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Archive for 'Rare Videos'

National Archives specialists brings movies “Out of the Dark”

With a little archival magic, NARA staff bring historic films “out of the dark” and back into the public eye. This post is from Archives Specialist Marcia Kolko from the Motion Picture Sound and Audio office.

Now on a small screen near you: A movie about…movies!

NARA’s own Motion Picture, Sound and Video office and Preservation Lab recently produced “Out of the Dark: Bringing Films to Light at the National Archives.” They used Frank Capra’s classic 1944 documentary “The Negro Soldier” to present a behind-the-scenes look at the accessioning, processing, and preservation workflow for motion pictures. Follow “The Negro Soldier” from the time of its arrival at the Archives to its place on the shelf of the Research Room where it will be available to researchers both in the United States and, due to the international reach of ARC, around the globe.

To see how the Motion Picture Office and Preservation Lab preserves and protects America’s historic motion picture collection, tune in to the latest entry on NARA’s Inside the Vaults channel!

[ Read all ]

NARA debuts “The Sailor and the Seagull” at Beijing film festival

This week, NARA will be premiering a film halfway across the globe in Beijing, China, for the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF). Our film preservation lab will be represented by Supervisory Motion Picture Preservation Specialist Criss Kovac.

The National Archives will be represented this year at the International Federation of Film Archives conference in Beijing. We will be showing a 1949 film called The Sailor and the Seagull. This is the first time NARA has contributed a film to the conference.

“We rejoined FIAF last spring, and it’s required for us to send a member to the conference each spring,” Kovac said. NARA and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) are the only American members in the approximately 200-delegate conference. NARA and UCLA are tied for the largest film archives.

For the first time, NARA will be contributing a film for screening at the week-long conference. The theme this year is animation.

“We’ve digitally restored a title called The Sailor and the Seagull, a Navy recruitment film from 1949,” Kovac said. “We chose the film because it was done, at the time, by an emerging film studio called the United Productions of America.” The United Productions of America (UPA) was an animation studio that produced industrial films, World War II training films, and theatrical shorts for Columbia Pictures, including the Mr. Magoo series.

The film preservation team began digitizing … [ Read all ]

From Our Film Archives: “The March”

Scenes like this one of food service workers preparing lunches for the March on Washington are featured in The March. (306-SSM-4C(22)10; ARC 541999)

This Sunday is the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. To commemorate the event, the National Archives is displaying a program from the march in the East Rotunda Gallery and screening The March on August 27 and 28.

But if you are not in Washington, DC, you can still watch the entire film on our YouTube channel.

The first reel of this documentary (embedded below) shows the lead-up to the march—from assembling thousand of picket signs to making 80,000 cheese sandwiches for bagged lunches to the long bus rides into the Washington, DC. The first 12 minutes gives a different view of the event from the usual clips of the March on Washington.

The film was directed by James Blue, who was later nominated for an Oscar in 1969 for another documentary, A Few Notes on Our Food Problem.

The March was made as part of a series of films created by the United States Information Agency (USIA), founded by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. These films were meant to promote American policies in foreign countries, without being overt propaganda. (You can read about the agency’s anticommunism message in this Text Message post about the race to the Moon.)

But these USIA films were rarely seen in America because … [ Read all ]

Roll out the red carpet at the National Archives!

Director John Ford on the set of his movie, December 7th (1942, RG 80.MN.2862)

Director John Ford on the set of his movie December 7th (1942, RG 80.MN.2862)

Today we have a special guest post from Tom Nastick, public programs producer at the National Archives.

This week, from February 23 to 27, we’ll be presenting the seventh annual free screenings of Oscar®-nominated documentaries and Short Subjects in the William G. McGowan Theater. Our friends at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will once again be sending us the very best Feature Documentaries and Documentary Short Subjects from the past year so that we can share them, for free, with our audience.

But you don’t have to wait until this annual event to see Oscar-nominated docs at the National Archives. Within our vast motion picture holdings are several documentaries that have been honored by the Academy.

During the Second World War, several films now in our holdings were presented the Oscar for best Documentary including Prelude to War (1942) and episode one of Frank Capra’s “Why We Fight” series of orientation films for service personnel.

We also have Oscar-winning coproductions The Fighting Lady (1944), a joint production of the U.S. Navy and 20th Century Fox about the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, and The True Glory (1945), a sweeping documentary on the Allied invasion of Europe co-produced by the U.S. Office of War Information and the British Ministry of Information.

The Documentary … [ Read all ]

The OSS and the Dalai Lama

OSS spies Brooke Dolan and Ilia Tolstoy traveling to Lhasa (still from "Inside Tibet", Records of the Office of Strategic Services)

OSS spies Brooke Dolan and Ilia Tolstoy traveling to Lhasa (still from "Inside Tibet," Records of the Office of Strategic Services)

In the summer of 1942, the Allies’ war against Japan was in dire straits. China was constantly battling the occupying Japanese forces in its homeland, supplied by India via the Burma Road. Then Japan severed that supply artery. Planes were flown over the Himalayan mountains, but their payloads were too little, and too many pilots crashed in the desolate landscape to continue the flights.

The Allies were desperate to find a land route that would reconnect China and India. The task fell to two OSS men—Ilia Tolstoy, the grandson of Leo Tolstoy, and explorer Capt. Brooke Dolan. To complete the land route would require traversing Tibet, and to traverse the hidden country required the permission of a seven-year-old boy, the Dalai Lama.

When the two men arrived in Lhasa, the remote capital of Tibet, these spies were received as ambassadors. A military brass band played, and they were treated as guests of honor in a city that only a few decades earlier had forbidden Westerners to enter.

They came carrying a message from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. On December 20, at 9:20 in the morning, they were granted an audience with His Holiness. As a further sign of his respect for these two emissaries, the … [ Read all ]