Thursday, March 26, 2009

Access to Rare Films

In this post from the indispensable Bioscope, there is news of access to rare films by an exciting new method from Warner Bros.

You pay $19.95 for a DVD-R (or $14.95 for download), but you get your own copy of rare films that may not see a commercial release. Pretty sweet stuff.

The silents feature scores! That's because they have all shown on TCM, which means you could have saved a lot of money if you had been obsessively recording rare films from TCM over all these years!

I've recommended the Bioscope before for silent film enthusiasts, so make sure you add it to your links or Bloglines or Google Reader.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Screening Alert - The Salvation Hunters

Big-time screening alert! Josef von Sternberg's The Salvation Hunters (1925) will be screening at UCLA this Saturday March 14 as part of their 14th Festival of Preservation.

Info here.

From their site:

Saturday March 14 2009, 7:30PM

Preservation funded by The Stanford Theatre Foundation
(1925) Directed by Josef von Sternberg
Josef von Sternberg's first film--shot for less than $4,800 on location in San Pedro, Chinatown and the San Fernando Valley--was possibly Hollywood's first "independent" production. The gritty realism of its locations, the lack of artifice in its story and the lower depths of its characters shocked audiences and the industry alike. The film remains thoroughly modern. Sternberg's images thrive on composition and stasis. His ending resolves nothing and yet everything is different. The Salvation Hunters made a star not only of Sternberg, but also of Georgia Hale, who would play opposite Chaplin in The Gold Rush (1925).

Academy Photoplays. Producer: Josef von Sternberg. Screenwriter: Josef von Sternberg. Cinematographer: Edward Gheller. Editor: Josef von Sternberg. Cast: George K. Arthur, Georgia Hale, Bruce Guerin, Otto Matiesen, Nellie Bly Baker. 35mm, 72 min.

Preceded by...
(1933) Directed by M.G. MacPherson

Preservation funded by The Stanford Theatre Foundation

Oil was produced by a Los Angeles collective of amateur filmmakers, called "Artkino," who here attempted a lyric documentary from the point of view of the oil itself.

Cinematographer: Jean Michelson. 35mm, 8 min.
Live musical accompaniment will be provided.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Time for Killing (1967, Phil Karlson)

For a limited time, Phil Karlson's 1967 film A Time for Killing will remain available for viewing via Netflix's Instant Watch feature. While it may have been available on VHS or TV airings, to me this is a rarity that has not appeared on DVD, to my knowledge. Phil Karlson has always proved an interesting director, especially in his film noirs: Kansas City Confidential (1952), 99 River Street (1953), Tight Spot (1955), The Phenix City Story (1955), 5 Against the House (1955) and The Brothers Rico (1957). (Some of those are less noirish than others.)

His IMDB entry seems to indicate some tumult at this point in his career (bouncing around to TV, getting involved in the Dean Martin "Matt Helm" light entertainments), so I am not sure this 1967 film will have something special in it, but when a director proves so thoroughly interesting over so many movies, I hope he will deliver, even in what looks like a very mainstream studio release.

Karlson's films often featured real locations to great effect (Reno in 5 Against the House and I believe Alabama locations in The Phenix City Story) and frequently presented very gritty plots, especially 99 River Street, which made a strong impression on me.

Join me in checking out a rarity from this director, and let's write some reviews of what we find in this film and make some general comments on his overall value as a director. Is he merely a stooge doing the studio's bidding in this major release? Or is there a special artistic value, some insight into human nature or politics or history...? We'll see!

I've invited Dennis Cozzalio of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule to join me in this endeavor, and feel free to jump in. But the clock is ticking. This not-on-DVD film is only available for Instant Watch on Netflix until April 1, 2009. Don't miss this chance!! (No excuses if it's panned-and-scanned. Suck it up!)