2019 UCLA Festival of Preservation offers a weekend of cinematic rarities and surprises

Kenneth Turan

2/12/2019 2:55:00 PM

Can you improve on the best? Can you make the most anticipated event on the calendars of discerning cinephiles even more fun and festive? The UCLA Film & Television Archive is about to try.

The occasion in question is the beloved UCLA Festival of Preservation, the 19th edition of which is filled, as always, with a deeply satisfying cornucopia of films, forgotten gems and rarely revived classics that never fail to both astonish in their diversity and dazzle in their newly restored glory.

But while previous iterations of the festival have spread their riches over a month of screenings, this year’s celebration, which opens Friday at the Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood, is going to fit its offerings into one very busy and exciting weekend.

For the first time, the festival’s 23 programs are going to run consecutively, starting at 9 a.m. Friday and lasting until midnight and beyond all three days.

You can buy tickets to individual programs or, if you are feeling especially festive, you can splurge for a $50 pass that lets you experience every last one of them, which at about $2 per event is quite the bargain for those with the necessary stamina.

The 1930 Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy short "Hog Wild," directed by James Parrott, screens Feb. 17.

The 1930 Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy short "Hog Wild," directed by James Parrott, screens Feb. 17. (UCLA Film & Television Archive)

Once again, the variety of films and television, all restored by UCLA, is astonishing, running the gamut from the antics of Laurel and Hardy to austere independent gems like Christopher Munch’s “The Hours and Times” to one of a kind programs such as “U.S. Presidents In the Hearst Newsreels,” going from William McKinley to Lyndon Johnson with lots of folks in between.

Classics of various genres also get their due, including 1958’s original television version of “Days of Wine and Roses” with Piper Laurie and Cliff Robertson as the protagonists.

“The Mortal Storm” directed by Frank Borzage in 1940, was one of Hollywood’s most prescient films, starring Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart and Robert Young in the story of a Jewish family destroyed by the Nazi party, which is said to be one of the reasons American films came to be banned in Germany.

A scene from the 1946 film "Enamorda."

A scene from the 1946 film "Enamorda." (UCLA Film & Television Archive)

A splendid work of a very different type is 1946’s Mexican standout “Enamorda,” a tale of the Mexican Revolution inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” Starring María Félix and directed by Emilio Fernández, it benefits from the gorgeous cinematography of Gabriel Figueroa.

One of least known films in the festival, 1933’s “My Lips Betray,” is a lighter-than-air piece of fluff that starts the weekend off.

“Lips” stars the charming Lilian Harvey, one of Germany’s most popular stars who had a brief Hollywood moment, as a singer who captures the heart of a king. Look for a cameo by Mickey Mouse.

As a fan of the brooding film noir genre, it’s a pleasure to report that UCLA has restored several features that fit that description. Best of these are two from 1949: “The Crooked Way” and “Trapped.”

Starring John Payne as a World War II vet with amnesia who shows up in L.A. and discovers his criminal past, “The Crooked Way” benefits from the cinematography of the legendary John Alton.

Perhaps the greatest of noir cinematographers, Alton gives a master class in the creation of ominous, engulfing shadows, breathing life into noir staples like rain-slicked streets, deserted warehouses and sinister window blinds.

Also excellent is “Trapped,” starring Lloyd Bridges in his pre-“Sea Hunt” days as a counterfeiter who tries to play both ends against the middle. Also a visual treat, this Richard Fleischer-directed film has a crackling conclusion shot in a long-gone Red Car depot in downtown L.A.

Allene Roberts and Edward G. Robinson in the 1947 film "The Red House," directed by Delmer Daves.

Allene Roberts and Edward G. Robinson in the 1947 film "The Red House," directed by Delmer Daves. (United Artists / Photofest / UCLA Film & Television Archive)

Ready for more noir? Also benefiting from fine acting and a great location is 1951’s “The Man Who Cheated Himself,” starring Jane Wyatt a long way from “Father Knows Best” and a gruff Lee J. Cobb in a tale that twists and turns all the way to San Francisco’s iconic Fort Point.

Almost unclassifiable is Delmer Daves’ 1947 “The Red House,” half-psychological drama, half-thriller, that boasts an unnerving Miklos Rozsa score and a disturbing performance by Edward G. Robinson as a man who says things such as “you can’t run away from a scream.”

The preservation festival items that surprised me the most this year were silent, starting with two hours of “Preserved Silent Shorts and Fragments.”

This program showcases ultra-rare work from 1910 through 1916, when short films were top of the heap, and gives us a glimpse of what the world looked like physically as well as story-wise a full century ago.

