Wednesday, February 01, 2012

For the Love of Film III: Last Night I Dreamt I Went to the NFPF Again



The trio of films had been a mixed stew, and Graham Cutts wondered if he had the right crew. His assistant director might have been spreading himself too ambitiously around the production, he complained…[the A.D.] was writing script and title cards, designing the sets, preparing the cast, supervising the costumes and props.


Oh for pity's sake, those assistant directors, always running around making themselves indispensable. Why don't they just go out and direct their own dadgum movies, if they think they're so smart?

In the case of that trio of films mentioned up there, that's exactly what the A.D. in question did.


Hardly anything is known about these films; no prints survive, no press materials or production files. But it is clear that the position and authority of director Graham Cutts was gradually reduced as Alfred Hitchcock moved from job to job, from strength to strength. Ten years later, Cutts would be looking for day work in any studio while HItchcock was in the uncomfortable position of having to give not very significant employment to his former boss.


Aha. Now we're interested, Mr. Spoto. Wouldn't it be nice to see one of these 1923 and '24 efforts, seeing as how this Hitchcock gentleman turned out to be rather a worthwhile filmmaker, in his own small way? "No prints survive"--aw, nuts.

But with Hitchcock, the plot always twists. In this case, we jump-cut to New Zealand more than 80 years later, where a cache of 85 films was discovered, repatriated and preserved by our pals at the National Film Preservation Foundation. Among them were Upstream, a John Ford film previously thought lost, and the two movies our blogathon money helped restore, The Sergeant and The Better Man.

And, when they got to the bottom of the wrapping paper, lo and behold--three reels, or one-half, of The White Shadow, the movie Alfred Hitchcock was so energetically meddling with in 1924. After it was restored in New Zealand, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences screened it in Los Angeles last fall, with a new score by composer Michael Mortilla.

What's that? you weren't at the screening? Neither was the Siren, now that you mention it. Heigh-ho, another great filmgoing party that WE MISSED. Let's call Brad and Angelina and see what they're doing Saturday night.

To get serious, one of the recurring motifs here at Self-Styled Siren is access--the continuing quest to see movies that remain frustratingly out of our reach. Our friends at the NFPF know how we feel, truly they do. They have streamed a number of the rescued films on their website, at no charge. It's part of their commitment not only to film history, but to bringing that history to as wide an audience as possible.

Streaming requires some serious lolly, however. In this case, it will take about $15,000 to put The White Shadow online and record the score. So, after asking our readers for their thoughts, the Siren, together with goddess Marilyn Ferdinand of Ferdy on Films and (for the first time this year) her intrepid partner from Down Under, Roderick Heath of This Island Rod, have decided to help the NFPF get The White Shadow out there on the Web, for four months on their site, free, for anyone to see.




There you have it: the mission and fundraising goal of this year's For the Love of Film blogathon, occurring in the merry month of May, from May 13 to May 18, 2012. Let's point out all the angles.

1. This, my friends and patient readers, is a call for participation and posts. The not-so-shocking twist this year is that bloggers are requested to post on any aspect of Hitchcock, which of course suggests topics as diverse as--oh, come on, how hard can that be? Or, as always, posts on all matters film-preservation-related are equally welcome. The Siren's comments section is open for business, as are Marilyn's and Rod's. You don't have to know what you're going to write (you think the Siren knows yet? puh-leez) but do let us know if you're in.

2. We may not be holding the actual hoedown until May, but when it comes to promoting the blogathon to your readers, there is no time like the present. Rod Heath has created some spiffy banners, which will not only dress up a blog no end, but will also get out the good word.

3. David Wells, who keeps the NFPF website humming, will be doing the same for the For the Love of Film Facebook fan page, putting up photos and clips. Just click on that link to become a fan. It will keep you up to date on developments, and even better, becoming a fan helps us raise money. There is also a handy section with a nuts-and-bolts description of just what a blogathon is, should you require that information.

4. Marilyn, whose energy suggests she may have been a military general or perhaps a studio head in a past life, this year has put together a package of sponsor opportunities to businesses who want to help out the NFPF and The White Shadow. There are two levels of sponsorship; both come with benefits that will spread a message to the blogathon's movie-loving base. Anyone interested should email Marilyn at ferdyonfilms(at)comcast(dot)net.

5. Raffle prizes are on offer again this year, courtesy of the NFPF. If you would like to donate a prize yourself, contact Marilyn--that address again is ferdyonfilms(at)comcast(dot)net.

6. Finally, you say you're so excited, you want to donate some money already? Knock yourself out. The NFPF has already set up a donor link, exclusively for the blogathon, right here.

