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The Janus Collection - Masterpieces of the Short Film catalog, 1978

by herb shellenberger
The Janus Collection - Masterpieces of the Short Film catalog, 1978 by herb shellenberger
Well known throughout the world for its comprehensive collection of international feature films, Janus has now sought to complement that collection with the greatest short films ever made. Each title, carefully selected by Janus in its on-going search for great films, is recognized as a classic, a work of artistic excellent and broad audience appeal. The descriptive copy on the picture page for each film is written by world-renowned film critic and scholar Peter Cowie. All films in the catalog are available for purchase from Janus Films at the prices indicated. See back of catalog for multi-order discount, finance plan, and rental… Read more

Well known throughout the world for its comprehensive collection of international feature films, Janus has now sought to complement that collection with the greatest short films ever made.

Each title, carefully selected by Janus in its on-going search for great films, is recognized as a classic, a work of artistic excellent and broad audience appeal. The descriptive copy on the picture page for each film is written by world-renowned film critic and scholar Peter Cowie.

All films in the catalog are available for purchase from Janus Films at the prices indicated. See back of catalog for multi-order discount, finance plan, and rental information.

*Not currently in database
The Stranger Left No Card (Wendy Toye, 1953, UK)
Everyday Chronicle (Vatroslav Mimica, 1967, Yugoslavia)
The Most (Gordon Sheppard, 1962, Canada)
Pool Sharks (Edwin Middleton, 1915, US, starring W.C. Fields)
Samuel Beckett’s Act Without Words (Guido and Bruno Bettiol, 1964, France)
The Vantriloquist (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1964, UK, from the omnibus film Dead of Night)
The Apple (George Dunning, 1962, UK)
Tamer of Wild Horses (Nedeljko Dragic, 1967, Yugoslavia)
Corrida Interdite (Denys Colomb de Daunant, 1958, France)
Bags (Tadeusz Wilkosz, 1967, Poland)

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Viewing a catalog like this shows the importance of film-related paper documents in our understanding of historical film culture. The films in this catalog that are in the database currently represent some films that Janus Films and/or Criterion still distribute either theatrically or on home video (La Jetee, Antoine and Colette, the early Godard and Truffaut shorts, W.C. Fields films, the since-deleted Blood of a Poet) but there are other films that one might not have associated with the distributor. In particular, the experimental and quirky animation of Fred Mogubgub (Enter Hamlet) and Bob Godfrey (The Do-It-Yourself Cartoon Kit) or renowned Polish animators Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica. But the most interesting thing (for me) to think about is why, or how, the films that are currently not listed in the database (some indication of their relative popularity) have been forgotten. I believe that a big part of this is that once films fall out of distribution (especially for a number of years), it is very easy for them to fade from memory almost entirely. (Thus, the great need for film-related paper documents to help us research and rescue titles back to our collective memory. Let’s digitize and share these materials in different ways!) Yugoslavian animations produced by the Zagreb Film studio (like Everyday Chronicle and Tamer of Wild Horses) are generally of high quality and have received many Academy Award nominations as well as enthusiastic mentions by Amos Vogel in his book Film as a Subversive Art. Other animations by George Dunning, Tadeusz Wilkosz and Guido and Bruno Bettiol show that the company has had a history with animation, though it is currently woefully underrepresented in their current catalog. These short films, some quite experimental, show a different perspective on the history of Janus Films. These titles would have been purchased on 16mm by universities and public libraries, and those institutions who still hold onto their film collections would be great places to start for those interested in investigating the films which cannot be found on home video or the web.

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