FILM THREAT’S TOP 50 LOST FILMS OF ALL TIME

FILM THREAT’S TOP 50 LOST FILMS OF ALL TIME

Today’s publication of the latest installment in Film Threat’s Top 10 Lost Films brings our total list to 50 films. From the silent era into the 1980s, the number of films that either vanished completely or lost key sequences is astonishing.

For the record, among the missing movies are the world’s first feature film, the first Technicolor feature, the first animated feature in both the silent and sound eras, the first werewolf movie, the first appearance by Dracula, the first kaiju film, and movies created by Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Sergei Eisenstein, Ed Wood, Oscar Micheaux and Martin Scorsese.

So here is Film Threat’s Top 50 Lost Films of All Time:

“Arirang” (1926, Korea). Na Un’gyu directed this volatile drama about rural Korean life during the Japanese colonial occupation era. The prints were destroyed during the Korean War; reports of a surviving print in a private Japanese collection remain unconfirmed.

“The Audion” (1922, USA). This animated short film was produced by Western Electric and designed to offer a demonstration of sound-on-disc recording technology. An experimental project not meant for commercial release, it was thrown away after its test screenings were over.

“The Betrayal” (1948, USA). Oscar Micheaux’s last film was a three-hour epic about a taboo love between a wealthy black farmer and a white woman in the wilds of South Dakota (she’s really a light-skinned African-American passing for white). The film was a box office failure and no one bothered to preserve the prints.

“Bezhin Meadow” (1937, USSR). Sergei Eisenstein’s first sound film was shut down after two years of production and the expenditure of one million rubles (no small fee for Stalinist-era cinema). The sole surviving (a workprint, according to some sources) was destroyed in a World War II bombing raid.

“Black Love” (1972, USA) ““ Horror director Herschell Gordon Lewis, working under the pseudonym R.L. Smith, made his only blaxploitation feature in Chicago, but it is uncertain if it was ever completed or released.

“Brother Martin” (1942, USA). Pioneering African-American filmmaker Spencer Williams directed and starred in this all-black drama about a pious man’s test of faith. All that remains of this film is an elaborate lobby poster.

“Cleopatra” (1917, USA). Theda Bara starred in this extravagant $500,000 budget production. Surviving prints were stored at the Fox Studio vaults in Hollywood and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but were lost when fires broke out at both locations. Only 45 seconds of footage survives.

“A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court” (1921, USA). Harry Myers, best known as the drunken millionaire who befriends Charlie Chaplin in “City Lights,” stars in this adaptation of the Mark Twain classic. Only three of the film’s eight reels are known to survive.

“Drakula halála” (“The Death of Dracula”) (1923, Hungary). Paul Askenas plays a mental asylum inmate who claims to be the celebrated vampire. The film, which introduced the character named Dracula to the screen, does not appear to have been released outside of Hungary. It is among the many Hungarian silent films that vanished.

“El Apastol” (1917, Argentina). The first animated feature was created Italian-born filmmaker Quirino Cristiani, who spoofed the presidency of Argentina’s Hipolito Irigoyen in a 70-minute feature consisting of 58,000 drawings. All known copies were destroyed in a fire in 1926, and only a few character sketches survive.

“The Great Gatsby” (1926, USA). The first film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel was actually crafted from a Broadway adaptation written by Owen Davis. Only a one-minute trailer survives.

“The Gulf Between” (1917, USA). The first Technicolor production and the first feature-length American color movie. All that remains are several frames from the long-lost print.

“Hats Off” (1927, USA). Laurel and Hardy deliver a bulky washing machine to a house at the top up a huge flight of stairs in this silent comedy, which was clearly a forerunner to their Oscar-winner “The Music Box.” No print exists.

“Heart Trouble” (1929, USA). Harry Langdon’s last starring role in the silent era was a spoof on military and spy films, but it was barely released and never preserved.

“Hello Pop!” (1933, USA). The Three Stooges and their original straight man, Ted Healy, star in this MGM Technicolor short. No print is known to survive.

“Help!” ““ The Drama School Scene (1965, UK). The Beatles and British comic legend Frankie Howerd failed to click in this sequence from the Fab Four’s second film, hence its removal from the final cut and its disappearance into the abyss.

“Her Friend the Bandit” (1914). This Keystone comedy had Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand as its stars and co-director. Originally called “The Italian” and released in Europe as “A Thief Catcher,” the film probably relied on anti-Italian stereotypes for its humor.

