Lost Films

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Cinesimilitude
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#26 Post by Cinesimilitude » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:09 am

why don't we tell Criterion and see what they can do? you could, in essence, get becker on the phone with this guy, right? maybe a passionate explaination as to its importance would be enough to sway him.

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Antoine Doinel
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#27 Post by Antoine Doinel » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:15 am

125100 wrote: but the owner, who didn't even know it was lost, does not want to give it up and since we are friends I don't want to just go inform the studio for them to come repossess it, actually can they even do that?
It seems a bit selfish for the "owner" to be concerned about losing the reels, when until this time they've been collecting dust in an attic. As souvenir mentioned, I'm sure he still retains the ownership rights to the reels themselves but to deny getting a studio involved and sharing this found film with the world is shortsighted. Moreover, the owner in working with a studio could probably be compensated for providing them with the reels to work with.

But SncDthMnky has the right idea. Getting Becker or any other historian/scholar/whatever to convey the importance of this title to the owner and allowing you the opportunity to bring it the right people might just work.

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cdnchris
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#28 Post by cdnchris » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:26 am

I'm more amazed by the fact this thing is apparently in Tacoma. How exciting, though. I too hope it turns out to be the real deal.

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Cold Bishop
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#29 Post by Cold Bishop » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:35 am

As long as were hoping, I also hope it has the original ending.

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Highway 61
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#30 Post by Highway 61 » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:04 am

The print must be worth a significant amount of money, if not to Fox or a museum, then certainly to the Murnau estate. I can't imagine your friend would not consider giving it up if it meant a hefty paycheck.

And please keep us posted on how this plays out. It's exciting as hell.

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Lemmy Caution
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#31 Post by Lemmy Caution » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:07 am

Very interesting. I'd bet a good forensics lab could read the faded document. Maybe you need CSI: Lost Films, or a lab technician who is a film geek. But probably a dealer in old books and manuscripts could recommend someone who could decipher it.

Any idea of the condition, judging form the opening titles? Or how many reels?

So is Four Devils silent or a modified silent?
Something I glanced in a quick internet search seemed to say that there were two versions, one silent and one with the last two reels talking.
Anyone know more details, or if that is accurate?

Also, on IMDb (you gotta love Imdb, where a completely lost film has 37 votes), one comment says:
if you have the latest DVD of "Sunrise" there is an excellent documentary as an extra about this lost piece of work [Four Devils] by the genius that was Murnau. It is highly detailed with the complete storyline illustrated with still and design drawings and an excellent commentary. The only downside is that it makes you yearn for the opportunity to see this movie and we can just live in the hope that one day it will be discovered in a distant or not so distant archive or in someone's granny's attic
Does anyone know which Dvd edition of Sunrise that would be? I might have 2 or 3 different Dvd releases, but I often skip the extras.

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SoyCuba
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#32 Post by SoyCuba » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:12 am

Lemmy Caution wrote:Does anyone know which Dvd edition of Sunrise that would be? I might have 2 or 3 different Dvd releases, but I often skip the extras.
It's on the MoC edition. I haven't watched the documentary myself though, since I didn't want to be spoiled in case the film would someday be found. And I really didn't believe that day would ever come.

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Cold Bishop
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#33 Post by Cold Bishop » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:17 am

Lemmy Caution wrote:So is Four Devils silent or a modified silent?
Something I glanced in a quick internet search seemed to say that there were two versions, one silent and one with the last two reels talking.
The talkie was an alternate happy ending.

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domino harvey
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#34 Post by domino harvey » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:39 am

SoyCuba wrote:
Lemmy Caution wrote:Does anyone know which Dvd edition of Sunrise that would be? I might have 2 or 3 different Dvd releases, but I often skip the extras.
It's on the MoC edition. I haven't watched the documentary myself though, since I didn't want to be spoiled in case the film would someday be found. And I really didn't believe that day would ever come.
It's on the Fox Studio Classics release too.

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Awesome Welles
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#35 Post by Awesome Welles » Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:34 am

That is amazing. Please keep this thread updated!

With regards to how the print ended up there I would say that it is quite likely that the print was never returned to the distributor after it was screened - I work for a cinema company and we've got a few unreturned prints, though nothing rare - and it's all junk from the 80s. I think this practice isn't entirely uncommon.

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malcolm1980
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#36 Post by malcolm1980 » Tue Oct 09, 2007 6:09 am

domino harvey wrote:Whatever you do, don't call Gena Rowlands.
or Beatrice Welles!

