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Yesterday the Librarian of Congress announced the annual addition of 25 titles to the National Film Registry. The list included one home movie, The Augustas, by Scott Nixon.
Scott Nixon, a traveling salesman based in Augusta, Ga., was an avid member of the Amateur Cinema League who enjoyed recording his travels on film. In this 16-minute silent film, Nixon documents some 38 streets, storefronts and cities named Augusta in such far-flung locales as Montana and Maine. Arranged with no apparent rhyme or reason, the film strings together brief snapshots of these Augustas, many of which are indicated at pencil-point on a train timetable or roadmap. Nixon photographed his odyssey using both 8mm and 16mm cameras loaded with black-and-white and color film, amassing 26,000 feet of film that now resides at the University of South Carolina. While Nixon’s film does not illuminate the historical or present-day significance of these towns, it binds them together under the umbrella of Americana. Whether intentionally or coincidentally, this amateur auteur seems to juxtapose the name’s lofty origin—‘august,’ meaning great or venerable—with the unspectacular nature of everyday life in small-town America.
The original is held in the collections of the University of South Carolina and is available for viewing online on their website.
Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies (1930s-1940s)
Fayard and Harold Nicholas, renowned for their innovative and exuberant dance routines, began in vaudeville in the late 1920s before headlining at the Cotton Club in Harlem, starring on Broadway and performing in Hollywood films. Fred Astaire is reported to have called their dance sequence in “Stormy Weather” (1943) the greatest movie musical number he had ever seen. Their home movies capture a golden age of show business—with extraordinary footage of Broadway, Harlem and Hollywood—and also document the middle-class African-American life of that era, images made rare by the considerable cost of home-movie equipment during the Great Depression. Highlights include the only footage shot inside the Cotton Club, the only footage of famous Broadway shows like “Babes in Arms,” home movies of an all African-American regiment during World War II, films of street life in Harlem in the 1930s, and the family’s cross-country tour in 1934.
The new book America’s Film Legacy: The Authoritative Guide to the Landmark Movies in the National Film Registry by Daniel Eagan includes essays on the first 500 films named to the National Film Registry. Publisher 33 1/3 included the essay about Robbins Barstow’s Disneyland Dream in its entirety on its blog.
Susan Dunne of the Hartford Courant reports on a coincidental meeting in Robbins Barstow’s “Disneyland Dream.”
Robbins Barstow of Wethersfield, who last week learned a home movie he made in 1956 has been admitted into the National Film Registry, has gained a new pen pal as a result of the honor.
After the news hit that “Disneyland Dream,” filmed on a family vacation to Anaheim, Calif., had been chosen for preservation, Barstow received an e-mail from actor and comedian Steve Martin.
Martin, a self-described “Disneyland junkie,” wrote (reprinted with permission from Martin): “At age eleven I worked at Disneyland. I sold guidebooks at the park from 1956 to about 1958. I am as positive as one can be that I appear about 20:20 into your film, low in the frame, dressed in a top hat, vest, and striped pink shirt, moving from left to right, holding a guidebook out for sale.”
Source: Hartford Courant
Congratulations to Robbins Barstow, whose 1956 film “Disneyland Dream” was named to the National Film Registry today.
After a long life of filmmaking, Robbins has become good friends with the amateur film preservation community through his tireless advocacy of amateur filmmaking and his attendance at archival film conferences and symposia. He then became an Internet sensation when the public discovered his films online.
From the Library of Congress’s press release:
Disneyland Dream (1956)
The Barstow family films a memorable home movie of their trip to Disneyland. Robbins and Meg Barstow, along with their children Mary, David and Daniel were among 25 families who won a free trip to the newly opened Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., as part of a ‘Scotch Brand Cellophane Tape’ contest sponsored by 3M. Through vivid color and droll narration (“The landscape was very different from back home in Connecticut”), we see a fantastic historical snapshot of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Catalina Island, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios and Disneyland in mid-1956. Home movies have assumed a rapidly increasing importance in American cultural studies as they provide a priceless and authentic record of time and place.
The film, along with 15 other Barstow Travel Adventure titles, is available for viewing and downloading at the Internet Archive.
Previous Robbins Barstow posts: