15 Jul 2008


Because of the location of the actor´s suit pocket (the one with the handkerchief), it was pointed out to me that the pictures were taken the wrong way around, which also means that the Mini Cooper has the steering wheel on the left, practically ruling out a British film. (Having symmetrical soundtracks on the film makes it harder to distinguish the "right" way around.) Assuming that is correct, the images should have been scanned this way around:

There seems to be multiple opinions as to the identity of the man in the suit. Some have said it might be Gig Young while others believe him to be David Janssen (which is possibly related to the identity of the fragments of mistery film #2).

The last 2 fragments have been identified as "The Shoes of the Fisherman" from 1968. In the first case, Anthony Quinn is sharing the frame with Oskar Werner, who played fraille David Telemond. In the second frame, standing at the left is Burt Kwuok (as Peng) and, as previously stated, Anthony Quinn (as Kiril Lakota).

All these information came from the scholars at AMIA-L. My immense gratitude to them.

13 Jul 2008


The pictures that follow show frames from several 70mm fragments that I have located recently. I don´t know if they belong to the same reel of a film or not. Sadly no head or tails, that is why I seek help identifying the name of the feature.

I have reason to believe that the following 2 fragments do not belong to the same film as the precious ones. I suspect that the man sitting on the left in the first example, and the one standing on the right in the second one, is none other than Anthony Quinn.

Any help will be greatly apreciated.

11 Jul 2008


"Hollywood mediocrity and corporate greed have doomed classic horror movies to the limbo of dusty video store shelves and occasional late night cable programs."

Find the rest of this witty, nicely written and extremely insightful manifesto here.

10 Jul 2008


What follows is the transcription of an article intitled "Film Restoration: More than ´Rear Window´ dressing" written by Bill Desowitz for cnn.com, published on December 11th, 1997. You can read the original here

First "Vertigo" was brought back from oblivion; now the ever-popular "Rear Window" is the latest Alfred Hitchcock classic starring Jimmy Stewart being saved from the ravages of time.

To enhance its image quality, the restored version will be among the first films printed in Technicolor's new dye-transfer process (so far used only experimentally with a few prints of Warner Bros.' "Giant" reissue and "Batman & Robin").

This marks the third Universal Pictures restoration by the team of Robert Harris and James Katz, following "Spartacus" and "Vertigo." The "Rear Window" fix-up is less expensive the other large-format projects -- "Vertigo," for example, cost $1.3 million -- but no less intensive.

"Like 'Vertigo,' we can make 'Rear Window' look like it's never looked before, with rich colors to show off the new process," says Katz, who produces the restorations. "This serves the future without forgetting the past."

Indeed, as Technicolor gears up for next year's high-tech return of dye transfer (abandoned since the mid-1970s) -- which has suddenly become cost-effective in the current "event" film market -- the "Rear Window" announcement proves that the process can also accommodate special reissues as well.

According to Frank Ricotta, Technicolor's senior vice president of worldwide technical and engineering operations, the new process yields sharper, less grainy prints than conventional color positive prints, as well as "an extended tone scale resulting in blacker blacks, whiter whites and improved color rendition."

The restorers concur that the results are impressive.

"'Rear Window' is a dark-looking movie," Katz says. "And in the tests, we've been getting a lot of detail in the blacks you don't ordinarily see. There's also increased sharpness. You can see it in the bricks on the buildings (in the courtyard) and in the patterns on the dresses."

Actually, "Rear Window" has never looked as good as it could have, according to Harris, even during its initial release in 1954. That's because the first dye-transfer prints weren't made until the 1962 reissue, when they were badly timed and came out beige. "So this will be the first time we see the film's full-color spectrum," he says.

But first the restorers must clean up an extremely dirty negative, abused from the very beginning. "It's a mess," Harris says. "There were 400 runs off the camera negative before the end of 1954. We don't know why they didn't do it dye-transfer, which would have saved printing off the negative. This was reasonably unusual for the period. And we're missing 1,000 feet of negative."

It is ironic that "Rear Window" has suffered this fate, considering it was one of Hitchcock's personal favorites and his most successful film of the '50s. It was also the first movie from his peak Paramount period, which he eventually owned outright and later withdrew for a decade. When last reissued, in 1983, "Rear Window" grossed another $9.1 million for Universal, which acquired it from Hitchcock's estate.

Inspired by Cornell Woolrich's cunning short story about murder, voyeurism and confined spaces, the director was obviously at his crafty best. He had all the technical toys he desired at his disposal, plus two of his favorite stars, Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. "Rear Window" was Stewart's favorite of the four films he made with the director.

Breakthrough made restoration possible
Yet were it not for a recent technological breakthrough conceived by the restorers and developed by Phil Feiner, executive vice president of Pacific Title film lab, a complete restoration of "Rear Window" would not have been achievable.

