Three Don Klugman 1960s gems will be restored with National Film Preservation Foundation grant

Director Martin Scorsese was recently left hungering for more after he screened filmmaker Don Klugman’s 22-minute taste of Rush Street nightlife from 1964.

So Klugman satisfied the cravings of Scorsese and other National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) board members with two more films from the ?60s. Impressed, NFPF signed off on the $10,000 to restore all three.

A conscientious cohort of Chicago Film Archives director Nancy Watrous stumbled across a dusty copy of the neglected ’64 gem, “Nightsong,” Klugman’s frantic assessment of Chicago’s bar scene, while digging through storage not too long ago at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Watrous submitted the short to NFPF for grant monies and, after it stole the board’s attention, coaxed two other orphaned works out of Klugman.

“Nightsong” will screen Nov. 27 during the “An Accidental Avant Garde” program, which is part of the Gene Siskel Film Center series “The Big Picture: A New Take on Film in Chicago.”

“They’re really well-done productions with high quality, beautiful color and cinematography and great editing,” says Watrous.

Klugman says “Nightsong” is “a moody examination of mid-’60s social, racial and sexual tensions.”

The other two, a pair of comedic spoofs, depict the Chicago club scene when liberalism and race wars raged. They explore sexual freedom, alienation and the breakdown of interpersonal communication, themes Klugman feels still resonate today.

Eight-minute “I’ve Got This Problem” traces the budding romance between a young man and woman?played by Klugman and Judy Harris (one of the original Second City players)?who meet in a coffee shop. “You’re Putting Me On” peeks in on the couple later at a party.

Widely distributed by New York-based Walter Reade and Chicago-based Charles Title, Klugman’s shorts rode out their tenure as newborns opening for features at box offices around the world.

New York City?based Cineric Lab and L.A.-based Chace Lab will spend several months on the $10,000 restoration process that involves striking archival prints from created negatives. Preserved reels will be protected in CFA’s vault on the Northwest Side.

Klugman’s lengthy, non-stop career in corporate visual communications