenick at The New York Post, and Roger Ebert, among many others. We had film students, film bloggers of every stripe, preservationists like Eddie Muller, and scholars like David Bordwell write about preservation. Tinky Weisblat, a food blogger with an interest in film, showed up and turned in a great couple of posts. We had Dennis Nyback, who actually projected nitrate film, tell us about it. And we had people who were willing to open their wallets in these tough times to help.


Even now, we still have donations trickling in, and more posts have come as well. Dennis Nyback is blogging about his experiences trucking nitrate film cross-country, a sort of film collector's Wages of Fear. Kenji Fujishima just made the midnight cutoff with a lovely post about preservation and The Crowd, at My Life at 24 Frames Per Second. Brian Darr of the fantastic blog Hell on Frisco Bay gave us an eloquent shout-out. And Michael Guillen's post about the immortal Lola Montes is a bit late, but so well worth the wait.

Finally, in keeping with the fact that we've had contributions from bloggers all over the world--India, Scotland, Dubai, Spain, the Philippines--the Middle Eastern Film Festival and its publications doyenne, Cindi Rowell, have chipped in with an interview with Serge Bromberg, co-founder of Lobster Films and co-director of L’enfer d’Henri-Georges Clouzot. They remind everyone that it is never too late to donate--how very true--and plan to include a regular preservation feature at their site.

And now the Siren is going to go find one of those cute little ice-packs that Myrna Loy wore in The Thin Man, and recuperate for just a wee while.

We did good.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon Master List



The Siren is exhausted, but very, very happy.

It's the last day of the blogathon, and donations and posts are still coming in. Let's make this the best day yet. Keep reading, and if you have not done so already, toss something in the hat.

As Marilyn has posted on our Facebook page, the troops have answered the rallying cry: "We've raised enough to preserve a 1,200-foot black-and-white nitrate silent film in fair condition, starting with lab inspection, cleaning, minor repair, and then moving on to make a new negative and print."

And what's more, "If we keep the donations coming, we might even be able to save a two-reeler or three-reeler."

The Siren has been delighted with the number of bloggers participating, and the very high quality of their posts. We are raising awareness in a big way, and creating an archive on this topic that will be a great resource on the Net.

But of course, the point is to raise money. And while donations have been present, and steady, and the good folks at the National Film Preservation Foundation are grateful for every dime, the Siren thinks we can do better.

First person truth time here: I've been running this blog for five years, and never asked anyone for a dime, until now. Please consider throwing a donation into the hat for the NFPF, no matter how small.

This week, the film blogosphere is demonstrating vast knowledge and love of film history. Let's also show our generosity.

More in store today here and at Ferdy on Films. I have a new post up, an interview with Lee Tsiantis, the man who played a key role in bringing the RKO Six back onto our screens a couple of years ago. Lee is a film lover working a dream job as Corporate Legal Manager at Turner Broadcasting. His work entails sifting through the vast paperwork associated with the film library there, and he has much to say about the ins and outs of film rights.



Welcome! Here is where the Siren will be keeping track of posts as they come from bloggers. You can drop her a line in comments or via email (campaspe101@yahoo.com) to say your post is up. And please do the same at Marilyn's place, Ferdy on Films; as co-hosts we will be both be keeping lists.

Over at Cinema Styles, Greg has a beautiful new commercial for the Blogathon, suitable for embedding.

And remember to include the all-important



to the National Film Preservation Foundation. Feel free to include the following boilerplate, for your readers' convenience:


The National Film Preservation Foundation is the independent, nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America’s film heritage. They work directly with archives to rescue endangered films that will not survive without public support.

The NFPF will give away 4 DVD sets as thank-you gifts to blogathon donors chosen in a random drawing: Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934 and Treasures IV: American Avant Garde Film, 1947-1986.


Do follow the links to the posts. The Siren is mighty impressed with the lineup and can't wait to read the contributions herself. Remember too that comments are a blogger's joy.

As the week goes on, this post will be continue to be top o' the Siren's blog; her own preservation posts will be immediately below.

Sunday, February 21st

The mighty James Wolcott sets a good example with his own donation and notes with pleasure that he's helping to save, among others, a Norman Mailer film called [untitled].

C. Jerry Kutner of Bright Lights After Dark has a lovely screen-cap essay on Maurice Tourneur's Victory. Stunning images, complete with the original tinting.

Mary Hess of Eastman House pays tribute to her mentor, James Card, who is a hero to all those who care about preservation. Includes a clip from the restoration of Melies' Peter Pan, which Card supervised; at Mary's new blog, Laughing Willow.

Toby Roan, of 50 Westerns from the 50s, a great blog that's new to the Siren, posts about the near-miss involving Jacques Tourneur's Stranger on Horseback, starring the beloved Joel McCrea.

Noel Vera, a familiar name to the Siren's readers, brings a preservation bulletin from the Philippines (the news ain't good) and a brilliant write-up of a sharp and prescient film that is almost entirely lost--and it was made in 1986.

Arthur S. discusses Samuel Fuller's Run of the Arrow, arguing passionately for the film's greatness and lamenting its lack of availability. (And by special request of the Siren, he includes a link to a piece on The Cobweb, a film we would both like to see resurrected.)

David Cairns devotes his Sunday Intertitle to our blogathon. The Siren won't tell you the one word of the intertitle, but she will tell you the post focuses on a name that makes her happy just to hear or look at: Lubitsch. And there is more Lubitsch here, in the splendid "Trailers for Lost Films."

MovieMan0283, at his Dancing Image blog, has an absolutely not-to-be-missed roundup of images , many from movies that are either unavailable, or damn close to it. The good news: In the year since he compiled the list, a number have been released from non-DVD purgatory (I see you, African Queen.)

Tinky Weisblatt returns to give props to three more heros of preservation, as well as to the bienniel Orphan Film Symposium. All this, and an easy recipe for peach jam. Yum!

DeeDee of Noirish City wraps up her blogathon posting with another reminder of what is at stake for film lovers. Thanks so much for your week-long support, DeeDee!

Sarah Baker, who wrote so movingly about Olive Thomas, has another must-read post, Reputations Restored: Lost and Found Movies of 1929.

Donna Hill closes out her blogathon posting with a series of marvelous clips from the silent era.

