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UCLA Festival of Preservation 2006

The Big Combo (1955) directed by Joseph H. Lewis, starring Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Brian Donlevy
The Barker (1928) directed by George Fitzmaurice, starring Milton Sills, Dorothy Mackaill, Betty Compson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr

For the first time in nearly 15 years, I've missed the UCLA Film and Television Archive Festival of Preservation. The reason for my missing loads of goodies is too stupid to mention here, so I'll just blame it all on the hot summer weather.

Anyhow, among the good & rare stuff I missed were a restored print of the rarely seen 1928 drama The Barker (though luckily this one will be screened at the upcoming Cinecon), strong>Joseph H. Lewis' thriller The Big Combo Fast Worker (1924) directed by William A. Seiter, starring Laura La Plante, Reginald Denny, Ethel Grey Terry(1955), and the Laura La Plante-Reginald Denny 1924 comedy Fast Worker. Though forgotten today, both Denny and La Plante were immensely popular in the 1920s; La Plante (left), in particular, was a remarkable talent both in dramas and in comedies.

But I feel particularly bad for having missed this year's festival because it has been “dedicated to Preservation Officer Robert Gitt – the man who since 1977 has put the Archive on the international map for the excellence of its preservation and restoration program.”

I've had the pleasure to become acquainted with Bob Gitt, and I've been a witness to the truly incredible work he's done over the years. Thanks to his efforts – and the efforts of his staff – I and other Angelenos have been able to see first-rate, sometimes truly pristine prints of rarities that would have been beyond our reach otherwise.

An evening dedicated to Gitt was hosted by film critic Leonard Maltin. Among others present to pay tribute to Bob were Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan and director Curtis Hanson. Maltin talks about both the Festival of Preservation and the Bob Gitt Tribute on his website.

Faces (1968) directed by John Cassavetes, starring John Marley, Gena Rowlands, Seymour Cassel, Lynn Carlin

The 13th edition of the UCLA Festival of Preservation comes to a close this Saturday, Aug. 19, with a 7:30 p.m. screening of John Cassavetes' 1968 home movie from hell, Faces. Gena Rowlands, Seymour Cassel, Lynn Carlin, Al Ruban, Curtis Hanson, and Ross Lipman are expected to attend the screening. (Note: Cassel and Carlin received Academy Award nominations in the supporting categories.)

Under Two Flags (1936) directed by Frank Lloyd, starring Ronald Colman, Claudette Colbert, Victor McLaglen, Rosalind Russell
If I Were King (1938) directed by Frank Lloyd, starring Ronald Colman, Frances Dee, Basil Rathbone

Faces is hardly one of my favorite films, but today, also at 7:30 p.m., there is a director Frank Lloyd-star Ronald Colman double-bill that can't be missed: Under Two Flags (1936) and If I Were King (1938). Lloyd's film version of the Foreign Legion adventure tale Under Two Flags also stars Claudette Colbert, Victor McLaglen, and Rosalind Russell. Set in 15th-century France, If I Were King is a mix of comedy, drama, and adventure that remains one of the best examples of the genre. Frances Dee plays Colman's – for lack of a better word, lovely – love interest. A hunchbacked Basil Rathbone would have stolen the show – if it weren't for the fact that Ronald Colman is in top form.


         
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