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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » Film-Yak   » Blackhawk Films leader dies

Author Topic: Blackhawk Films leader dies
Justin West
Master Film Handler

Posts: 270
From: Peoria, IL, USA
Registered: Jul 2001

 - posted 02-07-2017 12:23 PM      Profile for Justin West   Email Justin West   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post ad%20more

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Bill Brandenstein
Master Film Handler

Posts: 356
From: Santa Clarita, CA
Registered: Jul 2013

 - posted 02-07-2017 01:28 PM      Profile for Bill Brandenstein   Email Bill Brandenstein   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Per forum rules, here is the text of the article. Mr. Shepard's passing is a huge loss to the world of cinematic arts.

quote: Jonathan Turner,
David Shepard, a nationally acclaimed film preservationist, is being fondly remembered for helping put Davenport on the map as a leading restorer and distributor of classic silent films.

Mr. Shepard, 76, recently the head of Film Preservation Associates, died Jan. 31 after a battle with cancer. Former vice president of Davenport-based Blackhawk Films, he was a professor at the University of Southern California film school 34 years; headed its Louis B. Mayer Film & Television Study Center; was a friend to such eminent directors as King Vidor, and counseled a generation of contemporary filmmakers (including Alexander Payne), according to a Hollywood Reporter piece.

"He was quite the deal," Doug Miller of Davenport, film and media consultant, said Monday of Mr. Shepard. "He was one of the pioneers of film preservation and acquisition. He became known for that."

"How many people would pick up stakes and move to Davenport, Iowa to pursue a job?" film critic Leonard Maltin wrote Feb. 2 on his blog. "David did, when Kent D. Eastin, the founder of Blackhawk Films, offered him a position there. Working for the country’s leading distributor of movies for the collector market, David brokered a number of great deals, including home-movie rights to the Fox Movietone newsreel library. He uncovered countless gems, including the long-lost Robert Benchley short 'The Treasurer’s Report.' "

Blackhawk Films started in 1927 in Galesburg, as a producer of film advertising and a distributor of regional newsreels. Aided by the 1933 advent of 16mm sound film, Blackhawk gained success in the non-theatrical distribution market and established several regional offices before World War II, according to

In 1934, founder Kent Eastin moved the company to Davenport, and began a rental library that flourished until it was discontinued with the impact of television in 1957, according to Mr. Eastin chose Davenport as an "efficient junction for rail shipping and because it was something of a 'film town,' as home to the Victor Animatograph Corporation, a pioneer motion picture equipment manufacturer," the site says.

In 1947, Blackhawk expanded into the sale of used film and began distributing new 8mm and 16mm prints of comedies, the Oscars site says. After working five years for the American Film Institute, David Shepard joined Blackhawk as vice president of product development from 1973 to 1976 and, after founding Film Preservation Associates in 1986, acquired the Blackhawk Films library, which now comprises 5,000 titles.

Mr. Shepard restored or made available many silent films now found in DVD and video libraries, including 12 shorts that Charlie Chaplin made for the Mutual Film Corporation in 1916 and 1917, all of Buster Keaton’s independent films of the 1920s, and Soviet silent films from the same decade, according to a Sunday New York Times article.

“If you’ve seen a superior print of a film by Chaplin or Keaton, Griffith or Murnau, chances are David had a hand in restoring it,” Leonard Maltin wrote on his blog.

"David’s passion for film heritage was an inspiration to Flicker Alley from the very start, and remains so as we continue to work on the films he loved and saved," said the team at Flicker Alley, publisher and distributor of high-quality digital editions of classic, silent, and avant-garde films.

"Never one to take credit for his incredible accomplishments, his memory will nonetheless live on, in the films he worked tirelessly to save, restore and make available for future generations, and in the hearts of those he touched along the way," according to

According to The Hollywood Reporter, among classics Mr. Shepard helped restore were "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1917), "The Birth of a Nation" (1915), "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920), "City Lights" (1931), "The Gold Rush" (1925), "Intolerance" (1916), "The Great Train Robbery" (1903), "The Kid" (1921), "Nanook of the North" (1922), and "Nosferatu" (1922).

In 1975, Kent Eastin and Martin Phelan sold Blackhawk to Lee Enterprises, the Davenport-based newspaper and broadcasting conglomerate. "Basic decisions to emphasize mail order sales instead of unique product line and heavy investments in the Betamax and CED (RCA mechanical video disc) formats proved very costly," the site says.

Lee then sold the company to its Blackhawk management team; in 1985, Los Angeles-based Republic Pictures bought it for direct marketing of their home video line. Republic discontinued film sales and closed the Davenport facility in 1987.

"Lee didn't get it. They were still thinking like print people," Doug Miller said. Blackhawk Films had been at 1235 W. 5th St. At its closing, it was known as the oldest mail-order supplier of films and videocassettes, according to a 1987 Dispatch article.

Mr. Shepard, a New York City native, was teaching theater and film at Pennsylvania State University in 1968, when the American Film Institute hired him to find historically significant films with the aim of having them donated for preservation and archiving, the New York Times story said.

An "early coup" was getting Paramount Pictures to turn over 200 silent features it had in storage in Fort Lee, N.J., the piece said.

Mr. Shepard also served 12 years at the Directors Guild of America, where he helped compile an extensive series of oral histories with its members, the Hollywood Reporter said.

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Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1553
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006

 - posted 02-07-2017 05:19 PM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Geez- - I also wish people would learn to use the "URL" button instead
of posting a ridiculously large & cumbersome URL with over 250 characters!
(and that some browsers will gag on)

. . . .but then again I'm just cranky today.

>>and you really didn't need anything after the word "article"

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

Posts: 8318
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004

 - posted 02-22-2017 05:20 PM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've got quite a few reels of 8mm and Super 8mm of films Ive purchased from Blackhawk.

My father also bought some Super 8mm sound films he purchased from Blackhawk for his newly acquired Kodak Moviedeck 265 sound projector back in 1977 which I now have in my possession.

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Jeffry L. Johnson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 809
From: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

 - posted 02-23-2017 03:24 PM      Profile for Jeffry L. Johnson   Author's Homepage   Email Jeffry L. Johnson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Sneeze

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Bill Brandenstein
Master Film Handler

Posts: 356
From: Santa Clarita, CA
Registered: Jul 2013

 - posted 02-23-2017 07:41 PM      Profile for Bill Brandenstein   Email Bill Brandenstein   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
OK, that is hilarious. But I had to look up RAYMOND ROHAUER on Wikipedia to confirm my suspicions!

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Richard Fowler
Film God

Posts: 2389
From: Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA
Registered: Jun 2001

 - posted 02-24-2017 08:28 PM      Profile for Richard Fowler   Email Richard Fowler   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I did some good dealings with him in the last century. In 1968 I took a tour of the Blackhawk Film Building in Davenport Iowa with the office manager as the tour guide. Big red brick building.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 7044
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000

 - posted 02-24-2017 10:11 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Rohauer was a character alright, but he'd seem like an advocate of Creative Commons compared to the infamous Madame Méliès, a descendant in law of Georges. Even though his movies are well and truly out of copyright (not surprising, given that most of them were made around 120 years ago!), for a long time she would menace any archive or documentary maker trying to do anything with footage from them, with threats of legal action and much else besides, repeatedly asserting ownership of the rights. I'm guessing that she must have passed away now, or else she'd have made Scorsese's life not worth living while Hugo was in production.

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