May 11, 2018 Library's Cinematic Treasure Hunt for "Mostly Lost" Films

Seventh Annual Silent-Film Identification Workshop

Press Contact: Sheryl Cannady (202) 707-6456
Public Contact: Rachel Del Gaudio (202) 707-0934
Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or [email protected]

The hunt for lost cinematic treasure will take place again this year at the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia. Scholars, archivists and film enthusiasts will pool their collective expertise to find clues that will lead to the identification of unidentified, under-identified or misidentified silent and early sound films at the seventh annual “Mostly Lost” workshop. This free event begins with an opening reception the evening of Wednesday, June 13, continuing through Saturday, June 16.

During the screenings, attendees are encouraged to talk in the theater, calling out names of actors, locations, car models, production companies or anything else they recognize about each film. All genres of films will be shown, including comedies, dramas and actuality films. Ben Model, Andrew Simpson and Philip Carli will provide live musical accompaniment during the workshop and at evening presentations of newly preserved silent films.

The workshop will feature unidentified films from the Library’s collections as well as from other archives, including the George Eastman Museum, the Packard Humanities Institute and Lobster Films.

Of the 180 titles screened at the workshop in 2017, 52 films—29 percent—were identified during the event. Through further research conducted in collaboration with the Association of Moving Image Archivists Nitrate Committee’s Flickr page, an additional 46 titles were identified after the workshop.

Daytime events are open only to registered workshop participants. Register at mostlylost7.eventbrite.com. The deadline for registration is Thursday, May 31. For more information, email [email protected].

The evening screenings are free and open to the general public. In case of inclement weather, call the theater reservation line no more than three hours before showtime to verify status. For further information on the theater and film schedule, visit loc.gov/avconservation/theater/.

The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation is a state-of-the-art facility funded as a gift to the nation by the Packard Humanities Institute. The Packard Campus is the site where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of motion pictures, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings (loc.gov/avconservation/). The Packard Campus is home to more than 7 million collection items.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

Workshop Schedule

Wednesday, June 13

6 p.m. – 10 p.m. An opening reception will be held at Mountain Run Winery, located about five minutes from downtown Culpeper. There will be pizza and popcorn available via 716 Slice, wine tastings and a film screening under the stars. The screening is the rare British film “The Lady is Willing” (1934), featuring Leslie Howard, and will begin at dusk. The winery and food truck will be open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Thursday, June 14
8:30 a.m. Tour of the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation

9:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. (for those not on the tour)
Previews of Lost Attractions. Not coming to a theater near you! This session will present the only known remnants of lost silent features—the trailers that advertised the films. Until the next great discovery, the only way to get a peek at these films is via these tantalizing brief glimpses. Film historian Steve Massa provides an insightful look at remnants of these lost features.

Survival of the Teens Universal Films of Lon Chaney: A Geeky Quantitative Assessment. Presented by Jon Mirsalis
Of the 111 films Lon Chaney made at Universal in the teens, only 20 are known to survive, and only 10 of those are more or less complete. This can be blamed in part on Universal’s decision to destroy its entire silent film library in the late 1940s. Using graphics, statistics and maps, this talk will document the survival of Chaney’s early Universal titles, what survives, why and where they were found. From Britain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Yukon and under a front porch in Georgia comes an astonishing story of discovery and survival.

12:30 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. Screenings of unidentified films from archives around the world as well as these presentations:

What the ‘Straight from the Shoulder Report’ Did for Me, presented by Rob Farr. Throughout the silent and early sound eras, trade papers such as Moving Picture World, Exhibitors Herald and Motion Picture News published columns giving exhibitors’ unvarnished perspectives about the latest releases. Their opinions did not always align with those of big city critics since audiences in the hinterlands knew what they liked and didn’t give a fig what a New York Times critic thought. This program is an alternative history of American film, with examples of some of the wittiest and sharpest observations from those hardworking showmen and women whose livelihood depended on outguessing their fickle audiences and keeping them coming back for more.

Dracula vs. Nosferatu: Lost Dispatches from the European Vampire War of 1931 to 1933, presented by Robert James Kiss. Since the rise of the feature film, foreign sales have typically accounted for between one- quarter and one-third of the profits made by American movies. Yet Hollywood has not always been able to predict or control how individual productions might be received abroad, with numerous domestic hits proving to be international flops. Taking the example of Universal’s inaugural monster movie of the talkie era, “Dracula” (1931)— the English-language version starring Bela Lugosi and a Spanish version with Carlos Villarías—Robert J. Kiss relates the untold story of a seminal Hollywood production whose success in continental Europe was crippled by an array of unanticipated local factors. One contributor was the colossal head-to-head box-office battle between Universal’s new vampire talkie and F.W. Murnau’s unauthorized 1922 silent Bram Stoker adaptation, “Nosferatu.”

Norman Studios: History and Regeneration of a Silent Film Studios Complex, presented by Barbara Wingo. In addition to being recently designated as a National Historic Landmark, the 1916 Norman Studios and Eagle Film Studios complex has a rich history. Eagle Films represents the only surviving studio complex from the era when Jacksonville, Florida, was the “Winter Film Capital of the World,” and Norman Studios is the nation’s only surviving “race films” studio. Norman’s films presented all-African-American casts in ways that challenged then-current stereotypes. The goals of the Norman Studios Silent Film Museum Inc. are the restoration of the interiors of the four buildings owned by the city of Jacksonville for museum, educational and film production purposes and the reunification of the studios’ property through the purchase of the remaining studios building. In this presentation, Norman Studios will share its history, artifacts and films, as well as its efforts to regenerate and reunify the studios’ complex.

