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.