Film buff

Steve Savage

Photo By Brad Bynum

Steve Savage is the founder, programming director and treasurer of the Great Basin Film Society, a haven for film lovers looking to watch rare prints of beloved but nearly forgotten movies that aren’t likely to play at a multiplex anytime soon. The society has been screening films since 2002 at various venues around Reno. Their next film presentation will be Unfaithfully Yours, a screwball comedy from 1948 directed by Preston Sturges, at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 24 at Studio on 4th, 432 E. Fourth St. $6 general, $4 for GBFS members. For more information, including how to become a member or details about other upcoming films, visit

Well, just real briefly, tell me the concept of the Great Basin Film Society.

The concept … I think it’s just to provide some kind of alternative to going to a commercial movie theater with 10, or 12 or 16 screens … there’s something a little bit impersonal about that experience. And since my big thing is 16 millimeter film, and they’re not making new stuff on that, we obviously show a lot of older films. But I think it kind of gives people a background in the history of motion pictures, different eras. We try to mix it up a lot, so we don’t get stuck in any kind of rut. Part of that is we screen so infrequently, we screen biweekly, every two weeks, so I don’t think it would make much sense to theme things or do series along thematic lines. Say, devote an entire three-month schedule to a single director or a single country or origin, because they don’t happen quick enough for you to really immerse yourself and connect the dots.

What attracts you to 16 millimeter?

I just prefer the look of the film. The sound isn’t as good as video, but I think it looks better projected on a screen. And also, we’re calling ourselves a “film society,” so that’s kind of the entry level for “film.” It’s kind of a peeve of mine when people say they’re hosting a film event, and they just pop a DVD into a player. And they’re just projecting a DVD onto a screen and they’re calling it a film event. But that’s just me, I’m a purist—most people, it doesn’t make any difference at all.

So tell me about what films you have upcoming.

Preston Sturges’ Unfaithfully Yours—that’s coming up on the 24th. That should be awesome—I highly recommend that to anybody. Great comedy. Preston Sturges—he started this string of screen comedies, starting in like 1939. Well, he was a screenwriter, and he wrote this screenplay called The Great McGinty. The studio really wanted to make it, but as a condition of him selling the screenplay, he had to direct it. So he’s one of those people that came out of screenwriting and into directing. His stuff is like really fast-paced comedy, and he usually had a repertoire of actors—people that would appear in many of his films. Just wacky, zany, irreverent.

One that I’ve seen that I really like is The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek.

Yes! That’s amazing how he was able to get that thing through. Basically, it’s about a woman who goes out—an unmarried woman who goes out and gets impregnated, and she doesn’t know who the father of the child is, and he got that onto a movie screen in the 1940s during film censorship. That he was able to do that was amazing.

Anyway, Unfaithfully Yours is something he made later at 20th Century Fox. He got Rex Harrison to play [Sir Alfred De Carter] roughly based on this real-life British conductor, Beecham … this pompous, snobbish, symphony conductor, and he gets taken down several pegs, and it’s hilarious to watch. Rex Harrison did such a good job in it. So I’m really excited about that, and the music is fantastic. There’s a lot of symphonic music playing in the score while the comedy is occurring on the screen.