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Podcast Episode 166: The Academy Film Archive

Film preservationist talks about restoring a pre-Code film to its uncensored glory

Photo credit: United Artists

Billie Dove stars in the Howard Hughes-produced 1932 pre-Code comedy "Cock of the Air," which the Academy restored to its uncensored glory.

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I may hate the Academy for some of its Oscar choices but I have nothing but praise for the work it does to preserve film history. I speak with Josef Lindner, the preservation officer at the Academy Film Archive about the challenges of preserving and restoring films. As an example we discuss the pre-Code comedy naughtily titled Cock of the ... Read more →

Aired: April 26, 2019 | Transcript

On my last podcast I spoke with Fox archivist Schawn Belston about preserving a studio’s history. Now, I speak with Josef Lindner, the preservation officer at the Academy Film Archive, about preserving and restoring films like the 1932 pre-Code film "Cock of the Air."

I may hate the Academy for some of its Oscar choices, but I have nothing but praise for the work it does to preserve film history. My discussion with Lindner will focus in part on the epic work the Academy did in restoring the pre-Code comedy naughtily titled "Cock of the Air," but what else would you expect from producer Howard Hughes.

"Cock of the Air" is a perfect example of a pre-Code comedy loaded with verbal and visual innuendo. I was so enchanted with the film at the TCM Classic Film Festival a couple years ago that I worked with Film Geeks SD to program it as part of the year-long film series I do with Miguel Rodriguez. I will be co-hosting a screening of the Academy’s restored print on May 5 at Digital Gym Cinema.

The film was made in 1932 when the Production Code dictating what could and could not be shown onscreen was in place but not really being enforced. The resulting film serves up a delicious sex comedy about a lusty chanteuse and the womanizing pilot or "cock of the air" that she sets her sights on.

Lindner and his team of film preservationists work all year long on a variety of projects from saving feature films to collecting home movies to making sure the Academy has copies of all the films that have won or been nominated for Oscars.

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