FOUND AT "MOSTLY LOST" VOLUME 2 – A DVD Review by John Strange
People ask me why I love reviewing silent films. The answer is simple. I love movies, all movies. And a large portion of silent films were made by mavericks. When you look at most of the early studios, they were run by mavericks, too. So many heroes of the era (the early 1900's) are still famous now. From Fatty Arbuckle to Buster Keaton to Thomas Edison and Col. William Selig, we remember what they accomplished. But there are so many more whose names we don't know. Filmmakers whose films are as imaginative and worth watching today as the day they were first shown on the screen at the neighborhood theater.
There are some very awesome folks who have made it their life's mission to find these forgotten jewels and return them to the light of day. Earlier this year I began reviewing some of the DVDs that Ben Model and Undercrank Productions have produced. Some of these films have been amazing and while some have not clicked with me, all have been awesome because I was seeing films that were lost to us.
Sometimes the films I see are beautifully restored and sometimes they are so rough that I have to strain to see what the filmmaker was trying show us. Sometimes the type of humor they are espousing does not resonate with our era and sometimes I howl with laughter as I watch the action on my TV screen.
This offering has given me a new group of films to enjoy. These films, made between 1906 and 1922, were preserved by my heroes at The Library of Congress and then identified at its annual "Mostly Found" workshop for historians and fans.
These films are one and two-reel films with subjects ranging from slapstick comedies to western love stories. There is even a really well done film which has animation incorporated into it. My favorite film shows Adolph Zink, a vaudeville performer, showing his quick changes backstage in his dressing room during his act (between changes he runs out to go on stage). My second favorite was the film with animation (FRESH FISH from 1922).
The films presented on this DVD are ten of the films the folks at three annual "Mostly Found" workshops were able to identify. We have three "treasures" from 2015, two from 2016, and five from 2017. The folks at The Library of Congress have done a wonderful job preserving these films which feature new piano scores by silent film accompanists Philip Carli, Ben Model, or Andrew Simpson.
The total runtime for the films collectively is 106 minutes. The individual runtimes vary from 8 (one reel) to 22 minutes (two reels). I don't know how many films come out of each workshop but if these films are examples of their successes, I want to see more!
Musical Scores By:
Andrew E. Simpson
AND THE VILLAIN STILL PURSUED HER; OR, THE AUTHOR'S DREAM (1906) – Vitagraph – 8 min.
THE FALLING ARROW (1909) – James Young Deer – 8 min.
DERBY DAY (1922) – Monty Banks – 12 min.
ADOLPH ZINK (1903?) – Edison – 11 min.
IN THE TALL GRASS COUNTRYFrancis Ford – 10 min.
FRESH FISH (1922) – Bobby Bumps (animated) – 7 min.
THE SUNSHINE SPREADER (1920s) – 22 min.
DO ME A FAVOR (1922) – Snub Pollard – 10 min.
Selig Rating Scale:
BRAND NEW: Should add to your DVD collection at any cost
SALE ITEM: Worth owning, but try to catch it a sale
SECOND HAND: Plan to get it, but wait to buy it used
RENTAL: Worth taking a look at, but not owning
COASTER: Pick it up at a garage sale and use it for drinks
PULL!: Makes a great Trap Shooting target