Friday, October 20, 2006

Found Lost Classics on TCM

Turner Classic Movies Plays Sleuth,
Discovers Six Previously Lost RKO Classics Network Currently Making New Masters, Prints to Air Films in 2007

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has purchased the copyrights and all right, title and interest to six RKO films previously thought lost from the silver screen, it was announced today by Tom Karsch, executive vice president and general manager of TCM.

This selection of rare motion pictures includes works directed by William Wellman, John Cromwell and Garson Kanin, and starring such silver screen luminaries as William Powell, Ginger Rogers, Irene Dunne, Lionel Barrymore and Joel McCrea, as well as an early screenplay by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo.

In association with the Library of Congress and the BYU film archive, TCM is currently making new 35mm fine-grain masters and prints of six pictures slated to air on the network in 2007: Double Harness (1933), One Man’s Journey (1933), Rafter Romance (1933), Stingaree (1934), Living on Love (1937) and A Man to Remember (1938).

“These six films had slipped through the cracks of film history because the two copyright holders—Merian C. Cooper and Ernest L. Scanlon—had long since passed away,” Karsch said. “As a result, they were languishing in film archives around the world, largely unpreserved. As curators of film history, TCM is proud to take the lead on preserving these films and airing them for classic movie fans of all ages.”

A Man to Remember, largely unseen since its original theatrical release, was on the New York Times’ list of the top 10 films of 1938. Showings of the five other films have been extremely rare since 1959. Living on Love and A Man to Remember are “B” picture remakes of Rafter Romance and One Man’s Journey. The search for these films began as a result of a viewer inquiry regarding the Turner Entertainment Company library status of Double Harness. These six films were sold out of the RKO library to Cooper in 1946. In 1959, ownership transferred to former Selznick International executive Scanlon.

Only two of the six films had ever been properly preserved. Rafter Romance and Stingaree had been anonymously preserved by the American Film Institute from the original 35mm nitrate camera negatives in the 1970s. This material is now at the Library of Congress.

Brigham Young University has Cooper’s 35mm and 16mm safety-dupe television negatives for Double Harness, One Man’s Journey, Rafter Romance, Stingaree and Living on Love. The only surviving copy of A Man to Remember is a 35mm original nitrate, Dutch-subtitled, English-language print, which was preserved by the Netherlands Filmmuseum in 2000. Additional 35mm nitrate dupe negatives for Double Harness were found in France at the CNC. The original 35mm nitrate camera negatives for all six films appear to be lost.