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Lost Films List


Guest dredagain

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Well we all conjecture about lost films but I wonder if there is a DEFINITIVE list somewhere... seems I saw a web site once. It's frustrating to hear that a film is lost and then discover it's not or vice versa. What a Widow is a good example. I have heard it's lost but then I get an email from someone who claims to have a copy. I've heard conflicting reports on The Patriot (another thread here), Flaming Youth, Madame Sans-Gene, and others. Some people say films are lost but then the TCM library lists them. TCM will not say exactly WHAT it has... trailers? fragments? stills? It's all very confusing.......

 

Anyway..... Anyone know of a one-stop source for this kind of info that is reliable?

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Wikipedia has a somewhat cursory piece on lost films. It links to a website which has lengthy alphabetical lists of silent films known or believed to be lost (most of 'em!);

 

http://www.silentera.com/lost/index.html

 

NB the first page of this site has a number of updates, including reference that a "few scenes" from The Patriot are said to exist in the UCLA archive. It may not be totally up to date. Judex is listed on the first page as a film that is "now" known to have survived, but TCM broadcast it two or three years ago (and I've still never gotten around to watching the whole 6 hours on tape).

 

I'd never given the topic of lost films much thought until I bought a newsstand nudie magazine in 1969 which had an article and photos from Gary Carey's book Lost Films. Some of the films that Carey describes have since been located, but most have not. Reading the article was the first time I ever heard of nitrate film stock and its idiosyncrasies.

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thanks for the responses, guys.... as far as I know film negatives were all on nitrate film and saved in cans. But this cursory "shelving" only resulted in many films being lost as the the nitrate disintegrated over time. If film negatives were transferred to other, more stable types of film, they were better candidates for restoration. But even other types of film faded with age, hence ruined or just plain washed out (like the original Technicolor copy of Becky Sharp).

 

I'm certainly no tekkie but this is an area I would love to be involved in: film restoration. College of Santa Fe has courses in film editing but I don't even know where to start.... another good thread perhaps?

 

The recent DVD of The White Rose (1923) I bought had lost 90% of the faces (white ovals).... so sad

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A most important subject indeed, and one to which every rich Hollywood persona should be giving back, and giving heavily.

 

What is meant by "white ovals", drednm? Do you mean that the faces of the actors in the film are no longer there??? How awful. Why the faces in particular?

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Yes the faces were gone in 90% of the scene.... so Mae Marsh, Carol Dempster, and Ivor Novello were reduced to walking figures with no faces.... or sometimes just mouths.... must have something to do with the way they lit films back then.... But I saw this same comment on this film somewhere else.....

 

And YES why aren't movie people now donating HUGE sums of money toward restoring films? Perhaps a problem is that there are so many institutions doing this work that the monies are splintered.... perhaps

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A question for anyone in the know here...is TCM involved in film restoration.

 

Even though they slashed and burned their station, I do remember towards the end of its heyday that AMC often had information spots on what they were doing towards film restoration.

 

I imagine they've now given up on this cause, since the new AMC is all about the money.

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What information do you have on this, tcmprogrammer?

 

If not, why not? Time Warner and good old Ted have enough money for three life times.

 

Why not pour some of that money into film restoration? Think anything in the media, short of 50 cents redecoration of his crib, is more important?

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Back in the 1980s, Ted Turner was a major contributor to film restoration. Those "colorized" films that he released on VHS, a good deal of the money made on those went to restore silents and early talkies in the then Ted-owned Turner Library.

 

Major contributors today include: Martin Scorcese, Steven Spielberg, Hugh Hefner (the pre-codes) and Warner Brothers. In addition, UCLA each year undertakes the restoration of a handful of films and runs a Film Preservation month (usually in August where they screen films that they and others have restored). The Library of Congress also helps restore films.

