Greatest Lost Movie

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by PaulBigelow, Jan 29, 2003.

  1. PaulBigelow

    PaulBigelow Stunt Coordinator

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    Hello,

    What is generally considered the greatest "lost movie"?
    That is, no usuable footage at all is known to exist.
     
  2. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    This is an impossible question to answer, since we have no modern records which would define the positive attributes of the film in question.

    If one were to make the same query, but delete the caveat for no extant footage whatsoever, I might be inclined to go toward a film which has at least some fragments, such as The Patriot.

    Without any concrete evidence it would be difficult to make a case for a film like Madame Sans-Gene (1925), even based upon reputation.

    RAH
     
  3. Paul_Nyman

    Paul_Nyman Second Unit

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    If you where asking about a Silent film, one that comes to my mind is "London After Midnight" which starred Lon Chaney and was directed by Tod Browning. No actual footage has been located even in fragment form over the last decade. Turner Classic Movies unveiled a recreation/restoration using over 200+ photos taken on the films set and aired this feature in October 2002. Not sure if this will eventually come to a DVD release for fans of Lon Chaney work?
     
  4. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    I'm stretching your definition, but I would say the greatest "lost" movie must be "The Magnificent Ambersons," the original cut of Orson Welles. Obviously, not all this movie is lost, but what is there taunts us to want the original, which is probably the Holy Grail of movie footage.

    The greatest unfinished movie is probably "I,Claudius," with Charles Laughton. A documentary about this movie can be seen in the BBC series "I, Claudius" DVD set.

    I wonder if there's anything left of "Trader Horn," the original safari/adventure movie. Also, Von Stroheim's "Greed" is almost completely lost. There's plenty of additional footage missing for the 2-movie version of "Cleopatra," although it might be a slight overstatement to call it great.
     
  5. PaulBigelow

    PaulBigelow Stunt Coordinator

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    Hello Mr. Harris and all,

    Thank you for responding. The question is a bit difficult
    but in forming it I was giving the reviewers of the time the benefit of the doubt. (Pretty dicey, huh?) With no
    proof, what movie could be considered great and time-tested? Still, a general concensus may be formed of "what might have been" should any footage, scripts, whatever, surface.

    As many movies simply deteriorate before our eyes,
    hopefully, we have some idea of what to look for first.
     
  6. PaulBigelow

    PaulBigelow Stunt Coordinator

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    Hello again,

    Here is a site that can help me with my questions:

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

    Perhaps this site can help others as well. I can
    only assume that some "talkies" will suffer the
    same fate.

    I wonder how many great movies now exist only as
    rumour?
     
  7. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    For a considerable period, I think Grand Illusion might have had a claim.
     
  8. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Unfortunately, it will soon be It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. [​IMG]
     
  9. Jun-Dai Bates

    Jun-Dai Bates Stunt Coordinator

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    Vertical Features.
     
  10. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Erich Von Stroheim's Greed.

    It's essentially a lost film because the intended cut was around 9 hours long. It exists now a little over 2 1/6 hours, plus the 4 hour cut with stills animated in (which I find superior). The only cuts which exist now are Joe Farham's Greed and Rich Schmidlin's/Rex Inghram's Greed.

    London After Midnight was a popular film (which is likely one reason why it's lost...the negative was overprinted like many of MGM's films), but the accounts of people who saw it before the demise (the only existing elements burned in Vault 7 of MGM's vaults in the 1960s) indicate that it was pretty cheesy.

    A few films which WERE lost for a while regained fame after a while. Several of Buster Keaton's early 2-reel comedies were lost until James Mason found Keaton's film stash in the mansion he bought from him. Napoleon was essentially lost until it was reconstructed painstakingly by Kevin Brownlow. (Our own Robert Harris participated in the restoration as well)

    There's also The Unknown, which was lost until the Cinemateque Francais (sic, I know...) found the film among dozens of cans marked "unknown" in French. The Cameraman was pretty much lost (unless you call a film existing in a disgusting 16mm duplicate print existing) until David Shepard found an original 35mm interpositive made for MGM's Big Parade of Comedy by Robert Youngson.

    The Matinee Idol was a lost film for some time until Columbia got their hands of a 28mm print of the film in terrible condition. They had it digitally restored in high-def back to film for their restoration.

    Some films which are lost seem like they would be interesting at the least. Paramount's Hollywood features a multitude of cameos by all the movie stars at the time. It's lost, but we can get a similar treatment in MGM's Show People (which shared a lot of the cameos).

