UCLA Festival of Preservation

If you’re in Los Angeles between now and the end of this month (March 2011), you can catch what remains of the 2011 UCLA Festival of Preservation. The series presents an extraordinary range of the gems that UCLA Film & Television Archive has preserved and restored. The Archive’s internationally recognized preservationists introduce many of the films at the festival, explaining what they did to bring them back to full life.

This month, the Archive is going live with a new, interactive website that will offer information, blogs and streaming film clips: www.cinema.ucla.edu.

Meanwhile, the festival offers some riveting evenings of restorations. Among remaining presentations, for example, is the recently rediscovered Cry Danger (1951, showing Friday March 18 2011), Robert Parrish’s noir classic (right), preserved by the UCLA unit with support from the Film Noir Foundation. As the program notes say, “the terse, pitch-perfect Dick Powell portrays ex-convict Rocky Mulloy who returns to Los Angeles to find the gang who framed him. Aided by a hard-drinking, crippled ex-marine, Mulloy prowls the streets for justice while flopping at a Bunker Hill trailer camp, home to his ex-girlfriend, played by the graceful Rhonda Fleming.”

Also that evening, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950), preserved with assistance from The Packard Humanities Institute. James Cagney appeared in the small-budget Gordon Douglas film after his star turn in White Heat (1949). Working from a Horace McCoy 1948 crime novel, Douglas cast Cagney as the menacing hoodlum Ralph Cotter, in his second-last role of that variety.

Then there’s an afternoon (Saturday, March 19 2011) of films and fragments of 1920’s sweetheart Baby Peggy, “Hollywood’s Tiny Titan.” And that evening, Barbara Loden’s 1970 neo-realist depiction of lost American soul, Wanda, introduced by UCLA senior film preservationist Ross Lipman.

Sunday March 20 2011, the offering is a program of films recorded with Vitaphone technology, a popular early method of syncing sound discs to film. (From 1926-1931, Warner Bros. produced over 1000 Vitaphone shorts, and the UCLA Film & Television Archive has since its inception been committed to preserving them.

That evening, the program is Pot o’ Gold, directed by George Marshall, a musical comedy in which James Stewart sings, and reasonably well. Opening the session is a presentation of “soundies” from the 1940s, short precursors of the music video shot on 16mm and originally played on coin-operated “Panoram” film jukeboxes.

And so, on the festival goes. Full details are online.

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