WESTGATE GALLERY PRESENTS: THE DEVILS PLAYGROUND

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If you live in LA, or your going to be in LA tomorrow night, May 15, you got to come and check this out. The bottom line is that these guys over at Westgate Gallery love their cult, exploitation/sexploitation and vintage X rated posters. Christian and I have been friends for many years and he has been a huge supporter of the Distribpix Archive and the artwork of the films as well. From what I have seen so far online, I am so excited for this event. I am flying all the way across the country, so I can be there and be surrounded by amazing art. One thing I love most about the organizers of Westgate is their passion and commitment!! That is what makes this so exciting. Lots of guests and events surrounding this. Tons of original posters and artwork.

 

I hope to see all of you tomorrow night and congratulations to the team at Westgate Galleries, a job well done!

DETAILS:

What:   WESTGATE GALLERY PRESENTS:  THE DEVILS PLAYGROUND 

A  Classic Exploitation Movie Art show.

When:  FRIDAY MAY 15TH 8.00pm

Where: LETHAL AMOUNTS GALLERY, 1226 WEST 7TH STREET, DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES 90017

Who:    Mink Stole,  X-rated Royalty Serena, Jeanne Silver,and Annie Sprinkle; adult film historian/performer/screenwriter/agent Bill Margold, 2015 XRCO Hall of Fame actress Karen Summer, cult film favorites Holly Woodlawn and Kitten Natividad (all confirmed); erotic filmmakers/photographers Suze & Holly Randall and XXX superstar Kelly Nichols (schedules permitting)

 

Westgategallery.com  is an online original movie poster boutique specializing in rare & outrageous Classic, Cult, Exploitation, Giallo, Golden Age XXX & Horror, with one of the largest selections of painted/illustrated porno 1 sheets and Italian subway posters you’ll ever find.

This is a section of exclusive artwork, from Distribpix( not included in the show)

Here are some images to get you excited about seeing the art of cult films!!!

The Nesting, By A.W.

The Nesting, By A.W.

Original art for Joy.

Original art for Joy.

Scorpio 70.

Scorpio 70.

angel_buns every_inch_lady

deep_inside_annie_s inside_jen_welles

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Blue Sunshine- Original Negatives Found, 4k restoration in the works!!!

Original Camera Negative for Jeff Lieberman’s, 1978, Blue Sunshine, FOUND!!

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Anyway, for those of you who don’t have much time, I will first skip all the bullshit! I just wanted to confirm the rumors that have been circulating, although I have not been able to get on Facebook or the blog as much lately, I have gotten some email and a few calls regarding this. I think it is a rather awesome film discovery and worthy of some major press and fan satisfaction. Recently, I have discovered the original Picture Negative to Jeff Lieberman’s, 1978, Blue Sunshine. There has not been a physical transfer or scan, but based on the actual elements, they look absolutely great, which is a huge start. This is a famous and sought after film, and one that the horror community has embraced as sort of a cult classic. The bottom line is that film is set in LA, it has murderous maniacs, caused by some LSD they took, need I say more! Combine that with this brand new find and were talking a serious Blu Ray Release!!

So,”YES”!… The Original Camera Negative for Jeff Lieberman’s, 1978, Blue Sunshine, has been FOUND, alive and well and heading to the lab for a truly glorious restoration project. Details will follow when finalized, but the simple approach is a 4k scan, followed by Davinci timing, which it will need plenty of and then after we complete the timing, we can decide on what levels of digital restoration we need to perform, like scratch and dirt removal. It is something we need to think about before we even start the scan because today, many of the higher end scanners have a technology from Kodak called DICE, and this is a very expensive and even a complex addition to the scanners, and it basically enables the scanner to effectively remove dirt, scratches and other flaws during the actual scanning process(I think of it like a digital wet gate). You can search “film scanning DICE technology” and learn more about it. But essentially, when this option used, the scanner automatically slows down and adjusts the rate that the film goes across the gate. During this slower scan, much of the flaw that would take weeks to remove manually with digital software, can now be done with DICE. Of course, this can add anywhere from $10-20 dollars to each minute of scan time, so it is a very expensive option, so we have not yet decided if this negative will be scanned that way.

Blue Sunshine, 1978, Original Camera Negative.

Blue Sunshine, 1978, Original Camera Negative.

Well, “when it rains it pours”, is how the saying goes and for my small and rather intimate archival efforts, I can admit that this is true. These past 6 months have been amazing, from discovering a crisp 35mm print of an American literary and cinematic classic like Orson Welle’s, Falstaff(1965) to the negative of an American underground-cult classic like Jeff Lieberman’s, Blue Sunshine(1978), at Distribpix Inc we are certainly doing something right and that is literally unearthing some of cinema’s lost film treasures and elements.

Always traveling all over the place to retrieve film elements, look at new ones and archive collections takes a toll on the body and mind. It is like going on a scavenger hunt and if your successful , you need a 56 foot trailer truck, fork lift, 5 thousand dollars and a bottle of Advil, to simply ‘move it out’. Unlike many other worthy and valuable hobbies, like stamp collecting, where an entire collection of rare value can be carried in a briefcase and stored in a safe, a film collection needs a large space, a warehouse, a film storage facility, it’s a lot, and by film collecting standards I am rather small potatoes, housing much of a 3000 square foot warehouse with random films element and always convincing myself that I have room for me( which I do)!

