List of lost films
For this list of lost films, a lost film is defined as one of which no part of a print is known to have survived. For films in which any portion of the footage remains (including trailers), see List of incomplete or partially lost films.
Reasons for loss
Films may go missing for a number of reasons. One major contributing factor is the common use of nitrate film until the early 1950s. This type of film is highly flammable, and there have been several devastating fires, such as the Universal Pictures fire in 1924, the 1937 Fox vault fire and the 1965 MGM vault fire.
Black-and-white film prints judged to be otherwise worthless were sometimes incinerated to salvage the meager scrap value of the silver image particles in their emulsions. Films have disappeared when production companies went bankrupt. Occasionally, a studio would remake a film and destroy the earlier version. Silent films in particular were once seen as having no further commercial value and were simply junked to clear out expensive storage space.
Statistics on lost films
This is necessarily an incomplete list. Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation claims that "half of all American films made before 1950 and over 90% of films made before 1929 are lost forever." Deutsche Kinemathek estimates that 80–90% of silent films are gone; the film archive's own list contains over 3500 lost films.
A study by the Library of Congress states that 75% of all silent films are now lost. While others dispute whether the percentage is quite that high, it is impractical to enumerate any but the more notable and those that can be sourced.
|1900||Solser en Hesse||M.H. Laddé||The first film with this title, featuring the Dutch comedians Lion Solser and Piet Hesse.|||
|1903||Hiawatha, the Messiah of the Ojibway||Joe Rosenthal||Believed to be the first Canadian fiction film.|||
|1906||Solser en Hesse||M.H. Laddé||The second film with this title, featuring the Dutch comedians Lion Solser and Piet Hesse.|||
|The first Finnish fiction film. Some sources also consider it to be the first Russian fiction film, as Finland was a part of the Russian Empire until 1917.|||
|1908||The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays||Francis Boggs, Otis Turner||L. Frank Baum||First adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and several of its sequels. Shown only in roadshow engagements as part of a live theater presentation, the print decomposed and was discarded.|||
|1908||The Music Master||Wallace McCutcheon, Sr.||D. W. Griffith||Most of D. W. Griffith's early appearances as an actor in Biograph films have been preserved, minus this title.|||
- From 1929 on, films are "all talking" unless otherwise specified.
|1930||An Elastic Affair||Alfred Hitchcock||Short film made by Hitchcock for awards ceremony at the London Palladium in January 1930.|||
|The Big Party||John G. Blystone||Sue Carol, Dixie Lee|||
|Bride of the Regiment||John Francis Dillon||Vivienne Segal, Walter Pidgeon||All Technicolor musical drama, only the soundtrack survives on Vitaphone discs.|||
|Cameo Kirby||Irving Cummings||J. Harold Murray, Norma Terris|||
|The Cave of the Silken Web II||Dan Duyu||Yin Mingzhu||Silent. Chinese film. Original title: 续盘丝洞 (Xù pán xī dong). Sequel to the 1927 The Cave of the Silken Web (which itself had been thought to have been lost, but was rediscovered in 2013).|
|College Lovers||John G. Adolfi||Marion Nixon, Jack Whiting||Musical comedy|||
|Fellers||Austin Fay, Arthur Higgins||Arthur Tauchert, Les Coney||An Australian comedy.|||
|Kismet||John Francis Dillon||Otis Skinner, Loretta Young||A lavish costume drama in the early widescreen process known as Vitascope. The complete soundtrack exists on Vitaphone discs.|||
|Let's Go Places||Frank R. Strayer||Frank Richardson, Dixie Lee|||
|Lilies of the Field||Alexander Korda||Corinne Griffith, Ralph Forbes|||
|Lord Richard in the Pantry||Walter Forde||Richard Cooper, Dorothy Seacombe||Included on the British Film Institute's "75 Most Wanted" list of missing British feature films.|||
|One Mad Kiss||Marcel Silver||José Mojica, Antonio Moreno|||
|No, No, Nanette||Clarence G. Badger||Bernice Claire, Alexander Gray||Part Technicolor musical comedy. The soundtrack discs survive. Trailer survives.|||
|Song of the Flame||Alan Crosland||Bernice Claire, Noah Beery||All Technicolor musical drama, the first color film featuring wide screen, and Academy Award nominee for Best Sound. Sound discs for five of the nine reels exist.|||
