Midweek Matinee

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Here’s a strange fact about cinema. More than half the films every made no longer exist.

 Buster Keaton 1

Studios churned out product in the early days, with little thought of preservation. Most films had no future before television. Every few years a previous hit would go on general re-release, but these were always monster hits like Gone With The Wind. Other films just took up room.

English: Buster Keaton wearing his trademark p...

English: Buster Keaton wearing his trademark porkpie hat in the 1922 film The Blacksmith Available at http://us.imdb.com/gallery/mptv/1301/Mptv/1301/20676_0002.jpg?path=gallery&path_key=0012945 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The highly combustible celluloid was a fire hazard too, so the prudent producer would strip the film for re-usable minerals and destroy the waste. The fact that some of that waste contained the life work of a Buster Keaton or a Rex Ingram didn’t really register. How many people archive their newspapers, or their Facebook page?

Every so often, happily, something is plucked from the maw of time. The latest rediscovery is five new minutes of Keaton’s 1922 comedy The Blacksmith. You can read about the rediscovery, and catch a glimpse of the footage, in this excellent article from the (other) Guardian: Here

Posted by Kevin McGee

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