Sunday, January 4, 2015

Edgar Kennedy Show Update


Edgar Kennedy is a superb character actor and comedian who started with Mack Sennett and is one of the original Keystone Kops. Today he is most famous for his part as the street merchant in the Marx Bros. DUCK SOUP, and as Kennedy the Cop in numerous late-silent/early talkies with Laurel and Hardy, Our Gang and the Boy Friends series at Hal Roach Studios. Edgar turns up in many A-classics of the 1930s and 40s such as SAN FRANCISCO, A STAR IS BORN, SIN OF HAROLD DIDDLEBOCK and UNFAITHFULLY YOURS.

With Dot Farley and William Eugene in "Lemon Meringue" (1931)
Every year from 1931 and the release of the now-lost LEMON MERINGUE short to 1948, RKO released six Edgar two-reelers for a total of 103. On top of this he had the same "Family" and supporting cast from beginning to end. This included Florence Lake as Edgar's ditzy wife, Dot Farley as his nagging mother-in-law and a brother-in-law played by William Eugene and later Jack Rice. In the late 30s when these actors were busy elsewhere, RKO experimented with Vivien Oakland as Edgar's wife and Bill Franey as Vivien's father. Then they returned to the original family format. This series in which audiences came to know and love a family year after year essentially established the television sit-com format that became TROUBLE WITH FATHER, MY LITTLE MARGIE, I LOVE LUCY and is still with us today.

Virtually every film fan loves Edgar Kennedy, and yet few are aware of or have seen many of his "Average Man" series for RKO. The big news is that most of them are screamingly hilarious even today. We invite you to watch many of them at the Edgar Kennedy website and see for yourself.
Ed & Family in "I'll Build It Myself" (1946)

Me and my partners Bob Campbell and Derek Myers have been trying to tell the world about Edgar's 103 RKO shorts for several years. Our ultimate plan is to bring these Edgar shorts to TV and DVD audiences in "The Edgar Kennedy Show." We tried premature campaigns to raise funds on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo in 2013. We have an active Facebook page. In November and December we picked up over 100 Likes on Facebook, so online audiences continue to find us and help spread the news to other Edgar fans. We know there are thousands of film fans who do love Edgar and would love to see his RKO shorts.

The Library  of Congress holds original 35mm negatives and positive prints on 88 of the Edgar RKOs. These were contributed in the late 1950s. We are in touch with the donor who can OK our use of the prints. Of course transferring 35mm material to video is a costly endeavor. We also have original 16mm prints that were widely run on TV in the 1950s and 60s. You can view many at the website. These 16mm prints can be transferred to high def digital format today with excellent results.

The exact format "The Edgar Kennedy Show" might take has not yet been determined. Most Edgar shorts run from 17 to 20 minutes. Our initial idea was to create 24-min episodes to fit a 30-min commercial TV time slot, with the extra time devoted to brief original segments showcasing Edgar's brilliant career and rich film legacy. Again, a noble but costly idea.

So we begin the new year 2015 in fresh pursuit of a viable broadcast or webcast partner and home video affiliation. In the short run and a quite logical goal, we would like to persuade Turner Classic Movies to program an Edgar Kennedy day tribute and include 8 or 12 of the RKO shorts that we can provide. TCM could include some of the Hal Roach shorts that feature Edgar, plus Edgar's feature films that they already have in their library. Author of the Edgar biography, Bill Cassara, could appear with Robert Osborne to discuss the films. This could easily fill a day of Edgar.

Here is a short video to introduce the "Edgar Kennedy Show."

 


Please share this video with any online friends. Visit Edgar and Like him on Facebook. Visit the Edgar Kennedy website for more information and view many of Edgar's RKO shorts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Time Is Here!

