Throwback Thursday: The Professor’s First Treasure

Between this blog and my previous one, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest, I’ve been writing about movies for quite a while now. Because of that, there are a lot of posts that have simply gotten lost to the mists of time. So, I figured I’d use the idea of “Throwback Thursday” to spotlight some of those older posts, re-presenting them pretty much exactly as they first appeared except for updating links where necessary or possible, and doing just a bit of re-formatting to help them fit better into the style of this blog. Hope you enjoy these looks back. 

Okay, you’ll notice that in the intro I reference my previous blog, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest, and since we celebrated Public Domain Day yesterday, I thought it might bea good time to look back at the very first post that appeared on that blog, and if you’re expecting it to be some black and white creeper from the 20s, well, you may be surprised.

So here we go, from way back in February of 2010…

(Oh, and just to show how complicated all of this copyright/public domain business can be, I’m planning a follow-up post for Saturday on the current status of McLintock!.

Yes. For Saturday. “But what about the Saturday Double Feature?!”

Hey, I told you there were going to be some changes around here, didn’t i?

Anyway…)


 

Monday Oaters – McLintock! (1963) starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara

mc1Hello, kiddies! Or perhaps today I should say “Howdy, Pilgrims!” It’s your humble host Professor Damian with today’s offering from the public domain treasure chest, and we’re starting off with a great one!

In 1963, 13 years after they had first appeared together in the John Ford epic Rio Grande and 11 years after they both appeared in what may be Wayne’s greatest non-western movie, The Quiet Man, John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara came together once again to bring the story of The Taming of the Shrew to the wild west.

In the movie, Wayne plays George Washington McLintock, a cattle baron, mine owner, lumberyard boss, and generally the biggest man (physically and financially) in a town that has even been named after him. However, no matter how big McLintock may be, his biggest challenge may have just arrived on the morning train. No, it’s not a gunslinger come to challenge the rancher. Or even one of the new settlers who are intent on farming land given to them by the government. No, the true challenge to McLintock’s power (and his sanity) is his estranged wife, Katherine (O’Hara) who has just returned to town to meet up with their daughter, Becky, (Stephanie Powers) who is coming home from college. Katherine plans to take Becky east to start a new life, but McLintock is, shall we say, less than thrilled with the idea.

The sparks soon begin to fly, but the question soon becomes: will the two exes simply burn each other up, or are the sparks merely a prelude to renewed romantic fireworks?

The film definitely has its ups and downs. The chemistry between the two leads is immediately obvious, and they are backed by a supporting cast that not only includes Powers and Wayne’s son Patrick and daughter Aissa, but also the lovely Yvonne De Carlo (yes, Lily Munster herself), Jerry Van Dyke, Bruce Cabot, Strother Martin, and Chill Wills as Mclintock’s right hand man Drago.

The highlight of the movie has to be the oft highlighted “mud fight scene”, which begins with Drago trying to calm his boss down. “I know, I know. I’m gonna use good judgement,” Mclintock says through gritted teeth. “I haven’t lost my temper in forty years, but pilgrim you caused a lot of trouble this morning, might have got somebody killed… and somebody oughta belt you in the mouth. But I won’t.” He begins to turn away. “I won’t… The HELL I won’t!”

mc2And with that he belts the other man, knocking him down a hill and into a mud pit. Donnybrooking soon ensues. (The entire scene can be seen here.)

On the negative side, the movie is definitely a product of its time and attitudes. One of the reasons that I chose to feature the poster above is that it highlights one of the scenes that has been, in later years, highly criticised. Actually there are two spanking scenes in the movie, one in which Mclintock turns Katherine over his knee, another which involves Becky and her fiancee. For those who are offended by that kind of thing, I can only say that it seems to me sort of part-and-parcel with the whole Taming of the Shrew theme, and also that throughout the movie, it seems that both women for the most part give as good as they get.

Then there is the portrayal of Native Americans. I’m not even going to try to defend this one, though I will say that it seems at least a bit more enlightened than some of Wayne’s earlier “Injun Fighter” westerns. At a couple of points, McLintock is shown as a fighter for indian rights and rescues a Comanche friend from hanging for a crime he didn’t commit. At one point, one of the characters even has the dialogue “Yes, I know I’m an Indian. But I’m also the fastest runner in town. I’ve got a college education and I’m also the railroad telegrapher. But does anybody say ‘Hello Runner’ or ‘Hello College Man’ or ‘Hello Telegrapher’? No! Not even ‘Hello Knothead’! It’s always ‘Let the Indian do it.'”

