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BFI 75 Most Wanted

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The BFI 75 Most Wanted is a list compiled in 2010 by the British Film Institute of the most sought-after British feature films not held in the BFI National Archive, and classified as "missing, believed lost". The films chosen range from quota quickies and B-movies to lavish prestige productions of their day. The list includes lost works by major directors and those featuring top-name actors; also films that were top box-office successes in their time but have since disappeared, and works that are believed to be historically significant for some aspect of style, technique, subject matter or innovation.[1]

The earliest film on the list dates from 1913, the latest from 1983. The 1930s is the most represented decade with 24 entries, followed by the 1920s (16), and the 1940s (14). Maurice Elvey, with four films on the list, is the most represented director. The first film on the list is Alfred Hitchcock's 1926 feature The Mountain Eagle, described as "the Holy Grail of film historians".[1]

Since 2012, the BFI has revealed that a number of the films on the list have been found.[2] As of 2017, 18 of the 75 films have been found in their complete form; two others exist in shortened, retitled versions that were re-edited for the United States market.

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The BFI 75 Most Wanted List is divided into two headings: "The Ten Most Wanted", sorted in a chosen descending order of importance, and "The Rest", in no order of importance (as published, they are listed alphabetically).[1] In the following tables, the top 10 films are numbered to reflect their order in the BFI's published list, with the remaining 65 following in chronological order of release.

The Ten Most Wanted

  Films that have been found
  Films that have significant segments or scenes still extant, or exist in cut versions, or in poor quality prints
# Year Title Director Notes
1 1926 The Mountain Eagle Alfred Hitchcock The only lost Hitchcock feature film (his short An Elastic Affair is also lost). One of the world's most sought-after lost films.
2 1931 Two Crowded Hours Michael Powell Powell's directorial debut, an unexpected box-office success
3 1943 Squadron Leader X Lance Comfort Extremely well-reviewed at the time of release, sought due to critical reassessment of Comfort's importance in British cinema history. Story by Emeric Pressburger.
4 1968 Sleep Is Lovely (aka, The Other People) David Hart Believed to be experimental in filming style, no evidence of screening to a trade or paying audience.
5 1973 Symptoms José Ramón Larraz British entry in the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. Also believed to circulate privately through bootlegs, but for many years the negatives remained missing. The film was obtained by February 2016 and has since been released on DVD.[3]
6 1948 Somewhere in Politics John E. Blakeley Mancunian Films production starring Frank Randle. An 18-minute segment survives.
7 1929 The Last Post Dinah Shurey Solo directorial debut of Britain's only female film director of this period.
8 1960 Linda Don Sharp Teen-drama starring Carol White and Alan Rothwell. Originally shown on a double-bill with Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
9 1914 A Study in Scarlet George Pearson Earliest British Sherlock Holmes feature
10 1913 Maria Marten, or the Mystery of the Red Barn Maurice Elvey From first year of Elvey's directorial career. Dramatisation of the notorious Red Barn murder, filmed in the actual locations in which the events took place

