HomeArticlesFavorite Films of the National Archives Motion Picture Lab (2016 May 19)
Favorite Films of the National Archives Motion Picture Lab (2016 May 19)
August 30, 2019
Andrea Bassing Matney: We are now starting. Welcome to today’s National Archives’ Know Your Records program. We are live broadcasting My name is Andrea Bassing Matney and I’m so pleased to see you here today. Before we get started I’m going to cover a few items so you know how to participate. For those of you here on site, we will take your questions at the end of the presentation. We ask that
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So if you need that service, please find that under the video screen.
So humor me. I have three presenters, three biographies to read. Today we have three Preservation
specialists from the National Archives Motion Picture Lab. They are sharing Federal government
films they love, from the historically significant to the delightfully misguided.
Criss Kovac has worked as the Supervisor of the lab since 2005. Since coming to the National
Archives she has implemented motion picture digitization/restoration to compliment photochemical
preservation of the National Archives collection. She holds degrees from Oberlin College, Nottingham
Trent University, and The L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation.
Audrey Amidon is a preservation specialist in the lab, where she and her colleagues perform
conservation and preservation work on motion picture records held across the National Archives.
Before joining the lab in 2006, Audrey worked with the Donald B. MacMillan film collection
at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum at Bowdoin College.
Heidi Holmstrum is a preservation specialist in the lab. Heidi completed her archival education
at Western Washington University, earning a Master’s in History with a certificate in
Archives and Records Management. She has worked in the National Archives Motion Picture Preservation
Lab since 2009. And now for our presentation, “Favorite Films
of the National Archives Motion Picture Lab.” Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming
our presenters Heidi Holmstrom, Audrey Amidon, and Criss Kovac.
>>[Applause]>>Heidi Holmstrom: Hello. I’m Heidi Holmstrom.
My colleagues and I are very pleased that you could join us this afternoon. We put together
this presentation based on films that we’ve worked on, that we’ve really enjoyed, or films
that surprised us. So we hope you will also enjoy them.
The National Archives has one of the three largest film collections in the United States.
The other big ones are the Library of Congress and UCLA. We have well over 400,000 reels
of film and our holdings include a great deal of audio and video material. And, of course,
the size of our collection is still growing every year.
We have a lot of films that were created by federal agencies. That’s where the bulk of
them come from. So this includes military films, public service announcements, and educational
films. We also have films that are collected by federal agencies. So they could have been
collected in the course of an investigation or some agencies also had film libraries so
we have a very large collection from the CIA Film Library. We also have materials that
were donated to the National Archives because they reflect United States history or the
activities of the government. So an example is the Universal newsreel collection from
Universal Studios, which is now a big public domain news film collection available to the
public. You’re going to see examples of all three of these categories in our presentation.
Unfortunately, motion picture film does deteriorate but can last a long time when stored properly.
And that means low temperatures and low humidity. We have walkin film freezers that we store
film in. So it’s stabilized. It will stay the way it is without getting much worse until
we can handle it. And we preserve the deteriorating films photo
chemically printing to a new piece of film stock. So we’ll put it on a polyester film
base that’s more stable. We also digitize films for access which helps protect the original.
The National Archives is one of the only institutions with a film preservation lab in-house. And
we’re one of the last film labs in the country. I think there’s fewer than a dozen film labs
left. And for comparison, in the 1980s, there were five film labs alone in Washington, D.C.
And the following video is going to give you an overview of all of the services that we
provide to the National Archives using the World War II film “The Negro Soldier” as an
example.>>Audrey Amidon: Welcome to the Motion Picture
Preservation Lab. We have staff members with specialized skills that enable the National
Archives to preserve and protect America’s historic motion picture collection. To do
this we evaluate the condition of our original films and prepare them for cold storage so
that we can keep them as long as possible. We copy a newer film stock or format when
the images are at risk of being lost. Every day we handle films that might not exist if
care had not been taken to retain and preserve them. We work on a material that covers a
wide range of contents and conditions from deteriorated 16-millimeter color footage from
World War II to pristine camera negatives shot for educational films in the 1980s.
Today, we’re working on “The Negro Soldier.”>>When we inspect films, we’re looking for
signs of deterioration. We’re measuring acidity levels and shrinkage and make repairs to be
transferred or played back. Sometimes we can spend an entire day repairing a single reel
of film. We’re identifying elements in order to make
sure the original is given the highest level of protection and that only duplicate copies
are available in the research room. We inspect about four million feet of film a year. But
even at that rate it would take us almost 300 years to look at every reel in the collection.
>>As long as we can purchase film stock, we’ll continue to do film-to-film preservation.
Digital is a great tool for providing access and doing restoration work but it’s not a
great tool for long-term preservation. Whether we’re going from film-to-film or digitizing
for access, there are certain steps we go through. For each title we do all of the inspection
and hands-on repair of the original. To make sure they won’t be damaged if we run them
on the equipment. For reels we’re printing, we time them to
ensure the new copies will remain faithful to the original copy. We clean and then print
them on our printers. We have a wide range of printers, one from the `30s, `50s, and
one relatively new to the Archives. We choose the printer based on the condition of the
original film because the printers have different handling capabilities. We then process the
film and do quality control to make sure everything turned out the way it’s supposed to.
