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Phil Hall's Top 50 Lost Films of All Time

The Story of the Kelly Gang by Charles TaitAt Film Threat, Phil Hall lists the “Top 50 Lost Films of All Time.”

According to Hall, “among the missing movies are the world's first feature film [The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906), right], the first Technicolor feature [The Gulf Between (1917)], the first animated feature in both the silent and sound eras [El Apastol (1917) and Peludópolis (1931), respectively], the first werewolf movie [The Werewolf (1913)], the first appearance by Dracula [Drakula halála (1923)], the first kaiju film [King Kong Appears in Edo (1938)], and movies created by Charlie Chaplin [A Woman of the Sea (1926), directed by Josef von Sternberg, produced by Chaplin], Orson Welles [the 40-minute Too Much Johnson (1938)], Woody Allen [the alternate version of September (1987)], Sergei Eisenstein [the unfinished Bezhin Meadow (1937)], Ed Wood [the XXX-rated Take It Out in Trade (1970)], Oscar Micheaux [the interethnic drama The Betrayal (1948)] and Martin Scorsese [the original shoot-out sequence from Taxi Driver].”


Barbara La Marr, Ramon Novarro in Trifling Women
Barbara La Marr, Ramon Novarro in Trifling Women

The vast majority – 38 – of the films listed are American productions. Many of those are shorts; others, such as the Australian-made The Story of the Kelly Gang, survive in bits and pieces; and others yet, e.g., James Dean's screen test for Oklahoma and an alternate shoot-out sequence from Taxi Driver, are movie sequences, not movies.

I'm not sure how Hall found out about those titles – there are many I'd never heard of – or what his criterion was for his 50 choices, but I did notice that missing from his list are several that I would have mentioned. For instance:

  • Rex Ingram's Trifling Women (1922) and Where the Pavement Ends (1923), two well-regarded and quite successful 1920s melodramas, both starring Ramon Novarro, and directed by one of the top Hollywood talents of the silent era;
  • The Miracle Man (1919), which provided Lon Chaney with his first major role in a highly successful motion picture;
  • The Noose (1927), for which Richard Barthelmess was nominated for a best actor Academy Award;
  • Ernst Lubitsch's The Patriot (1928), a period drama starring Emil Jannings, Florence Vidor, and Lewis Stone that was “considered” for several Academy Awards covering the period 1928-29 (there were no official nominations that year).

Of those films in Hall's list that I'd never even dreamed existed, I must admit that the one that most aroused my curiosity was Him (1974, USA), described as an “X-rated film about a gay man's homoerotic obsession with the New Testament” that was detailed in the 1980 book The Golden Turkey Awards.

If Him is ever found, it'd make a great double-bill with Cecil B. DeMille's kinky The Sign of the Cross. Here's hoping.

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3 Comments to Phil Hall's Top 50 Lost Films of All Time

  1. Jimmy

    Karl Atticus… Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time. A long time.

  2. Felipe B.

    I heard of Atticus. I studied at Johns Hopkins U. in Baltimore, 1980-85, and his father used to be an instructor there. The belief is that Atticus filmed scenes for his movies with real dead bodies taken out of cemeteries. I dismiss these tales as “urban legend.”

  3. NylaBonz

    My God, how can you not include Karl Atticus's “Mortal Remains” in this list? A famous lost horror film (famous if you live in Maryland, anyway) that never saw the light of day after its premiere. Atticus made another movie prior to this called “Culture Shock,” but apparently this one is still available in some parts of the world.