SEAT AT THE BACK - SCRIBBLES! ~ It's that time of year again: THE RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL in London! On now.. See you there!

Monday, 12 December 2011


I've been browsing and weeping my through a list of the 10 Most Wanted 'lost' movies at the BFI - required viewing for any film lover who gives a damn! Fantastic - but very frustrating - reading.

Two of the ones I'd love to be found first, star the two Pleasences. Dad's up first - Donald Pleasence in David Hart's Sleep Is Lovely (1968), a kinky love and ransom affair set on a barge in the heart of swinging sixties London. The director lost an original print in a house move!
Also, Symptoms (1973), a 'Repulsion-esque', lurid countryside-set killer thriller, with Donald's enigmatic daughter - Angela Pleasence. Larraz, a never boring Spanish film-maker who I love to the bitter death, also gave us the gloriously shot Vampyres in 1975 as well as too many other great horror movies to count. He moved to Britain for a short time and while here, living in Tunbridge Wells, used the Garden of England to great effect for his unashamedly twisted tales.

Symptoms had a VHS release so there are, of course, plenty of murky DVD releases of the movie available out there, so it's not really really lost(!) but the BFI want to find the original prints ~ wouldn't it be great if ...

Oh, there's also an early Hitchcock still missing - Mountain Eagle (1926) that some suspect Hitch himself helped make missing after poor reviews, and a very early - if not the earliest - Sherlock Holmes movie of A Study in Scarlet (1914).

A Study in Scarlet was rumoured to have been sacrificed for the war effort, just like the Holmfirth and British film industry pioneer James Bamforth's career was. This man's impressive early work in movies, producing some of the first ever filmed comedies was cut short when his equipment was taken away from him during the Second World War - and melted down for essential equipment, over in France. The perhaps not so unlucky man was left to work on cheeking up saucy postcards back home instead - again, mostly for the war effort ...

The BFI also lists 'The Rest' of the films they hope to find, including a very early horror film called Castle Sinister (1932) which they describe as being about a mad-Devon doctor attempting a brain transplant. Well - it has me sold, or should that be drooling? Sadly, nothing exists of this one, no stills, pressbook, footage, nothing. One day so many lost films may be found, we need to bring those boys back home. Please check your attics for old film reels, because that's how most of the missing, so far - came back to us.

words: mark gordon palmer

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