The first year, we helped restore two silent movies. Last year, we raised money for the Film Noir Foundation and their efforts to restore 1950's The Sound of Fury, a key film from the blacklisted director Cy Endfield--and the blogger participation and number of donors rose even higher. This year, we are working to get a piece of film history out there for everyone to see, with a score that's worthy of its importance.




Let's get the word out. Like Jack Favell, we only want to see justice done.

80 comments:

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

(Slaps beaded change purse down on table) I'm in. No ideas yet, but I'm in.

Gareth said...

I'm in; ideas will surely come to mind.

Kevyn Knox said...

You can count Kevyn Knox and The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World in. The banner is already up at my site and I shiver with anticipation.

Chris Edwards said...

Ah, too fun to miss. And Hitch is even on my mind, since the Grace Kelly exhibit strode elegantly through Toronto not long ago.

Is there any lead-time required here, Farran, or can we submit material from May 13th on?

michaelgsmith said...

White City Cinema is in. There are a ridiculous number of Hitchcock movies receiving their blu-ray debuts this year. I will try to review some or all of them.

The Siren said...

Chris, you post anytime after midnight EST on May 13th to the last stroke of the clock on May 18th. The Facebook FAQ

The Siren said...

oopsie, was going to say the Facebook FAQ has more info.

Vulnavia Morbius said...

I'm in, of course. Not only that, but I started blogging after being "over" my Hitchcock phase, so I've never written very much about Hitchcock. This is serendipitous.

Tony Dayoub said...

Of course, I'm in. I'm working on what I shall post. But I've retweeted your tweet, "liked" and "shared" your Facebook post, put up one of the banners linking back to this post, and... whew, I'm tired.

However, I wish you luck on this blessed endeavor.

The Siren said...

Bless you, Tony! Bless us all.

Yusef Sayed said...

Would be happy to support this project. Count me in.

rudyfan1926 said...

Oh can I simply say SQUEE. For the love shown to Cutts (I know a few peeps in the UK who will be very HAPPY about this) and the chance to post about Hitch, early Hitch and lost Hitch. Count me in for a nice post on The Mountain Eagle for starters.

Ed Howard said...

I'm definitely in! I look forward to these blogathons every year, and this one sounds as worthy a cause as ever. I've still got a bunch of early Hitchcock to see, so that's what I'll be covering throughout that week. And of course I'll be donating as well.

You all do a fantastic job with this every year, it's one of the worhiest projects to come out of online criticism.

Operator_99 said...

In. Look for a fleeting image of me somewhere in the post. :-)

jesse said...

So excited to be participating again this year!!

Darren said...

I'm not sure if the m0vie blog can commit to 2/3 posts a day again this year, I should be able to do something vaguely Hitchcock related. Maybe once a day.

The Siren said...

Thanks everyone! Marilyn and I are really looking forward to this year and hoping we can really raise some dough for the NFPF.

Darren, even one post is most appreciated; one a day is awesome.

Rachel said...

The Girl with the White Parasol is in. I've loved all your previous blogathons and this promises to be equally fantastic. Now I'm off to spread the word.

Vanwall said...

I'm a miner, I'll go down.

christine said...

We're in over at Paracinema.

Dave Enkosky said...

I'm definitely. Now to whittle down my choices.

Harry K. said...

Smalldoggies Internet Magazine,painful plug, at least my corner of it, is in.

Joe Thompson said...

Hitchcock: great idea, Farran. So many possibilities, especially for a San Francisco boy. Thank you to you and Marilyn and now Rod for organizing this again.

D Cairns said...

Having mostly stayed off of Hitch since I did Hitchcock Year (viewing and writing on every surviving film and every Hitch-directed TV episode), this is a welcome opportunity to revisit a favourite or two. Plus I've been meaning to look at Cutts' stuff.

Jaime Grijalba said...

Of course I'm in, as the last two years!

The Siren said...

So glad to see good folks lining up once again. Does my heart good.

David Cairns, by all means focus on Cutts if you want; Rudyfan, same for you, or anyone else. Would be fascinating to see someone make a case for him, especially since his career trajectory is rather a sad one, as the Spoto excerpts hint.

ScribeHard said...

If I had a hat, I'd throw it into the ring, if I had a ring.

Count me in despite the absence of those.

kittenbiscuits said...

I have a few ideas and if time does not fail me (as it has on so many occasions), I would love to participate.

-Jill from www.sittinonabackyardfence.com

Brandie said...

True Classics is in again this year. No clue what I'll write about yet!

seanax said...

You can count Parallax View in once again. We have our share of Hictchcock afficionados in our ranks.

DavidEhrenstein said...

L’Amour C’est Gai L’Amour C’Est Triste

Separation

Chapaqua

Smoke

Beth Ann said...

