Genre Films Make Film Preservation List

LUCAS_THX-4EBDeadline passed on the information that the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress has announced its annual addition of 25 films to be preserved for posterity as movies that are significant  to American culture and times. 
The Films:
AIRPLANE! (1980)
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN  (1976)
THE BARGAIN (1914)
CRY OF JAZZ (1959)
Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138-4EB (1967) pictured
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
THE EXORCIST (1973)
THE FRONT PAGE (1931)
GREY GARDENS  (1976)
I AM JOAQUIN  (1969)
IT’S A GIFT  (1934)
LET THERE BE LIGHT  (1946)
LONESOME (1928)
MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW  (1937)
MALCOM X (1992)
McCABE AND MRS. MILLER  (1971)
NEWARK ATHELET (1891)
OUR LADY OF THE SPHERE (1969)
THE PINK PANTHER  (1964)
PRESERVATION OF THE SIGN LANGUAGE  (1913)
SATURADY NIGHT FEVER (1977)
STUDY OF A RIVER (1996)
TARENTELLA (1940)
A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (1945)
A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET (1906)
Interesting that George Lucas’s rarely-seen student film for USC, THX 1138-4EB, was chosen, rather than the feature version, THX 1138.  Of course, it’s the first sign of his future works. Pleased to see that the late Irvin Kershner’s entry for the STAR WARS saga was selected for the honor.
THE EXORCIST was of course a cultural phenomenon of its time, causing huge controversy, and expanding the boundries of horror cinema.

Irvin Kershner, R.I.P.

irvin_kershner_YodaIrvin Kershner, director of perhaps the best of the STAR WARS films, passed away last Friday, November 27th, 2010. He was 87.

Kershner began as a documentary filmmaker, first for the U.S. government, then for the TV series CONFIDENTIAL FILE.  In 1958, he made his feature film debut with STAKEOUT ON DOPE STREET, a crime thriller he co-wrote with Andrew J. Fenady, backed by Roger Corman. Produced on a low budget,  it was sold for a nice profit to Warner Brothers for distribution.
With Fenaday as producer, Irvin Kershner would shoot multiple episodes of the Nick Adams starring Western THE REBEL.
Equally adept at drama and comedy, Kershner would direct films such as 1966’s A FINE MADNESS (starring Sean Connery), THE FLIM-FLAM MAN, and the Barbara Striesand starring UP THE SANDBOX (1972), which featured surreal fantasy sequences.
In 1978, Irvin Kershner directed the ESP/Horror thriller  THE EYES OF LAURA MARS, based on a screenplay by John Carpenter (HALLOWEEN).
George Lucas, who was a student of Kershner’s when he taught at the University of Southern California, chose him to direct the second STAR WARS film, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Irvin Kershner was able to give the film both a sense of continuity with the previous installment and a darker, more sophisticated visual touch. 
NeverSayNeverAgainKershner was reunited with star Sean Connery again on the non-series James Bond film NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983, an updated remake of THUNDERBALL.
In 1990 he directed ROBOCOP 2, an action-packed sequel to the original, quite competent but not as satisfying as the first in the series.
After directing an episode of SEAQUEST DSV (aka SEAQUEST 2032) in 1993, he retired from the film business.
Picking up the nickname “Kersh” during EMPIRE, Irvin Kershner was apparently a well-liked man among his fellow filmmakers, and certainly a memorable director for genre fans.

Gary Kurtz on Star Wars

Gary_KurtzDid STAR WARS take a very different path than it might have, primarily because of  merchandising concerns? Producer Gary Kurtz says that is indeed the case, confirming (or re-confirming) many fan’s suspicions.
This year  is the 30th anniversary of  THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and Kurtz will be a guest at the LucasFilm sponsored  STAR WARS Celebration V in Orlando, Florida this weekend. It’s also the 30th anniversary of the effective end of his personal involvement with the fantastically successful film series. 
In an interview with the L.A. Times, Gary Kurtz — who was the producer of the original STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. said he eventually left the franchise because: “I could see where things were headed.”

“The toy business began to drive the [Lucasfilm] empire. It’s a shame. They make three times as much on toys as they do on films. It’s natural to make decisions that protect the toy business, but that’s not the best thing for making quality films.
The first film and EMPIRE were about story and character, but I could see that George’s priorities were changing… The emphasis on the toys, it’s like the cart driving the horse.  If it wasn’t for that, the films would be done for their own merits. The creative team wouldn’t be looking over their shoulder all the time.”

Check out the link above forthe rest of the interview, including details of how RETURN OF THE JEDI might have been a very different film in tone, and what had been initially planned as the ultimate fates of the main characters.