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Karie's Blog
Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Feb. 17, 2010 | 4:58 PM

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When I heard about the blogathon, “For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon,’’ I had to join in.  This is my first post.  This blogathon runs now through Sunday and is hosted by Farran Smith Nehme (The Self-Styled Siren) and Marilyn Ferdinand (Ferdy on Film).  Their aim is to raise awareness and donations for the The National Film Preservation Foundation.  This non-profit organization gives money to film archives who are struggling to preserve films before it is too late.  The saying “Nitrate won’t wait” certainly applies here.  For complete lists of other participating bloggers, log on to The Self-Styled Siren or Ferdy on Film for more information.

Donate $ to the National Film Preservation Foundation!

I was once discussing film with someone when they told me that a certain B-movie was “not worth saving”.  In my mind ALL films are worth saving.  They are the modern day equivalent of broken pieces of pottery or hieroglyphics.  They chronicle our culture, emotions and are snapshots of eras that are now frozen in time.  Films are important to our artistic and historic knowledge as well as our education. 

One night many years ago at the UCLA Film & TV Archive I was watching a Clara Bow silent film called EMPTY HEARTS (1924).  It contained a small yet powerful performance by Bow early in her career.  At the climax of the story, the film began to bubble up on screen and become distorted.  It wasn’t the result of faulty projection, but rather a sign of a film that had been rotting before it could be fully saved.  A man in the audience screamed, “NOOOOOOOOOO” at the top of his lungs.  While others in the audience laughed, I felt like doing the exact same thing.

Clara Bow is one of my favorite stars of the silent era and it saddens me to think how many of her films are no longer with us today.  Here is a list of her missing films that I got from  What pains me the most is that 4 films from the very peak of her career in 1928 are missing including:

RED HAIR -This film featured a Technicolor segment of her famed red bob!  Fortunately a fragment was discovered so we can at least get a tantalizing glimpse of what audiences saw in 1928.  RED HAIR was directed by Clarence G. Badger, who directed Bow’s signature film IT. 

LADIES OF THE MOB (1928) - This crime drama was directed by William A. Wellman who also directed Bow in WINGS, the first Best Picture Academy Award winner. 

THREE WEEKENDS (1928) - This film was based on a story by Elinor Glyn who proclaimed Clara as the “IT” girl.  Also directed by Clarence G. Badger

ROUGH HOUSE ROSIE (1928) - This film is about a poor working girl who tries to crash into high society.  It also features Clara Bow in a boxing scene.  A trailer was recently discovered giving us a glimpse of what we have now lost.  A few years ago the San Francisco Silent Film Festival showed the trailer and it was met with screams and cheers from the audience.  The collective attitude was that ANY Clara is better than no Clara at all.  I agree, but I still hold out hope that the complete film will turn up someday.  So far the only bits of information we have on these films has come from posters, stills, fragments, scripts and various documents.  Historians have a puzzle with the main piece missing.

Fortunately there have been some gains where Clara Bow films are concerned.

Her early talkie KICK IN (1931) has been newly restored.  A saw it at Cinecon a few years ago and it was pristine!!!!  The website reports that several of her films have been newly restored.

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You may be wondering what you can do to further the cause of film preservation.  Start by making a donation in any amount to the National Film Preservation Foundation.  Your donation is tax-deductible.  Your money will help libraries, museums and archives to preserve films.  This will also allow the films to be made available for screening and research.  Click HERE to see a list of films that have been preserved by the NFPF.

Another way you can help is by simply supporting rare or newly restored films when they are screened.  Here in Los Angeles we are fortunate to have the UCLA Film & TV Archive, The Academy, LACMA, The American Cinematheque, Cinecon, The Silent Movie Theatre, The New Beverly and many others.  In San Francisco the have the Silent Film Festival, The Pacific Film Archive, the Niles Film Museum and the Castro Theatre just to name a few. 

Make sure to frequent these places and do what you can to support your local film community.

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