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MichaelB
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#37 Post by MichaelB » Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:24 am

Cold Bishop wrote:But how on earth does 4 Devils end up in Tacoma?
The Passion of Joan of Arc ended up in a Norwegian psychiatric hospital...
FSimeoni wrote:With regards to how the print ended up there I would say that it is quite likely that the print was never returned to the distributor after it was screened - I work for a cinema company and we've got a few unreturned prints, though nothing rare - and it's all junk from the 80s. I think this practice isn't entirely uncommon.
It certainly isn't - we were sitting on a sizeable archive of prints at the rep cinema I used to manage. What usually happened was that the distributor would ask us not to send it back via the usual channels as they needed to cross it over directly to the next venue, and then they'd change their minds (or the booking got cancelled) and would simply forget that the print hadn't been returned. And since we didn't want to pay despatch charges, we'd just wait for the distributor to get back in touch - which they hardly ever did.

The most annoying "acquisition" was Robert Maxwell's personal print of Shoah - 36 unscreenable reels (we'd never have got away with a clandestine screening of that one!) taking up lots of valuable shelf space! But after his death, no-one seemed interested in reclaiming it (the despatch costs would have been eye-watering, which I imagine was a factor). For all I know, it's still there.

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nyasa
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#38 Post by nyasa » Tue Oct 09, 2007 9:33 am

Michael, get yourself over there asap and stake a claim for BFI. What a coup that would be.

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HerrSchreck
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#39 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Oct 09, 2007 9:48 am

125100 wrote:
SoyCuba wrote:Wow, this is really exciting. I hope it's Murnau's 4 Devils
Yeah that's the one, the opening titles confirm that is what's on them. Saying that it could still be incomplete as there's no numbering on the reels to say how many should be there. It's just a wooden crate with a piece of paper on the front containing lots of typed information (too faded to comprehend) and then "4 Devels" written over it. I actually only took an interest and looked into it because I thought it was French and everything else there seemed to be American...

After reading what you guys say I think I'll wait till I go to Seattle again then drive out to Tacoma and speak to it's owner. I'll try talk him round and if that fails I'll just take it and contact Fox.
HOLY SHIT!!!!

Listen friend, this is blockbuster news and I would get on the phone and get this moving as quickly as possible. Call Janet Bergstrom at the UCLA film and television archive (she is about as authoritative an expert on the film, Murnau, is deeply involved in restoration, and she's on the west coast. You have got to take action NOW, because the film cans need to get into refigeration, catalogued, etc. Please don't doodle... just call UCLA and get this going immediately. This is major news.

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nyasa
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#40 Post by nyasa » Tue Oct 09, 2007 9:57 am

HerrSchreck wrote:HOLY SHIT!!!!
Not as many exclamation marks as I was expecting. I thought it would be worth at least ten.

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HerrSchreck
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#41 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Oct 09, 2007 9:58 am

domino harvey wrote:
SoyCuba wrote:
Lemmy Caution wrote:Does anyone know which Dvd edition of Sunrise that would be? I might have 2 or 3 different Dvd releases, but I often skip the extras.
It's on the MoC edition. I haven't watched the documentary myself though, since I didn't want to be spoiled in case the film would someday be found. And I really didn't believe that day would ever come.
It's on the Fox Studio Classics release too.
Everything on SUNRISE comes from Fox/UCLA, including the 4DEVILS reconstruction from stills, the scores, the commentary, etc... it's all the USA digibeta and the FOX restoration. Bergstrom was deeply involved in this.

PLEASE CALL JANET BERGSTROM fast. If you cannot extricate the reels from this guy, UCLA/AFI/FOX absolutely will. He will not have a chance, they will immediately resecure the elements into their proper storage, and do absolutely everything that is neccessary. If someone doesn't get on the horn here, I will. The guy wont have a snail's chance in a deep fryer to hang onto those reels. This is beyond all of us, and it doesn't belong in CC's or Kinos or MoC's hands. They are dvd labels and licensees of reels for the cineatic circuit. They are not film preservationists, and anyhow Fox wouldn't allow them to handle it in the first place. And anyhow they are not exactly in the center of the silent film world by a long shot. There are far more well-informed/equipped experts to handle the chemical processes involved in examining what may be lurking there. It should either go to the FWMS (who propbably doesn't stand a chance in court to posesss it versus Fox... so just go to UCLA, call them! NOW!!!!)

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125100
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#42 Post by 125100 » Tue Oct 09, 2007 10:01 am

Lemmy Caution wrote:Any idea of the condition, judging form the opening titles? Or how many reels?

So is Four Devils silent or a modified silent?
Something I glanced in a quick internet search seemed to say that there were two versions, one silent and one with the last two reels talking.
Anyone know more details, or if that is accurate?
Well like I said I dare not view it so couldn't say with any degree of certainty regarding condition or the version but there was no visible damage on the reel I looked at and everything I have viewed there so far was in great condition compared against say... the public domain version of His Girl Friday you see on the net.