And what is great, which is not that uncommon in film discoveries from the Distribpix archive, is that most of the time we are able to track down the origin of the films elements and find out where they originated (mainly through files, record and research) and how they ended up where they are. In most cases, it can be it’s own show or episode, it can be that amazing and detailed, other times its rather simple and straightforward. This is exactly the case with the negative for Blue Sunshine. For me, this was a simple forensic analysis and the determination was made through files that were from my private records, but after through research, the same info was also found to be easily available on the internet.

Blue Sunshine, 1978, Original Camera Negative.

Blue Sunshine, 1978, Original Camera Negative.

Analysis of the discovery of the Film Elements for Blue Sunshine (Original Picture Negative):

Here is what I can tell you about the life of the original picture negative for Blue Sunshine. Again, this is concise and to the point, but the actual story like many, is packed with details. In the late 1970’s when Jeff Leiberman had the original film negatives, he had utilized the services of Movie Lab in NYC to not only strike prints, but also store and ship prints. Movie Lab was one of the major go to labs of the day, and provided services to almost every film company during the 70’s and 80’s, from Hollywood to New York.

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Their bicoastal location allowed prolific producers and directors on both coasts to more easily churn out pictures in the booming exploitation market. In many cases, these local labs thrived on the business of exploitation filmmakers(more on the cheaper, action style films and X-rated adult features), as the demand for this niche and theatrical prints was at it’s peek, as grindhouse after grindhouse dotted the streets of NYC and many other cities across America. America wanted it’s filth and they needed it quickly and easily, the only way to make it accessible was to have prints struck and in some cases hundreds of them for theaters all over the world! Today, we take for granted that much of the HD quality video we all watch on our tablets and mobile devices is streaming from some invisible Cloud that lingers in the atmosphere, of course I am speaking of cloud based servers and storage. But, back in the 70’s and 80s’s, if you want to see the shit, if you wanted anything to do with it, you went to the theaters. It was an experience. It was a way of life, this was just before and during the infancy of the home video revolution(VHS). This is how America and most viewed films, it was a place for the commoner and the cinephile, the raincoated-pervert or the business man. If you wanted it, you came out to see it, no way around!! I was fortunate enough to be a youngster around it, I saw it and experienced NYC and Times Square in the late 70’s and early 80’s, man it was incredible. Anyway, there is no way of getting around technology, don’t fight it, embrace it.

Back to the story……so while the labs were always busy the began to  depend more and more on the success of the filmmakers and producers, and as these filmmakers would move on from one project to another, it was not uncommon to have original elements either stored or held at specialty film labs. Movie Lab was that place for Blue Sunshine, as well as literally thousands of other films elements from studios big and small, from around the world.

In the early 90’s, when Movie Lab had gone out of business, which is it’s own story, there were still thousands of film elements that were either abandoned, not claimed, unknown or just not identified correctly and became the property of Movie Lab and/or their responsibly to get rid of it, as they space the inhabited for so long was now to be vacated.  So in the early 90’s, after a business deal was made between Distribix Inc. and Movie Lab, all of these various film elements were brought by trailer trucks to a warehouse in New Jersey, owned by Distribpix. These elements were stored for a while and eventually ended up in some different areas, some stayed in NYC, and many went to Los Angeles and then we followed the paper the trail to Seattle’s, Something Weird Video, where they would stay for approximately 25 years, hidden and tucked away with thousands of other boxes in storage areas, filled with film elements, ranging from negatives, to prints, mag tracks, trailers, work prints, etc.

The simple reason they ended up in Seattle, at SWV, was due to the fact that in the early 1990’s a young and aggressive businessman( as well as cinephile, professional collector, comic book hound, punk rock expert, and well known video bootlegger) by the name of Mike Vraney had contacted Arthur, the owner of Distribpix Inc, as Mike wanted to distribute some of the early Distribpix sex exploitation films, as well as try and exploit the new Movie Lab acquisitions as well. While I was just getting out of junior high school around that time, I was still aware of what was going on, to a degree, now my tenure and files can confirm everything. Anyway, Mike Vraney and Distribpix had a very pleasant relationship, and I remember times when Mike, Dave Friedman and my father and brother, would often all rendevoux once a year in the Big Apple, where they would romp around, eat and drink. Mike was a true character and I have thought about him so much since his passing just over 15 months ago. He leaves behind an amazing legacy and film collection, and a good portion of those elements are owned by Distribpix Inc. Anyway, after Mike’s passing I had spent almost a year going back and forth to Seattle every 6 weeks or so, to spend time with Lisa, Mike’s wife and owner of SWV, as well as Tim Lewis, the head of operations. We had some great times. I also got to be at Mike’s memorial and oother events to remember his life. While in Seattle this past summer, I had also been looking through elements and gathering films as well. In July of 2014, after spending 3-4 consecutive days on my hands and knees, I was elated to find a box that was labeled with Blue Sunshine.

Blue Sunshine, 1978, Original Camera Negative.

Blue Sunshine, 1978, Original Camera Negative.

I don’t exactly recall why I was looking for it or why it was on my ‘keep an eye out for” list, maybe because Jeff had mentioned it to a friend of mine, as he knew I would be scouring through the Movie Lab elements with a fine tooth comb, but Lisa was also aware of the fact that they might be there. I mean Jeff Leiberman even had a hunch, as he would know best and he was right. I immediately brought the box to Lisa where it was locked away in her office until I was able to have it securely package and shipped to the east coast. Where is sits beside me and awaits a 2 hour drive too the lab in just over 48 hours! That is the life line of these elements, I hope you enjoyed this story. I am want to thank Mike/Lisa/Tim from SWV for always being such solid people to me and great hosts and I want to thank and congratulate Jeff Lieberman on the confirmation that his original negative not only exists, but will be getting a grand restoration and one done with love, passion and care to detail.

While this is a great find and the elements are now safe with me they will be going home to daddy!! After the restoration, which is complete I will personally drive the negatives back to Jeff’s home, where the reels can live with Jeff, sandwiched between some of his other prized elements he owns. I just hope his film elements for Remote Control, will not be too jealous of his brand new and gorgeous looking 35mm-celluloid addition to the family!

More details to follow. Thank you for reading.

http://www.distribpix.com

Constance Money aka Misty Beethoven

Desperately Seeking Susan- Constance Found

Constance Money, aka Susan Jensen. The Opening of Misty Beethoven, directed by Radley Metzger.

Constance Money, aka Susan Jensen. The Opening of Misty Beethoven, directed by Radley Metzger.

Unforgettable in her starring role in the classic 1975 erotic film ‘The Opening of Misty Beethoven,’ Constance Money is an iconic figure of adult film’s golden age who continues to fascinate all those who see her films.

Piastro Cruiso, writer of one of her later films, “Anna Obsessed,” said of Constance: “She was different from anyone else in the business: innocent, distracted, unaffected, friendly, a natural beauty—many of us fell in love with her (or at least felt protective of her), and she made us all think we had a chance.”

If Money’s performance in a handful of golden-age classics made her famous, her subsequent disappearance made her a legend.

From 1985 on, she appeared in no films, gave no press appearances or interviews, attended no more parties at the Playboy Mansion. Like Bambi Woods and Nancy Suiter before her, it was as if Constance Money had simply ceased to exist.

So who was Constance Money? How did she come to be an icon of the Porno Chic movement? And why did she leave it all behind?

Thankfully, over the past few years I have been staying in touch with Susan.  While I wanted to have her involved in our actual re-release of The Opening of Misty Beethoven, she was just not ready. But we stayed in touch and thankfully we finally got to meet up last summer in Seattle, where we were able to sit down for a heartfelt interview(location courtesy of SWV). We will post some snippets from the B roll camera and the full interview will be released in the near future.

Special Thanks to Susan Jensen, Plausible Films, Something Weird Video

X-Rated: The Greatest Adult Films of All Time

Some of the greatest adult legends of all time and some of the best X rated films of all time!!

Playing on Showtime :

 

Is it the best documentary ever made on the topic, NO.

Is it a great documentary, NO.

Are these really the best adult films of all time, NO.

BUT, it is a good documentary. And yes, some of these films are very famous. For those of us who are not die hard fans or do not work in and around the adult biz, this is sometimes the closest that many people will ever come to being exposed to a world that so many of us love and find to be normal. It is generally a good thing, when a taboo oriented topic can be so easily accessible with a cable service. Whenever networks like HBO and SHOWTIME are able to obtain  sex oriented programming something magical happens, for when the logos of these big networks show up at the bottom of  an episode it is magical, as if the footage is now safe and cool to view by millions and they get great ratings. Sex sells, it always will sell, and these networks know it, and at the same time, they can’t become the next playboy channel, or they would lose all their subscriptions, and have picket lines outside their headquarters.LOL!

I am happy to have been a part of this doc and it was an honor to work on it.  Congrats to Showtime on the success and Plausible Films, the show’s producer for being able to create this on such a short time frame and budget. As for the actual show, I am much more partial to the first 25 minutes, as the classic stuff is what interests me most. Four films from the Distribpix Archive were featured, The Opening of Misty Beethoven, Barbara Broadcast, Roommates and Blonde Ambition. To be able to see some of these films and figures get the broad exposure that they so deserve, is amazing.

Blogs, Forums, and Social Networks are a great way to keep the genre alive. But to bring these niche into millions of viewers living rooms via cable network is bigger than big, it is HUGE. Along with footage I licensed for the show, I produced 2 interviews as well. One was with Gloria Leonard( her last video interview) and one with Constance Money(her first video interview), with special thanks to Lisa Petrucci and Something Weird Video, who were the most gracious hosts. I must say the best thing is the exposure, as since the show aired, sales of the featured titles are off the charts. I just goes to show what I already knew, this is the kind of exposure this niche needs!

Both of these interviews will be available as extras on upcoming Distribpix releases and via the web as special video features. I look forward to working with Showtime and Plausible Films again in the near future.

 

Cmoney_image_1

Constance Money ( Susan Jensen). Interview July 1,2014. On Location in Seattle Washington. Her first ever recorded interview.

Constance Money ( Susan Jensen). Interview July 1,2014. On Location in Seattle Washington. Her first ever recorded interview.

Gloria Leonard Interview. On Location, Kona Hawaii, 2012.

Gloria Leonard Interview. On Location, Kona Hawaii, 2012.

 

 

Falstaff, Chimes At Midnight

FALSTAFF CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT

falstaff_strip

by Steven Morowitz and Joel Bender

(Part 1 by Steven Morowitz)

Distribpix Inc. discovers a hidden cinema treasure……

New York/Los Angeles for immediate release/Feb. 9,2015

Film enthusiast and archivist, Steven Morowitz, and veteran film director Joel Bender, unearth a rare and almost pristine 35mm print of Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight. This is one of the most important discoveries for us to date, at least regarding a mainstream film and one of such historical importance. Not that the film does not exist, and not that there are many experts already on the case, but from the bootleg versions and web clips available that we have seen over the years, it seems that the source material that people have been using is in very poor shape, and or put together from various prints. Maybe not doing proper film restorations or not having proper film elements has been the biggest obstacle for most, as we know that people have film elements. One thing is for sure and that is that the world wants a gorgeous and definitive release of Falstaff.

Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, HD Screengrab, from 35mm Print.

Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, HD Screengrab, from 35mm Print. Check Transfer was done on Sprit HD Datacine, with one light pass and NO Restoration. Full 1920×1080.

 

I was very happy to see that there are literally hundreds of thousands of film fans, fans of Orson Welles, fans of Shakespeare, history buffs, literary buffs, institutions, etc. that have been waiting decades for a proper release(restoration/preservation) of this film. There are people already dedicated to finding the best elements and assembling the best prints, there are dozens of articles on the film and it’s short theatrical life in the United States. You don’t need to go far, just google Falstaff, and see for yourself.

And most recently, the Film Forum in NYC had hosted a Welles retrospective, where it seems that a DCP of Falstaff was presented and with Beatrice Welles , as a guest for the Q/A. Of course, we are anxious to find out more about the event, as we were unable to make the event, due to the inclement weather.

The print we obtain is complete, and totally uncut, and takes up a full 7 reels. How do I know? That is a great question, with a complete and definitive answer. Literally within just a few weeks of Joel and I agreeing that we would pursue this discovery, he had begun to hound me with a daily barrage of phone calls, begging me to take the film to a lab in order to confirm its authenticity. We needed to know if the films was original and uncut, and in what condition. It was imperative, and something that needed to be done. I needed to perform at least a preliminary film transfer, but of course this is something that needs to be done in a professional film lab, and one that is capable of handling archival film.

With a mix of caution, care, anxiety and reluctance I took the complete print, housed in the original two cans(2), a total of seven(7) reels to be transferred. I drove them approximately one hour and arrived around 11 am. I brought the films in for initial inspection and the owner of the lab and his technician were both in awe of the condition in which the film has been preserved. I was not totally surprised, as I knew it was in great shape, but I needed to see the condition…..the color, and damage, etc.

Lipsner-Smith Ultrasonic Film Cleaner, a key piece of equipment. Note: This is not Falstaff on the cleaner, but a 16 mm reel of a random film that was being cleaned.

Lipsner-Smith Ultrasonic Film Cleaner, a key piece of equipment. Note: This is not Falstaff on the cleaner, but a 16 mm reel of a random film that was being cleaned.

We had decided that the best and most cost effective process for this short term goal, was to perform a one-light transfer on an HD Spirit Datacine. We proceeded to bring each reel into this amazing Lipsner-Smith film cleaner, where it would undergo a soothing ultrasonic film bath. As each film came off the cleaner we proceeded to bring it directly to the Datacine and would find a good balance of light levels, commit to a setting and run each reel in an open matt -HD transfer( full 1920×1080). Because the Datacine produces a video file, I was able to capture the film transfer in real time and actually leave with the film reels, captured on a hard drive that very same day.

HD Spirit Datacine, actual 35mm print of Falstaff, being transferred.

HD Spirit Datacine, actual 35mm print of Falstaff, being transferred.

Check out some Full Frame -Raw HD Screengrabs imported out of Final Cut:

Falstaff_Finished Movie

Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, HD Screengrab, from 35mm Print. Check Transfer was done on Sprit HD Datacine, with one light pass and NO Restoration. Full 1920×1080.

Falstaff_HDgrab_2

Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, HD Screengrab, from 35mm Print. Check Transfer was done on Sprit HD Datacine, with one light pass and NO Restoration. Full 1920×1080.

Falstaff_HDgrab_3

Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, HD Screengrab, from 35mm Print. Check Transfer was done on Sprit HD Datacine, with one light pass and NO Restoration. Full 1920×1080.


Keep in mind, there was no restoration done and no timing work, this transfer was done to confirm that this find is real. I am happy to reveal that it is the real deal. I proceed to make a quick DVD sample in Final cut of the transfer and sent it to Joel on the west coast and 2 days later, I flew out there and we had out first meeting together in person. He had so much to share with me and was more than excited. He was able to briefly share the results with a few people as well.

The results of the initial transfer were so much greater than we could have imagined. It has now given us the confirmation that this now exists and should be the subject of a major preservation and restoration. It is just coincidence that this happens to be a print that was played a few times before it was pulled and returned to the lab, and left to stay in almost perfect condition. The 35mm print is in such great condition that it is begging for a full 4k scan restoration, along with scene by scene timing and a hard level 3 digital scratch removal (meaning hundreds of hours of frame by frame dirt and damage removal). This would at least guarantee a viable digital archive and one that can stand for future generations of cinema lovers. And on the higher end of the film preservation, it might even be able to be used to strike new elements.

Complete 35mm print of Falstaff, on 7 full reels. Actual Print.

Complete 35mm print of Falstaff, on 7 full reels. Actual Print.

But these seven(7) 35mm reels stand for more than just a print of Falstaff, for it is symbolic on a few levels. First, the discovery of this almost MINT print had prompted us to do some major research into the exact elements and with almost forensic precision, we have traced this films life and the results are note worthy. Secondly, the story of how we actually discovered the print and the characters involved in this saga, is possibly equally as exciting as the print discovery itself, and there has even been talk of a short, independent film, based on this real story.

