Stuff We Might Never Have Seen ...
Found At Mostly Lost Is Goodies Galore
One-man Blu-Ray and DVD labels have taken a lead in silent era rollout. Archives are swell, but I see none releasing titles for home delectation. The Library Of Congress, however, earns praise for sharing with laborers of love such rarity as wouldn't be available any other way. Found At Mostly Lost is gather of shorts so obscure it took an auditorium of experts just to ID the things. Three-day process has become yearly ritual at LoC headquarters in Culpepper, Va., Ben Model and his Undercrank Productions compiling fruit of effort for disc release. Found At Mostly Lost derives from 2012-2014 conclave-ing (a lively audience I hear, membership yelling out clues, palm pilots busy, through race for title/dates). Fact these subjects are obscure doesn't mean they won't entertain, as I found to surprise/delight in seeing the batch (11 total, mostly comedy). Imagine being put in front of a surviving reel from teens or early 20's, with no hint of what's what, and nailing dope within minutes. These are chess champions of the film preserve game, and orchids to them plus Undercrank for sharing fun of rediscovery with the rest of us. I emphasize fun here, as content isn't relics of academic interest only. Watch one and you'll keep on --- share, and hear your crowd call for encore. Quality is done deal thanks to most deriving from 35mm. So who said fragments and nitrate decomp can't look good, especially w/ music overlay by Ben Model, Phillip Carli, and Andrew Simpson. I'm for support of this project so that Found At Mostly Lost might become annual DVD event.
Among highlights: The Nickel Snatcher (1920), a Hank Mann reel directed by Charley Chase with streetcars and bathing girls. All outdoors and along country lanes no longer there. Fidelity (1911), another of weird grave worship shorts (a Nickelodeon sub-genre? We can't know for so few surviving). Don't be misled: screen acting could be wonderfully understated in 1911. Overgrown, crowded-up cemeteries and a dog to again commune with the dead. Another of the past as foreign country, or other world. A Brass Button, also 1911, also well-acted. Starring is James Kirkwood, who'd later do a married-in-the-eyes-of God number on Mary Miles Minter and nearly get killed for it by crazed mother of same. Here was first time I realized how effective this otherwise forgotten player could be. Truth that emerges from watching nickelodeon dramas: virtually all teach sound moral lessons, more so than talkers ever would. We hear lots about censorship and blue-nosers dogging pioneer movies, but writer Terry Lindvall has researched to different, and arresting conclusion, as in discovery of fact that clergy in many locales supported filmgoing and arranged even to run films in church on occasion. Read Lindvall findings in Going To The Movies, edited by Richard Maltby, Melvyn Stokes, and Robert C. Allen, essay entitled Sundays In Norfolk: Toward A Protestant Utopia Through Film Exhibition in Norfolk, Virginia, 1910-1920.
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