High Museum Of Art Puts the Big Apple on the Big Screen with Summer Movie Series "Archival Gotham: NYC On Film"
ATLANTA, April 30, 2012
The Big Apple takes the big screen during summer 2012 as the High Museum of Art presents “Archival Gotham: NYC on Film
” on Saturdays during June and August.
Film enthusiasts will enjoy popular favorites and historic films featuring the capital of the world. Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd and Harvey Keitel appear in Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” and Marlon Brando commands the screen in “On The Waterfront,” winner of eight Academy Awards.
The series also includes Rodney Dangerfield in “The Projectionist” and a collection of six “Gotham Shorts” featuring Orson Welles directing and starring in “The Hearts of Age.”
“Archival Gotham: NYC On Film” begins June 9 with special guest Anne Morra, MoMA associate curator of film and curator of “Archival Gotham.” The schedule includes:
- June 9 at 7 p.m. at Rich Theatre – “Gotham Shorts” featuring six films (see details below)
- June 16 at sunset at Sifly Piazza – “East Side, West Side” presented with piano accompaniment
- June 23 at 7 p.m. at Rich Theatre – “Little Fugitive”
- Aug. 11 at sunset at Sifly Piazza – “Taxi Driver”
- Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. at Rich Theatre – “On The Waterfront”
- Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. at Rich Theatre – “The Projectionist”
The Richard H. Rich Theatre is located in the Memorial Arts Building of the Woodruff Arts Center, adjacent to the High Museum of Art at 1280 Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta. Sifly Piazza is located between the Memorial Arts Building and High Museum of Art entrance.
“This series focuses on classic films set in and around the streets of New York City, including iconic destinations such as Times Square, Coney Island and Manhattan’s vast subway system,” said Virginia Shearer, associate director of education for public programs. “Our partnership with the Museum of Modern Art’s renowned film department made it possible to present these archival films in conjunction with the photograph exhibition Picturing New York.”
Tickets may be purchased in advance by visiting the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office, calling 404-733-5000 or going online to www.High.org. Admission prices for Rich Theatre films are $7 for the public and $6 for Museum members, students and seniors. Patron-level members enter free. Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the night of the screening. The outdoor films on the Sifly Piazza are free ticketed events. For reservationd please visit High.org or call the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office at 404-733-5000.
“Interior N.Y. Subway, 14th Street to 42nd Street”
1905; U.S.A. Four minutes; silent. Produced by the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company
This silent actuality – an early non-fiction film that recorded real events, places, and things, similar to a documentary film, but the footage is not part of a larger narrative – is perhaps the earliest known motion picture footage of the New York City subway system.
“Interior N.Y. Subway, 14th Street to 42nd Street” was made by mounting a camera on the front of a subway car, with another car immediately following. Lighting in the darkened tunnels was provided by a work train running on a parallel track. The first subway car ran on Oct. 27, 1904; the oldest structure that is still in use was built in 1865 and is located in Brooklyn. MoMA holds an original 35mm four-hold nitrate negative, made at the time of the film’s release.
“The Hearts of Age”
1934; U.S.A. Eight minutes; silent. Directed by Orson Welles and William Vance, with Orson Welles and Virginia Nicholson.
While “The Hearts of Age” has little to do with New York, it is a wonder of a short film. Once thought to have been made in Woodstock, N.Y., it turns out that Welles and Vance made the film at The Todd Boys School in Woodstock, Ill. At age 19, Welles and his classmate William Vance created a story strongly influenced by the Surrealist art movement. Welles heads up the cast as Death, with Virginia Nicholson (who later became his first wife) portraying an old woman and a Keystone Kop. The 16mm reversal original was donated to MoMA in 1990 and preserved in 35mm in 2002.
Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
“The Tender Game”
1958; U.S.A. Six minutes. Produced by Faith Elliott and John Hubley. Directed by John Hubley.
“The Tender Game” is a lovely, lush valentine set to a beautiful rendition of the standard sung by Ella Fitzgerald. John Hubley and Faith Elliott were married in 1955 and moved to New York to open their animation studio, Storyboard Studio. Hubley was known for his previous work for the WPA and Screen Gems; he was the creator of the iconic character Mr. Magoo, whom he based on a quirky uncle. Faith Elliott, later known as Faith Hubley, was an important animator in her own right. From 1955 until John’s death in 1977, the pair made one new film every year. The preservation was carried out in 2008, when the Hubley family lent the original 1957 negative to MoMA.