The Rest

  Films that have been found
  Films that have significant segments or scenes still extant, or exist in cut versions, or in poor quality prints
  Films that have been found and exist as complete 16mm or 35mm prints, but film prints are still missing from the BFI national archive.
Year Title Director Notes
1916 Milestones Thomas Bentley Ambitious multi-generational family saga
1919 The First Men in the Moon J. L. V. Leigh First direct H. G. Wells film adaptation
1920 The Amazing Quest of Mr. Ernest Bliss Henry Edwards
1921 The Adventures of Mr. Pickwick Thomas Bentley Early Dickens adaptation
1921 The Narrow Valley Cecil Hepworth Starring Alma Taylor, highly praised for its location shots of the South Downs countryside
1923 Love, Life and Laughter George Pearson Acclaimed on release as "a screen classic" and "a masterpiece". On 2 April 2014 Dutch filmmuseum EYE reported that it had discovered a copy.[4] Now in the BFI National Archive.[5]
1923 Reveille George Pearson Socially significant World War I drama. Small segments believed to survive in private hands
1923 Woman to Woman Graham Cutts Hitchcock as assistant director and uncredited screenwriter
1924 Lily of the Alley Henry Edwards Experimental silent without use of intertitles
1924 Who Is the Man? Walter Summers Screen debut of John Gielgud
1926 London Herbert Wilcox Big-budget "Limehouse" picture starring Dorothy Gish
1926 Mademoiselle from Armentieres Maurice Elvey Highest-grossing British film of 1926. A little under one third is known to survive in fragments
1927 The Arcadians Victor Saville Curiosity as to how a silent version was made of a popular stage musical
1927 The Story of the Flag Anson Dyer First full-length British animation
1927 Tip Toes Herbert Wilcox Another Dorothy Gish vehicle, mauled by critics
1929 The Crooked Billet Adrian Brunel Starring Madeleine Carroll. May have been released in both silent and sound versions
1930 Lord Richard in the Pantry Walter Forde
1930 School for Scandal Maurice Elvey Only film shot in the abortive Raycol colour process. Only screened in black-and-white
1930 Too Many Crooks George King British film debut of Laurence Olivier
1931 Deadlock George King First British talkie to use a film set as its dramatic location.
1931 Hobson's Choice Thomas Bentley Conflicting reports as to whether George Formby appeared in this film
1931 Lloyd of the C.I.D. Henry MacRae 12-part sound serial, the only such ever made in Britain not targeted at a juvenile audience. Known to have been extant in 1977, but has since proved untraceable
1932 Castle Sinister Widgey R. Newman Early British horror film, intriguing tagline "Mad doctor tries to put girl's brain into apeman's head"
1932 Men of Tomorrow Leontine Sagan Screen debut of Robert Donat
1933 Counsel's Opinion Allan Dwan Early Alexander Korda production
1933 Yes, Mr Brown Jack Buchanan Buchanan's first starring and directing role
1934 Badger's Green Adrian Brunel First production credit of Anthony Havelock-Allan
1934 The Path of Glory Dallas Bower Exceptionally sophisticated and polished quota quickie
1934 To Be a Lady George King Sound film starring silent cinema star Chili Bouchier
1935 Murder at Monte Carlo Ralph Ince Screen debut of Errol Flynn
1935 The Price of a Song Michael Powell One of Powell's most favourably reviewed quota quickies
1935 The Public Life of Henry the Ninth Bernard Mainwaring First-ever Hammer Films production
1936 Educated Evans William Beaudine Considered the best of Max Miller's films
1936 The Man Behind the Mask Michael Powell Powell's last quota quickie. A print of the American release, titled Behind the Mask, has been found, but it is a cut version of the original UK film.
1936 The Scarab Murder Case Michael Hankinson The only Philo Vance film made in Britain
1937 The Vulture Ralph Ince Last film directed by Ince before his death in a road accident
1938 The Viper Roy William Neill Sequel to The Vulture
1939 The Good Old Days Roy William Neill The only Max Miller film with a period setting
1939 Murder Will Out Roy William Neill Playing in cinemas at outbreak of World War II
1940 Dr. O'Dowd Herbert Mason Irish-set drama, screen debut of Peggy Cummins. Enthusiastically reviewed in Ireland ("a film about Ireland with a animals in the living rooms of the homes.")
1941 This Man Is Dangerous Lawrence Huntington The only missing James Mason film. Although it is said to have been shown on British television as recently as 1987, this is a false claim. Dubbed Italian copy traced.[6]
1943 Deadlock Ronald Haines Convoluted thriller with John Slater in dual role as twins. It is now available on DVD.[2]
1943 It's in the Bag Herbert Mason Popular Gert and Daisy slapstick comedy
1944 Kiss the Bride Goodbye Paul L. Stein Pre-stardom Jean Simmons role. The Huntley Film Archives states that it has "the whole film".[7]
1944 Welcome, Mr. Washington Leslie S. Hiscott American soldiers in an English village. Rediscovered c. 2015.[8] It was shown on the British TV channel Talking Pictures TV on 13 October 2020.[9]
1945 Flight from Folly Herbert Mason First starring screen role of stage star Patricia Kirkwood
