NATIONAL FILM PRESERVATION FOUNDATION AWARDED $1 MILLION TO SAVE 67 SILENT FILMS
Erich von Stroheim's Blind Husbands, Sherlock Holmes starring John Barrymore and Harold Lloyd One-Reelers Among Films to be Preserved
Contact: Suzanne Lee, NFPF, 415-392-7291
San Francisco, CA (May 20, 1999)—The National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) has received a $1-million federal grant to preserve rare silent films at the George Eastman House, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The award, announced yesterday at the White House by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, is part of the Save America's Treasures program, a national initiative to preserve culturally significant collections and historic sites that epitomize the creativity and ingenuity of the American people.
Through this project, Saving the Silents, archives will produce new preservation masters and exhibition prints of 67 shorts, serials and feature films from the first four decades of the American cinema—the silent era. Included are works by D.W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, Thomas Ince, Maurice Tourneur, Erich von Stroheim, Ernst Lubitsch, Douglas Fairbanks, and Harold Lloyd. Many of these films have not been seen in complete form for over 70 years.
"Time is running out to save the treasures created by America's first filmmakers," said Roger L. Mayer, Board Chair of the National Film Preservation Foundation and President, Turner Entertainment Company. Silent-era films were printed on highly flammable nitrate film stock. Many were discarded after the advent of the "talkie" in 1928. Fewer than 20% of these silent-era films still survive. George Eastman House, MoMA and UCLA estimate that roughly one-quarter to one-half of the silent titles in their collections require preservation work in order to be seen by modern audiences.
In making the announcement, Mrs. Clinton described how silent film laid the foundation of American cinema, calling these early works "precursors to the latest Star Wars prequel."
Saving the Silents will make available to the public a rich selection of American silent films including:
- 20 early short fiction films by Thomas Edison, one of the inventors of the motion picture camera
- War on the Plains (1912), the first Western made on the 101 Ranch by Thomas Ince and a cast of Native Americans
- Manhattan Madness (1916) and Wild and Woolly (1917), two satires starring Douglas Fairbanks
- 3 one-reelers by comedian Harold Lloyd, which survive as rare original camera negatives
- Sherlock Holmes (1922) starring screen idol John Barrymore in the title role
- Star vehicles for Clara Bow (the "IT" girl): Poisoned Paradise (1924) and My Lady's Lips (1925)
- Maurice Tourneur's atmospheric adaptations of The Blue Bird (1918) and Lorna Doone (1922)
Saving the Silents is one of 62 projects nationwide awarded a Save America's Treasures grant. Other American treasures receiving preservation support through this program include the Star Spangled Banner, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater and the Washington Monument. $30 million in federal funds were distributed by Save America's Treasures in 1999. By law, each grant requires a dollar-for-dollar match of private monies.
The National Film Preservation Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving America's film heritage. Working with archives and others who appreciate film, the NFPF supports film preservation activities nationwide that ensure the physical survival of film for future generations and improve access to film for study, education and exhibition. The NFPF focuses on "orphan films" that are not protected by commercial interests. Created by the U.S. Congress, the NFPF is the charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. For more information please visit the NFPF web site: www.filmpreservation.org.
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