The 2012 San Francisco Silent Film Festival's edition of “Amazing Tales from the Archives” was perhaps the weakest of the series to date. In the past, they have done a wonderful job demonstrating the excitement of finding lost films and footage, assembling them together, preserving and restoring them. This installment revolved around the “Digital Age,” and did not concentrate only on silent film.
The reconstruction of William A. Wellman's Wings (1927), the first Best Picture (or “Best Production”) Academy Award winner, was a familiar story of how an old film print could be dusted off and used for the production of a Digital Cinema Package. By now, we all are aware of the importance of film preservation, which is part detective work and part modern technology. It has always been a painstaking pursuit of finding lost films or sequences, categorizing them, and placing them where they belong. But the whole issue of technology escapes me. I am not prepared to argue which is better: Film Prints or Digital. In addition to that, I was wholly uninterested in the technical aspects of the restoration of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (1964) – definitely not a lost film.
Note: This commentary about “Amazing Tales from the Archives: Into the Digital Frontier” was initially posted in July 2012.
Wings and Dr. Strangelove
Directed by William A. Wellman, Wings was written by Hope Loring and Louis D. Lighton, from a story by John Monk Saunders (soon to be the husband of future King Kong star Fay Wray). Julian Johnson wrote the intertitles. The aviation drama features Clara Bow, Richard Arlen, Charles 'Buddy' Rogers, Gary Cooper, and Hedda Hopper.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove (a.k.a. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) was written by Kubrick, Terry Southern, and Peter George, from George's book Red Alert. The sociopolitical satire features Best Actor Oscar nominee Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, and James Earl Jones.