My favorite Christmas song is "The Christmas Waltz," written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Stine for Frank Sinatra in 1954. It became the back cover song for Frank's new version of White Christmas. It may be my favorite since I don't hear it that often, yet it has been recorded by dozens of pop artists. I also can never recall the lyrics in full so I put down the first chorus here to aid future memory lapses:


Frosted windowpanes
Candles gleaming inside
Painted candy canes on the tree

Santa's on his way
He's filled his sleigh with things
Things for you and for me

It's that time of year
When the world falls in love
Every song you hear seems to say
"Merry Christmas
May your new year dreams come true"

And this song of mine
In three quarter time
Wishes you and yours
The same thing, too



GFA Christmas Collection DVD

We produced this superb collection of rarely seen Christmas shorts and released it two years ago as Heavenly Christmas Film Classics. However, the team forte is acquiring and releasing rare films; it is not in marketing them properly and so sales to date were slow. This year everything has changed with the new DVD cover, new menu on the DVD, new promo video (just below) and most importantly massive marketing by our distributor, Vision Video, who I believe is the largest distributor of Christian Videos in the world. Vision Video has an extensive printed catalog mailing as well as website where they list our other DVD releases and they supply to numerous third parties. Buy from Amazon.com if more convenient.

I am delighted to explain my 3-way partnership with the rest of the GFA (Gospel Films Archive) team. Bob Campbell is the driving force who makes and expands new contacts in areas I would never seek myself. Bob produced the original Matinee at the Bijou series on PBS in the 1980s - a big hit! Bob is working to bring back to the public these vastly overlooked and pretty much lost Christian films that were shown in churches, on TV and for missionary work in the 1950s-1970s. Bob forged the alliance with Bill Carroll and Bill Curtis at Vision Video and is pursuing TV possibilities. 

Bob arranged a large donation of GFA films from Paul Marks of the former library of Visual Aid Center. Paul is currently the Director of Operations of the International Christian Visual Media Association. Another invaluable ally that Bob befriended is Kirk McCrea, who works with the Salvation Army in Ypsilanti, MI. I re-print Kirk's Christmas message below the video.

Our second partner is Derek Myers, who is a producer and tech guy at a Christian TV station (WGGS TV-16) in Taylors, SC. Derek houses the 16mm GFA collection, does all our video transfers and voice overs for any needed preview videos. He is just finishing transferring the donated films from Paul Marks, and we are expecting another large donation soon.

Both Bob and Derek are devout Christians. I was raised Lutheran and then Baptist in high school, but while I try to live my life by those teachings I do not attend any church. So at times it feels odd devoting time to Christian videos, but I can assure one and all that these are for the most part professionally made, highly entertaining short films that richly deserve to be restored to the public. One I watched recently -- And Then They Forgot God -- is a sci-fi film set in the future with a shock ending worthy of the Twilight Zone ... and I couldn't figure out what it had to do with religion at all. I guess a warning that some future utopia may forget God. 

My family celebrates with a Christmas tree, presents and family. Wife Chris, her brother Scott, sister Nancy and husband Greg and their sons, and my son Jeff is coming in with wife Amanda from Silicon Valley where Jeff is a programmer for LinkedIn. It should be a full house, a great meal and a happy gathering. May each of you share similar joy this holiday season!

Here is the preview for the GFA Christmas Collection. More info about each films is at our GFA website.




Merry Christmas!
All year we work with children caught in poverty and the lack of associated opportunity. The most amplified effects of poverty, however, are not seen in the children, but in the parents -- who themselves were raised in poverty by parents who, most likely, were raised in poverty -- and so on and so on. All of these people routinely face a large portion of society holding a clenched fist, railing that they are not "entitled" to anything, that charity only "enables" them their poverty (and pre-judged life style), and that they would never hire them, anyways, because of those same reasons. Jesus seems to have a different idea, however, stating throughout His written word that He came to bring them to the gospel, that they should be visited, hydrated, clothed, and sheltered; that they are rich in faith; that He will lead them out of their "captivity;" that they are blessed; that He will exalt them and raise them to sit with nobles; and that those with means are to give with an open hand.
In a thousand languages, the world continually demands “justice!,” but Jesus says that one’s own need for mercy followed by extension of that mercy to others is the only way to live. He will provide justice in His time. Right now, He brings people new hearts that are full of joy, love, and hope – during the best of times, and the worst of times (and compared to eternity - hardly any time).
Please consider supporting the Ypsilanti, MI Salvation Army Corps (or any Christian ministry) as they administer the love of God through both temporal and spiritual efforts.
All the blessings of His Christmas to you!
Kirk McCrea
http://www.onlineredkettle.org/kirkmccrea



Friday, November 28, 2014

TARZAN ESCAPES revisited once again

Every few years I pursue my quest to find the Giant Vampire Bats in TARZAN ESCAPES (1936). It was the climax of the third Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan film that MGM set out to make bigger and better than TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934). Yet today fans dismiss TARZAN ESCAPES as mediocre or worse... because they have never seen it all.

To re-cap the ending everyone has seen... to escape blood thirsty natives who had just torn several natives in two by the bent tree method, Tarzan leads the safari into a forbidden ju-ju cave that the bad natives are afraid to enter. Why is never explained. The cave is actually a tunnel through the mountain to freedom. Inside we see dead trees, a narrow path and a bubbling swamp with a few gila monsters. Jane almost falls in the swamp. Another native does and is swallowed up. In less than two minutes they emerge from the other end. Tarzan forces evil Captain Fry back into the cave where he quickly falls in the swamp. The film then ends a few minutes later as Jane stays in the jungle with Tarzan.

What follows are my current memories of seeing the film in 1954. This re-telling may add fresh details or at least credulity to my story. I had never seen a Tarzan film before since they had never been on TV. I had not been exposed to any horror films before and the Tarzans are intense. This may explain the vivid memories today, whereas if I had seen the film a few years later I might recall little at all.

My mother simply dropped me at a downtown theater in Madison, Wisconsin and came back 4 hours later. That's what parents did in those innocent days, drop off young kids on their own in a big, safe city. I must have begged to see it, but that is not part of the memory. Another odd family practice at that time was being dropped off in the middle of the film. You watch till the end, then see the other feature or shorts and then the complete film you already saw the end of. So coming into the middle of TARZAN ESCAPES, I saw the bat climax twice that momentous day.

I have a strong memory from that day of greatly preferring TARZAN ESCAPES to TARZAN THE APE MAN. The first film is slower in its pacing and does not contain the attack of the natives at the foot of the Mutia escarpment or the giant alligator fight. These were both first used in TARZAN AND HIS MATE. Sure, I saw stock footage from MATE but did not know it at the time. In APE MAN I was frightened by the scene where Tarzan fights and kills two lions and of course the giant gorilla in the pit at the climax.

On to the memories of what few have ever seen...

In APE MAN Tarzan goes off to get dinner. He kills an antelope, gnu or similar edible beast. As he is cutting off the meat a lion attacks and he kills it in hand-to-hand combat. He staggers up and another lion attacks with similar results. It is quite an intense and convincing battle even today and can be seen in the first Weissmuller film. Now in TARZAN ESCAPES Jane similarly sends Tarzan off to get dinner. He kills another animal and swings away with the meat back to the tree house. In the ESCAPES that I saw the double lion fight is repeated. I am absolutely positive of this since I had just seen the footage, and been scared by it, in APE MAN just an hour earlier. This was my first recognition of stock footage.

Second lost sequence is quite short but equally vivid. Toward the end Tarzan is caged and sent ahead with a group of Fry's natives so that Jane will not know what is going on. This group is ambushed by the bad natives who either shoot arrows or blow gun missiles into their foreheads. Since this scene was cut, it is unclear in the surviving version how the bad natives got hold of the cage with Tarzan.

The horror/action climax is the greatest loss -- until we find it! Here are the specific shots or scenes that I recall today inside that ju-ju cave.

