Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 23, 1972 · Page 105
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 105

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 23, 1972
Page 105
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Page 105 article text (OCR)

American Film Institute working to save old cinematic treasures Rv Dohald Sanders "H naoTM»~i, » T ^ By Donald Sanders WASHINGTON-tfl- Film footage which otherwise might have been lost forever is being saved, with some 8,500 old motion pictures added to the national collection at the Library of Congress- in the past four years through efforts of the American Film Institute. Old films deterioriate in time unless special efforts are made to preserve them. Until a few years ago there were no such organized efforts, and the nation was in danger of losing a vast treasure of motion pictures portraying the mores and morals, the customs and (vnEi.utnos nf a bvEooe. era. Many indeed are lost. Through the film institute's efforts, Cecil 3. DeMille's "The Squaw Man" of 1918 has been peserved, along with the 1939 "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," with James Stewart. So have "So's Your Old Man," a W. C. Fields picture of 1926 long thought to have been lost; Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" of 1941: "Wagon Tracks," a 1919 feature starring William S. Hart; Marie Dressler's "Tillie the Scrub Lady" of 19!2, and a 1906 Vitagraph production called "Saving the Mortgage." Most of the films have come from the industry itself, but others have been acquired from private collectors scattered from Vineland, N.J., to New South Wales, Australia. Some have been found in basements of old theaters. John Wayne provided the only known 35mm copy of the 1939 Western classic ROBINSON THEATER (Formerly Culler Thntr*) 305 W. With. St. Ph. 341.9431 F.otiwlnj Only Family Typ. Movl.t snows «itHtir-«»Ti»a s»i. i sun. NOW SHOW ING 2C*UrF«.Urti · Sand- Duncon * Tony RotwMt in "Star Spangled Girl" ra I'M S ^ · Woll.r Malthou * Elaint May in "» New Leaf" [B] VIRGINIAN OVER" See at 1:35,3:35 5:40,7:45,9:50 - From Warner B r o s , rner Communications Comoany SHOW TJME, JIJLY.23, 1972 "Stagecoach." Joan Crawford gave copies of seven of her features made in 194555. Mary Pickford provided more than 50 pioneering one-reelers made in 1909-13 which she bought up in the early 1920s. Warner Baxter came up with five 1929-37 features. The American Film Institute, established as a nonprofit, nongovernmental corporation in June 1967, is headed by George Stevens Jr., the son of a famous film director. The institute, with a budget of about $2.9 million a year, runs a variety of programs but none which it regards as more urgent than the preservation · of old films. Chloe Aaron, director of public media programs for the National Endowment for the Arts, says: "There was a great need for somebody to come along in films' acquisition and in a coordinating role." The Museum of Modern 'Art in New York City started collecting old films as early as 1935, and it has 8,000 or more titles. There is a similar collection at the George E a s t m a n house, started about 1948-50, which is strong on silents made before 1930. ' Mrs. Aaron said the best estimates are that it would require perhaps $80 million to preserve all the old films available, including newsreels for which almost nothing has been done. She has enlisted the aid of the National Science Foundation in a search for simpler and cheaper ways to preserve old films as well as the more modern videotape, which also deterior- iates within 10 years or so unless stored under perfect conditions. Movies made before the 1950s were on nitrocellulose or nitrate film, which deteriorates steadily and sometimes fairly rapidly. If these old films are to endure, they must be transferred to stable acetate film. The Library of Congress has films dating back to 1894, deposited for copyright purposes. But because it had no adequate storage for the highly flammable nitrate, the library did not require film deposit for a 30-year period from 1912 to 1942. And its collection for the next 10 years is selective and spotty. The institute's archivist, Sam Kula, and his staff are t h e r e f o r e concentrating mainly on gaps in the li- bray's vaults, including the 1912-1942 years. Nitrate film is extremely flammable; if stored in a dry atmosphere, its flash point approaches that of newsprint, and there have been cases of spontaneous ignition. The process of transferring nitrate to safety film received a big boost about two years ago when the Library of Congress installed its own laboratory. There was a shortage of commercial labs capable and willing to do the work. Antiseptically clean, it is located in the basement of the main library-building on Capitol HilL There is a small storage vault for nitrate film, so constructed George Stevens that if there should be an explosion, an outside wall would blow out, avoiding damage to the laboratory. Old films are cleaned by an ultrasonic process, repaired where possible, and then transferred frame by frame. Only about 10 to 20 feet of film is copied per minute--a rate much slower than the industry normally uses to make duplicate prints. The extra care is to preserve the films as accurately as possible: Depending on a variety of -circumstances, restoration of a feature film may cost from $1,400 to $3,000 or more. The film section's budget in the current fiscal year is $340,000, a jump from $75,000 four years ago. The American Film Institute recently received a grant of $320,000 from the National Endowmeii for £hs-Ar~ ;; to meet the immediate needs of film transfer." The institute also supplements the library's budget with $50,000 for contingencies. Archivist Kula estimates that $2 million a year will be needed for the next five years if valuable old films are to be preserved. He says from $65 million to $70 million would be needed to transfer everything in the pioneering collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the George Eastman House, in studio vaults and private hands. Some invaluable old films have been acquired from private collectors. One collector is George T. Post, a motion picture projectionist in San Francisco until he retired a few years ago. From him the Institute acquired 167 features and shorts dating from 1894-1934, as well as 15 reels of newsreel .and documentary footage he shot in San Francisco in 1902-34. Dorothy Taylor, widow of a film distributor in Australia, was the source of 200 features and shorts made in 1897-1945, a gift financed by the Eastin Phelan Corp. The big acquisitions, of course, have come from the major studios. Columbia ^donated 1,200 features and shorts, made in 1928-52. Paramount provided 30, 1914-28; RKO Radio, 740 features and 900 shorts, 1929-55; Warner Brothers, 1,100 features and 1,500 shorts, 1920-50. h ihe screen Opens Wednesday for a limited engagement Premiere at 8:30 p.m. Reserved Performance Presentation This means thai you arc guaranteed a f,cat for the performance of yourchoice-but it is not a reserved scat! EVKMNli OI'KN H I'.M. SHOWING X-..W ADMISSIONS!*!! M ATINKKS SAT..2:I5 I'.M. SUNDAYS I::i«* :MI ADMISSION 12.IHI SHOCKIfiG AN INTIMATE LTUDYOF 1 HE HIDDEN LIVES · PRICES AND PERFORMANCES TICKETS AT BOX OFFICE OR BY MAIL WALT iidHlifiiii and II TECHNICOLOR' G United Artists 310 D. ST., SOUTH CHARLESTON NOW SHOWING FEATURE TIMES 2:00-3:36-5:34 7:32-9:30 OVER 4TH WEEK BOX OFFICE OPENS 6:45 P.M, FEATURE TIMES 7:00-9:30 2ND WEEK FEATURE TIMES 2:00-3:32-5:04 6:36-8:08-9:40 NOW SHOWING 1 8TH WEEK ·OX OffICt OPENS 7:00 P.*. SHOW STARTS 1:00 P.M. BEST PICTURE · BEST DIRECTOR N.Y.F;lmCrilitfAworJi The outa^ sight gang does a FAST FADE and the LAFFS APPEAR like II you're locking for trouble--., he's JOE KIDD. CLINT EASTWOOD JOE KIDD WU SEE HIM MOUDONT ,..«..... .;;^~i : ...*.i.r V f.iuwfiv*.' "(CCHO^j CHARLESTON, W, VA.

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