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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Paramount Releases Martin Scorsese-Curated Republic Pictures for Digital Purchase

I'm a sucker for any thing associated with Martin Scorsese, especially when that association is with Classic Films. As you may or may not know, the illustrious director is a proponent of film preservation and restoration of films that have experienced the harsh effects of deterioration due to age and neglect. Without his efforts the pursuit of film preservation would not have the public profile it enjoys today. And the money generated for such an endeavor would be greatly diminished without his name.

Now, the master of modern cinema, and director of Raging Bull and Goodfellas, has curated some select movies from the old studio of Republic Pictures. Paramount, which now owns the library, has remastered and restored many of the titles, including Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar, a Technicolor western starring Joan Crawford (seriously). All of the films come from a two-decade period during which Republic churned out what were then considered "B" movies, or the movies booked as the second feature to the main attraction. The filmmakers working at the low profile studio enjoyed an incredible amount of freedom as long as they stuck to their budgets.

Scorsese has been quoted as saying, "From the '30s through the '50s, the different studio logos at the head of every picture carried their own associations and expectations, and for me, the name Republic over the eagle on the mountain peak meant something special." Scorsese also curated a selection of Republic films for a 2018 screening series at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Scorsese continued, "There are so many titles that have been overlooked or forgotten; waiting for decades to be seen again. I can promise you that you have some discoveries in store." Paramount chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos added in a statement, "We are thrilled that these movies can be experienced once again in the way the filmmakers intended.” Amen to that!

Younger film fans won't recognize the name of the studio because it doesn't exist anymore. The history of Republic is a relatively short one, operating for just over three decades. It was one of the "poverty row" production homes known for their low-budget projects. The films released from Republic were nearly always money makers because any film they made was most likely to earn (however modest) much more than it could possibly lose. For this reason the studio attracted many up-and-comers, and helped to launch the careers of Western film stars, including John Wayne and Roy Rogers (their other great asset was the dancing team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers).

One of the titles selected by Scorsese is The Quiet Man directed by John Ford. The John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara romantic tale is the most beloved of the five films they made together. Another title, That Brennan Girl starring Gig Young, is a particular favorite of Scorsese's. Naturally, all of the titles are films that resonate with the great filmmaker. "There's a lot of interesting work in there and it just hasn't been around in any kind of versions that give justice to the actual quality of the production," explains Scorsese, adding that he hopes the streaming release of the titles "make these available to a much wider public." This sentiment matches the desire of classic film fans every where.

The 24-film collection, dubbed Republic Rediscovered, can be rented or purchased on Apple's TV app. Each title is available to rent for $4 or, for a limited promotional period, to buy for $5.

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