Director’s Statement by Ross Lipman
My new film, Notfilm, is a documentary about the embattled collaboration between Nobel Prize-winning playwright Samuel Beckett and silent-era genius Buster Keaton. Beckett’s only work for projected cinema, aptly called Film, is in essence a chase film: the craziest ever committed to celluloid.
I first read Beckett’s script for Film in my late teens, long before seeing the movie. It immediately grabbed hold of me as one of cinema’s great curiosities, and hasn’t left me since. When my friend Andrew Lampert at Anthology Film Archives contacted me about preserving Film, I jumped at the chance. In New York, I met with its producer, Barney Rosset, the legendary founder of Grove Press. Rosset soon deposited Film with the UCLA Film & Television Archive where I was working, and with generous funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation and The Film Foundation and topnotch work from my colleagues at the labs, we were able to restore Beckett’s original vision in a new edition.
But Film still wouldn’t leave me alone. During my many visits with Rosset, he often lamented the loss of a key scene. The sequence comprised a legendary long-lost prologue. Upon my gentle prodding, he revealed that he did have a few rolls of film under his kitchen sink, but he was sure they were just scrap.
You can guess the rest.
The footage was from the missing prologue—which I’ve now reconstructed in strict accordance with Beckett’s original notes. And that was just the beginning. Looking at other outtakes, I found myself immersed in a dream world of what might have been and what really occurred as film stock ran through cinematographer Boris Kaufman’s camera in 1964.
Notfilm is the result of those daydreams. Over the past seven years I’ve traveled across the world interviewing Beckett’s friends and collaborators. I’ve also had the great fortune to work with composer Mihály Víg, who’s created a score for Notfilm every bit as stunning as his music for the films of Béla Tarr. Lastly and firstly, it’s been my honor and joy to work with the extraordinary Amy Heller and Dennis Doros of Milestone Films.
Notfilm asks, as Beckett did, what cinema can tell us of the human experience. It aspires, as Beckett did, to Joyce’s dictum that artworks should not be about things, but be these things themselves.
FilmRadar managed to ask Ross Lipman a few questions about the film:
How did you first decide to pursue this project?
I actually got taken with the script of Film, in the old Grove Press edition, years before I saw the movie. When the rare archival elements began almost landing in my lap, the thought of a movie naturally arose. But oddly, it wasn’t ‘till viewing the outtakes of the decrepit room – Boris Kaufman’s slow pans over the detritus – that those idle thoughts grew into something more. I saw in those fragmentary outtakes a world I wanted to explore up close.
What makes you distrust movies about movies?
This was an attitude I had when I was younger...I didn't yet realize that for practicing artists, their work can simply become their life. But I still have feel that internal voice arising on occasion, asking what my aims are. In the end I return to the same dictum from Joyce that inspired Beckett: he was less interested in works that were "about" things, than those that were things in themselves.
What were you most surprised to learn while making NOTFILM?
The further I delved, the more I realized that Becket was less of an absolutist than people thought. Yes, he was famously particular and exacting, but by all accounts he was quite warm, human, and even embracing of those around him. He'd even allow variances - at least in some instances - of his formal concerns when he felt they were well intended. It was partly this realization that allowed me to proceed with NOTFILM,
What do you want the audience to walk away with after seeing it?
There's no single thing that stands out, in that I've intentionally tried to appeal to different interests, all of which are a part of myself. Perhaps in the same way that Shakespeare hoped his plays could be enjoyed by vastly different groups of people, in different ways. I love the meditative as well as the mundane. But if pressed, I'd hope that viewers are inspired to seek out more works by the many artists whose works feature in NOTFILM, all of whom have been great personal inspirations to me.
Los Angeles Theatrical run: American Cinematheque / Laemmle Theaters / co-presented by Los Angeles Filmforum
Fri 4/1: Actor Jimmy Karen in person.
Egyptian Theater. 7:30 pm
Sat 4/2: Actor Jimmy Karen, photographer I.C. Rapoport, director Ross Lipman in person.
Aero Theater, Santa Monica. 7:30 pm.
Mon 4/4: Director Ross Lipman in person.
Laemmle Noho 7, North Hollywood. 7:30 pm.
Tue 4/5: Actor Jimmy Karen in person.
Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena. 7:30 pm.
Wed 4/6: Director Ross Lipman in person.
Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts, Beverly Hills 7:30 pm.
Thur 4/7: Laemmle Claremont 5, Claremont 7:30 pm.
Fri 4/8: Critic/historian Leonard Maltin and director Ross Lipman and in person.
