Not that we're advocating it, but if you are planning to sit in front of the TV all weekend, you might as well park the remote on the American Movie Classics channel. After all, when is the last time you had an opportunity to watch close to 72 hours of classic movies, some of which were once in danger of being lost forever?
This is the second year for AMC's lofty Film Preservation Campaign, and also is part of the cable channel's 10th anniversary celebration. The weekend film festival is presented in conjunction with Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation, a group of esteemed filmmakers dedicated to preserving movie heritage by restoring deteriorating film stock. This year, the theme is Westerns _ complete with a special biography on Hollywood's first singing cowboy, Gene Autry.
The festival begins at 7 a.m. today, with The Ten Commandments, and ends after the 5:30 a.m. Monday showing of the 1914 silent version of The Virginian _ a television first.
In between, viewers will be treated to all the Western classics they can stomach, plus old newsreels, cartoons, historical shorts and documentaries calling attention to the need to salvage aging films. Celebrities such as Oliver Stone, Jodie Foster and Clint Eastwood will pipe in their support throughout the weekend, while at more than 2,300 United Artists screens nationwide Holly Hunter promotes the cause to moviegoers.
Among the weekend's highlights: Two restored versions of the 1946 classic western My Darling Clementine
; the television premiere of the longer restored road-show version of For Whom the Bell Tolls, starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman; and nine films spanning nearly 40 years in the career of director Cecil B. DeMille.
For those who tire of the dramatic, a youthful directors' round-
table Saturday at 5:15 p.m. looks to be a lively diversion. Martha Coolidge (Ramblin' Rose) will be joined by John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood), Ben Stiller (Reality Bites), Jessie Nelson (Corrina, Corrina) and David O. Russell (Spanking the Monkey) in discussing the importance of film preservation.