For “The Negro Soldier, we’re creating a new film copy and a digitally restored copy. With
the film copy we can place it in a managed storage environment and it will last upwards
of 500 years. With a digital file, if not managed and migrated, it may only last up
to five years. Although we still use film stock as our primary
preservation format, motion pictures are being digitized in the lab for a variety of purposes.
When researchers ask to see films that do not already have reference copies available,
we transfer the reels on our HD scanner and make DVDs for public access. We save the files
for later use in the National Archives online catalog or to be posted on social media sites.
In addition, we digitize high-profile titles and films too fragile to be copied on printers
at greater resolutions of 2K or 4K for access and preservation
>>This is our preservation level film scanner. It creates digital files that preserve and
protect the essence and characteristics of the film stock itself; namely, the film grain,
color properties, and the saturation, sensitivity and contract levels carried forward to the
digital file. We’ve used this equipment to scan films such as “The March” and “The Negro
Soldier” which has stable film elements but generate enough public interest to warrant
high resolution film scanning.>>This is our digital work station. Once
the reels have been scanned, we use software to do impressions. We also can use restoration
tools like a scratch tool, a dust tool, on a scene-by-scene basis. Once preservation
projects have been completed, we preserve the raw and the corrected file permanently.
>>Now that “The Negro Soldier” has been inspected, cleaned, and copied, it is ready for its next
step, description.>>Audrey Amidon: So here’s how we’re going
to do this. We have 10 of our favorite films we’ll rotate through. So you’ll see different
people introducing each one. Well, not each one. There’s only three of us. But we’ll be
talking about our own personal favorite films. They are not in any order. They are not chronological.
We just tried to organize them in a way that made sense.
This first one is silent. So I’ll be talking over it. This is a film I encountered when
I first started in 2006. To me it was my first realization that whatever I thought I knew
about American history, there was always going to be a lot more that would surprise me and
I wouldn’t see it coming. This film is a perfect example of that.
These are young boys that are headed off to summer camp in 1937. They are leaving New
York City. They get on a bus. They start setting up their camp. When it came down for preservation,
we were actually making film copies because the original was in poor condition. That’s
when I looked at it and I realized that there was a lot more going on there because as you’ll
see shortly, pretty soon after they raise the American flag at what I thought was a
boy scout camp, they then raise a Nazi flag. So you know, that took a little research to
look up what the film was. We have records of that to see what it was. And I found out
that these were films created by the German-American Bund, a cultural organization, claimed to
be a cultural organization, for German-Americans which was at that time the biggest ethnic
group in the country. But they actually had some pretty strong pro-Nazi leanings. They
even held a very large pro-Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden in 1939 with 20,000 people in
attendance. And because this is America, this was ok at the time. But once we got into a
war with Germany, it was no longer ok to be supporting that side and we very quickly,
the American government very quickly, shut them down.
So they seized all of their records. That’s how we ended up with this film. The Office
of Alien Property held the films and used them as evidence against the leaders of the
German-American Bund, who were Nazis, essentially. They were patriotic Americans in a sense that
they thought America would be better if it went under Germany. So that’s not generally
how a lot of us see patriotism. So there were a lot of these Hitler youth
camps. If you look closely, you can see the symbols of the Hitler youth on their uniforms.
They are not regular boy scout uniforms. They were around the northeast. They were actually
70 local chapters of the German-American Bund. And the camps were scattered around the country.
A few of them were in other parts of the country. There’s a bit more.
So the films were held by the textual unit along with evidence which is a lot of times
how films come to us. They are just sort of buried in with some textual — maybe a box,
there was a box of evidence. Most of it was paper but then there were films. And in 1980,
a textual archivist found it, realized it needed to be taken care of better, and transferred
it to the Motion Picture Unit. I just think that’s one of the creepiest things
I’ve ever seen, to see the American flag alongside two Nazi flags.
Another one of the films that isn’t here, this is just clips from one of them, the German
title translates to “German boy, you also belong to us,” to make it clear you were a
German-American. That was sort of the point of the German-American Bund.
This is what young boys in summer camp did in 1937, apparently. Boxing and — I just
don’t think that would be allowed today. It looks very dangerous.
>>The next clip I’m going to show you is>>The next clip I’m going to show you is a film we refer to as the “Yellowstone Kodacolor.”
Some of our films are also based on the uniqueness of the original. This is also silent.
In the case of the “Yellowstone Kodacolor” which we believe to be the earliest color
footage of Yellowstone, shot on a stock manufactured between 1928 and 1932 called the Kodacolor.
It was the precursor to Kodak’s most popular film stock Kodachrome.
What you see on the right is how Kodacolor appears on the naked eye. On the left is decoded
with algorithms, done in Rockville. Looking at the film, you can see vertical lines. Within
those lines are billions of tiny lenticels or prisms. The film was shot through a special
filter and to see the color that developed, film had to be projected back through the
same filter. Few film labs in the country have the ability
to preserve this type of film but thanks to the grant from the National Film Preservation foundation, we are able
to bring the footage into full color for the public in time for the centennial of Yellowstone
and the National Park Service. I will say that if you look at the clip on
YouTube, it’s actually easier to see the difference between the color. It’s a little bit washed
out on this particular screen. I don’t think we can turn the lights down.
