Tag Archives: Film

Lumiere’s First Picture Show (1975)

14 Mar
Director Auguste Lumiere, Louis Lumiere
Producer Lumiere Bros.
Contributors Blackhawk Films, Eastin-Phelan Distributing Corp.
Length 15 minutes
B&W/Color B&W
UO Library Catalog description:
Film presents a brief history of the technical developments in early motion pictures up to and including Auguste and Louis Lumière. This film is reproduced from a collection of Lumière films unearthed in November, 1972.
Call # Mb194
Genre Experimental, Short
Rare No
Online Yes
Copyright status ©1974 Blackhawk Films
Physical condition Good
Oregon-related No

Notes: Lumiere’s First Picture Show is an essential compilation of the Lumiere brothers’ seminal films during the late 1800’s. It highlights the various films in terms of the technical aspects of film making developed by the brothers in their movies. Many of these shorts are quintessential films that are often shown in the academic realm. I believe viewing them on film is a big part of being conscious of the medium the brothers were working with while creating these movies. The series was transferred to a single 16mm reel after they were found in 1972 and distributed by Blackhawk Films in 1975.

The reel includes the following Lumiere shorts:

La sortie des usines–
Déjeuner de bébé–
Partie d’écarté–
Demolitian d’un mur–
Bataille de neige [?]–
Mise en batterie–
Enfants aux jouets–
Arroseur et arrosé–
Joueurs de cartes arrosés–
Bataille de femmes–
Arrivée du train á la Ciotet–
Basse-cour [?]–
Querelle d’enfants–
Enfants pêchant des cresvettes [?]–
Baignade en mer [?]

Although the film isn’t particularly rare, and many of these shorts can be easily found online, I think that it’s important for any institution of education with a cinema studies program to have at least one copy of Lumiere’s First Picture Show in some form. It is simply too important in terms of historical reference to destroy or get rid of. As I stated before, I believe that viewing it in filmic form provides a more pronounced consciousness of how it was shot and the technology used during the birth of cinema. I think that something is lost in translation when viewing footage such as this digitally.


Meditation On Violence (1948)

8 Mar
Director Maya Deren
Producer Maya Deren
Contributors Cherel Ito, Chao Li Chi
Length 15 minutes
B&W/Color B&W
UO Library Catalog description: Based on traditional training movements of the Wu-tang and Shaolin schools of Chinese boxing. Solo performance with theatrical lighting but without scenery ; solo performance outdoors in costume.
Call # Ma73
Genre Short Films, Dance
Rare Yes
Online Yes
Copyright status Public Domain
Physical condition Good
Oregon-related No

Notes: Meditation On Violence is a short film directed by avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren. It was originally produced for a theatrical release in 1948. “Theatrical” is a term that should be used loosely, especially with Deren’s films, as the locales that she screened them in were usually art galleries or her own living room, which she converted into a makeshift theater for private viewings.

The film features Chao Li Chi, a Shanxi-born actor and dancer who worked extensively in American television and film. Meditation On Violence was one of his firs appearances on film. In it, he attempts to display the ideals of the Wu-Tang philosophy, which centers around the idea of constant motion according to “-which the perfect form is that of no form in an excellent performance attempts to display the ideals of the Wu Tang philosophy which is a philosophy of constant motion, which is achieved when you’re in a state of constant motion” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040578/). Chao Li Chi had an extensive history with Deren, and was a regular member of the dance troupe she was involved in during the 1940’s. I find it particularly interesting that Li Chi had such a successful career in Television and Film after working with Deren on such artsy, underground projects. He has subsequently appeared in Big Trouble In Little China, M*A*S*H, The Joy Luck Club, The Nutty Professor, The Prestige, Wedding Crashers and Pushing Daisies.

While at first glance this film may seem just like a documentation of a dance sequence, the editing style elevates it above the status of performance piece. The avant-garde style of Maya Deren is certainly not as pronounced in Meditation On Violence as a film like Meshes Of The Afternoon, but their are a fair number of sequences shot in slow motion, and “-the camera itself becomes the boxer’s sparring partner, dodging and attempting to return the athlete’s blows. The adjustments, pans, and zooms of the camera simulate a human response” (worldcat.com). It should also be noted that the film loops, returning to the first sequence. This technique breaks the passage of time, which was very typical of Deren’s films.

Another interesting thing is to note the soundtrack. Deren recorded Haitian drums for the piece, which reflected her fascination with Voodoo during the time period it was made.

