Beginning today (June 16) and for nine days only, on exhibit at the Old Mint in San Francisco:* hundreds of fascinating memorabilia from 132 years of the Bay Area's film history in a space the size of a football field.
The only disappointing thing about "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of: San Francisco and Movies" is the meager nine-day exhibit period, and the fact that just like a dream, it will all disperse, never to be seen together again.
The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society (www.sfhistory.org/events/exhibits) made great efforts to pull together - mostly from private collections - movie reels, photographs, posters, vintage cameras, and movie props, but for various reasons, only a short run is possible.
So catch while you can a whole room devoted to the greatest movie about San Francisco, the 1941 "Maltese Falcon. Behold the falcon itself, "authentic reproduction of a fake," according to exhibit curator Miguel Pendás.
The name of the show is from a collection of paintings by Kim Novak, the actress herself appearing on June 14 as the guest of honor at a society reception, where she received the San Francisco Cinematic Icon Award.
The San Francisco Bay Area attracted filmmakers as early as the end of the 19th century. Besides the weather, scenery, and the homegrown industry, the area also served as "a destination for Hollywood people," says silent film historian David Kiehn.
By 1912 - only six years after the Great Quake and simultaneously with the birth of the San Francisco Symphony - the Essanay Studio came to Niles, in the East Bay, to produce Broncho Billy Westerns and Charlie Chaplin comedies.
The gallery displaying Essanay memorabilia also show the Miles Bros.' 1906 "A Trip Down Market Street," portions of which have recently circulated on the internet.
The city has served as a backdrop to hundreds of films, from the 1935 "Barbary Coast" to the 2010 "My Name Is Khan," including such prominent movies as Hitchcock thrillers, the Dirty Harry series, "The Conversation" in 1974, many more.
Homage is paid to the S.F. International Film Festival, a major cinematic magnet to The City since 1957 (the oldest in the nation), with a photo display by Pamela Gentile, the festival's official photographer. Also on view, photographs taken on the sets of "Take the Money and Run," "Petulia," and other films by Morton Beebe.
Another photo exhibit, by RA McBride, is of the city's movie palaces. Among century-old documentation are such photos as that of Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance on location in Golden Gate Park, shooting "A Jitney Elopement."
The Noir Era is represented by original posters from the collection of Eddie Muller. A prized item is the poster for "Born to Kill," with Lawrence Tierney, Claire Trevor, and Walter Slezak, the film itself having disappeared since its showings in the 1940s.
Muller is part of team, which discovered and restored a copy found recently, and he is writing a book that will be part of the upcoming DVD edition of this prime example of Film Noir.
From celebrating DW Griffith and Mack Sennett (who was active in San Rafael), and movie supply houses around the Bay in the early 1900s, there is a big leap forward in time to the Dream Factories gallery, featuring digital sketches from Pixar animation studios, used to develop "Toy Story," "Cars," and others.
There is much more to the show. This is a very big "Dream," but it won't last.