And because he rarely showed a movie more than once, people crowded into the Cinémathèque on a regular basis out of fear they might miss something special.
Still, even without the subsidies, Langlois continued “rescuing” as many films as he could, the cost of which forced him to spend the final years of his life in abject poverty.
He died of a heart attack in January of 1977 – aged 62 - but not before receiving an Honorary Oscar from the Academy in 1974, for "his devotion to the art of film, his massive contributions in preserving its past and his unswerving faith in its future".
And during his run as head of the Cinémathèque, he played as many of them as he could, regardless of where the print was from or what condition it was in.
“We saw tons of Italian films with no subtitles”, said Max Tessier, a filmmaker and historian who frequented the Cinémathèque during its heyday.
Like him, I had a DVD collection that was out of control, and featured many I had never seen (hell, I hadn’t even removed the shrink wrap from dozens of them). Well, one of the key revelations was that a number as seemingly large as 2,500 doesn’t scratch the surface of what’s out there for the taking.