Cigarette Burns

Those of you old enough to remember when movies were always projected 35mm film prints will remember the round, black spot that appeared briefly in the top right corner of the frame. These were “cigarette burns,” cues for the protectionist to switch reels. (You may also remember a brief jump shortly after the cue appeared.) These have been lost to digital projection, all but forgotten.

Every year, hundreds of movies are released. A few enter the canon, a few become cult classics. Most are disposable, bound to end up on a double feature set in Wal-Mart’s $5 bin. It’s easy to lose track of them, even films that received wide acclaim and reasonable box office receipts in their initial releases. Cigarette Burns is here to remind you.

Films selected as part of this series are under-appreciated in one way or another. They might have been rejected by audiences or critics at the time of their release. Or they might have been nominated for Best Picture forty years ago only to have their reputations eclipsed by other films. This is not about propping up trash as art–no reviews in praise of Over the Top–or trying to undercut acknowledged classics. This is about dusting off films of merit that we feel deserve more attention.

This project is a collaboration with Jesse Crall. He writes with great insight on music, movies, and television. Read his blog and follow him on Twitter @jessecrall.

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2 Responses to Cigarette Burns

  1. Pingback: Announcement! | Style & Substance

  2. Pingback: Cigarette Burns: Husbands and Wives | …said the blind man…

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