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September 1998, Week 1


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"Horak, Chris" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 2 Sep 1998 12:24:02 -0700
text/plain (83 lines)
Having been a film programmer for many years, previous to my present life, I
have to agree with Jessica Rossner's depressing assessment of the state of
motion picture film availability. 16mm film distribution is indeed doomed,
given the willingness of many university film programs to switch to video,
to say nothing of libraries, schools and other venues in the traditional;
non-theatrical market. At the same time, there are glimmers of hope, at
least for the 35mm revival/art house market.
At Universal, the New Business Initiatives Department (headed by Dick
Costello) has begun an ambitious program to put 35mm film classics back into
the theaters. While not all of these films are on AFI's much discussed list,
many are and almost all of them should have been.
Last Fall a program, "Universal Noir", began touring art houses in the
United States. This program, featuring 35mm new prints specifically struck
for the tour, has been highly acclaimed wherever it has been seen. It is
made up of both Universal and pre-1950 Paramount titles, which Universal has
owned since the late 1950s. The film noir series includes such films as
Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958), Robert Siodmak's Phantom Lady (1944),
The Killers (1946), and Criss Cross (1949), Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity
(1944), Fritz Lang's You and Me (1938) and Ministry of Fear (1944), as well
as Back Angel (1946), The Big Clock (1948), The Glass Key (1942), This Gun
For Hire (1942), Blast of Silence (1961), and Cape Fear (1962). The latter
with Robert Mitchum's stunning performance as a psychopath, which can hold
its own against Robert de Niro in Scorcese's remake any day.
This Summer a second program, dedicated to "Universal Comedy", opened at
Film Forum in New York. Like the previous noir series, this program features
new prints of many well-known Universal and Paramount classics. Among the
films circulating are Buck Privates (1941) and Abbott & Costello Meet
Frankenstein (1948), two films starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello,
undoubtably Universal's most successful comedy team in the classic Hollywood
era, as well as three W.C. Fields and/or Mae West comedies: She Done Him
Wrong (1933), The Bank Dick (1940), and My Little Chicadee (1940). Then
there are three Marx Brothers' Paramount features, the truly immortal Duck
Soup (1933), Horse Feathers (1932), and Monkey Business (1931), Gregory
LaCava's My Man Godfrey (1937), Ernst Lubitsch's Bluebeard's Eigth Wife
(1938), as well as five Preston Sturges films in celebration of his
centennial: The Palm Beach Story (1942), The Lady Eve (1941), The Great
McGinty (1940), Chistmas in July (1940), and Sullivan's Travels (1941).
Universal has opened a third program, "Universal Horror", which makes all
the classic monsters available again in new 35mm prints: Dracula (1931),
Frankenstein (1931), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Invisible Man
(1933), The Mummmy (1932), and The Wolf Man (1941), as well as several other
classic horror titles: Edgar G. Ulmer's The Black Cat (1934), Dracula's
Daughter (1936), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1944).
Also scheduled for this year, in time for Alfred Hitchcock's centennial is
"Universal Hitchcock", featuring Saboteur (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943),
Rope (1948), The Trouble With Harry (1955), Rear Window (1953), Vertigo
(1958)  Psycho (1959), The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964), Torn Curtain (1966),
Topaz (1969), Frenzy (1972), and Family Plot (1976).
The success of these programs will hopefully spawn more series, leading to
an ever widening selection of films available from Universal in good 35mm
prints. The newly established Archives & Collections Department, under the
corporate wing of the aforementioned New Business Initiatives, has been
charged with preserving and making available Universal's rich and storied
history through its archive, exhibitions, and a to-be-founded museum. It is
our collective goal to reintroduce the classic  films of Universal to new
audiences as a theatrical film experience, through exhibits, and as a home
video experience.
For further information about any of these series, contact Peter Langs by
phone  (818 763 7788) or fax (818 508 3089).
Chris Horak
Jan-Christopher Horak
Archives & Collections
100 Universal City Plaza, 503-LL
Universal City, Ca. 91608
1 818 777 7571
1 818 866 5120 (fax)
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