A recent study supported by the Library of Congress’ National Film Preservation Board found that 70 percent of the features that defined an era—and the future—of American film-making are all but lost. Of the American silent films produced from 1912–1929, only 25 percent are still in existence in a complete form. The preservation of films from this era has not been coordinated in the past, resulting in the loss of more than 7,000 films that marked the ascension of movie-making as an art form in America. Only 14 percent of the 10,919 films produced during this era can be found complete in their original form: the domestic version on 35mm film.
The archival, preservation, and research efforts of the National Film Preservation Board would be fruitless without connecting Americans to their film heritage. The board’s site provides resources for learning more about historic Hollywood films, including a listing of screenings on TV and at theaters across the country. You can also support and find more information about film preservation by visiting the National Film Preservation Foundation website. And UPK author, Christina Rice, will be giving a talk this Saturday at the Los Angeles Public Library titled “Thou Shalt Not: A Primer to Pre-Code Hollywood.” Rice’s lecture will be an introduction to American film-making before Hollywood created the Production Code, a set of moral rules dictating acceptable content in movies. The event will also include a screening of an Ann Dvorak film produced before the Production Code was enforced.