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The Times (16/Apr/1982) - Cash gift will restore old footage

The Times (16/Apr/1982)

Cash gift will restore old footage

Britain's heritage covers many things -- including an irreplaceable stock of films which is fast decaying. The British Film Institute has a programme to copy its holdings of decaying nitrate film on to acetate by the year 2000, and estimates it needs an extra £700,000 a year to complete it.

With a donation of £100,000 for 1982, the National Heritage Memorial Fund has given an important boost to the work, and films on the point of disintegration can now be saved.

Among the films which are to be given emergency treatment by the National Film Archive is London Town, made in 1946, the first large-scale Technicolor British musical, starring Sid Field. Others include the unseen silent version of Hitchcock's Blackmail (1929) and an improved version of The Lodger (1926); production material from the unfinished I, Claudius (1937) with Charles Laughton and Merle Oberon; Anthony Asquith's Underground (1928); and The Battle for Music (1944), a wartime documentary record of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a special screening of which will help to mark the LPO's fiftieth anniversary later this year.

Last year, with the aid of a £62,000 grant from the fund, several notable films were saved, including, Alfred Hitchcock's Murder (1931) and Juno and the Paycock (1930); the first British revue musical Elstree Calling, directed by Adrian Brunel in 1930 and containing rare colour scenes; Anson Dyer's colour cartoon Sam and his Musket (1935) with Stanley Holloway; and a film record of Richard Tauber in Lilac Time at the Aldwych in 1933.