  • The safari of around 40 natives enters the cave without having time to make torches.
  • They proceed on ledges above the swamp as seen in surviving footage.
  • Tarzan cautions someone with hand signals to be quiet. He points high above to an aerie full of giant bats.
  • Someone dislodges a stone on the path and it rolls down making noise.
  • The giant vampire bats attack.
  • Tarzan and natives take a stance on a ledge with backs to the camera. 
  • The bats fly at them from back to foreground. They fend them off with spears but not very effectively.
  • One bat grabs a native around the waist with his talons and flies him up to the aerie with arms and legs flailing. This is the scariest shot.
  • Tarzan tells everyone to get into the swamp. They slide down slopes to oblige and re-gather in the still shown here.
  • Eventually Tarzan pulls down one bat and knifes it to death.
  • Rescue comes in a tribe of pygmies bearing torches that repulse the bats.
  • The pygmies lead the remnants of the safari to safety and are suitably thanked.
  • When Captain Fry is forced back inside the cave, a bat knocks him into the swamp.
An unusual side memory of the sequence is that I wondered how the pygmies could have been enemies in TARZAN THE APE MAN but friends in TARZAN ESCAPES.


Here is a brief re-cap about why the vampire bats disappeared. In 1935 MGM made THE CAPTURE OF TARZAN that was reportedly too poor to release for various reasons like Jane rescues Tarzan at the end instead of the other way around. No tree house, they lived in a cave. Includes Great Apes like the first two films. Scenes with dozens of lions and elephants, etc. CAPTURE is a completely lost Tarzan film! The plot is in the Big Little Book of Tarzan Escapes and makes fascinating reading. In the middle of the story a safari moves through a swamp at night and the bats attack. When the decision was made to remake CAPTURE, the bat attack was the only part kept but moved to the cave setting, where one can see clouds in a night sky in a few shots.

At a 1936 MGM preview showing before release of TARZAN ESCAPES the story goes that children "ran screaming in terror from the theater." Mothers objected and MGM hastily cut some of the violence including the climax. However, prints with the vampire bats were shown in parts of the country because numerous newspaper ads exist that advertise the bats, and if you say you got bats then you sure better have 'em. So both negatives were kept in the vault. In 1954 MGM picked the uncensored negative and made around 60 35mm safety prints for distribution in the USA. This re-release was also widely shown in South America and Europe as depicted on many foreign posters and lobby cards, so if any foreign archive kept a print, look for the bats there. Since the foreign versions were subtitled, they may have been used for foreign VHS releases in the 1980s.

In the 1960s when MGM made up prints for rental by Films Inc. and for television, they picked the censored version, probably by accident, and that is all that has survived since.

If any Tarzan fan saw the 1954 re-release double feature when I did, please write to me, Ron Hall, at fesfilms@aol.com so we can compare notes.

I wrote much more about the lost vampire bats in an article for Erbzine, the Edgar Rice Burroughs website, about 8 years ago. Please read about it HERE. 

This trailer was made for the unreleased 1935 version of TARZAN ESCAPES, aka CAPTURE OF TARZAN. It promises giant vampire bats, but sadly not even a second of film footage. The MGM promo that follows the trailer contains a brief shot of Jane with a Great Ape from Escapes (there are no great apes in the 1936 release.)


www.fesfilms.com








Saturday, September 6, 2014

What's New to Preview?

My apologies for falling OUT of the blogging habit in a big, big way. If anyone has checked me out ten times and seen the same old discussion about Rare Italian Films, then you deserve to get one for free. Send proof that you visited ten times to ....

Coming soon -- Halloween! 
By special request I amended my old Monster Mania DVD chock full of two hours of horror trailers and a couple of cartoons to make it half-and-half. Yes, more than half the running time is now cartoons and the rest is ... well, here are the entire contents:

Spook Show Opening
Casper in BOO MOON
Phantom Creeps - Robot attacks Chapter Ending
Pathe Freres "Red Spectre"
Felix the Cat cartoon: SURE-LOCKED HOMES
"Phantom of Opera" Highlights
Robot Monster Trailer
White Zombie Trailer
Oswald Rabbit cartoon: MECHANICAL MAN
Giant Claw Trailer
Betty Boop Cartoon: IS MY PALM RED?
Superman cartoon: UNDERGROUND WORLD
King Kong trailer
Cartoon: GYPPED IN EGYPT
Shrunken Heads Toy
Trailers for Dracula, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Cartoon: MAD DOCTOR
Trailers: Frankenstein, The Wolf Man
Superman Cartoon: THE MUMMY STRIKES
Trailer: Frankenstein Meets Wolf Man and Mummy's Hand
Buster Keaton silent short (with music): THE HAUNTED HOUSE
Trailer: House of Frankenstein
Godzilla Ad for Dr. Pepper

This was custom made for a movie theater that is having an open house at Halloween. They plan to run the show (with or without the sound) while other events take place in the theater. They can also run selected portions before a regular film show. Them, and YOU, can use the poster any way you like - print it out or download the Jpeg for your own website from the Festival Films Website. Just go to this page, scroll down to the poster, drag it to your desk top and open full size.


Movie Memories -- November 1
In a major break through, Movie Memories segments will be carried into 1,600 Senior residences by It's Never Too Late.  http://www.in2l.com/ is the developer of customized, state-of-the-art adaptive computer systems for nursing homes, assisted and independent senior living communities, memory care settings and adult day programs. Ten or more new Movie Memory segments will be rotated in every two months, starting around November 1. Because the first batch will run through December, half of them will be Christmas related. This is the chance I have been looking for to see Movie Memories enjoyed by tens of thousands of seniors. Check my website to see how Movie Memories is a unique Activity for seniors that could become a part of their daily lives just like Bingo and "The Price is Right."

Here is a totally revised video about How Movie Memories Work. Voice over narration is by Derek Myers.



And then Christmas!
Joy to the world, and buy the Gospel Films Archive Christmas Collection. These are the same six films that we tried to market ourselves in 2011 as "Heavenly Christmas Film Classics." 

The big difference is that the DVD re-release is being exclusively distributed by the largest wholesaler of Christian films in the country -- Vision Video. You can read about the six films at the Vision Video website. The DVD is available to purchase right now.

The discount price is around $12 and should be for sale from numerous online dealers as well as in many top Christian book stores. It now has the chance to sell many thousands of copies for the simple reason that everyone needs new presents to give to friends and family at Christmas time. Here is a trailer for the collection:

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Rare Italian Films - First Time on DVD!

Region 2 "Iron Crown" Release
Before the year 2000 or so I sold lots of obscure, rare and wonderful foreign films on VHS to colleges and video stores. The video sales were mainly thru large wholesalers Facets Multimedia, Tamarelle Films and a few I can't recall now. This was back when video stores were flourishing and progressive ones near colleges wanted foreign classics to stand out from competitors. The pricing was good compared to now, with suggested retail at $59.95. This meant, very roughly, that I sold to the middle man for $30 and they re-sold for $42. Those were good years and fun ones.

Believe it or not, major classics of world cinema were public domain in the USA because they had not been properly registered and renewed as required for US copyrighting: Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Exterminating Angel, Open City, Paisan. In fact I sold all of these to colleges on 16mm before home video started around 1980.

Focusing this discussion to Italian films, here are some I sold on video: Triumph of the Will, Il Sorpasso with Vittorio Gassman, White Nights with Marcello Mastroianni, La Grande Guerra with Gassman, Joyful Laughter with Anna Magnani, the wonderful medieval fairy tale The Iron Crown, Children are Watching, Voyage to Italy, Stromboli and many other Rossellini films.

In 1994 a new worldwide copyright law was passed -- Copyright Restoration Under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act -- that came to be called GATT. This said that foreign film makers could reacquire rights to their films by filing papers with Library of Congress. Most of them did. Some filed who had no connection with the films, like an individual in Mexico who claimed to own hundreds and eventually went to jail over it, or so I heard. They were supposed to file within a few years of 1996 but applications were accepted for at least ten years. 

So I stopped selling those Italian films. Criterion is an excellent company that bought rights, restored and reissued many of them, although someone claimed rights to The Iron Crown (1941) but has still not been released it in the USA. With no video stores and declining DVD sales, it is no longer viable for the owner to issue on DVD. The constitutionality of re-protecting public domain films and music was challenged by Stanford University Law School in a suit that lasted roughly from 2002 to 2012 and ended as a loss in the Supreme Court. I was part of that lawsuit.

Although GATT ended a thriving business for me, not every single foreign film was properly reclaimed and it is now too late to do so. Only recently did I become aware that Roberto Rossellini's thrid feature film, Man with a Cross, was not protected under GATT. I just posted it for sale at Amazon and expect to sell through Alpha Video and Movies Unlimited.

I also acquired two Italian comedies from the late 1950s that have never been issued on video in the USA. An official search revealed no original registration with Library of Congress, no renewal, and no GATT filing in the late 1990s to reclaim rights. These are the English dubbed versions with complete credits and no copyright notices (©) anywhere. 

Love and Larceny
 (1959, Italy) 92 min. Directed by Dino Risi. English dubbed version released in the USA in 1963. Starring Vittorio Gassman, Dorian Gray, Peppino De Filippo, Anna-Maria Ferrero.

Love and Larceny is a delightful, charming comedy about happy-go-lucky Gerardo. To pick up easy money he is caught in a con and goes to prison where he learns how to swindle creatively. He then embarks on one petty scam after another, from stealing shoes and Christmas pennies to bilking motorists posing as a cop. His long-time girlfriend tries to get him a real job, which he purposely muffs. He forms an alliance with the crook who sent him to jail and they escalate into jewelry thefts and a complicated swindle involving a general and fake air force contract. Impersonating Greta Garbo to scam photographers brings his first girl back into his life, who now wants to be his accomplice, she says, but the plot only thickens.

Angel in a Taxi 
(1958, Italy) 87 min. Directed by Leon Viola. Written by Leon Viola and Mario Monicelli. English dubbed version. Original Italian title: “Ballerina e Buon Dio.” Starring Vera Tschechowa, Marietto, Gabriele Ferzetti, Roberto Rossi and Vittorio DeSica as God.

Angel in a Taxi is a charming comedy/fantasy in the tradition of Miracle in Milan that tells the story of a precocious and endearing six-year-old orphan boy, Marietto, who imagines that his lost mother is a ballerina whose picture he saw in a newspaper. When adoptive parents take him home, he runs off and joins acrobats, still harboring the dream of finding his beautiful mother. When he does locate her at the opera, he moves right in with an easy grace that brings Camilla under his spell and her life choices into focus. When Marietto feels rejected and disappears, Camilla’s true feelings surface.

Guiding Marietto’s quest and surprising destiny is an angelic figure played by the great Italian director Vittorio DeSica in three separate roles. First he is a policeman who helps Marietto pay for pastries, then a messenger who suggests he visit the opera where his “mother” is rehearsing, and finally a philosophical taxi driver who reunites Camilla and Marietto while performing a minor miracle.

Man With a Cross 
(1943, Italy) 72 min. Directed by Roberto Rossellini. Italian language with English subtitles. Original Italian title is L'Uomo Dalla Croce.

The Man with a Cross is a 1943 Italian war film directed by Roberto Rossellini and starring Alberto Tavazzi, Roswita Schmidt and Attilio Dottesio. It was only Rossellini’s third feature film and the final part of his "Fascist trilogy" following The White Ship (1941) and A Pilot Returns (1942).  To this period belongs his friendship and cooperation with Federico Fellini and Aldo Fabrizi. The Fascist regime collapsed in 1943 and just two months after the liberation of Rome (June 4, 1944), Rossellini was already preparing the anti-fascist (Rome, Open City 1945).