 

Back in the 1940s, studios never dreamed that their film libraries would have legs so to speak. The original negative of "Stagecoach" (and probably others) was destroyed for its silver content for the war effort. Alot of silents ended up in the junk heap back then because the studios needed the shelf space.

 

One reason silents keep turning up in attics, closets and such overseas and in unlikely locals like Alaska is two-fold:

 

Unlikely locals such as Alaska were often the end of the line for films being shipped around the country for weekly screenings. Goldberg cans filled with film reels were heavy and often rather than pay to have the films shipped home, the studios left them in these small towns at the end of the line.

 

The overseas audience for silents was huge and often, the studios would strike prints for the foreign markets that included scenes that were deemed too racy for American audiences. That is one reason it is so difficult to decipher the running times on silent films when showing them today. You have to know which print you are actually running.

 

Film preservation should be a major concern to the studios of today as well as the entire Hollywood community. You would think it would be a no-brainer. The sad truth is just opposite. WarnerBros is the one studio that actively undertakes the restoration of its library. Paramount on any given day is clueless. The folks in Home Video there waver between denying Paramount even made silent films and whether or not they have silent films in their vaults. (When they decided to release DeMille's "Ten Commandments (the 1950s version, they had to be TOLD they had the silent version that would make a good companion piece on the boxed set). Fox knows it has a library but they seem to think the ones worth saving are the Hammerstein-Rogers musicals from the 1950s (though the restored "The King and I" is gorgeous.) Universal and Sony are hit and miss.

 

Were it not for Roger Mayer, George Feltenstein and the Warner crew, there would be alot fewer films being saved and restored these days.

 

Here's to all them and all the other archives and people actively trying to save our film heritage.

 

lynn in sherman oaks

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I know Turner has done some film restoration. Same with UCLA, LoC, AFI, etc. Eastman House does some. But I think these are underfunded programs and the restoration process is quite slow. It's too bad there is a national, federally funded center to preserve our films. But I guess that's low of the money list, especially with the idiots we now have running things.

 

And thanks for reminding that Martin Scorsese and I think Peter Bogdanivch are involved.....

 

The trouble is that the airheads we now have as stars by and large have no clue about film history or its importance.....

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Yes I saw Reese Witherspoon plugging Vanity Fair (rotten movie) on some show and was asked why it had taken almost 70 years to film the Thackeray novel again. She gave a blank look (easy for her to do) and the host mentioned the mid-30s Becky Sharp, the first all-Technicolor film, starring Miriam Hopkins and Frances Dee. Miss moviestar had no clue about the film, Techniclor, or the two stars. Duh!

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Drednm,

 

One other thing I should have mentioned that contributed to the loss of nitrate films and negatives is that over the years there have been a number of vault fires in both studio owned vaults and at Eastman House.

 

Each time, valuable films and elements were lost.

 

lynn in sherman oaks

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Going back to today's stars and their apparant stupidity regarding the history of their own profession, recently I was reading an article about the upcoming remake of "All The King's Men." The director didn't want any of the actors to watch the original so that they would have a fresh approach to the material, and Kate Winslet who is one of the stars of this remake had no idea that there even was an original. It amazes me. Where do these "actors" get their inspiration to act in the first place if they haven't studied the greats of the past, and are totally unfamiliar with film history? Who inspires them, Julia Roberts?

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LOL it's the same mentality that places Adam Sandler as the greatest comic in film history...... film history spanning 10 or 20 years.... unreal....

 

And yes, guys, I know there have been fires etc adding to the destruction of valuable films.... And I know the studioes themselves purposely trashed hundreds of silents films when talkies came in...... it's just so sad.... f

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Recently, I was reading a book about silent films written by the great radio host Joe Frankin. The book was written around 1959 and Franklin listed the top 3 "lost" movies he would love to view but probably will never get a chance to. The list included Mare Nostrum, The Bat, and A Woman of Paris. All three of these movies have been located since the printing of his book in 1959, so there is always hope that some of these other "lost" movies may not really be lost afterall.

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