The 110th Anniversary of The Great Train Robbery
Moving images changed with the debut of The Great Train Robbery in December of 1903. Produced by Thomas Edison, inventor of many audio and visual playback machines, the film began to shift the focus from novelty films such as Carmencita to plot-based cinema.
The Great Train Robbery was one of the first crime dramas and archetype of the western genre. The film introduced moviegoers to robberies, chase scenes, and gun shoot-offs. The film was also one of the first to incorporate a full cast of actors and to shoot on-location.
Most of the films preserved at the National Archives were produced by government agencies. Yet The Great Train Robbery was produced by the Edison Company. This raises the question, how did it get here?
Learn the answer - and more background to The Great Train Robbery at our Media Matters blog: Media Matters » The Great Train Robbery
Protecting Your Past–It’s What We Do Here: The Preservation and Restoration of The March
The March, the James Blue film documenting the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was released to countries around the world in 1964. Despite this wide reach, the film remained out of the American public eye for decades. That is, until August 1st, 1986 , when Congress passed HR 4985 instructing “the Archivist of the United States to provide for the distribution within the United States of the USIA film “The March.”
To read more about The Preservation and Restoration of the March, visit NARA’s Media Matters blog!
The National Archives is screening the digital restoration of The March at the Archives building in Washington, D.C. at noon August 26th – 28th in the McGowan Theater and will make the restored version available for viewing online.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
On August 10th, 1963 The U.S. Government, under the auspices of the United States Information Agency (USIA), tasked Hearst Metrotone News with crafting a documentary covering The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the landmark civil rights event planned for the end of that month.
To read more about The March, visit NARA’s Media Matters blog!
The National Archives is premiering the digital restoration of The March at the Archives building in Washington, D.C. at noon August 26th – 28th in the McGowan Theater and will make the restored version available for viewing online. Learn more about how we preserved and restored The March in our next post!
The National Archives marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with a featured display of an iconic image from the march, a special program and film screenings of THE MARCH, James Blue’s 1964 film that documents this event.
On this day in history, Warner Brothers’ classic film - the Adventures of Robin Hood - debuted 75 years ago in 1938. It was the most expensive film that Warner Brothers had produced to-date with extravagant sets and costumes, multiple film locations, and the utilization of a new color movie-making process called Technicolor. The Adventures of Robin Hood tells the legendary tale of the Sherwood Forest bandit who fought oppression against a tyrannical government with good-cheer and principled determination. Starring Errol Flynn as Robin Hood and Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian, it became an instant hit and arguably remains the most definitive cinematic version of Robin Hood ever filmed.
The National Archives at Riverside celebrates the 75th anniversary of the movie’s release by showcasing Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland’s naturalization records from Record Group 21 – Records of the U.S. District Courts. Errol Flynn was born in Hobart, Australia in 1909 while Olivia de Havilland was born in Tokyo, Japan to British parents in 1916. The U.S. District Court of Los Angeles granted Flynn and de Havilland U.S. citizenship in the early 1940s. Aside from the Adventures of Robin Hood, Flynn and de Havilland made eight other movies together, including Captain Blood in 1935 and Santa Fe Trail in 1940.
The National Archives at Riverside maintains thousands of naturalization records for foreign-born residents who attained U.S. citizenship in southern California, Arizona, and Clark County, Nevada through the year 1991. For more information on our holdings, please feel free to contact us!
Happy International Dance Day!
Carmencita, Spanish Dance, 03/1894
William Heise, cinematographer. William Dickson, producer. From the Motion Picture Films series of the Thomas Armat Collection
Likely the oldest motion picture in the National Archives’ holdings, this Kinetoscope is one of the first films produced by Edison Studios. (A longer clip is available on the National Archives’ YouTube Channel.)
Sometimes bad things happen to good films.
In this case three feet (or about five seconds in running time) of perforations and about 1/4th of the image area were stripped away on this 16mm original negative.
Matching up the tear is time consuming and requires precise registration. Multiple pieces of tape must be laid down and used to cover the tear only and not the entire image area to avoid introducing air bubbles or other defects that would show up in the image when being transferred.
Razor blades are used to pick up the ends of Mylar tape to avoid getting fingerprints, lint, or other debris transferred onto the tape as the repairs are being made. The blades are also used to make clean cuts where the tape will be laid down along the frame line so that the breaks don’t appear in the footage. White paper tape is used to keep the film from sliding around during the repair work and doesn’t leave any residue on the film or harm it.
The repair is then reinforced on the back and the tape is excised from the perforations.
Et Voila! The film is now repaired and we can move on to the rest of the preservation process. We’ll be creating a new print of this film so that the public can work with one of our vendors to receive the copies for their particular needs.
Guess what the Oscar winning historic figures pictured have in common with the Red Cross collection at the National Archives? Keep reading for the answers.
Seen in the photos are Captian Jack Sparrow from the 2003 film Pirates of the Caribbean, the gendarme from Scorsese’s 2011 film Hugo Cabret, and three characters from movies made in 2012: Les Miserables, Anna Karinina, and Spielberg’s Lincoln. The next photo shows a straw hat which belonged to “Dottie” a member of the American National Red Cross. What do the hats all have in common? Most curious, don’t you think?
During preparation procedures for housing and conserving the Red Cross hats, one of the first items we examine is information in the label. The label in this ladies hand-made straw hat with a silk ribbon and bow identifies it as being made by Ditta Pieroni Bruno s.n.c. in Rome and includes an address and telephone number.
Research revealed that the Ditta Peroni Bruno company was founded around the time of WWII and originally made hats for the Italian military. After the war they moved into the costume business for stage and screen and are still making beautiful hand made period costumes, including hats, armour, breastplates and gloves. The hats and gloves in Hugo’s, Jack Sparrow’s pirate hat, Lincoln’s top hat, and Dottie’s straw hat were all hand made by the same Italian company, Ditta Pieroni Bruno.
This is only the beginning of our research because previously we had mis-identified this hat as part of Dottie’s WWI clothing, but Ditta Pieroni Bruno wasn’t founded until 1939. Jana Dambrogio and I sent an email with photos to the company and asked if they had clues about its history. Thanks to information provided by Bruno’s son Massimo and Massimo’s wife Stefania Pieroni, we learned that NARA’s Pieroni hat is a replica of an original hat from 1900 made by Bruno Pieroni himself. The Pieroni’s provided this link to the news broadcast featuring an interview on their most recent creations found in many of this year’s Oscar nominated movies. http://mediacenter.dw.de/english/search/hatmaker/
The Pieroni coverage begins at minute 12:00 to 16:50.
Ditta Pieroni Bruno at one time made hats and military uniforms. Since the 1930s the studio changed their name and specialty to movie costumes. Check out their website at: http://www.laboratoriopieroni.it/ to learn about all the movies where one can see their work made for Fellini films to Dick Tracy in the 1990s.
From Perioni’s website it does not appear that they ever had a storefront for Dottie to go shopping. We are left to wonder did Dottie get it second hand and put her name in it? Was she an Italian film star that wore the hat and later moved to the United States and joined the Red Cross? What we do know about the hat is that it is strikingly stylish, made of very finely braided straw and is still in beautiful condition.
- Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Disney Website: http://disney.go.com/pirates/?int_cmp=pir_fran_ChP_redirect_Intl#/gallery/
- Hugo: Recent Movie Posters: http://www.recentmovieposters.com/2011/11/five-french-character-posters-for.html
- Les Miserables: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2012/12/les-miserables-movie-review/60013/
- Kiera Knightley, Vanity Fair: http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2013/01/anna-karenina-costume-designer-oscar-nominations-keira-knightley_slideshow_item1_2#/slide=2
- Lincoln, The New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/movies/2012/11/spielberg-lincoln-review.html
Free Pre-Screenings of 85th Academy Award® Nominees at the National Archives
The National Archives will host free screenings of the 85th Academy Award® nominees in four categories - Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Live Action Short Film, and Animated Short Film - in its William G. McGowan Theater from Wednesday, February 20, through Sunday, February 24, 2013. This year marks the ninth consecutive year these screenings have been hosted by the National Archives.
Seating for all screenings will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.and subject to availability. See the full schedule of screenings
What are your Oscar picks?
Happy Birthday, Clark Gable! (February 1, 1901 - November 16, 1960)
Here the actor gets a birthday hug from his canine co-star.
On The “Yukon” in “The Call of The Wild” Clark Gable with Dog, Mount Baker National Forest, 1935.
Classics Restored: The Negro Soldier and Let There Be Light, November 7 at Archives I
In honor of Veterans Day, we premiere high-definition versions of two classic World War II–era documentaries, preserved and digitally restored by the National Archives Motion Picture Preservation Team.
The Negro Soldier (1944; 43 minutes) was produced by Frank Capra’s Army motion picture unit to help unite white and black troops in the fight against the Axis. Let There Be Light (1946; 58 minutes), commissioned from Academy Award®-winning director John Huston by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, follows the treatment of emotionally traumatized GIs.
The screening will be introduced by Dr. David Culbert, author of Film and Propaganda in America: A Documentary History.
Wednesday, November 7, at 7 p.m. in the McGowan Theater at Archives I.
"Buster" Keaton, 10/04/1895 - 2/01/1966
This is the World War I Draft Registration card for veteran performer Joseph “Buster” Keaton, born October 4, 1895 in Picqua, Kansas (“Picquy” on his card). At the time of his registration he was working on Broadway for fellow silent film star (and later subject of a controversial murder trial) Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle.
In May of 1947, the House Un-american Activities Committee (HUAC) held a series of closed-door hearings to investigate communist influence in Hollywood, which led to the famous Hollywood Ten investigation. This document was created on September 21, 1948, almost a year after the Hollywood Ten investigation began. The document illustrates the committee’s belief that communist persuasion continued to infiltrate the industry, thus continued monitoring of Hollywood was necessary. It also suggests that the Hollywood Ten investigation did not prevent the creation of “un-American” movies.
Communist Techniques in Hollywood, 9/21/1948, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives
We’ve been faced with several challenges trying to preserve the Truman outtakes. We’ve been floored by the overpowering odor of vinegar syndrome, come up with ingenious solutions to help the reels to get through our equipment, and spent countless hours repairing broken perforations and cleaning off deterioration causing tape. All of this before photochemical preservation and digitization.
The Motion Picture Preservation Lab has been hard at work preserving hundreds of outtakes from President Truman’s 26 part television documentary - Decision: The Conflicts of Harry S. Truman, broadcast November 1964. We’re nearly done! Follow us over the next few Fridays to see what we encountered, and what we’ve accomplished!
The reels pictured here are suffering from extreme levels of vinegar syndrome, as indicated by the yellow strips in the can.