The film is loosely inspired by Reginaldo Giuliani, an Italian military chaplain who had been killed on active service. The film is set in the summer of 1942 in Ukraine where Italian troops are fighting those of the Soviet Union. A military chaplain volunteers to stay behind with a badly wounded Italian soldier, even though this means certain capture.

All three DVDS are for sale at Amazon, or from Festival Films directly.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Gospel Films Restoration Project

While some Gospel Films of the 1950s-'70s era were shot in 35mm for television -- like Crossroads being a fine example -- many from Family Films and others produced for the church market were shot and distributed as 16mm film rentals. This movement was spurred along by the thousands of 16mm projectors left over from entertaining the troops during World War-II. No longer wanted, the projectors were donated to churches. Religious rental companies sprang up in every major city. This trend continued until the advent of home video in the early 1980s.

Most of the films were not issued on VHS, they were simply put in storage and viewed less and less as the years went by. The messages never dated, but the films were considered "old hat" or not delivering the gospel quite the way that present generations embraced. Exceptions that were issued on VHS and later DVD are color films about the life of Christ like "I Beheld His Glory" and the 12 part "Living Christ" series by Cathedral Films made in 1951. The Loyola Films parables from the Bible were shot in black and white and so did not make the transition.

Many films in Gospel Films Archive are these 16mm film prints once distributed to churches. The producing companies went out of business years ago. There are no known master film negatives. There are only the 16mm prints that GFA and other archives like Wheaton College, Regent University and Notre Dame have acquired. Unless a film was shot on Kodachrome film stock, like the rare print of "This My Son" that GFA has, the color fades in time.

There is hope! Color can be corrected and scratches can be removed utilizing amazing but costly technology! The cost to acquire, transfer from film to digital, restore as needed and reissue each GFA film averages $500. We have a goodly number of worthy films that deserve to be seen again, but we can't issue them until they are restored.
This dilemma gave birth to GFA's "Adopt-A-Film" program. We invite you or your organization to pick a specific film to support. A Sole Sponsorship is $500, or for $250 you can become one of two Co-Sponsors of a restored film. We will send you our Unrestored Films Packages plus copies of other films awaiting reissue for you to choose from. When the film is released on DVD and shown on television, your Sponsorship will be acknowledged onscreen in a special slate at the end of the film. 
Here are brief scenes from 6 of these inspirational films that currently await color correction and scratch removal. Please watch the video and read below how you can help GFA get these and many more Christian films back into circulation:

Film restorations are performed by the expert team at Film and Video Transfers, Inc. using enhanced Rank Cintel and Wet Gate technology. Doug and Susan have been serving the restoration needs of Hollywood's classic film industry since the dawn of home video. Here is a sample of their restoration work on one needy GFA film: "Man on a Skate Board."



Further information about the films you can help restore with a donation is at the GFA "Adopt-A-Film" web page. Please share this post with Friends and Family and "like" us on Facebook.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gospel Films Archive - Off and Running!

Gospel Films Archive: a project to restore the films and TV shows that spread the Gospel to 20th century audiences and reissue them in historical context Gospel Films Archive has made major jumps this year, with great help from my partners Bob Campbell and Derek Myers. The biggest news is that we have a DVD distributor -- Vision Video -- the largest, most respected seller of Christian videos for 40 years.  Gateway Films/Vision Video produced "The Cross and The Switchblade" with Pat Boone way back in 1970.  VV has an extensive website, printed catalog and many thousands of followers. An  artist designed the professional boxes as you can see.  VV is also producing the DVDs and boxes, promoting them along with their other catalog films and filling orders.

We don't need to search for the audience that Vision Video has built up for years.  Our future role will be to acquire more films for the Archive, restore them as needed and program them into thematic DVD packages.  We are planning two or three Christmas releases now of rarely seen shorts and TV shows.