Regarding if it's the sound or silent version, I'm unsure, IMDB says the silent is 1928 but the faded paper I mentioned clearly has a signature and date in 1929 at the bottom so that indicates the sound version, then again the print had no sound information zig-zagging down the side which is what I'd expect unless the sound would be on a separate record/disc?

I've already contacted someone with experience in the field and he says whoever owns the rights would probably have no problem with him keeping this anyway providing they could borrow it to make copies or even just transfer it to a digital source. After lengthy email exchanges he also mentioned my favourite film in this collection Me and My Gal is not on DVD primarily due to the poor condition of existing prints so this could help that too. Anyway he's going to write and explain the situation so hopefully that will get this in the hands of Fox.

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Lemmy Caution
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#43 Post by Lemmy Caution » Tue Oct 09, 2007 10:11 am

HerrSchreck wrote:Everything on SUNRISE comes from Fox/UCLA, including the 4DEVILS reconstruction from stills, the scores, the commentary, etc... it's all the USA digibeta and the FOX restoration. Bergstrom was deeply involved in this.

PLEASE CALL JANET BERGSTROM fast.
I noticed that Janet Bergstrom was behind (the writer & director of) this 40-minute effort, Murnau's 4 Devils: Traces of a Lost Film (2003), so Schreck is definitely pointing you in the right direction.

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HerrSchreck
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#44 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Oct 09, 2007 10:25 am

Janet also did the commentary and extras for the original Murnau TABU release from Milestone (UCLA has been the caretaker of the nitrate reels--primary and outtakes-- of TABU for decades), and also provided the excellent documentary on the sublime release of Murnau's PHANTOM in 2006. And she is a senior preservationist there are UCLA, which catalogs, restores and maintains in preservation thousands of films for the acedemy, the AFI, not to mention of course FOX. You'll almost have no choice once they find out, anyway. UCLA film and television preserves and restores tons of great material, from Dwain Esper's MANIAC to the sole remaining 2-strip Technicolor original print of MR. X. They were deeply involved in the SUNRISE resto for Fox, and studied all the extant material for 4 DEVILS and created the sublime content known as TRACES OF A LOST FILM that is so wonderful that it is regularly exhibited as a feature.

Please call her PRONTO... and congratulations dude for good eyes, and getting yourself into a bit of film history. You may have a moment in the sun like the old dude who turned the 1912 RICHARD III to the AFI, after he realized he had the oldest American feature film in his collection of 35mm reels. He's featured on the doc on the Kino disc for the film, and was all over television when turning it over.

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NABOB OF NOWHERE
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#45 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Tue Oct 09, 2007 10:25 am

Let's all hope it's not the ' The Four De Vells' the 1926 weepie directed by Raymond 'Binkie' Meadows about the contrasting fortunes of four young rich socialites, heirs to the De Vell millions.

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domino harvey
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#46 Post by domino harvey » Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:57 pm

I don't think there's any friendship I wouldn't ruin to save a film for future generations. I guess this is a moral question for some but seriously, screw this guy for sitting on this film. As much as Herr and I disagree, I think he's absolutely right-on here, you need to call people in the position to help, not just email. This needs to be handled today, now, quick.

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Doctor Sunshine
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#47 Post by Doctor Sunshine » Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:41 pm

Don't hold off too long. Someone had already posted this on Wikipedia. I've removed it but news travels fast on the internets. At the same time I want to say wait 'til you've gone through the whole collection but this is too important to sit on. Amazing news, complete film or no. EDIT: Missed page two. It's on the move already. Good stuff.

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HerrSchreck
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#48 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:58 pm

Doctor Sunshine wrote:internets
Could it be...?

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Doctor Sunshine
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#49 Post by Doctor Sunshine » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:17 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:Could it be...?
What can I say, I have me a lotta down time on the ranch and I likes me the Mar-now. Ah-heh heh heh heh.

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Danny Burk
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#50 Post by Danny Burk » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:25 pm

It's extremely important that you don't wait on this. Waste no time... as they say, nitrate won't wait. It can decompose rapidly, the guy's house could burn down (who knows how much nitrate is stored there?) ... any number of things could happen to it. You've stumbled into a supremely important title, not just something that a few esoteric collectors would like to watch (not that the latter shouldn't also be preserved!).

If this really is a cache of late silent and early sound Fox films, it's anybody's guess what else might be hiding there... some missing John Ford silents, just to make wild speculation.

Do it NOW, please!

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