EXCLUSIVE: Martin Scorsese and Paramount Pictures are backing the Museum of Modern Art’s screenings of 30 restored films from Republic Pictures, a small but creatively resourceful studio that turned out a range of influential genre films from 1935 to 1959. The screening series will run in two parts, in February and August.
Martin Scorsese Presents Republic Rediscovered: New Restorations from Paramount Pictures is a two-part series organized by MoMA in association with Paramount and The Film Foundation, a preservation outfit created by Scorsese in 1990. The 30-film program begins on February 1 with Alfred Santell’s seldom-seen That Brennan Girl, and continues through February 15; the second installment is scheduled for August 9 to 23.
Curated by Scorsese, the program marks a rebirth for the Republic library, which is being restored and returned to wide distribution by Paramount. Republic Rediscovered is organized by Dave Kehr, a longtime film critic and historian who is now curator of the film department at MoMA.
“From the ’30s through the ’50s, the different studio logos at the head of every picture carried their own associations and expectations,” Scorsese said. “And for me, the name Republic over the eagle on the mountain peak meant something special. Republic Pictures was what was known as a ‘poverty row’ studio, but what their pictures lacked in resources and prestige they made up for in inventiveness, surprise, and, in certain cases, true innovation. Among the many ‘B’ pictures produced at Republic in the studio’s heyday, there are so many titles that have been overlooked or forgotten; waiting for decades to be seen again.”
Jim Gianopulos, Paramount’s chairman and CEO, said the studio has devoted resources to the Republic titles. “As part of our commitment to honor the art of cinema and our legacy, Paramount Pictures has preserved more than 800 Republic Pictures films,” he said. “Thanks to the efforts of Martin Scorsese and The Film Foundation, audiences will see Paramount’s work to restore these films has been done with attention to every detail. The world will get to see them as they have not been seen since their original release.”
Often described as the “biggest little studio in Hollywood,” Republic is largely remembered today for its Saturday matinee serials and B Westerns shot in Encino and Studio City before suburban sprawl overtook the San Fernando Valley. (Its former lot in Studio City is now CBS Studio Center.) The studio had a far broader range than cowboy pictures, however, producing films across genres and budget levels, from gritty crime films like John H. Auer’s City that Never Sleeps to lush Technicolor romances such as Frank Borzage’s I’ve Always Loved You.
In the 1940s, Republic became a haven for several leading directors, including Borzage, John Ford and Allan Dwan. It also popularized a two-color process called Trucolor, a low-cost alternative to the three-color Technicolor process.
Andrea Kalas, VP of the archives at Paramount, will present “Republic Preserved,” a lecture with film clips on the Republic library and the process of revitalizing it, before the 2PM ET screening of Trigger, Jr. on February 4.
Here is a trailer for the program: