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3 classic pix set for restoration

Sturm to clean up 'Contessa,' 'Big,' 'Java' through Film Foundation

Film preservationist and producer Robert Sturm will restore and preserve three classic films, “The Barefoot Contessa,” “The Big Sky” and “Fair Wind to Java,” through Martin Scorsese’s nonprofit group, the Film Foundation.

“It’s rare to receive this level of support from an individual, but Bob is a true cinephile,” said Scorsese. “He loves movies and wants to make sure that they are around for future generations.”

Sturm has supported a variety of film and theater-related organizations, including the National Film Preservation Foundation and the American Film Institute, and has discussed additional preservation projects with the Film Foundation.

New prod’n company

Sturm recently formed a Los Angeles-based film production company, Catch 23 Entertainment, which will produce three to five pictures annually in the $3 million to $15 million budget range. He has secured a domestic distribution deal with Universal Focus, the specialty film division of Universal Pictures.

The Film Foundation was established in 1990 by Scorsese and nine other directors (Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Francis Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg) to raise awareness and funds for film preservation.

Two archives

The three films currently being preserved and restored will be from two archives: the Museum of Modern Art, and the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

“The Barefoot Contessa,” director Joseph Mankiewicz’s first color feature from 1954, will be restored from the original three-strip Technicolor negative, currently in the UCLA archive, in cooperation with MGM studios. The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner and Edmond O’Brien.

“Fair Wind to Java,” directed by Joseph Kane, will be restored from UCLA’s archive in cooperation with Paramount, the present owner of the Republic Pictures-produced film. Fred MacMurray and Vera Ralston star in what was Republic’s most expensive production and dubbed by movie buffs as the ultimate “B” picture. It is believed that the original negative is no longer printable, and a major restoration is needed on the film’s Trucolor separation masters.

“The Big Sky,” directed by Howard Hawks, will be restored in cooperation with the Museum of Modern Art and Warner Bros. The film, which stars Kirk Douglas and Dewey Martin, was shortened from 140 minutes to 122 minutes for release. A 35mm negative of the shortened version will be combined with Scorsese’s 16mm print of the 140-minute version to bring the film back to its original length.

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