“Him” (1974, USA). This X-rated film about a gay man’s homoerotic obsession with the New Testament was detailed in the 1980 book “The Golden Turkey Awards” by the Medved Brothers ““ whether they saw the film or just read about it was uncertain. No copy is known it to exist, and only an advertisement from the film’s original New York run has turned up.

“Human Wreckage” (1923, USA). Dorothy Davenport, whose movie star husband Wallace Reid died from morphine addiction, created this harrowing drama of the destructive effects of drug usage on a family. This independent production was a hit in its day, but is lost today.

“Humor Risk” (1920, USA). The first Marx Brothers movie was this two-reel comedy with detective Harpo chasing villain Groucho in a nightclub where Italian bon vivant Chico and playboy Zeppo hang out. The film had at least one screening, but it was considered a disaster and the comic siblings allowed the sole print to be thrown out.

“In Holland” (1929). The Broadway comedy team of Bobby Clark and Paul McCullough starred in a series of early talkies. This spoof on Dutch culture probably deteriorated over the years until it vanished into nitrate goo.

“King Kong Appears in Edo” (1938, Japan). Believed to be the first kaiju film, this unauthorized remake of the RKO classic was believed to be destroyed in the Allied bombings of Japan during World War II.

“Kismet” (1930, USA) ““ An early widescreen epic starring Broadway legend Otis Skinner in his only sound film. Racy subject matter prevented its re-release after the 1934 Production Code was enforced, and the film was most likely destroyed as having no further commercial value. Only soundtrack disks survive.

“Life Without Soul” (1915, USA). The second film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein” changed the characters’ names (Victor Frankenstein became William Frawley!) and starred Percy Darrell Standing as “the brute man” monster. The film’s producers went out of business and the prints vanished with its creators.

“Lock Up Your Daughters” (1959, UK). Reportedly a “quiz film” in which scenes from a number of Bela Lugosi scenes were shown and audience members were encouraged to audibly identify their source, the film was reviewed in the British film trade journal Kinematograph Weekly ““ but there is no record of the film ever being released and no materials on the film have ever been located.

“Man in the 5th Dimension” (1964, USA). Shot in 70mm Todd-AO, this short film starred Billy Graham talking about the world situation and how salvation could come about through the embrace of the Bible. Designed to be shown at Graham’s pavilion at the 1964 New York’s World Fair, it never played theatrically and has not been seen since.

“The Monkey’s Paw” (1933, USA). The W.W. Jacobs short story was expanded into an hour-long RKO film, although a bizarre happy ending ruined the shock of its climax. Only fragments remain, although reports of a complete print at the UCLA archives are unconfirmed.

“The Mystery of the Mary Celeste” (1936, UK). Bela Lugosi went to London to star in this creepy film, based on a true story, about a ship that is found in the ocean without any person on board. The original 90-minute version is lost, and all that survives is the truncated American release called “Phantom Ship.”

“Naughty Dallas” ““ The Jack Ruby Footage (1963, USA). Exploitation filmmaker Larry Buchanan was able to shoot a film at the Carousel Club in Dallas on the condition that the joint’s manager, Jack Ruby, get a role in the film. Buchanan reluctantly agreed, but threw away the footage after it was shoot. This was before Ruby did you-know-what in Dallas.

“No, No Nanette” (1930, USA). This early talkie adaptation of the Broadway musical followed the adventures of a Bible salesman whose infatuation for a scatterbrained chorus girl leads him away from Christ’s path to Broadway. Only parts of the soundtrack on Vitaphone discs survive.

“Oklahoma!” ““ The James Dean Audition. (1954, USA). The 16mm test footage of Dean auditioning for the role of Curly (playing opposite Rod Steiger as Jud) was thrown away after Gordon MacRae was cast in the role.

“Peludópolis” (1931, Argentina). The aforementioned Quirino Cristiani also created the first animated feature with sound, with this political satire. The only known prints of “Peludópolis” were destroyed in a fire in 1961

“Raja Harishchandra” (1913, India). Dhundiraj Govind Phalke’s epic offered a cinematic vision of Hindu gods and goddesses, and the first bathtub scene in Indian movie history (played by men in female garments, since no actress would do this scene). Only fragments remain of this early landmark.

“The Return of Gilbert and Sullivan” (1950, UK). The operetta kings return to Earth to protest the jazz adaptations of their beloved compositions. No extant print of the original color production has turned up of this musical romp, although a truncated black-and-white version has been located in England.