|1931||Alam Ara||Ardeshir Irani||Master Vithal, Zubeida, Jilloo, Sushila, Prithviraj Kapoor||The first Indian sound film.|||
|Charlie Chan Carries On||Warner Oland, Hamilton MacFadden||An alternate Spanish-language version, featuring a different cast, exists.|||
|Deadlock||George King||Stewart Rome, Marjorie Hume, Warwick Ward||On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list.|||
|Fanny Foley Herself||Edna May Oliver||All-color film photographed in Technicolor.|||
|Hobson's Choice||Thomas Bentley||James Harcourt, Viola Lyel, Frank Pettingell||On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list.|||
|Kalidas||H. M. Reddy||T. P. Rajalakshmi, P. G. Venkatesan, L. V. Prasad||First sound film in Tamil cinema, as well as South Indian cinema|||
|Peludópolis||Quirino Cristiani||Argentine production; the world's first animated feature film with sound, using a primitive sound-on-disc system.|||
|Two Crowded Hours||Michael Powell||John Longden, Jane Welsh, Jerry Verno||Powell's directorial debut.|||
|1932||Charlie Chan's Chance||John G. Blystone||Warner Oland||Sixth film of the Charlie Chan series and third with Warner Oland.|||
|Men of Tomorrow||Zoltan Korda, Leontine Sagan||Maurice Braddell, Joan Gardner||Robert Donat's film debut. The film is on the BFI 75 Most Wanted list.|||
|The Missing Rembrandt||Arthur Wontner||Second film in the Sherlock Holmes series.|||
|Tonendes ABC||László Moholy-Nagy||Experimental film, the negative was scratched by hand. Seen by Norman McLaren in the 1930s.|||
|1933||Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka||Kenzō Masaoka||First sound anime.|||
|Convention City||Archie Mayo||Joan Blondell
|A pre-Code film produced by First National–Warner Bros.|||
|Night in the City||Fei Mu||Ruan Lingyu
|Fei Mu's debut.|
|Two Minutes Silence||Paulette McDonagh||Frank Bradley, Campbell Copelin, Marie Lorraine||Australia's first anti-war movie.|||
|Wasei Kingu Kongu||Torajiro Saito||Isamu Yamaguchi||Japanese short based on King Kong, and the first kaiju film, preceding Godzilla by 21 years.|||
|1934||Jail Birds of Paradise||Al Boasberg||Dorothy Appleby, Moe Howard, Curly Howard||The only lost Stooges film.|||
|Murder at Monte Carlo||Errol Flynn||Flynn's debut film in the UK.|||
|Ragazzo||Ivo Perilli||Costantino Frasca, Isa Pola, Osvaldo Valenti||Screening was banned by Fascist authorities before the premiere, and subsequently stored at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. During the Germans' retreat in 1944, the centre was looted and set on fire.|||
|The Scarab Murder Case||Wilfrid Hyde-White||A Philo Vance film.|||
|1935||The Magic Shoes||Peter Finch||Completed but never released.|||
|Obeah!||F. Herrick Herrick||Jean Brooks, Phillips Lord||Released in February 1935.|||
|1936||The Oregon Trail||John Wayne||Lost film, but in 2013 stills were found|||
|The Adventures of Pinocchio||Raoul Verdini, Umberto Spano||It was intended to be the first animated feature film from Italy, but is now considered lost; only the original script and a couple of still frames are all that survive of the film|||
|1937||Terang Boelan||Albert Balink||Rd. Mochtar, Roekiah||Romance film from the Dutch East Indies; the colony's biggest commercial success|||
|1938||King Kong Appears in Edo||Sōya Kumagai||Eizaburo Matsumoto||A Japanese kaiju (giant monster) film which preceded Godzilla by 16 years. It was likely lost during World War II.|||
|Nad Niemnem||Wanda Jakubowska and Karol Szolowski||The Nazi regime liked the artistic value of the movie, but could not allow the screening of a picture so firmly rooted in Polish history. It was dubbed and re-edited, changing it to pro-German propaganda. Stefan Dekierowski informed the Polish underground, and the remaining three copies (out of 5 total) were hidden in winter 1939; the movie is believed to be lost.|
|1939||The Good Old Days||Roy William Neill||Max Miller, Hal Walters, Kathleen Gibson||On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list.|||
|Secreto de confesión||It was lost during the bombing of Manila during World War II.|
|1940||Harta Berdarah||R Hu, Rd Ariffien||Zonder, Soelastri||Indonesian action film. Screened until at least July 1944.|||
|Kedok Ketawa||Jo An Djan||Fatimah, Basoeki Resobowo, Oedjang||Union Films first production. Screened until at least August 1944.|||
|1941||Asmara Moerni||Rd Ariffien||Adnan Kapau Gani, Djoewariah, S. Joesoef||Indonesian romance film. Screened until at least November 1945.|||
