Now available for viewing are the first fruits of the NFPF’s partnership with EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. Six newly preserved American silent films, almost all unseen since their original release more than 80 years ago, are now freely available to the public, complete with new music and program notes.
Chicago Rodeo (1920) depicts Tex Austin’s rodeo show, held in Chicago’s Grant Park in July 1920, and includes appearances by Ruth Roach, Foghorn Clancy, and “Yiddish Cowboy” Dizzy Izzy Broad. Clarence Cheats at Croquet (1915) is a comedy from the Thanhouser Film Corporation involving a jealous lover with no sense of fair play—its preservation was co-funded by Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. Both films were preserved through the Library of Congress.
The Darling of the C.S.A. (1912), recently showcased at Cinecon and the Pordenone Silent Film Festival, is the tale of a crossdressing spy, played by Anna Q. Nilsson. Koko’s Queen (1926) is a deliciously twisted cartoon from the Fleischer Brothers, complemented by the stop-motion animation of Fifty Million Years Ago (1925), an introduction to the theory of evolution that employs charming model dinosaurs. Preservation of these three films was supervised by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The Oregon Historical Society shepherded the preservation of The Snows of Many Years (1917), an exploration of Mt. Hood’s Eliot Glacier, the largest in Oregon, as filmed by Robert C. Bruce. Like the other nonfiction films in the project, it was preserved with a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which also made possible program notes written by experts and new musical scores by composer Michael Mortilla.
That these films found a resting place in the Netherlands testifies to how phenomenally popular American silent films were around the world—EYE deserves all the credit for keeping them safe. The Library of Congress estimates that roughly one-third of surviving complete American silent-era features are found only in archives abroad. About shorter films even less is known.
The NFPF has also just announced a group of 30 additional films discovered at EYE and slated for preservation and online exhibition in 2016. Among the titles are For the Defense (1922), a feature starring ZaSu Pitts as a suspected murderess; Glimpse of the Remington Factory (ca. 1926), an industrial following the production of a Remington typewriter from molten metal to its role in the office; travelogues from Yosemite; the flapper comedy The Reckless Age (1924) starring Reginald Denny; and more than 15 newsreel stories from the 1920s. Joining the list of supervising archives will be The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. All told, 56 films found at EYE will be saved.