Although One Way Street has been on an extended hiatus because of my on-going Michael Curtiz biography and a medley of other unapproved excuses, I have returned – a cyber-Lazarus – to proselytize for the cause of film preservation, specifically film noir preservation.

It’s been almost a decade since the Film Noir Foundation was formulated around Eddie Muller’s kitchen table. The Foundation came into existence partly due to the collective frustration of not being able to locate desired films to screen at the annual film noir festival in Los Angeles and the recently constituted Noir City fest in San Francisco.

The deeper motivation was the fear that these wonderful, darkly etched movies might simply disappear. Forever. 35mm movies are potential kin to the dinosaurs. Bluntly put, there is no universal system or program towards preserving our cinematic heritage. When a film is “lost” or beyond technical redemption; a portion of our collective culture leaves us all.  A society that loses its history will inevitably lose itself.

The Film Noir Foundation has established a strong partnership with the UCLA Film and Television Archive to fund the restoration of a pair of important movies, The Prowler and Cry Danger. We have also developed working relationships with various studios and rights holders to both encourage and fund the striking of numerous new prints of films noir that had slipped between the cracks and hadn’t been viewed in the intended environment of a darkened theatre for years.

The results of our work are annually on display at our Noir City film festivals in San Francisco, Hollywood, Seattle, Chicago and Washington D. C.  More recently, we partnered with VCI and UCLA to make The Prowler available on DVD.

However satisfying these accomplishments may be, there is much more that needs to be done.  We’ve never lost sight of the fact that the Film Noir Foundation remains a grass-roots organization and the impetus for our mission to restore America’s noir heritage comes from you.

While I am neither disparaging nor discouraging any deep-pocketed sponsors or organizations, the authentic film preservationists are those who simply dig the groove obtained from watching film noir.  These are the same people who buy the tickets to the Noir City festivals, snap up the latest vintage film noir DVDs whenever they come out and generously send us on-line donations via our Paypal account.

In short, you are the authentic film preservationists.  We need your help and we need more of you to join us in supporting a particularly important restoration project.

The talented and dynamic duo of Farran Smith Nehme and Marilyn Ferdinand i.e. Ferdy on Films brought their considerable talents to the fore by scheduling a blogathon – For Love of Film Noir – to support the Film Noir Foundation’s latest endeavor, a joint restoration with Paramount of the classic Try and Get Me aka The Sound of Fury (1950).  A disturbing, brilliant movie helmed by the great Cy Enfield, the selection of this film as our first major restoration project in 2011 was a no-brainer.

movie still from Sound of Fury

The rub is that restoring any film is a complex and expensive process. As Sydney Greenstreet would put it, film restoration costs  “a lot of dough…” particularly in this instance.

Here is a link where you can donate specifically to support the restoration of Try and Get Me.

With the continuing evolution of the digital revolution, there is a genuine sense that 35mm films will soon become an anachronism.

While there is no doubt that the processes on how movies are displayed and stored are rapidly evolving, I would note that digital sourcing does not last forever and there were no movies made during the classic noir era of 1941-60 that went direct to DVD.

Film still matters and so does your support of the Film Noir Foundation.

Thanks, Alan