1952; U.S.A. Seven minutes. Produced by The Museum of Modern Art. Directed by Sydney Peterson.
A whimsical nonfiction short that looks at the roofline of buildings in New York City and compares them to hats, “Architectural Millinery” begins on the loggia of the MoMA building at 11 West 53rd Street. Narrated with a joyous yet sardonic tone by Henry Morgan and part of the early television series “Point of View,” after seeing this film audiences will understand why everyone is looking up in New York.
1954; U.S.A. Nine minutes. Produced by The Museum of Modern Art. Directed by Ruth Cade.
After looking skyward in “Architectural Millinery” it’s time to look down in “Manhole Covers.” Some may have noticed that the manhole covers lining the city streets each possess an individual and interesting design? Some are geometric while others are more organic. “Manhole Covers” inspires audiences to consider what is going on under foot while walking city streets.
1965; U.S.A. Nine minutes; silent. Directed by Joseph Cornell. Cinematography by Larry Jordan.
“Flushing Meadows” is a film about mourning. Artist Joseph Cornell befriended a young runaway named Joyce Hunter, who was later murdered by an ex-boyfriend. Cornell lived on Utopia Parkway in Flushing, Queens, for the entirety of his adult life, and this film was shot in the Flushing Cemetery in Queens, N.Y.
From November 1980 to January 1981, MoMA presented a retrospective of Cornell’s work. In P. Adams Sitney’s exhibition catalogue essay The Cinematic Gaze of Joseph Cornell, the film “Flushing Meadows” is mentioned in the filmography, but also noted is “present whereabouts unknown.” At the time of the catalogue’s publication, scholars such as Sitney were unable to confirm the existence of what was thought to be Cornell’s last film. In 1995 the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation donated to MoMA a vast collection of films made and collected by Joseph Cornell. It wasn’t until 2003 that MoMA discovered that the 16mm reversal original of “Flushing Meadows” was part of the collection donated by the Cornell Foundation.
Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
OTHER FILM DETAILS:
“East Side, West Side”
U.S.A., 1927; silent; 91 minutes. Written and directed by Allan Dwan. With George O’Brien and Virginia Valli.
Based on the novel “East Side, West Side” by Felix Riesenberg, this melodrama follows the rise of a young man from orphan to polite society darling. The hale and hearty John Breen was raised on a brick-hauling barge floating up and down the Manhattan waterways. The scenes of Manhattan are all shot on location and capture a magisterial city that has been called “Oz-like” in its refinement and magnitude.
When the barge sinks and Breen washes ashore, he is rescued by a poor immigrant family and nursed back to health. Breen is truly a fish out of water in the Lipvitch home, but he soon assimilates and becomes part of the family—and starts to develop feelings for Becka Lipvitch. Working in the Lipvitch secondhand clothing shop, Breen tries his best to be a productive salesman, but he was not meant for such work. Played by matinee idol George O’Brien, Breen is muscular yet elegant and has bright eyes. He may not be an intellectual, but it doesn’t matter because he looks great in a suit. When a prominent architect meets Breen, the possibility arises that his long lost father might emerge. How does Breen reconcile his birthright and his growing fondness for Becka?
Director Allan Dwan was educated at the University of Notre Dame, where he studied electrical engineering. After graduation, Dwan worked for a Chicago company that manufactured mercy vapor arc lights, a predecessor of neon light. In 1909 he met with clients at the Essanay Studios in Chicago to provide instruction on how to use the new products.
At the studio, Dwan learned that quality screenplays were in short supply and soon began selling his own work to Essanay. In 1911 he was working for the American Film Company and was dispatched to California to check on the delay for a picture in production. The director resigned, so Dwan wired the Chicago office, recommending the closure of the production. His bosses in Chicago wired back, “You direct!” This led to Dwan’s first directorial effort, “Brandishing a Bad Man” in 1911.
In 1970, Twentieth Century-Fox donated to MoMA a 35mm nitrate print from which a 35mm polyester negative and prints were made in 2000.
Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Film Foundation.
1953; U.S.A. 75 minutes. Directed by Ray Ashley, Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin. With Richie Andrusco and Richard Brewster.
