While working the Rome Film Festival for his film The Departed, Martin Scorsese has announced a project with festival organizers to re-store and preserve 100 Italian cinema classics. First on the block is Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West starring Henry Fonda and Jason Robards. Leone's classic western has been hanging by a thread for a while now; few prints exist and those that do are in terrible condition.

Scorsese has always been one of the loudest supporters of maintaining and preserving classic films. At a festival event, Scorsese spoke to journalists about the project: "You can find that color (deterioration) can happen as quickly as within six years ... Millions of dollars goes into this industry and nobody thought about preserving the film. It's incredible."

So far, Scorsese and the National Film Preservation Foundation have convinced Sony, Warner Bros., and other major studios to start preserving their collections. The Rome Film Festival is promising to help finance the project and do a few films per year (with no word yet on how much this might actually cost). Film restoration is an incredibly expensive and time consuming endeavor but it's worth it when you think of all the amazing films that could have been lost. Being the classic movie junkie that I am, I'm thrilled that someone is leading the charge, and what better person than Martin Scorsese -- a God to film nerds everywhere.

Which movies would you like to see saved for posterity?

Related Scorsese:

Scorsese is Ready for a Break

Getting Up Close and Personal With Scorsese