lost film

The Magic Flame (1927) | Jamie Daily

The Magic Flame (1927)
1st Academy Awards 1929
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Cinematography (George Barnes).
Lost film.


Only five out of the original eleven reels of The Magic Flame remain, and it is hard to tell precisely where they might be.  It is rumored that they are at the International Museum of Photography and Film at George Eastman House.  Here follows an original review by Mordaunt Hall, published September 19, 1927, in the New York Times:


An ingeniously contrived and magnificently photographed production, with the contrasting backgrounds of life under a circus tent and that in the palace of a mythical kingdom, has been wrought by Henry King out of Rudolph Lother’s novel, “King Harlequin,” which for reasons best known to Samuel Goldwyn, the producer, comes to the Rialto Theatre screen as “The Magic Flame.” In this film it falls to Ronald Colman‘s lot to impersonate both a sympathetic clown and a rascally prince, while Vilma Banky, the lovely Hungarian actress, plays the part of a stellar trapeze performer with the wagon show; she is adored by the humble follower of Grimaldi and she also attracts the vagrant eye of the heir to Illyria’s throne.

Mr. King has pictured the various incidents of this story in an imaginative fashion and his introduction of the Clown, Tito, is excellent. At first the features of Roland Colman are hidden under putty and greasepaint, but this Clown sits at a mirror and gradually wipes off the disguise until the well-known physiognomy of the popular player is revealed.

It is, of course, a highly romantic affair, but the scenes in the circus are brilliantly filmed. After an exciting happening, Mr. King turns his camera to the unperturbed countenance of the circus band leader. This director has also accomplished remarkable effects by soft shadows and the close-ups of both Mr. Colman and Miss Banky fit in nicely with the action of the narrative.

The comedy in the circus scenes is very well done, for although some of the tricks are ancient they belong to this type of show. There is the strong man who awes the audience with his lifting of prodigious weights and then there is the clown and his absurdities.

Tito and the prince resemble each other like the proverbial two peas. The Prince’s father dies, and after the heir apparent, like Humpty Dumpty, is beyond picking up by all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, Tito finds himself bound to accompany Illyria’s noblemen to the royal palace or be arrested for the murder of the Prince. The beautiful trapeze artist suspects foul play and as she hears that the Prince is safe she believes that Tito has been slain. Therefore with a pistol concealed in a bouquet of flowers, she goes forth to put a bullet through the new King.

Throughout this good-natured and interesting romance there are some joyous situations. At first one is impelled to regret Mr. King’s permitting the trapeze artist to leap out of a window, but when she happily saves herself by clinging to a tree one realizes that it is her circus stunts that serve her in good stead.

The way in which Tito gets away from the palace is artfully arranged, for the Chancellor, who might have killed Tito (as the King), discovers that it is unnecessary. When the Chancellor informs the clown that he (Tito) must be apprehended for the slaying of the King Tito cooly tells that official that he will have a hard time proving that he (Tito) is not the King.

Mr. Colman fills the dual rôle with much artistry. His mustache is longer and neatly curled as the Prince. This Prince also wears a monocle. The clown has put a faint suggestion of a mustache and his face does not appear to be as well nourished as that of the Prince.

Miss Banky is attractive enough as the circus performer, but after the Chancellor has bought her one of Illyria’s latest creations, she is stunning. Miss Banky also delivers a competent performance. Gustav von Seyffertitz is splendid as the Chancellor.
THE MAGIC FLAME, with Ronald Colman, Vilma Banky, Augustino Borgato, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Harvey Clarke, Shirley Palmer, George Davis, Andre Cheron and Vadim Uraneff, adapted from Rudolph Lothar‘s novel, “King Harlequin,” directed by Henry King; “Memories,” a technicolor novelty; Miriam Lax, soprano. At the Rlalto Theatre.


Sources: NY TimesIMDBA Certain Cinema


The Devil Dancer (1927) | Jamie Daily

The Devil Dancer (1927)
1st Academy Awards 1929
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Cinematography (George Barnes).
Presumed Lost.


The Devil Dancer is either lost or in the possession of Warner Bros. awaiting its release.  Here is a synopsis from the New York Times:


“Hip-swinging danseuse Gilda Gray, the girl who created the late-’20s dance craze “The Shimmy,” plays the provocatively underdressed title character in The Devil Dancer. Written by Alice Duer Miller, this the story of Takia (Gray), a white girl brought up in a remote oriental Lamasery. English explorer Stephen (Clive Brook) stumbles onto this “forbidden” stronghold, where he interrupts a punishment ritual wherein Sada (Anna May Wong) is being buried alive. Fascinated by Takia’s dancing during the ceremony, Stephen vows to rescue the girl from her “barbaric” surroundings. This, of course, does not meet with the approval of the despotic tribal chieftain (Michael Vavich), who has his own designs on Takia. Originally directed by Al Raboch, who was replaced early on by Lynn Shores, The Devil Dancer was completed by Fred Niblo, who received sole screen credit. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi”


The Dove (1927) | Jamie Daily

The Dove (1927)
1st Academy Awards 1929
Nominated for 1 award, which it won.
Won Art Direction (William Comenzies).


The Dove is another film held in the vaults at the Library of Congress, but it is an incomplete version. Please find below an excerpt from a review written January 3, 1928 by Mordaunt Hall.  I found the article here, on the New York Times site.


