Archive for April, 2010

Scan, Bam, thank you Ma’m

Posted in Marx Brothers, Ramblings, Re-Marx, Sites of Interest with tags , , , , , , , on April 1, 2010 by Andrew T. Smith

A couple of weeks ago, film critic, beardie, and all round nice guy Leonard Maltin tipped his readers off to an ongoing project headed up by film historian David Pierce of the BFI’s National Film and Television Archive. The scope of this project is enormous but the intent is for thousends of film and radio industry journels, fan magazines and trade papers from the early half of the twentieth century to be digitised and made available to schollars world wide.

Periodicals like Photoplay, Moving Picture World, Variety and Radio Guide can help shed new light on well trodden histories, revealing insights into how the film industry viewed censorship, detailed info on the wherabouts of famous directors, producers and actors on specific dates, or how fans responded to screen stars. Also worth noting is how the way in which films were advertised has changed. The scan below reveals that Hollywood during it’s golden age suffered from the same anxieties that it is seen to suffer from today.

This is exactly the kind of archive I would have loved to have had available during the research for my upcoming book Marx and Re-Marx. Although I was able to track down a number of ancient clippings via paper-based archives the experience of doing so was almost always tedious and unpleasant – I’m looking at you Collingdale Newspaper Library. (I should note, however, that it was always a pleasure to communicate with fellow collectors and film fans)

Time is running out to preserve and cherish these increasingly rare and valuable materials so I’m going to be doing all I can to encourage David Pierce in his endeavors. If you are at all interested in preserving film history for generations to come I suggest you do the same. To see what has been achieved so far you can visit the Internet Archive and at the projects own temporary web space.

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