[Laughter]>>Is that better?
[Silent film]>>For our next film, we’re going to give
you an episode of “Private SNAFU.” Some of you may be familiar with him. Even if you’ve
never seen the cartoon, there are some really crucial elements you’ll recognize. One, SNAFU
sounds like Bugs Bunny and looks like Elmer Fudd and that’s because the cartoons were
made by the Warner Bros. Studio during World War II for the U.S. Army. And Mel Blanc is
voicing SNAFU. And I imagine the cartoonist who did Elmer Fudd must have drawn him.
They were made to be included in a series shown to troops throughout the war. SNAFU
was supposed to be a lighter, more fun way of educating them. They got a lot of educational
films that are just training films made during World War II. And a lot of them can be dry.
So the Army made — the military made an attempt to make them more entertaining to get the
message across. SNAFU in particular, he would mess things
up. He would usually get told not to do something and then he would do it and it would then
become such disastrous results that either he died or was blown up or he killed an entire
ship’s worth of people. Things like that. That’s usually how these always end. Then
you learn the extreme consequences that can result from not doing what you’re told.
This one in particular is one of our favorites. You might have heard of Theodore Geisel. He’s
Dr. Seuss. And during World War II he worked for the Army Signal Corps and wrote several
of the SNAFU cartoons. You will recognize his rhyming pattern. It’s absolutely unmistakable.
So enjoy. We’re watching this one in its entirety.>>’Twas a bright sunny day, the air fresh
and clean. Not a rumor was stirring, except in the latrine.
>>Hi ya, SNAFU. What’s new?>>Oh, nothing much. Nice day.
>>Nice day for a bombing.>>Yeah, nice bombing weather. Hmm. Bombing
weather? Bombing weather?>>Sounds harmless enough. Innocent stuff.
But let’s take a look in and find out what’s cooking.
>>Bombing weather. Bombing weather. Bombing weather. Bombing weather. Bombing weather.
Between you and me, pal, I hear we’re in for a bombing.
>>The hot air is blowing, a rumor is growing.>>They’re going to bomb us. They’re going
to bomb us. They’re about to bombing. They’re about to bombing. They bombed us.
Did you hear about the terrible bombing last night? Well, I heard it on good authority
that there was a horrible bombing.>>Balloon juice. It’s phoney but it makes
nice baloney.>>That’s right, exaggerate it, stretch it,
multiply it.>>Now, shoot off your face.
[Blast]>>And baloney is flying all over the place.
>>The war, yeah. They blasted the hell out of the Brooklyn bridge.
>>Was wiped out.>>What’s the matter with our planes? They
popped them off like kites.>>parachute troops landed on the White House
lawn.>>The Florida coast is lousy with invasion
badgers.>>Just a minute, bud. Did you know we had
nothing to fight with, that our shells are all duds? [Whistle]
>>They’re in California! [Whistle]>>Wait until you see their new secret weapon.>>This may surprise you, but they are attacking
this very camp. [Laughter]
You can’t get away. [Laughter] The Russians have surrendered.
[Laughter]>>The British are quitting.
[Laughter]>>The Chinese gave up. [Laughter]>>Whoo-hoo!
[Siren]>>It’s all over. We’ve lost the war.
[Blast]>>[Laughter] Rumors. [Laughter] Rumors. Nice
weather for a rumor. Ain’t it? [Laughter]>>Well, continuing on with our theme of World
War II here, a lot of people don’t realize that the Archives holds many Oscar-winning
and nominated titles. “The True Glory” won the Academy Award for best documentary feature in 1945 and was a joint production done between Britain and the U.S. to capture the war effort from an
international perspective of troops on the ground and those at the homefront.
In 2014 we completed a full digital restoration for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The full
restoration took 240 hours to complete and is now our fourth most watched video on National
Archives’ YouTube Channel. I will apologize for the choppiness of the
clip. The entire film is 80 minutes long. To condense it into a few minutes was a challenge.>>Now our people bent for the construction
of a steel array and took the builder’s hammer in their hand. It seemed almost as though
it was still, people full of rage and power, heaved through the air the thunderous sphere
of war. This is our people’s story, in their words.
>>I remember coming over. The worst thing about the trip was you didn’t know where you
were going. Wherever it was, you’d be a stranger and nobody likes that.
>>That ship was loaded from stem to stern with sad sacks. Around the third day out things
got pallie. Like the fellow said, “We’re all in the same boat.” A comic.
>>I was a pre-med student at Johns Hopkins in civilian life. Now, I do know a little
something about anatomy, and I say it is scientifically impossible for the human body to stand up
to the training we received. [Gunshots]
>>Listen to this. To a young man, soldier in the Army of today, offered exceptional
advantages and opportunities such as physical training, foreign travel, sport, and many
other facilities which are normally denied to those engaged in the majority of civilian
occupations. The majority of occupations in civil life become [Indiscernible] to say the
least. But in the Army, life is so varied that there is little or no prospect of a monotonous
time.>>More ground defenses, night fighters, crews
not coming back.>>It was a funny sort of feeling, marching
down to the ships. We had done it plenty of times before, of course. They didn’t tell
us this was the big show. Might have been just another exercise. Some of the chaps [Indiscernible].
It wasn’t comic but we laughed. I think we all guessed. The general feeling was if this
is it, let’s get it over with. Waiting got on my nerves, even waiting for a bus. Well,
our ship found its place in the middle of the rest of the stuff and there we stayed
for days.>>A little battle when the war’s nearly over.>>I spent four years in the infantry and
I saw my share. And during that time I only met three men that liked to fight, and they
were a little cracked. But it had to be done. And now that’s over, I feel good, except for
one thing. All of this talk about World War III. These big pessimists that talk so easy
about another war just didn’t see this one or enough of it.
>>So now we’re going to move on to a different kind of military film. This is a series of
three films called “Military Etiquette and Grooming” produced in 1970 and 1971 for the
Women’s Army Corps. The films in this series are titled “The Pleasure
of Your Company,” “Look Like a Winner,” and “Minding Your Military Manners.” The films
are intended to teach grooming, grace, manners, and social behavior to the women who were
a part of the military. The film treatment, which we have in the production
file, states that one principled point of emphasis which will be made in all the films
will be the repeated insistence on femininity both in appearance and manner. The point will
be made that there is no conflict between functioning efficiently as a military service
woman and in maintaining one’s feminine identity at all times. In fact, “Minding Your Military
Manners” argues that femininity is even more important than competence. So no matter how
efficient and knowledgeable Carol is, she won’t get that promotion because she walks
like a man. I’m going to be showing some clips from “Look
Like a Winner” and “Pleasure of Your Company.” So it’s about good grooming and then also
dating etiquette.>>Well, ladies, you’ve come a long way. No
question about it. You have more to say these days about your education, your appearance,
your occupation, and your role in life. Yes, you have a voice in your own destiny. You
have it in civilian life as well as in the military.
>>This blind date.>>That’s right. There’s a lot that you can
say and do about who you are, where you’re going and how you look, especially in the
military. With all the demands a girl has on her time, it’s pretty hard.
>>I know it’s important but when am I supposed to do all of those things? So what I have
to do now, sometimes I don’t even have time to breathe.
>>Nobody has to convince me. I’m just as interested in good grooming as anybody else,
but what am I going to do with this hair?>>That’s right. This is really driving me
crazy. I mean, can I help it if [Inaudible].>>Hi there.
>>Some of this is true and some is pure nonsense. Luck doesn’t have much to do with it at all.
Sure, Susan may feel looks good but never won any beautiful baby contests. She had to
work for it. It takes more than luck to appear bright, well-groomed and smart looking.
Good grooming and grace in uniform covers a lot of territory, cleanliness, femininity,
makeup, good health habits, and the proper fit and care of your uniform. A lot to remember
and a fair amount to do but they pay off in a number of important ways. They pay off in
social acceptance, career advancement, and in personal popularity.
>>Got so mixed up. It was just terrible>>That shouldn’t give you any trouble, Sandy.
That’s really no problem at all. You can find out all about that kind of stuff in any book
of etiquette.>>I can?
>>Sure. Here. I’ll explain to you how it works.
>>Ok>>All you have to remember is to tell your
escort what would like to have and then let him place the order for you.
That’s right, Sandy, just tell Frank.>>I would like the shrimp cocktail, please,
roast beef with a baked potato and a tossed salad.
>>Good evening, sir, madam. Would you care to order now?
>>Yes. The lady would like the shrimp cocktail, roast beef — medium rare? Medium rare, baked
potato and a tossed salad.>>What sort of dressing would you like on
that?>>Oh, Russian, please.
>>Russian dressing. Thank you.>>My mother graduated from high school in
1970, so this really is just from a single generation ago.
So a number of the films that I’ve picked to show are from the `70s. I guess that might
be my favorite decade for government films. We have a lot of NASA films at the National
Archives. And they are often fascinating to work on. And because it’s NASA, the films
sometimes have famous narrators like even Ricardo Montalban. And working on the films
from the `60s, I often find myself caught up in the excitement of space race. So “Moonwalk
1” was a film for NASA, released in 1970. And unlike most government films it played
in commercial theaters. And in this clip you’re going to see Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s
broadcast from the surface of the moon and a bit of the context in which the Apollo 11
mission occurred.>>Beautiful, just beautiful. How is the quality
of the TV?>>It’s beautiful, Mike. Really is.
[Beep]>>I’d like to evaluate the various places
that a person traveling on the moon’s surface.>>[Inaudible]
>>You do have to be rather careful. Sometimes it takes about two or three spaces to make
sure that you’ve got your feet underneath you. And two, three, four easy paces can bring
you to a fairly smooth stop. Like a football player, you just have to put out to the side
and cut a little bit. So-called kangaroo hop. Forward mobility is not quite as good. It
would get rather tiring after several hundred [Inaudible]. But this may be a function of
this boot as well as lack of gravity.>>This has to be the proudest day of our
lives. And for people all over the world>>I think it’s great. Really great for the
whole world>>This means a lot to all the country.
