Reviews & Columns
International DVDs
In Theaters
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Anime Talk
DVD Savant
Horror DVDs
The M.O.D. Squad
Art House
HD Talk
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info


Found at Mostly Lost

Undercrank Productions // Unrated // March 31, 2016
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted April 17, 2016 | E-mail the Author
The Movies:

For the past four years, film archivists, scholars and movie buffs have headed to the Library of Congress' Packard Campus in Culpepper VA for an unusual film workshop. Entitled Mostly Lost, this free event screens unidentified films and clips and asks the audience for any information that they might have on identifying the cast or even the film. It is quite a detective game to definitively put a title to a reel of film, but that does happen. Now the good people at Undercrank Productions have gathered together 11 of the films that have been identified at this film festival and released them on a DVD-R entitled Found at Mostly Lost. Running nearly two hours in length, the disc is packed with unusual, entertaining, and above all interesting shorts that have not been seen in decades.

One of the highlights is Ventriloquist, a De Forest Phonofilm (an early sound-on-film process) from 1927 starring a very young William Frawley (Fred Mertz from I Love Lucy and Bud on My Three Sons). This one reel comedy plays like a filmed vaudeville act, which it probably is. Frawley walks on stage and approaches an unidentified woman (who is very talented... I hope she is identified sometime soon) and start to sell her on his miracle treatment Hoak: "A little remedy absolutely guaranteed to cure the saddest case of gloom on record." His pitch is absolutely hilarious. He claims that Hoak can do everything from "help bad poker hands" to "grows hair on Mexican dogs." He then reads some funny testimonials and that convinces the young lady to try a pill that will give her the ability to sing, which is does. She then asks for a pill that will enable her to dance the Charleston, but is accidentally given one that turns her into a ventriloquist's dummy. The one-reel shorts end with Frawley sitting the girl on her lap and doing a short ventriloquist act. A charming and entertaining short.

Another fun short is The Nickel Snatcher, a 1920 film starring Hank Mann, the originator and an original member of the Keystone Cops as well as the fighter that Charlie Chaplin battles in City Lights. That is enough to make it worth watching, but it was also directed by Charles Parrott (better known under his stage name of Charlie Chase) who also makes a cameo. There's also an appearance, in drag, by Bert Gillespie the short, rotund actor who is easily spotting in a lot of early Keystone pictures. Unfortunately, the first reel of this two-reel film is missing, but the set-up is pretty easy to figure out and the comedy works well. The plot revolves around a horse-drawn trolley conductor who is in love with the owner's daughter and manages to save the company... after taking a group of woman to Venice Beach where they turn out to be divers. It was great seeing the California coast circa 1920 and noting that the girls used to dive for dimes.

While a bit less entertaining though more interesting is a reel that was shown at the 2013 event and subsequently identified: Test footage from One Million B.C. The highlights of this footage are some early tests of 'dinosaurs' used in the film. They pasted fins and horns onto a variety of lizards and put them on scale sets to create the dinosaurs for the film (and the footage has been reused many, many times in low budget SF flicks and TV shows ever since) and these tests show some designs that were discarded included the use of a turtle.

The woefully underrated Snub Pollard also has a short that was presumed lost, Fifteen Minutes from 1921, in which a man rests his feet for a brief moment while his wife is shopping and gets into a world of trouble. Other notable films that are found on the disc include a 1911 Pathe drama starring Gertrude Norman, a Monty Banks comedy, and a filmed vaudeville act (with sound) by the largely forgotten George LeMaire and Joe Phillips.

The DVD:

These 11 movies arrive on a single-sided DVD-R.


The silent movies (9 of the 11 on the disc) have piano scores composed and performed by Philip Carli, Ben Model, and Andrew Simpson. The sound is excellent and the scores add a lot to the shorts. The two talkies are generally scratchy and low-fidelity, but that is to be expected from age of the movies and the recording technology that was available at the time.


None of these films have been restored and they vary in quality. They're generally good for movies that have been forgotten for the better part of a century, but there are some rough patches. The William Frawley short has a fair amount nitrate decomposition, though the image is never totally obscured. The others generally have scratches and some dirt. While no one will mistake these for newly restored movies, they are all watchable and some of them (like the Snub Pollard movie) are in surprisingly good shape.



Final Thoughts:

If you're a fan of very early cinema, this is a no-brainer. These very rare films have not seen the light of a projector bulb for decades, and over 100 years in some cases. With a little bit of everything, from drama to comedy and even some test footage, it's a great disc to add to any collection. Highly Recommended.
Buy from




Highly Recommended

E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Popular Reviews

Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links