Joshua Ranger argues for preserving the lesser lights of filmdom, including the unloved biopic: "we also have to maintain the insignificant because it, too, is a piece of the picture of the past."

Jaime Grijalba posts, in Spanish, on Exodus 8:2 about one of the most keenly lamented of all lost films, London After Midnight.

Finally, my pal Glenn Kenny of Some Came Running gives us another plug, and fulfills a previously unrecognized but nonetheless urgent need: The blogathon's own haiku.

Saturday, February 20th

Buckey Grimm sums up his series with a post in praise of those who have been doing the hard work of preservation for decades now.

Dennis Nyback is back with a post about a 1940 movie, which Dennis transfered himself, of singer Ronnie Mansfield--which he screened for Mansfield's granddaughter and her children.

Stephen Morgan at Screen Addict writes about original intent--not constitutional, but cinematic.

Sara Freeman of Today's Chicago Woman has a tribute to women of the cinema, with special mention of the radiant Lillian Gish in The Scarlet Letter.

Hind Mezaina returns with clips of women having fun with swimming, cycling and sending Valentines in the early days of the century.

Tom at Motion Picture Gems posts about a film the Siren believes to be seriously underrated, Peter Bogdanovich's Nickelodeon, and the preservation message it carries.

Ryan Kelly of Medfly Quarantine signs in with a piece about that screwy, ballyhooey, phoney, super Coney, one and only...Fort Lee, New Jersey! What, you were expecting someplace else?

J.C. Loophole of The Shelf outs himself as an academic, an historian to be precise, and explains with great eloquence the historical case for film preservation: "The images we have of our nation, of our entertainment, or our highs and lows, of how we interpret those highs and lows are as important as the self-same written documents and government papers that we spend so much time and effort to preserve."

Andreas at Pussy Goes Grrr ponders the tragedy of lost films, including janitors both shamed and redeemed.

They tell me there's an Olympics going on; well, David Cairns has a clip depicting (ahem) amazing athleticism at Shadowplay.

Paula has more stills, this time from The Shamrock Handicap.

Friday, February 19th

Marilyn is looking deep into the eyes of Theda Bara in A Fool There Was.

At Gareth's Movie Diary, the proprietor uses the beguiling Bar Harbor Movie Queen, among others, to talk about the urge not only to preserve, but to present.

Jenny the Nipper of Cinema OCD has an excellent and provocative post: Bootleggers or Preservationists?

From the University of Vermont comes Adrian J. Ivakhiv at his blog Immanence, talking about the ways in which Decasia "comments on its own materiality."

Joe Thompson ends his series on the history of nitrate with a bang: the 1909 Pittsburgh film exchange explosion. Many photos.

Marilyn and I are very pleased to be joined by students, including Trish Lendo, Sadie Menchen and Charles Edward Rogers, in the moving-picture archive program at UCLA--they are the the future of preservation. (I'm also very taken with "Let Us Now Praise Scratchy Prints.")

Hind Mezaina, who writes The Culturist blog from her home in Dubai, brings in an international flavor with a series of posts that include some marvelous clips from the BFI Archive.

Justin Muschong returns with A Trip to the Acme Film Preservation Emporium.

Donna Hill also returns with stills and posters from lost films.

Thursday, February 18th

At the Phil Nugent Experience, the host gives props to several heroes of film preservation, including the inimitable Henri Langlois.

Shahn runs Six Martinis and the Seventh Art, that pictorial temple to the art of black and white; but in this photo series, she shows the ravages of decay.

Before the blogathon began, a man of the Siren's acquaintance demanded, "If this is about saving all film, what about porn, huh?" Well then, here is Doug Bonner, with a post about the perfect film stock for the Golden Age of Porn and which film from that era he would most like to see preserved.

Movie Man at The Sun's Not Yellow warms up with a post on Rossellini's Stromboli, ahead of another promised post on Sunday.

Tinky Weisblat of Our Grandmother's Kitchen posts some reminiscences about Britain's Iris Barry, who used her influence as a critic to support preservation early on. And there's also a swell recipe for tea sandwiches.

Kendra at Viv & Larry has another entry in her series tribute to the fine folks at Criterion, this one on Nights of Cabiria.

Tim Brayton at Antagony & Ecstasy finds three different faces of film preservation in those once and future media darlings, vampires.

DeeDee of Noirish City returns with a post about George Melies' The Impossible Voyage.

Buckey Grimm continues his Brief History of Nitrate with a brief post about nitrate testing, and a link to remarkable photos from some tests.

Catherine Grant at the invaluable Film Studies for Free contributes a plug and clips from "some entertaining and informative online videos about film preservation," as well as links to "openly accessible, scholarly material about this essential but expensive art and science."

Ed Howard of Only the Cinema writes about two avant-garde shorts, by Bruce Baillie and Storm de Hirsch, that have been preserved by Anthology Film Archives and included on the Treasures IV set from the NFPF.

The Siren adores Greenbriar Picture Shows, and thoughtful, funny, well-versed John McElwee, who runs it. You owe it to yourself to click on this one: "We Are All Preservationists."

The name James Card should be as familiar to film lovers as Henri Langlois. Jon Marquis, of Thoughts of Stream, shows why as he examines Pandora's Box, the resurrection of which was one of Card's finest accomplishments.

Joe Thompson is back with part II of a Brief History of Nitrate, including the perils of moviegoing at the turn of the century.

Mark Edward Heuck, who does freelance work rescuing genre and exploitation films from limbo and coaxing them onto DVD, has a touching story about how one such film brought back a small piece of a wife and mother for her famous widower and son. At the delightfully named blog The Projector Has Been Drinking.

Peter Nelhaus returns with a post about the 1934 Chinese film The Goddess, saved through the efforts of a single person, Professor Richard J. Meyer.

What this blogathon really needed was more Conrad Veidt; Paula's Movie Page has a boatload of pictures from Different From the Others.

Wednesday, February 17th

Lou Lumenick, New York Post head film critic and the Siren's TCM comrade, has a fantastic piece of writing and research at his place, about the Public Domain Purgatory of Henry Hathaway's To the Last Man--"a tight, surprisingly dark and impressive little movie."

Adam Zanzie at Icebox Movies examines Fear and Desire, the hard-to-see Stanley Kubrick film that for years has garnered "a frown, a groan, a snicker, or a goofy grin" from fans.

Brent Walker, at his blog devoted to Mack Sennett, uses that director's career to explain why the best fate for a silent movie was to be made for a company that went out of business.

Brian Herrera of Stinky Lulu signs in with a post on the sui generis Who Killed Teddy Bear, analyzing it as artifact of its era ("like a nudist magazine, Teddy Bear lets it all hang out without really ever showing anything") and as a "queer" film.

Buckey Grimm of Mindless Meanderings explains the origins and preservation methods of the Library of Congress Paper Print collection.

David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson lend their highly respected voices in support of our efforts; the plug is part of an essay about the intricacies of preserving experimental films, when the "flaws" are deliberate.

David Cairns is back with a look at the avant-garde film Decasia, so brief and impeccable the Siren will spoil it no further.

Dennis Nyback returns with an elegiac tribute to two theatres that were once grand temples of nitrate, the Michigan Theater and the Grand Riviera, both in Detroit.

Greg Ferrara, having done so much with promoting the blogathon, chips in even more at his blog Cinema Styles, with a post about C.B. DeMille's The Godless Girl, a recently restored silent sent to him by the NFPF: "The restoration of The Godless Girl allows cinephiles everywhere to witness the last great gasp of a director in the silent era before sound slowed him down."

Director Jeffrey Goodman joins in with memories of screening films with the ghost of Henri Langlois, at The Last Lullaby (and) Peril.

Justin Muschong, at Brilliant in Context, meditates on which film is worth saving ("all of it") in a witty essay that ranges from Welles to Army boots.

Karie Bible of Film Radar takes us through the lost films of Clara Bow, as well as hope in the form of some that have been restored.

Kendra at Viv & Larry is back with a loving tribute to the immortal romance of Brief Encounter.

Leo Lo, whose blog is 365 Films a Year: A Librarian's Film Journal, tackles the question of what academic librarians can do to preserve films.

At Paula's Movie Page, she has posted more stills, from Where Are My Children? and Lady Windemere's Fan. paulasmoviepage.shutterfly.com.

Tony Dayoub at Cinema Viewfinder checks in with a review of the recently restored 1922 Sherlock Holmes, and finds not only a subdued performance from John Barrymore, but also a supporting cast that includes a future ghost magnet, a future columnist and a future martini-drinking icon.

Tuesday, February 16th

Roger Ebert is once again rallying the troop for the blogathon, with more tweets about our fundraising and praise for the contributors. His devotion to preserving cinema has been an example to everyone for more than forty years, and his support gladdens our hearts.

James Wolcott gives us more reason to rejoice, with a rousing plug for the blogathon, full of links, praise and the all-important donation link to the NFPF.

Gloria Porta, lover of film in general and Charles Laughton in particular, has an amazing treat for all fans of the actor and Spartacus: an in-depth look at the movie's convoluted filming, from screenwriting to editing, and extensive discussion of Laughton's preparation and interactions on set, and a huge, invaluable list of references and links.

Gordon Dymoski of Blog This, Pal writes about the intersection of film preservation and pop culture with a piece about VCI Entertainment's reissue of the first Green Hornet serial.

Joe Thompson at The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion offers a history of nitrate, via newspaper articles and clippings from as early as 1889--for example, a letter to the editor, in 1897, from a fire warden worried about the dangers of the movie projector setup.

Kendra of Viv & Larry continues her appreciation of all things Criterion with a post about Days of Heaven, surely on everyone's list of the most beautiful movies ever made.

Peter Nelhaus of Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee, who is rumored to have seen everything, makes his first contribution: a look at Lon Chaney's first starring role in The Penalty, detailing Chaney's amazing preparations for the role of a legless crime lord.

Sarah Baker at Flapper Jane continues her contributions with three simple, but eloquent, reasons to support film preservation.

Monday, February 15th

Catherine Krummey at Speaking of Cinema pays tribute to Martin Scorsese, a hero to preservationists everywhere, and gives a link to his acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes.

Christopher Snowden of The Silent Movie Blog has a beautiful set of rare stills from lost movies, and some witty suggestions as to where to find the missing films--far off the beaten track.

Dennis Nyback, having wowed everyone in his interview with Anne Richardson, is going even further to help out, via a post at his own site. The irresistible title: "Nitrate Film – More Feared Than Frankenstein – Less Understood Than Eraser Head – More Dangerous than repeated viewing of Sleepless in Seattle."

Erik Loomis of alterdestiny is a historian with a specialty in the late 19th and early 20th century. Here he talks about the importance of the NFPF archives in his teaching work, using the example of a chilling 1912 movie about slum life, The Land Beyond the Sunset.

Greg offers a concentrated dose of gorgeous in a teaser post at his pictures-only blog Unexplained Cinema: 10 Frames: The Godless Girl.

Jacqueline T. Lynch at Another Old Movie Blog delves into Vertigo, reminding us that it took years for the movie's stature to grow. Although Vertigo was made in 1958, restorers stil found film stock of Hitchcock's masterpiece that was rotting in the can.

Kendra at Viv & Larry continues her blogathon contributions with a loving writeup of That Hamilton Woman, in which she pays careful attention to the design and cinematography of the film as well as the two glorious leads.

Maggie at Silver Screen Dream bemoans the state of Love Affair's print; and fearlessly tackles the question of whether some films are "worth saving."

Paula will be promoting us by posting movie pictures at her Shutterfly page all week; view the first batches here.

Rob at Rob's Movie Vault dubs The Race to Save 100 Years "Preservation 101," and unearths many salient facts among the paeans to Ted Turner. (We forgive him for that fling with colorization now, don't we?)

Sunday, February 14th

Anne Richardson of Oregon Movies A to Z has an interview with Dennis Nyback, a collector, curator and projectionist with much experience of nitrate--and film booth stories to scare the hell out of Quentin Tarantino.

Arthur S. brings his unerring eye and deep sense of film history to bear on the great Raoul Walsh and two early sound pre-Code films, The Bowery and Me and My Gal.

Betty Jo Tucker of Reel Talk Movie Reviews looks at Martin Scorsese's invaluable role as a high-profile, tireless advocate for film preservation.

