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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Helen Hill Books Into the Library of Congress

I had a fight with the Missus last night over whether the sun is hot or something, the landlord is in proud possession of a check that's going to bounce in two days unless I get $150 from the rent fairy, and I have this sinus infection that feels as if somebody did a lobotomy on me and forget to remove the ice pick when he was finished, so I really wasn't planning on being happy about anything today. Leave it to the National Film Registry to fuck that up. Every year the Library of Congress selects twenty-five films deemed to be of "artistic, cultural, or historical interest" for permanent preservation, and this year's bounty includes Scratch and Crow, a 1995 student film by the late, great Helen Hill, who was a friend of mine and the best person I have ever known who I did not address as "Grandmother."

Among the other films on the list, all of them thrilled to bursting at being seen in Helen's company, are Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West, Al Pacino bringing it in Dog Day Afternoon, the Bette Davis-William Wyler classic Jezebel, the 1911 Winsor McKay animation Little Nemo, the remarkable and only recently restored The Exiles, the lovable sci-fi fantasy The Incredible Shrinking Man, the Michael Jackson music video "Thriller", Chuck Workman's classic clip montage Precious Images, the Roy Rogers vehicle Under Western Stars, and the awesome independent cartoonist Sally Cruikshank's Quasi at the Quackadero. There's also Mrs. Miniver, which must have been deemed historically significant as all the bedamned to make up for its artistic and cultural failings, but then, the National Film Registry doesn't check with me about shit.

I apologize for the pettiness that often made Helen roll her eyes but, such was her loyal spirit, never caused her to hide behind a lamppost or pretend she didn't know me, even after security guards had been summoned. This is a happy day for everyone who's had something to do with keeping Helen's name and work alive, among them Helen's dashing brother Jake, her widower Paul Gailiunas, our invaluable mututal friend Jenny Davidson, Dan Streible and the sainted orphan film movement, and Peripheral Produce, which has made a DVD compilation of Helen's work, including Scratch and Crow and her masterpiece Mouseholes, available. It may seem that the preservation of the creative work of someone who was taken from us too cruelly soon is an odd thing to clutch onto as a hopeful sign for the year to come, but at this point, I'll take what I can get.


Tehanu said...

omigosh, quasi at the quackadero lives! Phil, you keep reminding me of all kinds of favorite things, so thanks!

Dan said...

Thanks for the orphan film movement beatification! On to MMX.

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