Two comedies were preserved under the direction of the Library of Congress and are presented with notes from silent comedy historian Steve Massa. The Backyard (1920) is a Vitagraph studio comedy, featuring a pre-Laurel Oliver Hardy as the villain, set to music by Ben Model. Cupid in Quarantine (1918), produced by comedy kingpin Al Christie, involves a young couple who conspire to stay together by faking smallpox, and features music by Stephen Horne. The funds for the preservation of Cupid in Quarantine were generously provided by “For the Love of Film”: The Film Preservation Blogathon (May 13–17, 2015).
Rounding out the fiction films is the Western Red Saunders’ Sacrifice (1912), the tale of a bandit braving capture to fetch a doctor for his sweetheart’s mother. Produced by the Lubin Film Manufacturing Company, it was filmed in Pennsylvania by one of the last production units to shoot Westerns on the east coast. Musical accompaniment is by Michael D. Mortilla, with a program note by Scott Simmon, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of California, Davis, and curator of five of the National Film Preservation Foundation’s DVD anthologies.
Red Saunders’ Sacrifice was preserved under the supervision of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which also handled the preservation of two industrial films. The Last Word in Chickens (1924) celebrates the rise of the poultry industry by surveying the modern egg production and chicken-raising techniques practiced by a large Long Island farm. The film is accompanied by music from Michael Mortilla and a program note by Media Culture Professor Cynthia Chris, from the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. Uncommon Clay (1925) takes viewers inside the production facilities of Rookwood Pottery, founded in Cincinnati by wine heiress Maria Longworth Nichols in 1880 and still in operation. Music is provided by Stephen Horne, with a note by pottery expert and Antiques Roadshow appraiser Riley Humler.
The sixth film in the update is From Ore to Finished Product (1915), a tour of the community betterment projects of the Pennsylvania-based National Tube Company, later a founding member of US Steel, and designed to promote the company’s efforts at welfare capitalism. The National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, supervised the preservation. Peter Liebhold, the museum’s Curator of Division of Work and Industry, supplied the program note while Michael Mortilla supplied the music.
All of these films were preserved at Colorlab Corp. using prints from EYE Filmmuseum. The NFPF thanks EYE for safeguarding these films throughout the decades and entering a collaboration to preserve fifty-six movies from its collection of American silents. Watch for more to appear online next year!