About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Memphis Belle: The Restoration

November 12, 2020

Greetings from the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to tonight’s film screening and discussion about Memphis Belle: The Restoration.

Before I turn you over to our special guests—filmmakers Catherine Wyler and Erik Nelson and our moderator, National Archives Motion Picture Preservation Specialist Criss Austin—I want to let you know about two upcoming programs you can watch on the National Archives YouTube channel.

On Tuesday, November 17, at 7 p.m., we welcome Mary Beth Norton, who will talk about her new book, 1774: The Long Year of Revolution, which chronicles the revolutionary change that occurred in the American colonies between December 1773 to April 1775. Tom Putnam, director of the Concord Museum, will join Professor Norton in conversation.

Then on Wednesday, November 18, at 3 p.m., we will present a panel discussion on Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis and Social Justice. Presented in partnership with the Capital Jewish Museum, the discussion will feature Brad Snyder, a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University, and Jennifer M. Lowe, director of programs and strategic planning at the Supreme Court Historical Society.

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On May 17, 1943, the crew of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Memphis Belle successfully completed their 25th and final mission. Famed Hollywood director William Wyler, then a major in the United States Army Air Forces, and his crew shot over 15 hours of footage that would become the documentary The Memphis Belle: Story of a Flying Fortress. In 2018, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the final flight, the National Archives partnered with Vulcan Productions and Creative Differences to digitally preserve the film and outtakes.

Tonight we screen the restored version of Memphis Belle. Following the screening, NARA Supervisory Motion Picture Preservation Specialist Criss Austin will moderate a discussion with Catherine Wyler, film producer and daughter of William Wyler, and filmmaker Erik Nelson, who collaborated on the restoration and used the outtake footage in his 2018 documentary The Cold Blue.

And now it’s my pleasure to turn the program over to Criss Austin.

Criss is the supervisor of the Motion Picture Preservation Lab at the National Archives and Records Administration. Over the course of her career, she has overseen preservation and digital restoration projects including the films Nine From Little Rock, With the Marines at Tarawa, The Negro Soldier, and The March. In addition to completing digital preservation of William Wyler’s outtakes from The Memphis Belle: Story of a Flying Fortress, she conducted forensic scanning of the Iwo Jima flag-raising footage to assist in determining the identity of the Marines, and completed digital restoration of Eva Braun’s home movies.

Thank you for joining us today.