Bob Fergusson, the Operator 99 of Allure, takes a single issue of Photoplay magazine from 1931 and analyzes the survival status of all 186 movies listed in it, in a riveting exercise he calls "Now You See It, Now You Don't." A must for Pre-Code hounds.

Buckey, back at his blog Mindless Meanderings, writes about the early days of film preservation, while silent movies still reigned. Among many things the Siren learned from this piece: "Productions such as D.W.Griffith’s ‘The Avenging Conscience’ were totally unusable in as little as 10 years after its release."

Buttermilk Sky, long a treasured commenter at the Siren's place, has a post on her favorite Marx Brothers film, Monkey Business, and why it deserves restoration. You had me at "Marx Brothers," though!

David Cairns, whose Shadowplay is simply one of the best classic-movie blogs anywhere on the Interwebz, ponders why Rin Tin Tin is more like Burt Lancaster than Montgomery Clift.

David Ehrenstein of FaBlog has a clip-studded tour through the highly flammable, but oh-so fabuloso history of nitrate, with Max Reinhardt's gleaming, glorious A Midsummer Night's Dream as the centerpiece.

DeeDee at Noirish City has links to the blogathon, her thoughts on and her own pledges for film preservation--and plans for her own giveaway. Check it out!

Donna at Strictly Vintage Hollywood furthers her love of all things Rudolph Valentino with a look at the great lover's three lost films. Two of these, A Sainted Devil and The Young Rajah, have fragments surviving; but Donna gives a complete storyline and numerous production stills for Uncharted Seas, not one frame of which is still with us.

Dwight Swanson of Home & Amateur writes about the poignant history of Think of Me First as a Person, a documentary put together from home-movie footage that was shot in the 1960s and 1970s by the father of a child with Down Syndrome.

Eddie Muller, president of the Film Noir Foundation, guest blogs at Marilyn's Ferdy on Films. He describes the making of Cry Danger, praises the film's excellence, and offers a heartening example of how his foundation worked with studios to get a decent print circulating once more. Lucky San Franciscans will be able to see it at the Noir City festival this year.

Ivan G. Shreve untangles the Very Meta Mystery of the two versions of It's in the Bag! (1945), one of only six movies made by radio legend Fred Allen. Ivan has even included a transcript, so you can play along at home.

Kendra of the smart, well-written Leigh & Olivier fan blog, Viv & Larry, pays tribute to everyone's favorite DVD house, Criterion.

Lou Lumenick, chief film critic of the New York Post, links arms with the blogosphere and plugs the blogathon. His teaser post has a cameo from a sad Kay Francis and a high-profile villain: Joseph P. Kennedy.

At her blog Or Maybe Eisenstein Should Just Relax, Meredith chooses the restored version of The Red Shoes to be her valentine, after seeing it at the British Film Institute--along with memorabilia from the movie, lent by Martin Scorsese.

Ray Young of Flickhead, one of the most original film writers around, reviews all six pounds of the apparently definitive work of research and love, This Film Is Dangerous: A Celebration of Nitrate Film. Amazon, anyone?

Sarah Jane Baker, the film historian and writer who maintains the Flapper Jane blog, has a lovely piece about that iconic figure of Hollywood tragedy, Olive Thomas. In Sarah's quest to blow the cobwebs off the legend, she was able to locate and preserve some films that reacquaint us with Olive, the talented actress.

Vince is the proprietor of Carole & Co., a fan blog cherished by all who appreciate painstaking research and excellent writing, as well as the great Carole Lombard. His post delves into the mystery of what Lombard looked like before her facial injuries in a 1926 car accident, and describes the fate of two early Lombard sound films.

A Matter of Rights: A Talk with Lee Tsiantis


Everyone loves good news, and in 2007 classic film lovers got six doses of it: the RKO “Lost and Found” movies, unseen for decades due to an unusual rights situation, dusted off and unveiled for a delighted public by Turner Classic Movies. The RKO Six are Rafter Romance (1933), the Siren’s personal favorite of the group, a charming Depression comedy starring a young and delicious Ginger Rogers; Double Harness (1933), a wry comedy-drama of marriage and morals with William Powell and the underseen Ann Harding; Stingaree (1934), a rare musical outing for William Wellman and Irene Dunne’s second singing film role; Living on Love (1937), a remake of Rafter Romance whose virtues include Franklin Pangborn; One Man’s Journey (1933), a medical drama starring Lionel Barrymore and Joel McCrea; and its superior remake, A Man to Remember (1938), which boasted Garson Kanin’s first credit as director and a screenplay by Dalton Trumbo.

Not many cinephiles wallowing in all this RKO bounty realized that the movies had reappeared due in part to the efforts of Lee Tsiantis, a film lover and industry veteran toiling in the field of rights research for TCM and Warner Home Video. Well, toiling is not the word--Lee loves his work and cares passionately about preservation. Since rights issues stand in the way of our seeing a number of cherished films, Lee agreed to answer some questions via email about the RKO Six and the nuts and bolts of his job.


Please describe your role at Turner Broadcasting System.

I am a Corporate Legal Manager at Turner Broadcasting System's Entertainment Division in Atlanta, and have been with the company for 12 years. Prior to Turner, but still based in Atlanta, I handled regional publicity/promotions for a major studio and long ago worked in the late, lamented 16mm nontheatrical distribution market for Films Inc., where I was able to view hundreds of films from their library. My work tools at Turner are the supporting original studio legal documents of the approximately 3900 RKO, pre-1986 MGM and pre-1950 Warner Bros. features that Ted Turner bought in 1986-87. These films comprise the Turner Entertainment Co. (TEC) library, which is currently owned and administrated by Warner Bros. Entertainment. I do rights research on these films for various corporate clients, including Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and sister company Warner Home Video, which exploits the library on DVD and now Blu-ray. It certainly doesn't hurt to have a film background that helps me to connect the dots found in the documents.



Were the mechanics of resolving the rights entanglements of the RKO Six typical of your work?

The situation that brought the six RKO "Lost and Found" titles to light was atypical. The inquiries that come my way from company clients usually ask me to confirm TEC's rights in a particular film or asset, reaffirming a division's ability to exploit the property. Usually, and ideally, these rights are fairly broad, allowing for distribution and exhibition of a film worldwide, perpetually and in all media.

