The Dryden Theatre at the
George Eastman House in
Rochester, New York

An introduction...

A movie buff since his youth, James Card was the first film curator of Eastman House, the 50-year-old photography museum established in the mansion of Eastman Kodak Co. founder George Eastman.

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About James Card
By James Card

James Card and George Pratt (Curator Emeritus of Film at George Eastman House) before a backdrop of Louise Brooks in a photo appearing in Life magazine.  Click on it for a larger view.

About George Eastman House
About film preservation
About Louise Brooks



During a nearly 30-year career there, he oversaw the growth of the museum's film collection.

"The motion picture collection would not exist without James Card,'' said Paolo Cherchi-Usai, senior film curator at the museum. "He started it all. He gave the collection a cultural identity of international scope.''

He was also credited with helping revive interest in the career of silent film star Louise Brooks, a famous beauty of the '20s who made films in both Hollywood and Germany. Card persuaded her to move to Rochester in the 1950s, when she was all but forgotten, and encouraged her to write. By the time she died in 1985, she was a widely published writer and a cult figure for many movie fans.

"Card's effect on her was tonic,'' author Barry Paris wrote in his book Louise Brooks. "It manifested itself in a sharp upswing in her mood and a sudden awareness of her past achievements and present capabilities.... In the next few weeks, she would reveal more of her soul to Jim Card than to any man in her life.''

Card wrote about his life in his 1994 book Seductive Cinema: The Art of Silent Film.

Card co-founded the Telluride Film Festival in 1974 and served on the board of directors of the Montreal World Film Festival, Eastman House said. He also taught film studies at Syracuse University and the University of Rochester.

"My own hell would be to have a projector and all the films but no one around to see them with me,'' he once wrote.

Card bought his first movie while studying at the University of Heilderberg in Germany - a print of  "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.'' By the late 1940s, he had amassed 800 films. He worked at Kodak, then switched to curator of Eastman House's film department in 1948, the year before the museum opened to the public. He remained in that post until his retirement in 1977.

He died in 2000 at the age of 84.

Copyright 2000 by the Associated Press

Site created February 24, 2004 by Richard D. Squires []; last updated September 19, 2008.
All written content and arrangement of materials copyright Richard D. Squires, 2004 - 2007.