While it may seem that there are lots of silent films available on home media, we actually only have access to a fraction of fraction of the films made during the period. Many older films have been lost; estimates range anywhere from 50 to 90%. And of those survivors, copyright issues must be untangled, the film must be transferred, restored (budget permitting), scored and only then can it be returned to the public.
However, this doesn’t stop us from dreaming! Is there a silent film you would love to see on home media? Share it here!
Is your film missing and presumed lost? Was it restored but never received release to the general public? Was it put out on VHS but then allowed to go out of print? Did you catch it on TV but never could find a DVD or Blu-ray? Is it available but not in your country? Do tell!
My dream film
As you may have noticed, I am part of a small but fiercely devoted club of Michael Strogoff (1926) fanatics. (Hi, Chris!) This film is amazing! It’s epic, exciting, gorgeous, it has great acting and Ivan Mosjoukine. What more could I want? It’s currently sitting in the #2 spot on my Top Reviews list.
Well, the film was restored by the Cinémathèque Française but it has never been released on DVD, Blu-ray or as a streamed movie. Talk about frustrating! A beautiful version just eluding our grasp.
What silent movie do you dream of owning?
Tell us in the comments!
If you know where someone can find their dream film:
Let us know!
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My dream film? Well definitely one of them, possibly the main one, would be The Head of Janus (Der Janus-Kopf).
Can you believe it – a lost film starring Conrad Veidt (with Bela Lugosi in a supporting role), directed by F.W. Murnau, cinematography by Karl Feund and a screenplay by Hans Janowitz (writer who co-wrote the script for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)? That’s a dream combination to start with. The film must just drip with Expressionism!
Der Janus-Kopf is a version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I would love to be surfing the web one day and find out that a copy has popped up somewhere after being squirreled away in an old theater in Sweden or someplace.
For me, it’s the lost film of all lost films, at least as far as Expressionistic horror films go.
That does indeed sound like a treasure!
Forgot to mention I’d also love anything (and I do mean anything) with Ivan Mosjoukine.
Well, that’s a given. 😉
For me it’s a lost film. Universal serial The Moon Riders. My Great, Great Aunt Beatrice Dominguez is in it. I have several still shots, but wonder what it looked like on film.
Sadly, there was a huge vault fire in the mid-twenties and most of Universal’s holdings went up in smoke. Let’s hold out hope for a print in someone’s collection or just uncatalogued in an archive.
Your review of Michael Strogoff makes me crave it so badly. I would also love to see The Night of Love with Vilma Banky and Ronald Colman. It looks like it will be a little cliche, but that adds to the charm for me at times.
Yes, Strogoff is AMAZING!
NIGHT OF LOVE sounds like a ton of fun to me too. 🙂
I would love to see Forbidden Paradise. I think it is in a museum in New York but I can’t find it anywhere. I want to see it badly because it was the only American film Ernst Lubitsch and Pola Negri ever made and because the costumes look precious. I wish it could be released with decent quality and a nice score.
Add me to that list! I would love to see how Lubitsch + Negri + Hollywood worked out.
I would love to see Two Arabian Knights, with William Boyd, Louis Wolheim and Mary Astor! That film sounds like so much fun and I’m a big Mary Astor fan. My understanding is that it has been restored, but never released on DVD and has only been shown on TCM, which I do not get. At least there’s hope that someday I’ll see it.
Your review of Michael Strogoff really made me want to see that one, too!
My understanding is that the film (and all three of the rediscovered Howard Hughes silents) suffers from a copyright tangle. I would love to see it on home media too!
There are quite a few silents I’d love to see, but at top of my list there is Victor Fleming’s 1925 Lord Jim, with Percy Marmont as the eponymous hero and Noah Beery as… well, as the Captain of the Patna who, in this version, also happens to be Gentleman Brown.
Anyway, according to Wikipedia “a print is preserved at the Library of Congress and at UCLA Film and TV”, so I know it is there – and can hope that, sooner or later, someone will take an interest and release it…
That’s an interesting one on many levels: source material, cast and director
That’s a hard one. I own Pandora’s Box and Nosferatu, as well as the Dr. Mabuse movies. I guess I would then go with The Crowd.
