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The Times (18/May/1937) - The National Film Library: recent acquisitions

(c) The Times (18/May/1937)



An interesting series of 20 films made before or during 1900 by the Warwick Trading Company has been given to the National Library of the British Film Institute by the Paisley Philosophical Institution. The films have not been re-wound since they were last projected at the Institution in December, 1901. Most of them are in good condition, and they include some unique trick films and some valuable newsreels of the Boer War and of London scenes. A number of other films of importance in the history of the cinema have been given or purchased, and among them are Dante's Inferno, a typical Italian of 1912, remarkable for the realistic representation, achieved by clever trick work and settings, of Dante's epic; Siegfried, made in Germany in 1924 under the direction of Herr Fritz Lang, with Herr Paul Richter as Siegfried: Waxworks. another German film, with Herr Conrad Veidt as Peter the Terrible, Herr Emil Jannings as the Caliph of Baghdad, and Herr Werner Krauss as Jack the Ripper; The Wizard of Oz, an American comedy with the late Mr. Larry Semon as the principal comedian; The Battles of the Coronet and Falkland Islands, produced for Great Britain by Mr. H. Bruce Woolfe; Easy Virtue, adapted from Mr. Noel Coward's play and directed by Mr. Alfred Hitchcock; A Modern Dubarry, the first film directed by Mr. Alexander Korda to be seen in this country, and The Sea Urchin, with Miss Betty Balfour in the cast. Three short films made by Melies between 1900 and 1905 and nine early cartoons, including a Bonzo cartoon, Topical Bonzette, after a scenario by Mr. Adrian Brunei, and a War-time cartoon of the Kaiser, have also been acquired.

All these films will be preserved, and when money is available copies of some of them will be made for circulation. To the series of reprints from the Preservation Section there will be added a film showing the development of the cartoon and another showing early examples of trick work. Copies of Into the Jaws of Death, an Essanay melodrama of 1910, will also be made for the Loan Section of the library. Copies of modern films recently received by the library include My Man Godfrey, It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Queen of Hearts, One Night of Love, The Story of Louis Pasteur, Rembrandt, Song of Freedom, The Man Who Could Work Miracles, Green Pastures, and The Littlest Rebel.

British Movietone News have agreed to present copies of any items in their newsreels for which the library asks. This arrangement is an important development towards the permanent preservation of film records of outstanding events. Copies of the special news-reels about the accession of King George VI have been given to the library by British Movietone News, Paramount, Pathc, and Universal Talking News.

Films have long been used for propaganda and education, and one of the earliest examples of this type of film must have been The Story of John McNeil, produced in Edinburgh in 1911 by Dr. Halliday Sutherland. It describes the Edinburgh system of controlling tuberculosis, and the present copy is the gift of the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis. Three similar films have also been given by the National Baby Week Council, Motherhood (1917), Our Children (1920), and The Work of an Infant Welfare Centre.


According to a preliminary analysis of replies received by the British Film Institute from education authorities there are 680 projectors in use in the schools of Great Britain — 540 in England and Wales and 140 in Scotland. These figures admittedly give only an indication of the present position, for out of the 315 local education authorities in England and Wales replies were received from no more than 146. The contrast with many foreign countries is remarkable. Up to October, 1936, 11,357 of Germany's 55,000 schools were equipped with sub-standard projectors by the Educational Film Department of the Ministry of Education; in French schools there are 9,460 projectors, and in Czechoslovakia 10,097 schools out of 82,297 have projectors. Italy and Russia also use films extensively in their schools, and in the United States 10,097 projectors are in use.