I haven't picked any topics yet, but I will participate in the blogathon again. I'll try to do more than one post in Spellbound.

Laura said...

I'm in, I'll have to think about my topic! :)

Best wishes,
Laura
Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

PrettyCleverFilmGal said...

You can count prettycleverfilms in... in exactly what shape, not sure yet. Hopefully not as oddly shaped as Hitch himself.

DavidEhrenstein said...

I forgot to mention that the four films linked in my last post are particular obscure favorites of mine.

Who can resist a movie featuring Willaim Burroughs on ice skates?

Or one with a supporting cast that inclues Iain Quarrier and Joy Bang.

As for Smoke it is truly weird. For some reason the IMBD doesn't mention the name of the writer/director/star, Mark D'Auria. No idea what's become of him, and suspect the worst.

esco 20 said...

Without a shadow of a doubt call me present for a post on Mr. Hitchcock. Looking forward to it.

Yojimboen said...

David - try Peter Mark D'Auria. (or Mark Peter D'Auria)

Yojimboen said...

Pardon the digression, folks. I’m a few days late, but what the hey… I have discovered a source for The Shrike. A small distributor I have used in the past (they are dependable) just added The Shrike to their catalogue.

http://shop.vendio.com/pressplayhouse/

$14.99 including hard case; free shipping anywhere in the US.

An interesting companion piece (XT reminds me) is another Jose Ferrer acting/directing opus, The Great Man; X describes it as Citizen Kane meets The Sweet Smell of Success. It, too, is a very elusive title, but someone has kindly posted it on YouTube in a nice 10 part HQ version. Watch it while you can!

Links 1 to 10:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGrEdLRO1X0&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAIlGTJtBxQ&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDFvnkK1ZRY&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQ58qz20lKs&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO2zS7hRozs&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9vgP1LC-88&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9HlB3b8Bh4&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35LtIa5Kw9A&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOFWSVui_4o&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruDm3nlm5f8&feature=related

X. Trapnel said...

Y, I made no such promise; I said Kane/SS of S knockoff, something like Casablanca and The Conspirators or Ninotchka/Comrade X, Double Indemnity/Pushover, Best Years of Our Life/Till the End of Time. Stop me before I get to Jules and Jim/Willie and Phil.

Yojimboen said...

Sorry, squire, the operating word was “meets”, meant to kick it into instant triviality, as in “Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Dead End Kids”.

I just looked at The Great Man, an odd piece; a thin premise (harvested right out of Kane) even more thinly presented. Ferrer tries for a little modesty – compared to Cyrano, say - he succeeds sometime, but as our hostess points out, any restraint in the performance is undercut by the “Mommy, look at me!” mise en scene, but worth a look.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Not the same.

The Siren said...

Gentlemen, normally OT is NP at the Siren's place; but in this one instance, because Marilyn and I are tracking promised posts, I'd be grateful if we stuck to that here. If there's other stuff happening, The Shrike post is still open below. Thanks for understanding!

Sing said...

What fun--and what a challenge! I shall participate SOMEHOW. (Surely a man that large ate?)

I know it says "SING," but this is really Tinky......

The Siren said...

Tinky, I've been dipping back into Spoto's bio (as you can tell) and indeed it has a lot about his eating. I think he was dieting during Rebecca (maybe that's part of why Hitch never set much store by the movie?) and it also talks about how before one movie (I forget which) he was up to 365 pounds. He loved his wine, too. Plenty of material, whether it's Hitch on a diet (plain fish etc) or Hitch entertaining.

Sing said...

I haven't read Donald S. in YEARS but will revisit. Thank you!
Tinky

Noel Vera said...

Sounds like it's worth trying. Was thinking of two old posts, and perhaps a new one?

Always wondered: Hitchcock was never a huge influence on Philippine cinema. Why is that?

DavidEhrenstein said...

Well that's a question you're in the best position to answer, Noel.

Perhaps there's an aspect to traditional Phillipino storytelling that doesn't jibe with Hitchcock's style.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Siren, I don't trust Spoto at all. He luges for the sensational and doesn't seem to be aware of the fact that Hitch loved nothing better than pulling people's legs.

Hitch had his problems but Spoto wants to shove him into the box labelled "Tortured Artists." That he most defintiely was not. The degree to which he got his way making highly transgressive films for a mass audience when the Production Code was still very much in place is simply awe-inspiring.

The Siren said...

David, you've brought this up before. All that I ask of a Hollywood bio is that it be well-sourced. Spoto's is, whatever attitude he's showing towards his subject. I do want to read the McGilligan bio of Hitchcock. But while I do find P.McG. a competent writer I wasn't crazy about his (well-sourced) Cukor bio because it persistently undervalued the lesser-known films, an odd attitude for a director biographer to take. The first one (forgot the biographer's name and it's too early to look it up) apparently left out some major stuff. So for now Spoto. I use him for background, not for interpreting the films.

