Do these early Griffith films still exist?

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Spiny Norman

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Do these early Griffith films still exist?

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 6:19 am

Griffith - I wonder if there are any copies around of these early works?
The Red Man and the Child 1908
The Devil 1908
After Many Years 1908
In Old Kentucky 1909


Note. Wow... 520 credits as director... I didn't know he had done so many, many short films!
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boblipton

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Re: Do these early Griffith films still exist?

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 6:43 am

Here's an old thread that discusses the survival of the Biographs by paper print. Apparently only five are lost. According to a source quoted by Harold Aherne, the missing are:

How She Triumphed (1911)
A Tale of the Wilderness (1912)
Heredity (1912)
Oil and Water (1913)
Two Men of the Desert (1913)

This does not mean the others are available. That would depend on how many have been converted to other formats.

If you wish to look at the entire thread, it is:

http://www.nitrateville.com/viewtopic.p ... 913#p74150" target="_blank" target="_blank


Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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R Michael Pyle

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Re: Do these early Griffith films still exist?

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 7:33 am

Well, I've got "Oil and Water", so it must survive somehow. It's been available on VHS for years. Maybe a/the paper print doesn't survive, but some film version does.
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Spiny Norman

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Re: Do these early Griffith films still exist?

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 9:41 am

Good point, we're still in the paper print period here, aren't we?

Only 5 missing...? Or even just 4...! Incredible.
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silentfilm

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Re: Do these early Griffith films still exist?

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 11:30 am

Paper prints don't survive for all the Griffith (and Sennett) Biographs. Many of these films survive because the original negative survives. However, the negatives do not contain the titles, so some intertitles have to be reconstructed. It is really nice when the paper print and the negative survivies, because then we have all the parts necessary to reconstruct the film.

The negatives are also in shooting order, not the completed film. In the 1970s, Blackhawk Films released an interesting combination of The Transformation of Mike (1911), where you could watch the unassembled shots first, and then the completed film.
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boblipton

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Re: Do these early Griffith films still exist?

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 11:34 am

Thanks for reminding me Bruce; MOMA had an earlier film that they showed in both the shooting order and cutting order. I think it was one from 1909.

Bob
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Re: Do these early Griffith films still exist?

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 11:56 am

In respect to In Old Kentucky: back in 1996, I visited what is now the Neversink Valley Museum in Cuddebackville, NY (I can't remember if the name of the museum was the same at the time). I remember a plan to secure copies of the 1909-11 Cuddebackville films from LOC so that the museum would have them for screening or potential VHS release with musical accompaniment by local talent (I remember that as a selling point for me, personally). I forked over $75 (college freshman, to boot) for In Old Kentucky, and was told that I would receive a VHS copy, but never did.

I did see an article from the past several years in which five of the Cuddebackville films were screened outdoors. If they have any number of them, too bad that they don't do what the Niles Museum did for the extant Broncho Billy shorts. Easier said than done, of course, and I have no idea as to the quality. Does anyone else from that pre-feature period have such a high survival rate as the Griffith Biographs, and are most of them uneven/mediocre/repetitive that only a few dozen of them are available?
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boblipton

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Re: Do these early Griffith films still exist?

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 12:14 pm

The thread I cited earlier makes it clear that Biograph was unique among the Patents Trust companies in providing paper prints to the LoC with all the frames; other companies were more likely to print a few frames on paper and say good enough. This gives the Biographs a much higher survival rate.

As I look at everything that I can find and the Eye Institute has posted a lot of Vitagraphs, it becomes clear that Sturgeon's Law applies. However, I think you should consider some one's best work, instead of pointing at a stinker and going "Nyah Nyah." Griffith may have made the kiddy-trapped-at-home-by-burglars-while-daddy-rushes-there-in-his-zeppelin movie enough times for Sennett to rip it apart for years at Keystone. His best stuff is still great.

Bob
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Daniel Eagan

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Re: Do these early Griffith films still exist?

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 3:31 pm

boblipton wrote:Thanks for reminding me Bruce; MOMA had an earlier film that they showed in both the shooting order and cutting order. I think it was one from 1909.

Bob


At the old Collective for Living Cinema, Abigail Child used to show MoMA's shot-order version of Musketeers of Pig Alley. It was illuminating to see how Griffith and Bitzer worked together. Bitzer saved the hardest shots for the end of the day, after he was sure he had coverage.
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andybenz

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Re: Do these early Griffith films still exist?

PostThu Sep 07, 2017 10:11 am

boblipton wrote: According to a source quoted by Harold Aherne, the missing are:

This list does not seem to be entirely up-to-date. The Griffith Project Vol. 11 from 2007 (BFI Publishing) lists the following titles:

How she triumphed
The white rose of the wilds
A tale of the wilderness
Heredity
My hero
An adventure in the autumn woods
The tender-hearted boy
Brothers
The little tease (this has been found since: http://www.cinetecadelfriuli.org/gcm/ed ... hp?ID=6234)
Two men of the desert (this has also been found since: https://www.filmpreservation.org/userfi ... ar2014.pdf page 13 under "Library of congress")
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Lokke Heiss

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Re: Do these early Griffith films still exist?

PostFri Sep 08, 2017 7:55 pm

Pordenone ran a program of surviving Griffith films in chronological order from his first to his last silent film. It's one of the biggest programs they ever did. It was a huge, mammoth undertaking. I don't have all their catalogs from those years, and now it was around 10 years ago, so their may be more extant films since then. All I can told you is that I saw a LOT of Griffith shorts, and at the end, I decided that as a whole, his shorts are his greatest achievement (not to say some individual feature films were not masterpieces of course). This conclusion only came after watching many of his shorts and getting into the language and style that he developed.
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