Many thanks to correspondent Lee Kaplan for sending along this Roger Ebert article from way back in 1997: Archivist Bradley was a true Hollywood classic. I remember when David Bradley passed away, Alain Silver told me it had happened but I never read an obituary. Everyone wondered where Bradley’s legendary archive of films had ended up. It was rumored that his vault carried a number of very rare silent titles.
I knew Bradley from UCLA, where he ran screening classes as an associate professor, showing films from his library. Bradley did have an odd personality. His lectures about film history and glamorous stars were highly dramatic, almost theatrical. He was especially fervent about silent films. He rented me a really good copy of Things to Come for a Sci-fi series. The first time I ever saw Major Dundee was in visiting professor Jim Kitses’ western class, and he showed Bradley’s 16mm ‘scope print. My memory of that first viewing is such a blur, I couldn’t say if there was anything special about that print, length or content-wise.
I’ve written before about my New Years’ Party experience at Bradley’s house in the Hollywood Hills, on the afternoon of January 1, 1977. I got to meet and talk to his guests: cinematographer Karl Struss, singer and star Miliza Korjus, and Ray Harryhausen and his wife — I had Harryhausen to myself for twenty minutes! On Bradley’s back porch was a miniature submarine from the silent Mysterious Island, rusting away. I would call this my only experience with a real Hollywood Party, and most of the guests were over 70.
Besides the David Bradley eccentricities and exploits mentioned by Ebert in his article, I later on read a bio of critic and writer James Agee, which mentioned that Bradley had been in New York circa 1949 trying to get a movie project going with Agee.
As seems to happen every month, a big list of Kino Lorber’s upcoming KL Studio Classics titles arrived. I’m still digging through what’s just out or due very shortly from Kino — Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, John Sayles’ and Bill Forsyth’s Breaking In, Val Guest’s Expresso Bongo, and an interesting double bill of vintage Brit crime pictures, Dancing with Crime & The Green Cockatoo (through Cohen Media, actually).
The February list has arrived, and it features an equal number of desirables, either ‘greats’ or pictures that pique our curiosity. The attention-getters are the 4K releases of Some Like it Hot, Touch of Evil and the Gary Oldman Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But my attention also goes to Preston Sturges’ The Great Moment (which I’ll defend any day), the Josephine Baker double bill Princess Tam Tam & Zou-Zou, Edgar G. Ulmer’s exploitation item Damaged Lives, the terrorism thriller The Final Option, and Bert I. Gordon’s embarrassingly loopy Village of the Giants — which was shot by Paul Vogel, and has a score by Jack Nitzsche that I want to hear.
And Paramount just announced a winner, a picture I’ve seen only on old fuzzy cablecasts — Robert Redford’s Ordinary People. Besides enjoying Mary Tyler Moore’s unusual role, the show made me want to be back in high school again because of Elizabeth McGovern’s performance, presence, whatever. What a debut for her. Ordinary People arrives a little later, on March 29.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson