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LOST FILMS.


infinite1
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Does anyone know if there are any books or web pages that list lost or badly decomposed films by studio? For alot of us this would go along way towards cutting down on the number of obscure film requests if we knew those specific films have no chance of ever being unearthed or restored. For example, is there a list of all the films that were lost in the in the various vault fires over the years?

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> {quote:title=ginnyfan wrote:

> }{quote}Wonder Valley (1953) isn't on the list and it is apparently lost. It was Gloria Jean's only color film made for an indy in Arkansas.

 

Yes, unfortunately it's considered lost.

It was shot in Eastman Color.

The complete (and very interesting) story of the movie is in Gloria Jean's biography "A Little Bit of Heaven" by my good friends Scott and Jan MacGillivray. I was able to locate a rare December 1953 review of the movie for them to use in the book, confirming that the movie did get an actual release, even if limited (we weren't sure at first if it had).

 

From the review:

WONDER VALLEY.

Liles Productions.

Romantic melodrama.

Best for small towns and rural areas.

The first full-length color film ever made entirely in Arkansas, this has a colorful Ozarks Mountain setting and a homey story. The original story was written by the producer (Viva Ruth Liles), and she and Frederick Jackson collaborated on the screen play. Technically the film is okeh, but some of the color photography has a haziness about it. Because of its content, this is best suited to the small town and rural situations.

Ad Lines:

"Life in Arkansas...Down on the Farm"

"A Romantic Drama of the Ozarks"

"Want a Change of Pace from Hollywood-made Films...See Wonder Valley...Made in Its entirety in Arkansas."

 

From "The Exhibitor", December 16, 1953, page 3666.

Also provided is a complete cast list and detailed story summary (important, of course, for such an obscure lost film).

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> {quote:title=ginnyfan wrote:

> }{quote}MN,

>

> You are friends with Scott and Jan? I've never met them, but they've been a huge help to me.

>

> Good people.

 

 

 

Yes, they live only a couple miles from me and I see Scott at least every month or so. I've known Scott since 1981 and Jan almost as long.

 

Scott is a great researcher and writer and I'm certainly proud to have been able to assist him with some of his books (such as the Gloria Jean book).

 

As you said...good people!

 

 

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The subject of "lost films" brings out the skeptic in me, because I have seen clips posted to youtube from films that were considered completely "lost" by film historians. (Such a post has to be a leak from from one who has access to an archive.)

 

Besides being a skeptic on the subject, I am also a cynic. Much of our classic film legacy is sitting in vaults or owned by people and organisations who don't have the resources or motivation to restore and distribute them to the modern public. They are "lost" in the sense that thier owners are keeping them from the public, with no plan about what to do with them. But ownership is "ownership", even when the owner doesn't share with the rest of us! You don't give these people the right kind of "motivation", either through law or the marketplace, and the stuff remians "lost"

.

But of course, many, many classic films are truly "lost" to us through physical deterioration and attrition with time. What's really troubling is that that very process of deterioration and decomposition is going now, with a lot of classic film material, and nobody doing anything about it.

 

I have repeatedly advocated a "use it or lose it" approach to owning classic film properties. Give the owners legal and tax incentives to either develop and restore these films, or force donation or sale. I don't think any single print of silent or early sound film should just rot in the can, which is what is happening for a lot of them.

 

If the owner doesn't know what to do with this stuff, or couldn't restore or distribute it via modern media, then it's time to give it up to more competant parties. Or donate!. Letting something rot in the can doesn't bring in a cent for the owner, not even a penny But the biggest loser will be the public and posterity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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> {quote:title=PrinceSaliano wrote:}{quote}I'd like to see THE CAT CREEPS (1930) before I croak.

I think 1930's "The Cat Creeps" really is lost. Its fate was mentioned in the documentary "Universal Horror", and I can't remember if it was lost due to a vault fire or not.

 

I agree that there are many others presumed lost that probably are not.

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Hello darkblue!

 

We don't have to force an archive owner to "admit" to owning lost films! We are not police interrogators like in some old film, where they shine a light in the suspect's face and slap him around!

