Long-lost silent film found in New Zealand, restored for AMPAS screening
A John Ford film thought to have been lost for more than 80 years will receive a gala “re-premiere” at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Sept. 1, when a restored version of the legendary director’s 1927 film “Upstream” will screen for the first time in decades.
The film, a silent backstage comedy influenced by the work of German filmmaker F.W. Murnau (who won one of the first Academy Awards for “Sunrise”), will we presented under the auspices of the Academy’s “Lost and Found” series, periodic screenings devoted to rediscovered and restored films.
According to an AMPAS press release announcing the screening, “Upstream” was found by Academy archivist Brian Meacham, who stopped by the New Zealand Film Archive while on vacation in that country. The archive turned out to contain a number of American films, including three features that were thought to have been lost.
“Upsteam” was restored by Park Road Post Production in Wellington, New Zealand, under the direction of the Academy Film Archive and 20th Century Fox.
Ford was a six-time Oscar nominee, and a winner for directing “The Quiet Man,” “How Green Was My Valley,” “The Grapes of Wrath” and “The Informer.”
Of the 60-odd silent movies the director made between 1917 and 1928, fewer than a dozen are believed to have survived.
In previous years, the “Lost and Found” series has included screenings of the 1917 film “Triumph,” starring Lon Chaney; the 1927 pirate adventure “The Blood Ship”; “Her Wild Oat,” with quintessential 1920s flapper Colleen Moore; and Marion Wong’s 1916 feature “The Curse of Quon Gwon,” the first known feature by a Chinese-American.
The highest-profile "Lost and Found" screening to date may have been the 2006 screening of Cecil B. DeMille's 1928 film "Chicago," the first filmed version of the 1926 Broadway play that later served as the basis for the popular stage musical and the 2002 Best Picture winner.
The screening will take place at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater, where the film will be accompanied by a live trio and preceded by an advertising trailer containing the only known footage of Ford’s 1929 film “Strong Boy.”
As with almost all Academy presentations, tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students.
Information is available at (310) 247-3600, or www.oscars.org.