>>Being out of it and closest to the moon makes us realize we’re all human beings together
>>I hope this brings unity.>>I hope it will help you from solving internal
problems you have.>>Well, I think it’s a waste of a lot of
money that could be used for something else. They holler about people being on starvation.
>>This huge amount of money Americans spend to see the moon [Inaudible].
>>It’s disgusting. It’s a pity they haven’t got something else to do. It would be better
if they had done something for the eldens.>>What if Columbus decided he just couldn’t
get the money from Isabella? Where would we be?
>>That’s one of God’s planets. He put it in the sky for a purpose. He didn’t put it
there for people to clutter up like they have the earth.
>>Myself, I’m interested to see what’s up there.
>>We must open all secrets that are opening to us throughout the ages.
>>I think the dream of the man from the beginning of the human race is coming now.
>>Alone, 45 miles above the moon’s surface, Michael Collins completed in orbit every two
hours. Listened to the progress of the moonwalk and awaited the moment when his companions
on the surface would lift off to rendezvous with him. 30 times he saw the earth rise over
the horizon of the moon. 12,000 miles of twilight, a line that divides night from day for three
billion people on spaceship earth.>>As much as Heidi might find herself drawn
to the films of the `70s, I find myself drawn to the civil rights events of the `60s. And
the march is by far and away my favorite film at the National Archives. I could probably
do an entire presentation on this film alone. The production, distribution, copyright status,
history of the director, and story of the preservation of the film are intricate and
complex in their own rights. In 2013, we completed a full restoration of
the film for the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington. And while the film is best
known for the footage of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, what I wanted to
show you today are my favorite scenes surrounding the speech that capture the effort and the
joy, the fear, jubilation, suspense, and relief surrounding that entire day. It gives me goose
bumps and makes me tear up nearly every time I watch it.
>>On August 28, 1963, 200,000 Americans came to Washington to demand complete freedom for
everyone. This is the story of that day.>>” your eyes on the prize
Oh Lord “>>They came from Los Angeles and San Francisco
or about the distance of Moscow to Bombay, from Cleveland to Chicago or about the distance
from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro. They came from Jackson, Mississippi, Birmingham
Alabama, or about the distance from Johannesburg to Salaam.
By the end of August 1963 in some places in the United States a negro could not go to
school where he chose, eat where he wished, build his home where it pleased him, or find
jobs for which he was qualified. He had been insulted, beaten, jailed, drenched with water,
chased by dogs, but he was coming to Washington, he said, to swallow up hatred and love, overcome
violence by peaceful protests. In New York, volunteers worked for two days
and two nights to make lunches for the march. They made 80,000 cheese sandwiches. [Train hissing]>>Do you have any questions? Or anything bothering you? Be sure you contact your captain
for anything and they will take it from there. Do not try to do anything on your own because
the minute you do, you will be upsetting the purpose of this march. The whole thing is
orderly conducted march. [Applause] ” it’s a long, long way
I won’t come back I’m on my way
Because I’m on my way
I’m on my way And I won’t come back
And I’m on my way I’m on my way
And I won’t come back I can’t come back
I’m on my way I’m on my way
And I won’t come back Oh, I won’t turn back
I’m on my way Oh, yeah
I’m on my way ” [Cheers and Applause]
>>There were many who praised this day and said that there will been a new awakening
in the conscience of the nation. Others called it a national disgrace.
In the wake of this day more violence was to come, more hatred. But in the long history
of man’s cruelty to man, this was a day of hope.>>At the National Archives we also hold a lot of public service announcements or PSAs,
either commercials produced by the government to promote the public good. You may be familiar
with Smoky Bear, a frequent star of PSAs on fire prevention. But I’ve seen PSAs on traffic
safety, energy conservation, even on how to adopt a wild horse. But my favorite PSA stars
the Caped Crusader. In this PSA, Batman, played by Adam West, encourages school children to
buy war bonds to support the Vietnam War.>>Batman: Hello, boys and girls. I have a
special message for you from the President of the United States. Let me read it to you.
“I salute the boys and girls who are buying United States savings stamps and bonds through
the Treasury School Savings program. They are learning the lessons of practical citizenship
and of wise money management and they are giving important support to the cause of freedom
and the men who fight for us in Vietnam.” That message is on this wallet-sized U.S.
savings bond pledge card which you will get in school as soon as you begin to buy U.S.
savings stamps. Let’s get started today. What do you say?>>If I was a small child seeing that, I would be disappointed I was getting a card with
Lyndon Johnson instead of Batman. As amazing as that PSA is, even better is
the next one starring Batgirl in support of the Federal Equal Pay law.>>A ticking bomb means trouble for Batman and Robin.>>Robin: Holy break and entering. It’s Batgirl.>>Batman: Quick, untie us before it’s too
late.>>Batgirl: It’s already too late. I’ve worked
for you a long time and I’m paid less than Robin. Same job, same employer means equal
pay for men and women>>Batman: No time for jokes, Batgirl.
>>Batgirl: It’s no joke. It’s the Federal Equal Pay law.