Pauline Frederick, standing, in the 1925 silent film "Smouldering Fires," directed by Clarence Brown.

Pauline Frederick, standing, in the 1925 silent film "Smouldering Fires," directed by Clarence Brown. (Universal Pictures / Photofest / UCLA Film & Television Archive)

The one silent feature in the festival, 1925’s “Smouldering Fires,” is as unusual as its title. Directed by Clarence Brown, later Greta Garbo’s director of choice, it stars Pauline Frederick in a serious, sophisticated piece of work about love, age and power dynamics. It’s not at all what you might expect, which is just what the Festival of Preservation is all about.


2019 UCLA Festival of Preservation

Where: Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd, Westwood.

When: Feb. 15-17

Cost: $8-$10; festival pass, $50

Feb. 15: “My Lips Betray,” 9 a.m.; “Voice In The Wind,” 10:41 a.m.; Selling L.A. Television: Local Kinescopes and Film Fragments, 1:40 p.m.; “The Crooked Way,” 3:15 p.m.; “El Fantasma del Convento,” 5 p.m.; “The Mortal Storm,” 7:30 p.m.; “Trapped,” 9:47 p.m.; “The Man Who Cheated Himself,” 11:20 p.m.

Feb. 16: “Playhouse 90: Days of Wine and Roses,” 9 a.m.; Preserved Silent Shorts and Fragments, 11:05 a.m.; Selections From TV’s “Stars of Jazz,” 2:08 p.m.; “The Killing Floor,” 3:43 p.m.; “Enamorada,” 6:46 p.m.; “Smouldering Fires,” 8:40 p.m.; “The Red House,” 10:20 p.m.

Feb. 17: “Alibi,” 9 a.m., Newly Restored Animation, 10:50 a.m.; Laurel and Hardy: Fugues of Destruction, 1:11 p.m.; U.S. Presidents in Hearst Newsreels, 2:53 p.m.; “Operation Bootstrap,” 5:08 p.m.; “Gay USA,” 7:36 p.m.; “The Hours and Times,” 8:59 p.m.; “A Boy And His Dog,” 10:11 p.m.


Wex Celebrates Film Restoration with 5th Annual Cinema Revival

2/6/2019 12:00:00 AM

Thursday, February 21–Tuesday, February 26, the Wexner Center presents Cinema Revival: A Festival of Film Restoration, an annual celebration of the art and practice of film restoration and preservation. Now in its fifth year, the fest comprises 15 recently restored films spanning 71 years, along with engaging presentations by 10 leading restoration experts. From revitalized classics to a guided history through one of the original Hollywood studios, Cinema Revival features something for everyone interested in the art and practice of preserving cinematic treasures.

“Outside of major festivals such as Telluride or archives such as the Academy, The Museum of Modern Art, or UCLA, there really isn’t another event like this in the country,” says David Filipi, the center’s Director of Film/Video and organizer of the festival. “It’s an incredible opportunity not only to learn about the technical aspects of film restoration from the experts, but also to hear the passion and dedication of these committed professionals. But the main thing, of course, is to see a weekend of great films.”

Among the highlights this year are: the US restoration premiere of the Italian film Filibus (1915), about a gender-bending super-criminal; a program of recently restored Laurel and Hardy comedy shorts in 35mm; and the 4K restoration world premieres of Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946), starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman and the 1980s prestige picture White Nights (1985), starring dancers Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov. 

Experts representing the Criterion Collection, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Milestone Films, the Cohen Film Collection, Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, and Audio Mechanics, the foremost sound restoration company in Hollywood, will introduce screenings throughout the festival.

“I am thrilled that David has selected Prisoners of the Earth (1939) and Detour (1945) for this year’s Cinema Revival program at the Wexner Center––an essential event on every film lover’s calendar since its inception five years ago,” says Margaret Bodde, Executive Director of The Film Foundation, who will introduce the Argentine masterpiece Prisoners of the Earth

“These two films are among 32 restored last year by The Film Foundation. While relatively unknown, Prisoners of the Earth, restored by the Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata, is considered among the greatest films ever made in Argentina, and is one of the only remaining documents of the Guarani dialect. Though better known, Detour will newly astound fans of this noir cult classic, stunningly restored by the Academy Film Archive. Both projects have been restored thanks to generous support from the George Lucas Family Foundation.”

“Preservation efforts are meaningless without robust exhibition programs. Festivals such as Cinema Revival create essential opportunities for people to come together and experience these films on the big screen with an appreciative audience,” Bodde adds. “Films provide a glimpse into our shared history and it is vitally important to support great exhibition programs—at great institutions like the Wex—that help our communities thrive.”