The first five DVD collections of vintage Gospel films (1940s thru 1960s) have already been released!



First is The Missions Collection with four rare films concerning Christian missionary work in the mid-20th century.  Africa and Schweitzer is a rarely-seen, excellent documentary made while Albert Schweitzer was still alive. Narrated by Lowell Thomas and photographed by Ingmar Bergman's cameraman, Sven Nyquist, it gives a revealing look at the great humanitarian.  A Christian in Communist China dramatizes a 1960 story that is just as timely today - the difficulty of preaching the Gospel inside China.  No Greater Love is about a dentist volunteering service in India against his wife's wishes.  It stars TV detective Richard Denning and his wife, 1940s film star Evelyn Ankers, in her last film.  Wings to the Word is a documentary about a young minister in Brazil who flies his airplane to spread the word of God.

The Family Films Collection tells contemporary stories (1950s era) of Christians struggling with problems of faith and family.  They are each produced by Hollywood professionals and peopled with actors you have seen a hundred times.  Dick Jones, who began as a child actor in 1934, took time out to make This My Son (1954) between westerns stints on Range Rider and Buffalo Bill Jr.  Son is a modern re-telling of The Prodigal Son story (as you can see in our video preview down below).  Dick also stars in Missionary to Walker's Garage (1961) as a devout Christian who works in a garage and inspires customers and co-workers.  He wants to become an automotive engineer although his parents would like him to enter the ministry.  Actress Gale Storm, between a 10 year career starring in B-movies and TV fame in "My Little Margie," stars in Rim of the Wheel (1951) as a young housewife so wrapped up in daily living that she drifts away from her faith. Honor Thy Family (1951) is about strife between father and son in an Italian immigrant family.

The Christopher Films Collection is a fascinating look at a movement that appealed to Hollywood stars and seems almost secular in its messages that each of us can help "Change the World" by doing good deeds and that we should get involved in government as one way of making a difference.  Father James Keller gathered 9 Hollywood stars together in Jack Benny's home to explain it all in "You Can Change the World" (1951).  The other famous stars are Rochester, William Holden, Loretta Young (who credits this film experience for her move to television), Irene Dunne, Anne Blyth, Paul Douglas, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.  A Link in the Chain (1957) stars James Cagney in one of his few TV appearances as an aging professor who recalls how he made a difference in the lives of 3 students.  Government is Your Business is the film version of Father Keller's novel about the need to get involved to better the world.  An idealistic young man decides to run for office in the face of corruption already entrenched.

The last two collections tell rarely-seen Bible stories. Loyola Films were produced by Loyola University in Los Angeles and directed by B-movie veteran John T. Coyle from 1946 to 1948.  We have 8 of the 16 films produced and are looking for the others.  Loyola themselves has little knowledge of the series and none of the films.  Boyhood of Jesus dramatizes his birth and first 12 years of life.  The Good Samaritan is the familiar parable fleshed out with more story and character background. The Rich Young Man as recorded in Mark 10 meets Jesus and is told to give away his wealth.  The Unmerciful Servant is a parable about true forgiveness.

Cathedral Films has a long history starting with The Great Commandment feature film in 1939.  Their most lasting achievement that is still shown today is the 12-part, color "Living Christ" series that relates all of Jesus' life.  No Greater Power (1942) tells the Bible story of conniving tax collector  of Jericho Zaccheus who meets Jesus and is transformed. Ambassador for Christ (1949) is one of Cathedral's "Life of St. Paul" series and tells how Paul and Barnabas take the Gospel to Antioch.  Paul preaches that all people, even slaves, are equal in the eyes of God.  I Beheld His Glory (1953) is the story of the last days of Jesus' life told from the perspective of a Roman Centurion who witnessed his trial, crucifixion and resurrection and then converted to Christianity. The color film was first shown on TV during Easter week in 1953 and is the only one of the 18 films in our first five collections that has been widely available before.

Here is a preview trailer of some of these 18 films:


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