>>Robin: Holy act of Congress.>>If you’re not getting equal pay, contact
the Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor.>>[Applause]>>So we’re stepping back again to World War
II. This is an example of a film not created by or collected by a federal agency. It was
donated because of the historic nature of the footage in here. This was shot by a newsreel
cameraman, Jack Leeds. He worked for Hearst — News of the Day News Reels. He was sent
to Europe in 1944 so that he could record the event of the Normandy invasion. He landed
Utah Beach on D-Day plus one. He had not only his camera to shoot black and white footage
to be included in the newsreel, he also brought a 16-millimeter camera and Kodachrome film.
So he was shooting color home movie footage the entire time he was also recording things
for public distribution. And he did that because he wanted to be able to show his friends and
family what was happening to him over there. I will also say that because this is a professional
cameraman, these are probably the best-shot home movies that we hold at the National Archives.
They are very well shot. Later on, after he returned, he did edit the
silent footage and used it for lectures that he gave to groups in Washington, D.C., to
his daughter’s fourth grade class. In 1976, a sound recording was made of him presenting
the lecture. We received both the edited footage and the sound recording that was a donation
to the Archives in 1984. Because of this, it’s a unique sort of record
because we have the original footage that edited at the time, you know, in the mid-40s.
So that recorded what he experienced at the time. But then we have him talking about it
later. So the record becomes a mishmash of him recalling things from 20 years later and
what he actually saw. It’s a really unique record, especially since he was a non-combat
— he was in a non-combat role. Most of what we have, of course, was filmed by military
men working as cameramen. So we will begin and you’ll hear him speaking.
This is just a few clips. The film is 60 minutes long. You can find the entire thing on our
YouTube Channel.>>Here is Pete Carroll and Wes Hanes carrying
our own equipment. The ship is grounded on the beach. The section of the beach we were
on was being attacked by enemy fire. In the previous shot you could see a bomb actually
land not too far from where we were. There it is again. The bulldozers were trying to
clear roads to let our jeeps and tanks move forward. And even though it was June, the
area was quite cold, as it usually is in that part of Normandy.
Of course, the men dug their foxholes a little deeper. We had the good fortune of finding
a concrete wall which helped serve as protection. But even now we’re taking some of our wounded
back to the beach so they can be transferred back to England. But when the tide went out,
the ships could not come in close or those that went aground had to wait to be refloated
if they weren’t hit. We stayed on the beach the first night and
lived in a foxhole. And soon we showed some of the first prisoners taken in the area,
late the first day, who were captured close to the beach and were sent back to England
because there was no room to keep them there. And soon we found the prisoners. I think they
took something like 16- or 18,000 men out of the area. They are still holding their
personal belongings, marching toward the beaches, because they had to be transported to England
and some eventually to the states to be held in prisoner of war camps. And even at this
time those that could talk to us or would talk to us said we would be pushed back into
the channel in less than a week. Of course, every year, headquarters area,
we found the Germans had a picture of Hitler. Now boys are using it as a pin board.
Soon we found ourselves in Remoulins, 52 kilometers from Paris, the headquarters for all the correspondents
that came there. And George Stevens, a Hollywood director, myself and, of course, Pete Carroll.
It was shortly after these pictures were taken that Ernie Pile decided to return back to
the states and then went to the Pacific where he was killed.
Soon the people of Paris were out parading again with their new-found liberty. We discovered
that the Eiffel Tower, which was reported destroyed and used for arms, was still intact.
And soon I managed to get permission to go up into the Eiffel Tower and see what it looked
like from up above. There was much to be done. And even though Paris looked beautiful, conditions were very poor.>>We’re closing out today with what probably is the prototypical favorite film of our labs.
It’s the one when people see it, they either end up with a smile on their face or a look
of confusion. It’s “Curious Alice” which as you might have guessed is a take on “Alice
in Wonderland.” It was made by the National Institute for Mental Health in 1971 at the
front end of a new campaign to promote drug abuse awareness. This was — at the time we
might be used to that, that there is drug abuse awareness education, but it was a fairly
new government effort that they wanted to produce a lot of material that could be distributed
to schools. “Curious Alice” was part of an educational
package put together for elementary school kids. It came — you could also acquire an
activity book where children could color pictures of drug paraphernalia like marijuana leaves,
smoking materials. And they also had a fill-in-the-blank activity to identify what the drugs were.
So there would be a hypodermic needle. I guess they were supposed to write heroin and some
pills and know that those were barbiturates. These are things that in general we wouldn’t
find appropriate for elementary school children today.
You’ll see that the animation is beautiful. We like it. But the educational value and
appropriateness for the audience is questionable. First-time viewers are frequently struck by
the fact that the psychedelic style kind of makes the drugs look like they could be fun.
So here we go. This is just a little bit of the opening sequence and some of the end.
The full film is [Inaudible].>>I’m late! I’m late! I’m so late!
>>Hi. You must be [Indiscernible]>>Yeah. My friend, the door mouse he’s sleeping,
and the hatter, he’s traveling.>>You can just sit here a minute? I just
— I’m just a little tired.>>You ought to have some pep pills, uppers,
amphetamines, speed, make you feel super good. [Laughter] Super good.
>>Do you feel ok now?>>Oh, well, nah. Sometimes you crash. You
get kind of sick. And that’s scary. You just kind of come all apart inside.
>>Well, it’s very nice of you to offer them to me but —
>>Offer them? Who offered them? These are mine!
