Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Street of Forgotten Men Restoration Credits - Thanks Tim Moore

In just a bit, I will be heading out the door on my way to San Francisco and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (about a two hour drive), where I will attend the premiere of the new restoration of Louise Brooks' first film, The Street of Forgotten Men, on the BIG screen of the historic Castro Theatre. I am  looking forward to it. 

I have seen the film before, but never on the big screen. The first time was some twenty ago at the Library of Congress where I hand-cranked a projector inside a cubicle. I had made an appointment, and a staffer  brought me a print of the film. What a unique, intimate experience - me in my own "little theater," acting as projectionist, and sole audience member. At the time, it was thrilling to have seen something relatively few film buffs had seen. I recall I watched the film twice. Once, the first time, was for pleasure. The second time I stopped and started the film a number of times in order to take notes and study different frames & scenes - not knowing if I would ever have the chance to see the film again.

Fast forward a number of years. Back in 2017,  I helped film preservationist Robert Byrne with the preservation of the surviving fragment of the once lost Louise Brooks film, Now We're in the Air (1927). After that project wrapped-up, I mentioned to Rob what I thought was another worthwhile project, The Street of Forgotten Men. Though not lost, the film was little seen, and deserving. The film was also still under copyright. A few years had to pass before it fell into the public domain, which was in 2022. 

Sometime late last year, Rob Byrne asked if I wanted to help with the restoration of The Street of Forgotten Men. I said YES. My screen credit on the restoration print reads "Research" (see below) - but what I did was a little bit of everything which included helping acquire the scenario of the film (thanks to longtime Louise Brooks Society member Tim Moore), providing stills and bits of information, a few suggestions, and more. I also watched the film at least another six times on my desktop computer (an experience not dissimilar to my first viewing in a cubicle) during the months long restoration process.

As some may know, the Library of Congress holds the only known surviving print of the 7 reel film. But what they have are 6 of the 7 reels. What is missing is reel two. From the scenario (thank you again Tim Moore) we know what happens in the story (which includes the deaths of two significant characters). However, we don't know what it looks like. Rob was able to reconstruct the missing reel based on and utilizing descriptive passages and dialogue from the scenario which were matched up with whatever stills  could be acquired from collectors and archives all around the world. The results are impressive.

Though I have mentioned him twice already, I want to again thank Tim Moore for his assistance in helping secure scans of the film's scenario. Your help was crucial. Tim, as well as the Louise Brooks Society, are also thanked in the restoration credits. As are longtime friends Nancy Kaufman and Kay Shackleton.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival screening will be introduced by Jennifer Miko, who did the image restoration. The new print looks great on my computer, and should look just as swell on the big screen. I expect to be posting more on today's screening in the next few days.

For those interested, I wrote the essay on The Street of Forgotten Men which can be found in the program book distributed at the Festival. And here is an earlier piece, "Restored Silent Film ‘The Street of Forgotten Men’ Debuts Louise Brooks," which I penned for Pop Matters. 

And here is another piece I wrote for SF Patch on the film's 1925 reception in San Francisco. On to The Street of Forgotten Men !

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