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DVDs & Books

Mantrap (1926)

A wilderness comedy starring Clara Bow, preserved by the Library of Congress and presented on the Treasures 5: The West DVD set.

Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934

Overview  |  Contents  |  Contributors  |  Brochure (PDF)  |  Clips

4-DVD box set, with 192-page book
739 minutes, released 2007
$89.99

Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934 is the first DVD set to explore the social activism of movies during their first decades. Arranged on four discs by theme—“The City Reformed,” “New Women,” “Toil and Tyranny,” and “Americans in the Making”—the 12-1/4 hour set traces the interplay of movies and social reform during the formative years of America’s first mass medium, when virtually no issue was too controversial for the big screen.

The 48-film line-up showcases four features—Redskin (1929), a two-color Technicolor racial tolerance epic filmed on location at Canyon de Chelly and Acoma Pueblo; The Soul of Youth (1920), directed by William Desmond Taylor (and featuring juvenile justice reformer Judge Ben Lindsey playing himself); Where Are My Children? (1916), Lois Weber’s anti-abortion, pro-birth control classic; and The Godless Girl (1928), Cecil B. De Mille's sensational exposé of juvenile reformatories. Also presented are comedies, serial episodes, cartoons, newsreel stories, melodramas, and documentaries covering topics ranging from immigration to the vote for women. Among the rarities are The Black Hand (the earliest surviving movie about the Mafia), The Crime of Carelessness (giving management's version of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire), Manhattan Trade School for Girls (filmed at the innovative women-run educational institution), the first surviving film by an American trade union, and The Cost of Carelessness (an early classroom traffic safety film). The anthology samples Hollywood productions as well as advocacy films from businesses, government agencies, and reform groups. None of the works has been available before on quality video.

The films are accompanied by new music and audio commentary as well as an extensive book of program notes. To read the introduction to this book, click here. The set is curated by Scott Simmon and designed by Jennifer Grey. The music is curated by Martin Marks and features 16 instrumental ensembles. Contributing new compositions are Allen Feinstein, Stephen Horne, Martin Marks, Michael Miller, Brian Robison, Elena Ruehr, Charles Shadle, and G. Scott Vercoe.

The third in the NFPF's award-winning DVD series, Treasures III draws from the preservation work of the America's foremost early film archives—George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Archives, and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences contributed technical support.

The set is made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. Like the other DVDs from the NFPF, Treasures III celebrates decades of preservation work and serves as a reminder that America's archives hold many more such astonishing films that will be seen only with further public support. Net proceeds support further film preservation.