Re: Lost Films

From: Mark Toscano (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Oct 21 2008 - 18:27:02 PDT

A few more lost films:


Stan Brakhage:

Silent Sound Sense Stars Subotnick and Sender (1962, 16mm, 2 min.):
This film seems to be lost, possibly left at KQED in San Francisco. Morton Subotnick has feelers out trying to find it, but no luck yet.

The Boy and the Sea (1953, 16mm, 2min.):
Actually, I'm skeptical about the existence of this film. In the research I've done so far, I've never seen any mention of it by Stan in the 1950s papers of his I've examined. All self-made filmographies (including early ones written at a time when I would think any young filmmaker would want to "pad" their filmography) into the early '60s never list this piece, and in my rooting through the papers at CU Boulder I've never seen any reference to its existence. If anyone has any ideas about whether this film even exists, I'd love to hear about it. Fred or Marilyn - do either of you know at what point this title creeped into Stan's filmography?

Stan's Polavision films are also currently MIA, but we're still hoping those could turn up.


Robert Nelson:

Sixty Lazy Dogs (1965, 16mm, b/w, sound, 3min.)
This film only survives in the form of a cut-down 2-minute print. The original was destroyed by Nelson.

Thick Pucker (w/ Steve Reich, 1965, 16mm, b/w, sound, 11min.)
This film only survives in fragments, the original having been destroyed by Nelson.

Super Spread (music by Grateful Dead, 1967, 16mm, color, sound, 13min.)
The complete original track survives, but the picture only survives in the form of about half of a print. Nelson remembers selling one print somewhere in Europe (maybe Sweden, he thought), but I haven't had any luck finding it yet.


Ernie Gehr:
History (1970, 16mm, b/w, there have been various versions at different lengths)
Not technically a completely lost film, but may as well be. According to Ernie, there are no good extant prints, and the original is lost. He has experimented at least once with trying to reprint the film from a roll of original outs, and had no luck (a simplified description of the film would be to say it deals with exposed film grain). So it seems to me that this film is "lost" because no representative prints currently exist, and it is currently not possible to print a representative print using today's stocks. Hopefully this might change.


David Bienstock:

Longing (ca.1963-64, 16mm, 3min.)
David didn't show this film much and seems to have considered it an immature work. He made it before his highly regarded Nothing Happened This Morning (1965). Not sure if it was color, b/w, silent, sound...


Bruce Lane:

The Journal of Albion Moonlight (late '60s to ??, 16mm, b/w & color)

Bruce has one completed work, the masterpiece unc. (1966). As part of the early AFI film program, he started the Albion project, doing a lot of work on it, generating plenty of footage, and gradually putting the film together over many years, with some setbacks in between. All through this time, the original film was stored with AFI. In the past few years, Bruce has tried unsuccessfully to get the film back, but AFI can't find it. I believe only one camera roll was found. Technically, the film was never finished, but it was for many years a project in flux that was eagerly awaited by many.


Curtis Harrington:

Dangerous Houses (ca.1952, 16mm, b/w)
I've found some references to this film actually being shown in public, but Curtis was very unhappy with it and tended to not screen it, especially in the past few decades. He always told me he still had it in his possession, but after he passed away, I was unable to find anything that is clearly this film among the film materials we took out of his house.


Kathy Rose:

Pluto People (1971, 16mm, color, 20min.)
This was Kathy Rose's first fully animated film. It seems that the making of this film helped her understand how better to do animation the way she wanted, so in many ways this film was a failure from which she learned quite a lot. She described it to me as "static" and "stilted". As a result, it rarely screened, and when she unearthed all of her film to send to me, this one never turned up. It may still, but for now, it's lost.


Anyhow, those are some I can come up with off the top of my head. In some other cases I can think of, only extremely bad, faded, or otherwise unusable prints survive of some films, like Standish Lawder's Eleven Different Horses, Carmen D'Avino's A Finnish Fable, and Keewatin Dewdney's The Turing Machine.

Feel free to list me as a contact regarding any of these titles, if you like.

Mark T


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