So how did a movie from 1963 with a major star like John Wayne, produced by his own Batjac production company wind up in the Public Domain? The answer is simple. When the movie was made, in 1963, the term for copyrights was 28 years with a possible 28 year extension. When the time for renewal came up in 1991, Wayne’s son, Michael, who was in charge of Batjac at the time, failed to file for the extension. Therefore it automatically fell into the Public Domain.

And now, just to whet your appetite and give you a taste of this gem from the Public Domain, here is the trailer for McLintock!

OK, enough commentary. Here’s the skinny:

Title: McLintock!
Release Date: 1963
Running Time: 127 min.
Color
Stars: John Wayne, Mureen O’Hara, Patrick Wayne, Stephanie Powers
Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
Producer: Michael Wayne
Production Company: Batjac
Distributed by: United Artists

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting
-Professor Damian

Happy Public Domain Day 2020!!

pdd1

Looking back, I see that I wasn’t blogging this time last year, and that’s a shame, because that’s the first time i would have been able to wish you a Happy Public Domain Day instead of an (Un)Happy one as had become the annual tradition around here. Why? Because last year was the first in far, far too long that new items were actually allowed to enter the Public Domain here in the U.S.

Why it’s almost enough to make me want to revive my old blog, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest.

Almost.

But not quite.

I do have some ideas about what to do with some of that material and research, but that will have to wait for another time. Today we’re here to celebrate!

pdd4So what is Public Domain Day? well, as of last year, it the day that we celebrate new works actually entering the Public Domain. Of course, it’s still only a partial celebration, since, up until the copyright law was changes in 1978 and subsequently, most of the items we’re celebrating today would have become your property much, much earlier, and  there is a treasure trove of material that should be available that won’t be for years to come. As a matter of fact, the ones that would have been released before those changes won’t actually become part of the common weal until 2058. Again, though, that only applies to the U.S. Other countries have other laws regarding copyright and the Public Domain, so depending on where you’re reading this from, you may have more or less reason to celebrate.

So wait… I keep using this term “Public Domain”, but what exactly is the Public Domain, and what does it mean if a work is part of it? Well, to quote the Duke Law School’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain

The public domain is the realm of material — ideas, images, sounds, discoveries, facts, texts — that is unprotected by intellectual property rights and free for all to use or build upon. It includes our collective cultural and scientific heritage, and the raw materials for future expression, research, democratic dialogue and education.

pdd2To take that a little further,

Public domain material is “free” as in “free speech,” not “free” as in “free beer” — because it is unprotected by intellectual property rights, it is free of centralized control as a legal matter, and you can use it without having to get permission. But we hope that in many cases it would also be available at little or no cost. So for example, the works of Charles Dickens are in the public domain even though they are still for sale, but if you love A Tale of Two Cities you can freely translate it, make it into a movie, or turn it into a present-day tale of two cities without permission. Conversely, many copyrighted works may be available free of cost online, but because they are copyrighted you would need permission before translating or selling or adapting them.

Okay, all of that is fine, I hear you say, but how can I actually use material that’s in the Public Domain?, Well…

Below are only a few examples of activities enabled by a robust public domain… Artists of all kinds — writers, musicians, filmmakers, painters — rely on the public domain: “Poetry can only be made out of other poems, novels out of other novels,” as the critic Northrop Frye put it. Creators draw on previous works, and on the cultural artifacts around them; they remix vintage footage with new clips, turn books into plays and musicals, borrow lyrics and melodies from old songs, adapt classic stories to present day circumstances. For example, you or your children may have been transfixed by Disney’s beloved versions of CinderellaSnow White, Pinocchio, and The Little Mermaid, which are based on public domain works by Charles Perrault, The Brothers Grimm, Carlo Collodi, and Hans Christian Anderson….

