Hollywood Home Movies: Treasures From the Academy Film Archive

Each year, one of the most popular events held in Club TCM is the Hollywood Home Movies screening, brought to us by the Academy Film Archive. Hosted by Randy Haberkamp, managing director of programming, education and preservation for AMPAS, and Lynne Kirste, special collections curator at the Academy Film Archive. Michael Mortilla provided musical accompaniment to the silent film clips. Special guests in attendance to discuss the clips were Nicole Burke Stephenson, great granddaughter of actress Billie Burke; John Kimball, son of animator Ward Kimball; Miriam Nelson, choreographer and former wife of actor/dancer Gene Nelson; and Tim Zinnemann, son of director Fred Zinnemann. Mr. Haberkamp reminded the crowd to keep the film from their home videos after transferring them to DVD, since film last so much longer. Not long after that when the presentation began there was a small glitch on the DVD, emphasizing the durability of film that made the presenters and audience laugh. It’s difficult to choose highlights from the home movies because they’re so rare and interesting, but these are my top three:

  • My favorite footage was from the wrap party for It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), which took place at Lake Malibou in the summer of 1945. Though set in winter the film was actually shot from April to June of 1945, so the wrap party was a big picnic. With over four hundred cast and crew members present, it looked like a great party. A sunny day, filled with watermelon, swimming and baseball. Director Frank Capra, James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, and most of the Bailey children were all featured having a wonderful time.
  • Color footage of Alfred Hitchcock enjoying time with his family at his Shamley Green cottage shows the lesser seen lighthearted side of the master of suspense. From hamming it up inside his daughter Pat’s play pen to giving her piggyback rides on all fours around the lawn, you could easily see the affection he had for his wife Alma and daughter Pat. There was also a funny little scene where Hitchcock appeared to be un-eating a banana, with more of the fruit appearing each time he took a bite, rather than less.
  • Lastly, Tim Zinneman, son of director Fred Zinneman narrated footage from the Arizona set of Oklahoma! (1955). He was hired as an extra, since the film was shot over the summer. There was also great footage of Gene Nelson dancing and performing rope tricks, which his wife Miriam Nelson discussed.

The presentation ended with clips from various collections in the archive that should Hollywood elites playing with their pets and  animals on set. While it was mostly dogs and cats featured in the footage we also got to see Shirley Temple playing with goats on the set of Heidi (1937), Cary Grant riding an elephant on the set of Gunga Din (1939)