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Cinema Journal Archival News - 50.3
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• Russia Presents Library of Congress With Digital Copies of Lost U.S. Silent Films

A major gift from Russia—digitally preserved copies of 10 previously lost U.S. silent films—will help the United States reclaim its silent-film heritage.

Vladimir I. Kozhin, head of Management and Administration of the President of the Russian Federation, officially presented the films to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in a special ceremony on October 21, 2010 in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.

The 10 films constitute the first installment of an ongoing series of "lost” films produced by U.S. movie studios that will be given to the Library of Congress. The films were digitally preserved by Gosfilmofond, the Russian State film archive, and donated via the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library.

Also in attendance at the presentation of the gift were Alexander Vershinin, director general of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library; Nikolai Borodachev, director general of Gosfilmofond; and additional members of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation and the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library.

"The Library is committed to reclaiming America’s cinematic patrimony,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "I am grateful to the dedicated staff of Gosfilmofond, the state film archive of Russia, for their efforts to save these important artifacts of U.S. film history. I am also thankful for the commitment of Prof. Alexander Vershinin and the staff of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library for their collaboration and cooperation in making this cultural recovery effort possible.”

The films, created for an American public, were distributed in other countries—including Russia—during the silent era, 1893-1930. Shown in Russian movie houses, the films had been given Russian-language intertitles.

Because of neglect and deterioration over time, more than 80 percent of U.S. movies from the silent era no longer exist in the United States. In the past 20 years, the Library of Congress and others have made great efforts to locate and repatriate missing U.S.-produced movies from foreign archives.

This new gift to the Library is in the form of digital copies of the preserved films. Preliminary research conducted by the staff of the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation indicates that up to 200 movies produced by U.S. movie studios of the silent and sound eras may survive only in the Gosfilmofond archive. Copies of these films will eventually be sent to the Library of Congress.

The gift is the result of the Library of Congress’ work with Russian libraries and archives on digital exchange. Since 2007, when the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation decided to create an all-digital presidential library, the Library of Congress has been regularly consulted on the project. The new library, named the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, opened in 2009 in St. Petersburg. The Library of Congress signed a Memorandum of Cooperation last year with the new library.

The 10 films presented to Dr. Billington are:

1.The Arab (Metro, 1924)
Director: Rex Ingram
Cast: Ramon Navarro, Alice Terry

Jamil (Ramon Navarro), son of a Bedouin tribe leader, falls in love with the daughter of a Christian missionary. Jamil foils an attempt to massacre the Christians when he calls the Bedouins to his aid. Upon his father’s death, Jamil is made leader of his tribe, while the girl (played by the director’s wife Alice Terry) promises to return to him as she departs for America.

Rex Ingram, a stickler for realism, shot portions ofThe Arabon location in Algiers, using native Bedouins as extras. His big career break came when he directedThe Four Horseman of the Apocalypsethree years earlier and made a star of Rudolf Valentino. Navarro’s collaboration with Ingram on this picture and two earlier silent versions ofThe Prisoner of ZendaandScaramouchehelped catapult him to stardom.

2.Kick In (Famous Players, 1922)
Director: George Fitzmaurice
Cast: Betty Compson, Bert Lytell, May McAvoy

On release from prison, thief Chick Hewes (Bert Lytell) resolves to go straight, but is harassed by the police when he refuses to turn stool pigeon. He is further angered when the district attorney’s son Jerry (Robert Agnew) is not prosecuted for killing a child from the slums in a car accident. He decides to undertake one more job—at the district attorney’s home—but discovers that Jerry is already stealing from his father’s safe. Jerry’s sister Molly (Betty Compson) prevents the police from arresting Chick for her brother’s crime, and they go West to begin anew.

Previously,Kick In was a successful Broadway play starring John Barrymore. Fitzmaurice also directed an earlier version of the film in 1917. He gained fame as a director of several successful romantic dramas, includingThe Cheat with Pola Negri, which he also produced; The Son of the Sheik, Rudolph Valentino’s last film; and The Night of Lovewith Ronald Colman.

3.The Conquest of Canaan (Famous Players, 1921)
Director: Roy William Neill
Cast: Thomas Meighan, Doris Kenyon

Defiant of polite society and friendly with corrupt town leaders, Joe Louden (Thomas Meighan) is encouraged by his friend Ariel (Doris Kenyon), a recent heiress, to succeed. He studies law and opens a practice in Beaver Beach, where he defends suspected murderer Happy Farley (Paul Everton). When the trial turns ugly and a mob threatens the presiding judge, Farley defends the judge and is acquitted of murder. Joe wins Ariel and is proclaimed the next mayor of Canaan.

Previously filmed in 1916,The Conquest of Canaanwas based on a novel by Booth Tarkington, author of a number of novels and plays that were adapted for film, includingAlice Adams,Monsieur Beaucaire and The Magnificent Ambersons. Meighan was a popular leading man in silent films beginning in 1914, often appearing in such Cecil B. DeMille productions as Male and Female (1919) and Why Change Your Wife? (1919).

4.The Eternal Struggle (Metro Pictures, Louis B. Mayer, 1923)
Director: Reginald Barker
Cast: Reneé Adoreé, Earle Williams, Barbara La Marr, Wallace Beery, Pat O’Malley

Engaged to Canadian Mountie Neil Tempest (Earle Williams), Andree (Reneé Adoreé) falls in love with one of her fiancé’s underlings, Bucky O’Hara (Pat O’Malley). When Andree is suspected of murdering a man who attacked her (Wallace Beery), she flees across Canada, pursued over rapids by both O’Hara and Tempest. Andree’s innocence is established and, realizing she and O'Hara are in love, Tempest gives her up.

This is one of the last feature films produced or released by Louis B. Mayer’s Metro Pictures Corporation before he helped to establish MGM in 1924.  The Eternal Struggle also features the earliest surviving performance of French-born actress Reneé Adoreé, who two years later played the female lead opposite John Gilbert in MGM’s mega-hit The Big Parade.

5.You’re Fired (Famous Players, 1919)
Director: James Cruze
Cast: Wallace Reid, Wanda Hawley

In order to win the hand of Helen Rogers, wealthy idler Billy Deering (Wallace Reid) agrees to her father’s wager—if Billy can keep a job for one month, Gordon Rogers will agree to the marriage. After clerking in an office and working as a xylophone player—quitting before he gets fired—Billy eventually takes a job posing as a knight in shining armor in a swanky theme restaurant. All goes well until Helen, who knows nothing of the wager, arrives to dine.

This comedy has several winning elements, among them a screenplay based on O. Henry’s story,The Halberdier, and star power in leading man Wallace Reid. Reid’s boy-next-door good looks and affability made him a popular star of the early teens. His career was cut short by his death from drug addiction, which reportedly resulted from studio doctors giving him morphine to treat an injury on the set.

6.Keep Smiling (Monty Banks, 1925)
Directors: Albert Austin, Gilbert Pratt
Cast: Monty Banks, Glen Cavender

An unnamed boy (Monty Banks), who suffers from a fear of water, invents a special life preserver that inflates when it hits water. Later, attempting to promote his invention, he becomes involved with a wild speedboat race, a crooked mechanic and the charming daughter of a boating magnate.

A prolific and versatile filmmaker, Banks came to the U.S. as a teenager and made his film debut in 1917 under his real name Mario Bianchi. As actor, producer and director, Banks went on to become one of the top screen comedians of the silent era, starring in his own series of shorts for the fledgling Warner Bros. studio as well as appearing alongside the likes of Roscoe "Fatty” Arbuckle, Buster Keaton and the young Jean Arthur. After the coming of sound, he moved to England where he continued his career as director of a number of popular musical comedies.

7.The Call of the Canyon (Famous Players, 1923)
Director: Victor Fleming
Cast: Richard Dix, Lois Wilson, Ricardo Cortez, Marjorie Daw

A complicated love triangle is played out when war vet Glenn (Richard Dix) travels from the East to Arizona to regain his health with the assistance of his dedicated nurse Flo (Marjorie Daw), much to the concern of his New York fiancée (Lois Wilson).

Victor Fleming became highly regarded as a director of outdoor action movies in the 1920s. Fleming began in films as a cameraman, then as director of photography before starting his career as a director in 1919. He directed such sound-era classics asTreasure IslandCaptains CourageousThe Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind.

8.Canyon of the Fools (R-C Pictures, 1923)
Director: Val Paul
Cast: Harry Carey, Marguerite Clayton

In this tale of love and revenge, set against the backdrop of the American gold rush, a young man named Bob (Harry Carey) heads West to confront the man who once framed him for a crime. After teaming up with a local sheriff, Bob tangles with bandits and eventually discovers both love and gold during his quest.

Carey was one of the biggest Western movie stars of the silent era and one of the few who bucked the trend by making a successful transition to sound motion pictures.

9.Circus Days (First National, 1923)
Director: Edward F. Cline
Cast: Jackie Coogan, Barbara Tennant, Russell Simpson, Claire McDowell

Jackie Coogan (Chaplin’s "Kid”) stars as Toby Tyler, who runs away from his cruel uncle and joins a circus to work as a lemonade boy. Eventually Toby works his way up the ladder to become the Big Top’s star clown.

This film was based on the novel Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circusby James Otis Kaler, an extremely prolific author of boys’ novels from the 1880s-1905.

10.Valley of the Giants (Famous Players, 1919)
Director: James Cruze
Cast: Wallace Reid, Grace Darmond

Upon his return from college, a young man (Wallace Reid) learns that his father is in danger of losing the family’s beloved land to an unscrupulous lumberman. The film is highlighted with a daring scene played out on a runaway logging train.

Reid, one of the most popular film actors of the late teens and early 20s, teamed up with director James Cruze for several pictures in 1919, including this outdoor adventure. Cruze, originally trained as a stage actor, started working in films in 1911. In 1918, he turned his attention to directing, and by 1927, was the most popular and highest-salaried director in the business. It was on this movie, filming on location in northern California and southern Oregon, that Reid was injured doing stunt work. He supposedly was given morphine injections for the pain by a studio physician, which led to his addiction and ultimate death on January 18, 1923.


Gosfilmofond, located outside Moscow, is the Russian Federation’s primary film archive of artistic and feature films, as well as some documentary and animated films. Established in 1948, its growing collections now include more than 55,000 motion pictures and it is the largest such archive in the world. In addition, Gosfilmofond holds related materials such as scenarios, film posters, photographs, press clippings, set designs, and the personal papers of directors, actors, and film critics, and thus serves as an important center for film research. It is administered by the State Committee for Cinematography, under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture.

The Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library is one of three national libraries in Russia; the other two are the Russian State Library in Moscow and the Russian National Library in St Petersburg. Rather than focusing on the artifacts of a particular president, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library is an all-digital library on the history of the governance of Russia in its broadest interpretation.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library has been collecting and preserving movies and sound recordings for more than 100 years on behalf of the American people. It is the leading film preservation archive in the U.S. and has preserved over 20,000 feature films and short subjects since the early 1980s. The Library also preserves the nation’s largest collections of television, radio and sound recordings and related materials. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.govand via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at

All of the Library’s audiovisual collections are stored and preserved at the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, a $200 million state-of-the-art conservation facility donated to the Library by the Packard Humanities Institute and located in Culpeper, Va. (

• Library of Congress Acquires Innovative Music Collection from Snapshots Foundation

The provocative sounds of sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar and an insightful journey into the creative process of experimental electronic performers M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel of Matmos are part of a new innovative collection that will enrich the Library of Congress’ unparalleled audiovisual holdings. On November 10, 2010 the Library of Congress announced its collaboration with Snapshots Music and Arts Foundation to acquire video and audio tapes, along with thousands of accompanying photographs, of in-depth interviews and exclusive performances by some of the world’s most groundbreaking musicians and industry leaders. This ongoing gift from the Snapshots Foundation will ensure that the works of these cutting-edge artists and thinkers will be forever preserved and made accessible to scholars and future generations.

"The Library’s acquisition of the Snapshots videos fills an important niche in our collections in the areas of world jazz, international classical, crossover, and electronic music,” said Gregory Lukow, chief of the Library’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. "The collection not only includes unique artistic performances, but also in-depth artist profiles through taped interviews and master classes that provide rare insight into the personal history of each artist.”

"We are honored to give artists a new platform to share their stories with people everywhere,” said Jonathan Bewley, founder and executive producer of the Snapshots Foundation. "Our goal is to provide a lasting and valuable resource through our films, education and industry profiles for other musicians, professionals, students and listeners.”

In addition to Shankar and Matmos, the collection also includes interviews and performances by an impressive array of artists including classical guitarist Celino Romero, jazz flutist Holly Hofmann and crossover percussionist Steven Schick. Also included in the initial gift is the foundation’s video series, which includes "Snapshots: Musicians on Music” and "Artists Profiles.”

The Snapshots Foundation will add performances and interviews to the collection on a continuing basis. Among the early installments are tapes of new-music pianist Luciane Cardassi, composer Herb Deutsch, organ-builder and curator Manual Rosales, electronic artist Jason Soares, composer John Eaton, organist Cherry Rhodes, performer and Juilliard School professor David Dubal, bassist/composer Mark Dresser, musicologist Sylviane Falcinelli, Tower Records founder Russ Soloman, and Michelle Moog-Koussa, executive director of the Bob Moog Foundation.

A unique characteristic of the collection is the superior audio quality of the performances, which were recorded in such state-of-the-art venues as the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla, Ca. and the Warren Music Center Studio at the University of California San Diego.

The collection of tapes and photos will be housed at the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, a leading-edge facility funded as a gift to the nation by the Packard Humanities Institute. The Packard Campus is the site where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of motion pictures, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings ( The Packard Campus is home to more than six million collection items.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.govand via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at

The Snapshots Music and Arts Foundationis a non-profit organization dedicated to using film and new media to connect people with the musical arts. Its mission is to educate, inspire and to preserve music history by documenting the voices of today’s most innovative musicians and industry leaders who shape the sound and creative direction of music.

• Universal Music Group Donates Over 200,000 Master Recordings to the Library of Congress

On January 10, 2011, the Library of Congress and the Universal Music Group (UMG) announced the donation of more than 200,000 historic master recordings—many long out-of-print or never released—to the Library’s Recorded Sound Section, which has more than 3 million sound recordings in its collections.

Totaling in excess of 5,000 linear feet, UMG’s gift is the largest single donation ever received by the Library’s audio-visual division and the first major collection of studio master materials ever obtained by the nation’s oldest cultural institution. Among the collection’s thousands of metal and lacquer discs and master mono tapes are released and unreleased versions of recordings by such seminal artists as Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Tommy Dorsey, Billie Holiday, the Andrews Sisters, Connee Boswell, Jimmy Dorsey, the Mills Brothers, Guy Lombardo, Ella Fitzgerald, Fred Waring, Judy Garland, and Dinah Washington, among others.

The recordings include:

  • Bing Crosby’s 1947 version of "White Christmas”
  • Louis Armstrong singing "Ain’t Misbehavin’”
  • The Mills Brothers’ "Paper Doll”
  • Ella Fitzgerald’s and Louis Armstrong’s duet "Frim Fram Sauce”
  • Les Paul’s "Guitar Boogie”
  • Josh White singing "Jim Crow”
  • Machito and his Afro-Cuban All Stars Mercury recordings

"It is certainly within the national interest to acquire this recorded collection, and all its accompanying materials, for custodial care,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "A surprisingly high percentage of America’s recording heritage since the early part of the 20thcentury has been lost due to neglect and deterioration. The donation of the UMG archive to the Library of Congress is a major gift to the nation that will help maintain the inter-generational connection that is essential to keeping alive, in our collective national memory, the music and sound recordings meaningful to past generations.”

