Thought to Be Lost Forever, 10 American Silent Films Come Home

by Stephen Rowland

5 November 2010


Of all the films made between the years of 1893 and 1930 in the United States, less than 20% are said to still exist, according to the Library of Congress, which is a crushing blow to any cineaste. Personally, I don’t even like to think about it. This isn’t just due to wastefulness; early celluloid film containing nitrate or acetate deteriorated rapidly over the years if not properly preserved, not to mention such film is highly flammable. American studios distributed many of their films around the world, and while there were many that the U.S. didn’t hold on to, other countries did.
The Library of Congress has found 10 films in Russia, thought to be lost forever. The films have been digitally restored and returned to the States. They include:

1. Valley of the Giants (1919, director: James Cruze, starring: Wallace Reid, Grace Darmond)

2. You’re Fired (1919, director: James Cruze, starring: Wallace Reid, Wanda Hawley)

3. The Conquest of Canaan (1921, director: Roy William Neill, starring: Thomas Meighan, Doris Kenyon)

4. Kick In (1922, director: George Fitzmaurice, starring: Betty Compson, Bert Lytell)

5. The Call of the Canyon (1923, director: Victor Fleming, starring: Richard Dix, Lois Wilson)

6. Canyon of the Fools (1923, director: Val Paul, starring: Harry Carey, Marguerite Clayton)

7. Circus Days (1923, director: Edward F. Cline, starring: Jackie Coogan, Barbara Tennant)

8. The Eternal Struggle (1923, director: Reginald Barker, starring: Renée Adorée, Wallace Beery)

9. The Arab (1924, director: Rex Ingram, starring: Ramon Novarro, Alice Terry)

10. Keep Smiling (1925, director: Albert Austin, starring: Monty Banks, Anne Cornwall)

We may not have found Lon Chaney’s tragically lost (though reconstructed through stills) London After Midnight, or Erich von Stroheim’s masterpiece, Greed, in its nine-hour entirety, but 2010-10-22, when Gosfilmofond, the Russian state film archive, handed over these 10 “lost” motion pictures, was a great day in cinema history.

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