From Russia with love

Digital copies of the ten American silent films donated to the Library of Congress by the government of Russia, from CNN

The discovery of silent films in countries other than those where they were produced and their repatration to the lands of their birth continues. Following on from the news of American silents found in New Zealand and last year in Australia now returned to the US, comes news of ten American silents held by the Russian state film archive Gosfilmofond, which have been donated in digital form to the Library of Congress. The ten titles, none of which are preserved in US film archives, are (with links to their IMDb entries):

  • Valley of the Giants (Famous Players, 1919 d. James Cruze), with Wallace Reid, Alice Terry
  • You’re Fired (Famous Players, 1919 d. James Cruze), Wallace Reid, Wanda Hawley
  • The Conquest of Canaan (Famous Players, 1921 d. Roy William Neill), with Thomas Meighan, Doris Kenyon
  • Kick In (Famous Players, 1922 d. George Fitzmaurice), with Betty Compson, May McAvoy
  • The Call of the Canyon (Famous Players, 1923 d. Victor Fleming), with Richard Dix, Lois Wilson
  • Canyon of the Fools (R-C Pictures, 1923 d. Val Paul), with Harry Carey
  • Circus Days (First National, 1923 d. Edward F. Cline), with Jackie Coogan, Claire McDowell
  • The Eternal Struggle (Metro Pictures, Louis B. Mayer, 1923 d. Reginald Barker), wtih Renée Adorée, Barbara LaMarr
  • The Arab (Metro, 1924 d. Rex Ingram), with Ramon Novarro, Alice Terry
  • Keep Smiling (Monty Banks, 1925 d. Albert Austin/Gilbert Pratt), with Monty Banks, Anne Cornwall

The films were handed over at a ceremony on 21 October at the Library Congress (reported on by CNN, which struggles hard to make a box of hard drives look fascinating). Reports suggest that these ten titles will be the first of 200 or so that will be repatriated over time. Russia tended to keep the films that were sent to it for distribution, whereas American studios all too often disposed of their silent features once they no longer had any commercial value. The Library of Congress is negotiating not only with Russia but with archives in France, Czechoslovakia and the Netherlands, so we can look forward to many more such happy homecomings.

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