24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2013
LOST & FOUND: AMERICAN TREASURES FROM THE NEW ZEALAND FILM ARCHIVE represents the sixth installment in an ongoing series from the National Film Preservation Foundation. Previous entries include TREASURES FROM AMERICAN FILM ARCHIVES 1&2, SOCIAL ISSUES IN AMERICAN FILM, AMERICAN AVANT-GARDE FILM, and THE WEST. This set centers around the recent discovery of a wealth of American material stored away in the New Zealand Archive (hence the obvious title). As film researchers continue combing the world's archives, more and more silent film footage is being discovered. In some cases it's a complete film like METROPOLIS in Argentina or the Gloria Swanson-Rudolph Valentino feature BEYOND THE ROCKS in The Netherlands. Other discoveries are made by accident like the Mary Pickford short recently discovered in a barn in New Hampshire. However these discoveries occur, the fact remains that over 80% of silent films have been lost or gone missing so that every new find becomes a cause for rejoicing. Also a cause for rejoicing is the new technology now available that enables these films to be restored as close as possible to how they originally were. Silent movies really were a separate art form from sound pictures and they need to have the opportunity to be viewed the way audiences first saw them.
Included in this set are UPSTREAM, a minor comic feature from John Ford set in a theatrical boarding house, WON IN A CUPBOARD an early Keystone comedy directed by and starring Mabel Normand, and about half of a 1924 feature THE WHITE SHADOW on which Alfred Hitchcock was assistant director. Also included are an Edison Company serial, an early cartoon from Paul Terry of TERRYTOONS fame, a fascinating documentary on the making of Stetson hats, a comedy featuring comic strip character Andy Gump, and some actualities of then current events. There's even a Technicolor short (THE LOVE CHARM), and a hand colored clip of real Virginia mountaineers The quality of most of this material is outstanding. Not surprisingly the two features are in the worst shape with THE WHITE SHADOW missing 3 reels. The Mabel Normand short has occasional nitrate damage but otherwise is crystal clear. UPSTREAM is of interest because it's a rare opportunity to see John Ford work as a contract director at Fox. The print is scratchy but quite watchable. THE WHITE SHADOW is more problematic because of all the missing footage. If Hitchcock's name weren't on it, it probably wouldn't be here. The hand colored look at Virginia mountain people was intruiging. To think that someone would have gone to the trouble to do that is surprising. All in all another worthwhile addition to the ongoing series. I can't wait to see what the next installment will contain.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2013
The National Film Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving America's film heritage, has made available on DVD 13 titles believed to have been lost. Held in the New Zealand Film Archive, these films weren't seen in the U. S. for nearly a century, and include works by important filmmakers like John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and Mabel Normand. This compilation gives us a valuable sampling of various types of films from 1914-1929: Short subjects, animated cartoons, previews, dramas, comedies, serials, and travelogues. These particular titles have some notable significance be they technically innovative or containing artistic, historic, and cultural interest. All are off tinted, nitrate source prints, some of which were rescued just in time as they contain portions that have begun to decompose. Other than that, the images are sharp with excellent contrast.
Here's the line-up:
LYMAN H. HOWES FAMOUS RIDE ON A RUNAWAY TRAIN (1921), a great short film shot in subjective camera from the front of a speeding train engine.
THE HAPPY-GO-LUCKIES (1923), a frenetically paced cartoon by pioneer animator Paul Terry.
STRONG BOY Preview (1929), a trailer for the lost film directed by John Ford and starring Victor McLaglen.
UPSTREAM (1927), a full length feature directed by John Ford set in a boarding house for actors starring Nancy Nash and Grant Withers. The film offers another side to Ford's work we don't see as much of.
BIRTH OF A HAT: THE ART AND MYSTERY OF MAKING FUR FELT HATS (1920), an educational short depicting the manufacturing process of a wardrobe staple from the era.
THE LOVE CHARM (1928), a one-reel South Seas drama directed by Howard Mitchell shot in two-color Technicolor, and starring Ann Christy.
WON IN A CUPBOARD (1914), a one-reel Keystone comedy directed by and starring Mabel Normand.
THE ACTIVE LIFE OF DOLLY OF THE DAILIES: EPISODE 5, THE CHINESE FAN (1914), this was a 12 chapter serial from the Edison Company directed by Walter Edwin starring Mary Fuller.
STORIES FROM AMERICAN NEWSREELS: CO-OPERATIVE WEEKLY REVIEW (1918), a World War I homefront news report, and SELZNICK NEWS (1921), which was partially compiled from a travelogue of the period.
ANDY'S STUMP SPEECH (1924), a two-reel comedy directed by Norman Taurog about an unlikely presidential candidate played by Joe Murphy.
VIRGINIAN TYPES: BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINEERS (1926), a travelogue in hand-stenciled Pathecolor.
THE WHITE SHADOW (1924), an incomplete print of Alfred Hitchcock's earliest film in existence for which he was the assistant director/editor/art director, starring Betty Compson in a dual role and Clive Brook. Three out of six reels survive.
The music scores were composed by Michael Mortilla and Donald Sosin, and the DVD includes interactive screens about the films as well as an illustrated catalog with film notes and credits. Proceeds from sales will go toward supporting film preservation. This eye-opening, 3 1/2 hour compilation of never before available rarities is sure to captivate any lover of early cinema, and it gets my highest recommendation.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2013
Storing Nitrate film elements long term has been the cause of numerous large fires. All of the major studios have been hit with at least one where the culprit is this dangerous film stock. As a result thousands of feet of priceless footage has gone up in smoke in mere minutes. A studio fire around 1967 destroyed most of the then-known prints and negatives of Theda Bara's work. We now must rely on publicity materials and film stills that have survived. I am an historian and preservationist myself. I'm very proud of all the work that is being put into these important finds. I personally have not worked with Nitrate stock preservation. Those that do themselves are true pioneers bravely doing very dangerous work.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2013
The National Film Preservation Foundation includes 12 'saved' silent movies on this one disk. They range from 42 seconds to 60 minutes in length. As opposed to the "tie the woman to the railroad tracks" one might conjure from the days of the silents, the sophistication some of these movies show is amazing. Sure there are the "stares into the camera," but the stories woven in films some shot in two days illustrate the early abilities of directors to compose their messages in a short yet comprehensible product. I preferred Treasures 5:the West from 1898 to 1935 that covered 40 early films my preference might be due more to the number rather than the quality.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2014
I was drawn to purchasing this set of newly discovered missing silent films for two titles included: John Ford's UPSTREAM and the surviving portion of THE WHITE SHADOW which is the earliest material we have of Alfred Hitchcock. I'd seen a YouTube screening of the Hitchcock work and was impressed with how well done the special effects of actress Betty Compson playing twin sisters was. Both UPSTREAM and THE WHITE SHADOW are very nicely scored. And there are other gems included on the disc. One that is quite delightful is the 1921 RIDE ON A RUNAWAY TRAIN that was shown in smaller theatres with a prerecorded sound effects record. This film was very popular with audiences of the day providing the kind of thrills that THIS WAS CINERAMA did with its roller-coaster ride years later. THE LOVE CHARM shows off early Technicolor. The detailed notes about each film are excellent. It's very exciting that film long though lost is being discovered and that it is being offered in such fine form as the LOST & FOUND AMERICAN TREASURES series.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2014
To appreciate these restored treasures, you really have to be a early screen buff...Mabel Normand was a very early film pioneer (comedy),worked ith Roscoe 'fatty" Arbuckle ,and many others at the Sennett lot..aka Mack Sennett"s laff factory...there are other films here, including a rather interesting short by the STETSON hat company,showing how hats were made..remember, EVERYBODY wore hats in these times,right up thru the mid 50s
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2014
The chance to see these rare films is one to be leaped at. Something to look at again, again, and again.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2014
The films my husband and I have watched have been good, so far. All of you who have complained about nitrate damage, remember how OLD these films are. They are the lucky ones that the film preservation people could save; a lot of the old silent movies turned into dust after so many years and lost forever. Watching the silents, especially the ones that being found in people's closets and attics will make you want to be on the film preservation end of it, seeing what you can possibly save for future fans.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2013
Odd mixture of interesting and often fun -- and never viewed -- materials. Film historians will like this much more than amateurs.