Completes 4K restoration of the
classic comedy in a project for the American Film Archive. 

HOLLYWOOD— MTI Film recently completed an
all-new 4K restoration of director Lewis Milestone’s 1931 film The Front Page. The months-long project
was conducted for The Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, with MTI
Film’s restoration team working under the direction of AFA director Michael
Pogorzelski and film preservationist Heather Linville.
The restored film made
its world premiere at the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey followed by its
European premiere at Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, Italy. It also screened at
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater in
Beverly Hills. The restoration team made a technical presentation on the work
at the recent The Reel Thing symposium in Los Angeles.

Based on the 1928 Broadway hit, The Front Page centers on a tough-talking Chicago newspaper
reporter covering the escape of a condemned criminal. The film stars Adolphe
Menjou, Pat O’Brien and Mary Brian, and picked up Oscar nominations for Best
Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.
The source element used for the restoration was a black
& white composite print of the film’s U.S. version discovered in the
University of Nevada Las Vegas’s Howard Hughes Collection. The print was
produced in the 1970s from the now lost original camera negative. Pogorzelski
and Linville compared the print to surviving copies of an alternate European
version and noted significant differences in action, dialogue and camera
placement throughout. The U.S. version has not been seen in decades.
Restoration began with 4K wet-gate scanning of the complete
35mm print at ImagePro, Burbank. The scanned elements then underwent several
stages of automated and customized restoration at MTI Film’s facilities in
Hollywood and Tianjin, China, using its proprietary DRS™NOVA technology.
Although the source elements were in generally good condition, a number of
significant issues required close attention. “Parts of the film were affected
by chemical staining and mold,” notes Jim Hannafin, MTI Film Senior Vice
President for Business Development. “One reel, in particular, was affected in
its entirety.”
MTI Film restoration
artists employed a variety of newly-developed DRS™NOVA features to address the staining issue as
well as problems with flicker and warping. “We used all the tools in our
toolbox, and did so in unconventional and creative ways,” explains Director of
Restoration and Preservation Bridgid O’Donnell-Farquhar. “Our grain management
tool allowed us to analyze and replicate the grain pattern of the original film
elements. We used that to mute much of the fungus and mold staining.
Simultaneously, we replaced the grain in a manner identical to what it once
was. We were very pleased with the results!”
The film also went
through complete color grading and remastering. Colorist Alex Chernoff notes
that the aim was to create a consistent look that was as close as possible to
what movie-goers experienced in 1931. “With films from this period, it can be a
challenge to get the black levels and density right without losing detail,”
Chernoff says. “Some of the scenes in the newspaper offices were especially tricky
due to the light level and the complexity of the environment.” The re-mastering
process included the production of a new 4K film negative for archiving at
Universal Studios’ UDS facility.
As a result of the
team’s effort, a neglected classic of American cinema can now be enjoyed by a
new generation of film lovers. “Working on films like this engages our sense of
pride,” O’Donnell-Farquhar says. “This one became a passion project for our
whole team because it was such a great film—and it shows in the end product.”
About MTI Film LLC
Since 1997 MTI
Film has provided award winning software applications to the post-production
industry with a focus on technology for digital film restoration and digital
dailies. The CORTEX family of products goes beyond comprehensive dailies to
provide full post utility including dead pixel correction, UHD UpRes, IMF
deliveries and Dolby Vision. DRS™ NOVA has been the industry standard for
digital film restoration, thanks to MTI Film’s advanced image processing
research and development.

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