For an unresearched asset, I have to refer to the original studio agreements by which a source story or underlying literary property (in shorthand legalese, the ULP) was acquired. Those agreements, along with the copyright registration records, are key links in proving TEC's chain-of-title ownership of the "derivative work" (the film).

The path that led to the discovery of the RKO Six's rights situation began in 2006, when a TCM viewer asked why a 1933 John Cromwell film, Double Harness, never seemed to show up on the channel's schedule. As it was produced by RKO, it should have been part of the TEC library, but it wasn't on any of the master lists of TEC/RKO titles. TCM's Senior Programming Manager, Dennis Millay, asked me to research the film, and through evidence in the meticulously maintained and organized RKO documents, I was able to piece together a narrative that traced the ownership history not only of Double Harness, but also five other RKO films of the period.



It turned out all six were sold as a package out of the RKO library to former studio head Merian C. Cooper in 1947. Thus, the sale predated by 40 years Turner's 1987 acquisition of its distribution rights to the RKO titles; the six films were never part of the library Turner bought. With dogged persistence and the help of the Internet, Dennis and I were able to track down the son of the person who had been assigned Cooper's copyright ownership--who was totally unaware of that ownership--and six months later, TCM purchased all right, title and interest to the films from his family. Additionally, once prints were tracked down (we even found materials located in France and the Netherlands), TCM financed the cost of physically generating 35mm film preservation elements on all six titles (heroic work here from Dennis), guaranteeing they would have as close to a perpetual big-screen life as is physically possible with film.

After a single-week theatrical engagement at the Film Forum in NYC in Feburary, 2007, the films had their TCM broadcast premieres that April. Barring occasional showings at gatherings like Cinefest in Syracuse, NY, the films hadn’t been shown to a wide audience in almost 50 years. The whole saga, for those interested, can be found here.

None of the titles rewrite film history, but virtually all have distinctive attributes; Garson Kanin's A Man to Remember (1938) seems especially timely today, as it deals with medical ethics and health care responsibilities, but in the context of a deceptively small story about an altruistic country doctor. Film culture is enormously enriched by little gems such as the RKO Six, and TCM's role in resurrecting them attests to the channel's perseverance and commitment to keeping the culture alive.

I think we might have tapped the mother lode for this unorthodox category of rights-orphaned films; we haven't since come across a similar grouping to revive from obscurity.



What role can film preservation funding play in helping to resolve rights issues that keep films unseen? Must the profit motive always play a part?

I would only say that if a film's rights are unresolved, making the film impossible to distribute, there's little incentive to spend preservation money on it. For a studio, funds are better spent on owned, but unexploited assets in need of restoration--with no rights intangibles. Studio preservationists have enough on their plates trying to prioritize and save films whose rights are clear and unencumbered, but whose materials may be on their last legs.



Have you found any patterns in issues that tie up a movie's rights? Are the problems more prevalent with certain types of films?

Legal issues that prevent distribution of a film vary greatly and generally speaking, rarely have anything to do with the type of film in question. Instead they often have everything to do with the term of the original grant of rights in the underlying literary property, or ULP, by an author to the studio producing the film. On rare occasions, the story rights term will expire altogether, or expire with renewal options, and the studio, in order to continue to exploit the film (and despite the fact it may possess a valid copyright in the film itself), must renegotiate an extension with the ULP author, the author’s heirs or other successor-in-interest.

If the ULP owners hold out for what might be considered a disproportionate renewal fee that exceeds what the studio expects to economically return on the title, there can be an impasse, resulting in the frustrating situation where the studio owns the film--but can't distribute or otherwise exploit it. This is doubly frustrating if viable--and sometimes original camera negative--film materials exist in studio vaults.

As a result, certain films have been held up for decades in rights limbo--or at least until the film's ULP lapses into the U.S. public domain. In certain cases, the studio wants to negotiate with the owner of the story rights, but can't track the owner down! This is common in the case of authors who may reside outside the U.S., or authors whose families may not even be aware they are successors to a relative's literary rights. When trails go cold, major sleuthing is in order, but the sheer task of administration can impede the inclination to do the follow-through.

In 1990, a controversial Supreme Court decision involving copyright renewal rights to the Cornell Woolrich short story on which Rear Window was based had the immediate effect of tying up U.S. distribution to a number of notable films. The particulars are too complex to go into here, but for those who are interested (and have the stamina), the full text of the court’s decision is available online.



Do you have any encouraging words for those who view personal or collector’s copies of unobtainable films, and worry about their state of preservation?

I will say this: it's unfair to assume that a poor-quality bootleg copy of a long-unavailable film with rights issues might in any way be representative of the actual condition of film materials archived by a studio.

Thank you, Lee. We will continue to hope for more good news from the Turner vaults.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Why We Fight: For the Love of Film, Part Two


It was posted on the Net last fall, and has been watched by millions since: 20 seconds of film that offer a fleeting image of Anne Frank. It was July 22, 1941, and a young couple next door had just been married. There is a glimpse of Anne at the window above, happily watching the newlyweds, resting her elbows on the sill and calling to someone, we'll never know to whom. The view of her face is gone in an instant.

It is one of the most intensely moving pieces of film I have ever seen.

Now clearly that is because neither I nor anyone else who views Anne at the window can do so without terrible hindsight. History crushes those watching such films with Cassandra's fate of knowing what will happen, yet being forever unable to stop it. That is why few moments in the fictional movies can match the eerie jolt of one brief view of the real Titanic in Belfast, men walking up and down inspecting her magnificence.

Many newsreels and home movies capture quite ordinary moments, ones that history never reached out to give larger significance. And yet even a film of a homecoming parade fascinates, the spectators and beautiful young women speaking of happiness that can be created no matter what events roil beyond.

Home movies and newsreels, however, are some of the most endangered of all films.

Newsreels were a particular passion of the great Lillian Gish. The one movie she directed, Remodeling Her Husband, was lost, but when she testified before Congress in 1979 about the urgency of film preservation, Gish talked about newsreels and the need to protect the "living record" of American history. As Anthony Slide says in Nitrate Won't Wait: A History of Film Preservation, hers "was not an idle gesture, for while the features and shorts produced by the American film industry have been sought after and preserved, America's newsreels had generally been allowed to disappear through neglect and lack of funding."