For those of you who have no clue about this film, here is the basic layout. = ( Chimes at Midnight) was shot in 1967 and directed by Orson Welles. The film’s plot revolves around many parts taken from Shakespeare’s various works, so it is like a grand compilation. The film was produced by Harry Saltzman, shot in Spain, starred Orson Welles and other famous actors and players, like assistant director Jess Franco, to name just one. This info was easily found on the internet. And since the dawn of the internet, articles began to circulate about this mysterious film……..Who owns the rights? Why has there been no definitive film restoration? Who has the original negative? Why was it pulled after a few play dates in New York City. The questions go on and on, visit a few web forums and see for yourself.

This discovery in itself is very significant. The films holds a great deal of history and all that is connected, and most people who have spent significant time researching this film over the years, are more than curious, how we came across this print.

Where did you find this 35mm print of Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight……..

I own a semi-large collection of film elements. Many of these films elements have been on the West Coast of the United States and I am located on the East Coast. There are also elements scattered from NYC, to Long Island, LA, Seattle and more. Part of my job over the past 5 or 6 years, has been to clean up loose ends in the collection of the films that I own, fill gaps in the archive, consolidate random elements, take proper inventory, try and find more elements, etc. In this process I have personally moved tens of thousands of pounds of film elements, truckloads, and sometimes, trunk-loads.

strip_LABMy films come from many places, like most collections. It’s make up is a mix of abandoned archives/labs, like Movie Lab, Bonded,  or the purchase of the Sam Lake Enterprise archive. There are also many original Distribpix film elements, some private film collections, a very kool collection of 35mm cartoons, television shows, and lots of others. There are so many odds and ends and some great titles in the mix. Many of these titles became the property of Distribpix in the early part of the 1990’s, when a few major labs in the New York area went out of business and many film elements that were left behind needed a home. Distribpix Inc, became that home. While there are some elements that we can’t account for, we are doing our best to make sure everything from this point on is saved.

35mm Technicolor Cartoon Prints.--Looney Tunes! I love these and the color never fades. I have approximately 60 different episodes.

35mm Technicolor Cartoon Prints–Looney Tunes. These originated partially from the Same Lake Collection, and the forensic trail of the elements leads us all the way back to the Viet Nam War era. These are the actual prints that were sent to troops for entertainment at outposts and bases. Pretty kool!I love these and the color never fades. I have approximately 60 different episodes.

With so much in any collection, it can be very difficult to identify every single film element. And the only way to do it correctly, is to open up each and every can, to see what is inside, its condition, and where it belongs. With thousands of random cans and reels in this collection, it is not that uncommon to occasionally come across some really interesting film finds, some are very newsworthy.

About 2 years ago, I became aware of several pallets of miscellaneous 35mm film elements that were in NYC. I knew they were there and on a few occasions, I sort of dipped into them to take a look. They were situated across from a spot, that I have adopted as my makeshift NYC shooting studio. So each time I would conduct an interview or commentary in NYC, I would find myself staring at these elements. Some 35mm adult features, and many more mainstream titles. Cans from Paramount can be easily identified, as well as other major studios and labs. There are some unique film prints, mainly misc American Cinema, and some kool titles, like Naked Prey, No Way Out, Lord of the Flies and many more.  But no find is more kool than, Falstaff.

Actual 35mm Print of Falstaff, notice the Grove Press labeling on both cans.

Actual 35mm Print of Falstaff, notice the Grove Press labeling on both cans.

Falstaff print can, notice the Peppercorn-Wermser label. This is the key to identifying  where this print originated from and where it was screened.

Falstaff print can, notice the Peppercorn-Wermser label. This is the key to identifying where this print originated from and where it was screened.

After originally re-discovering these, I was able to confirm that they had been in this spot for approximately the past 20 plus years. I had opened them up at one point and the film not only seemed to be complete upon visual inspection of the reels, but it seemed to be in impeccably amazing condition, no vinegar smell and that good ‘film’ smell. I thought to myself there must be a mistake. They were labeled correctly and rewinding a bit revealed a pristine picture. A film friend of mine, even told me to just sell it on the internet for a $1000, etc. I just felt it was worth more than that and all I knew was that it had to do with Orson Welles. Because things can be so hectic in life, I just left the cans where they were, knowing they would be safe. Another 2 years had gone by and this past summer, the reality of what was actually in my possession had hit home!!

It was in late August of 2014 and as I prepared to do an interview with Joel Bender, director of a feature film in my archive called Joy. I flew him into NYC from LA, where he was the guest for a 35mm screening of his film Joy at Anthology Film Archives, followed by Q/A, along with several of the cast and crew. He did not shoot that film under his real name, but used the name Harley Mansfield.

You may also know of some of his other mainstream films, like Gas Pump Girls in the late 70’s and in the early 2000’s, he directed Karla, a masterfully done film, based on the true story of a pair of Canadian serial killers. The bottom line is that I had 2 directors chairs for the interview and as Joel prepared to take the seat, he noticed the cans labeled Falstaff and what came next leads us up to this moment. I want you to get his perspective on this brand new discovery and the best way to do this was to have Joel summarize his experience:

Joel Bender, 1977( aka Harley Mansfield).

Joel Bender, 1977( aka Harley Mansfield).

Falstaff Chimes at Midnight – a brief history and love for a lost classic…….

falstaff_strip1 

(Part 2 by Joel Bender)

For me, Falstaff takes second place only to Citizen Kane in Welles body of work, or maybe its equal. The richness of style, the extraordinary photography and editing – the grandness of its execution and imagination on a paper-thin budget – this is a rich emotional story that hits on all cylinders and an astounding creative use of Shakespeare’s plays. It is actually a new Shakespearean play created by Welles.