Besides the accumulation of dirt, pieces of the original Eastman color negative that were dupes (titles and optical effects) have faded in the yellow layer of emulsion due to aging and improper storage -- a malady that sooner or later strikes all color negatives from the early '50s through the '80s, when a more stable stock was introduced. This first- layer deterioration includes loss of contrast, blacks and shadows going blue and facial highlights turning, in the words of the restorers, "a lovely shade of crustacean."

Compounding "Rear Window's" problem is an additional reel of negative that had its yellow layer stripped off the emulsion when a lacquer that was applied and reapplied over the years to cover scratches was eventually removed.

"No one was malicious here," Katz says. "The film was a victim of its environment over the years. It doesn't stand alone. There are thousands of films out there like this. No one knew enough about the properties of emulsion or temperature control for color negatives."

The restorers were first stymied by the yellow-layer problem last year when trying to correct the revelatory flashback in "Vertigo." Frustrated by their inability to restore the sequence, they later approached Feiner about devising a solution for subsequent restorations.

Using test footage from "Rear Window" and the 1956 remake of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (to be restored at a later date), Feiner spent six months implementing a cost-effective photo- chemical solution.

To bring "Rear Window's" colorful brilliance back to life, an interpositive, an extremely fine-grain, low-contrast color- duplicating element, will be made from what survives on the original negative and combined with what survives on the yellow separation master.

"This is something that's going to benefit all of these pictures," Katz adds. "All the damage seems to be in the yellow layer."

'That shot is going to be breathtaking'
The most important moment in "Rear Window" to benefit not only from the yellow-layer breakthrough but from the new dye- transfer process is Kelly's seductive entrance -- which over the years has developed a yellow-green tint. Stewart, the aloof photographer confined to a wheelchair because of a broken leg, is awakened in his apartment by her tender kiss. To prolong the kiss and make it appear more sensual, Hitchcock shot it in close-up and then double-printed each frame in slow-motion.

"That shot is going to be breathtaking in Technicolor," Katz predicts. "When people first see her, they'll understand why everyone who came into contact with her fell in love with her."

The main title sequence, another casualty of yellow-layer fading, has already been repaired. "We used five different formulas to get the precise color for the main titles," Harris says. "There's a kind of Chinese red drop shadow that was difficult to reproduce. We finally got one that was acceptable using the yellow-layer method."

The original Paramount logo, incidentally, will return to the film's beginning and end, linked, of course, with the rising and falling bamboo shades in Stewart's apartment.

While "Rear Window" lacks the stunning visual reputation of "Vertigo," its technical virtuosity is legendary, boasting Hitchcock's most elaborate set to re-create the Greenwich Village apartment complex where Stewart spies on his neighbors with his telephoto lens. The effect, as Francois Truffaut first observed, is like viewing ambiguous scenarios of love and marriage from tiny movie screens or TV sets.

It was all part of Hitchcock's famous "pure cinema" scheme: creating tension between Stewart observing and being observed -- and involving us in the suspense of waiting for him to get caught. In fact, the way he introduces Stewart and his neighbors through a series of serpentine camera movements is as succinct an example of visual exposition ever filmed.

"People don't ordinarily think of 'Rear Window' as a stylish movie," Katz says. "But what we're discovering is that there is a style in the way Hitchcock used color. With Miss Lonelyhearts, we can now see the mauve in her apartment and the green in her dress. Each apartment has its own color style."

Harris and Katz expect the restoration to be completed next spring. However, Universal's distribution plans could be complicated by a blackout in place until 1999, coincidentally, the centenary of Hitchcock's birth. Sheldon Abend, who owns the copyright on the Woolrich short story from which the film is based, won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1990 declaring his copyright renewal was violated.

"The important thing is, we're saving another Hitchcock," Katz adds. "And we have a whole new audience right now for this."

7 Jul 2008

6 Jul 2008


What follows is the transcription of an article intitled "Key Scenes Rediscovered" published on July 2nd on ZEITmagazin.com. You can read the original here.

Key scenes from Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” have been rediscovered

Last Tuesday Paula Félix-Didier travelled on a secret mission to Berlin in order to meet with three film experts and editors from ZEITmagazin. The museum director from Buenos Aires had something special in her luggage: a copy of a long version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, including scenes believed lost for almost 80 years. After examining the film the three experts are certain: The find from Buenos Aires is a real treasure, a worldwide sensation. Metropolis, the most important silent film in German history, can from this day on be considered to have been rediscovered.

Fritz Lang presented the original version of Metropolis in Berlin in January 1927. The film is set in the futuristic city of Metropolis, ruled by Joh Fredersen, whose workers live underground. His son falls in love with a young woman from the worker’s underworld – the conflict takes its course. At the time it was the most expensive German film ever made. It was intended to be a major offensive against Hollywood. However the film flopped with critics and audiences alike. Representatives of the American firm Paramount considerably shortened and re-edited the film. They oversimplified the plot, even cutting key scenes. The original version could only be seen in Berlin until May 1927 – from then on it was considered to have been lost forever. Those recently viewing a restored version of the film first read the following insert: “More than a quarter of the film is believed to be lost forever.”

