Jump to: navigation, search

The Times (30/May/1939) - The National Film Library

(c) The Times (30/May/1939)



During the past year the British Film Institute has acquired for preservation in its National Film Library some 300 films. Among them is a particularly interesting group of British films made just before the advent of the talking picture. Two of these, The Lodger, produced in 1926, and Downhill, produced in 1927, represent the early work of Mr. Alfred Hitchcock, whose technique in recent years has been highly praised by experts both in England and in America.

The Flag Lieutenant, which was produced, in 1926 under the direction of Mr. Maurice Elvey, was one of the most popular successes of its day. Blighty, another film in the group, was directed in 1927 by Mr. Adrian Brunei, with Miss Ellaline Terriss and Miss Lilian Hall-Davies in the cast, and is of special value to students in that it marks an important attempt to portray British life on the home front during the War. In the same year there was produced When Fleet Meets Fleet, with a mixed English and German cast headed by Herr Bernard Goetzke and Mr. Henry Stuart; it describes the battle of Jutland and was commended by Lord Jellicoe.

Among the foreign films that have been acquired for the library, one of the most interesting is an early Rene Clair film made in 1924, The Phantom of the Moulin Rouge. Although not one of Clair's best films, it is historically important as marking a transition in his work, and also for its use of multiple exposure which was popular in the French films of that period. The library has a representative collection of trick films made by Starevitch, the inventor of the puppet film. It includes his first essay of this kind, The Beetles' Deception, made in 1912. This film involved the use of model insects which were slowly moved stage by stage just as the film cartoonist moves his drawings. Mr. Walt Disney, before he created Mickey Mouse, was working on publicity films for the Kansas Slide Company, and in his spare time he made Little Red Riding Hood in his father's garage. This film and another of his early productions, Alice and the Three Bears, secured Mr. Disney his contract to make the Oswald series of cartoon films which first set him on the road to fame.

Among the full-length films chosen for preservation are Blockade, which describes the recent civil war in Spain; They Won't Forget, an American condemnation of lynching; You Only Live Once, an indictment of the way in which society treats ex-criminals; and Dead End Kids, another American social document.