Jun 15, 2008

Kentucky trip becomes orphan film junket

June 11-14 (or rather through the 15th, thanks to United Airlines), I took a trip to see family in Louisville, KY.

By coincidence, Kentucky Educational Television had recently contacted Kentucky-born Brooklynite Martha Kelly, who owns the film Our Day (1938). The title, made by her father Wallace Kelly as an amateur endeavor, was added to the National Film Registry in 2007. KET producer Jayne McClew contacted me when she heard from Martha that I was in Louisville. She is putting together a segment for the weekly public television program called Louisville Life. The idea is to introduce Our Day and other films shot by Wallace Kelly, and to profile the artist/moviemaker's career.

Jayne, her videographer Matt, and I met at the Baxter Avenue Filmworks, an 8-screen cinema that shows first-run Hollywood features alongside indie and international films. (How many other commerical theaters in the U.S. have murals of Georges Méliès and Sergei Eisenstein hand-painted on either side of their main screen? How many dare to combine Beverly Hills Chihuahua with a gay and lesbian festival and a retrospective that includes Paths of Glory and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?) For an hour we talked about the discovery of Our Day at the 2007 Home Movie Day in New York, Wallace Kelly's other painterly home movies, and a history yet to be written about film production by Kentuckians. Not just D. W. Griffith or Appalshop. Why, for example, have 3 Kentuckians become the biggest male box office stars of the moment? (George Clooney, Tom Cruise, and Johnny Depp).

Broadcast of the Our Day segment is planned for October 2008 -- close to Home Movie Day (Oct. 18). And the video will be podcast by KET.

Turns out that owners of the locally owned and operated theater where we did the interview include people who ran the repertory movie house I frequented as a teenager. The Vogue Theatre (1939-1998) is now a clothing store with a movie marquee, but for a couple of decades it ran all kinds of movies. There I saw Days of Heaven (seven times) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (thirty). Fellini's Satyricon and Casanova, Harold and Maude, Gizmo and The Atomic Cafe, several editions of the annual International Tournée of Animation compilations, O Lucky Man!, The Last Waltz, Rust Never Sleeps, Day for Night, Dersu Uzala, King of Hearts, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Citizen Kane and Casablanca, Able Gance's Napoleon, What's Up, Tiger Lily?, The Personals, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Cries and Whispers, The Passenger, My Dinner with Andre, Missing. On Christmas Day 1979 there was a full house, 800 moviegoers, for Ingmar Bergman's The Magic Flute.

Come to think of it, the first time I was at the Vogue Theatre was earlier than the above would indicate. Probably about 1970. My father took my sister and me to see a kiddy matinee of Flipper (1963), Ivan Tors' theatrical film version of his dolphin kiddy adventure TV series.

Happy Father's Day.