Quoted in The New Yorker magazine in 1960, French filmmaker François Truffaut said, “Our new wave would never have come into being if it hadn’t been for the young American Morris Engel, who showed us the way to independent production with his fine movie ‘Little Fugitive.’”This enthusiastic observation by the man who later made the ubiquitous French New Wave film “Les Quatres Cents Coups” (“The 400 Blows”) (1959) positions photographer/director Engel as a true cinematic innovator.
Engel was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1918 and was always fascinated by cameras. As a teenager in the 1930s, he joined the New York Photo League and assisted on Paul Strand’s iconic film “Native Land” (1942). Engel signed up for military duty in 1941 enlisting in the Navy and he was immediately recruited into the photography section. Engel noted in 1999, “As a Navy photographer, I was on practically every type of ship the Navy had, from Coast Guard cutters to destroyers, making the North Atlantic crossing from New York to Europe … When we landed in London and I became a member of the Combat Photo Unit No. 8, I knew that our basic objective was to cover the European invasion, D-Day in Normandy. I ended up on the beach called Utah.”
The possibilities of the independent cinema that Truffaut described could not have occurred without Engel meeting another Navy recruit named Charlie Woodruff, who built a custom 35mm camera especially for Engel. It was designed to be handheld, light, and fully portable. This innovation made by the man Engel called a “mechanical genius” proved to be “the heart and soul of why ‘Little Fugitive’ was possible.” Over the years, filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick and Jean-Luc Godard were eager to borrow this unique camera, but Engel always politely declined.
“Little Fugitive” tells the story of Lennie and his younger brother Joey. It is summer vacation time in Brooklyn and Lennie will soon celebrate his birthday. Their mother promised Lennie he could take friends to Coney Island over the weekend, where they will swim, play games of chance, and eat carnival treats. The best part of the weekend ahead for Lennie is that he will be rid of his pesky little brother Joey for the day. However, his plans are soon upset when the boys’ mother must leave town to attend to a sick relative.
Lennie is heartbroken and resents having to babysit Joey through the postponement of the birthday celebration. Feeling sorry for himself and not thrilled with Joey constantly tagging along, Lennie and his friends concoct a mean practical joke that sends the younger boy off as a fugitive on Coney Island.
On his own for the first time, Joey is scrappy and figures out how to return glass soda bottles for the deposit money. Amassing a cache of bottles, Joey stuffs himself with hotdogs and cotton candy and uses the remainder of his money to indulge in pony rides. In Engel’s New York, unaccompanied children are never menaced; rather, they are respected for their point of view and often teach adults a thing or two. This theme is also evident in his films “Lovers and Lollipops” (1955) and “Weddings and Babies” (1958).
The original release running time was 75 minutes, and it was not until after 1998 that Engel allowed a rereleased 80 minute version. The Museum of Modern Art preserved “Little Fugitive” in the 75 minute initial release version using the 35mm original negatives on loan from Engel. “Little Fugitive” was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1997.
Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Film Foundation, and the Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Fund.
U.S.A.; 1976; 114 minutes. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Screenplay by Paul Schrader. With Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel and Cybill Shepherd.
Travis Bickle (De Niro) is a Vietnam War veteran who drives a New York taxi on the night shift. The darkened city is squalid, dirty, and under a perpetual deluge of rain that does nothing to wash away the filth. As a night worker, Travis is an observer and rarely a participant in the urban activities swirling around him.
He sees the same prostitutes, junkies, and other cab drivers every night but forms no attachments. Travis is also alienated by his social awkwardness, especially when he befriends a cool, beautiful blonde campaign worker (Shepherd). Unbalanced and hearing voices, when Travis sees a preteen prostitute (Foster) on the street, he is determined to rescue her from her pimp (Keitel). He creates a scenario of her rehabilitation in his head, only to learn she may not wish to be saved.
Commenting on the production of “Taxi Driver” in "Scorsese on Scorsese” (Faber & Faber, 2003), Martin Scorsese said, “The whole film is very much based on the impressions I have as a result of growing up in New York and living in the city. There’s a shot where the camera is mounted on the hood of a taxi and it drives past the sign ‘Fascination,’ which was on Broadway. It’s the idea of being fascinated, of this avenging angel floating through the streets of the city that represents all cities for me.”
Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Entertainment held the original 35mm negatives for “Taxi Driver” and partnered with MoMA in 1995 to begin the preservation of this film. It is curious to note that as per the director’s intent, the Columbia Pictures logo at the head of the film, the title sequence, and the end credits were all processed to achieve a look of graininess, dirt, and grime.