The NFPF has made a special effort over the years to support cultural institutions as they work to preserve these bits of our country's "powerful history," as Gish called it. When you give through the blogathon, so are you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Why We Fight: For the Love of Film, Part One

The first day of For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon has arrived. Here is the link to the donation page of the National Film Preservation Foundation.

Along with Marilyn Ferdinand of Ferdy on Films, Greg Ferrara of Cinema Styles, and more than fifty other bloggers from around the world, the Siren urges anyone reading us this week to give something for our film heritage.

Please also check with your employer; some corporations match funds donated to the NFPF. If you know of such companies, please post them in comments.

To start things off, the Siren offers part one of a primer on Why We Fight (which film series, by the way, is on the list of films preserved by NFPF).






From A Cast of Killers, Sidney D. Kirkpatrick's book about King Vidor's quest to film, and solve, the William Desmond Taylor murder. It's 1967 and Vidor is visiting the Paramount lot:


In front of the white post-production building, teeming with activity from the Christmas releases, he saw an old friend, an attractive blonde, who worked in the film library. He complimented her miniskirt, then asked if he could take a look at some of William Desmond Taylor's films. He was particularly interested in Taylor's last production, The Top of New York. She went to the office to see what she could do.

Over the years Vidor and [Colleen] Moore had seen many of their own films destroyed. In the early sixties, silent films were thought to have no commercial value. They were difficult to store, dangerous to handle, and a fire hazard. Vidor's had been destroyed in a Bekins Storage Company fire, and Colleen's entire collection had burned up in a fire at Warner Brothers.

Vidor's friend brought him the news of Taylor's films. What titles had not disintegrated by the fifties were in such bad condition that they were taken out of the vaults, cut into small pieces with a chain saw, then burned, to salvage the silver content of the film stock.

The picture above is from the set of The Sky Pilot, the film Moore and Vidor made together; according to the Silent Era website, a print survives. Of Flaming Youth, the movie that made Moore's name and gave the world the flapper, only one reel survives in the archives of the Library of Congress.



From Anita Loos's screenplay for A Virtuous Vamp, starring Constance Talmadge; included as an appendix to The Talmadge Girls. The movie opens just after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Gwen (Constance Talmadge), whose sole salvageable possession was a mirror, has just found her mother wandering near their former home, carrying a bicycle wheel and a garbage can.


The mother finally comes to and realizes what she has been carrying all the while, looks at the bicycle wheel and the garbage can and then at Gwen and says:

SP. HAVE I BEEN CARRYING THESE THINGS ALL THE WAY FROM THE HOUSE?

Gwen says yes, evidently she has. Mrs Armitage shakes her head in despair, looks up at Gwen and says, "Whatever will become of us?" and begins to weep. Gwen puts her arms about her and comforts her. The mother then looks up at Gwen and says:

SP. DO YOU REALIZE, CHILD, THAT ALL WE HAVE IN THE WORLD IS A BICYCLE WHEEL AND A GARBAGE CAN?

Gwen then holds out her mirror and says, "But we have a mirror," and then looks at [her brother] Eddie who enters with his contribution, saying, "Look what I got." The mother takes it and looks at it:

INSERT--CREST.

SP. YOUR FATHER'S FAMILY CREST! THAT WILL HELP A LOT.

She takes the crest, lifts the garbage can lid, and drops it in. The kid, resenting this, goes around and fishes it out. The mother turns to Gwen and says:

SP. WHY COULDN'T ONE OF US HAVE SAVED A CAN OF SOUP?


The Silent Era website lists the survival status of A Virtuous Vamp as "unknown."



From Peter Bogdanovich's interview with Raoul Walsh, in Who the Devil Made It?:

Raoul Walsh: (discussing The Life of General Villa) I spent four or five months with Villa, photographing some of the battles..Then I'd photograph all the executions. In the morning they'd line up these Federales against the wall and shoot them. I remember the first morning we set up to photograph this and I looked around: there was a bunch of Mexicans there, some with rocks in their hands and another bunch there with knives. I said, "Jesus, this doesn't look too good." The cameraman was Dutch (I can't think of his name); I said, "You'd better be able to run, Schultz--I don't like the look of things." So this guy sat there, looked at us and said, "We are ready now." They shot these guys, and the bastards with the rocks ran in, opened the guys' mouths and knocked the gold teeth out. And the others with the knives went in and started to cut their pants and take their boots off.

Bogdanovich: Did you photograph all that?

Walsh: Yes. When I got home, [D.W.] Griffith said, "My God, Raoul, you've scared us all out of the projection room." I said, "Well, you wanted the life of Villa--you got it."

No print of The Life of General Villa is known to have survived.



From Betty Blythe's interview with Kevin Brownlow in The Parade's Gone By:

[Director J. Gordon] Edwards returned to this country, and his whole flash of genius as a director just went to ashes...Now I just carry in my heart the memory of this beautiful thing--The Queen of Sheba.

The Queen of Sheba is a lost film.



John Ford, quoted in Bogdanovich's On Ford:

It was quite novel at the time--instead of riding to the rescue through Western scenery--they rode down Broadway at full tilt, weaving in and out. We went to downtown Los Angeles and rode the cowboys down the streets with a camera car ahead of them. And not a horse slipped.

Bucking Broadway was presumed lost until 2002, when it was located in the archives of the French National Center for Cinematography. The film was restored by Archives Françaises du Film in cooperation with the Museum of Modern Art.




From The Los Angeles Times, Jan. 6, 1985; "Old Films Are Getting a New Look," by Kevin Thomas:

When construction was started on a skating rink on the site of a long-filled-in swimming pool in Dawson, the historic old gold-rush town in the Yukon, workers struck another kind of lode-a whopping 550 reels of film preserved half a century beneath the permafrost.

It seems that Dawson had been the end of the line on the old movie circuits-and the local bank, which had been storing the film in its basement, early on ran out of space for so many cans. Among other treasures, the trove yielded Douglas Fairbanks' long-lost The Half Breed (1916).

More recently, a couple remodeling their porch found two reels of film buried under it that turned out to be the Civil War drama An Angel in Contention (1914) with Lillian Gish. But in the couple of months that it took for the American Film Institute to get hold of it, the nitrate had disintegrated so rapidly that now only seven frames exist.