    The Rogue Song has been said to be an OK movie, but mainly sought for because of The Boys co-starring (Laurel & Hardy for those who aren't Sons of the Desert. [​IMG] ) A few feet here and there have been found, including a ballet scene in 2-strip Technicolor. The complete soundtrack exists, as well as the soundtrack to the trailer.

    I'd check out www.silentera.com , www.vitaphone.com , and www.silentsmajority.com for interesting "lost movie" stuff.
     
  11. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    I don't think these ones qualify as potentially "great", but I'd love to get my hands on:

    The Day the Clown Cried - Call this one a morbid curiosity.

    The Fantastic Four - Corman-produced comics adaptation that's reputedly A) very awful, and B) sitting on a Universal shelf somewhere because they plan a big-budget adaptation. Still, I wanna see it.

    The Star Wars Holiday Special - OK, I do have a choppy VHS copy of this, and MAN is it awful. Don't expect to see it on video shelves anywhere, anytime.

    The Devil and Daniel Webster - Alec Baldwin-directed flick that stars Jenny Hewitt and Tony Hopkins. Apparently the production ran out of post-production cash, and it may never get a release of any kind - despite the fact that all the principal photography was completed.

    I can't think of any more right now, but consider this thread a recipient of the Scott Weinberg Cool Topic award. [​IMG]
     
  12. Eric_E

    Eric_E Supporting Actor

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    Not that it would by any stretch of the imagination be a "great" movie, but what about the legendary "The Day the Clown Cried," with Jerry Lewis as a nazi clown who leads children into the gas chamber?

    Check out this "Film Threat" article

    Very interesting reading.
     
  13. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

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    My father just bought me a copy of this for my b-day, an unexpected and very thougtful gift. It's obviously a bootleg and quality is awful, but it's worth it just to see the movie. Ranks right up (or down) there with the worst films I've ever seen.
     
  14. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    Trust me, you don't want to see it.
     
  15. Agee Bassett

    Agee Bassett Supporting Actor

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  16. Charles Ellis

    Charles Ellis Screenwriter

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    Well, it's lost but doesn't necessarily qualify as a lost film. I'd love to see the TECHNICOLOR screen test Greta Garbo did in 1949 for her aborted comeback film "Lover And Friend". This was to be a version of Honore de Balzac's "
    La Duchesse deLangeais" directed by Max Olphus, produced by Walter Wanger, and co-starring James Mason. James Wong Howe (legendary Warner Bros. cinematographer) did two tests of GG- the surviving B/W test and the lost color one. I've heard a rumor that a copy lies within the bowels of the Library of Congress, but in the world of film restoration, ANYTHING is possible. BTW, there are several reasons why "Lover And Friend" wasn't made: Wanger couldn't raise enough funds (for a GARBO film!!), and the ever-reculsive Garbo refused to do publicity for the project. GARBO IN T E C H N I C O L O R !!!!
     
  17. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    At least 3 musicals of which only bits and pieces remain are the ones I would really love to have seen, they are the original "Good News", "Gold Diggers of Broadway" and "The Rogue Song"

    "It's a Great Life" also looks great in the few sequences I have seen, but I'm not sure just what remains of the rest of it.

    A mate of mine had and not that long ago ran for me Ruby Keeler's ( "42nd Street") original screen Test on 35mm, but he later threw it away because he said the vintage and brittle nitrate film had shrunk badly and the sprockets were badly worn.
    Are there any other copies in existance I wonder?
     
  18. Evan Case

    Evan Case Screenwriter

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    The #1 lost film I'd most want to see is Laurel & Hardy's short film, Hats Off! It apparently received much acclaim upon its release, but is also notable for being their first foray into the "tit-for-tat antics become widespread communal chaos" sub-sub-genre of comedy that they perfected. It also was a clear influence on their later Academy Award-winner, The Music Box. I so desperately hope a copy is found sometime. If there's one positive, a good idea of the film can be formed from the many still shots which survive.

    Other bits of lost L&H goodness include the aforementioned Rouge Song, part of the second reel of The Battle of the Century, and deleted scenes from Any Old Port, Pardon Us, Swiss Miss (some really inexplicably cut stuff here), Pack Up Your Troubles and perhaps a few others I'm forgetting.

    Evan
     
  19. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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  20. Randall Dorr

    Randall Dorr Second Unit

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    All the footage of Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker was destroyed after production was completed.

    Fortunately, they re-shot the film, but they only had a fraction of the original budget, and the production values probably suffered greatly.
     

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