A silent film that seemed lost forever is re-discovered
And it took almost 100 years since its release
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.