Greta Garbo and Victor Sjostrom

Friday, October 28, 2022

Lost Films, Found Magazines: The Lobby Cards of Lost SIlent Films

Words and images that tell us what the film was about. Lost Films and Found Magazines

The article on Dartmouth professor Mark Williams was relevant, pertinent and succinct enought to require giving the name of the reporter, Kathy McCormack rather than just mentioning the Associated Press. Not being involved in film preservation itself but devoted to he study of the Photoplay, I have for years been gleaning through extratextural discourse, that which is not part of the codex of the film, to find what might have been contained in film that, for whatever reason, are now lost. When the article on lobby cards went to print, I had already had a blog entry with reproductions of lobby cards belonging to films mostly that were not lost, and being in public domain, were available through copies on my webpages, each copy of an existing film having an appended encouragement for the reader/viewer to become a film detective and find material concerning lost films-Lost Films, Found Magazines. In regard to the movie theater having similar exingencies as a museum, the lobby cards were displayed on easels and meant to be viewed by standing directly in front of them at a short distance, there being an audience reception to extratextural discourse, just as there is a "viewing" of paintings that has been changing during this century. A librarian paraphrsed by McCormack has posted that the purpose of the lobby cards were publicity and exploitation, the theater owner being an "exhibitor", but that, being aimed at the spectator, they disclosed the movie's plot, the technology soon improving to where the mood and atmosphere of the film could be surmised from the photographic images. The librarian quoted by McCormack claims that in additon to data regarding the film-and titles were often changed during production to differ from an earlier advertised title- lobby cards could often include a line of dialouge, if only one precious line of dialouge that would be a key to an entire lost film- lobby cards that were not "title cards" have been referred as "scene cards", Dartmouth College in fact had a collection of television commercials it had lent the Moving Image Rearch Center while McCormack was writing her article. The Moving Image Research Center houses material on Lois Weber and Alice-Guy Blanche. Mark Williams is presently part of he Media Ecology Project at Dartmouth College, which is digitalizing thousands of lobby cards to assist Film Preservation. Keep in mind that there have been a small number of rediscovered films, once presumed to be lost, one example being my writing on the John Barrymore version of Sherlock Holmes, which needed to be updated after the film had been found.

Rudolph Valentino Silent Film Lobby Cards

Mary Pickford Silent Film Lobby Cards

Douglas Fairbanks Silent Film Lobby Cards

D.W. Griffith Silent Film Lobby Cards

Lon Chaney Silent Film Lobby Cards

Benjamin Christensen and Danish Silent Film