RESTORING CLASSIC MOVIES: Interesting article on the incredible efforts going into restoring It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World by Robert Harris, who helped restore Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus, Vertigo and other classic Hollywood films.
For decades, the major studios had shelved their most valued possessions in makeshift vaults (many outdoors) and beneath and surrounding the studio’s stages. One studio kept their treasures in a converted bowling alley with minimal temperature and humidity control. Some studios had no air conditioning or control whatsoever – a running joke being that they had full temperature and humidity control – that of the temperature and humidity outside the walls. One facility was found to have piles of rusting film cans on the floor with a tell-tale rust stain around them. Overhead was a hole in the roof through which water was allowed to seep.
Then there is the horror story of one studio executive who felt that thousands of feet of the studio’s most prized technicolor musical product was taking up far too much of the studio’s storage space, and ordered all of the original film product to be dumped in the Pacific Ocean.