Off Topic Messages

Silent films/Talkies

Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:01 am

It's wild where these movies are being found for example an asinine asylum closet,In the garden of a director's house.Under water,etc.I hope more are still in collections or wherever and they know how to store them. Biggest find was in a Nz archive.Aren't they restoring these for future dvd and blu ray releases?
How many silents,talkies are on blu ray?

Re: Silent films/Talkies

Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:40 am

ritchie valens wrote:How many silents,talkies are on blu ray?


Not enough.

Flicker Alley is coming out with Hunchback of Notre Dame starring Lon Chaney. I can't stand the film although I recognize its excellence. Some of the outdoor sets were still standing on the Universal backlot in the 1990s; I shot a lot of stills on a location scout. They're gone now. I've bought a lot of silents on DVD including all of Chaplin and Keaton. I've been making a study of silent westerns up through the transition into sound. There is a whole 'nother America, a lost America, in the silent western. For me the silent western is the ultimate visual poetry. I have two hundred silent westerns on DVD and DVD-R, and the collection is increasing steadily.

One of the most remarkable silent films I've seen is the French historical epic La merveilleuse vie de Jeanne d'Arc (aka Saint Joan the Maid, 1929) by Marco de Gastyne. A stunning work of art. The scale is not that large; it's very intimate. The actress who played Jeanne is a heartbreaker; she even caught fire during the burning scene. It was filmed at the same time as Carl-Theodor Dreyer's La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc' (1928) but takes a different approach to the story and came out a year later. It is no less great and just as moving; in fact, I like it better, even though Dreyer is one of my favorite directors and someone who has influenced me the most. In a larger sense, the French were brilliant filmmakers, brilliant story tellers, brilliant innovators of the visual syntax. I buy French silents.

Re: Silent films/Talkies

Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:29 pm

See this :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_film

Of American silent films far more have been lost than have survived, and of American sound films made from 1927 to 1950, perhaps half have been lost.

Re: Silent films/Talkies

Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:15 pm

Mister Moon wrote:See this :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_film

Of American silent films far more have been lost than have survived, and of American sound films made from 1927 to 1950, perhaps half have been lost.


These figures are slightly misleading. When referring to American sound films, many of the lost ones are experimental films or films by independent companies that never really got distribution in the first place. As for silent films, yes only around 15% survive, but twenty years ago that figure was thought to be 5% - and, again, the percentage lost is greater for the very early years of film than for the 1920s (although the rate for the 1920s isn't great!)

Silent films on blu ray is a difficult area - these films appeal to such a niche audience that it mostly isn't financially viable. That said, there has been a steady stream of silent on dvd in recent years, especially from warner archive series. Much of the problem with the releasing of silent film is copyright - the films are often still in copyright, but won't be released by the major studios because the restoration costs outweigh the revenue they could bring in. So they sit in limbo. Only Warner have said that all of their surviving films will be eventually released on DVD. Meanwhile, Grapevine continue to put out nice version of out public domain films, and companies such as Kino, Flicker Alley and Milestone in America, and Eureka and Edition Filmmuseum in Europe, continue to release a steady stream of silent movies.

Re: Silent films/Talkies

Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:48 pm

poormadpeter wrote: Only Warner have said that all of their surviving films will be eventually released on DVD. Meanwhile, Grapevine continue to put out nice version of out public domain films, and companies such as Kino, Flicker Alley and Milestone in America, and Eureka and Edition Filmmuseum in Europe, continue to release a steady stream of silent movies.

KINO are a fabulous company! I don't know what I'd do without them!!

Re: Silent films/Talkies

Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:29 am

Did the silent era Our gang/Little rascals set ever been released i know some company was working on the ones from 1922-1928.Cause all the talkies from 1929-1938 are on a set .1939-1940s Our gang set has been released idk which company.LOC,UCLA,George Eastman house and other archives are trying to preserve all they can.They are still finding missing reels frags,etc. all the time.Is it true they were burning films during the Gone with the wind fire scene that sucks if they are.Its actually stupid companies that tossed out films,tapes etc. are the ones wanting them back.

Re: Silent films/Talkies

Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:12 pm

ritchie valens wrote:Did the silent era Our gang/Little rascals set ever been released i know some company was working on the ones from 1922-1928.Cause all the talkies from 1929-1938 are on a set .1939-1940s Our gang set has been released idk which company.LOC,UCLA,George Eastman house and other archives are trying to preserve all they can.They are still finding missing reels frags,etc. all the time.Is it true they were burning films during the Gone with the wind fire scene that sucks if they are.Its actually stupid companies that tossed out films,tapes etc. are the ones wanting them back.


It wasn't seen as stupid to burn the films at the time. There was no television, and only the most prestigious/popular films would get re-released at cinemas. So the films in the vaults were not only useless and seen as no importance, but they were also a fire hazard, so they burned them under controlled conditions. Film was never made with the intention it would be viewed a hundred years later, there were no archives, no film studies programs at universities, no home video. This was the 1930s - sound had taken over and studios figured that no-one would ever want to see their silent films again.

Re: Silent films/Talkies

Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:39 pm

I wish more people had had the insight of Harold Lloyd who really took his time preserving his old silents with the help of Rich Correll (who also well preserved his father's Amos & Andy radio transcriptions).

Prints of Harolds movies are crystal clear. He build his own warehouse to store them at the right temperature but tragically STILL lost practically all of his pre-glasses character shorts in one of those dreaded fires.

Luckily, what WAS saved remains one of the finest silent collections in existence.

Re: Silent films/Talkies

Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:40 pm

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:I wish more people had had the insight of Harold Lloyd who really took his time preserving his old silents with the help of Rich Correll (who also well preserved his father's Amos & Andy radio transcriptions).

Prints of Harolds movies are crystal clear. He build his own warehouse to store them at the right temperature but tragically STILL lost practically all of his pre-glasses character shorts in one of those dreaded fires.

Luckily, what WAS saved remains one of the finest silent collections in existence.


From what I've seen of those early shorts, he may have lost them on purpose! The first archives started to appear in the late 1930s I believe, but it was too little too late - by the time film preservation was taken seriously, much had already been lost. But they are still being found all the time - and the NZ archive is a key example. Meanwhile, Buster Keaton's films were found in the cellar of a house that James Mason bought that had once belonged to Keaton. Other films were found when a public toilet in France was demolished and a cellar or basement of the cinema that was there before was discovered. Other films sit there for years without it being realised - Lon Chaney's classic The Unknown had its reels marked "unknown", and so was thought to be random footage from various films. The very sad fact is that there is no doubt that many "lost" films exist in archives, but they simply don't have the funds or manpower to work through all the unmarked cans of film sitting there.

As an aside, one of the latest editions to my blog is about a film starring Lloyd's son, an intriguing little poverty row effort called "Flaming Urge".

Re: Silent films/Talkies

Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:12 am

At least they are being rediscovered.My friend told me some were found in Alaska in a dump in pristene cond cause its so cold where they were.How much does it cost to totally restore movies.

Re: Silent films/Talkies

Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:20 am

ritchie valens wrote:At least they are being rediscovered.My friend told me some were found in Alaska in a dump in pristene cond cause its so cold where they were.How much does it cost to totally restore movies.


Lots!