Bulimia (1982)

8 Mar
Director None Listed
Producer Hugh Downs, Danny Schecter
Contributors ABC Wide World of News
Length 12 minutes
B&W/Color Color
UO Library Catalog description: Host Hugh Downs examines the danger of the binge-eating disorder, bulimia, and its effects on victims through interviews with experts; recovered bulimics, including actress Jane Fonda; and parents of bulimics. Shows scenes of group therapy for eating problems.
Call # Mc333
Genre Educational Films, Short Films United States
Rare No
Online No
Copyright status Copyright 1982
Physical condition Very Poor
Oregon-related No

Notes: Bulimia is a short documentary style film presented by ABC warning against the risks and dangers of bulimia. It originally aired in 1983 as part of an episode of 20/20. The program was intended for Junior High School through college students, but also served as a supplemental piece for parents in order to identify warning signs of the disorder. It features various interviews with experts, recovered bulimics, parents of bulimics, and most notably the actress Jane Fonda, who revealed her condition for the first time ever on air for the program.

The film was hosted by Hugh Downs, a prominent American broadcaster, television host, news anchor, TV producer, author, game show host and music composer. Downs was very active in public service and politics, bringing attention to many serious issues through PSA’s on television and radio. He was also known for his pronounced libertarian views. Downs was particularly involved in raising awareness about eating disorders. Bulimia was not the only film that downs was a part of that addressed the disorder. In 1996 another film, Eating Disorders: The Hunger Within was aired on 20/20 as a collaboration with Barbara Walters.

Unfortunately the condition of the film reel is extremely poor. Upon evaluating it I found that it is so warped that it can barely be run from reel to reel and some of the perforated edges are so damaged that I cannot imagine it being able to run through a projector properly. Another thing I should add is that it has a very blue/green tint, suggesting again that it was shot on Ektachrome X film. The production date of the Bulimia in 1982 would correspond with the dates that this type of film was being used (1963-1984).

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919 35mm, 1961 16mm)

28 Feb
Director Robert Wiene
Producer Rudolph Meinert, Erich Pommer
Contributors Decla-Bioscope AG
Length 71 minutes
B&W/Color B&W (no tinting in transfer from 35mm to 16mm)
UO Library Catalog description: No UO Catalog Description
Call # Not Entered Into UO Libraries
Genre Feature
Rare No
Online Yes
Copyright status Public Domain
Physical condition Reel 1 – Fair, Reel 2 – Good
Oregon-related No

Notes: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is often referred to as one of the first horror films ever (if you disregard the Lumière brothers’ Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat). It was a feature length film directed by Robert Wiene that employed numerous expressionist aesthetic choices and some of the most defined set design and costuming seen since the birth of cinema. The distorted style of the film has influenced everyone from Tim Burton to Rob Zombie, and has taken an integral place in American pop culture despite its German origin. In my opinion it is an essential film to have in this format as it is such a seminal feature that figures so heavily into movies made after it.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is available in the public domain, and has been for quite some time. Therefore it is widely available online and there are quite a few 16mm film reels still in existence. Most of the 16mm transfers popped up between the 1950’s and 1960’s. 35mm prints of the film are considerably more rare and there has been a noted effort among movie theaters and film festivals to screen restored versions of it to the public. I did some research on how to tell with a 16mm print what type of 35mm print it was transferred from. The most likely scenario would be that it was taken from a Russian print made in the 1920’s. This is probably the case because there is a visible frame line that appears at the top of the picture when it is being used. A tiny bit of the image at the top of the main image at the bottom overlap slightly within the visible dark horizontal frame line. The Russian 35mm prints of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari had to be adjusted for preservation prints in order for the frame line of the original German-made cameras, but in the transfer to preservation prints (which would include 16mm ones), “A sliver of image at the top and the bulk of the image at the bottom now overlap slightly within the visible dark horizontal frame line” (celtoslavica.de). This effect also appears on the DVD transfer of the film.

In terms of a unique history of the reel itself, my mother obtained it from New Mexico State University sometime in the 60’s. It was transferred onto 16mm film by the college, I’m assuming for educational purposes. The transfer leaves out any attribution to directors, stars, producers or distribution companies. Perhaps these didn’t need to be included since the film was being used for educational purposes. The reel is strictly the feature and nothing else. The fantastic condition of the reel would also indicate that my mother obtained it very soon after it was transferred as she essentially put it into storage when she moved and hadn’t watched it since.

The Great Train Robbery (35mm 1904, 16mm 1961)

13 Feb
Director Edwin S. Porter
Producer Blackhawk Films
Contributors Gatewood W. Dunston Film Collection, Library of Congress
Length 10 Minutes
B&W/Color B&W with sections of hand painted frames in color.
UO Library Catalog description: Bandits tie up the station master, stop the train, rob the mail car, take the passenger’s valuables, and then escape, and the station master’s daughter frees her father, alerts a group at a dance who then chase and overtake the robbers.
Call # Ma163
Genre Feature
Rare No
Online Yes
Copyright status Public Domain
Physical condition Poor
Oregon-related No

Notes: The Great Train Robbery is arguably one of the most influential films of all time, and certainly one of the most important in terms of editing and visual aesthetics. The film created such techniques ascross cutting, double exposure, composite editing, camera movement and on location shooting. There are certain 35mm prints that featured hand-colored frames as well to accentuate some of the more exciting parts of the movie.