Agreed! That and The Wind are probably the two I LEAST understand not being released on DVD/ Bluray
Agree on The Wind, ridiculous that it’s still not on DVD!
Yes, it’s bizarre.
The Crowd, which has been promised for years.
My wish would be for Valentino’s lost movies, Uncharted Seas and A Sainted Devil, to be found, along with a complete print of The Young Rajah ( particularly the sequence in which he wears a costume consisting solely of strings of pearls ).
I doubt you’d get many people arguing against a pearl-bedecked Valentino. 😉
The films I would like to see released are the Rin Tin Tin silents. I have 5 that I bought from Grapevine video but the quality is not that good. Warner Bros. Was supposed to release them a few years ago but I don’t know what happened???
I know a nice print of CLASH OF WOLVES was released on the MORE TREASURES FROM AMERICAN FILM ARCHIVES box set, though the box is now out of print.
Though not really lost, I would give anything to own a copy of the restoration of GREED. Why is this classic not available on DVD?
I deeply suspect copyright issues between the current rights holder and the restoration team.
Update! A reader in the UK has informed me that “Greed” can be downloaded from the French iTunes store.
The Crowd is the one film left that I really crave for release. Also Tumbleweeds in HD would be nice. Too bad a copy of the movie that was shown on the Titanic hasn’t shown up.
The Crowd is definitely a strong contender for “Most Wanted” silent. I agree, a release of Tumbleweeds would be great. More HD William S. Hart in general, in fact.
From your excellent review, Barbed Wire, set in France during WWI. Starring Pola Negri and Clive Brook, a German pow falls in love with a French farm girl, and vice versa. I did see A Night of Love, with Vilma Banky and Ronald Coleman on TCM in Jan., one of their Silent Sunday night films. It was wonderful-and perhaps they’ll air it again before the year’s out?
Glad you enjoyed the review! You can snag a copy of Barbed Wire directly from Grapevine, if you like.
Thanks for that link!
There are too many to list! However, being a Conrad Veidt fan I’d like the German version of Around the World in 80 days to be found and released from 1919, along with his two directoral efforts (Madness and Desire). I think it’d be interesting to see what he could do behind the camera. As a Phantom of the Opera fan, I want to see the 1916 version (if it does indeed exist!) just to see how faithful they are to the book.
Finally, I’d like to see a good portion of Sessue Hayakawa’s missing and/or unreleased work to be available to the buying public, especially his film with Conrad Veidt Tempete Sur L’Asie (Two of my favorite silent film actors in the same film? Heaven!).
Great choices, one and all!
Conrad Veidt and Sessue Hayakawa? Sounds like we have similar tastes. Fingers crossed!
My dream DVD release would be A Kiss for Cinderella (1925), directed by Herbert Brenon and starring Betty Bronson. Their Peter Pan is one of my favorite silents and I want to see the follow-up properly restored, scored, and released.
Yes! That one has been languishing for ages.
Is Napoleon (1927) on DVD?
I don’t believe so. I think it got a VHS release and that’s it. Not sure about laserdisc.
Thanks, I thought so. TCM ran it a couple of years ago, and I was fool not tape it.
I can confirm that it is, as I own the DVD! It’s the Coppola version though, so does not include all the extant footage.
Thanks! And I have just heard that there is a possible Blu-ray release of Kevin Brownlow’s real restoration in the works. Why the Coppola before the Brownlow, I will never know.
I would like to see “The Girl from Montmartre” (1926) released. It was Barbara La Marr’s last film and was shown only after her premature death. The pictures was praised as far as I know as many films afterwards featuring a late star. Also “Sandra” (1924) would be nice to have. I read the book and I am interested to see how I was made into a movie.
There are many other films I would like to see, as for example “Natasha Rostova” (1915), an early adaption of Tolstoi’s “War and Peace”.
Although it is partly a talkie, a full length restored DVD-release of “Show Boat” (1929) would be great.
Great choices! Barbara La Marr is woefully underrepresented on the home video market.
