Charles Hopkins, UCLA’s true archives treasure

“The Captain Hates the Sea”
“The Captain Hates the Sea” is part of the UCLA Film and Television archive series.
(UCLA Film and Television Archive)

UCLA Film & Television Archive is celebrating its popular Archives Treasures series that began in 1990 and continued for the next 15 years, re-creating the moviegoing experience of the Golden Age of Hollywood by serving up a newsreel, shorts and a feature film.

All in all, there were 98 installments in the series, which was supported by the Ted Mann Foundation. The films shown all came from the archive.

UCLA is presenting five of those original 98 programs over the next month, beginning Friday at the Billy Wilder Theater with Rouben Mamoulian’s groundbreaking 1929 musical “Applause” starring torch singer Helen Morgan, as well as a newsreel and two shorts including 1931’s “The Gigolo Racket” with Morgan. Other films in the festival include the sumptuous 1934 Josef von Sternberg/Marlene Dietrich collaboration “The Scarlet Empress”; Lewis Milestone’s rarely seen 1934 drama, “The Captain Hates the Sea,” which was former silent-screen star John Gilbert’s swan song; and the seminal 1947 film noir “Nightmare Alley,” starring Tyrone Power.

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But this tribute is also a valentine to archive employee Charles Hopkins, who died last summer. Beginning in 1971, Hopkins served as a student volunteer at the archive and three years later became the archive’s first paid employee. He continued working there until his retirement in 2007.

Hopkins programmed a vast majority of the Archive Treasures programs and wrote the detailed program notes for the installments. His notes will be distributed at the screenings.

“He was capable of doing many things,” said Robert Rosen, professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and former director of the archive, of Hopkins.

“He was the person who oversaw the storage of the collection down in the vaults for many years,” Rosen said. “But at the same time he was somebody who just didn’t love the ‘film,’ but he loved the movies. He was always willing and able to go out and help the programming staff in the writing of very eloquent programming notes and was the major driving force for the Archive Treasures series. Essentially, he was the spiritual force keeping this going.”


Programmer Paul Malcolm, who began at the archive the year Hopkins retired, perused the 98 installments to create this tribute.

“Everything he programmed he stood behind and loved,” Malcolm said. “I tried to pick the programs that seemed from his program notes that there was something he was particularly connected to. He was like a kid in a candy shop choosing from one of the world’s greatest films collections. They are all really amazing films. He had amazing tastes.”

‘Archive Treasure: Remembering Charles Hopkins’

Where: Billy Wilder Theatre/Westwood

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Monday and Nov. 4; 7 p.m. Nov. 24

Price: $9



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