Rare U.S. silent films found in New Zealand

Mon Jun 7, 2010 11:45pm EDT
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WELLINGTON (Reuters Life!) - A collection of 75 rare U.S. silent films have been discovered in New Zealand's national film archive, including some featuring Hollywood's top actors and directors of the 1920s.

The highlight of the collection is Upstream, a previously lost 1927 film by renowned Western director John Ford, said Brian Meacham of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts in Los Angeles. "There are some real treasures in the collection," Meacham told New Zealand radio, adding a drama starring 1920's screen icon Clara Bow was also a significant find. "New Zealand and Australia were the end of line from Hollywood," Meacham said. "They end up being home to fabulous collections that through benign neglect can survive for years and years."

The films were originally sent to New Zealand for viewing, and at the time it was decided it was too expensive to ship them back to the United States.

"These important films will be preserved and made available to both American and New Zealand audiences to enjoy," New Zealand's Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Chris Finlayson said.

(Reporting by Adrian Bathgate; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)