 

What's needed to break the stalemate (caused primarily by restoration costs and market forces), are tax and policy incentives. These have to come from Congress (or a state legislature) "Use it or lose it" implies a "carrot and stick". (A reward if you turn right, a penalty if you turn left) A tax break if you develop these properties, a tax penalty if you don't. If you don't have the resources to restore and distribute the film, a tax break (again) if you donate it to a competant party who will.

 

We have to make owning these classic film artefacts the equivalent of a hot potato, or like a "ball carrier" in football. If you have the football, you better go for the touchdown or pass it off to someone who will go for the score. Otherwise get tackled and creamed!

 

Once such incentives are in place, a lot of classic film properties will start re-emerging for public consumption and enjoyment. Letting vintage film rot in the can is cultural crime and theft. By allowing that, you dishonor the memory and efforts of the men and women who created the original product, while depriving posterity of an important link to the past. The "owner" winds up with useless celluloid jelly, vault storage costs and no royalties. It's a big "lose-lose" situation for everybody!

 

(Just imagine if something like this was going on in the world of fine art. Imagine if a museum had a Da Vinci painting in it's storeroom that was slowly being destroyed by mold and rot, and then telling the world that it's powerless because can't afford to restore it! (Or that the attendance numbers at their museum doesn't justify the cost!) The art world would be up in arms!)

 

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I agree that those holding on to "lost" films thinking the longer they hide them away increases their value are only fooling themselves. But the only recourse I can see(that STILL might not work)is to keep putting the word out that possible deterioration will make them worthless. So why NOT release them for public enjoyment? Maybe attaching their names to them will somehow appease them. After all, many people with valuble private art collections often loan their art for display given the fact that their names will be mentioned on some plaque in the gallery.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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This may be slightly off topic, but since MusicalNovelty mentioned having to find a review to even establish that WONDER VALLEY had been released I'm wondering what the criteria is for a film to be listed on IMDb. I know that modern projects are listed as they go through the production process and some of those are never made, but did they intend to list unmade films in the past?

 

The reason I asked is because while researching, I thought I had found a movie Virginia Weidler was in that wasn't on her credits. The film was to be called KIDS ON THE CUFF. There was a lot of pre filming publicity that was found, and the film is listed on IMDb as a credit for her co-stars, Max Baer and David Holt.

 

Apparently, Baer hated the script and took a hike and the film was never made.

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Hi Sepiatone!

 

I almost wish some of these owners were that cynical; at least that would imply that they have a plan and a card up their sleeve. The reality is that a lot of this stuff is owned by parties who don't have a plan at all. By fate and circumstance, they are stuck with owning things that they don't know what to do with. The cost of restoration and distribution can be high, especially if the product is far gone.

 

Besides the tax incentives I have previously mentioned, owners might want to consider offshoring restoration. We've offshored just about everything else (except sensitive defense related production) to lower wage countries. Set up a restoration lab in India (or wherever) if necessary, but get the job done at some reasonable cost.

 

The other thing owners might want to consider is a product distribution system that's online and pay-per-download/view. Like the music industry, these people will have to survive and make money not by selling a physical DVD, but by online distribution.

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Hi darkblue,

 

What I want to encourage via tax policy is an "emptying of the vaults" of all hitherto unreleased classic films. Once that process is facilitated, the world film community will likely be pleasantly surprised at what would turn up. Most of the films would have been known to exist (albeit unreleased), but again I'm willing to bet a number of "lost" films will appear as well.

 

Film researchers are not like the FBI armed with a court issued search warrant! They can't "swoop" down on all the archives out there, knocking down doors with battering rams and demanding to search the premises for "contraband" lost films! Only the owners of such repositories stand to know what's really there or not, or whether they even have an accurate inventory or not. Maybe they know and maybe they don't. Some care, and believe me, some don't. (An attitude range common to owners of antiques. Some antique owners think their stuff is precious, while others think it's just "old junk"!) Sometimes it's only when they see a program like "Antiques Roadshow" that they "get religion" and start to see their old stuff with a new found respect.

