Wait…don’t I have a print of a March of Time episode about the opening of MoMA’s new building and film library from 1939? Ah, yes. Here it is…The March of the Movies, in 16mm. Turns out there were two episodes issued, and it’s easy to see why I conflated them.
I pulled out the metal film can that contained the print of The March of The Movies (1949). It’s in good shape, considering it was struck in 1950 and has a touch of vinegar syndrome. I’d put a small hunk of pure camphor in the can a few months ago, and it’s now gone. So far: camphor – 1, V.S. – 0.
I wanted to watch the short and see if there’s footage of Iris Barry. There is, but not much. The March of the Movies’ main title card says MCMXLIX. I really thought the episode I had was from 1939 and was about MoMA’s Department of Film and its Film Library. But I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it, most probably at MoMA, during one of the previous Iris Barry series some years ago.
A little more digging online, esp on YouTube, turned up two March of Time episodes: one from 1939 and one from 1949. The short from 1939 is The Movies March On, and does cover the opening of the new film library and auditorium screenings. There is footage of Iris Barry and John Abbott, more than in the ‘49 edition.
I don’t know what prompted the producers of The March of Time to revisit the subject ten years later. The second short uses almost all the same footage and clips as the first one, but with a little less emphasis on MoMA and a little more on Hollywood.
If you want to see what kind of a big deal it was for the Museum of Modern Art to have declared in 1935 that film was art and to have established a circulating film library, I’m embedding the 1939 film, found on YouTube.
You’ll see footage of the Film LIbrary, musical scores and prints being prepped for shipping. Also remarkable is the narrator’s informing us that these are going out to the hundreds of museums and universities interested in screenings.
There are a couple shots of public screenings in the auditorium, now known as Titus 1, but no footage of Arthur Kleiner at the piano unfortunately.
Here’s the original 1939 March of Time release The Movies March On:
This is the 1949 March of the Movies edition. (This is not my print and was not uploaded to YouTube by me.)