How 2 Hitchcock films were rescued from 50 years in storage

NEIGHBORS

June 10, 1994|By LOURDES SULLIVAN

David Pierce is a Laurel man with an interest in old movies. Last year, he and his artist wife, Shari, ran a film series at Slayton House featuring movies from the 1920s through the 1950s. So it's particularly fitting that such movie buffs have rediscovered and arranged for the re-release of two World War II-era Alfred Hitchcock films.

The two films, which have been stored by the British government since 1944, were made by Hitchcock that year for the British as part of the war effort. To that end, although the films were made before D-Day, they were filmed in French. They were intended to be shown to French audiences as the Allies moved the Western front toward Germany.

It appears in hindsight that Hitchcock was perhaps less than the ideal director for a propaganda film, however just the cause. As Mr. Pierce points out, Hitchcock's stories contain few black and white characters: Everyone is complex, driven by the vagaries of his situation.

Betrayal is a recurrent theme in Hitchcock's half-century of movie-making. So it should have been no surprise that the French partisans in the film "Bon Voyage" are shown as the bickering, disagreeing factions that they were, rather than as the united force that the British government wished portrayed.

Although "Bon Voyage" was actually shown in 1944, Hitchcock's "Adventure Malgache" never was. These two films were never entirely lost. Texts on Hitchcock's films mentioned them, but these two movies were locked away for 50 years.

Enter Mr. Pierce and his brother-in-law, Dennis Doros. The first is a film buff; the second is co-owner, with Amy Heller, of Milestone Film and Video, a New York-based film distributor.

It took four years of research and careful negotiation to persuade the owner of the two movies, the British government, to allow the films to be rereleased on video. They have been subtitled in English.

Mr. Pierce points out, "There's something special about finding forgotten films and discovering that they are not only effective with a modern day audience, but are in tune with the time in which they were made. They remind us of the importance of history."

These two films were screened at the Charles Theatre in Baltimore in September and now are available at video stores, although they might have to be specially ordered.

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This past semester, Patuxent Valley Middle School sixth-graders teamed up with the Howard County Historical Society, the managers of Savage Mill and Joetta Cramm, a local history author, to write an accurate history of Savage Mill.

The cotton mill was founded about 200 years ago by John Savage and the Williams brothers. Over the years, the mill's fortunes ebbed and flowed, a fact visible in both the ruins of the old canal powering the mill and in the recent reincarnation of the site as an artists' colony.

John Lipka, Jason Freiert, Justin Zlatos, Jung'lm Yoon, Andrew Curry, Greg Mace and Mary Robbins are part of the effort to record the dynamic history of this mill.

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The Bollman Bridge Elementary School PTA is pleased to announce that the following people have generously agreed to take up the following responsibilities for the organization: Libby Killo has been elected president; Denise Wolford, vice president; Cathy Whitehead, second vice president; Jessica Kemper, treasurer; Mary Metzler, recording secretary; Kym Young, corresponding secretary; and Patty Burton and Susan Poole, PTA council delegates.

*

Mike Schaffer and Zack Richardson are fresh off their presentation of DisAbility Awareness for their fellow sixth-graders at Patuxent Valley Middle School. The pair had intended to present the project to their classmates in December but didn't get really working on the project until three months ago.

Alas, the county's Disabilities Awareness Program coordinator was fresh out of funds and speakers. That meant no money for honorariums for speakers and, as a matter of fact, no speakers. Well, the two boys got busy networking, with a little help from Anne Wade of DAP and , presented a half-day program Tuesday on disabilities and their effects.

The first two speakers the two boys recruited were Sue and Steve Schaffer, Mike's parents, who spoke on legal blindness and Tourette's syndrome, respectively.

Lisa Sullivan spoke about the effect her 2-year-old brother, who has Down's syndrome, has had on her family. Linsey McGowan and her mother spoke about cerebral palsy. Mark Schlossberg spoke about multiple sclerosis. Amy Campbell spoke about what it's like to have had brain surgery. Dave Thompson spoke about spina bifida and life in a wheelchair. Peg Browning, who has had throat cancer, spoke through a voice augmenter. And Sarah Gossett, a teacher at Patuxent Valley, demonstrated sign language.

Zack and Mike planned a three-hour rotating presentation. First the two played host to a brunch for the six speakers and 11 student guides.

Zack made two cakes to serve with the fruit and bagels. Then, accompanied by sixth-grade guides, the speakers rotated among the classrooms giving two 45-minute presentations each.

A pleasant surprise occurred when a group of eighth-grade girls showed up and offered a sign language version of the song "True Colors" to the students. The presentation ended with a spirited game of wheelchair basketball, with Joe "Ebony" Singleton and Bill Demby in wheelchairs beating the five-member teachers' team 10-4.

Mike and Zack think the program was important enough to present again next year to the incoming sixth-grade class.

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