UMG has one of the most extensive catalogs of music in the world and its gift to the Library includes historic masters from such subsidiary labels as Decca, Mercury, Vocalion and Brunswick, dating from the late 1920s through the late 1940s. "Music is a distinctive feature of any historical period, and this particular collection of masters provides true insight into popular music’s humble beginnings and who we are as a culture today,” said Zach Horowitz, UMG’s president and chief operating officer. "We are delighted to be collaborating with the Library of Congress to preserve and call attention to the groundbreaking musical achievements of these amazing musical pioneers.”

The Universal Music Collection, which consists of the company’s best existing copies, will be cataloged and digitized at the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., which will permanently secure their exceptional sonic quality. "The Packard Campus and its employees will work hard to protect the Library’s comprehensive collection and make these recordings accessible to the American people and this generous contribution by Universal Music will help preserve our nation’s rich cultural heritage,” said Congressman Eric Cantor, Majority Leader for the 112thCongress and U.S. Representative from the 7thDistrict of Virginia, which includes Culpeper.

This gift is particularly important in the context of the findings of the first comprehensive, congressionally mandated study ever conducted in the U.S. on a national level. It found that only an estimated 14 percent of pre-1965 commercially released recordings were currently available from rights holders. The study also found that of the music released in the U.S. in the 1930s, only about 10 percent of it could be readily accessed by the public.

The Library will stream recordings from the collection on a website to be launched in the spring. The additions of these recordings will significantly broaden the scope of the site and enhance the Library’s already unprecedented authority to stream commercially owned sound recordings online.

Universal Music Group is the world’s leading music company with wholly owned record operations or licensees in 77 countries. Its businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, the industry's leading global music publishing operation. UMG’s record labels include: A&M/Octone, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Disa, Emarcy, Fonovisa, Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Island Def Jam Music Group, Lost Highway Records, Machete Music, MCA Nashville, Mercury Nashville, Mercury Records, Polydor Records, Show Dog–Universal Music, Universal Motown Republic Group, Universal Music Latino and Verve Music Group as well as a multitude of record labels owned or distributed by its record company subsidiaries around the world. UMG owns the most extensive catalog of music in the industry, which includes the last 100 years of the world's most popular artists and their recordings. UMG’s catalog is marketed through two distinct divisions, Universal Music Enterprises (in the U.S.) and Universal Strategic Marketing (outside the U.S.). UMG also includes eLabs, its new media and technologies division; Bravado, its merchandising company; and Twenty-First Artists, its full service management division. UMG is a unit of Vivendi, a global media and communications company.


• 2010 National Film Registry Titles Announced

On December 28, 2010, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington named 25 motion pictures—Hollywood classics, documentaries and innovative shorts reflecting genres from every era of American filmmaking—to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

Spanning the period 1891-1996, the films named to the registry range from a rare glimpse of San Francisco before the 1906 earthquake and the political thrillerAll the President’s Mento George Lucas’ student film in 1967 and his sci-fi special-effects extravaganzaThe Empire Strikes Back. Also included in the registry are lesser-known, but culturally vital films such as the black independent filmCry of Jazz,Luis Valdez’sI Am Joaquinand John Huston’s war documentaryLet There Be Light, which was banned by the War Department for 35 years. This year’s selections bring the number of films in the registry to 550.

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant, to be preserved for all time. These films are not selected as the "best” American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring significance to American culture. Annual selections to the registry are finalized by the Librarian after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public (this year 2,112 films were nominated) and having extensive discussions with the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board, as well as the Library’s motion-picture staff. The Librarian urges the public to make nominations for next year’s registry at the Film Board’s website:  www.

In other news about the National Film Registry,These Amazing Shadows, a documentary on the National Film Registry independently produced by Gravitas Docufilms, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011. More information can be found at the website

For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations, either through the Library’s massive motion-picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion-picture studios and independent filmmakers. The Packard Campus is a state-of-the-art facility where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings ( The Packard Campus is funded as a gift to the nation by the Packard Humanities Institute and is home to more than six million collection items. The facility provides staff support for the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board, the National Recording Preservation Board and the National Registries for film and recorded sound.

Included on the list for 2010 were the following films:

Airplane! (1980)
Airplane!emerged in 1980 as a sharply perceptive parody of the big-budget disaster films that dominated Hollywood during the 1970s. Characterized by a freewheeling style reminiscent of comedies of the 1920s,Airplane!introduced a much-needed deflating assessment of the tendency of theatrical film producers to push successful formulaic movie conventions beyond the point of logic. One of the film’s most noteworthy achievements was to cast actors best known for careers in melodrama productions, e.g., Leslie Nielsen, and provide them with opportunities to showcase their comic talents.

All the President’s Men (1976)
Based on the memoir by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein about political dirty tricks in the nation’s capital,All the President’s Menis a rare example of a best-selling book that was transformed into a hit theatrical film and a cultural phenomenon in its own right.

The Bargain (1914)
After beginning his career on the stage (where he originated the role of Messala inBen-Hurin 1899), William S. Hart found his greatest fame as the silent screen’s most popular cowboy. His 1914The Bargain, directed by Reginald Barker, was Hart’s first film and made him a star. The second Hart Western to be named to the National Film Registry, the film was selected because of Hart’s charisma, the film’s authenticity and realistic portrayal of the Western genre and the star’s good/bad man role as an outlaw attempting to go straight.

Cry of Jazz (1959)
Cry of Jazzis a 34-minute, black-and-white short subject that is now recognized as an early and influential example of African American independent filmmaking. Director Ed Bland, with the help of more than 60 volunteer crew members, intercuts scenes of life in Chicago’s black neighborhoods with interviews of interracial artists and intellectuals.Cry of Jazzargues that black life in America shares a structural identity with jazz music. With performance clips by the jazz composer, bandleader and pianist Sun Ra and his Arkestra, the film demonstrates the unifying tension between rehearsed and improvised jazz.Cry of Jazzis a historic and fascinating film that comments on racism and the appropriation of jazz by those who fail to understand its artistic and cultural origins.

Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB (1967)
This 15-minute film, produced by George Lucas while a student at the University of Southern California, won the 1968 United States National Student Film Festival drama award and inspired Warner Bros. studio to sign Lucas to produce the expanded feature lengthTHX 1138under the tutelage of Francis Ford Coppola. This film has evoked comparisons to George Orwell’s1984and impressed audiences with its technical inventiveness and cautionary view of a future filled with security cameras and omnipresent scrutiny.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The much anticipated continuation of theStar Warssaga, Irvin Kershner’s 1980 sequel sustained the action-adventure and storytelling success of its predecessor and helped lay the foundation for one of the most commercially successful film series in American cinematic history.

The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcistis one of the most successful and influential horror films of all time. Its influence, both stylistically and in narrative, continues to be seen in many movies of the 21st century. The film’s success, both commercially and cinematically, provides a rare example of a popular novel being ably adapted for the big screen.

The Front Page (1931)
The Front Pageis a historically significant early sound movie that successfully demonstrates the rapid progress achieved by Hollywood filmmakers in all creative professions after realizing the capabilities of sound technology to invent new film narratives. The film is based on one of the best screenplays of the 1930s, by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. It was directed by Lewis Milestone and featured great performances by Pat O’Brien, Adolphe Menjou, Mary Brian, Edward Everett Horton, Walter Catlett, Mae Clark, Slim Summerville, Matt Moore and Frank McHugh.

Grey Gardens (1976)
Grey Gardensis an influential cinema verité documentary by Albert and David Maysles that has provided inspiration for creative works on the stage and in film. Through its close and sometimes disturbing look at the eccentric lives of "Big Edie” and "Little Edie” Beale, two women (cousins of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy) living in East Hampton, N.Y., the film documents a complex and difficult mother-daughter relationship and a vanished era of decayed gentility.

I Am Joaquin (1969)
I Am Joaquinis a 20-minute short film based on an epic poem published by Rodolfo "Corky” Gonzales in 1967. Gonzales’ poem weaves together the long tangled roots of his Mexican, Spanish, Indian and American parentage and a past mythology of pre-Columbian cultures. The film is important to the history and culture of Chicanos in America, spotlighting the challenges they have endured because of discrimination. Luis Valdez, often described as the father of Chicano theater, produced and directedI Am Joaquinas a project of Teatro Campesino (the Farmworkers Theater), which he founded in 1965 to inform, encourage and entertain Chicano farm workers. Valdez later directed the Chicano-themedZoot Suitin 1981, a retelling of the early 1940s Los Angeles race riots, andLa Bambain 1987.

It’s a Gift (1934)
The popularity and influence of W.C. Fields continues with each succeeding generation, distinguishing him as one of the greatest American comedians of the 20th century.It’s a Gifthas survived a perilous preservation history and is the third Fields film to be named to the National Film Registry. The film’s extended comic sequence featuring Baby LeRoy, and depicting Fields’ travails while trying to sleep on the open-air back porch of a rooming house, was adapted from one of his most successful live theatrical sketches.

Let There Be Light (1946)
Director John Huston directed three classic war documentaries for the U.S. Army Signal Corps during the period of 1943-46:Report from the Aleutians,Battle of San PietroandLet There Be Light.Let There Be Lightwas blocked from public distribution by the War Department for 35 years because no effort was made during filming to disguise or mask the identities of combat veterans suffering from various forms of psychological trauma. The film provides important historical documentation of the efforts of psychiatric professionals during World War II to care for emotionally wounded veterans and prepare them to return to civilian life.Let There Be Lightwas filmed by cinematographer Stanley Cortez and its score was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin.

Lonesome (1928)
Lonesomeis one of the few American feature films directed by the gifted Hungarian-born filmmaker and scientist Paul Fejös (1897-1963). The film has been recognized for its success as both a comic melodrama (about young lovers who become separated during the chaos of a thunderstorm at Coney Island) and for its early use of dialogue and two-color Technicolor. The film was restored by the George Eastman House and has found renewed popularity with repertory and film-festival audiences.

Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
Make Way for Tomorrowis a sensitive, progressive, issue-oriented Depression-era film by director Leo McCarey. It concerns an aged and indigent married couple forced by their self-absorbed children to live separately in order to save money. The final scene, depicting the husband and wife parting company in a train station, counters the belief that late-30s Hollywood films always had happy endings.Make Way for Tomorrowdeftly explores themes of retirement, poverty, generational dissonance and the nuances of love and regret at the end of a long married life.

Malcolm X (1992)
Director Spike Lee’s biographical film about the life of civil rights leader Malcom X was produced in the classical Hollywood style. Featuring an Oscar-nominated performance by Denzel Washington, the film exemplifies the willingness of the American film industry in the early ‘90s to support the making of mainstream films about earlier generations of social leaders.

