Lost Films - Tuesday, October 6, 2015

It may be difficult to comprehend, but scholars believe that a full half of all the films ever produced before the year 1950 are gone forever.  Even more crazy, 90% of the films made before 1929 are gone.  Why is that?  What happened?  The most damaging reason is fire.  Each of Fox, MGM and Universal Studios all suffered destructive fires in their film vaults at one time or another, this back in the day before mass-reproduction of film.  So many of the movies burned were one of a kind.  Prior to the early-50's, film was made using silver nitrate, which was a very flammable product, so when a fire happened, it was devastating.  

We talked on Friday about the film Flaming Youth, where only eleven minutes of the film survives.  Today, we are going to discuss a film the poster for which is hanging in the Toy Box, Where the Pavement Ends.  There is, in fact, not much to say about it, because no known samples of the film survive.  It was produced in 1923, during the heyday of the silent era, under the direction of Rex Ingram.  He filmed his wife, Alice Terry, in a South Seas adventure, involved in a controversial multi-ethnic romance with Ramon Novarro.  Novarro attempted to become Hollywood's favorite Latin lover after the untimely death of Rudolph Valentino, with some success.  All that remain of the film today are posters and some still images.  We are confident that, if it still existed in its film version, it would be the best film ever.
QUESTION:  What was Rex Ingram's birth name?
A)  Rex Ingram
B)  Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock
C)  Rinaldo Xavier Ingraham
D)  Alan Pierce Ingram

MAMMY!  This day in 1927 bode poorly for the silent film era.  Some people thought talkies would never catch on, but they were wrong.  The Jazz Singer was first released on this day 88 years ago, which is considered the first feature-length movie to incorporate sound.  It only won one Academy Award, a special one for producer Darryl F. Zanuck.  It didn't even win for Best Sound Editing, and there was no competition!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JANET GAYNOR!  Never heard of Miss Gaynor?  Well, she was one of the biggest actors of her day, back in the 1920s.  Born in 1906, she has the distinction of being the first person to ever win the Academy Award for Best Actress, for three performances (they could do that at the time, we suppose): 1927's Sunrise and 7th Heaven, as well as 1928's Street Angel.  She also distinguished herself in the first film adaptation of the famous film about celebrity, A Star is Born in 1937.  Unlike many of the silent stars, Gaynor controlled the course of her own career, and retired when she wanted to.  She passed away in 1984.

QUOTE:  After I die, I'll be forgotten. - Al Jolson

ANSWER:  B)  Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock.  Near as we can tell, he is of no relation to Alfred Hitchcock or Montgomery Clift