After publication of this article, it turned out that only two reels of The Half Breed, which was directed by Alan Dwan, had survived.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

For the Love of Film: The Lineup Grows (UPDATED)


Update: The number of bloggers pitching in to help raise money just keeps growing and growing; look below for the latest. Roger Ebert, for forty years one of this country's most visible, honored and well-loved critics, has alerted his many Twitter followers to the blogathon. Anyone who has read Ebert's columns or books or watched his television show knows he has spent his career urging people to watch great films from every era, and his support for us means a great deal.

It's time to remind our contributors of the rules of the blogathon. They are few, but important:

1. Post on any topic related to film preservation, at any time during the week of Feb. 14 through Feb. 21.

2. Include the donation link for the National Film Preservation Foundation.

The National Film Preservation Foundation is the independent, nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America’s film heritage. They work directly with archives to rescue endangered films that will not survive without public support. The link is right here:

https://npo.networkforgood.org/Donate/Donate.aspx?npoSubscriptionId=1001883&code=Blogathon

The NFPF will give away 4 DVD sets as thank-you gifts to blogathon donors chosen in a random drawing: Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934 and Treasures IV: American Avant Garde Film, 1947-1986.

3. Send your link to Marilyn Ferdinand of Ferdy on Films (http://www.ferdyonfilms.com) and to me here(http://selfstyledsiren.blogspot.com/). We will be keeping track of the submissions and linking to them on our respective blogs.

4. Follow the links here and at Marilyn's site to read the contributions of your felllow writers; remember too that nothing gladdens a blogger's heart like a nice comment.

And, most important of all,

5. DONATE GENEROUSLY to the NFPF, and urge your readers to do the same. Film preservation is an expensive process, and our aim is to raise as much money as possible to support the NFPF's work.

In about one week forty-eight hours, on Sunday Feb. 14, the Film Preservation Blogathon, For the Love of Film, will be upon us. The Facebook page is being continually updated so please, keep checking things out. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Marilyn Ferdinand of the most excellent Ferdy on Film and Stylin' Greg Ferrara of Cinema Styles, we have 642 766 fans and more than twenty thirty forty fifty bloggers who have committed to posting something that week.

The fine folks at the National Film Preservation Foundation have really gotten into the spirit, lending us photos and clips from films that their efforts have saved. Do have a look.

Because of course, the important part is to contribute to the NFPF. If everyone who visits these blogs the week of February 14th kicks something, anything, into the kitty, we could be responsible for saving even more films. And wouldn't that be much, much better than the usual run of sad bonbons and wilted bouquets this time of year?

Like I told Marilyn...


This Valentine's Day, Give Her What She Really Wants: Nitrate.

The lineup so far, in addition to Marilyn, Greg and me, includes:

Peter Nelhaus of Coffee Coffee Coffee and More Coffee will review The Penalty, starring Lon Chaney.

Dwight Swanson of Home and Amateur will blog about the restoration of Think of Me First as a Person.

Louie Despres at El Brendel will be writing about El's Mr. Lemon of Orange.

Bucky Grimm will be coming out of blogging semi-retirement at "Mindless Meanderings"

Tony Dayoub at Cinema Viewfinder will be blogging about the 1922 Sherlock Holmes.

Justin Muschong of Brilliant in Context

David Cairns of Shadowplay

Operator 99 of Allure will look at the films listed in a 1931 edition of Photoplay and tally the survivors and the lost.

MaryAnn Johansen of Flick Filosopher will review Peter Jackson's Forgotten Silver.

Lou Lumenick of the New York Post will be writing about To the Last Man and how it fell into public-domain hell.

Glenn Kenny of Some Came Running

Kendra of Viv and Larry

Vince of Carole & Co.

Ryan Kelly of Medfly Quarantine

Ivan G. Shreve of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear will be pulling out the stops with at least two pieces, one on Fred Allen's IT'S IN THE BAG! (1945) and UCLA's restoration of its "alternate" version and the other I've titled "The Singular Case of the Magazine Magnate," which will discuss Hugh Hefner's role in funding the restoration of some of the Universal Sherlock Holmes films.

Jacqueline T. Lynch of Another Old Movie Blog plans to write on Vertigo.

Flickhead knows how to make the Siren happy; he's writing about nitrate.

JC Loophole (still one of my favorite noms de blog--a W.C. Fields ref?) of The Shelf plans a post called "Restoring Film, Preserving Art and Curating Culture."

Rob Gonsalves of Rob's Movie Vault will be blogging about the documentary The Race to Save 100 Years.

Director Jeffrey Campbell of The Last Lullaby (and) Peril

The one and only David Ehrenstein of FaBlog will post about Max Reinhardt's great filming of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Meredith of Or Maybe Eisenstein Should Just Relax will write on The Red Shoes.

Brian of Stinky Lulu will be writing about Who Killed Teddy Bear?

Filmmaker Max Sacker will be contributing from Berlin.

Tom K. of Motion Picture Gems will be writing about the message in Peter Bogdanovich's Nickelodeon.

Donna at Strictly Vintage Hollywood will be posting on Valentino's lost film Uncharted Seas and a second post to be announced.

Michael Guillen of The Evening Class has tentative plans to write on the Lola Montes restoration (and as far as the Siren is concerned, every blogathon needs some Ophuls) and indices to San Francisco's Noir City and Silent Film Festivals.

Catherine Grant of Film Studies for Free plans to post a set of links to online material about film restoration, preservation and archiving.

Arthur S. of This Pig's Alley plans to post on two neglected Raoul Walsh films, including Me and My Gal.

Plum of Don't Be a Plum plans to post.

Anne Richardson of Oregon Movies A to Z will be interviewing Dennis Nyback about his nitrate stories, as a projectionist.

Gareth of Gareth's Movie Diary plans to write about a vital component of preservation: access to what's preserved.

Brent Walker of the fine Mack Sennett Blog is on board.

Bill Ryan of The Kind of Face You Hate plans to post.

Sarah Baker, author of "Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell," will blog about Charlie and Janet's rediscovered films such as The River (1928) and Lucky Star (1929), as well as about helping to release Olive Thomas' 1920 film, The Flapper to DVD; she will post at Flapper Jane.