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)
McCabe and Mrs. Milleris an aesthetically acclaimed film that demonstrates why the Western genre, especially when reinvented by acclaimed Robert Altman, endured in the 20th century as a useful model for critically examining the realities of contemporary American culture. The film’s credits include notable cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond and a music score by Leonard Cohen.

Newark Athlete (1891)
Produced May-June 1891, this experimental film was one of the first made in America at the Edison Laboratory in West Orange, N.J. The filmmakers were W.K.L. Dickson and William Heise, both of whom were employed as inventors and engineers in the industrial research facility owned by Thomas Edison. Heise and especially Dickson made important technical contributions during 1891-1893, leading to the invention of the world’s first successful motion picture camera—the Edison Kinetograph—and to the playback device required for viewing early peepshow films—the Edison Kinetoscope.

Our Lady of the Sphere (1969)
A leading figure in the California Bay Area independent film movement, Lawrence Jordan has crafted more than 40 experimental, animation and dramatic films. Jordan uses "found” graphics to produce his influential animated collages, noting that his goal is to create "unknown worlds and landscapes of the mind.” Inspired byThe Tibetan Book of the Dead,Our Lady of the Sphereis one of Jordan’s best-known works. It is a surrealistic dream-like journey blending baroque images with Victorian-era image cut-outs, iconic space age symbols, various musical themes and noise effects, including animal sounds and buzzers.

The Pink Panther (1964)
This comic masterpiece by Blake Edwards introduced both the animated Pink Panther character in the film’s opening-and-closing credit sequences, and actor Peter Sellers in his most renowned comic role as the inept Inspector Clouseau. The influence of the great comics of the silent era on Edwards and Sellers is apparent throughout the film, which is recognized for its enduring popularity. The musical score composed by Henry Mancini is also memorable.

Preservation of the Sign Language (1913)
Presented without subtitles,Preservationis a short, one-reel film featuring George Veditz, onetime president of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) of the United States, demonstrating in sign language the importance of defending the right of deaf people to sign as opposed to verbalizing their communication. Deafened by scarlet fever at the age of eight, Veditz was one of the first to make motion-picture recordings of American Sign Language. Taking care to sign precisely and in large gestures for the cameras, Veditz chose fiery biblical passages to give his speech emotional impact. In some of his films, Veditz used finger spelling so his gestures could be translated directly into English in venues where interpreters were present. On behalf of the NAD, Veditz made this film specifically to record sign language for posterity at a time when oralists (those who promoted lip reading and speech in lieu of sign language) were gaining momentum in the education of the hearing-impaired. The film conveys one of the ways that deaf Americans debated the issues of their language and public understanding during the era of World War I.

Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Produced long after the heyday of classic Hollywood musicals, this cinematic cultural touchstone incorporated set-piece music and dance numbers into a story of dramatic realism. With its success,Saturday Night Feverproved that the American movie musical could be reinvented. The film’s soundtrack, featuring hits by the Bee Gees and others, sold millions of copies and gave musical life to a movie significant for much more than just its celebration of the mid-70s disco phenomenon.

Study of a River (1996)
Experimental filmmaker Peter Hutton is best known for his thoughtful and beautifully photographed ruminations on the co-existence of urban areas and natural waterways. His most renowned films focused on the Hudson River.Study of a Riveris a meditative examination of the winter cycle of the Hudson River over a two-year period, showing its environment, ships plying its waterways, ice floes, and the interaction of nature and civilization. Some critics have described Hutton’s work as reminiscent of the 19th century artist Thomas Cole and other painters of the Hudson River School.

Tarantella (1940)
Tarantellais a five-minute color, avant-garde short film created by Mary Ellen Bute, a pioneer of visual music and electronic art in experimental cinema. With piano accompaniment by Edwin Gershefsky,Tarantellafeatures rich reds and blues that Bute uses to signify a lighter mood, while her syncopated spirals, shards, lines and squiggles dance exuberantly to Gershefsky’s modern beat. Bute produced more than a dozen short films between the 1930s and the 1950s and once described herself as a "designer of kinetic abstractions” who sought to "bring to the eyes a combination of visual forms unfolding with the … rhythmic cadences of music.” Bute’s work influenced many other filmmakers working with abstract animation during the ‘30s and ‘40s, and with experimental electronic imagery in the ‘50s.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
Elia Kazan’s first feature film, based on the novel by Betty Smith, focuses on a theme that he returned to many times during his film career: the struggle of a weak or ill-prepared individual to survive against powerful forces. A timely film,A Tree Grows in Brooklynwas released at the end of World War II, helping to remind post-war audiences of the enduring importance of the American dream.

A Trip Down Market Street (1906)
A Trip Down Market Streetis a 13-minute "actuality” film recorded by placing a movie camera on the front of a cable car as is proceeds down San Francisco’s Market Street. A fascinating time capsule from over 100 years ago, the film showcases the details of daily life in a major American city, including the fashions, transportations and architecture of the era. The film was originally thought to have been made in 1905, but historian David Kiehn, who examined contemporary newspapers, weather reports and car license plates recorded in the film, later suggested thatA Trip Down Market Streetwas likely filmed just a few days before the devastating earthquake on April 18, 1906.

• Library of Congress Releases Study Showing Dire State of Sound Recording Preservation and Access

Digital technology alone will not ensure the preservation and survival of the nation’s sound history. That is one of the findings in a major study released September 29, 2010 by the Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB) detailing the state of sound-recording preservation and access. The study was mandated by the U.S. Congress under the "National Recording Preservation Act of 2000” (P.L. 106-474) and is the first comprehensive study on a national level that examines the state of America’s sound-recording preservation ever conducted in the United States.

Titled "The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age,” the study outlines the interlocking issues that now threaten the long-term survival of America’s sound-recording history. It also identifies the public and private policy issues that strongly bear on whether the nation's most culturally and historically important sound recordings will be preserved for future generations.

Although public institutions, libraries and archives hold an estimated 46 million recordings, the study finds that major areas of America’s recorded sound heritage have already deteriorated or remain inaccessible to the public. Only an estimated 14 percent of pre-1965 commercially released recordings are currently available from rights-holders. Of music released in the United States in the 1930s, only about 10 percent of it can now be readily accessed by the public.

In his introduction to the study, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington noted: "Sound recordings have existed as one of the most salient features of America’s cultural landscape for more than 130 years. As a nation, we have good reason to be proud of our historical record of creativity in the sound-recording arts and sciences. However, our collective energy in creating and consuming sound recordings in all genres has not been matched by an equal level of interest, over the same period of time, in preserving them for posterity.”

Authored by Rob Bamberger and Sam Brylawski under the auspices of NRPB, the study points out the lack of conformity between federal and state laws, which has adversely affected the survival of pre-1972 sound recording. One of the major conclusions in the report is that the advent of digital technologies and distribution platforms has made inseparable the issues surrounding both the preservation of sound recordings and access to them.

The authors also conclude that analog recordings made more than 100 years ago are likelier to survive than digital recordings made today. In addition, the report warns that there must be a coordinated effort by the various stakeholders to address the scope of the problem, the complexity of the technical landscape, the need for preservation education and the copyright conundrum.

Finally, the report notes that newer materials such as born-digital audio are at greater risk of loss than older recordings, such as 78-rpm discs; that there is a lack of a comprehensive program to preserve born-digital audio; and that open-reel preservation tapes made in the 1970s and 1980s are deteriorating faster than older tape recordings. For more findings from the report, review the appendix at the introduction/executive summary at

"The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age” is available for purchase and as a free download at for this study was gathered through interviews, public hearings and written submissions. NRPB previously commissioned five ancillary studies in support of this final report, which will lay the groundwork for the National Recording Preservation Plan, to be developed and published later.

The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation has already begun initiatives to solve some of the problems identified during preparation of the study. For example, the Recorded Sound Section of the Packard Campus has obtained a license to stream acoustical recordings controlled by the Sony Music Entertainment for the Library of Congress National Jukebox, which debuted later in 2010.

The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation is a state-of-the-art facility funded as a gift to the nation by the Packard Humanities Institute. The Packard Campus is the site where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of motion pictures, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings ( The Packard Campus is home to more than six million collection items, including nearly three million sound recordings. It provides staff support for the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board, the National Recording Preservation Board, and the National Registries for film and recorded sound.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.govand via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at


• University of Rochester and George Eastman House Announce Collaborative Alliance

The University of Rochester and George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film have entered into an alliance to further public engagement, research and education in the arts and sciences, with a focus on the museum’s photography and motion picture collections. This will be the most extensive museum and university alliance of this type in existence.

This alliance is designed to produce research and education across disciplinary boundaries, spanning from art to medicine. Proposed activities will serve students at both institutions as well as the public at large. They include new courses exploring preservation as well as the art and science of photography and motion pictures; research programs for students and faculty; conferences and summer institutes; plus programs both in Rochester and online.

"A number of museums of the stature of George Eastman House have partnerships with universities, but research by the American Association of Museums turns up no programs of the breadth and depth of that being created in Rochester,” said Dewey Blanton, director of strategic communications for the American Association of Museums.

The alliance is centered on the study of the image in all of its domains. It will promote research and education in the arts and imaging sciences at both the university and the museum. Among the subjects studied will be the use of new technologies in motion pictures and of scientific methods for preserving and interpreting images. The Eastman House, the world’s oldest museum of photography, holds and preserves more than 4 million artifacts. The University of Rochester has a long history of world-class work in optics and visual science, and the interdisciplinary visual studies graduate program is the first of its kind in the country.

Current collaborations between the two institutions include 60 years of teaching partnerships; a master’s degree program in the Department of English with the Eastman House’s L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation; photography research focused on daguerreotypes that evaluates and preserves museum collections with techniques developed by the University’s Department of Computer Science; various fellowship and public programs; and the sharing of library collections, including rare books and online databases.

For more information, see

Home Movie Auteur Robbins Barstow, 1919-2010

Renowned home movie filmmaker Robbins Barstow, whose 1956 filmDisneyland Dreamwas named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in 2008, died of congestive heart failure on November 7, 2010. He was 91 years old. A tireless champion of the home movie, and an enthusiastic disseminator of his own work, Barstow posted a number of his films on the internet archive several years ago, where some of them, includingDisneyland Dream,have been downloaded over 75,000 times. See For a full obituary, see


• Highlights from the Annual Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival, November 2010

The 34th Annual Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival was held November 11-14, 2010 at the American Museum of Natural History. The Festival featured a John Cohen series with live music, Lantern Slides, and film premieres. Filmmakers presenting films in person include: José Padilha (Brazil), Nadav Harel (Israel), Nicola Bellucci (Italy), Olisarali Olibui (Ethiopia), Daniele Wilmouth (United States), Harun Farocki (Germany), Marcia Connolly (Canada), and more.