Guests can also mingle with the experts at a public reception from 6:30 to 7:30 pm on Saturday, February 23.

A festival pass includes admission to all talks and screenings as well as the Wex exhibitions John Waters: Indecent Exposure and Peter Hujar: Speed of Life, plus access to an exclusive passholder lounge with complimentary coffee, soft drinks, and snacks.



1/9/2019 12:00:00 AM

A total of six Berlinale Classics will be screening as part of the Retrospective at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival. The Berlinale will mark a world premiere of the restored versions of five of the films, and the international premiere of one. In addition to classics from Germany, Denmark, and Hungary (see press release of December 12, 2018), the series will include film classics from the USA, Norway, and South Korea.

Source: National Library of Norway

Atle Merton and Liv Ullmann in Ung Flukt (The Wayward Girl) by Edith Carlmar

It is the first time that Berlinale Classics will be showing a film from Norway, which is also the Country in Focus at this year’s European Film Market (EFM): Ung flukt (The Wayward Girl, 1959), based on a book by Nils Johan Rud, is the last feature made by director Edith Carlmar. It’s the story of 17-year-old Gerd and her boyfriend, who survive on fresh air and love in a remote cabin. Then a drifter turns up whom the young girl quite fancies. In her first lead role, Liv Ullmann plays an adolescent who is as vivacious as she is fragile. For the digital restoration, the National Library of Norway used a scan of the original 35mm material and the original sound negative to create a DCP of outstanding quality.

© Universal Pictures

James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again by George Marshall

Destry Rides Again (USA 1939) was directed by George Marshall and stars Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart. The film was restored by Universal Pictures in collaboration with Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation. It is a rip-roaring, style-setting western comedy about a sheriff who eschews the use of weapons. Released at the start of World War II, the film carried an unvarnished message cautioning against US appeasement policy towards the Third Reich. The primary element used for the restoration was a 35mm nitrate composite fine grain. Restoration services were provided by NBCUniversal StudioPost, which performed a wet gate scan and was responsible for the entire 4K workflow. Universal expresses special thanks to Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, who consulted on the restoration.


Jagko (Pursuit of Death) by Kwon-taek Im

Im Kwon-taek’s 1980 film Jagko (Pursuit of Death) is the story of a former South Korean officer who spends 30 years trying to track down a former guerrilla fighter from the communist North. This political parable about a grim (anti-) hero reflects the tragedy of a country divided since 1945. Jagko was restored in 2K by the Korean Film Archive using the 35mm original negative. The restoration included replacing missing frames, correcting wear and tear and colour fading, and conforming the digital version as far as possible to the original version.

The full programme of Berlinale Classics:

Destry Rides Again
dir: George Marshall, USA 1939
World premiere of the digitally restored version
in 4K DCP

Jagko (Pursuit of Death)
dir: Im Kwon-taek, South Korea 1980
International premiere of the digitally restored version
in 2K DCP

Ordet (The Word)
dir: Carl Theodor Dreyer, Denmark 1955
World premiere of the digitally restored version
in 4K DCP

Örökbefogadás (Adoption)
dir: Márta Mészáros, Hungary 1975
World premiere of the digitally restored version
in 4K DCP

Die Sieger (The Invincibles), Director’s Cut
dir: Dominik Graf, Germany 1994
World premiere of the digitally restored version
in 4K DCP

Ung flukt (The Wayward Girl)
dir: Edith Carlmar, Norway 1959
World premiere of the digitally restored version
in 4K DCP

Press Office
January 9, 2019


The Museum of Modern Art’s “To Save and Project” Series Gives Classics New Life on the Big Screen

Rebecca Pahle

1/3/2019 12:00:00 AM

Friday, January 4 sees the kick-off of the 16th annual edition of To Save and Project, the Museum of Modern Art’s annual series of newly restored features and shorts. If the term “film preservation” brings to mind silent films creeping up on their centennials (no shade there—silents are great), those perusing this year’s lineup may be in for a surprise. The 50 features and shorts being screened this year span almost a century, from the teens (Changing Hues: Color Innovations in British Silent Cinema and the two-part Great Victorian Moving Picture Show) to the 1980s.

That latter category includes two films—Buddies (1985) and Cane River (1982)—that exemplify one of the missions espoused by Josh Siegel, curator of MoMA’s Department of Film. “There are a great many independent films, particularly by traditionally marginalized groups—whether LGBTQ or African-American or women filmmakers who never got their due—that are still very much in danger of disappearing.”