“The Scott Joplin Performance Film” (1904, USA). An experimental early sound film was believed to be created by Eugene Lauste, this contained the only known footage of the ragtime performer. The experiment was acoustically unsatisfactory and the film was discarded as a failure.

“Space Jockey” (1958, USA). Phil Tucker, creator of “Robot Monster,” had poor feelings for his obscure sci-fi feature, calling it a “piece of shit.” No details on the film can be located anywhere beyond Tucker’s comments, and it is possible the film was probably unfinished and never released.

“September” ““ The Original Cast (1987, USA). Woody Allen’s ill-fated drama had a troubled history consisting of two versions of the same film. Leading man Christopher Walken was replaced by Sam Shepard after shooting began. The film was completed, but it was so unsatisfactory that is was reshot; Shepard and castmates Charles Durning and Maureen O’Sullivan were replaced by Sam Waterston, Denholm Elliott and Elaine Stritch. The first version has never surfaced.

“Song of the West” (1930). This all-Technicolor musical, based on the Broadway hit “Rainbow” by Oscar Hammerstein II and Laurence Stallings, had the distinction of being the first all-color/all-talking feature to be filmed entirely outdoors. The unstable nature of the early two-color Technicolor prints hastened speedy deterioration of prints.

“The Story of the Kelly Gang” (1906, Australia). The world’s first feature film was this 70-minute Australian production about the rise and fall of Ned Kelly and his fun bunch of Outback rebels. Roughly 10 minutes of this production survive.

“Take it Out in Trade” (1970, USA). The notorious Edward D. Wood Jr. hit career rock bottom in writing and directing this X-rated romp about a couple who hire a detective to find their missing daughter living in a whorehouse. Wood has a supporting role in drag (his character’s name is Alecia), but the film is gone ““ only silent outtakes survive.

“Taxi Driver” ““ The original climactic shootout (1976, USA). The MPAA forced Martin Scorsese’s to mute the colors in the film’s original bloody climax. The footage from the original full-color climax was thrown away and never seen again.

“Too Much Johnson” (1938, USA). Three years before “Citizen Kane,” Orson Welles shot this silent comedy romp designed to provide a cinematic bridge into his theatrical presentation of the comedy “Too Much Johnson.” The print and negative were destroyed in a 1971 fire at Welles’ Spanish home.

“Uncle Tom’s Fairy Tales” (1968, USA). Penelope Spheeris was supposed to make her directing debut in this savage satire of America’s volatile race relations, but star Richard Pryor was unhappy with the film’s progress and halted production. Pryor reportedly ordered the footage to be destroyed, although there are unconfirmed reports that some footage survived.

“Untitled Ed Wynn Film for “˜The Ziegfeld Follies of 1915′” (1915, USA). As part of the hit Broadway show, Ed Wynn dressed like a movie director and stood in the center aisle of the theater while a movie of his fellow castmates played on a screen (W.C. Fields was part of the film). After the show closed, the film was thrown away.

“The Way of All Flesh” (1927, USA). This film has the dubious distinction of being the only lost film to boast an Academy Award-winning performance, with Emil Jannings as a bank clerk who switches identities with a dead robber. Only five minutes of footage survive.

“The Werewolf” (1913, USA). The first known movie dealing with human-into-wolf transformations has a Navajo witch passing her black magic onto her daughter, who gets wolfish to scare off nasty white settlers. The last known print of the film was destroyed in a fire in 1924.

“What a Widow!” (1930, USA). The final collaboration between Gloria Swanson and her producer/lover Joseph P. Kennedy was this unsuccessful comedy about a young woman who suddenly becomes the center of romantic adventurers after she inherits $5 million when her rich old husband croaks. With neither Swanson nor Kennedy keeping track of the film, the prints vanished.

“The Wizard of Oz” ““ The Jitterbug Number (1939, USA). This single sequence cost $80,000 to produce and five weeks to shoot, but it was removed from the final version of the MGM classic. The soundtrack recording and 16mm home movie footage of the sequence remain.

“A Woman of the Sea” (1926). Charlie Chaplin produced Josef von Sternberg’s drama starring Edna Purviance, the co-star of Chaplin’s classic comedy shorts. The finished film was so bad that it was never released. Chaplin destroyed it in 1933.

“Zudora” (1914, USA). This 20-chapter serial follows the adventures of a young heiress who can gain her inheritance if she solves a series of 20 mysteries. Chapters 1, 2 and 8 are all that remains.




Posted on January 7, 2008 in Blogs by
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65 Comments on "FILM THREAT’S TOP 50 LOST FILMS OF ALL TIME"

  1. andre on Mon, 7th Jan 2008 6:01 pm 

    A couple more titles…
    Ernst Lubitsch’s “The Patriot” (1928) I was told that one reel has been recently discovered in Portugal.
    And Rex Ingram’s “Trifling Women” (1922). If the stills I’ve seen are any indication, “Trifling Women” was a Gothic precursor to “Sunset Blvd.” Not coincidentally, John F. Seitz shot both films.


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  2. Ivan Tcheglov on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 12:46 am 

    An intriguing list, but I’m a little surprised not to see “London After Midnight”, “The Other Side of the Wind”, and “I, Claudius” — three of a lot of film buffs’ great regrets. Oh, and how about the maybe-lost-maybe-still-out-there original cut of “The Magnificent Ambersons”?


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  3. Richard on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 1:39 am 

    What about London After Midnight?


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  4. Thorkell on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 2:29 am 

    Why is Greed (Stroheim) and 4 Devils (Murnau) not on the list?


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  5. abraham on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 2:40 am 

    In regard to HIM: Years ago (05.10.2004), curious myself whether or not the film was real after so many websites claimed it to be an urban legend (referring to the Medved’s statement that one film in the book was made up), I contacted the Medved Brothers myself (emails were found over the web). The older, now a Republican politician, naturally did not answer, but the younger one – Harry – did. (At least he did the first time; I followed up with some more questions, but he never answered me again.) His initial response, as copied from the original email (that I still have) was as follows:
    “hey there — from all reports i could uncover, HIM was a real movie (although i never had the misfortune of seeing it)…the real hoax movie was DOG OF NORWAY…a selection written by brother Michael when his Norwegian Elkhound “Muki” was bugging him while he was trying to write (hence the bogus Worst Performance by an Animal nominee, “Muki the Wonder Hound”) — best wishes for worst viewing, harry”
    So, in any event, it seems they did not see the film themselves, going by his first line.
    As for the advertisement of HIM, I too have a digital copy of it. BUT: I have yet to be able to locate the newspaper and issue it supposedly came from. Have you done so?
    Greetings from Berlin, Germany, bryin abraham


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  6. AdamB on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 2:57 am 

    I’m glad that The Story of the Kelly Gang made the list. It’s a real shame that the first feature length film of all time has gone.


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  7. LochNessMonsterBalls on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 3:59 am 

    Ever heard of London by Midnight. Only the most famous lost film ever… Sheesh!


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  8. David on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 4:10 am 

    I wonder if the edited parts of “Annie Hall” remain. Originally, it was a murder mystery that was edited down to a romantic comedy. I would love to have seen that film. Also, does the singing parts of James Brooks movie (can’t remember the title) still exist.


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  9. PenguinBoy on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 4:10 am 

    Nothing of Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons? The original cut is lost.


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  10. Lucian Tomes Jr. on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 4:29 am 

    No “London After Midnight” or “Rogue Song”?


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  11. Spiny Norman on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 6:33 am 

    Don’t forget “Metropolis”, which only survives in part.


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  12. Jerry Modjeski on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 7:51 am 

    Fascinating list…but has someone found LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT and Laurel and Hardy’s ROGUE SONG??? I didn’t see these films on the list, long considered lost.


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  13. Roger on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 7:55 am 

    Really surprised you left off London After Midnight (1927), starring Lon Chaney. Clearly a big influence on Tim Burton’s Penguin in Batman Returns. The only version left is a re-creation made up of production stills.


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  14. Jaspo on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 8:41 am 

    The Day the Clown Cried (1972) – Jerry Lewis’s unreleased holocaust film


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  15. Professor Edward C. Burke on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 8:47 am 

    London After Midnight? Tod Browning? Lon Chaney in the craziest vampire get-up, ever? Nowhere to be found….it’s even missing from this list.


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  16. Travis Gordon on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 8:57 am 

    No mention of “The Magnificent Ambersons” or “The Wicker Man”?

    Christopher Lee talks at length on the DVD release about the negatives and certain sequences from “The Wicker Man” supposedly being lost, and the best information I’ve heard holds that the negative and all Orson Welles’ cuts of “Ambersons” were literally thrown into the Pacific Ocean.


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  17. JW on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 9:24 am 

    Good list — Another missing “film” is the footage of BACK TO THE FUTURE shot with Eric Stoltz in the role of Marty McFly. Roughly 30 minutes of 1950’s scenes were filmed before Stoltz was replaced by Michael J. Fox.


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  18. Brad Eimer on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 9:26 am 

    What about Jerry Lewis’ The Day the Clown Cried?


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  19. cinemalad on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 10:26 am 

    What about the infamous pie-throwing finale of Kubrick’s DR. STRANGELOVE? Or the classic silent epic GREED?


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  20. Ron Evry on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 10:32 am 

    Let’s not forget Stan and Ollie’s “Rogue Song,” a technicolor _Feature_ of which only a few tantalizing fragments exist.

    In fact, it might be interesting to compile a list of woefully incomplete films out there, such as the film “Lost Horizon.”


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  21. Maurice on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 12:40 pm 

    What a great list. Some I had never heard of. Thanks so much for puting this together. It will spark much debate amoungst us on Tuesday nights.

    You forgot London After Midnight (1927). Probably the most famous of all lost film, it must require a place on any such list.


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  22. Jon Hydro on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 12:50 pm 

    What about Lon Chaney’s 1927 London After Midnight? This is considered one of the most famous lost films.


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  23. Dave Shannon on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 1:04 pm 

    Here’s another one:

    “Money for Speed” (1933), also known as “Daredevils of Earth”. A British film about motorcycle speedway racing, a sport that was extremely popular in the U.K. at that time. Starred a very young Ida Lupino, and had future superstar director David Lean in a small acting role. According to IMDB, nothing survives of this movie.


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  24. Ben Herndon on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 1:35 pm 

    Lost movies that are missing from this excellent list include perhaps the most celebrated missing film of all time, Lon Chaney’s 1927 horror movie LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (destroyed in an MGM vault fire) – and Errol Flynn’s 1953 THE STORY OF WILLIAM TELL (project abandoned in mid-production due to financial problems) with the great swashbuckler as the title hero in what could have been his comeback role.


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  25. Filmbuff on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 2:39 pm 

    What about “London after Midnight”?


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  26. S. Tim Wood on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 2:49 pm 

    Another lost film: Sherlock Holmes (1916) starring William Gillette, the greatest and most popular Holmes of his day.


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  27. craptastic on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 3:05 pm 

    No “The Day The Clown Cried”?


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  28. Jonathan Malcolm Lampley on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 3:25 pm 

    Where the hell is LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT? It’s only the most famous lost film–except perhaps for the full-length version of GREED–ever made! This list smacks of cinematic smartypants game-playing; LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT is so famous that it must be ignored. I have heard that the film probably sucks, but a lot of the titles on this Lost Film List can’t be worth a damn, either (such as lost offers by hacks like Ed Wood and Phil Tucker). Yet even if you buy the argument that LAM is probably not very good (mostly based on certain assessments of MARK OF THE VAMPIRE, the sound remake), it is still a Lon Chaney movie. How can there be no Lon Chaney films on Film Threat’s list of 50 Lost Films?


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  29. Drew on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 4:08 pm 

    Hi, an excellent list, well done.

    I’d also add the 1908 film “For the Term of His Natural Life”, an adaption of the book of the same name. The film was the basis for one of the first full-length motion pictures films, produced in Australia(22 minutes). None of the print has survived.


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  30. Barry on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 4:11 pm 

    What about the cut of The Magnificent Ambersons, London After Midnight and, of course, Greed?


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  31. Jon K. on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 7:06 pm 

    Wow. Must say this is really sad!? I would’ve loved to have seen a slew of these!


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  32. dave on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 7:18 pm 

    Not technically “lost”, the famed “The Day the Clown Cried” has never been finished, released, or whatever and may never see the light of day.


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  33. BC on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 8:00 pm 

    Just curious, but how in the world did the full version of “Greed” not end up on this list? It’s the film everyone talks about when they think of incomplete films.
    -BC


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  34. Eric on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 9:11 pm 

    Along with September, I’d like to see the “lost” version of Eyes Wide Shut with Harvey Keitel and Jennifer Jason-Leigh in the Sydney Pollack/what’s-her-name roles.


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  35. Hoopla - Entertainment Blog » Blog Archive » Film Threat Names the Top 50 “Lost” Movies on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 9:26 pm 

    […] Almost all of what we deal with here at Cinematical involves “found” movies. And by that I mean we focus on movies that you can actually see, and not the “lost” movies that have vanished across the sands of time. But it does make for one fairly fascinating topic of conversation, so it’s a good thing that sites like Film Threat put together articles like this one: The Top 50 Lost Films of All Time. […]


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  36. Jay B. on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 9:42 pm 

    Glaring omission: the original cut of “The Magnificent Ambersons” before the studio butchered it.


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  37. arthera09 on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 10:14 pm 

    i would like to see what ever happened to David Lynch’s original cut of blue velvet, I don’t know if it belongs on this list, but i still really really want to see it


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  38. Michael Caravella on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 10:32 pm 

    Hey, what about lost film:

    The Day the Clown Cried (Jerry Lewis, 1972)

    Synopsis: A circus clown is imprisoned by the Nazis and goes with Jewish children to their deaths.

    according to IMDB.com

    Shooting began in Stockholm, but producer Nat Wachsberger not only ran out of money to complete the film, but failed to pay ‘Joan O’Brien (II)’ for the rights to the story. Jerry Lewis was forced to finish the picture with his own money. The film has been tied up in litigation ever since, and all of the parties involved have never been able to reach an agreeable settlement. Lewis refuses to discuss the making of this film in any form.


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  39. Bill S. on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 11:22 pm 

    The first “Our Gang” comedy, also called “Our Gang” and released in 1922, is perhaps the most famous of several “Our Gang” installments for which a print has never been located in recent decades. “Our Gang” is better known by many for the name it appeared under on American television: The Little Rascals.


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  40. hosie on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 11:36 pm 

    I’m sure there are many films that did not make the list, but I’m really surprised that the spider scene from King Kong is not included. It’s as well known and as high profile as the Jitterbug from the Wizard of Oz.


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  41. ack on Wed, 9th Jan 2008 12:09 am 

    WHAT ABOUT VON STROHEIM’S GREED. ARE YOU PEOPLE FREAKING RETARDED!


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  42. Elle Schneider on Wed, 9th Jan 2008 1:07 am 

    If you’re going to mention both Ed Wood and Phil Tucker, another lost gem is The Noble Experiment by Tom Graeff (Teenagers from Outer Space). Graeff committed suicide in 1970, but TNE, his first feature, is considered lost as it hasn’t been seen publicly since 1964–it was only shown twice theatrically.


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  43. Ray Faiola on Wed, 9th Jan 2008 5:55 am 

    I think THE ROGUE SONG and CONVENTION CITY definitely belong on this list, not to mention the shorn 40 plus minutes removed from RKO’s THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS.


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  44. Paul Spehr on Wed, 9th Jan 2008 10:01 am 

    Scott Joplin 1904 could not have been made by Eugene Lauste. He was in England in 1904 and was not at the St. Louis Expo (at least there is no record of it and no mention in the documents at the Museum of Modern Art, Merritt Crawford Collection). At the time, Lauste was working for W. K.L. Dickson in London and had resumed work on his sound on film process, but he made no breakthroughs until about 1905. His patent was submitted in 1907. Some tests he made about that time are missing, though the Smithsonian has some strips.

    The sound film of Scott Joplin was supposedly made by Oscar Messter and was probably a disk synch system. Messter was supposed to have a film concession at the fair. The Bundesarchiv, Berlin has surviving Messter material.


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  45. Don Kaye on Wed, 9th Jan 2008 10:24 am 

    Don’t know if this is a “top” lost film, but a 1987 version of Stephen King’s novella “Apt Pupil” was filmed by Alan Bridges, with Nicol Williamson and Rick Schroeder cast in the roles eventually played by Ian McKellen and Brad Renfro in Bryan Singer’s 1998 adaptation. I believe about an hour or so of footage was shot over 10 weeks before financing collapsed, and the film was never completed.


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  46. Dan on Wed, 9th Jan 2008 3:30 pm 

    What about the original cut of The Blues Brothers?


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  47. R on Wed, 9th Jan 2008 6:03 pm 

    What about Welles’ original cut of “The Magnificent Ambersons”? The available version contains the first two acts as Welles intended but the third act was rewritten and reshot after Welles went to South America to make some USO movies.

    The first 2 acts of this film are a masterpiece–much better, in my opinion, than Citizen Kane. And, if Welles had been allowed to release his film in tact, I think it would be the best work in cinematic history (a title Citizen Kane now holds and, imho, undeservedly so).


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  48. Eugenio Aguilar on Wed, 9th Jan 2008 11:06 pm 

    What about the Harvey Keitel footage from Apocalypse Now?


