Now streaming are three more films from the NFPF’s ongoing partnership with EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. These newly preserved American silent films, unseen since their original release more than 90 years ago, are accompanied by new music and program notes.
Who’s Who (1910), an Essanay-produced comedy of mistaken identity, involves a minister and prizefighter—both with the initials S.O.B.—who arrive in town on the same train. The temperance spoof When Ciderville Went Dry (1915) is thought to be the only surviving work from the short-lived Esperanto Film Manufacturing Company of Detroit. Preservation of both films was supervised by the Library of Congress; each is accompanied by notes from comedy historian Steve Massa. The Academy Film Archive supervised the preservation of A Smashup in China (1919), a Happy Hooligan cartoon directed by Gregory La Cava and produced by the International Film Service, the early animation studio started by William Randolph Hearst, who sought to translate popular newspaper comics into cartoons. All three films are presented with new musical scores by composer Michael Mortilla.
The survival of these shorts is due to the efforts of EYE, which safeguarded them for decades. That they reached the Netherlands in the first place is proof of the international popularity of American silent films. A total of 56 movies are being preserved through this collaboration between EYE and American film archives, and they will appear on the NFPF website as work is completed. Among them are The Village Chestnut (1918), a Mack Sennett comedy directed by Raymond Griffith and starring Chester Conklin and Louise Fazenda, and Flaming Canyons (1929), a gorgeous stencil-colored travelogue promoting the wonders of Zion, Bryce, and Grand Canyon National Parks.