 

Some of the suggestions I have outlined in the previous posts were intended to incentivise owner action and help break an impasse, or a status quo that leaves historic properties unreleased and in a race against time. (A single extant copy of a known and existing film property will eventually wind up in the officially "lost" category if it completely rots!) Decomposition sets in and like tooth decay left untreated, will only get worse! I'm reminded of the wicked witch throwing down the gauntlet to Dorothy by showing her the hour glass. A fine metaphor for the state of much of our classic era film legacy.

 

A sad story, but one I hope will have a brighter ending!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS: any classic film original or print that is unreleased, is functionally "lost" as far as the public is concerned. As long as the owners have no plans for it, it might as well not exist. But like in the movies, one hopes for changes of heart and happy endings!

 

speakthelma.gif

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Nov 24, 2012 3:21 AM

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Hello again darkblue!

 

These old films are bieng held not just by commercial studios (who are likely to have some sense of their inventory), but by assorted foundations, non-profits, by private firms (who are not in the film business) libraries, labs and private collections. They have been acquired over the decades in various ways by these parties, through inheritance, foreclosure proceeding, donation and other happenstance. These kind of parties are what would be known in the cuthroat world of business as "weak hands", meaning that they don't have the means or the motivation to develop their property.

 

*I ALWAYS assume that these TCM message boards are being read by people in the film industry! Let me toss out another suggestion to these folks:*

**

 

 

 

1) Put up and publicly offer a hefty prize or bounty to any person or organisation that comes forth with a "lost" film! Issue the call worldwide. (A lot of lost films and footage winds up being "discovered" throughout the world. Some lost scenes from *Fritz Lang's Metropolis* were recently found in Argentina.) Name titles if you will and offer a miilion dollars or more! (Offer even more if something of great historical importance is found.)*

 

2) Such a reward should be contingent upon two things: if both the reward and film is retained, then the reward money HAS to go towards restoration! Secondly, if the owner just wants to pocket the money, then they should be required to sell or donate the film material to "stronger hands", viz to someone who will both restore and distribute.

 

3) The raising of such a financial "war chest" can be spearheaded by members of the film industry itself as a cultural cause. Many players in the film business are seriously loaded with $, and often donate millions to various causes. High profile film stars especially enjoy something called a "publicity pulpit", and often the public has no choice but to hear about their latest hobby horse "cause du jour". These people have adopted many causes to which they have donated millions, all the while encouraging others to do the same. Well, let THIS cause be added to their list! (Besides, this one hits close to home for them, as it pertains to their own business.) Of course, any others besides just those rich from the film industry are welcome to contribute to such a fund drive. These can be individuals, corporations, foundations etc. Once set up, anyone welcome to contribute!

 

When the word gets out to owners that there could a cool million or more in it for them for finding and coming forth with such material, then they will rush to their storerooms and vaults the world over! What used to be a slow trickle of "discovery", could suddenly turn into a flood!

 

What would be sweeter for classic film lovers?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all due respect darkblue, I'm not writing all of this just for you! I'm hoping that this will be read and considered by people who have the means and influence to make a difference!*

 

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> {quote:title=ginnyfan wrote:

> }{quote}In researching a child actress (Charlene Wyatt) today at our Facebook page, we found an entry about a film that was thought to be lost, ARIZONA MAHONEY (1936), but then showed up and was screened in Maryland in 2008. Odd.

 

That's always been around, as far as I know. I've had a pretty good copy on video since about 1984 (transfered from a 16mm film print). I wanted it as I'm a big fan of the star, comedian Joe Cook.

I also have most of the lobby cards, some stills and even a glass slide ad for the movie.

 

One thing that may cause some confusion about this particular movie is that it was based on a Zane Grey story and most of Paramount's movies that were based on his stories were reissued under different titles, and sometimes apparently became Public Domain...some became commonly seen while others seem to be rare.

 

ARIZONA MAHONEY was reissued at least three times under three different titles:

BAD MEN OF ARIZONA

ARIZONA THUNDERBOLT

And, in 1951 by Favorite Films as ARIZONA RAIDERS.

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Thanks for the information. It makes sense that the multiple titles might have caused confusion to the IMDb contributor alleging it to be lost.

 

Anyway, we spent an entire day looking up things about Charlene Wyatt (I'd never heard of her) just because we saw her in a Paramount Christmas photo and that question came up.

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