February 11, 2013

A Film Archivist And The Strange Story Of THE KIDNAPPER'S FOIL

There was a fascinating article in this weekend's NY TIMES about a film archivist in UT Austin, Caroline Frick, whose been tracking down some rare, unusual films--actually the same film that was shot over and over again in small towns throughout the US in early part of the 20th century. A filmmaker/huckster named Melton Barker went from town to town selling locals on putting their kids into a film called THE KIDNAPPER'S FOIL...for a fee. He made the film over and over again hundreds of times though today, only 20 copies have survived.

This story of film history would have been interesting in and of itself. Especially as THE KIDNAPPER'S FOIL is now on the National Film Registry due to Ms. Frick's efforts. What makes this all doubly interesting is that Ms. Frick was my next door neighbor when I was growing up in Kensington, MD and I actually used to babysit her and her brother!  I had heard she worked in film preservation and, for a time, was here in NYC working for a cable channel that played old movies. Anyway, it was so cool to read this story and learn about these FOIL films, which I've never heard of before. You can actually watch some of them on a website she started called Meltonbarker.org