“Taxi Driver” was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1994.
Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Entertainment.
“On The Waterfront”
U.S.A.; 1954; 108 minutes. Directed by Elia Kazan. With Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, and Karl Malden.
“On The Waterfront” is a gritty, urban drama set against the backdrop of New York’s harbor. When a labor boss is killed before he can testify against mobster Johnny Friendly, ex-boxer Terry Malloy (Brando) is served up as bait in the murder. But Terry is innocent and even the dead labor boss’s chaste sister Edie Doyle (Saint) knows the truth.
Inspired by Crime on the Waterfront, a 1948 series of New York Sun articles by investigative reporter Malcolm Johnson, with an original screenplay by Budd Schulberg, “On The Waterfront” is widely acknowledged as an iconic American film. Voted onto the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1989, “On The Waterfront” won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.
Many of the film’s components are ubiquitous cinematic milestones. Film critic J. Hoberman called the back seat exchange between Terry and his older, smarter, canny brother Charley (Rod Steiger) “the scene of scenes” and “the most triumphant expression of failure in American movies.” No scene of filial reproach ever acted on screen has possessed so much hate, love, sincerity, and despondency as Brando utters, “I could have been a contender.”
While “On The Waterfront” is considered a New York movie, it was filmed on location in Hoboken, N.J., just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. It was preserved by The Museum of Modern Art in 1992, when Columbia Pictures lent their 35mm original picture negative and duplicate track negatives for the preservation project.
Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Film Foundation.
U.S.A. 1970; 88 minutes. Directed by Harry Hurwitz. With Chuck McCann, Ina Balin, and Rodney Dangerfield.
This New York independent feature comedy about a lonely projectionist whose imaginative daydreams transform him into a superhero named Captain Flash cleverly interweaves vintage film footage – such as the burning of Atlanta from in “Gone With The Wind” – with its modern story.
Chuck McCann plays a film projectionist who spends most of his days and nights in the solitary projection booth of a Manhattan movie theatre. While the patrons in the auditorium below enjoy the film and the company of their dates, the projectionist is alone, unnoticed and unwanted until something goes wrong with the film. The projectionist is routinely taunted by his boss Renaldi but is also admired by the concession stand worker, who always sneaks him a candy bar or two.
We see the projectionist leading a lonesome personal life, and he is further isolated by the nature of this work. Alone in the booth, he has ample time to think about his favorite movies and movie stars, including Clark Gable, James Stewart and Oliver Hardy. To pass the time, he fantasizes that he is a superhero named Captain Flash, replete with tights, a cape, and a mask, often rescuing a lady in distress. Director Harry Hurwitz inserts clips from other films into these fantasy sequences in order to suggest the commotion in the projectionist’s head. In these fantasy sequences, Captain Flash romances a beautiful woman (Balin) while escaping from the clutches of “The Bat,” a villain played by Rodney Dangerfield. The seamlessness of the projectionist’s reality and fantasy lives blur and eventually conjure a troubling transference of the real and the pretend.
“The Projectionist” was preserved in 1993 from an original edited negative produced by Harry Hurwitz that intercut color scenes with black-and-white stock footage. The primary challenge on this preservation project was to work with the film lab to print the black-and-white sections in a neutral manner (no color tones) in order to create a sharp visual contrast to the color footage. The shift from color to black and white and back again is a visual reference to the main character’s psychological disconnect. “The Projectionist” marked Hurwitz’s feature directorial debut; he went on to direct 12 more films before his death in 1995.
The public may call the High’s film hotline at 404-733-4570 for up-to-the-minute information about visiting directors, receptions, changes or cancellations and for a free subscription to the quarterly film calendar.
High Museum of Art
Founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, the High Museum of Art is the leading art museum in the southeastern U.S. With more than 12,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th century and 20th century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. The High’s media arts department produces acclaimed annual film series and festivals of foreign, independent and classic cinema. In November 2005, the High opened three new buildings by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown Atlanta. For more information about the High, visit www.High.org.
The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is ranked among the top four arts centers in the nation. The Woodruff is unique in that it combines four visual and performing arts divisions on one campus as one not-for-profit organization. Opened in 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. To learn more about the Woodruff Arts Center visit www.woodruffcenter.org.
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