ZEITmagazin has now reconstructed the story of how the film nevertheless managed to survive. Adolfo Z. Wilson, a man from Buenos Aires and head of the Terra film distribution company, arranged for a copy of the long version of “Metropolis” to be sent to Argentina in 1928 to show it in cinemas there. Shortly afterwards a film critic called Manuel Peña Rodríguez came into possession of the reels and added them to his private collection. In the 1960s Peña Rodríguez sold the film reels to Argentina’s National Art Fund – clearly nobody had yet realised the value of the reels. A copy of these reels passed into the collection of the Museo del Cine (Cinema Museum) in Buenos Aires in 1992, the curatorship of which was taken over by Paula Félix-Didier in January this year. Her ex-husband, director of the film department of the Museum of Latin American Art, first entertained the decisive suspicion: He had heard from the manager of a cinema club, who years before had been surprised by how long a screening of this film had taken. Together, Paula Félix-Didier and her ex-husband took a look at the film in her archive – and discovered the missing scenes.

Paula Félix-Didier remembered having dinner with the German journalist Karen Naundorf and confided the secret to her. Félix-Didier wanted the news to be announced in Germany where Fritz Lang had worked – and she hoped that it would attract a greater level of attention in Germany than in Argentina. The author Karen Naundorf has worked for DIE ZEIT for five years - and let the editorial office of ZEITmagazin in on her knowledge.

Among the footage that has now been discovered, according to the unanimous opinion of the three experts that ZEITmagazin asked to appraise the pictures, there are several scenes which are essential in order to understand the film: The role played by the actor Fritz Rasp in the film for instance, can finally be understood. Other scenes, such as for instance the saving of the children from the worker’s underworld, are considerably more dramatic. In brief: “Metropolis, Fritz Lang’s most famous film, can be seen through new eyes.”, as stated by Rainer Rother, Director of the Deutsche Kinemathek Museum and head of the series of retrospectives at the Berlinale.

Helmut Possmann, director of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau Foundation, the holder of the rights to “Metropolis”, said to ZEITmagazin: “The material believed to be lost leads to a new understanding of the Fritz Lang masterpiece.” The Murnau Foundation now sees itself as “responsible, along with the archive in Buenos Aires and our partners for making the material available to the public.”

The rediscovered material is in need of restoration after 80 years; the pictures are scratched, but clearly recognizable. Martin Koerber, the restorer of the hitherto longest known version of “Metropolis”, who also examined the footage, said to ZEITmagazin: “No matter how bad the condition of the material may be, the original intention of the film, including all of its minor characters and subplots, is now once again tangible for the normal viewer. The rhythm of the film has been restored.”

And perhaps the scratches, which will probably remain even after restoration, will have an added advantage: The cinemagoer will be reminded of what an exciting history this great film has had.

3 Jul 2008


Even though I haven´t made much noise about it (except for the modified header), some time ago I decided to stop collecting Super 8 films. Mainly because of the lower quality compared to 16mm, also because of the amateurish halo around it. As a matter of fact, I have begun the process of getting rid of everything that I don´t hold personally dear.

Having said that, there´s still one Super 8 fetish I haven´t been able to shake.

Hitchcock films. Buying Hitchcock films in Super 8.

They appear occasionally on the usual channels, and I jump at them like mad.

If you´ll endulge my vanity, I´ll show off my little collection:

  • Hawke Films presents Alfred Hitchcock Film Festival Part 1: 350ft - Color - Silent - Includes scenes from North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960) and The Birds (1963). Also advertisements for Frenzy (1972).

  • Hawke Films presents Alfred Hitchcock Film Festival Part 2: 350ft - Color - Silent - Includes scenes from The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964) and Frenzy (1972).

  • Hawke Films presents Alfred Hitchcock Film Festival Part 3: 350ft - Color - Silent - Includes scenes from Torn Curtain (1966), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and Vertigo (1958).

  • Hawke Films presents Alfred Hitchcock Film Festival Part 4: 100ft - Color - Mono - Includes 6 promos by Hitch himself.

  • Alfred Hitchcock Trailer Reel: 400 ft - Color - Mono - English spoken w/no subtitles - Includes trailers for Frenzy (1972), The Birds (1963), Vertigo (1958) and Rear Window (1954).

One thing that will haunt me to the last of my days is my personal loss of a 16mm copy of Psycho (1960). That one is my favourite film of all time, and recently I came across a 16mm copy on eBay. It was going for USD200 and as much as that is for a banana republic collector, I bought it. Because of it´s weight, it got stopped in customs, and those a$$#°1e$ wanted USD700 for the print to clear. Unfortunately I couldn´t afford that much on top of the 200, so, brokenhearted I had no chance but to abandon it. In my imagination there is a warehouse exactly like that of the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where my print collects dust in shelf.