In 1938, the same year celebrated filmmaker Orson Welles freaked out a nation with his radio broadcast of an adaptation of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds, he also created a silly slapstick comedy on film. The film, Too Much Johnson, was originally thought to be lost but it has been found!
Discovered in a warehouse in Pordenone, a town in Northeast Italy, the 35mm nitrate work was swiftly turned over to the George Eastman House – which specializes in the restoration and preservation of film.
Dr Paolo Cherchi Usai, a senior curator at the George Eastman House says, “We may never fully understand the mystery of why it was abandoned. What matters now is that it is safe, and that it will be seen.”
Usai and his team completely understand how valuable this discovery is. He tells the LA Times, “This is by far the most important film restoration by George Eastman House in a very long time. Holding in one’s hands the very same print that had been personally edited by Orson Welles 75 years ago provokes an emotion that’s just impossible to describe.”
The film was thought to have been destroyed in a fire in Orson’s Spanish villa but somehow it ended up in the Italian warehouse.
The film will premiere October 9 in the Italian town where the film was discovered, at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, in Pordenone’s silent film festival. It will then premiere the next week at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY. There are plans to also make the short available online.
I can not wait to get a glimpse into the early filmmaking mind of Orson Welles! I am seriously film geeked out over this news.
George Eastman House showing restoration process of the Welles film:
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