Egyptian Theater. 7:30 pm.
Sat 4/9: Director Ross Lipman in person.
Egyptian Theater. 7:30 pm.
Harlem, Georgia is a sleepy little southern town. If you blinked, you’d miss it. On January 18, 1892 Oliver Norvell Hardy was born in this town and his success in Hollywood gave the town an eternal claim to fame. They are clearly very proud of this and it shows. The town seemed full of sincere people and great southern hospitality.
I found information about the Laurel & Hardy Museum online shortly before my Christmas trip home to Georgia to see my parents. I pleaded with them to take me there for a little day trip and they agreed. I really love these little “Mom and Pop” type museums, as they are always run by such devoted, passionate people. When we first arrived in Harlem, I noticed “The Columbia Theatre”. The marquee looked beautiful and there was a large Laurel & Hardy mural on the side of the building. Unfortunately the interior of the theatre was complete gutted and empty. I later found out this is a work in progress. The town is trying to raise money and get grants to re-open the theatre with an eye to showing Laurel & Hardy films along with other silents and talkies from Hollywood’s Golden Age. I wish I was wealthy, as I would have written a check for that on the spot. This would really be a great thing for this town and would provide them with a nice cultural and social hub.
The museum itself was small but filled with all sorts of memorabilia, displays and information. They had all sorts of books, resources, historical documents and photographs. Fans from around the world have generously donated items to the museum throughout the years. The docent was a very nice lady named Linda who volunteers for the museum and has an incredible passion for Laurel & Hardy. She has even been to the Laurel & Hardy museum in England where Stan Laurel was born and also runs the local Harlem Fan club called “BerthMarks”. She guided us around the museum and was very helpful.
In the back of the museum they had a screening room with several of their films on VHS and DVD…but the image was really bad. I have been so fortunate to see all of the Laurel & Hardy films on the big screen at various events. I had no idea that the home video offerings were that scant and that poor in quality. I promised the lady at the museum that I would do my best to locate cleaner copies. If ANY of you out there have nice, clean DVD recordings of any Laurel & Hardy films, please let me know. I want to donate it to the museum. Often times if someone’s first exposure to old movies is a bad one, then they will often assume that all old films looks that way. I’m always trying to dispel that notion. The museum hosts a huge Laurel & Hardy Festival every year and they also do many educational programs that teach children about film and local history. I was so pleased to hear that these films will keep being discovered by younger generations, thus assuring that the boy from Harlem GA will never be forgotten.
I’ve always been a Jean Harlow fan and I was thrilled to see they even had a little display at the museum featuring information about her appearances in Laurel & Hardy films. These films were a great springboard that helped to launch her legendary career.
I had such a great time at the museum and my enthusiasm ran wild . I even posed with several Laurel & Hardy statues. I had to!!!
On the way out of town I walked across the railroad tracks to a vacant lot filled with green grass and a plaque. It is the exact lot where Hardy was born.
The town as also painted their watertower in tribute to him as well.
So if you are a Laurel & Hardy fan, I highly recommend taking a trip to Harlem. I plan to keep tabs on how the theatre is progressing and hopefully I’ll get to come back and watch some films when it has been re-opened.
To see more of my pictures, click HERE for my flickr page.
I’ve always been fascinated by Paris France. For ages I’ve longed to travel the world and Paris was the first place on my list. I have been there twice and I am already longing to go back. I love the historic architecture, the rich history, the excellent food and of course the cinema! The French are major cinephiles and I was delighted to discover a ton of places all over the city where I could see old movies!
Below is a photo of the Cin?math?que Fran?aise, which is an amazing archive of films, research materials and information. I was stunned to find out they are fully funded by the French government!! They have 3 different levels with exhibits and three different sized theatres inside. This building was designed by famed architect Frank Gehry. If you want to learn more about the Cin?math?que, then make sure to rent the documentary film Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinematheque. I went to all three exhibitions including the one about silent film pioneer Georges Melies and another big exhibit about Dennis Hopper. They day of my visit, they were showing a rare Dennis Hopper film called The Trip made by Roger Corman in 1967. In the film Peter Fonda decides to drop acid and experiences visions of sex, death, strobe lights, flowers, dancing girls, witches, hooded riders, a torture chamber, and a dwarf. He also runs naked through part of West Hollywood. It was lovely!
I also stopped by the Cine Tamaris display at Rue Daguerre in Montparnasse. This is the headquarters of filmmaker Agnes Varda’s production company. She directed numerous films (several available from Criterion) including La Pointe Courte, Cl?o from 5 to 7, Le bonheur and Vagabond. Note the Jacques Demy DVD box sets in the window display. They were married and he directed numerous French classics including The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort. I was freezing cold when this photo was taken!
There is a section of Paris called “The Latin Quarter” that I really enjoy visiting. There are tons of small theatres in the area and almost all of them are showing old Hollywood classics! I couldn’t resist coming in from the cold and watching a Hitchcock matinee! The theatre was nice and warm, the seats were very comfortable and the print of Rebecca was stunning!!!!
I took many long walks through the city and saw a great shop that carried old Hollywood posters.
Since I have a huge passion for historic cemeteries, I managed to visit several graves of French film legends including: Henri Georges Clouzot and his wife Vera, Francois Truffaut and American actress Jean Seberg.
Stay tuned for more of my film related travels.
As a youngster I quickly realized I wasn’t anything like the other children. Instead of playing outdoors with Barbie dolls, I preferred to sit inside a dark living room and watch the weekly “horror movie matinee” on channel 21. In my spare time I poured over books with crisp black and white photos of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Sr. & Jr. I even got my Dad’s flashlight and tried to do “monster lighting” on myself in the mirror. I put my cousin’s Cabbage Patch Kid in a wooden toy box and informed my cousins that we were going to play “funeral” and that we all had to file past the box for the viewing. Yes I was certainly different all right. Sufficed to say it was only a matter of time before I discovered the films of Vincent Price. He quickly joined my sacred pantheon of horror heroes. I have always found myself enthralled not only by his austere and elegant screen presence, but by THAT VOICE. You can literally close your eyes during his films and just hear him talk—and that alone is enough to send chills up the spine. He had such style, grace and menace all at the same time. That’s a rare thing. Even in films where that divine voice isn’t used very much, his body posture and movements alone do the trick.
Last night I went to the Aero Theatre and saw a double feature of THEATRE OF BLOOD (1973) and THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971).
I grabbed some popcorn and settled in for an evening of sheer cinematic bliss!
Both films are “revenge films.” In both films there are several things that you can count on:
#1 Vincent Price’s character will fake his own death
#2 That Vincent Price WILL KILL you for your real or imagined sins against him
#3 He will have a beautiful woman (be it a daughter or girlfriend or assistant) helping him accomplish his evil deeds
#4 Not only will he kill you, but he will do it in the most grisly, creative and theatrical way possible (involving either Shakespeare or Biblical plagues)
#5 He will dwell in a lavish setting (either a glorious yet run down theatre or a art deco home/scientific lab)
#6 He will be chased by authorities
#7 He will escape the law by destroying himself in the end
On ALL of these things you may rely.
In THEATRE OF BLOOD he plays an actor who has been savaged in the press by every critic in London. When he is denied the celebrated Critic’s Award, he fakes his own death and vows to avenge those who robbed him of his glory. He uses his theatre company’s final season of Shakespeare plays as the template which he will use to orchestrate the killings. Each critic is killed in a re-created scene from one of the plays. It keeps getting better and more creative with each murder. The film also has this very dry dark humor running through that is really fun to watch. This may have been regarded at the time as a low budget horror film—but the sheer wit involved elevates it far beyond that! It is plain to see that Vincent Price is having a field day with the character. It shows!
I have seen THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES on VHS but it was a far different experience seeing it on the big screen. Vincent Price plays a famed organist whose wife is killed in a car accident. Once again he fakes his own death to seek revenge on the 8 doctors and one nurse who he is convinced failed to save her life. He kills them all with Biblical plagues in really innovative ways. For example he boils vegetables and pours the residue over the nurse’s head while she is sleeping then via a secret tube he unleashes a swarm of locusts that eat her flesh. The PHIBES character can’t speak much due to the accident which he used to fake his death, so he talks mainly through an artificial box routed through a phonograph. The effect is creepy and works well. The beautiful assistant “Vulnavia” drifts through the film like a zombie who never really springs to life. She bears a striking resemblance to the wife that Phibes lost. This adds yet another creepy dimension to the already creepy proceedings. In the end this time Vincent/Phibes inserts a tube that drains all his blood and replaces it with embalming fluid. Brilliant!
The screenwriter of Phibes was on hand to talk briefly before the film. He described it as a popcorn horror love story. I understood that. In a strange and weird way the best love stories are never the ones that are obvious. They are hiding out in other genres disguised as other films. Maybe they are better off that way….only waiting to be recognized as love stories by the people who seek out something well…different.
CARMEN JONES (1954)
Directed by Otto Preminger
I’ve always wanted to see this film so I’m glad the big screen opportunity came my way. I had never seen a Dorothy Dandridge film before and I am just absolutely amazed! She radiates heat, sexuality, energy and passion in every frame of the film. She owns it 100%. I was bowled over. I did have a few problems overall with the film however. The first problem is the the singing. Harry Belafonte (the male lead-“Joe”) and Dorothy Dandridge were known to have incredible singing voices, but instead their singing was dubbed by white opera singers. It makes no sense whatsoever. When they open their mouths to sing the voices that come out don’t fit at all! Besides that, the dubbed voices just drain the soul right out of the music. I’m really curious as to who was behind this decision. I may look up some information on the production history so I can find out why this was done. It is really distracting. The other problem have with the film is that some of the musical numbers just don’t fit. Instead of enhancing the action, they halt it right in it’s tracks. There are some musical numbers involving the supporting actors and anytime Dorothy wasn’t on screen—I found myself missing her and wishing she was there. I was also shocked at how sexy the film was for 1954. The scene where Carmen takes off Joe’s belt and puts it back on was teaming with lust and longing—which is something you really didn’t see in films at that time. There was also a pretty steamy scene where Carmen is in a tiny silk robe and Joe blows her toe nails dry. I can’t recall seeing any sort of cinematic lust that blatant since the days of pre-code in the early 1930s. I was also a bit surprised at the scene where Carmen is in her bra and panties getting dressed. Again that was not a common site. I mean this was the era where Luci & Desi had separate beds on TV even though they were married! CARMEN was brazen, predatory, self destructive and throughly unapologetic. I always find these types of characters to be much more fun to watch than the “good girl” types.
Otto Preminger’s direction here is steady and masterful. He doesn’t use a lot of close ups. He mainly shoots in medium shots and doesn’t rely on lots of editing. This approach really works because it gives you the feeling like you are a fly on the wall…and that’s a VERY interesting wall to be on! The actors are all uniformly great and Preminger seems to always have a knack for drawing the best out of them. The print looked a little faded in a few places and the focus was soft in a few places as well. I can’t help but notice this stuff.
It makes me sad to think that this was one of the few great roles Dorothy Dandridge would ever have. She was so talented and so magnetic. There should have been more….many more.
If Mary Pickford is known today outside of film fan circles, it is merely as “The girl with the golden curls” or “America’s Sweetheart”. Behind her delicate beauty, Pickford was a woman with razor sharp business acumen who rose to become one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood. She wrote, produced and starred in her own films wielding complete creative control over every aspect of production. She also co-founded United Artists along with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and husband Douglas Fairbanks. Her life, career and legacy are explored in the new documentary “Mary Pickford: Muse of the Movies” by Nicholas Eliopoulos which is now out on DVD from Cinema Libre.
The film discusses Pickford’s meteoric rise, her box office drawing power and how she helped to shape acting in film as we know it today. This is made all the more effective by the use of rare archival interviews in Pickford’s own words. Her life seems in many ways to be defined by ambition. While the public loved her in the “little girl” roles, she sought to stretch herself as an artist by tackling new challenges. In the film “Stella Maris” she played a doomed orphan. She transformed herself so completely for the role to that she was rendered unrecognizable. Pickford brought director Ernst Lubitsch from Germany after WWI to direct her 1922 film “Rosita.” They clashed during production and never worked together again. Even so, Pickford was not one to shy away from taking chances.
She eventually began to feel confined by the “little girl” roles and felt they were artistically suffocating her. After her mother’s death in 1928, she had her curls chopped off which made the front page of the New York Times. This transition came along with the arrival of sound. Pickford’s “talkie” debut was the film “Coquette” which won her an Academy Award. Unfortunately fans were confused seeing her play a flirty socialite with bobbed hair. It was not the Mary Pickford they were used to. Her career began to fade along with her celebrated marriage to fellow Hollywood titan Douglas Fairbanks. They would only make a handful of talking pictures each (including a clunky adaptation of “The Taming of the Shrew” together) before retiring from the screen.
Pickford continued to produce and remained involved with charity work until the end of her life. She blazed countless trails for women in Hollywood and left an indelible mark on film history.
TCM has done it again with another stellar line up! This event really has become a mecca to classic movie lovers and I've been amazed to find that most people I meet at the festival have made this their yearly vacation.
The only problem with TCM Fest is that they haven't invented (to my knowledge) a human cloning machine. There are up to 5 fantastic events all going on at the same time over the course of the entire festival. I tend to mull over the schedule for days before making my final decisions and it is never easy. I am a vintage clothing collector and have a huge passion for design, so the theme of "Style in the Movies" was a lure I couldn't resist.
First up, I saw the silent film "Our Dancing Daughters" (1928), which stared Joan Crawford, Anita Page and Dorothy Sebastian. I've seen this before but never on the big screen, so this was an exciting opportunity. Before the film began, TCM conducted an interview with Anita Page's daughter. The interviewer did the best he could, but she didn't have any insights or anything interesting to share. He finally asked to if the rumor was true that Italian dictator Benito Mussolini had written her mother fan letters. She confirmed that it was. Then the interviewer asked how she felt about that, to which she deadpanned, "Well, at least it wasn't Hitler." You could have heard a pin drop. The audience all sat in a seemingly long uncomfortable silence. The interviewer smiled and made a fast exit to start the film.
"Our Dancing Daughters" is a wonderful flapper melodrama complete with plenty of eye popping 1920s deco sets, evening gowns and jewelry. Joan Crawford jumps right off the screen and seems in her element dancing on a table top amidst a wild party. In the film she plays a free spirited (but virtuous) flapper who falls in love with a young man who is lured away by her gold digging rival (Anita Page). While the story itself plays out like a soap opera, the performances really elevate the proceedings. This film was a huge hit and spawned two follow up films--"Our Modern Maidens" and "Our Blushing Brides".
I'm a huge fan of film noir and was also eager to see "Gun Crazy" (1950). Out of the all of the films I attended at the festival, this is the one that really brought the house down. Noir czar Eddie Muller introduced the film and brought out star Peggy Cummins for her first Los Angeles appearance in decades. The crowd gave her a standing ovation. She was gracious, classy and didn't disappoint. She recalled the film has being super low budget and none of them had expectations that it would become such a classic. It just just thought of as another "B" movie at the time. Peggy Cummins gives perhaps the most ferocious performance in noir history as a beautiful gun crazed circus sharp shooter intent on living life in the fast lane.
The print of "Gun Crazy" was stunning and it was such a thrill seeing it at the Egyptian Theatre. Film noir has become such a popular and highly influential genre, so I'm really glad to see they are carving out a space for it at the festival.
"Girl Shy" (1924) is perhaps Harold Lloyd's most winningly romantic film. While he hasn't been as well remembered as Chaplin and Keaton, this has changed in recent years. His films have enjoyed screenings at several film festivals along with new books and even a DVD box set. "Girl Shy" was a packed house. In the film Harold Lloyd plays a shy, quiet guy who writes a book on how to seduce and handle women....even though he knows nothing about it. He has numerous fantasies about his conquests of "The Flapper" and "The Vamp". Naturally he meets the woman of his dreams, but trouble ensues along the road to a happy ending. Harold Lloyd's granddaughter spoke before the film. She talked about his incredible attention to detail and how he timed his gags for the maximum audience response. It is obvious that Harold Lloyd was indeed brilliant and worthy of being remembered as one of the comedy greats of the silent era.
Every year TCM has made a point of including a Clara Bow film and I couldn't be happier! This year they showed the rare pre-code goodie "Call Her Savage" (1933). The film was introduced by biographer David Stenn whose Bow biography "Runnin' Wild" is a must read. Clara Bow stars here as a disgraced socialite named Nasa Springer. The film contains enough melodrama for three films and includes pre-code elements such as prostitution, a gay bar, venereal disease, gambling, scandal and attempted rape. Clara Bow elevates the material with an excellent performance, putting to rest any myths that she was unable to make it in "talkies". In truth, Clara was simply tired and ready to retire. This was the second to last film of her career and one that she was particularly proud of. It is always hard to decide what films to see, but the choice is much easier when TCM shows rarities like this one that aren't on DVD.
"Letter From An Unknown Woman" was another film that I had never gotten to see in the big screen format. It was introduced by actress Rose McGowan who seems very smart and knowledgeable about the classics. Directed by Max Ophüls, the film stars Louis Jourdan as a concert pianist who receives a letter from a past lover (Joan Fontaine) who he fails to remember. The film is a heartbreaking, tender drama that moves slowly and requires patience when viewing. It doesn't zip along like many movies, but rather unfolds slowly and with a quiet, deliberate pace. The frustrating thing about this film is that the character played by Joan Fontaine is so spellbound and naive that she refuses to see the truth that has been right in front of her all along. This same material felt infinitely more effective in the film "Only Yesterday" (1933) with Margaret Sullavan and John Boles.
Perhaps the most revelatory screening of the festival for me was the documentary "Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room". Barely two years old at the time, Baby Peggy became a sensation in silent comedies of the early 1920s before making the transition to feature films. Unfortunately her parents squandered her entire fortune through outrageous spending and mismanagement. Baby Peggy performed in vaudeville before eventually running away from home with her sister in an effort to break free from her parents. She eventually found solace in religion and managed to make the transformation from film actress to film historian. I've read her book "Whatever Happened to Baby Peggy" which is a fantastic and vivid account of her life. The documentary effectively tells her life story in photographs, interviews and even recent footage of a now 94 year old Baby Peggy (renamed Diana Serra Cary) interacting with her granddaughter and attending film festivals. This was an excellent documentary and a great treat to see with an audience. TCM also did a separate program of Baby Peggy silent shorts. Diana Serra Cary was in attendance and her memory is excellent. She was able to recall many details about the dangerous stunts, long hours and often hazardous working conditions she endured. She held the audience captive and is a really great story teller. If you haven't read her book, it really is a must.
I also took a break from movie going to play a trivia game called "So You Think You Know Movies" at the Roosevelt Hotel with some other film fans. Unfortunately we lost, but had a great time playing in any case. Several of us went to lunch at the Pig & Whistle afterward. One of the things I enjoy most about the festival is meeting and getting to know other people from around the country and even the world who cherish these films as much as I do. TCM Fest really is a community and a great way for film fans to unite in our shared passion.
I got to spend a few minutes chatting with Ms. Carey (Baby Peggy) after the screening! Pardon the iphone quality photo.
HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE AND PARAMOUNT GIVE HERITAGE MUSEUM A FACELIFT
In keeping with the celebration of Paramount Pictures’ 100th anniversary, the motion picture production company is putting some loving care into the building where their company was born - the Lasky-DeMille barn. The 1901 Hollywood stable was built by Col. Robert Northam, and later sold to Jacob Stern. Stern was the owner when it became a film studio in 1912. It was later rented to the Lasky Company, which purchased the property. The Lasky Company merged with Adolph Zukor’s Famous Players Film Company and the Paramount Distributing Company to become Paramount Pictures Corporation. In 1979, Paramount donated the barn to Hollywood Heritage. Today it is the Hollywood Heritage Museum, operated since 1985 by Hollywood Heritage, a membership based non-profit, with an all-volunteer management and staff.
Paramount Pictures, along with the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Los Angeles County Preservation Fund, provided funds to prepare the building for a “new” coat of paint. The current painting of this California State Landmark returns the building to its original color scheme when Paramount was born.
Numerous researchers and historians both in and outside of the organization aided Hollywood Heritage in discovering the building’s construction date and color. Subsequent detailed paint studies taken from those remote portions of the building least changed in the last hundred years was conducted by Historic Resources Group of Pasadena, and confirmed descriptions in newspaper accounts of the building as “The Gray Lady” and leading it to be returned to a glorious gray once more (with a bit of dark green and white trim).
Paramount Pictures will provide both the paint and skilled labor to accomplish this restoration, which is anticipated to be completed by the end of March. “We are so gratified that Paramount Pictures has joined this restoration project, helping us to commemorate the building and the company’s history. As the sole link between early agrarian Hollywood and the entertainment capital it is today, this is an important landmark” said Hollywood Heritage president, Richard Adkins. Of equal importance is the donation by the Cecil B. DeMille Foundation of the refurbishing of the second story of the museum with new climate controlled storage and archival facilities.
Currently on display at the museum is an exhibit provided by Paramount Pictures and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation of photographs and artifacts from 100 years of Paramount films. The museum which is located at 2100 N. Highland Ave. is open Wednesday through Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $7.00 and children under twelve are admitted free. Visit us online at www.hollywoodheritage.org
WE WANT YOU TO SEE NAPOLEON….AND HERE ARE 10 GOOD REASONS WHY!
We want to share with you an article posted by Thomas Gladysz this week on SFGate and The Huffington Post. Thomas details ten compelling reasons why everyone should go see our monumental presentation of NAPOLEON at the Oakland Paramount (March 24, 25, 31, April 1) - we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Following are his ten great reasons, with excerpts from the article:
10) BACKGROUND: “[Film historian Kevin Brownlow has] spent much of his life piecing together this lost masterpiece which had been dismissed, neglected, cut up, reworked, and scattered by the winds of time.”
9) KEVIN BROWNLOW: “In the March issue of Vanity Fair, Martin Scorsese wrote, ‘If you love silent movies, Kevin Brownlow should be your hero.’”
8) SETTING: “Thanks in part to [the Oakland Paramount] - a temple to the motion picture experience - movie-goers who attend Napoleon may well find themselves spellbound in darkness.”
7) MUSIC: “[Carl Davis’ score is] a marathon and masterful work of film scoring which has twice been expanded to keep up with newly found footage.”
6) CARL DAVIS: “Davis has written music for more than 100 television programs and feature films, but is best known for creating music to accompany silent films, including key Brownlow restorations.”
5) BIGGER AND BETTER: “This current and likely final restoration, completed in 2000 but not previously seen outside Europe, reclaims more than 30 minutes of additional footage discovered since the earlier restorations while visually upgrading much of the film.”
4) GREATEST FILM EVER MADE: “Here is what Vincent Canby had to say in 1981 in the pages of the New York Times. ‘...One suddenly realizes that there once was a film that justified all of the adjectives that have subsequently been debased by critics as well as advertising copywriters. Napoleon sweeps; it takes the breath away; it moves; it dazzles.’”
3) POLYVISION: “There are few movies so innovative, so daring and so hugely ambitious… For the finale, the screen expands to three times its normal width - a kind of triptych - while showing panoramic views and montages of images. There really hasn’t been anything else like it, not even Cinerama… Prepare to be amazed.”
2) VALUE: “For a five and a half hour movie (the length of three contemporary films) accompanied by a live symphony orchestra (a concert ticket too), the ticket prices to Napoleon are rather inexpensive.”
1) EXPERIENCE: “In ten or twenty or thirty years, when this screening of Napoleon is only a memory, film lovers will ask - were you there? ‘Did you see the Napoleon at the Paramount in 2012?’”
The Oscars are happening tomorrow night and all eyes will be on Hollywood. For anyone who loves film history, this year has been one to savor. THE ARTIST was wonderful and everything I could ever want in a film. While there has been some backlash with detractors saying it is too light and fluffy, the film has undeniable charm and was clearly made as a love letter to old Hollywood. Based on the months of pre-show awards results THE ARTIST is poised to win Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director. I also loved HUGO and would be thrilled if that were to win Best Picture of any other awards for that matter. My hope is that the general public will see these films and develop an interest in learning more. We are very fortunate to live a time when there are a ton of silent movies on DVD including a Melies box set. It is easy and accessible to find. TCM also shows silent films, often on Sunday nights. While the winners may be predicable, I still enjoy watching the show and have made it a tradition since childhood. Below are my pics and predictions for the Oscars:
The 84th Annual Academy Awards
Actor in a Leading Role
* Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
* George Clooney in “The Descendants”
* Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
* Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
* Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”
Actor in a Supporting Role
* Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
* Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
* Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
* Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
* Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
Actress in a Leading Role
* Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
* Viola Davis in “The Help”
* Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
* Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
* Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”
Actress in a Supporting Role
* Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
* Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
* Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
* Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
* Octavia Spencer in “The Help”
Animated Feature Film
* “A Cat in Paris” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
* “Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
* “Kung Fu Panda 2” Jennifer Yuh Nelson
* “Puss in Boots” Chris Miller
* “Rango” Gore Verbinski
* “The Artist”
Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
* “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
* “Midnight in Paris”
Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
* “War Horse”
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
* “The Artist” Guillaume Schiffman
* “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Jeff Cronenweth
* “Hugo” Robert Richardson
* “The Tree of Life” Emmanuel Lubezki
* “War Horse” Janusz Kaminski
* “Anonymous” Lisy Christl
* “The Artist” Mark Bridges
* “Hugo” Sandy Powell
* “Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor
* “W.E.” Arianne Phillips
* “The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius
* “The Descendants” Alexander Payne
* “Hugo” Martin Scorsese
* “Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen
* “The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick
* “Hell and Back Again”
Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
* “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”
Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
* “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”
Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Rich Middlemas
Documentary (Short Subject)
* “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement”
Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
* “God Is the Bigger Elvis”
Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
* “Incident in New Baghdad”
* “Saving Face”
Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
* “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”
Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen
* “The Artist” Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
* “The Descendants” Kevin Tent
* “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
* “Hugo” Thelma Schoonmaker
* “Moneyball” Christopher Tellefsen
Foreign Language Film
* “Bullhead” Belgium
* “Footnote” Israel
* “In Darkness” Poland
* “Monsieur Lazhar” Canada
* “A Separation” Iran
* “Albert Nobbs”
Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
* “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin
* “The Iron Lady”
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
Music (Original Score)
* “The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams
* “The Artist” Ludovic Bource
* “Hugo” Howard Shore
* “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Alberto Iglesias
* “War Horse” John Williams
Music (Original Song)
* “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”
Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
* “Real in Rio” from “Rio”
Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown; Lyric by Siedah Garrett
* “The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer
* “The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
* “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer
* “The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
* “Hugo” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
* “Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
* “Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
* “The Tree of Life” Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Dede Gardner and Grant Hill, Producers
* “War Horse” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
Short Film (Animated)
* “Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon
* “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
* “La Luna” Enrico Casarosa
* “A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
* “Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
Short Film (Live Action)
* “Pentecost” Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
* “Raju” Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
* “The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George
* “Time Freak” Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
* “Tuba Atlantic” Hallvar Witzø
* “Drive” Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
* “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Ren Klyce
* “Hugo” Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
* “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
* “War Horse” Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom
* “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco and Ed Novick
* “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
* “War Horse”
Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson
* “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann and Alex Henning
* “Real Steel”
Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
* “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
* “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
* “The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
* “Hugo” Screenplay by John Logan
* “The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
* “Moneyball” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; Story by Stan Chervin
* “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan
Writing (Original Screenplay)
* “The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius
* “Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
* “Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor
* “Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen
* “A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhadi
I always look forward to the films coming out in the fall. It is usually when the independents get more of a chance to shine and gear up for Oscar season. This fall brings a wealth of interesting new titles. Below are the films I’m the most eager to see:
DRIVE (Film District) Sept. 16th
Ryan Gosling stars as a Los Angeles wheelman for hire, stunt driving for movie productions by day and steering getaway vehicles for armed heists by night. Though a loner by nature, Driver can’t help falling in love with his beautiful neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), a vulnerable young mother dragged into a dangerous underworld by the return of her ex-convict husband Standard (Oscar Isaac). Winner of the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival, this modern day noir looks fantastic! Gosling continues to work with top notch talent and is really building a solid, lasting body of work.
TAKE SHELTER (Sony Classics) Sept. 30th
Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself. Michael Shannon excels at playing disturbed characters. Witness his Oscar nominated turn in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD or on BOARDWALK EMPIRE if you don’t believe me. This film also stars fast rising actress Jessica Chastain (TREE OF LIFE, THE HELP). A friend of mine caught an advance screening of this the other night and raved about it.
BLACKTHORN (Magnolia) Oct. 7th
It’s been said (but unsubstantiated) that BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID were killed in a standoff with the Bolivian military in 1908. In BLACKTHORN, Cassidy (Shepard) survived, and is quietly living out his years under the name James Blackthorn in a secluded Bolivian village. Tired of his long exile from the US and hoping to see his family again before he dies, Cassidy sets out on the long journey home. I have always enjoyed a good western and cling to hope that the genre will be revived on a more consistent basis. This film looks really sprawling and epic—-as any good western should be.
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN (Weinstein) Nov. 4th
Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier’s, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of TTHE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL. While I couldn’t find an official trailer yet, I did find a video below about the making of this film. Playing a real life person, particularly an iconic movie star is always a slippery slope. That said, Michelle Williams is one of the best young actresses working today and I’m dying to see her pull this off. When Cate Blanchett played Katharine Hepburn in THE AVIATOR, she demonstrated (to Oscar winning effect no less) than it is possible to pull off a full bodied transformation instead of a simple impression. Here’s hoping that Williams can do the same. Kenneth Branagh is also generating buzz for his performance as Sir Laurence Olivier. I can’t wait!!!!!
THE ARTIST (Weinstein Co.) Nov. 23rd
Hollywood 1927. George Valentin is a very successful silent movie star. The arrival of talking pictures will mark the end of his career. Peppy Miller, a young woman extra, becomes a major movie star. This black and white silent film took the Cannes Film Festival by storm winning the Best Actor Award and a distribution deal with The Weinstein Company. While something like this might be a tough sell with the general public, I’m pretty obsessed with silent films and I’m thrilled to hear that one will be released in 2011!!! The trailer for this film looks really beautiful. Opening day can’t come soon enough for me!
CARNAGE (Sony Classics) Dec. 16th
Tells the story of two sets of parents who decide to have a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a schoolyard brawl. Based on the play “God of Carnage” this film adaptation is directed by Roman Polanski and stars a trio of Oscar winners Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster and Christoph Waltz along with nominee John C. Reilly. You can’t go wrong with a cast like this.
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Thanks for helping to keep this museum alive!!!! Check out Leonard Maltin’s blog about his visit!