>>[Yawning]>>Oh, I’m glad you’re waking up.
>>I’m not. A new face. Do you use barbiturates, sleeping pills?
>>No. Should I?>>No. Why in the world would you want to
wind up woozy?>>Why is a blue bird like a bottle cap?
>>You shouldn’t waste time with riddles that haven’t got any answers.
>>Listen, I can tell you more about time in seconds than you can hear in years. But
time –>>Time? What time is it?
>>How should I know?>>Time? Time? It’s 6:00. Tea time. Time to
take a pill!>>Dynamite. Dynamite.
>>Oh, yes.>>Keep this under your hat, friend. What
she doesn’t know what we’re doing.>>Yes, I do! It’s a beautiful place, it could
be wonderland, and all you do is take those —
>>Pep pills!>>Sleeping pills.
>>Heroin.>>Stop it! Do you know what you’re doing?
>>What are we doing?>>What time is it?
>>It’s 6:00. Tea time. Time to take a pill.>>No! Why?
>>Just take a few amphetamines and you can be like me.
>>Or break apart the tender brain by taking LSD.
>>Sleeping pills are beautiful.>>Heroin is king.
>>Everything is clearer now. Just let me do my thing.
>>You may blow your mind completely, but won’t you take the chance?
>>Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?
>>Now, do you know where you are? Go home. It’s too late.
>>It’s too late!>>No! It’s not too late.
>>Go home.>>Go home.
>>Go home.>>Ok, well, it’s not quite time to go home
yet. Thanks again for joining us today to view
a very tiny sliver of what the film collection at National Archives has to offer. If you
are interested in discovering some of your own favorites, you can visit the Motion Picture
Research Room at our facility in College Park, Maryland.
For those of you that can’t make it out there to visit us in person, you can see a wide
selection of films on our YouTube Channel, including the full-length versions of everything
we’ve shown you here today or you can explore the on-line catalog.
With that, I’m going to open the session for questions.
>>I’d like to start, please. First of all, thank you. You’re getting compliments from
our online audience and I’d like to add my own voice. This has been a fascinating way
of looking at history. What a great job. At the bottom of each film clip you had the
local identifier number. Is that a good way to find the video on YouTube, we just plug
in the number?>>Yes. You can search for the item number
in the search field and they should pop up. And also for the ones that have actual titles,
you can search that way as well.>>Fantastic. I do have some more questions
from our online audience. I see we have somebody here who would like to ask a question.
For any of you here on site, feel free to ask questions. We do ask you to use the microphone.
>>Thank you for the presentation and the time spent to find some of the history and
background on these films that are your favorites that you shared with us.
Most of the time you probably don’t have time to research the films you’re looking at and
you’re trying to correct them for the quality of the film as well as the audio, I assume,
as well. You didn’t mention anything about that. But is there another part of archive
that is doing that to say what is this we’re looking at? Other than on the canister a date
or name of the film, any other information?>>That’s primarily the job of the Archivists.
We in the lab are doing the hands-on technical work. And then the Archivists are identifying
and describing the films. We end up doing the research — we have a
blog, if you want to visit, the Unwritten Record. You can search for that. The next
one? Yeah. Unwritten Record. So we usually try to highlight films there that we come
across. We’ll do a little research and write that up. That’s how we end up doing that.
>>While we’re waiting for other audience members, if you are on site, we have a question.
I’m going to work backwards. How much of the collection is donated?
>>That’s a very good question. Percentagewise it wouldn’t be a significant percentage. We
have so many military films and so many NASA films but we do have some really big collections
that were donated in the 1960s. And that includes the Universal news reels Heidi mentioned.
Also, a lot of people don’t know that Ford Motor Company was actually a big film producer
in the teens through the mid-20s because Henry Ford believed in the educational power of
films. He had a newsreel series. They also had short educational films like travel logs.
And all of that material was donated to the National Archives in the `60s as well.
Are there other significant –>>[Inaudible]
>>Oh, the Harmon Foundation. They were an organization that worked to highlight and
promote African-American art. They had a lot of films that we have. But compared to the
bulk of it, which is made by the federal government, acquired by the federal government, that would
be small. But it’s still a lot because we’re a big institution.
>>Thank you. Appreciate that. And finding out about some more collections.
Again, as I said, I’m going to work backwards. If you go back to when you were showing the
space films, it really captured one person’s imagination. She’s a historian. She says she’s
a little biased. She’d like to see more of them and maybe even ones organized thematically
or chronologically. So if someone entrusted in space films, is there a way do that?
>>Well, they are organized under the NASA Record Group which is 255. And then within
that, they are organized by series. So “Moonwalk 1” is out of the headquarter series which
is chronological from the beginning of the space race. So each film is another stepping
stone toward going to the moon. These are all — well, not all of them but
a large number of them are accessible in our catalog. So if you look for Record Group 255,
that would give you everything on NASA. And in the lab, whenever I come across a NASA
film, most of them are very interesting so I am trying to get them up on our YouTube
Channel and get them out there. I really enjoy watching them. We get a sense that the public
enjoys them as well.>>What we could do to make it easier for
people in terms of organizing them thematically is have a playlist made on the YouTube Channel.