Libraries, museums, historians, archivists, teachers, filmmakers, publishers, and database creators rely on the public domain to collect, preserve, and teach us about our past. Anyone can freely restore and digitize works published in 1924 and before, but far too many projects have had to abandon older works because of the extraordinarily long copyright term. Libraries avoid digitizing important resources, archives and databases are incomplete, important historical images are redacted from documentaries, museums cannot publish or digitize millions of pages of archival documents, photographs, oral histories, and reels of film (as the US Copyright Office has explained), all because the copyright ownership of these orphan works cannot be determined…

pdd3The case of film preservation is particularly troubling because older films are literally disintegrating, soon to be lost forever. The overwhelming majority of our cinematic heritage consists of orphan films — they are covered by copyright but have no ascertainable copyright owner. They include newsreels, documentaries, anthropological films, portraits of minority life in the United States, instructional films, and even some Hollywood studio productions. Because copyright law prevents scholars and citizens from using these orphan films (including copying and restoring them for preservation), the existing copies are actually disintegrating….

And I could keep quoting, but I think by now you get the idea, and if you want to read more I’ll simply direct you to this page. And even more info can be found here.

So after all that, what is actually entering the Public Domain today? Well, here are just a few examples:

Films:

  • Buster Keaton’s Sherlock, Jr. and The Navigator
  • Harold Lloyd’s Girl Shy and Hot Water
  • The first film adaptation of Peter Pan
  • The Sea Hawk
  • Secrets
  • He Who Gets Slapped
  • Dante’s Inferno

Books:

  • Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
  • E.M. Forster, A Passage to India
  • Ford Madox Ford, Some Do Not… (the first volume of his “Parade’s End” tetralogy)
  • Eugene O’Neill, Desire Under the Elms
  • Edith Wharton, Old New York (four novellas)
  • Yevgeny Zamyatin, We (the English translation by Gregory Zilboorg)
  • A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
  • Hugh Lofting, Doctor Dolittle’s Circus
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan and the Ant Men
  • Agatha Christie, The Man in the Brown Suit
  • Lord Dunsany (Edward Plunkett), The King of Elfland’s Daughter

Music:

  • Rhapsody in Blue, George Gershwin
  • Fascinating Rhythm and Oh, Lady Be Good, music George Gershwin, lyrics Ira Gershwin
  • Lazy, Irving Berlin
  • Jealous Hearted Blues, Cora “Lovie” Austin (composer, pianist, bandleader) (recorded by Ma Rainey)
  • Santa Claus Blues, Charley Straight and Gus Kahn (recorded by Louis Armstrong)
  • Nobody’s Sweetheart, music Billy Meyers and Elmer Schoebel, lyrics Gus Kahn and Ernie Erdman

And so, so, much more. All of which is great, and cause to celebrate. But when you look at what might have been before the changes in the law, well, I’ll quote one last time:

pdd5…under the laws that were in effect until 1978, thousands of works from 1963 would be entering the public domain this year. They range from the books The Fire Next Time and Where the Wild Things Are, to the film The Birds and the albums and The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, and much more. Have a look at some of the others. In fact, since copyright used to come in renewable terms of 28 years, and 85% of authors did not renew, 85% of the works from 1991 might be entering the public domain! Imagine what the great libraries of the world—or just internet hobbyists—could do: digitizing those holdings, making them available for education and research, for pleasure and for creative reuse.

Anyway, let’s be positive and grateful today that we’re finally getting something, and that congress didn’t change the laws again just to make sure that the giant corporations that either control so much of our media or make it nearly impossible to work with what we do have could maintain mastery over this, too.

And with that, I’ll wish you a Happy Public Domain Day, and also a very, very Happy New Year!

(Un)Happy Public Domain Day – 2017 Edition

puub17So what do the founder of the Surrealist movement, a star of the silent film era, the Japanese author behind the popularization of Buddhism in the West, two female writers at the heart of the Modernist scene, and one of the “fathers of science fiction” have in common this year?

If you guessed that they’re among the creators whose works will be entering the Public Domain this year in other countries but not in the U.S., then you’re right.

Sigh…

Yep, once again, in what has become an annual tradition, it’s time to not celebrate Public Domain Day.

pub001What’s Public Domain Day? Simply put, it’s the day that we recognize the deleterious effects of the changes in copyright law since it was changed in 1978 and subsequently which have kept most of the things that would have gone into the public domain from doing so, and will continue to keep anything new from entering it until at least 2019, and in many cases even longer. As a matter of fact, that 2019 date only applies to the earliest works that will be eligible to enter the public domain. The ones that would be joining it this year most likely won’t actually become a part of it until 2056. And that’s if Congress doesn’t shift the dates on us again, which is altogether likely to happen. This is true for the U.S., though it is not necessarily so in Canada and much of the EU or other parts of the world.

For those of you wondering about the names of the individuals included in the list above, here’s a partial list of this year’s “honorees” courtesy of this page: André Breton; Buster Keaton; László Moholy-Nagy, Gertrude Stein; H. G. Wells; Frank O’Hara; Alfred Stieglitz, Evelyn Waugh; D. T. Suzuki; Paul Nash; Mina Loy, Walt Disney,  W. C. Fields, Lenny Bruce, an C. S. Forester. An that’s just a snippet of the list of authors whose works would be eligible. (More information about each them can be found at the link above or at their respective Wikipedia pages.) As far as movies go, the list includes: The Time Machine, Psycho, Spartacus, Exodus, The Apartment, Inherit the Wind, The Magnificent Seven, Ocean’s 11, The Alamo, The Andy Griffith Show (first episodes) The Flintstones(first episodes).

So what would these works being in the public domain mean in practical terms? As the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School puts it:

pub002Readers interested in iconic stories of courage in the face of racial injustice, or middle class America in the late 1950s, or just great literature, would have something to celebrate. In the current political climate, Shirer’s work, and also those of Hayek, Bell, and Schlesinger, might provide food for thought. And Dr. Seuss’s beloved books would be legally available for free online for children (of all ages).

You would be free to use these books in your own stories, adapt them for theater, animate them, or make them into a film. You could translate them into other languages, or create accessible Braille or audio versions. You could read them online or buy cheaper print editions, because others were free to republish them. Empirical studies have shown that public domain books are less expensive, available in more editions and formats, and more likely to be in print—see here, here, and here. Take, for example, The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater—like the works listed above, it was published in 1960; but unlike those works, it’s in the public domain because the copyright was not renewed. You can legally download it for free, and the purchase price for an eBook is $0.99, instead of $10 or $20.

Imagine a digital Library of Alexandria containing all of the world’s books from 1960 and earlier, where, thanks to technology, you can search, link, annotate, copy and paste.

Beyond even that, though, our film heritage is suffering even more. Again, from Duke Law:

The case of film preservation is particularly troubling because older films are literally disintegrating, soon to be lost forever. The overwhelming majority of our cinematic heritage consists of orphan films — they are covered by copyright but have no ascertainable copyright owner. They include newsreels, documentaries, anthropological films, portraits of minority life in the United States, instructional films, and even some Hollywood studio productions. Because copyright law prevents scholars and citizens from using these orphan films (including copying and restoring them for preservation), the existing copies are actually disintegrating. This is because the cellulose nitrate base on which they were made makes them prone to shrinkage, to outgassing that destroys the film’s emulsion, and even to spontaneous combustion. The vast majority (upwards of 90%) of films from the 1910s have already decayed beyond the possibility of restoration. The numbers are only slightly better for works from 1920 to 1950. And the number of orphan films is staggering. As of 2005, of the 13,000 films housed at the Museum of Modern Art, over half were orphan works unavailable to the public. Vast numbers of the 150,000 titles held at the Library of Congress and the 46,000 tiles at the UCLA Film and Television Archive were also orphan films. (For more information, see the 2005 Report on Orphan Films submitted by the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at the invitation of the Copyright Office.) The law does allow libraries and archives (not preservationists generally) to digitize films during the last 20 years of their copyright term, but only in limited circumstances: the library or archive first has to determine through a “reasonable investigation” both that the work is not being commercially exploited, and that they cannot obtain another copy of it at a reasonable price.

Learn more about the situation in the U.S. and why the public domain is important in this article in Huff Post Books and this from the Duke Law School’s Centre for the Study of the Public Domain.

(Un)Happy Public Domain Day 2016

pdd

Once again, in what has become an annual tradition, it’s time to not celebrate Public Domain Day.

What’s Public Domain Day? Simply put, it’s the day that we recognize the deleterious effects of the changes in copyright law since it was changed in 1978 and subsequently which have kept most of the things that would have gone into the public domain from doing so, and will continue to keep anything new from entering it until at least 2019, and in many cases even longer. This is true for the U.S., though it is not necessarily so in Canada and much of the EU.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about all of this here today, instead referring you to this page for a good explanation of why the situation is the way it is and why all of this matters (or at least should) to all of you and to this page for a good look at what could have been entering the public domain today and isn’t. Take a look, the list may surprise you.

Jewels Of The Public Domain Treasure Chest – The Cat And The Canary (1925)

I’ve mentioned before that quite a few years back I ran another blog, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest. In it I tried to spotlight some of the real jewels that can be found in the Public Domain. It’s been quite a while since I’ve actually updated the site, but there’s quite a few pieces there that I still think are deserving of attention, so I thought I’d begin to spotlight some of them in a new occasional feature, “Jewels Of The Public Domain Treasure Chest”. For the most part I’m going to be running them just as they were posted then, except for – as I’ve done with this post – editing a bit of the grammar, fixing a couple of links, and adding a few more graphics just to make it fit in a little better with the other posts here. I hope you’ll enjoy this little blast from the past, and let me know what you think about it in the comments.

cc1aOk, gang, time to jump into the way-way-back machine and set the dial for 1927, and the American debut of famed German director Paul Leni who has just combined the expressionism movement of his home country with the burgeoning horror-comedy genre of this country to create what may be one of the most influential films of the mid 1920s, The Cat and the Canary.

Now I’ve made no bones before about my love for the so-called “old dark house” genre of films. I’ve used the analogy before, but in a lot of ways,  for me sitting down for one of these movies is like tucking into a favorite meal of… oh, go ahead and pick your own comfort food. It’s the kind of thing where it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve eaten it, no matter how well you may know the taste of it, that’s a large part of the enjoyment of it. You know what I’m talking about, the kind of thing that may bring back special memories, maybe from your childhood, maybe of a particular time with someone special, maybe of a place that you once visited and want to go back to. It’s the kind of thing you maybe keep in the back of your mind when you go to a new restaurant, something that even if you’re unsure of the menu, you know that you’re going to enjoy this particular dish. That’s how I feel about old dark house mysteries – they’re my fall back comfort food, because even when they’re not that great, there’s usually some aspect of them that I can enjoy.

cc3But if the old dark house mysteries are comfort food, then watching The Cat and the Canary was, for me, like going back to the place where it all started, finding that little English pub or off the byway place where your favorite dish was created. Or maybe talking to the great grandparent that first came up with the secret family recipe and realizing that all along there had been something missing. Like taking that first bite and realizing that no matter how many times you’ve had the dish, how many variations you’ve tried, there really is nothing quite like the original.Now I’ve made no bones before about my love for the so-called “old dark house” genre of films. I’ve used the analogy before, but in a lot of ways,  for me sitting down for one of these movies is like tucking into a favorite meal of… oh, go ahead and pick your own comfort food. It’s the kind of thing where it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve eaten it, no matter how well you may know the taste of it, that’s a large part of the enjoyment of it. You know what I’m talking about, the kind of thing that may bring back special memories, maybe from your childhood, maybe of a particular time with someone special, maybe of a place that you once visited and want to go back to. It’s the kind of thing you maybe keep in the back of your mind when you go to a new restaurant, something that even if you’re unsure of the menu, you know that you’re going to enjoy this particular dish. That’s how I feel about old dark house mysteries – they’re my fall back comfort food, because even when they’re not that great, there’s usually some aspect of them that I can enjoy.

cc2

Like I said at the first, the year is 1927. Carl Laemmle, one of the founders of Universal Studios, was reaching back to his home country of Germany to bring in new talent. One of those he invited to come direct movies for him was Paul Leni, who was already beginning to make a name for himself as he explored the boundaries of what was becoming known as the “expressionist” movement in film. Now, expressionism can and has been defined in many different ways, but basically it seeks to combine certain stylized visuals with the narrative structure of the film in a way that tends to affect the viewer not only mentally but emotionally. Sometimes this involves shooting a sequence with an odd camera angle. Sometimes it involves odd, often stylized and overpowering architecture. Sometimes it involves the superimposition of seemingly unrelated objects into the frame. Whatever form it takes, however, the effect is generally one of keeping the audience off-balance, and of trying to bring a more visceral feel to the proceedings. This is the influence that Leni was able to bring with him to Universal and to the beginning of what would be a long line of horror and horror-comedy films, and this influence can be felt from the very opening sequence of the movie.

cc6The film opens with what could have been a fairly standard sequence, as we are given the history of one Cyrus West, a millionaire who is approaching death. West lives alone in a huge mansion with only his caretaker, the ironically-named, ever-frowning Mammy Pleasant for company. However, as news of his impending death spreads, we are told that he is descended upon “like cats around a canary” by his greedy family who attempt to drive him insane. Interspersed with this narrative are scenes of West, flailing about the screen, but instead of being shown how his family is treating him or perhaps seeing him lying on his death bed, he is instead superimposed upon a model of his towering mansion, which instead of providing space and refuge seems instead to imprison and confine the old man. Then as the narrative goes on to tell of the medicines and potions he is taking, the towers of his mansion are slowly echoed and replaced by the bottles containing those potions. And still the old man is trapped, and his growing despair and desperation is made evident. Meanwhile, behind the bottles, we have another superimposition of menacing black cats, towering over both the bottles/mansion and the man. Yes, it is, perhaps a bit too spot-on literal, but there is a power to it, nonetheless.

cc5Finally the old man passes, slumping into his chair, and we see, coming slowly into focus, an envelope, and written on the outside of it is “Last Will and Testament of Cyrus West. To be opened twenty years after my death”.  This scene then fades back to show us just the mansion and then a furred, long-clawed hand enters the frame and picks up another envelope reading “This envelope is never to be opened if the terms of my will are carried out.” The clawed hand replaces the envelope, the scene fades, and a card tells us “and for twenty years, it was said, the tormented ghost of Cyrus West wandered nightly through the deserted corridors”, at which point, we the viewers become the ghost himself, wandering the hallways of the mansion, ever vigilant. Another card appears: “But on the night when the will was to be read, there was something more tangible than a ghost in the house”, and though we go back to the same first person perspective, wandering through the hallways, this time our way is illuminated by the beam of a flashlight. It falls upon a safe which is opened by a gloved hand, and we see one of the envelopes being replaced in the safe. It is only after this opening mood setting five minutes that we see the first of the participants in our drama-to-come, and the mayhem, murder, and accusations begin.

Ok, enough of me telling you about it, instead, here’s a very short scene which shows not only the exterior of the mansion and the creepy clawed hand I mentioned above menacing our sleeping heroine, but also the sometimes innovative use of even the intertitles. I do think in this version the atmosphere is somewhat undercut by the score, but it was, unfortunately, the best that I could find.

Ok, let’s take a look at the skinny for this flick, shall we?

Title: The Cat and the Canary
Release Date: 1927
Running Time: 82 min
Silent
Tinted Black and White
Stars: Laura La Plante, Forrest Stanley, Creighton Hale
Directed by:  Paul Leni
Produced by:  Paul Kohner
Distributed by:  Universal Pictures
Adapted from the 1922 play by John Willard

The Cat and the Canary is available to watch for free or as a free legal download here.

Want To Play Over 900 Classic Arcade Games For Free? Head Over To The Intenet Arcade!

ia1I’ve written about and/or mentioned the Internet Archive quite a bit over the years. The effort that they have put into preserving our pop- (and at times, not-so-pop-) culture deserves an incredible amount of commendation, as they serve as a repository for countless online books, films, radio shows, television shows, magazines, photographs, concerts, recordings, and so much more.

And now they’ve added a new collection to the site: The Internet Arcade!

Here’s the description, straight from the site:

The Internet Arcade is a web-based library of arcade (coin-operated) video games from the 1970s through to the 1990s, emulated in JSMAME, part of the JSMESS software package. Containing hundreds of games ranging through many different genres and styles, the Arcade provides research, comparison, and entertainment in the realm of the Video Game Arcade.

The game collection ranges from early “bronze-age” videogames, with black and white screens and simple sounds, through to large-scale games containing digitized voices, images and music. Most games are playable in some form, although some are useful more for verification of behavior or programming due to the intensity and requirements of their systems.

Yes, these are games that you can play, for free, directly in your browser. They appear to work best in Firefox, though any browser will, theoretically at least, work.

I haven’t had much of a chance to check these games out for myself, partly because of the “sinkhole effect”: I know once I start I might as well give up on getting anything else done for quite awhile. Nonetheless, it looks like a pretty amazing collection, and I can’t help but suggest that if you’re interested in spending some time playing these games or just seeing what they have to offer, you head right on over. All you’ve got to do is click here.

Once again, I simply have to say “kudos” to the folks over at the Internet Archives for really working hard at preserving so much of our shared cultural heritage alive online Thanks gang!

Happy Public Domain Day! Unless, Of Course, You’re In The U.S.

pdd2014Yep, it’s the first of January, and time to celebrate all of those great books, stories, characters, films, recordings, and everything else that enters the Public Domain today.

So what new treasures are on tap to enter the P.D. this year? Well, according to The Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School, if it weren’t for the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978) this would be the year that works from 1957 would be entering the P.D. (and don’t forget that anything prior to that would already be there) So, among the list of books would be:

  • Samuel Beckett, Endgame (“Fin de partie”, the original French version)
  • Jack Kerouac, On the Road (completed 1951, published 1957)
  • Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
  • Margret Rey and H.A. Rey, Curious George Gets a Medal
  • Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel), How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat
  • Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley, The Untouchables
  • Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays
  • Walter Lord, Day of Infamy
  • Studs Terkel, Giants of Jazz
  • Corbett H. Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley, The Three Faces of Eve
  • Ian Fleming, From Russia, with Love
  • Ann Weldy (as Ann Bannon), Odd Girl Out
  • A.E. Van Vogt, Empire of the Atom

2014whatcouldhavebeencollage

Then there are the films and TV shows,, such as:

  • The Incredible Shrinking Man (Based on Richard Matheson’s 1956 book The Shrinking Man)
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai (Best Picture, Best Director (David Lean), Best Actor (Alec Guinness); also starring William Holden, Jack Hawkins and Sessue Hayakawa)
  • A Farewell to Arms (Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones)
  • Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas)
  • 3:10 to Yuma (1957 original starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin)
  • Island in the Sun (James Mason, Joan Fontaine, Dorothy Dandridge, and introducing Harry Belafonte)
  • Witness for the Prosecution (Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester)
  • 12 Angry Men (Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klugman, Ed Begley, and more)
  • Sweet Smell of Success (Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis)
  • Jailhouse Rock (Elvis Presley)
  • The Prince and the Showgirl (Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe)
  • Funny Face (Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire . . . and Paris as only Hollywood can imagine it)
  • An Affair to Remember (Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr . . . and the Empire State Building)
  • Nights of Cabiria (written and directed by Federico Fellini and starring Giulietta Masina)
  • The Seventh Seal (written and directed by Ingmar Bergman and starring Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot)
  • What’s Opera, Doc? (Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd do Wagner)
  • The first episodes of Leave It to Beaver and Perry Mason
  • Elvis Presley’s third and final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 6, 1957 (CBS refused to show his gyrating hips)

And then there are all of the sound recordings and artworks and other cultural artifacts, and that doesn’t begin to take in the items from 1985 whose copyright would be up for renewal this year, meaning it would be up to the copyright holder to decide if it were worth it to renew the copyright or not.

So what will actually be entering the U.S. Public Domain this year?

Just as has been the case every year since 1978, the answer is simple:

Nothing.

Yep, You read that right.

Nothing.

incredibleshrinknigpdgreyAs a matter of fact, nothing will be entering the Public Domain here in the U.S. until at least 2019.

Again, yes, I said 2019.

Oh, and the items I mentioned above? Yeah, we’ll have to wait until at least 2053 for them.

And that’s assuming that congress doesn’t pass another extension to the Copyright Act between now and then.

And yes, that extension is already under consideration.

I’m not going to go into a lot of the background of the public domain and why it’s so important, nor am I going to go into the history of the Copyright Act and why things are in the sad state they’re in. All of that information can be found at the Duke Law Center website , along with information about other works that would also be included in the “Class of 2014”

4663860075_195d7ac4f6_bI will, however note that for those of you interested in further exploring the treasures that can be found in the Public Domain and my own personal take and reviews on many of them, I used to run another blog, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest which, though I quit updating it a while back for a number of reasons, still has quite a number of reviews and articles about things that actually are currently in the Public Domain. And some of them may surprise you.

Anyway, here’s to What Could Have Been!