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REEL LIFE / FILM & VIDEO FILE : Silent Movie Puts the Condor in a Bad Light : 'The Night Cry,' made in 1926, pits the large vulture against the heroic Rin Tin Tin. The action-packed drama will be shown at Paramount Ranch.

July 14, 1994|PANCHO DOLL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Carrion eaters have a tough time maintaining a good public image. Consider a 1926 film to be shown Sunday at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area that vilifies the California condor.

It's a Rin Tin Tin film that pits Warner Bros. best known bowser against a sheep killing, baby snatching, villainous member of the vulture family.

Randy Haberkamp of the Silent Society of Hollywood Heritage, which is screening the movie as part of the recreation area's Silents Under the Stars series, said the plot develops after a condor destroys a herd of sheep and Rin Tin Tin is blamed for the deed.

He vindicates himself and implicates the condor, but before a posse can be mounted, the condor nabs a baby, setting up the showdown scene between dog and bird.

"The scenes are quite dramatic," Haberkamp said. "I don't know how they did it. Of course animal protection laws then weren't what they are now."

We might be revealing too much of the climax, but after the fight, condors moved one step closer to extinction, at least in a figurative sense.

The species is on the mend now, thanks in part to a more accurate image of the condor's role as an environmental garbage disposal, not a predator. Previously, nobody thought to explain how a 20-pound bird could dispatch a 100-pound sheep, but as we know, good science makes bad movies.

The movie titled "The Night Cry" starts at 8 p.m. at Paramount Ranch in the recreation area.

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Also on Sunday, "The 24th International Tournee of Animation," a program of 14 short films from Europe and the United States, comes to the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara.

The collection proves that stop-motion animation is enjoying a comeback.

"Prehistoric Beast" by Oscar-winning special-effects artist Phil Tippett, which depicts two dinosaurs stalking each other in a Mesozoic forest, eclipses the other films. This superbly animated short was a test for "Jurassic Park," and it looks like a sequence from a big-budget feature.

There will also be a tribute to Will Vinton Studios. Vinton coined the term claymation and his studio also created the California Raisins. Call 963-0761 for show times.

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A study commissioned by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers sent local film people reaching for their calculators.

The alliance said that The Business contributes $202 million to Ventura County's economy.

"It got our attention," said John McKinnon, Fillmore's film commissioner. "It's tough to get a handle on the amount that goes into a community. They spend money in restaurants, hotels and building supply. The spillover is difficult to figure."

But $202 million?

Bud Phillips said that's accurate. As the head of the consulting firm that put the study together, Phillips said salaries account for $157 million and another $45 million is spent on services here.

Phillips said a handful of payroll companies accounts for the majority of payroll checks in the industry. His company divided the payrolls by ZIP code to get the $157 million figure. The vendor figure could represent anything from film processing to catering supplied by Ventura County businesses. The vendor survey wasn't restricted to filming that took place here.

JAUNTS: "Silents Under the Stars" at Paramount Ranch. Page 27

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