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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125100
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Lost Films

#1 Post by 125100 » Mon Oct 08, 2007 9:50 pm

Okay, so over the past year I've been exploring a private collection of film reels near Tacoma, WA and I've stumbled across a "lost film", there could possibly be even more, since it is a huge archive and I'm not really aware of many lost films...

Anyway my question is does "lost" mean that no copy is known to exist or does it just mean no copyable negative exists?

I'm having a bit of a dilemma over this really as this film seems to be on quite a few "wanted" lists and I've known this copy exists for a while now 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?

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Oedipax
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#2 Post by Oedipax » Mon Oct 08, 2007 10:04 pm

Exciting stuff, perhaps someone who has dealt with this kind of thing before (I imagine there's got to be a few on this forum) can either reply or PM with some advice. Be sure to let us know if it does end up being restored or classified as having been rediscovered...

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#3 Post by miless » Mon Oct 08, 2007 10:08 pm

now let us all speculate what this "lost film" may be.

my guess, Welles' cut of The Magnificent Ambersons.

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#4 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 08, 2007 10:17 pm

You absolutely call the correct studio or whoever you need to rescue that film, there is no question.

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#5 Post by Cold Bishop » Mon Oct 08, 2007 10:22 pm

The full-length Metropolis? the full-length Greed? The Day the Clown Cried? Ed Wood's The Undergraduate?

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#6 Post by zombeaner » Mon Oct 08, 2007 10:30 pm

London After Midnight?

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#7 Post by souvenir » Mon Oct 08, 2007 10:33 pm

How would the studio have the right to repossess? If the reels are privately owned then they are the property of the owner. Obviously the owner has no rights of reproduction or copyright over what's on the reels, but he should have control of the property rights to the reels themselves.

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#8 Post by Cold Bishop » Mon Oct 08, 2007 10:37 pm

I do believe souvenir is right.... however, I still think the studio may be interested in a lost film of theirs being found, and if they want it, I'm sure they could be persuasive.

You could always reach out to film scholars, historians, academics, etc. interested in the film, too, who, if it is a film of interest, could be of assistance.

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125100
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#9 Post by 125100 » Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:09 pm

Cold Bishop wrote:I still think the studio may be interested in a lost film of theirs being found, and if they want it, I'm sure they could be persuasive.
Well I'm not sure where these particular reels came from but from what I know of the collection it was either:

A) Stolen from the studio archive/rescued from the bins when the sound era had established itself.
or
B) Screened at a cinema here and never returned/destroyed as they were supposed to be.

Whichever it is I imagine the studio would have no problem reclaiming them, it is their intellectual propriety after all so I'm sure they have a claim to reclaim it or at least to make copies from it. The funny thing is I really want to watch this film but I dare not incase I destroy it.
You could always reach out to film scholars, historians, academics, etc. interested in the film, too, who, if it is a film of interest, could be of assistance.
Any recommendations on who? I'm pretty sure there'd be interest, from what I've read this is as mourned as full length versions of Metropolis and Greed.

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#10 Post by denti alligator » Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:16 pm

Fuck, what IS this?! Give us some hints!

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#11 Post by gubbelsj » Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:29 pm

denti alligator wrote:Fuck, what IS this?! Give us some hints!
Seriously. Consider my interest piqued. If it's historically and culturally important, as you seem to be suggesting it is, any ownership non-tied to family or estate should be considered open for negotiation.

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#12 Post by the dancing kid » Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:32 pm

125100 wrote:Any recommendations on who? I'm pretty sure there'd be interest, from what I've read this is as mourned as full length versions of Metropolis and Greed.
The George Eastman House in Rochester, NY might be a good start. I believe that they've dealt with similar situations in the past when sorting through private collections.

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#13 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:34 pm

Whatever you do, don't call Gena Rowlands.

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#14 Post by 125100 » Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:37 pm

denti alligator wrote:Fuck, what IS this?! Give us some hints!
I'd really rather not unless I decide I'm going to give it up as I'll probably get hounded. I can't really give clues either as most here would guess it straight away.

