Rare Movies from the National Film Registry
Join film historian Daniel Eagan for an amazing evening of cinematic wonders as presents some of the rare and wonderful movies chosen for the Library of Congress' National Film Registry
The silent movies in the program will feature a Live Musical Accompaniment by Ben Model on the Cinema's Miditzer Theater Organ
Formed in 1988, the National Film Registry is a list of films determined to be "culturally, historically, or esthetically significant" by the Library of Congress. Each year 25 new titles are added to the list, which now numbers 575 individual films. Many of the titles are familiar ones: The Wizard of Oz, Singin' in the Rain, The Godfather. But the Registry embraces all types of film. Not just features, but documentaries, animation, and experimental movies. And many of the titles are shorts, once a mainstay at theaters, but today a niche category.
Tonight's program indicates some of the breadth of the National Film Registry. The six shorts we will be showing span the years 19061996, and include an actuality, two animated shorts, a documentary, an amateur film, and an experimental film. The shorts are both silent and sound, B&W and color, and were filmed on 35mm and 16mm.
A Trip Down Market Street (12 min) 1906 35mm
In the first years of cinema, filmmakers traveled the world looking for locations to photograph. Historians refer to these early nonfiction films as "actualities." The word documentary wasn't coined until the late 1920s, but an actuality could be considered a form of documentary. The four Miles Brothers, who made A Trip Down Market Street, were one of the first to bring movies to the West Coast. This film, intended to celebrate their new motion picture studio, placed a camera on the front of a Market Street cable car. For years historians thought the film may have been photographed in 1905, but through detective work by David Kiehn, a more accurate date was established two years ago. And that's what makes this film so poignant today.
Study of a River (16 min) 1996 16mm
An experimental film by Peter Hutton, head of the cinema program at Bard. A former merchant marine, Hutton shoots landscape films that evoke the early days of cinema. Shot over several months, this title focuses on the Hudson River near Poughkeepsie.
Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor (16 min) 1936 16mm
One of the most popular animated characters, Popeye the Sailor first appeared in 1919. He became a movie star in 1933, when Betty Boop introduced him to the screen in Popeye the Sailor Man. Gruff but lovable, Popeye appeared in dozens of shorts made by the Fleischer Brothers, Max and Dave, in their studio in New York. This was his first color film, a Technicolor extravaganza twice as long as his usual cartoons. It was a phenomenal hit when it was released, with some theaters even billing it as their featured attraction.
Scratch and Crow (5 min) 1995 16mm
An animated film by Helen Hill. She studied at CalArts and Harvard, and taught film in Nova Scotia before moving to New Orleans with her husband. Her work is quirky and exuberant, with bold colors and a strong sense of humor. She is a great example of "do it yourself" filmmaking, and became a role model for a new generation of animators who wanted to express themselves outside of the studio system.
The Jungle (22 min) 1967 16mm/DVD (TBC)
An unusual and gripping documentary about teen gangs in Northeast Philadelphia, The Jungle was initiated by Harold Haskins, an activist searching for a solution to increasing violence in underprivileged neighborhoods. Rather than hire outsiders who would impose their own narratives on local teens, Haskins recruited gang members to tell their own story. He had them trained in shooting, directing, and editing film, giving them the opportunity to tell their own story about gang violence from the inside. Rough in points, The Jungle gives an early account of what would evolve into hip hop culture.
Pass the Gravy (20 min) 1928 16mm
A silent short starring Max Davidson, supervised by Leo McCarey and photographed by George Stevens. McCarey worked with just about every significant film comedian, from Harold Lloyd to Cary Grant, and was responsible for teaming Laurel and Hardy. Davidson was a Jewish ethnic comedian who starred in a dozen or so films for the Hal Roach Studio, where McCarey ran the shorts departmentand in the process defined what would become sitcoms. It's a really funny film about feuding neighbors, a prize chicken, and a Sunday afternoon feast that turns sour.
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