DavidEhrenstein said...

And not all of the background is there either. In his invaluable "Original Story By" Arthur Laurents provides a much livelier portrait of Hitchcock and the making of Rope. It's just on movie in a long career. But working as Hitch's screenwriter on the film (and it was a Page One rewrite) and consequently hanging out with him in different circumstances gave Laurents a clear-eyed, and highly amusing view, of Hitch that I haven't found anywhere else. He's especially funny describing Hitch's exasperation with Betsy Drake when he had her and Cary Grant over for dinner.

chubby rain said...

I would love to support this project but how can one do it w/o being a member of Facebook?

Angela Petteys said...

You can count The Hollywood Revue in, too!

Brian Doan said...

I'm in, too, if I can think of something to write! But if nothing else, I will happily promote it again and again at my blog, and thank you, Siren and Ferdy, for organizing this fabulous blogathon once again.

Josh Z said...

High-Def Digest will do whatever small part we can to contribute to the blogathon.

johncarvill said...

Can I do a piece comparing 39 Steps and North by Northwest on blu-ray?

Trish said...

Hitchcock = great fun. I'm in.

Josh Z said...

johncarvill, were you asking that of me?

johncarvill said...

Josh z: No, I was offering to contribute such a piece to the project in general. I'd be happy to do something for hi-def digest, though.

Josh Z said...

@johncarvill, if you don't have another outlet for your article, you can contact me by clicking on my profile link and we'll discuss what you have in mind.

Jeff Gee said...

Some of you guys might find this useful: The audio of the Truffaut / Hitchcock interviews can be downloaded or listened to at this page -- 11 plus hours of it, divided into 25 or 26 minute chunks and tagged according to which movies they're talking about. They've got a translater helping out. Hitchcock speaks ve-e-er-y slowly makes a lot of jokes, about 40% of which seem to work in French.

grandoldmovies said...

Grand Old Movies wants to put our 2 cents in and participate. Hope it's not too late to join. See you on Facebook - thanks!

DavidEhrenstein said...

Not as Off-Topic As it Might First Appear

Sean said...

I am in.

surly hack said...

Siren, Limerwrecks will be chiming -- and rhyming -- in.

Ashish said...

liked your post as well as blog very much.

Yojimboen said...

The new banner, if anyone’s interested:
Rehearsals for the 1958 Oscar telecast.

A larger, more detailed version here.
(Credit photog Leonard McCombe.)

L to R: Gregory Peck; Joanne Woodward; Paul Newman; Sophia Loren; Doris Day (back to camera); Cary Grant; AMPAS Pres. George Seaton; Ronald Reagan; Dorothy Malone.

king abdaoe said...

Thanks very possible, please visit my humble blog




مزيكا4ماتش

Trish said...

Now that's an oscar cast. This year's list of presenters is disappointing, to say the least. Bradley Cooper???

Yojimboen said...

Not even a tiny fraction of the full cast, Trish. The 30th Academy Awards boasted maybe the most impressive assemblage of mega-stars ever in H’Wood history.

Trish said...

What a treasure trove. And Robert Ryan too...!

Jandy Stone Hardesty said...

I was at the Academy screening of The White Shadow. Would it be disingenuous of me to post about the film itself, or that experience, or would that come off as self-aggrandizing whether I meant it to or not? I'd definitely love to help in whatever way I can to get it seen by more people.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I'm a little late getting to the comment section (Hey! Who ate all the shrimp puffs?) but you know I'm definitely going to be on this. I'm mulling over topics as we speak. (Well, we're not exactly speaking but...oh, you know what I mean.)

marya said...

I will definitely by participating!

Randomaniac said...

I'm in again this year. Last year was awesome. No topic yet tho...

www.randomaniac.com

Casey said...

Siren,
Is it too late to join the blogathon? Since I've been blogging about Mexican film for a while now, I'd like to write about film preservation (or lack of it) in that country. Here's the link....
http://realityisscary.wordpress.com/

The Siren said...

No, not at all. In fact later this week or not, I'm repeating the call for posts. We're happy to have you!

Rich said...

I'm in too. This is my blog:
http://widescreenworld.blogspot.com/

Paul F. Etcheverry said...

Count me in! http://psychotronicpaul.blogspot.com

Matt said...

Wow, can't believe I'm just finding out about this now, hopefully not too late since it's taking place in May, but the OldHorrorMovies.net blog would love to take part in the event.

The Siren said...

Matt, I just posted a new call for posts, and you are most welcome.