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.