It is a delight for me and my partner, Steven,  to attempt to bring this film back out and into the light of day for all to see. The film speaks volumes on the question of what happened to Orson Welles? His final feature speaks of his vision that belongs near the top of a list of best films of all time. For this film to finally find an audience that will grow as more people see this masterpiece of visionary talent. The question will be answer whatever happened to Orson Welles? He made magic out of thin air.

I first saw FALSTAFF/CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT at its first official screening in 1966 at a theatre on 57th Street in New York . I was still in film school at the time (School of the Visual Arts). I was a fan of all of Welles’ previous films especially The Trial, and of course Citizen Kane and Touch of Evil. As I sat in the audience I felt I was in for something special. The film on the screen was dazzling, funny, sad, beautifully photographed and performed and Shakespearean prose was spoken in a way that conveyed the real emotion of the situation. As in everyday speech. I felt that I was transported back in time. It was real entertainment with the most unique battle sequence or the Battle of Shrewsberry. I recognized this as a work of genius that could stand up to his Citizen Kane and rest of his best films.

Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, HD Screengrab, from 35mm Print.

Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, HD Screengrab, from 35mm Print. Check Transfer was done on Sprit HD Datacine, with one light pass and NO Restoration. Full 1920×1080.

After the screening I wandered out of the theater reliving all the great images, feats of acting and scenes that I had just seen. There I bumped into the head of the film department at my school. He looked at me, shook his head from left-to-right and said “That’s the best filmed Shakespeare of all time. What a great movie.” I agreed.

Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, HD Screengrab, from 35mm Print.

Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, HD Screengrab, from 35mm Print. Check Transfer was done on Sprit HD Datacine, with one light pass and NO Restoration. Full 1920×1080.

But a dark cloud would come. Although the film was hailed in Europe it was not that in America. Falstaff got some disheartening reviews from the New York press and pulled by distribution after a disastrous review by New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, who even mad e a mockery of Wells’ performance calling his Falstaff “a bumbling street corner Santa Claus”. And the film a “mish mash of unrelated scenes”. Also, that “Welles was the first actor to be too fat for the role”. This was a crime. Amid some minor technical inadequacies because of the small budget, one cannot disregard the beauty of its images the fine-tuned story telling, the great originality of its conception and the use of several plays to make one play. Crowther’s review caused the distributor Peppercorn- Wormser, to withdraw his backing and to pull the film from exhibition and distribution in the United States even as the awards were piling up in Europe.

Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, HD Screengrab, from 35mm Print.

Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, HD Screengrab, from 35mm Print. Check Transfer was done on Sprit HD Datacine, with one light pass and NO Restoration. Full 1920×1080.

The film FALSTAFF/CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT is based on the character of Sir John Falstaff. Orson Welles thought this was Shakespear’s greatest creation. Sections of several Shakespearean plays were used to create a new story. Welles said the core of the film was the betrayal of friendship. Sir John Falstaff is a running character in Shakespear’s plays.

Here, from a script that focuses on several sections from Shakespeare’s plays, Henry the 4th – Parts I and II, Richard the II, Henry the 4th. The central issue it dramatizes is the choice offered to Prince Hal between the values embodied by Falstaff which include gentleness and friendship, as well as bawdiness and deception – and self-denial and submission to higher interests of the Kingdom demanded by the exercise of power after his father’s death. There is a father/son relationship between Hal and Falstaff.

Over the years I tried to find a really good copy of Falstaff. I bought several imports but nothing came close to looking like the presentation I saw in 1966.

In August 2014 I went to New York to attend a film festival at the Anthology Film Archives where one of my early films was screening. After the festival was over I was taken to a warehouse/studio in midtown, by my very good friend, Steven Morowitz, who was going to do a filmed interview with me. As I sat down, I noticed a huge pile of loose film cans and carrying cases. I scanned the pile and I couldn’t believe what I saw. One of the cans at the bottom on the pile said “Falstaff”. The camera was just getting to roll on the interview when I got up and walked across the floor. Indeed, it said “Falstaff” with the  distributor’s name “Grove Press”. I knew that name from the first day I saw the film, 49 years ago. Low and behold, I turned to Steven and said “That must be the Orson Welles’ film.” It was – perfectly preserved. A great find for any film preservationist.

Falstaff_HDgrab_6

Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, HD Screengrab, from 35mm Print. Check Transfer was done on Sprit HD Datacine, with one light pass and NO Restoration. Full 1920×1080.

 

Always a Welles’ fan, I went with my wife to a screening of Chuck Workman’s new documentary “Magician” about the life of Orson Welles presented at the AFI film festival, at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. After the screening, when the lights went up and applause subsided I headed over to speak to Peter Bogdonvich who was seated across the aisle. I said “My name is Joel Bender. I am a director. Just a few weeks ago I discovered with an associate of mine a pristine print of Chimes/Falstaff under a pile of film cans at this fellow’s warehouse. My associate didn’t know the value of what he had. We both descended on the cases of film, opened it up to find seven reels with the beautiful smell of film.” Peter was listening intently. I continued “We unrolled a little and knew we found something precious.” Peter called over entrepreneur Charles Cohen from the Cohen Group and pointed at me. Peter said “This guys says he has a great print of Chimes at Midnight.” When Mr. Cohen express interest, we exchanged business cards. I also spoke to Chuck Workman about it and we agreed to stay in touch about the film. When I got back to Peter I told him that the print I had was probably the same print I had seen in New York City in 1966.

SPECIAL THANKS: to Harrison Engle of Signal Hill Entertainment, Chuck Workman and Joseph McBride, Welles biographer.