This version is a 16mm duplicate of an original 35mm print. There is a disclaimer by Blackhawk films featured at the beginning indicating this. It states, “Presented in virtually the original form in which it was initially shown. Re-processed to eliminate the appearance of surface blemishes and scratches.” This may have been the case when the 35mm was transferred into the 16mm format in 1961, but the condition of the film now is absolutely terrible, with multiple frames that have been totally blown out and melted by heat, scratches, extensive warping and tons of splices. I would imagine that a film so important would have been watched and handled quite a bit for educational purposes as well as for any entertainment value, which would explain why its physical condition is so bad.

One of the strangest things however is that this may be actually two 16mm versions of The Great Train Robbery spliced together. About a quarter of the way through, the film jumps suddenly from one scene to a seemingly unrelated one. When this happens the color changes completely from black and white to red. Although the disclaimer by Blackhawk films says that certain hand painted scenes from the 35mm were retained in the transfer to 16mm, the sudden shift from black and white to pinkish-red doesn’t seem intentional, and doesn’t occur at a point of excitement or elevated emotion. This leads me to believe that at some point the original 16mm reel had become so damaged that someone decided to splice it into a different reel that had undergone some serious emulsion degradation. This would make sense, because the portion of the film with the red coloring is in notably better physical condition than the initial black and white portion. Perhaps the red part was handled and used less, but stored in less than favorable conditions while the black and white part of the reel was used to the point of being in terrible physical condition, but stored in a way that preserved its black and white properties.

Drug Dependency: The Early Warning Signs (1984)

9 Feb
Director Richard Crenna
Producer Aims Media
Contributors Sidney Cohen M.D., Amir H. Reyyes M.D., Murray L. Firestone P.h.D.
Length 22 Minutes
B&W/Color Color
UO Library Catalog description: Dramatically illustrates ten signs which indicate that a person is becoming dependent on a drug. Emphasizes that the solution to this problem begins with recognition. Hosted by Richard Crenna.
Call # Mb288
Genre Educational
Rare No
Online No
Copyright status Never Registered, Public Domain
Physical condition Good
Oregon-related No

Notes: Typical 80’s drug scare movie. Over the top dramatizations of the consequences of drug use ranging from things as benign as marijuana to as destructive as heroin. Despite the clear differences in the potency of the drugs, pot, cocaine, alcohol and heroin are all presented on the same level in terms of consequences and side-effects. Good for scaring people away from drug use, bad for presenting legitimate facts.

The notable thing about this film is the host, Richard Crenna. Crenna was a television and movie actor, as well as a director who played Colonel Trautman in the first 3 Rambo films. Crenna’s involvement in this film is unlisted on his profile on IMDB and I could find no mention of any other public service projects that he was involved in. Ironically enough, Crenna has played both drug addicts and drug dealers in his film career. Drug Dependency was never registered for copyright and has been public domain since it was released in 1984 as far as I can tell. Therefore, it is surprising to me that there are no versions of this movie available online. However, I was able to find a VHS copy which was the format I viewed it on.

Another interesting tidbit is the way I was able to identify exactly what type of film this was. During my evaluation and projection of the film I noticed that there is notable color fading that gives way to a green tinge. I looked up the most common causes for this green tinge and found that Drug Dependency was most likely recorded on Ektachrome X film. When stored in unfavorable conditions, Ektachrome X developed a green tint. This type of film was used between 1963 and 1984. That means that this movie was released on Ektachrome X in the very last year it was manufactured. Other than the greenish hue of the film, the contrast is nice and sharp and it is overall in pretty good condition.

Bowling Fundamentals (1947)

7 Feb
Director Mahnke
Producer Teaching Films Inc.
Contributors Unknown
Length 11 Minutes
B&W/Color B&W
UO Library Catalog description: No catalog description
Call # FILM Mb6
Genre Instructional, Sports
Rare Yes
Online Yes
Copyright status Protected 1947
Physical condition Good
Oregon-related No

Notes: This film focuses on the basic techniques of bowling. The instructional aspect of the movie is presented by a narrator assuming the role of an expert. He provides instruction and demonstration to a group of boys and girls. Each point of importance is covered step by step. Various animated diagrams accompany the movements exhibited by the bowlers. Lessons are given concerning stance, approach, aim, delivery, follow-through and direction.

The film itself is labeled on the side periodically with “Kodak Safety Positive”, indicating that it was a black & white positive stock that corresponds to the 1947 release date. The contrast is excellent, and borderline dark with almost no fading.

I should also note that this appears to be a pretty rare instructional film. The UO Libraries are the only ones listed as having Bowling Fundamentals available. On top of that I managed to find an eBay listing for the film indicating that it may be a collectible item. The listing has a starting bid of $245 and a Buy It Now price of $700. See the listing here.

The UO Libraries has one other instructional film available by Teaching Films Inc. titled Rhythm Is Everywhere (1946).

I could find very little about the director of the film, and was only able to discover his last name, Mahnke.

%d bloggers like this: