Footnotes to the festival

Bioscope Festival of Lost Films

Now that the Bioscope Festival of Lost Films is over, here are a few notes on some of the sources used, credit having to be where credit is due.

For A Study in Scarlet and its partnering short, The Great European War, the chief source is the autobiography of its director George Pearson, Flashback: An Autobiography of a British Film Maker (1957). This is an evocative and at times inspiring account of dedicated creative endeavour amid the general poverty of budgets and imagination that existed in the British film industry in the silent era. There’s more information (which I didn’t have access to) in Harold Dunham and David Samuelson’s voluminous Bertie: the life and times of G. B. Samuelson, an unpublished biography of the film’s producer, a copy of which is held in the BFI Library. I also used contemporary reviews and David Meeker and Allen Eyles’ Missing Believed Lost: The Great British Film Search (1992), which was the source of the main photograph of Sherlock Holmes (the other photo, of the Mormon trek at Southport, comes from Pearson’s book).

For Ein Sommernachtstraum, my chief source was Robert Hamilton Ball’s incomparable Shakespeare on Silent Film: A Strange Eventful History (1968), which was also the source of information on the 1907 Hamlet, and the source of both photographs. Ball is so thorough in citing and quoting from his source (such as the Close-up review) that there wan’t much need to look elsewhere, but I did also used a review of the film in Variety.

The prime source of information on Human Wreckage was Kevin Brownlow’s Behind the Mask of Innocence: Sex, Violence, Crime, Films of Social Conscience in the Silent Era (1992), one of the essential sources on silent film. Images came from here and from Mark A. Viera’s Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-Code Hollywood (2003). Also useful was James C. Robertson, The Hidden Cinema: British Film Censorship in Action, 1913-1972 (1989). I also referred to assorted reviews of the film. I could find very little on Dorian Gray, the 1913 Wallace Reid film, and in the end turned to an Oscar Wilde filmography I’d compiled years ago and trusted that I’d got my facts and figures right then.

There is plenty of information available on The Mountain Eagle, inevitably. The best source is the warmly recommended English Hitchcock, by Charles Barr. Further information came from editions of the renowned Hitchcock journal, MacGuffin and Missing, Believed Lost. Stills from the film are handsomely reproduced in Dan Auiler, Hitchcock’s Secret Notebooks (1999) and can be found on the commendable Hitchcock Wiki’s Hitchcock Gallery. The famous François Truffaut interview book, Hitchcock, was the source of information on Number 13, including the unexpected still.

Drakula halála was the most difficult film to research, as there is so much that is not known about it, so much has been misreported, and such key sources as exist are in Hungarian – and even they make little mention of it. Sources vary over whether it should be 1921 or 1923, but in the end I went for 1921 as it is listed as such in the filmography given in the standard work, István Nemeskürty, Word and Image: History of the Hungarian Cinema (1974). My chief source, however, was www.hitchcock.hu. The main site is – bizarrely – about cats, but click on the Hitchcock.hu link on the front page and it takes you to a enthusiastic site on Hitchcockiana (in Hungarian), with offshoots on subjects such as silent horror, which is where I found a short history of the film, images, and reproductions of original texts – all in Hungarian, of course, and translation software can only do so much with one of the world’s more challenging languages, but I think I extracted the basics. Information on the Hungarian industry came mostly from Filmkultúra (rather good, in English). Christopher Frayling’s Mad, Bad and Dangerous?: The Scientist and the Cinema (2005) had some information on Life Without Soul, while the poster for the film is reproduced on the Frankensteinia blog.

Grateful acknowledgments to all those sources.

4 responses

  1. Thank you. I fully intend to make it an annual event, though I think it’ll need some changes in how I approach it next time. It’s a tricky thing, projecting absences.

  2. Many thanks for letting me know about this Gary D. Rhodes essay. It’s marvellous to have so much information in English and so thoroughly researched. But so many mysteries remain.

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