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Posts Tagged ‘Lost Films’

Lost Peter Sellers Films Found — Amazing!!

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Nancy Tartaglione reports in Deadline Hollywood that two lost Peter Sellers films have been found.

As Tartaglione writes, “in a discovery that would make Inspector Clouseau proud, two long-lost short films starring Peter Sellers have been found in Southend, England and will be screened next year at a local film festival. Those will be the first public showings of Dearth Of A Salesman and Insomnia Is Good For You in over 50 years. The 30-minute movies were made in 1957, seven years before Sellers would make an Oscar-nominated turn in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.

It’s thought that Sellers used the recovered pictures as show reels while segueing from radio to movies. According to the BBC, they were originally found in a London dumpster in 1996 by a building manager who took them home and stocked them away without realizing what the 21 film cans contained. During a recent clear-out of his house, Robert Farrow rediscovered them and learned of the Sellers movies.

Stephen Podgorney of Southend-based Dimwittie Films tells me he is now researching the films which are being digitally restored. ‘It’s a big task as so little is known.’ However, it is believed that Dearth Of A Salesman features Judith Wyler, the daughter of director William Wyler, and both films were co-written by Oscar-winner Mordecai Richler. The Southend Film Festival will host the screenings on May 1st.”

So you see — an early Christmas present! Thanks, Nancy!!

Lost Mary Pickford Film Found in Abandoned Barn

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

As Evann Gastaldo reports in Newser, a lost Mary Pickford film has been found in a barn.

We really shouldn’t be too surprised by this; a whole batch of supposedly lost African-American films were found in the a warehouse in the 1985, and thus saved from destruction; lost segments from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) were found recently; and not so long ago, the original negative for Carl Th. Dreyer’s masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc (1927) was found in the closet of a mental institution! So “lost” films keep turning up all the time, and I’m still holding out hope for the missing 45 minutes from Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons (1942); indeed, Welles’ “lost” film Too Much Johnson (1938), a mere trifle, but interesting nonetheless, surfaced only a few months ago.

So the news that a “lost” Mary Pickford film, and a key one in her career, at that, has been found in abandoned farm building slated for destruction is welcome news – and another reminder of how important artifacts of film history keep popping up in the most unlikely places. Actually, the film was found seven years ago, but it took this long to restore it, because, as you’ll read below, it wasn’t even stored in a film can!

As Gastaldo reports, “Just before tearing down an old barn in New Hampshire, a contractor did one last check and discovered a treasure: seven reels of film that he donated to the Keene State College Film Archives, reports the college. It has since determined that at least four of those films were ones thought to have been lost. One of those, Their First Misunderstanding, is the 1911 silent short film that features silent movie star Mary Pickford appearing in her first credited role. Prior to that, Pickford, then 18, had been known only as ‘Little Mary’ in films. The Library of Congress is funding the film’s restoration (it hadn’t even been stored in a can), and it will be screened at the New Hampshire college on Oct. 11.

‘It’s a big deal,’ says a Pickford scholar of the film’s discovery. Another expert says the movie ‘fills an important gap,’ because Pickford had a “short-lived association” with Carl Laemmle’s Independent Moving Picture Co. Their First Misunderstanding was the first movie she made for IMP. It’s about a newlywed couple’s first fight, and also stars Pickford’s then-husband Owen Moore, the Los Angeles Times reports. The nitrate reel was stuck to another, and had to be carefully separated. Though there are slight ‘jumps in action,’ the Pickford expert says ‘no significant amount of footage’ was lost.”

Click here to read more; let’s hope we have more such pleasant surprises in the future!

Top 75 Lost British Films

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

From the lost film Sleep is Lovely, 1968

While film may seem eternal, in fact it’s highly ephemeral, as this list of 75 lost British films compiled by the British Film Institute clearly indicates. Some of the films on the BFI list are from the 1970s, and one would think that films of such relatively recent vintage would be readily available, but no — they’re lost, negatives and all prints. In most cases, only stills and press materials survive. They may eventually turn up in a vault somewhere, or in someone’s attic or bedroom closet, but for the moment, these films are only memories — moving images that once had life, but now exist no more.

This list, in itself, is one of the best arguments one can make for the essential nature of film preservation. Without proper archival care, all films will cease to exist eventually. Our job is to keep them with us, as part of our shared cultural heritage. The films on this list are all British productions, but such a list could easily be expanded to include films around the world — films that are now just memories. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever, and you can’t bring them back — so we must act now.

About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of numerous books and more than 70 articles on film and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at 402.472.6064 or wdixon1@unl.edu.

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