Major archives sharing their latest finds on DVD: that’s a
21st century concept, and the latest example is Lost & Found: American Treasures from the New Zealand Film Archive,
just released by the National Film Preservation Foundation. By now, most film
buffs are aware of the incredible cache of cinematic rarities uncovered in New
Zealand over the past few years, including a long-lost John Ford feature and an
early effort by Alfred Hitchcock. These and scores of short subjects have been
preserved by a coalition of U.S. labs and archives in close cooperation with
our Kiwi friends. But unless you live in the few major cities where these films
have been screened, you haven’t been able to experience them first-hand…until
This egalitarian approach to film preservation and education is a key reason I’m proud to be on the Board of Directors of the NFPF, which serves as a conduit for funding from the Library of Congress to America’s largest (and smallest) film archives. I’m also happy to have written a foreword to the booklet that accompanies the new DVD release; the impeccably researched historical essays about each film are the work of Scott Simmon. As in the Foundation’s previous DVD sets, the purpose of this collection is not only to put the films in circulation, but to place each one into proper historical context.
It’s impossible to itemize all the work that has gone into this project, from identifying films without main title cards to shipping volatile nitrate prints across the globe…but the enterprise has been blessed from the start and facilitated by right-thinking people in New Zealand and here in the U.S.
As it happens, the selection of films on the Lost & Found disc, running more than three hours altogether, comprise a time capsule of the silent era, including two feature films (John Ford’s delightful Upstream and an incomplete copy of the early Hitchcock effort The White Shadow), a serial chapter (Dolly of the Dailies), an animated cartoon (Paul Terry’s amusing Happy-Go-Luckies), a pair of slapstick comedies (Won in a Cupboard, directed by its star Mabel Normand, and Andy’s Stump Speech), a preview trailer (for a missing John Ford feature, Strong Boy), a picturesque early two-color Technicolor short (The Love Charm), a novelty (Lyman H. Howe’s Famous Ride on a Runaway Train), several newsreel segments, and even an educational film about the manufacture of Stetson Hats. Each subject, carefully transferred from original 35mm prints at the proper speed, is accompanied by an original music score.
For glimpses of these films and more news and information about the National Film Preservation Foundation, I encourage you to click HERE and check in on a regular basis. There are always new discoveries being chronicled—and shared.
And if you haven’t seen the earlier DVD sets Treasures from American Film Archives you really should.