Paula of Paula's Movie Page, a collection of great movie pics at Shutterfly, is already showing us some link love.

M.K. Rath of Ehmkay is planning a post on preservation's relevance for young people.

The King of Noir, Steve-O, will post about noir and preservation at Noir of the Week.

Gordon Dymoski of Blog This Pal has "a slightly more pop-culture oriented post in mind."

Tinky Weisblat will be writing about Iris Barry of MoMA and "including a recipe of some sort" at Our Grandma's Kitchen.

Betty Jo Tucker of ReelTalk Movie Reviews has publicized the blogathon and plans to participate with a post about the great Martin Scorsese's preservation efforts.

Elizabeth Hansen of the Texas Archive of the Moving Image has pledged to promote the blogathon.

Joe Thompson of The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion is posting on "Why Do We Need to Preserve Films? A Brief History of Nitrate."

Buttermilk Sky gladdens the Siren's heart by pledging to write about the Marx Brothers in Monkey Business.

Eddie Muller of The Film Noir Foundation, another excellent nonprofit film-preservation outfit, will be contributing an article.

Melissa Dollman, audiovisual cataloguer at the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, will be contributing at her Highlights from the Archive Blog.

Adam Zanzie of Icebox Movies will be posting.

Maggie of Silver Screen Dream will post about some favorite movies that need attention, like Love Affair (the Siren loves that one, too) as well as future solutions to classic film distribution.

Dennis Cozzalio of the must-read Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule will be joing us.

Hind Mezaina will be posting from Dubai on her blog The Culturist.

Trisha Lendo and her fellow students in the moving-image archive program at UCLA will be posting from their group blog.

Jenny the Nipper will be posting on CinemaOCD--about "DIY Preservation." (!! Do we have to wear gloves?)

Erik Loomis of Alterdestiny is getting into the spirit in a big, ambitious way, by reviewing one of the NFPF-preserved films each night for seven nights.

Librarian Leo Lo plans to post about the role of libraries in preservation.

Kenji Fujishima of My Life, at 24 Frames Per Second, will post about the greatest of all silent movies (sez me), The Crowd.

Want a reminder of what's at stake? Here's Marilyn's piece on a film badly in need of restoration, from one of the Siren's most revered directors, Douglas Sirk. Michael Guillen of The Evening Class posted a while ago about the restoration of Bardelys the Magnificent from another Siren favorite, King Vidor.

And our banner this week is from another film with a checkered release history that left it in badly in need of restoration, which the magnificent Lola Montes has finally received.

If you need ideas on what to write about, check here on the Facebook Discussions page.

There is no obnoxious door policy at the For the Love of Film Blogathon; all are welcome and you may come as you are. There is no limit to the number of bloggers who can participate and you may post any time next week. Drop me or Marilyn a line at email or comments, or on the Facebook page, and you're in, and most welcome. If you alerted me to your participation, and I somehow haven't added you, prod me again, please. You don't have to know what you are writing about yet, the promise to post that week about restoration is more than enough.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

TCM Alerts: What the Siren Wants to Watch This Month



TCM moves away from Shadows of Russia (I know, I get that post-Christmas-letdown feeling about it too) and into 31 Days of Oscar, not usually my favorite month at the channel because I have seen so much already. However, I have been scanning the lineup and found some gems that aren't on home video. I don't often do "TCM Alerts" but some of these are films we've mentioned or yearned for, so here's the list. All times are EST.

Tonight:
2/4: 8 pm The Uninvited. Splendid Old Dark House movie with Ray Milland.



10 pm Kitty Sparkling historical comedy-romance, via Mitchell Leisen, beloved of both the Siren and many commenters here. The Siren has seen this one and it is well worth catching; it also has Ray Milland and one of Paulette Goddard's best performances.

2/5: 6:15 am Address Unknown (dir. William Cameron Menzies) The Siren is very excited about this one. The superbly suspenseful epistolary novella Adressat Unbekannt (1938) kept her awake all night when she read it in high school, and until recently the Siren was unaware it had ever been filmed. William Cameron Menzies is one of Hollywood's unsung geniuses and a primary reason Gone with the Wind looks as beautiful as it does. Pounce.



2/12: 8:45 am Woman of Affairs. Greta Garbo in the bowdlerized, but still scandalous, film version of The Green Hat. Via Clarence Brown, who is cool again, for those keeping score at home.

10:30 am Our Dancing Daughters The summit of Joan Crawford's flapper period.

2/14: 2 pm: The Devil and Miss Jones Wonderful Sam Wood comedy with an unusual labor vs management theme.

2/16: 6:30 pm The Racket (1928) Rarely show mob-themed silent via Lewis Milestone.

2/17 Noon: The War Against Mrs Hadley A rare leading role for the fabulous Fay Bainter. Don't know much about this one but I am intrigued.

2/18 6 am: Pacific Liner Victor McLaghlen starrer about a shipboard epidemic.

8:45 am Five Star Final Pre-Code newspaper drama starring the always-brilliant Edward G. Robinson, directed by Mervyn Le Roy.

2/21 2:30 am The Solid Gold Cadillac. My favorite Judy Holliday movie, and more timely than ever. Not on DVD.

2/22 8 pm Five Graves to Cairo. Billy Wilder's Rommel thriller, also not on DVD.

2/26 3 am Seconds. Incredibly suspenseful sci-fi with Rock Hudson's best performance and an ending that will stick with you forever. I often wonder why this one hasn't been remade, but I am glad it hasn't.



2/28 5:15 am Smilin' Through (1932). Our own Leslie Howard, fresh from being declared Cool Once More by the Siren readership, together with Norma Shearer in a romance that is shown about as often as Albany gets its budget done on time.



Tomorrow I am posting the lineup so far of For the Love of Film, the blogathon that Marilyn Ferdinand and I are hosting to raise money for the National Film Preservation Foundation. If you haven't committed over at Facebook, please drop me a line or post a comment so I will be sure to include you. And if you aren't a Facebook fan, run over and become one; I am happy to say we have more than 600 fans, but we want to keep 'em coming!

UPDATE: The updated Blogathon list may go up Saturday because the Siren has been called into work early, on account of the coming Snowpocalypse. Figures.