Unmarked boxes with music tapes or film rolls seem to be treasure troves that just need to be looked through. As British daily Independent reported, after almost 100 years, a long-lost silent film from 1923 was found in one such box.
The First Degree was a Universal Pictures silent film that told the story “of a sheep farmer who keeps a secret from his community.” Now, the film has been moved out of the Library of Congress list of “Lost U.S. Silent Feature Films 1912-1929.″ It was first released on February 5, 1923 and received positive reviews.
The copy was sent to the Chicago Film Archives. Which did a digital transfer and the film is now awaiting general viewing.
As Independent reports, Olivia Babler, CFA’s director of film transfer operations, is hopeful that a public screening will take place once COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are fully lifted.
Babler added that all five of the film’s highly flammable reels survived, which she considers “pretty amazing” considering it was reportedly “sat perilously close” to a hot water heater in a cupboard.
That box was first discovered in 2006 by filmmaker Stephen Parry and then-CFA archivist Carolyn Faber during a visit to Peoria in Illinois. Still, the stack of boxes remained unexamined after being brought back to the CFA’s office in Chicago until June 2020.