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In conclusion, we are both very proud of this discovery and all of the work we have put into this venture. We are pleased and yet cautious. Being aware of all of the rights’ issues and other obstacles, this is not an easy undertaking. We both feel that it is way too important of a cinematic discovery to simply ignore. With some hesitation Joel has shown one of the major releasing studios the sample DVD that we have.  This new discovery, can easily provide me and anyone involved with an unforgettable and epic film restoration project.

I hope you have enjoyed our article and the details within. There really are many angles to this and many roads in which we can travel. So far we have been contacted by a few theaters, looking to screen the print, but there is still some work needed to be done, clearing rights, etc. The element is simply too rare and has not yet been digitally archived properly, and without that, we can’t risk sending the print out to any theaters that still project 35mm. It would be great to be able to make this the subject of a crowd sourced, film restoration campaign. It would allow the community to speak and tell us what they want, and also support the project. With a film like Falstaff and a platform like Kickstarter, the possibilities can be endless. It would be amazing to be able to have the financing to do such a high level restoration, and film release. DCP’s can be provided to theaters and educational outlets. Who knows? But for now, please send us any feedback and advice that you may have. If you are a film or Orson Welles enthusiast, reach out to us and feel free to educate us and give us direction. This is news worthy, a major discovery!

Steven Morowitz and Joel Bender, August 2014.

Steven Morowitz and Joel Bender, August 2014.

About Steven and Joel:

Joel Bender is a director and a writer/editor who has a long history of making movies for more than 30 years.  He’s made movies for Cannon Films and independent films like Rich Girl (1000 Domestic Theaters) and Karla (National theatrical release in Canada and the United States).  He has a a strong directing and editing career and has done just about every genre in movies and TV. His love of film goes back to his pre-teen years. He’s just a simple boy from Brooklyn.
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Steven Morowitz, owns and operates Distribpix Inc. which is an east coast film archive that specializes in preservation, restoration and releasing films in various niches, but one area of specialty is American sexploitation. His company was established in 1965, and has deep roots in the film business. Steven’s current responsibilities are hefty by any standards, as he single handedly runs his archive and media releasing company. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and three children.

 

We hope you enjoyed our article, and please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments: distribpix@gmail.com OR you can respond to the post directly on the blog!!

 

The Naughty Nurses Double Feature

The Naughty Nurses Double Feature

The incredibly long wait is soon over, as dozens and dozens of the original Distribpix Inc. productions and releases will be hitting home video on DVD and choice VOD platforms. These lost sexploitation gems will be packaged as double features with a common theme, by director, actor, genre, etc. Each film is transferred in High Definition and each original trailer is also included, as well as other extras, depending on each release. The films are being revived and released for the first time ever on home video, under the umbrella of the Distribpix Archive Collection (DAC).

The Distribpix films themselves are incredibly important to sex film history, as they fueled the grind-houses as Americans were thirsting for more filth. These sex exploitation films bridged the gap and filled that temporary void, between the pre-white coaters and all out X rated fare! Although one can argue that these films in our collection are hokey and downright bad, all I can say is that they would be dam right!!!! Well, not really. They might be some of the most entertaining, and in some ways groundbreaking erotic films of the modern day. I was really alluding to the fact that many of these are at the very low end of the spectrum as far as production value is concerned, even though they were shot in 35mm, they are bad in almost every way. Fingers seen in the frame, poor lighting, and even worse acting are a few of the dead giveaways. But keep in mind, that even with that said, many of these are still among the best sexploitation films ever made, like ones produced by the late and great Joe Sarno, as well as the Amero Brothers, the Findlays, Ron Sullivan,  and so many more.  The collection as a whole is invaluable and stands for a vital part of American sexploitation history and over the next few years, we hope to be able to bring all of these into your living rooms, as gorgeous, remastered films in HD, 2k, or even 4k.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the first installment of the Distribpix Archive Collection!! Enjoy.

The Naughty Nurses Double Feature- Distribpix Archive Collection.

The Naughty Nurses Double Feature- Distribpix Archive Collection.

Head Nurse, 1972 Kirt Films International

In Head Nurse, director Tim Davies takes us on a tour of NYC’s most bizarre hospital. While there are similarities to a “white coater”, it is clear that producer Jones Gregor, had other ideas…gorgeous nurses, crazed doctors, test tubes and corpses! Not too mention, one of the most unforgettable scenes involving a human skull, ever captured on film. Starring a moustache-free Harry Reems, a young Marc Stevens, and rare sex appearance by disco superstar, Andrea True. With original music by the Bushels.

Marc Stevens, Head Nurse, 1972.

Marc Stevens, Head Nurse, 1972.

Andrea True, Head Nurse, 1972.

Andrea True, Head Nurse, 1972.

Head Nurse, 1972.

Head Nurse, 1972.

Harry Reems, Head Nurse, 1972.

Harry Reems, Head Nurse, 1972.

 

Nurse-Made, 1971 Mansfield Ltd.

Some early sex-exploitation films have a cheap and amateurish look. Low quality audio dubbing, sloppy edits and poor lighting are just a few of the signs. Nurse-Made is the epitome of a NYC sexploitation film. Written, directed and produced by Robert B. Mansfield, this film explores a unique relationship between an ailing patient and his young nurse. Starring Jean Ashley, Lee Tucker, Dick Baker. Original music by Bob Mann. Assistant director, Gary Kahn.

Nurse-Made, 1971.

Nurse-Made, 1971.

Nurse-Made, 1971.

Nurse-Made, 1971.

