Radio-Keith-Orpheum Pictures was the springboard for many of Hollywood's famous players, from David O. Selznick, George Cukor and Max Steiner behind the camera to Kate Hepburn and Cary Grant in front of it. One of the original Big Five studios, RKO became known for B-pictures, Astaire and Rogers musicals, screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby, and a little movie by a young writer-director named Orson Welles. In Hollywood circles, RKO was also known for its constant financial problems; despite having successful runs under Selznick and King Kong creator Merian C. Cooper, the studio's extravagant spending often threatened its existence. The studio changed hands several times (most notably, Howard Hughes' hands) before its original incarnation was dissolved in 1959.
When cinematic crayon wielder Ted Turner bought RKO's library in 1987, no one knew the purchase was short six films. These films were recently discovered by Turner's cable outlet, Turner Classic Movies, and will join its rotation later in 2007. Five of these films have not been seen in any medium since 1959, and the sixth film was thought to be lost forever. These films, originally sold to Merian C. Cooper after he left the studio, are being presented as double features in a one-week retrospective starting today at New York City's Film Forum.