The program also included a never-before public viewing of one of the Museum’s hidden treasures, a collection of 40,000 glass lantern slides, many hand-painted and about half of them only recently rediscovered in a former Museum employee’s Staten Island farmhouse. A program entitled Lantern Slides: Looking Glass Through History used these unique slides—which include images of landscapes, scientific specimens, and field expeditions—to provide a tour of a breadth of subjects integral to the Museum. The opening and closing night films were part of a film series that coincided with the Museum exhibition Brain: The Inside Story, which opened November 20, 2010. The exhibition-related films included:

Plug & Pray. Jens Schanze and Judith Malek-Mahdavi¹s film about artificial intelligence, starring human-like robots, questions the efficacy and ethics of the latest developments in technological research.

In the Garden of Sounds(Nel Giardino dei Suoni). Nicola Bellucci tells the extraordinary story of Wolfgang Fasser, a blind musician and physical therapist who works with developmentally disabled children, using music and natural sounds to reach through each child¹s particular physical and mental barriers.

The Electric Mind. Nadav Harel follows an octogenarian widow, a middle-aged art photographer, a young father of two, and an 11-year-old girl undergoing experimental treatments for their debilitating brain disorders.

More information about the festival can be found at


• Re-Imagining the Archive Symposium at UCLA, November 2010

Re-Imagining the Archive: Remapping and Remixing Traditional Models in the Digital Era took place at UCLA on November 12-14, 2010. The symposium considered the way digitality has radically and dynamically transformed the role of traditional archives and museums. By all accounts a very successful symposium, the complete program and statement of aims can be found here:


• New York Society of Film Critics Selects Six Film Heritage Awards

The National Society of Film Critics has recognized the efforts of archives and archivists with its selection of six Film Heritage Awards, announced January 8, 2011. The Awards are:

1. The Film Foundation (20-year anniversary)
2.Chaplin at KeystoneDVD set (Flicker Alley with Lobster Films, Film Preservation Associates, Cineteca di Bologna, British Film Institute NFTVA, UCLA Film & Television Archive)
3.Elia Kazan CollectionDVD set (Fox)
4.Upstream,a rediscovered 1927 film dir. by John Ford. (National Film Preservation Foundation, Fox, Academy Film Archive, New Zealand Film Archive)
5.On the Bowery(1956) (restored by Davide Pozzi of the Cineteca di Bologna in cooperation with the Rogosin Heritage and Anthology Film Archives, distributed by Milestone Films)
6.Word Is Out(1978) (Restored by Ross Lipman, the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Outfest Legacy Project, distributed by Milestone Films)


The YouTube ReaderAvailable Online for Free Download

With the consent of its contributors, The YouTube Reader (National Library of Sweden, 2010) has been placed online forfree download. Edited by Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau, the book features contributions by Thomas Elsaesser,Richard Grusin, Bernard Stiegler, Toby Miller, William Uricchio, and Janet Wasko, among others. There is a section on"Storage” with essays about digital archiving by Rick Prelinger, Pelle Snickars, Jens Schröter, and others. The bookpublication is accompanied by an online exhibition by Giovanna Fossatti, "YouTube as a Mirror Maze,” which can be foundat this website, along with the link to the full book pdf:

Survey of Library & Museum Digitization Projects

Primary Research Group has publishedThe Survey of Library & Museum Digitization Projects. The nearly 200-page report looks closely at how academic, public and special libraries and museums are digitizing special and other collections. The study is based on detailed data on costs, equipment use, staffing, cataloging, marketing, licensing revenue and other facets of digitization projects from nearly 100 libraries and museums in the United States, the UK, continental Europe, Canada, and Australia. The study covers and presents data separately for digitizers of photographs, film and video, music and audio, text and re-digitization of existing digital mediums. Data is broken out by budget size, region, type of institution, and other factors. For further information visit


• A Library Without Walls? Digital Public Library of America Project Gains Momentum

Is it possible to create a National Digital Library? The question is not particularly new, spurred by the results of Google Books, and has already been implemented to some degree by projects like HathiTrust, the "shared digital repository” that has dozens of university partners. (See

But the question received a new formulation, and a fresh commitment in October 2010 at Harvard. Robert Darnton, Harvard’s chief librarian, convened what the Chronicle of Higher Education called "a group of 42 top-level representatives from foundations, cultural institutions, and the library and scholarly worlds.” The group issued a statement endorsing what it called a "Digital Public Library of America” that assembles the collections of archives, museums, and universities across the country.

Last October 1, Darnton posted a blog piece based on the talk he gave at this off-the-record Harvard conference, which can be found here:


"Archival News” reports recent news highlights from the media archive community for the Cinema Journal readership. Some information in this column comes courtesy of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) listserv, along with institutional newsletters, websites and press releases. This column is updated quarterly. Readers seeking more frequently news updates are encouraged to visit the AMIA news blog Contributions to this column are welcomed. Information should be sent to Jennifer Peterson, Assistant Professor, Film Studies Program, 316 UCB, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, 80309-0316; phone 303-735-2694;

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