Written and directed by Arthur J. Bressan Jr., the raw and exceptionally moving Buddies is one of the first films to tackle the AIDS crisis. (Bressan himslef died two years after the film’s release of AIDS-related complications.) Cane River, meanwhile, is the sole film of Horace Jenkins, who wrote as well as directed this love story about two African-American young adults, one from the lighter-skinned, more affluent side of their Louisiana community, the other from the darker-skinned, poorer side. Joyous and vibrant, the film found an early champion in Richard Pryor but failed to secure much by way of a theatrical release. The new 4K restoration of Cane River has its New York premiere on Friday, January 18, with an additional screening on the 31st. Put simply, the film is a revelation, which makes it all the more sad that Jenkins died shortly after completing it.

Among the films directed or co-directed by women this year are Ida Lupino’s Never Fear (1950), Márta Mészáros’ The Two of Them (1977), Yvonne Rainer’s Journeys from Berlin/1971 (1980), Chantal Akerman’s Histoires d’Amérique: Food, Family and Philosophy (1989), Safi Faye’s Fad’jal (1979), and Raymond Phelan and Doris Wishman’s Nude on the Moon (1961), a bit of exploitation camp where a couple of astronauts stumble upon a nudist colony… on the moon.

The older films you’d expect to see at a preservation-themed film festival are still represented. There’s the early Ernst Lubitsch film Forbidden Paradise (1924), starring a delightfully risqué Pola Negri as a Queen who seduces her lady-in-waiting’s fiance. There’s a new English translation of F.W. Murnau’s Faust (1926) and, skipping forward a decade, Alexander Korda’s The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), Fernando de Fuentes’ The Phantom of the Monastery (1934), and that same year’s Finishing School. A Ginger Rogers comedy, Finishing School is the only feature directed by screenwriter Wanda Tuchock, one of only two women (along with the prolific Dorothy Arzner) to direct within the Hollywood studio system in the 30s.

While some of the films in To Save and Project’s 2019 lineup are available through home video, Siegel stresses that “even though you may know these films, you may not be able to see them in quite this way.” “Quite this way” meaning restored, in a theater, absolutely gorgeous. Siegel cites the surreal 1961 thriller Night Tide, starring Dennis Hopper as a sailor who falls in love with a woman who just might be a killer mermaid. “Night Tide may be somewhat well-known, but I don’t think it has ever looked as good as it does now, because of the digital work that’s been done on the original camera negative and fine grain master.” Also high on the list in terms of gorgeous visuals is the Soviet drama Fragment of an Empire (1929), with cinematography by Gleb Bushtuyev and Yevgeni Shneider. The new digital restoration, by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and EYE Filmmuseum in partnership with Gosfilmofond of Russia, gives us imagery that’s nothing short of striking, its play of high contrast against urban architecture calling to mind the decades-later The Third Man.

André De Toth’s Crime Wave (1954), starring Sterling Hayden, represents both the importance of screening restorations theatrically and one of the main difficulties of doing so. “It’s not an unknown film,” Siegel explains. “It’s actually a beloved noir film. But it became clear from talking to various people who’ve done noir series that it is exceedingly hard to get ahold of this film” in 35mm instead of a “crappy 16mm print.” MoMA, because of their close relationship with Warner Bros., was able to get the 35mm—and their sole screening of the film, on Saturday, January 19th, may be “your last chance to see a brand new print struck from the original camera negative.”

No matter how well-known, no matter how old or young, films—particularly the high-quality versions that MoMA screens—are in danger of disappearing if they’re not taken care of and if the studios that own prints don’t make them accessible. Even MoMA itself, Siegel admits, has films in their archives that, before he started To Save and Project sixteen years ago, were shelved away instead of shared with the public. “A film like Forbidden Paradise, or last year’s Rosita—we’ve had the best materials on these Lubitsch films for decades, and only now, partly because of digital preservation techniques, have we been able to make them more widely accessible here in this festival, but also at festivals abroad and with any luck theatrical runs.”

Argues Siegel, “The situation in some ways as is as perilous now as it was in the 1950s, because people have the illusion that because [a film] was made digitally it is infinitely reproducible and storable, and that if you simply put something on a hard drive, putting it in the freezer, it will still be intact in even 20 years. With the change of technologies that have rapidly accelerated over the last several decades, I think that we’re looking at potentially another disaster situation where a great many independent films are lost to us forever. And that, coupled with the vagaries of distribution platforms and the uncertainty of where things are going, makes it doubly the case.”

Still, Siegel cites the increase of independent cinemas across the United States as cause for optimism. “I do hope that we can bring some iteration of this festival, or just MoMA preservation more generally, to these other cinemas across the country. I think it’s part of our mandate, our mission at this museum.”



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