Nurse-Made, 1971.

Nurse-Made, 1971.

Nurse-Made, 1971.

Nurse-Made, 1971.

 

 

 

http://www.distribpix.com

The Legends come out for Serena’s Book Signing in Hollywood!

The Legends come out for Serena’s Book Signing in Hollywood!

Bright Lights, Lonely Nights: The Memories of Serena, Porn Star Pioneer of the 1970’s.

Bill Margold and legendary adult actress, Serena.

Bill Margold and legendary adult actress, Serena.

Legendary adult actress, Serena, signed her brand new book at Larry Edmunds bookstore on Hollywood Boulevard on Saturday night Dec 8. I was in Los Angeles and would not miss an event like this, being just a few miles away. I was fortunate enough to spend time with another ‘larger than life’ character a few hours before this signing, a man by the name of Bill Margold, who is essentially the grandfather or great uncle of this adult industry. A guy who was there since the early days, he lived it. He has a very special place for Serena in his heart, and she always refers to him as, “Brother Bill”! I was honored to accompany Bill to this signing event, and before hand enjoyed some wonderful Tai cuisine as he reminisced about Serena and how emotional of a night it was going to be for him. Bill is a very serious guy when it comes to this type of milestone, he is a man who has deep roots with much of the talent of the adult biz, from the 70’s to today.

Bill Margold, and Actress Serena.

Bill Margold, and Actress Serena.

We headed to the bookstore on Hollywood Blvd. and Serena, who looked absolutely breathtaking. Even from a distance away, she had an aura of peace about her. I mean she was strikingly beautiful, absolutely striking. I never spoke with her before in person and it was sort of exciting to just be there. It is a small space, and hard not to be somewhat intimate, when it comes to conversing and reuniting of sorts. And a few others were in a small group, chatting and smiling. I recognized a few of the faces, Karen Summer was there, I saw her and knew right away as she has that same look and smile! Anyway, Bill headed right over to the the group and the hugs began flying.

Re-unitng, with Karen Summer and Richard Pacheco, both adult industry legends.

Re-unitng, with Karen Summer and Richard Pacheco, both adult industry legends.

I backed away for a bit, before making my introduction with Serena, as the legends were throughly engulfed with each other, and I did not want to break that up. I hung out in the store, chatted up lots of people, some close friends, other new friends. Of course I hung with my gal, Kelly Nichols, who I always love to see, and she looks better each time I see her.  I saw my old pal Roy Karch, he was very chatty and I loved it.  And then, another highlight was getting to rub elbows with Howie Gordon (Richard Pacheco), even if for a short time, as well as Karen Summer. Howie is another legend of the golden age of erotic film-making and also shares the promo circuit with his cohort Serena, where they both promote their recently published books. I even spent some time waiting out front for my guest to arrive, another legend  named Ron Jeremy. Waiting out in front of the store was a bit surreal and strange. I got to share some some great laughs with Cass Paley, another old school director and documentary filmmaker.

Legendary actress, Kelly Nichols.

Legendary actress, Kelly Nichols.

The place got packed with faces from yesteryear, and Bill Margold began his introduction. He was strong but eventually wept as he knew he would. He was overcome with emotion, as Serena sat beside him. Serena spoke about writing her book, and even mentioned her next book, now in the works, which is more of an art book. Her voice was very soft and at some points you could barely hear her. She was beyond soft spoken, like a talking whisper. We had to remind her to speak up a bit. I enjoyed listening to her speak and I appreciated hearing about some of her past experiences and interests. I had no idea that she was such a talented artist. She had a a very “peace and love” vibe to hear, like a love child from the Bay Area. She answered some questions from the crowd and afterwards in Larry Edmunds style, there was a mass photo shoot and book singing, meet and greet.

Bottom: Christy Cnayon and Ron Jeremy. Top: Howie Gordon(Richard Pacheco) Karen Summer, Kelly Nichols.

Bottom: Christy Cnayon and Ron Jeremy. Top: Howie Gordon(Richard Pacheco) Karen Summer, Kelly Nichols.

Group_2

I got to my chance to meet Serena,face to face. Of course, she had no idea who I was, but I knew who she was. I told her it was great to meet her and that she looked amazing, and she smiled and thanked me. I really enjoyed just sort of sitting back and taking in all the reuniting and hugging and love. I mentioned working with her on some future projects and she seemed very excited. She left me with a major sense of wanting to know more and learn more about her, which I really think is ideal. Thank you for letting me share in on the celebration.

dpix_serana

The plan that was after the signing, we were all going to go across the street to Musso and Frank. And let me tell you, the table of characters at that meal was one for the record books, a great group of people doing what they do. And yes, this is another story in itself. I think we had a table of  12 or 14 of the most unique characters, I guess I am one of them too? We were all hungry, tired and wanted to eat, but for some reason it took Ron Jeremy 2 hours to make his way across the street…LOL, I am kidding, just one hour! Oh, and in typical Ron fashion, I can almost swear he picked up an old friend on the street and she ended up at the table, where she scarfed down a short rib special,  with veg and potatoes and then took off like the wind. God, I love any meal I have with Ron Jeremy, I really do.

It was a great night and one that I will always remember. Thanks so much. Best of luck to Serena and all the other legends who are penning their stories/memoirs.

GROUP_3

 

Here is a link to purchase Serena’s new book Bright Lights, Lonely Nights:The Memories of Serena, Porn Star Pioneer of the 1970’s,directly from the publisher BearManor: http://bearmanorbare.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=73

Bright Lights-230x305