Wednesday, July 19, 2017

HOPALONG CASSIDY is Disintegrating

Leonard Maltin, respected film historian, wrote a piece on his blog that warrants everyone's attention. The potential decay of 66 Hopalong Cassidy archival negatives and photos of decomposing nitrates of Hopalong Cassidy film footage never seen before. My two favorite cowboys are The Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy, which is why this strikes a personal chord with me. 

Decomposing nitrate stock footage of unseen Hopalong Cassidy films.

I would like to add, before you read this piece, that film preservation for many movie franchises faces the same problem. Even though all Hopalong Cassidy 66 motion-pictures are available commercially on DVD, the print transfers were never spectacular. Today many film studios continue to transfer film stock to digital and while many are quick to use the words "remastered," many times the studio did no such thing. Today's technology and equipment is advanced compared to equipment 30 years ago, giving fans the appearance that the new transfer was cleaned up or restored. As a result, a new print transfer today with the best equipment money could buy would ensure better quality for a future DVD release.

More importantly, most of the films were shot on location at Lone Pine, under the production of Harry Sherman. Unlike most B-Westerns of the time, the Hopalong Cassidy pictures were above average both in story and cinematography. They looked like A-class productions. Russell Harlan, who won six nominations for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, including two in 1962 for Hatari! and To Kill a Mockingbird, was responsible for the beautiful scenery in most of the Hopalong Cassidy movies. 

Are there other cowboy western series that need restorations from original film elements? Sure there are. But the cinematography alone warrants new print transfers for Hopalong Cassidy. After reading Leonard Maltin's recent piece, I suggested in the comments section that they start a GoFundMe account. Thinking outside of the box succeeded for many projects like these. And if they do start a fund raiser, I will be a major advocate at film festivals to encourage people to donate to this cause.

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