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  49. Ali Arikan on Fri, 11th Jan 2008 4:24 am 

    I posted a link to this list on a forum I frequent. A fellow poster, who is a Gilbert and Sullivan fan, enquired about “The Return of Gilbert and Sullivan” on SavoyNet, and got the following reply:

    This film was rediscovered by Ian Smith in 2006 and is now available on DVD from Musical Collectables at GBP9-99 plus postage. It runs something under 35 minutes. What little is known about it we owe largely to Don Smith, who also owns some of the film’s lobby cards which I used to illustrate the DVD box when I was organizing the reissue. The movie was made in two days (and looks it!) and is a cheap and cheerful little romp. Gilbert and Sullivan are up on their clouds deploring the modern tendency to “jazz up” their works. They resolve to go down to earth to do something about it. Cue some examples including a hillbilly Little Buttercup. They confront the agent responsible, a Mr. N. O. Talent, and resolve to set all right by composing a brand new work themselves. This they do in the form of a corny whodunnit whose music bears an astonishing resemblance to some of the best-known tunes from Pinafore, Pirates and Mikado. All the cast are American except for Melville Cooper and Tudor Owen as the author and composer. Best-known cast member is Scatman Crothers. Cooper seems to be the only one of the cast with any G&S pedigree, having played Sir Joseph opposite the Corcoran of John Charles Thomas in California.

    Although the film was made in colour, the print Ian managed to obtain is in black and white. It’s the sort of film that comes into the “so bad it’s good” category and every G&S enthusiast ought to see it at least once. No serious collector’s collection is complete without a copy.


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  50. Mat Bergman on Fri, 11th Jan 2008 10:28 am 

    How about the legendary giant insect sequence from King Kong (1933)? I read that it was cut from the original theatrical release, then lost except for a few stills. Peter Jackson re-created the sequence in his excellent 2005 re-make.


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  51. MIke G on Mon, 14th Jan 2008 9:03 pm 

    Jeez, people, quit bringing up London After Midnight, Greed and Ambersons. We KNOW about those! And anyway, London After Midnight exists:

    http://www.michaelgebert.com/lam/lam1.html


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  52. Phil Hall on Wed, 16th Jan 2008 8:16 pm 

    To answer some questions:

    LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT was intentionally left off the list because it was reportedly (according to William K. Everson, the last known person to see it) a terrible movie.

    THE ROGUE SONG is also supposedly a terrible movie, if reviews of the day were any indication.

    GREED and THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS are considered classics, even if they do not exist as their respective creators intended.

    THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED is not lost. The film is in legal limbo, due to a three decades old lawsuit that prevented its completion and release.

    HIM existed at one time and is known to have played in New York in March 1974, where the surviving ad came from. Al Goldstein of Screw reviewed it. I assume the Medveds read about the movie — I cannot imagine Michael Medved seeing gay porn.

    The pie fight from DR. STRANGELOVE supposedly exists in the Kubrick estate.

    This is the very first I’ve heard that THE RETURN OF GILBERT AND SULLIVAN exists. It appears to be a truncated version that survives — still, they did a great job keeping the rediscovery secret.


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  53. Phil Hall on Thu, 17th Jan 2008 8:33 am 

    I also need to add the original Orson Welles footage jettisoned from THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS was not cut out of RKO’s spite, but because test audiences reacted negatively (some reportedly laughed in the wrong places). From my perspective, I think TOO MUCH JOHNSON would be far more interesting to see, as Welles shot the film in the Mack Sennett style (it was his only pure comedy film).


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  54. Jack Gardner on Sat, 19th Jan 2008 1:09 pm 

    Here’s one that people don’t mention very often
    Good and Naughty 1926 Paramount – Screen siren Pola Negri’s only attempt at comedy, probably junked by the studio after it’s release. Or how about Ladies Of The Mob 1928 Paramount – Clara Bow’s Mobster Movie. And what about Sally Irene and Mary 1925 MGM with a very young Joan Crawford, Constance Bennett and Sally O’Neil. Sadly the chances of seeing any of these diminishes each year.


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  55. Mark R. Hill on Sat, 19th Jan 2008 11:13 pm 

    I have a VHS copy of “MAN IN THE 5TH DIMENSION” in LETTERBOX! Taped from a local religious channel in April 1995. This channel was showing all sorts of oddball Graham religious films like OILTOWN USA at the time. I’ll bet it’s available in some form from a Billy Graham Production site. So is it really that “lost”?????


