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Old 10th Oct 2011, 0:13   #1
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Default 101 Forgotten Films

I've just abandoned what looked like a promising little read, 101 Forgotten Films by Brian Mills. (Pub. Kamera Books, 2008.) I'm always a sucker for for enthusiasts who write about subjects they feel passionate about - especially (but not necessarily) when their subject is one that interests me. Forgotten films are right up my alley.
The book, a thin 158 pages (inc. index), is unfortunately a saddening disappointment. It's a very personal list - the writer was a projectionist in the 50s and obviously loves film - but there's nothing here that couldn't be unearthed with a quick poke about on the IMDb. After the title of the film there's a synopsis (sometimes half a page, sometimes several), a pointless 'Rarity Rating' which tells us things like 'Copies of this film can be obtained on the web but the quality is substandard.' (A winner of my uncoveted No Shit Sherlock! Award for the most pointless statement of the week) and then a very brief essay on one of the makers of the film; director actor, whatever which anyone could have cribbed together after a few minutes Wikipedeaing*.

There are some baffling inclusions too: The Toughest Man Alive (1955), "Rarity Value 5/5. Sadly gone forever as no known prints survive" which by my reckoning makes it a lost film, not a forgotten one. And films that are shown on Turner Classics aren't forgotten either. (And I have seen several of the films listed here shown on British television - though, admittedly, not recently.) Nowhere do we find out why these films are undeservedly forgotten (if indeed they are). By what mysterious process does a once popular film disappear into obscurity? That's sort of interesting question I was hoping to find answered. I mean there are tens of thousands of forgotten films out there. Most of them deserve to be forgotten. They were shit. I'm sure most people who watched British 'Sex Comedies' of the 1970s were trying to forget them as they walked out of the cinema. (I for instance am trying to forget several films I have watched recently, Zombie Women of Satan among them - DAMN!) The idea here is that these were good, great, or at least high prestige, films that have all but vanished and...

[Can we please cut to the car chase? Ed.]

Ok, so, forgotten films. Nominations for the personal favourite unrediscovered gem that you would love to see release on DVD if only someone would get their finger out and realise what a masterpiece the world has been missing all these years.

My first nomination would be for The Great Garrick (1936) A total piece of froth from James Whale who also directed such comic masterpieces as Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Show Boat (1936).

Starring the now largely forgotten Brian Aherne, a very young (and yummy) Olivia deHaveland, and the usual stock Warner Bros. stock company (light comedy division) it's story of The Great Actor, David Garrick, getting the better of The Comedy Francaise. He is on his way to Paris to play with them and has made comment which they take as an insult. He has said, in effect, that he is going to teach the French how to act. The Troupe decide to give him a lesson in acting by taking over an inn that he will stop at en route to Paris. The head of the company rents the place for the night, dismissing the staff and the company take on roles as maids, waiters, servants, etc. and perform (as if it were real life) a play written for the occasion by Beaumarchis, full of love triangles, duels, a crazy man, and lots of noise. What they don't know is that the old prompter, who once worked with Garrick, has gone ahead and warned him of what is to happen. One other thing they're not counting on is the appearance of another genuine guest (DeHavilland) besides Garrick. Garrick, however, thinks she's part of the troupe. She falls for him, he thinks she's playing a role, complications ensue but all is right in the end.

It's the perfect Sunday afternoon film. I love it dearly. I still have a VHS copy from the time I discovered it back in the 1980s (I ran tapes under every film I watched on the TV back then) complete with Channel 4 buffers and adverts. Only recently did I find a torrent of another TV rip - but at least this one doesn't have commercial breaks in it.

That's mine. What's yours?

[Edit: Forget all that. I just had a rush of brains to the head and had a look on Amazon. It has been released on DVD! Huzzah! Region 1. Boo!]

*Winner of the Ouch! Award for the ugliest neologism of the week.
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Last edited by JunkMonkey; 10th Oct 2011 at 0:24.
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Old 10th Oct 2011, 12:53   #2
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Default Re: 101 Forgotten Films

I don't have any genuinely "forgotten" films which are also favourites. I watched a raft of hopeless films in the mid-Seventies which I've never seen since but might cringe at now - the panned 1973 musical re-make of Capra's Lost Horizon (with Michael York and Peter Finch and Olivia Hussey); a Swinging Sixties comedy musical with songs by Leslie Bricusse, Three Hats for Lisa, with chirpy cockneys (Sid James, Una Stubbs) taking a day off work to help an Italian visitor to gather assorted titfers as mementoes of London; and possibly best of all, Bedtime for Bonzo with Ronnie Reagan bringing up a chimpanzee.

Don't give up hope on The Great Garrick. Ken Russell's The Boyfriend has only just been released in an All-Region DVD for the first time, so I have a use for some of my birthday money.

Another one which had been recommended to me and was unavailable until very recently was the 1941 war-film, Dangerous Moonlight, but is now out on DVD.
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 19:41   #3
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Default Re: 101 Forgotten Films

I'm currently on the lookout for "Celui qui doit mourir", a French rendering of Kazantzakis's Christ Recrucified. DVDs do exist, but the supplier (Lear Media) has disappeared. I have seen a DVD copy on eBay, but I'm suspicious - the photo looks like a VHS... LoveFilm are stumped.

Another one that's disappeared without trace is the Ed Harris "Riders of the Purple Sage". Dammit - it was a tv movie, DVDs were made, but LoveFilm, again, have been unable to source it. And so have I.

Having said that, LoveFilm HAVE turned up a few classics I thought were gone forever, like the early Jacques Tati movies, and some rather lame Elstree "classics".
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