Preservationist David Shepard, Film Four founder David Rose, stuntwoman Paula Dell…
Back in Sight & Sound, Pamela Hutchinson: "Without the pioneering work of film preservationist David Shepard, who died this week, our understanding of silent cinema would be much poorer. Shepard not only sought out and restored silent films, but he was determined to release as many as possible on to home video, where they could be enjoyed by the widest audiences. He owned the formidable BlackHawk Films library and ran Film Preservation Associates, but also collaborated with imprints and festivals worldwide—as well as contributing Méliès clips to Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011). Among many other names, he preserved and shared films by Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Cecil B. DeMille, Raoul Walsh, Fritz Lang, Abel Gance and D.W. Griffith."
In the Hollywood Reporter, Etan Vlessing gathers remembrances from Toronto Silent Film Festival director Shirley Hughes, Kino Lorber, Louise Brooks Society founder and director Thomas Gladysz and historian David Kiehn of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Stephen Galloway quotes tributes from Leonard Maltin, Alexander Payne and USC film school dean Elizabeth Daley and adds: "Among the titles he helped restore were such classics as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1917), The Birth of a Nation (1915), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), City Lights (1931), Foolish Wives (1922), The Gold Rush (1925), The General (1926), Intolerance (1916), The Great Train Robbery (1903), The Kid (1921), Nanook of the North (1922), Nosferatu (1922), Sherlock Jr. (1924), The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and Sunrise (1927)."
"David Rose, who has died at the age of 92, had a truly remarkable career in television, both as a producer and as a director, but he was also widely regarded as the founding figure of what is now Film Four." From the BFI: "Talent such as Judi Dench, Alison Steadman and Joss Ackland all had guest roles in Rose’s shows and he collaborated with luminaries such as David Hare, Ken Loach, Alan Clarke, Bill Kenwright, Colin Welland and Alan Plater…. Between 1982, when Channel 4 went live, and 1990, when he retired, David (backed by Jeremy Isaacs) created one of the channel’s most enduring strands, Film on Four, and effectively launched the careers of many now hugely successful writers and directors, with iconic films such as My Beautiful Laundrette (Stephen Frears, 1985), Letter to Brezhnev (Chris Bernard, 1985) and Mona Lisa (Neil Jordan, 1986)."
Experimental filmmaker Werner Nekes is gone, reports Artforum. He was 72. In 1967, "he cofounded the Filmmacher-Cooperative Hamburg (as well as a basement cinema) with future filmmakers Helmut Herbst, Thomas Struck, Klaus Wyborny, and Heinz Emigholz…. Beginning in the 1980s, Nekes directed several feature films, best known among them were Beuys (1981)—winner of the German Film Critics Prize—and the commercially successful parody, Johnny Flash (1986). Among cinephiles Nekes was also known for creating an internationally renowned collection of devices, art, and ephemera pertaining to the history of filmmaking, including toys, magic lanterns, panopticons, and more."
Director Robert Ellis Miller has passed away at the age of 89, reports Dani Levy for Variety. "Miller made his feature film directorial debut with Any Wednesday in 1967, starring Jane Fonda and Jason Robards. His 1968 The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, based on the Carson McCullers novel, won Oscar noms for stars Alan Arkin and newcomer Sondra Locke. The film also introduced Stacy Keach and Cicely Tyson in their first major screen debuts. He then directed The Buttercup Chain, which screened in the 1970 Cannes Film Festival. Other actors who had early success in Miller’s films included Anthony Hopkins in The Girl from Petrovka and Kelly McGillis in Reuben, Reuben, the latter of which also earned Tom Conti an Oscar nom for best actor."
From Mark Schilling in the Japan Times: "Hiroki Matsukata, who died at age 74 on Jan. 21, may have been born into an acting family—his father was jidaigeki (historical drama) actor Jushiro Konoe—but in his yakuza films for the Toei studio in the 1960s and ’70s, Matsukata’s portrayals of feral-but-charming hoods seemed to boil up off the streets, not a studio lot."
"Paula Dell, whose acrobatic feats made her a Muscle Beach star in Santa Monica, Calif., and a pioneering and fearless Hollywood stuntwoman—for one film, she was shot out of a cannon—died on Jan. 9 at her home in Santa Monica," reports Richard Sandomir for the New York Times. "Ms. Dell found stunt work in films like the 1963 Disney comedy Son of Flubber, with Fred MacMurray, and in Otto Preminger’s 1965 war epic In Harm’s Way. Her cannon feat came as Carol Channing’s stunt double in the 1967 film musical Thoroughly Modern Millie." Dell was 90 and, in the wake of her death, the NYT's asked eight stuntwomen to reflect on their careers.
"Mike Connors, the lantern-jawed star of CBS’s long-running detective show Mannix, has died," reports William Hughes at the AV Club. "Running for seven years, Mannix was a throwback to the good old days of the classic detective show, where cases were solved with quick wits and quicker punches, as opposed to gimmicks or newfangled gadgets…. None of it would have worked without Connors, casting a wry, amused smile over the intimidating efforts of what seemed like Hollywood’s entire stable of menacing, tough-faced character actors."
"Mary Webster, who starred opposite Jerry Lewis in the comedy The Delicate Delinquent and with Vincent Price in the sci-fi film Master of the World, has died," reports Mike Barnes in the Hollywood Reporter. Webster, who was 81, "also appeared in the 1957 features The Tin Star, directed by Anthony Mann and starring Henry Fonda and Anthony Perkins."
And "Hal Geer, a film editor, writer, director and producer for animation at Warner Bros. and Disney, has died. He was 100…. Geer worked on 25 feature films (including 1953's Peter Pan), more than 500 television shows, 400 commercials and 100 short-subject films."
Barbara Hale, "who played the title lawyer’s secretary Della Street on every episode of Perry Mason and appeared on the big screen opposite many of Hollywood’s top leading men," was 94, reports Erik Pedersen for Deadline.
The New York Times' William Grimes reports on a passing not immediately related to cinema, but still: "Dore Ashton, an art historian and critic who wrote some of the earliest and most insightful histories of Abstract Expressionism and the leading painters of the New York School, died on Monday in the Bronx. She was 88." Thomas Micchelli for Hyperallergic: "Her writing career spanned the 1950s to the middle of the current decade, with more than thirty books and countless exhibition catalogues, magazine articles, and newspaper reviews to her credit…. Unlike other writers to emerge from the grand American experiment of Abstract Expressionism, most notably Clement Greenberg, she never attempted to prescribe what art should become. She knew that it was a fleet-footed chameleon, as manifested by her subsequent advocacy of artists as diverse as Hiroshi Teshigahara, Alfredo Jaar, and John Walker."