“The Dove (1927)


“Although there is fully one adventure too many in the screen version of Willard Mack‘s play “The Dove,” it is, up to the last sequence, an excellent picture. Courage and imagination have entered into its direction and it is a pity, indeed that the producer, Roland West, should have been so prodigal with Johnny Powell’s experiences.

“While Norma Talmadgc supplies the necessary beauty and actual raison d’étre to this agreeable yarn, the player who comes out with flying colors is Noah Beery, largely because a part has fallen to his lot that is suited to his vigorous but flexible face. It is the rôle that Holbrook Blinn acted on the stage, that of Don José Maria y Sandoval, “the bes’ dam caballero in Costa Roja.” Plots may mean, little to picture producers, but the geography of a yarn means even less. Hence, it has been decided to pluck forth Mexicana from Mr. Mack’s original effort, call it Costa Roja and then fling it over into the blue Mediterranean, where it will stay, so far as the film conception of “The Dove” is concerned.

“Taking it by and large, José is perhaps a screen character to which the Mexican Government might have objected, for he is greedy, sensuous, boastful, cold-blooded, irritable, and quite a wine-bibber, but he does dress well. His top boots are always like a mirror, his riding breeches are spotless and he is a good figure of a man. He hates to have his luncheon spoiled by a noisy victim of his shooting squad. He adores beauty, but is inconstant.

“It is a pleasure to see Miss Talmadge in this film after the frightfully poor picturization of “Camille,” which her grace and talent could not save. Here she is the guitar girl, who emphasizes her utterances with “You betcha my life.” For some strange reason she speaks in broken English when conversing with José, who, one gathers, is one of her own people. There are a goodly share of close-ups of Miss Talmadge, and many of them are much too blurred.

“In the introduction to this series of adventures, Mr. West has the temerity to keep his camera going without a soul on the horizon. It is a fine idea, for it creates quite a nice illusion, that of the audience being taken over the byways of Costa Roja to where the story is laid. You fly along the rough roads, over a mountain or two and then come to a place which has been smoothed over by José’s minions or some other caballero’s sons of toil.

“Mr. West is brave enough to tell his story without asking Miss Talmadge to put in an appearance before she ought to. This in itself creates a neat suspense, and the suspense would be sustained if Mr. West had not insisted on Gilbert Roland, as Johnny Powell, trying to outdo Fairbanks. Those who want to save themselves this series of spilled exploits can close their eyes once Johnny Powell grips a rope and swings to the roof of a building opposite.

“The story—caramba! It is just one of those affairs with a don who loves a beautiful girl in his own way and a young American with whiskers who adores the same maiden. It is strength versus skill, and skill wins out.

“There is a touch of gambling in this picture, and at the end Don José strikes one as a half-brother of “The Bad Man,” for he guffaws his departure by informing you of his further appreciation of himself, which is:

“Dios, what a man I am!”

“Mr. Beery does occasionally make Don José just a bit too deliberate and one might also say demonstrative. The portrait, however, is a good one, nothing you would probably see in less than a hundred years of life, but nevertheless an interesting person. Mr. Roland is quiet, looking more like a Don Zalva than a Johnny Powell. There are too many close-ups of him mumbling affectionate phrases to Dolores, the “Dove.” Harry Myers, the actor who triumphed in the picturization of “A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur,” is remarkably fine as the owner of a gambling saloon. To fill the rôle he shaved the sides of his head so that it looks as if he were wearing a toupee.

Hope Hampton appears charming and graceful as the wearer of many fashions, the costumes being all the more interesting because this subject has been filmed by the Technicolor process.
“Dios, What a Man!”
THE DOVE, with Noah Beery, Norma Talmadge, Gilbert Roland, Eddie Borden, Harry Myers, Michael Vavitch, Brinsley Shaw, Kalla Pasha, Charles Darvas, Mlchael Dark and Walter Daniels, adapted from Willard Mack’s play of the same name, directed by Roland West; “A Fashion Revue,” in Technicolor, with Hope Hampton; “Ko-Ko’s Earth Control,” an Inkwell cartoon. At the Rialto Theatre.”


Sources: Silent EraNY TimesStanford

The Way Of All Flesh (1927) Review | Jamie Daily

The Way of All Flesh (1927)
1st Academy Awards 1929
Won Best Actor (Emil Jannings)


“The Way of All Flesh” is considered a lost film.  I was wondering if this was going to happen, but more in the sense that would be unable to locate a film, not that no one would be able to locate a film, especially an award winner.  Apparently, there are only a few minutes of footage in existence, and I could not locate those either.  If anyone can find them or knows where I can find them, I would greatly appreciate it.


The protocol for this, I suppose, is for me to research the film and describe what is known about it, although obviously I will now never be able to watch every film ever nominated.


From the reviews that I have read, the synopsis is very sad.  Jannings plays a character who is a bank clerk who gets caught up in an incredible amount of unfortunate happenings.  He is transporting money to Chicago when a gorgeous blonde woman seduces him and brings him to a saloon.  When he wakes, the money is gone.  The woman and the owner of the saloon drag him to the train station and mug him.  Jannings, however, fights  back and pushes the saloon owner in front of an oncoming train.  In fear, he flees, but later finds out the saloon owner’s body was mistaken as his own.  He continues living for twenty years as a trash collector, but eventually finds his way back to his family.  His son is a talented musician who never knows that the bedraggled man is his father.

According to Wikipedia, “The movie was remade in 1940” but was not very faithful to the original.


Hopefully I won’t run into too many more lost films.


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Sources: IMDBWikipediaMSNdbcovers