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Howard Hughes Films Donated to UNLV
to Air on Turner Classic Movies

Airing Coincides with Release of Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator

LAS VEGAS, NEV. — Turner Classic Movies will air three digitally-restored films produced by the legendary Howard Hughes, which were part of an extensive collection of memorabilia donated by the Hughes estate and the Howard Hughes Corporation to the Film Department at UNLV, beginning at 5:00 PM (PDT) on Wednesday, 15 December 2004. The airing coincides with the release of Martin Scorsese’s film biography of Howard Hughes entitled The Aviator.

The films, which have not been seen for more than 50 years, are digitally restored through TCM funding by special arrangement with Flicker Alley. Each has a new score by composer Robert Israel. Two Arabian Knights (1927), which won the only Academy Award given for Best Comedy Direction, is about a pair of roughnecks who pose as Arabs to escape from a World War I prison camp. The Racket (1928), nominated for Best Picture, is an expose of Chicago gangsterdom. The Mating Call (1928) includes many typical Hughes touches.

“These films have incredible significance within the history of American Film,” said Professor Francisco Menendez, UNLV Film Department Chair. “The Racket is considered to be the first feature-length gangster film and Two Arabian Knights received its Academy recognition when the Oscars still split up comedy and drama.  Professor Hart Wegner worked for several years to bring the Hughes collection to UNLV, and we see it as the cornerstone for a serious film research facility.”

One of the most colorful characters of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Hughes (1905-1976) was legendary for his visionary, provocative filmmaking as well as his feats in aviation, far-reaching investments and carefully guarded privacy. Born in Houston, Texas, he inherited a successful oil-drilling equipment company from his father and by age 20 was investing in Hollywood movies.

Hughes made his name as a producer with the aviation epic Hell’s Angels (1930), which he also directed; and the newspaper comedy The Front Page (1931). After creating an uproar with censors over The Outlaw (1943), featuring Jane Russell in the first ‘sexy’ western, Hughes acquired a controlling interest in RKO, where he produced such movies as His Kind of Woman (1951) and Affair With a Stranger (1953).

The UNLV Film Department chose to partner with Flicker Alley because of its impressive passion for film history and its dedication of bringing filmmakers and films from out of the past to new audiences and renewed recognition. Jeffery Masino, head of Flicker Alley, made countless trips to UNLV to meet with Wegner and Menendez and they all worked together to collect the necessary materials for restoration.

“The company is driven by a strong belief in film preservation and has been actively involved in the creation of new digital editions of several important movie classics, essentially rescuing them from obscurity,” added Menendez. “Debuting these films on Turner Classic Movies is a great first step toward establishing the archives potential, and taking UNLV beyond our regional borders.”

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