This month Google adds more than 1,000 new destinations to experience via street view. It looks like we are one of the first destinations locally (Rochester, N.Y.) to open our doors beyond the street.
This is exciting to us for a few reasons – the first, visitors onsite will now have the opportunity to use their mobile’s to know where they are throughout the house and museum. Secondly, for those that may never come to Eastman House it is an opportunity to invite all to come on in and learn a little bit more about us.
Lastly, we realize as an institution another important aspect for Eastman House is what is going on behind the scenes – our schools (Photographic Preservation and Collections Management & The L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation) and students working in the collections, our conservation labs and photo processes and finally, the vaults. We are pleased to reveal our technology vault three floors underground (are we the first museum to do so?)
Eastman House holds nearly 500,000 photographs representing every major process and the work of more than 14,000 photographers. In addition to the photographs, the collection holds important examples of the photograph’s role in our culture over time – including photojournalism, advertising, etc. The Motion Picture Collection is one of the major moving image archives in the U.S.
Eastman House is – and always has been – an independent nonprofit institution. We rely on the support of donors, locally and internationally so we can continue to tell the story of photography and motion pictures.
Our new director Bruce Barnes relays our situation honestly, “Frankly, it is a challenge to fund a non-profit institution of our scope in a metropolitan area of one million. George Eastman House has always been an independent, non-profit institution, but the prevailing economic environment has made fundraising more difficult – creating a shortfall at a critical time“.
Thanks for your consideration and above all else take a look!
For decades we have been a source of archival film prints to be projected at (respected, well-trained) repertory theaters and film festivals around the world. As more and more screens turn to digital-only projection, these film prints become the main attraction of rare events as our museum artifacts are exhibited in only the best of film projection venues.
2013 has been no exception – below is a highlight of some of the films we’ll be providing to other exhibition spaces this month:
On June 5, The Cinefamily will be continuing its monthly series “The Silent Treatment” with a preservation from George Eastman House. BARBED WIRE (1927) is a World War I romance with Pola Negri as the French farm girl and Clive Brook as the German P.O.W. Pola Negri was one of the great beauties of the silent cinema. Born in Poland, she worked in German film until she and her director, Ernst Lubitsch, were brought to Hollywood.
She continued to make films in America during the silent era and reportedly had relationships with Valentino and Chaplin, but her thick accent did not translate well to the talkies, especially not the siren roles she had been cast in for over a decade. “The Silent Treatment” is curated by Selznick graduate Brandee Cox and you can find more information about it here.
Our friends at the Museum of Modern Art are organizing a film series titled “Allan Dwan and the Rise and Decline of the Hollywood Studios.” It is impossible to mount a complete retrospective of this overlooked director (over a 50-year career he directed more than 400 films), but MoMA has put together a great series that runs over a month from June 5 to July 8. We are providing three prints for the series: DAVID HARUM (June 9 and 10), FRONTIER MARSHAL (June 15 and 18), and STAGE STRUCK (June 18 and 19). Both DAVID HARUM and STAGE STRUCK are 35mm preservations from nitrate held at George Eastman House, and STAGE STRUCK includes a two-color Technicolor sequence where Gloria Swanson dreams of herself as a famous actress. Imagine! Allan Dwan was dubbed “The Last Pioneer” by Peter Bogdanovich and you can see all the details of MoMA’s series here.
British Film Institute
There has been a lot of interest in the British Film Institute’s preservation of nine silent Alfred Hitchcock films (“The Hitchcock 9”). The last of these, BLACKMAIL (1929), was also the first of Hitch’s (and Britain’s) sound films, as it was created both with and without a soundtrack during Britain’s changeover period. Even at this early point, Hitch was doing genius work with sound, as evidenced by this very subjective scene:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is dedicating a night to both versions as a double feature and has asked us to provide the sound version. The screening will take place June 18 at the Goldwyn Theater on Wilshire (which I was lucky enough to visit in April) and the website for the event is here.