|Bajar dengan Djiwa||R Hu||A Bakar, Djoewariah, O Parma, Oedjang, RS Fatimah, Soelastri, Zonder||Indonesian drama film. Screened until at least October 1943.|||
|Soeara Berbisa||R Hu||Raden Soekarno, Ratna Djoewita, Oedjang, Soehaena||Screened until at least February 1949, longer than any other Union Films production, and the only Union picture known to have been shown post-World War II.|||
|Wanita dan Satria||Rd Ariffien||Djoewariah, Ratna Djoewita, Hidajat, Z. Algadrie, Moesa|||
|1942||Brother Martin: Servant of Jesus||Spencer Williams|
|15.000 Dibujos||Carlos Trupp, Jorge Escudero||Chilean movie. It appears that in 2001, 19 years after Trupp's death, his heirs have considered searching for missing footage and financing its restoration, but nothing else has materialized since. To date, only fragments survive.|||
|Mega Mendoeng||Boen Kim Nam||Raden Soekarno, Oedjang, Boen Sofiati, Soehaena||Union Films final production before the studio closed ahead of the impending Japanese occupation.|||
|1943||Squadron Leader X||Lance Comfort||Eric Portman, Ann Dvorak||On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list of lost films.|||
|1944||Red Sky at Morning||Hartney Arthur||Peter Finch, John Alden|||
|1945||Flight from Folly||Herbert Mason||Patricia Kirkwood, Hugh Sinclair||Screen debut of stage star Kirkwood. It is on the BFI 75 Most Wanted list.|||
|For You Alone||Geoffrey Faithfull||Lesley Brook, Dinah Sheridan, Jimmy Hanley||Another film on the BFI 75 Most Wanted list.|||
|1948||The Betrayal||Oscar Micheaux||The director's final production.|||
|1960||Linda||Don Sharp||Carol White, Alan Rothwell||On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list of lost films.|||
|1961||Cranks at Work||Ken Russell||English. Russell's short 35mm film about the choreographer John Cranko.|||
|1963||Andy Warhol Films Jack Smith Filming Normal Love||Andy Warhol||Jack Smith||This home movie, which may have been Warhol's first film, was seized by the New York City police in March 1964 and has since disappeared.|||
|Farewell Performance||Robert Tronson||David Kernan,
|On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list.|||
|1967||Batman Fights Dracula||Leody M. Diaz||Jing Abalos, Dante Rivero||A Filipino parody made without the permission of DC Comics, which owns the copyright for the character of Batman.|||
|Israel: A Right to Live||John Schlesinger||Director Schlesinger shot this film for producer Harry Saltzman. Alan Rosenthal claims that "hours of film had been shot and edited, but nobody liked the result. Israel was too triumphant, too out of keeping with the changed mood. It had a few showings and then passed into oblivion." On the other hand, William J. Mann claims that Schlesinger never finished the documentary, "due to 'creative differences' with the BBC." Cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond claimed in 2011 that he has never been able to find a copy of the documentary.|
|1968||Las Noches del Hombre Lobo||René Govar||Paul Naschy||The second in a series of films featuring the character of Count Waldemar Daninsky, it was never publicly screened or seen by anyone, Naschy included. It is suspected by some to be a hoax.|||
|1972||Nobody Ordered Love||Robert Hartford-Davis||Ingrid Pitt, Tony Selby||All known prints believed destroyed upon the director's death, at his request. Currently listed on the BFI 75 Most Wanted list.|||
|1973||Prem Parbat||Ved Rahi||Satish Kaul, Hema Malini||According to the film's director, the print of the film has long since degraded to the point of being unusable.|||
|1974||Him||Ed D. Louie||Tava||Pornographic film about the life of Jesus Christ, previously believed to be a hoax.|||
|2010||Tebaatusasula||Nabwana IGG||Sequel to Who Killed Captain Alex?, but a massive power surge in the Wakaliga slum in Kampala, Uganda, destroyed the hard drive containing the film footage. The studio is currently working on a new version of the film, titled Tebaatusasula: Ebola.|||
- Bezhin Meadow, an unfinished Soviet film directed by Sergei Eisenstein. The reels were destroyed during a World War II bombing raid in 1941.
- List of rediscovered films
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It is often claimed that 75 percent of all American silent films are gone and 50 percent of all films made prior to 1950 are lost, but such figures, as archivists admit in private, were thought up on the spur of the moment, without statistical information to back them up.
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