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Dorado Films makes mark with cult classics

Tigard film company sets special superhero screening


Dorado Films screening for Argoman: The Fantastic Superman later this month is a first for the small film distribution company. The company is slowly releasing its thousands of movies to DVD.In an unassuming business park in southern Tigard, Enid Caputo steps into a room known as The Vault.

“Come on in,” she says in a quiet English accent. “We have quite the little hideaway in Tigard, haven’t we?”

It’s dark and cold, the perfect conditions for preserving the large metal tins stacked floor to ceiling throughout the room. There are thousands of them, each containing a 35-millimeter print of some by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Enid Caputo walks among the thousands of 35mm prints her company Dorado Films distributes to TV stations and media companies. The company is releasing 'Argoman: The Fantastic Superman' on DVD with a screening of the film Sept. 22 and a Q&A with the film's star Roger Browne.long-forgotten European film. They range from "spaghetti westerns" to spy flicks and comedies. Many are in Italian or Spanish with titles such as “Diamante a Go-Go,” “Jewels of the Devil” and “From the Orient with Fury.”

For more than a decade, Tigard’s Dorado Films has been bringing back the lost, forgotten films of yesteryear.

The company has been slowly releasing the thousands of films in its collection onto DVD, and distributes the films all around the world.

But later this month, Caputo’s company is doing something a little different.

In an age of superhero blockbusters such as “The Dark Knight” and “The Avengers,” the group is releasing one of the stranger films in its collection: The 1967 film “Argoman: The Fantastic Superman.” (Click here for a trailer)

It will hold a special screening on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Bagdad Theater with a question-and-answer session with the film's star Roger Browne.

Argoman, a superhero in bright yellow and black garb, saves the world from evil after the crown jewels are stolen in a dastardly plot to conquer the planet.

“We thought it would be a fun event,” Caputo said. “It’s a quirky, fun film. Portland is kind of a quirky sort of place, so we thought we would try it.”

Caputo’s husband, George, started Dorado’s parent company First Line Films more than 35 years ago, leasing films to TV stations and movie houses.

Caputo moved the company from Miami to Tigard in 2000 following her husband's death. She opened Dorado Films as a way to put the licensed works into the DVD market and never looked back.

While many of Dorado’s movies fell out of the public eye in America long ago, Caputo said many still hold a following in Europe and Latin America.

“If you were to bring up these films in Europe, they would know exactly what you’re talking about,” she said.

But closer to home, there is little fanfare, said Dorado's president, Rick Knight.

“If you are less than 40 years old, you probably haven’t seen the majority of our movies,” Knight said. “People between 40 and 70 might have — like I did — sneaked into the back of movie theaters to watch these films.”

Dorado made a name for itself distributing spaghetti western films — Italian-made westerns dubbed into English — that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s.

“There is a pretty good fan base around the world for spaghetti westerns,” Knight said.

The 1967 cult film Argoman is screening at the Bagdad Theater on Sept. 22. The campy 60s superhero film is one of several released by Dorado Films, in Tigard.From there, they moved on to “Eurospy” films, releasing a few of James Bond knockoffs, such as “Agent 077.”

“I think they’re as good as the James Bond films,” Caputo insists, passing a large poster of one film in her office.

The company's biggest hit to date is a Spanish language Flamenco dance film, “Los Tarantos,” which was nominated for a foreign language Academy Award in 1963.

“It was our sleeper, we never thought that it would take off,” Knight said.

“Argoman” is the first film screening the company has done. Caputo said if the film is successful, Dorado Films will plan to do more screenings in the future.

Times have been hard for the cult film business. With fewer TV stations looking to showcase the obscure and with DVD sales shrinking in all markets, Dorado must pick its releases carefully.

A number of its films have made their way to streaming services such as Netflix, Caputo said. But Knight admits that in the past, the company’s DVD releases have been “more of the throw-a-dart-at-the-wall variety.”

“We would go with whatever actors or actresses were popular,” he said.

The company has recently started releasing some of its titles on Youtube to gauge interest in a more extensive remaster and DVD or BluRay release.

Argoman, with its zany, bright 1960s flare, seemed the perfect choice.

“We receive letters all the time from people saying, ‘Put out Argoman, put out Argoman,’” Knight said.

Dorado holds the exclusive distribution rights to each of the thousands of films in its vault, and with only a small handful released commercially on DVD or BluRay, Knight said there are few ways for film buffs to watch these films.

“A lot of these have made it onto television over the years, but videowise, nobody else has been able to do it over here legally,” he said.

It has been a year-long process getting Argoman to DVD and planning the Sept. 22 screening.

The film’s star Roger Browne, went on to become a doctor after retiring from filmmaking, Knight said. His now-grown children have never seen any of his films and never knew their dad was an actor until recently, he added. “They’ll be at the Bagdad to watch the movie with him. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

For more information about Argoman and Dorado Films, visit doradofilms.com.

What: “Argoman: The Fantastic Superman” (1967) with special guests, actors Roger Browne and Michael Forest

Where: Bagdad Theater, 3702 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Portland

When: Saturday, Sept. 22, 1:40 p.m., 5:05 p.m., 9:05 p.m.

How much: $9