Sunday, August 3, 2008

Skid-Mark of the Vampire

I’ve kind of kept silent on this whole “Has the lost silent film London After Midnight (1927) been found?” matter percolating on the Internets of late, simply because when it comes to claims like this, I have to put my fingers in the nail prints (or, I suppose in this case, in the film prints) before I can believe. (Yeah, Doubting Thomas is the name…”Tom” to my close friends and associates.)

I first read about this at Craig Zablo’s, who credited Ain’t It Cool for the original post—and then when I read further on about the subject at Bright Lights Film Journal, I begin to think that something was really a-brewin’ here…but all the while making sure the Skept-o-cism meter was pegging in the red.

Fortunately, it’s bloggers like Stacia at She Blogged by Night who are willing to put a traffic cop-like hand up and say: “Wait a second, fellas…let’s not go off half-cocked here.” Stacia makes such a convincing case that the whole l’affaire Midnight is such a crock that she could take this into court and win in a walk. Sure, the notion of finding one of the most hunted-after films in cinema is enough to make anyone’s mouth water and, as such, will convince otherwise sensible, reasonable people that it’s done, sold, Bob’s your uncle. (Plus, with the news of recent finds like a complete (if timeworn) print of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis [1927], it’s not hard to fathom why classic cinema buffs would be ready to swallow reports of further rare silent discoveries.)
The Criterion bulletin board had a similar situation a while back with some second-rate Harold Hill trying to sell a load of bushwa that a friend of his had stumbled onto another sought-out silent find, 4 Devils (1928). I didn’t believe that pile of road apples from the first post only because if I had been in that position I would have been all ass and elbows trying to find the proper people in which to report this historical find rather than bumping my gums on a message board.

So by any means necessary, read the blurb at Stacia’s. I probably would have gotten around to writing a similar post in the near future…but she’s far more articulate than I am—and anyway, I’m still working on this inventing fire thing.

By the way, Bright Lights Film Journal #61 is out, and I can’t recommend heartily enough that you take a gander at an essay written by Imogen Sara Smith about one of my very favorite movies, Force of Evil (1948).


Craig Zablo said...

Great post! Thanks for the info!

Stacia said...

Heh. I'm loving the title of this: skid-mark indeed.

Thanks for the shout-out to both you and Craig! I should probably also thank Mr. Terror, because that post is the only one I've had time to work on for nearly a month. But I am fiddling with things behind the scenes, and in fact may be asking you a technical question in the near future.