I would love to see the complete “The Miracle Man” with Lon Chaney. It’s currently a lost film with only 3 minutes or so surviving, but those 3 minutes make me want to see more. It’s amazing that so many people clamor for “London After Midnight” and not “The Miracle Man.” Judging from the “restored” version of “London After Midnight” in stills, I’m not sure I’d want the whole deal.
I second the calls for Vidor’s “The Crowd” and Gance’s “Napoleon,” two great films that I’ve only recently been able to see on DVD. I teach college and have access to some awesome college library systems, so I’ve been able to finagle my way into seeing both films on DVD, but those DVDs came in packaging almost entirely in Korean, so I’m guessing that they’re not available in Western markets easily. I agree with Kevin Brownlow that Gance is probably the greatest director of the silent era between “Napoleon,” “J’Accuse,” and “La Roue”.
I agree, The Miracle Man looks far more promising. Plus, we get Thomas Meighan so Chaney’s handsome opposite number would actually be a good actor in his own right. (Looking at you, Norman Kerry.)
Thanks for the tip on Korean releases for The Crowd and Napoleon. I have connections there and may be able to finagle a copy. 😉
Would love to see “The Rag Man” and “Two Arabian Knights” released on DVD.
Agreed. More Jackie Coogan in general would be most welcome.
Soooo many, but here’s a quick list …
* Il fior de male (IT 1915), starring Lyda Borelli … actually, a lot of the 1910s diva films.
* Proper version of The Girl with the Hatbox (USSR 1927) &
* Der Student von Prag (DE 1913) – both have been promised from EFM for ages
* More of the Albatros films!
* Thaïs – Italian futurist film
* More of Pola Negri’s US output
* Proper restoration of some of the Lianhua (CN) titles
And many more …
I Know you are not a big May Murray fan or even a small one, but I would love to able to view Peacock Alley 1922 (Tiffany Productions). The Library of Congress has an incomplete film. I Don’ care if they only have one reel out of eight, put it out. Yes she is over the top in her acting, a little bit to campy for fans of silent films but she does fill a role for films of the late nineteen teens and early 1920’s. She gave her fans every thing they wanted. All the glitz and glamor the average Joe and Jane was lacking in their lives. She had genuine talent as a dancer, and filmed butifuly. Had her own film production company, married to big time film producer Robert Leonard (should have stayed married to him and I would not writing this note), a board member of the Academy. Just as Louise Brooks was recognized for her input to motion picture many years latter it is only a matter of time before we see that 100 foot banner in front of MAA proclaim The May Murray Film Festival. Remember if you are a big Rudolph Valentino, she was his champion and saw the talent in him that others did not see.
Well, I’m not a “sir” but I am always in favor of films being released from vaults.
Edit: Added this
Is there any Lou Tellegen around other than Queen Elizabeth, 3 Bad Men and Parisian Love? I think he would be great
I know that some of the stuff he made with Geraldine Farrar at Goldwyn still survives, including a proto-Sheik film.
Cool! I’ll keep an eye open for these.
Since we can dream about lost films, I’d love to see The Miracle Man (1919), The Way of All Flesh (1927, someone on IMDb says there is a copy in Argentina) and The Four Devils (1928). Let’s start looking in our attics!
Yes! And better cataloging for archives, which is where a lot of the “discoveries” seem to have occurred lately.
I was fortunate enough to see the surviving episodes of “Homonculus” (1916) at the Museum of Modern Art some years back. I’d really like to see that fully restored and distributed on home media (or, better, just posted to archive.org). I’d love to know if there’s a home-viewing option for “Der Golem,” the 1915 version (I own the 1922), and while we’re fantasizing: maybe someone can rediscover “The Golem and the Dancing Girl” (1917).
Also, I’m one of those old fogeys that still wants to see “London After Midnight,” however imperfect it may be.
Yes, the silent remakes seem to have fared better than the originals in many cases.
I just thought of another one: Dolly’s Scoop (1916). Yeah, it’s probably not another Citizen Kane or anything, but it’s got Lon Chaney as a leading man and from what little we know, it’s not going to be as goofy and creepy as his turn as the romantic lead in Nomads of the North (1920).
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