Our Relations - Preservation

Using eight reels of nitrate dupe picture and track negatives, beautiful OUR RELATIONS safety preservation elements were manufactured in 1994. Only nominal pre-print wear shows at certain reel changes. It is a distinct pleasure to view 35mm prints derived from such pristine material.

As good as this material looks, even better nitrate pre-print material -- now vanished -- has been sent out and used for duplication purposes (and perhaps degraded as a result) by the proliferation of Roach library licensees over the past three decades. As was usually the case, either these master elements were not returned, or they were damaged. Or perhaps only projection prints were struck, not duplicating master material, and in the process the source material was just worn out thanks to more careless, cost-cutting, shortsighted thinking. Or no thinking at all.

To illustrate the extra dimension added by viewing beautiful, pin-sharp 35mm prints, author Scott MacGillivray extolled their virtues which were abundantly clear -- as well they should be -- during a 1986 theatrical revival arranged through Films Incorporated. "The 35mm format offered a wealth of definition, which was not as noticeable in smaller gauge copies," MacGillivray noted. "The prints were so good that eagle-eyed viewers could distinguish new subtleties in the backgrounds (paintings, furniture, etc.). In OUR RELATIONS, for example, James Finlayson gives the boys a battered one-dollar bill to split between them. The restored print disclosed every detail of the grimy, withered note -- making it plain the actual denomination was twenty dollars!"

One can also clearly see the tattoo on Babe Hardy's forearm in OUR RELATIONS during his impersonation of a Singapore Eskimo. That is, unless, of course, like Hardy your "eyes are getting worse every day," and those films, like this page "is just a blur."

The preservation elements manufactured in 1994 are now safely stored in a vault just outside of Munich, on a quiet street near fifth and eighth, catty-cornered between sixth and seventh, on ninth. On duty is an able, uniformed security guard who keeps a mallet handy, behind the bar.

-- by Richard W. Bann --