Join us for an intimate glimpse into the life of the famed star of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Pygmalion and Gone with the Wind. Tom Hamilton (whose documentary The Man Who Gave a Damn will shortly be released) offers a rare chance to see the private Howard, through never before seen home movies shot between 1927 and 1942. Film historian Kevin Brownlow has described the collection as “extraordinary … a treasure chest”.
Five hours of lost personal film footage, both colour and black and white, were discovered by Hamilton while he was making his documentary. The star’s daughter, Leslie Ruth Howard (known as Doodie), had kept them in her basement since 1979, not realising that some of the reels had decomposed. Hamilton remembered opening one case of reels: “A sight and smell to chill the heart … pungent and vinegary.” However, many canisters were in perfect condition: “As the first images appeared, I was startled by the visual quality, razor sharp with barely a scratch.”
Howard, whose life was cut short when his plane was shot down in the Second World War, is remembered as sensitive and enigmatic, the quintessential Englishman, but the home movies show him in a new light – flirting with actresses including Myrna Loy and Norma Shearer, and clowning around with his two children in the pool. The footage also captures a gathering on William Randolph Hearst’s estate with Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr, and a polo match attended by Cary Grant, Gary Cooper and Mary Pickford.
The evening’s screenings will include the 35mm short film Mr Leslie Howard: By Request, a 1942 appeal on behalf of the Red Cross, on the set of First of the Few.
Doors open at 18.30 for a 19.30 start, and the event is expected to end at 22.30. Refreshments will be available.