Schulberg Nuremberg trial film restored
'Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today' never seen in N.A.TORONTO -- Film and TV producer Stuart Schulberg's unreleased documentary about the 1946 Nuremberg Nazi trial has received a celluloid face-lift.
Daughter Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky brought their courtroom drama restoration of "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" to the Toronto Jewish Film Festival for its North American bow, ahead of a late-September theatrical release in New York City.
Indie producer Schulberg speculates Cold War intrigue likely stopped her father's film from ever being distributed in American theatres after the war. The 78-minute official Nuremberg trial documentary was only screened in Germany in 1948 and 1949 as part of American denazification efforts in that country.
"We're still unraveling this mystery," Schulberg said of the film's post-war suppression in the U.S., which makes this week's Toronto festival screening the first-ever theatrical showing in North America.
The original post-war production of "Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today" followed Stuart Schulberg and older brother Budd Schulberg ("On The Waterfront") being sent to Europe in 1945 as part of a special OSS unit commanded by Hollywood director John Ford. Their four-month hunt uncovered incriminating German film footage and photo materials that was eventually put to use prosecuting top Nazi officials at Nuremberg.
As part of that effort, Budd Schulberg collared Leni Riefenstahl in Austria and brought her to their Nuremberg editing suite to help identify Nazis in German film materials the OSS team had uncovered.
The Schulberg brothers' OSS war crimes unit completed a four-hour film "The Nazi Plan," complete with concentration camp footage and other incriminating evidence, which was screened in the Nuremberg tribunal courtroom in December 1945 to back the prosecution's case.
Sandra Schulberg took five years to finance and complete the restoration of the stark black-and-white Nuremberg trial documentary, "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today," completed by writer/director Stuart Schulberg and editor Joe Zigman for the U.S. War Department.
Schulberg recalls the original film negative and sound, plucked from a U.S. military cold storage in Kansas, was too many generations removed from the original negative. With help from the German archive's original 35mm "lavender print," a new 35mm negative was created.
The Schulberg/Waletzky restoration's sound track next required radical reconstruction, including synching the original trial recording with courtroom players depicted in Stuart Schulberg's original film.
"You heard none of the prosecutors' voices in the original German version, and almost none of the defendants," Schulberg recalled.
"Voice-over narration was used instead. While this was deemed suitable for German audiences at the time, I felt it was crucial for contemporary audiences to hear the actual voices of the courtroom players," she added.
The restoration team also had to recreate the film's original score, and insert actress Liev Schreiber's narration.
The Toronto Jewish Film Festival awarded Schulberg and her restoration team an inaugural Legacy Award as a tribute for their film overhaul.
The red-carpet showcase of "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" in Toronto will be followed by a second screening for the newly-restored print on April 25.