So maybe we’ll do that with the ones transferred more recently, uploaded to the YouTube Channel.
There’s no way to do that with a catalog that requires the user to search. But we can create
a playlist. We’ll work on doing that.>>Thank you. That’s wonderful.
Going back when you first showed I think rumor, the animated film, the question came in:
Speaking of Army/Navy film magazines in the 1970s, the Archives showed a series of them.
One of them had cows with animated mouths singing “Don’t Fence Me In.” Is that segment
available? [Laughter]>>That sounds like something we need to look
for. The problem there is “Don’t Fence Me In” would be a copyrighted song. So we try
to avoid — we don’t want to get in trouble with copyright. So we avoid things that have
an obvious copyright issue. Obviously there’s sometimes things we don’t notice but that
one would probably not pass the it’s got obvious copyright.
>>It would be available for viewing in the Research Room in College Park.
>>Ok. Thank you. Do we have any more questions? Looks like
one here in the audience.>>Hi. Thank you so much. The clips were great.
It’s really enticed me to look further. I live in a neighborhood that was significantly
burned out in the riots in 1968. I’ve been looking for footage of that era and have been
to various places around town but I have yet to look at your film archives. How would you
suggest that I search, first of all, online and, second of all, at the Archives?
>>If you want to come to the Research Room in College Park, we have really, really great
reference help there. But we did recently upload two military films that is the aftermath
of the Washington riots. You can find those — if you go to our YouTube Channel and look
for Washington riots, you’ll find those. Those are brand new transfers. Like I said, the
aftermath and the military, Army trucks. Another one is the film called “The People
and the Police.” It was from 1970, I think. DC tried to start a pilot project where they
were trying to improve community-police relations. It’s really nicely shot. The damage was still
there so you could see the results of what happened in the city in that film. It’s a
really interesting film. It doesn’t have the best results. The program didn’t work. Nobody
got along better. It didn’t work. But you can see it documents an entire year of them
trying to establish this program. The film was intended to be a prototype so
that –it was the Office of Economic Opportunity that made it. They wanted to roll the program
out to other cities but it didn’t work. So they didn’t end up rolling it out. They pretty
much immediately gave the film to the National Archives. Normally we don’t get things for
20, 30 years and they wanted that gone immediately. But those are two things that you could look
at right now on our YouTube Channel. Yeah, I think they’re all in the catalog, too. But
you can easily find them on our YouTube Channel. So Washington riots, search that within our
YouTube Channel. There are two reels. And then “People and the Police.”
>>Thank you.>>You’re welcome.
>>If you have a question and don’t feel comfortable crawling over the seats, feel free to ask
and I’ll ask the presenters to repeat your question.
Are there any additional questions from our onsite audience?
>>Yes. You need to get a researcher card. It’s a pretty quick process when you come
into the location. I think it’s about 15 minutes to a half-hour. You fill out — you do a little
bit of training by computer and fill out some forms. Then they can present you with the
card that day.>>Do we have — I’ll ask for the whole audience.
Do we have time for one more film clip? Yes?>>Ok. So the last thing we’re going to show
you is material from a special project that we’re working on to digitize World War I and
World War II films. This is what we call our sizzle reel. So it’s highlighting many of
the films that we have transferred over the past couple of years. As part of this project,
our goal is to digitize our entire World War I collection for the 100th anniversary of
American involvement coming up next April.>>I have learned a secret. It’s a honey.
It’s a pip. But the enemy is listening. So I’ll never let it slip.>>Planes line up to take part in the greatest
air invasion in history by the airborne Army. [Airplane] [Gunfire]
[Crash]>>Full of rage and power, heaved through
the air, the thunderous sphere of war.>>We are at our rest camp in northern Australia.
The officers are playing the enlisted men.>>You’ve got jubilee!>>” life full of consequence
Who is scared of consequence Let’s sip the honey
While it’s sweet “>>
[Bell]>>We interrupt this program for a special
news bulletin.>>[ Opera music]>>From time to time all over New England
we gather at our Town Hall to hammer out the public opinion in meetings like this.>>Your war and Navy departments present December
7.>>” my country tis of the
Sweet land of liberty. Of the I sing “>>So that’s it. And all of the films that you saw in that reel are up in their full-length
versions on YouTube. We’ve got a World War I and World War II playlist. I believe there’s
something like, I don’t know, hours and hours and hours of footage as we’ve been digitizing
these. And we add to them, add to the playlist, monthly.
Thank you again for coming.>>[Applause]
>>Andrea Bassing Matney: Well done. I think we should give credit to — who was your co-worker
who did that montage at the end with the films? That was beautifully done.
>>Yes. For the project we brought on a gentleman, Harry Snodgrass, an Emmy Award-winning sound
engineer. He sadly was only with us for about a year before he went back to Hollywood to
continue to make amazing films.>>Andrea Bassing Matney: And thank you to
our captioner, Christine Slezosky, who has been captioning live while we talk.
Thank you, everyone, for attending today’s presentation. Please know that the presentation
video is available on YouTube. And the slides will remain available. The handouts are also
there. You can download them to your delight. On behalf of the National Archives and our
presenters, thank you for coming today.>>[Applause]