Watch with us Monday, May 4: Cupid in Quarantine & other treasures from the NFPF
Since most of the world has been stuck at home, cinephiles across the internet have been scouring the major streaming platforms and offering recommendations for what to watch while we work to flatten the curve. Here on Movie Mondays: Safer at Home Edition, we’re aiming not just to suggest great titles, but just as importantly, to highlight some lesser-known streaming destinations that offer their content for free (or free to SFTV students). This week’s hidden gem of the streaming video landscape is the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) Screening Room.
The Screening Room features a curated sample of the nearly 2,500 films that the NFPF has helped to preserve in collaboration with archives and cultural heritage institutions throughout the US over the past 24 years. There are all sorts of films, including sponsored films (non-theatrical work made by corporations, schools, medical organizations, political entities, religious organizations, and others), a wide variety of American silent-era shorts (including many that were thought lost and rediscovered in archives around the world), and even the complete program from the first Treasures from American Film Archives DVD box set, which has long been out of print.
Here are a few surprisingly timely highlights from the collection, recommended for your viewing pleasure:
Cupid in Quarantine (Scott Sidney, 1918)
Don’t worry, the quarantine described in the title of this short silent comedy doesn’t last for months on end. In fact, the young couple on which the story centers actually tries to get quarantined for smallpox by painting dots on their faces so they can spend time together against the wishes of our heroine’s father. When dad discovers the ploy, he pranks the young lovers right back. Supervised by one of the biggest comedy producers of the silent era, Al Christie, this delightful romp might help you think about social isolation in a new light.
Preserved by Colorlab using a 35mm nitrate print discovered at the EYE Filmmuseum, with supervision by the Library of Congress using funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation.
Mrs. Mortimer Jones Prepares Dinner for Eight (Rodney Gilliam, 1934)
If quarantine has you nostalgic for dinner parties, escape to a time when small gatherings were allowed with Mrs. Mortimer Jones and her all-electric kitchen! Commissioned by Southern California Edison to promote domestic electric appliances in glorious early Technicolor, this quirky little short oozes with camp value for contemporary viewers. But, seen at a time when we’ve all had to update our home cooking practices, it’s also an earnest reminder to not take modern domestic comforts for granted.
Preserved by FIlm Technology Inc. and the Huntington Library with funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation.
To the Fair! (Alexander Hammid and Wheaton Galentine, 1964)
Speaking of being closer than 6 feet to other human beings, the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City was a public gathering on a massive scale. This promotional film was made to boost attendance when opening numbers weren’t as high as expected, but its artistry transcends its purpose. Co-directed by Alexander Hammid, who is perhaps best known for co-directing Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) with his then-wife Maya Deren, the film’s vibrant Technicolor palette and dynamic cinematography will make you feel like you’re right in the middle of crowd…in a good way.
Preserved by the New York Public Library with funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation.
More details on these films and their preservations are available in the Screening Room.
The NFPF is one of many film preservation organizations offering streaming content online for free. The International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), which brings together the world’s leading institutions dedicated to protecting our motion picture heritage, has compiled a list of their affiliates offering free access to materials from their collections. Check it out and happy streaming!
With regular SFTV programs and events suspended through the end of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Movie Mondays program is moving from the Mayer Theater to the world wide web. Mondays from now through the end of the school year, SFTV’s Manager of Programs and Special Events Alice Royer will provide a film recommendation that you can stream at home, and highlight resources and platforms where you can find some of the best cinema the internet has to offer.