7:30 p.m. “Cunègonde, the Comedienne With Two Faces But No Name” and a screening of “Lost and Won” (1917) will be featured. Ben Model will provide musical accompaniment for the silent film. The program is free and open to the public.

“Cunègonde, the Comedienne With Two Faces But No Name.” Around 1912 to 1913, the French company Société Lux produced comedies featuring the main character Cunégonde. The surviving films showcase the same actress playing either an unruly maid or a ferocious wife. However, the true identity of the actress playing Cunégonde remains a mystery. This presentation by Elif Rongen of EYE Filmmuseum will include Cunégonde films as well as what little material is known about the actress.

“Lost and Won” (1917). A wealthy man (Elliot Dexter) makes a bet with his friends that within a year they will fall in love with a girl of his choosing from the slums. The girl (Marie Doro) is conveniently named Cinders for this Cinderella story with a newspaper twist. Directed by Frank Reicher, the film also stars Mayme Kelso, Carl Stockdale, Mabel Van Buren, Bob Gray and Cleo Duveve. The Library made the 35 mm
print from the AFI/Paramount collection in 2000.

Friday, June 15

9 a.m. - 5:15 p.m. Screenings of unidentified films from archives around the world as well as these presentations:

From the Sun to Mercury Vapor Lights and Beyond: Movie Lights in Silent Films, presented by Beth Werling and Jim Elyea. As the motion picture industry rapidly developed during the silent era from outdoor stages revolving to follow the sun to the sophisticated interior sets of the late 1920s, the equipment used to create these movies had to develop just as rapidly. This presentation looks at one type of equipment—movie lighting—and traces not how sets were artistically lit, but what they were lit with, told from two unique perspectives—a museum collections manager and a prop house owner.

90 Years ‘Lost’ In The Desert, presented by Jim Kerkhoff. Before officially becoming a team at Hal Roach Studios, Laurel and Hardy appeared in a 1927 silent two-reel comedy titled “Flying Elephants,” in which they played cavemen competing for the hearts of stone-age flappers. According to Stan Laurel, the short was filmed in Moapa, Nevada, approximately 50 miles north of Las Vegas. Until now, however, that’s all that’s been known about the production location. Jim Kerkhoff, a longtime enthusiast of Hal Roach and Laurel and Hardy, has uncovered many of the comedy’s “lost” shooting sites. He explains the research techniques he has relied on to pinpoint exactly where a number of its scenes were staged almost a century ago.

7:30 p.m. Bruno Mestdagh of Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique presents the silent film “Senorita” (1927). Andrew Simpson will provide musical accompaniment. This event at the Packard Campus is free and open to the public.

“Senorita” (1927). This rollicking adventure features Bebe Daniels masquerading as a boy in order to protect her grandfather’s ranch. Directed by Clarence G. Badger, the additional cast includes William Powell, James Hall, Jerry Mandy and Josef Swickard. The 35 mm print was loaned by the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique.

Saturday, June 16

9 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. Screenings of unidentified films from archives around the world as well as these presentations:

Blackhawk Films: Anatomy of a Legend, presented by Dino Everett and Serge Bromberg. During this presentation, Lobster Films’ Serge Bromberg (the current owner of Blackhawk) and archivist Dino Everett will give an overview of the history of Blackhawk Films. They will trace its history from the early days of simply reselling used films to the heyday in the 1970s when Blackhawk was transformed into the company that first defined the modern-day model of film preservation. Blackhawk was a pioneer in finding, restoring and ultimately releasing rare films for purchase.

Marquis de Wavrin, Discovery of a Forgotten Filmmaker Through the Exploration of Archives. presented by Bruno Mestdagh. Few have heard of him, but Marquis Robert de Wavrin was among the precursors of ethnographic cinema. Beginning in 1919, he was one of the first to use a 35 mm camera like a notebook to record the habits and customs of the Indians of South America. Using footage shot on his numerous journeys to Latin America, he made successful films such as “In the Scalp Country” (1931) and “Among the Indian Sorcerers” (1934). His films ended up in dozens of film boxes, preserved in the storerooms of the Royal Film Archive of Belgium and known only to a few. The preservation of this cinematographic heritage by the Royal Film Archive of Belgium has revealed Marquis de Wavrin as a filmmaker, friend and supporter of the Indians of the upper Amazonian forest.

7:30 p.m. Silent film screening of “Midnight Lovers” (1926) with Philip Carli providing musical accompaniment. This Packard Campus screening is free and open to the public.

“Midnight Lovers” (1926). During a furlough, a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps (Lewis Stone) marries a spirited woman (Anna Q. Nilsson), but the two have different ideas of what a long-distance relationship looks like. Directed by John Francis Dillon, the film also stars John Roche, Chester Conklin, Dale Fuller, Purnell Pratt and Harvey Clark. This 35 mm print is part of the United Artists collection at the Library of Congress and was struck in 1980.

Immediately following the screening is a closing-night reception at the Library of Congress Packard Campus for registered workshop attendees only.

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PR 18-050
2018-05-11
ISSN 0731-3527