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  56. perfectjazz78 on Sat, 2nd Feb 2008 4:35 pm 

    Anyone Consider “Gold Diggers Of Broadway” ? 1929

    Only two reels exist and was one of the top grossing film of the 1920s and 1930s


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  57. Sined on Fri, 22nd Feb 2008 1:26 pm 

    # Spiny Norman says:

    “Don’t forget “Metropolis”, which only survives in part.”
    This movie is not lost. But the Werewolf (1913) and Swiss Made (1968) are lost


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  58. Adam on Mon, 3rd Mar 2008 2:50 am 

    Here’s one that no one’s mentioned:

    BLACK RODEO (1972) – A Wattstax-like documentary of a rodeo held around Harlem in 1971; includes appearances by Muhammad Ali and Woody Strode.

    Do any prints of this movie exist? If anyone has any details, please please please let me know.


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  59. Adam on Tue, 4th Mar 2008 12:05 am 

    For collectors’ purposes, here’s a great list I found of films that don’t presently exist in any non-celluloid format (VHS, Beta, DVD, laser disc, 3/4″ tape) NTSC, Secam or PAL, NOT EVEN BOOTLEG.

    This page comes from a long-time collector of obscurities from whom I’ve purchased otherwise completely unfindable bootlegs; his main interest is apparently the ’70s.

    http://www.pimpadelicwonderland.com/lost.html


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  60. Adam on Tue, 4th Mar 2008 12:08 am 

    Following what I wrote above – I’m sure some of the titles on that list don’t exist today in any format at all; that is, celluloid included.


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  61. Jim Kroeper on Sun, 11th May 2008 11:03 pm 

    How about Stanley Kramer’s original roadshow cut of “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World” (1963)? Over the years some 70mm trims and 6-track audio (yours truly) was recoverd. Current prints run 162 mins, including Overture, Intermission, Entre’ Act & Exit Music. Kramer’s original roadshow version was 210 minutes in length. A rough cut assembly reportedly ran five and a half hours!


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  62. Jim Thompson on Sat, 17th Dec 2011 3:19 am 

    The Mystery Of The Marie Celeste used to play on WGPR-TV in Detroit in the late 70s or so, and as I recall, it used to be pretty easily available at that time via film-collector publications. I doubt that it is “lost”. London After Midnight was reviewed fairly well upon release, but it was a detective story–current-day dreamers seem to think it was a horror film based upon stills of Chaney in horror makeup. Regardless, it should have been listed here. I’d argue that some deleted footage really isn’t worthwhile, and some ‘lost’ films aren’t worth searching for. Sort of like obsessed music fans who collect bootleg recordings of the Beatles belching their way through studio takes (or whatever), it’s a pursuit of compulsiveness, not research. Mystery Of The Wax Museum used to be mythologized as a lost classic in horror-fan magazines like FM, until it resurfaced and turned out to be fairly dull. Films which may not exist in original or temporary formats (silents with color sequences now vanished, or widescreen films no longer available in that format) should be considered, certainly.


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  63. Jim Thompson on Sat, 17th Dec 2011 3:24 am 

    …and should incomplete films even be included?


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  64. Phil Hall on Sat, 17th Dec 2011 3:28 pm 

    @JimThompson: I completely disagree with your assessment of “The Mystery of the Wax Museum” – it is an entertaining (albeit old-fashioned) production. “London After Midnight” was not included because that film has been wrapped in excessive hype – Chaney historian Jon Mirsalis, in a Film Threat interview from about 10 years ago, stated that this is not among most important of Chaney’s too many lost films.


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  65. Robin Fletcher on Sat, 7th Jul 2012 3:07 pm 

    Re: MIke G’s comment… “Jeez, people, quit bringing up London After Midnight, Greed and Ambersons. We KNOW about those! And anyway, London After Midnight exists.” No, Mike, if you actually read th elink you provided,
    Read more: http://www.filmthreat.com/blogs/31551/#ixzz1zxtmiCBO, you would know it DOES NOT exist after all. It was a scam. What about Joan Crawford’s unreleased Letty Linton, still suppressed by the U.S. Supreme Court because of a copyright violation? What about “The Jitterbug” sequence from THE WIZARD OF OZ? Gold Diggers of Broadway 1929 was from 1929-1939 the highest grossing of all time until Gone With the Wind, yet it is presumably lost. Tod Browning’s FREAKS also in its original three-hour format.


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