Monday, January 20, 2014

DVD: Treasures 6: From the New Zealand Film Archive #1 -- January 20, 2014

One of my Christmas presents was the sixth Lost and Found: American Treasures From the New Zealand Film Archive.  This edition was shorter than the others, consisting of a single DVD, but it contains some wonderful items. 

Almost every review of the set that I have read talks about "Lyman H Howe's Famous Ride on a Runaway Train," a single reel released by Educational in 1921.  He had made earlier versions in 1908 and 1914.  Most of the footage in this version was shot before the 1920s.  The print, found in New Zealand, matches with a sound track disk from the Library of Congress.  It starts with an animated title sequence.  A little boy oils a large locomotive.  A title says his dad in an engineer.  There is some nitrate deterioration over the title and a shot of an engineer starting a locomotive.  There are scenes of trains passing through nice scenery.  Then the trains go faster, some in undercranked shots.  The "runaways" include at least three inclines.  One I recognized as Southern California's Mount Lowe.  Another stretch may have been shot on the down track of Mauch Chunk Pennsylvania's Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway. The movie was fun and I need to spend more time trying to identify locations. 

The second movie was a Paul Terry Aesop's Fables, "Happy-Go-Luckies."  A dog and a cat ride on a freight train and arrive at a dog show.  They impersonate a unique dog and win the show.  It was fun. 

The trailer for Strong Boy, a John Ford film, is all that remains. 

Upstream was a John Ford feature set almost entirely in a theatrical boarding house.  I enjoyed the various types from vaudeville and the legitimate theater.  I liked the ending, where the ham villain got his comeuppance. 

"Birth of a Hat" was an industrial film from the Stetson Company.  It began with a short history of hats and then went through the process of making a hat, from the pelt through every step.  It was a very manual process and workplace safety was minimal. 

"The Love Charm" was a Tiffany-Stahl one reeler shot in two color Technicolor.  It was set in the South Seas.  I was surprised to see that Duncan Renaldo had written it.  Ann Christy, who had been Harold Lloyd's leading lady in Speedy, played the daughter of a trader.  On seeing the handsome captain of a yacht, she tells her father "He is white, just like me."  Hoo boy. 

I'll write about the second half tomorrow. 

On my other blog, The Pneumatic Rolling Sphere Carrier Delusion, I reviewed the fifth Treasures From the American Film Archives, The West:
Disc one:
Disc two:
Disc three:

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