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The Silents That Schooled Soviets

posted March 29, 2011

A still from "Kick-In," a 1922 melodrama about a thief trying to go straight despite police harassment. One of 10 silent films found at Russia's Gosfilmofond archive and digitally restored. Photo: Library of Congress.
On Sunday, March 6 2011, National Public Radio ran a segment about 10 “lost” American silent films that were found in the Russian film archive, Gosfilmofond, which gave them to the Library of Congress.

The 10 films are part of a stash of some 200 silents discovered at Gosfilmofond. “American movies were, in fact, distributed in Russia and the former Soviet Union regularly from around 1910 right up to the outbreak of World War II,” Patrick Loughney, who heads the LOC’s Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation, told All Things Considered. “These particular films that we’re repatriating now were part of a cache of film prints that were held by the state school of cinematography,” where the films served as training tools.

So now we can see if any experts in Soviet cinema can spot the influence of such big names of the silent era as Ramon Novarro, who starred in the 1925 Ben-Hur, the most expensive silent film ever made.

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