I think if there was a good chance it would make it to DVD (giving it to the people) I would just contact the studio but otherwise it'd probably end up only being viewed by scholars and then I don't think it's my place to give it up plus I'd loose access to this collection which is something I'm not keen on doing.
the dancing kid wrote:The George Eastman House in Rochester, NY might be a good start. I believe that they've dealt with similar situations in the past when sorting through private collections.
Thanks, I'll look into them.

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#15 Post by Cold Bishop » Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:39 pm

I wouldn't know where to begin, but I'm sure a little research on the net could find you an authority on the genre, director, etc. of the film involved. Since you know what film it is (and who knows, may be its best to keep it private for now), you could start to look out for someone. There are some people on this forum with connections to the industry in varying degrees: I'm thinking MichaelB, Ehrenstein, peerpee etc. who you could always pm and they could help you out.

Of course, knowing this forum, I'm sure you'll see some sort of help soon.

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#16 Post by 125100 » Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:52 pm

Cold Bishop wrote:I wouldn't know where to begin, but I'm sure a little research on the net could find you an authority on the genre, director, etc. of the film involved. Since you know what film it is (and who knows, may be its best to keep it private for now), you could start to look out for someone. There are some people on this forum with connections to the industry in varying degrees: I'm thinking MichaelB, Ehrenstein, peerpee etc. who you could always pm and they could help you out.

Of course, knowing this forum, I'm sure you'll see some sort of help soon.
Well I know all about it already, I found the film a while back now but when the owner said he didn't want to let it go I just respected his wishes and thought nothing of it. But now the more I read the more I become a fan of this director and with some of his other films having upcoming DVD releases I'm really wrestling with my conscious.

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#17 Post by SoyCuba » Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:59 pm

Wow, this is really exciting. I hope it's Murnau's 4 Devils =P~

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#18 Post by Cold Bishop » Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:02 am

If it's a found lost film, I believe it's your duty to try to do something about this... I don't totally even see it as a question of conscious. It's not like the Bfi swat team is gonna break into your friends house and take it. Who knows, your friend may benefit from this (and either way, if he refuses to share such a find, I'm not sure if he deserves to own it, especially if it appears to have been stolen in the first place).

Just search around the net and you'll be able to find someone in the UK you can contact about this and begin some sort of correspondence with on the subject.

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#19 Post by Faux Hulot » Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:25 am

There are quite a few professional archivists who deal regularly with these practical, ethical and legal questions. You might want to consider posting a message to AMIA-L, the listserv for AMIA (The Association of Moving Image Archivists), where you're bound to get a mailbox full of helpful advice (and perhaps clear your conscience in the process).

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#20 Post by 125100 » Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:27 am

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.

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#21 Post by SoyCuba » Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:31 am

:shock: :shock: :shock:

I don't know what to say. Yes, it's definitely your duty to do everything possible to do something about this. Good luck.

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#22 Post by denti alligator » Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:31 am

When Schreck reads this he's gonna explode!

This is pretty big news. Keep us updated, please.

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#23 Post by Cold Bishop » Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:14 am

But how on earth does 4 Devils end up in Tacoma?

This almost sounds too good to be true, and I'm not getting my hopes up yet. But if it is, I'm nominating 125100 for Sainthood. Sure, Simeon stayed on a pillar for 37 years and Francis talked to animals, but they pale to comparison with this.
Last edited by Cold Bishop on Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#24 Post by 125100 » Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:45 am

Cold Bishop wrote:But how on earth does 4 Devils end up in Tacoma?
That's a total mystery, The guy who owns them is an ex-engineer in his 70's and he knows little of their origin. Apparently he got them from the estate of a guy who died in the 60's and they've filled the upstairs of his huge workshop/barn since. His theory is they come from a local projectionist who was keeping prints meant for return but with them being mostly Fox films from the late 20's - early 30's and some other random stuff thrown in I personally think they were rescued from the LA dump and the previous owner added the "random stuff" later.

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#25 Post by porquenegar » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:06 am

Holy crap. That's excellent news.

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