Il Cinema Ritrovato
Il Cinema Ritrovato (The Rediscovered Cinema) film festival has been taking place in Bologna, Italy for over 25 years now, and we have often provided prints for their screenings. This year, attendees will get a special treat as they watch a double feature of Cecil B. DeMille’s CARMEN (1915) and Charlie Chaplin’s A BURLESQUE ON CARMEN (1915) in the Piazza Maggiore, a 13th-Century public square in the heart of the city. Not only will the attendees be able to see the films in this gorgeous venue (again, a place I’ve been lucky enough to see), but the musical accompaniment for these silent films will be provided live by the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna. They should plan for a wonderful evening and a beautiful print of CARMEN that faithfully recreates the tinting found on the original nitrate print donated to George Eastman House by Cecil B. DeMille himself. More information on Il Cinema Ritrovato here.
In addition to these screenings, we will be contributing to museum exhibits by providing footage that will play throughout the day in museums wihtout film projection facilities. First, the Spessart Museum will be displaying the 1916 version of SNOW WHITE. Housed in a 14th-Century castle in the town of Lohr am Main, the museum is dedicated to the concept of “Mensch und Wald” (Man and Forest), as it sits in an area representative of the historical development of woodland in Germany. The museum is interested in this film because, according to its website, “In 1986…Dr. Karlheinz Bartels…was able to prove conclusively, on the basis of facts provided by fabular science that Snow White came from Lohr.” I’m not sure what “fabular science” entails, but the museum and the castle sound like a lot of fun. Read more about it here.
And much, much closer to home, the Strong National Museum of Play is featuring actual footage of Coney Island from film in the George Eastman House collection for its new exhibit “Boardwalk Arcade.” The footage will provide context for the recreation of turn-of-the-century boardwalk with games and attractions typical to the attractions up and down the East Coast. Opening weekend for the exhibit is July 6 and 7. Read about it here.
My gloved hand holds a can as I inspect a Pallme film
The Roberto Pallme Collection consists of over five hundred reels of 35mm nitrate film and 9.5mm acetate film, initially acquired by a private collector in Italy and now part of the motion picture holdings here at the George Eastman House.
Some of the titles in the collection, like the Douglas Fairbanks comedy Mr. Fix-It (dir. Allan Dwan, 1918), are rare treasures that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. In the Selznick program, each student is given the opportunity to pursue a personal project, and I wanted to work independently with a collection of nitrate films that would allow me to look at beautiful images– and the Pallme Collection satisfied all of my requirements.
Revue with more dancing
I spent several weeks at the Louis B. Mayer Conservation Center working under the supervision of brilliant Film Preservation Officer Anthony L’Abbate, and alongside my clever classmate Emily Wall (whose personal project tackled audition footage from Gone With The Wind).
In these first few months, I inspected reels of film, updated our database of information, and added hundreds of titles to the George Eastman House catalog. Twelve reels in the collection were completely unlabeled, so I devoted much of my time to identifying the material on those reels. It was an especially challenging task because each reel had a number of short films or fragments of longer films, and I wanted to identify every single one. One of these fragments was a short excerpt from the film La Revue des Revues (dir. Joe Francis, 1928) that was especially charming because each frame was colored using the Pathecolor stencil process, an early system for applying color to film prints.
Revue with dancing ladies
By the end of the year, I was able to identify fifty-four titles, and add them to our catalog, but a few still have me baffled. Perhaps one of the blog readers can identify the Technicolor cartoon that features this mysterious cupcake king presiding over a candy kingdom. What film is this, and who made it?
In my second year of study, I decided to continue my work with the collection and make it the focus of the master’s essay (offered in partnership with the U of R).
I have been researching the history of the collection, and tracing its journey from a small community outside Naples, Italy, to Rochester, NY, by way of the Netherlands. I have spoken with incredibly helpful sources, including Oscar Pallme (a relative of Roberto Pallme) as well as freelance film historian Roland Cosandey, and continued to inspect prints from the collection by hand. It has been a joy to study this collection of films, and I appreciate this incredibly rare experience which could only be possible here at George Eastman House.
I decided to take a little stroll through the Dryden Theatre to see if there were any interesting seat labels from our current Take a Seat campaign (more here) – and I was in luck. Take a look at a few of my faves – the rest you’ll have to come in and see for yourself.
See you at the movies!
More about the Dryden Theatre’s recent renovation here.