1945 For You Alone Geoffrey Faithfull Lavish wartime melodrama, a huge box-office hit. A 16mm safety print appears in the UCLA Film and Television Archive's online search.[10]
1945 The World Owes Me a Living Vernon Sewell Lost film from a re-evaluated director. The Library of Congress possesses "nitrate material".[2] In 2020, the film was shown on Talking Pictures TV.
1948 Bless 'Em All Robert Jordan Hill Army comedy-musical, screen debut of Max Bygraves. A 2½-minute trailer survives, while a cut-down version titled Be Kind Sergeant turned up on eBay.[2]
1948 But Not in Vain Edmond T. Gréville Tense World War II drama by increasingly studied director
1949 The Golden Madonna Ladislao Vajda Location-shot in Italy, starring Phyllis Calvert
1950 Double Confession Ken Annakin Peter Lorre's only non-Hitchcock British film. A DVD was released but is no longer available.[2] A 35mm print exists in an independent archive in the UK.
1952 Hammer the Toff Maclean Rogers Two films based on the John Creasey character The Toff. Salute the Toff was released on DVD in November 2013 and Hammer the Toff in March 2016.
1952 Salute the Toff
1953 Small Town Story Montgomery Tully Football thriller with appearances by Denis Compton and the Arsenal and Millwall football teams. Starring Donald Houston and Susan Shaw. Has now been found, restored and released on DVD.[11]
1953 Three Steps in the Dark Daniel Birt Murder mystery starring Greta Gynt. It is in the collection of the National Film and Sound Archive in Australia.[2]
1954 The Diamond Montgomery Tully The first British 3D film. According to BFI, however, it was shown only once in 3D, on 13 September 2006 in Hollywood.[12] The first nearly five minutes can also be viewed on YouTube.[13] A complete version was shown on YouTube for several days in September 2017.[14]
1957 Alive on Saturday Alfred Travers Stars Guy Middleton and Patricia Owens. 'The BFI's Stills, Posters and Design collections holds two stills.'[15]
1957 Second Fiddle Maurice Elvey Elvey's last film, it is now available on DVD.[2]
1962 Crosstrap Robert Hartford-Davis Directorial debut, reportedly with exceptionally graphic violence for its time. The BFI reported that a black and white negative print of the film was discovered in the early 2010s and digitally scanned. It is now available for screening on the BFI player website,[16] and has been shown several times on Talking Pictures TV.
1963 Farewell Performance Robert Tronson Murder mystery set in the pop world, with performances from Joe Meek acts including The Tornados and Heinz
1969 The Promise Michael Hayes The first time Russian playwright Aleksei Arbuzov allowed any of his works to be filmed. Stars Ian McKellen.
1971 Nobody Ordered Love Robert Hartford-Davis Following poor promotion and a critical panning, Hartford-Davis reportedly took back all prints and ordered them to be destroyed after his death.
1972 The Cherry Picker Peter Curran Mild sexploitation comedy with cast including Lulu, Spike Milligan, and Terry-Thomas. Believed to be still in private circulation via inferior quality bootleg copies, but original prints and negatives are missing.
1983 Where Is Parsifal? Henri Helman Cast includes Orson Welles, Tony Curtis, and Peter Lawford. Shown at 1984 Cannes Film Festival but withdrawn before scheduled UK release. Never publicly available in UK or US, the original English-language sources are missing. Director Helman donated "his personal 35mm print, with French subtitles" to the British Film Institute.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c BFI 75 Most Wanted Archived 2 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine BFI National Archive. Note: For references and further information for individual films, follow this link then click on the appropriate film name.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Josephine Botting (29 November 2012). "BFI Most Wanted: our discoveries so far". BFI. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  3. ^ "Lost Euro-Horror Film 'Symptoms' Unearthed by Mondo Macabro! [Exclusive]". Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  4. ^ Filmmuseum ontdekt meesterwerk.
  5. ^ "BFI Most Wanted". British Film Institute. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  6. ^ "BFI Most Wanted". BFI. February 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Film: 91524". Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  8. ^ Brooks, Richard (10 January 2016). "Wartime film returns to big screen after going Awol for 72 years". The Sunday Times. London. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2016. (subscription required)
  9. ^ Radio Times, 10–16 October 2020
  10. ^ "For you alone / produced by F.W. Baker; directed by Geoffrey Faithfull". UCLA Library Catalog. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Small Town Story: 'lost' football film tells tale of corruption and lure of the big league - video". The Guardian. 12 August 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  12. ^ "The Diamond / BFI Most Wanted". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  13. ^ "The Diamond – 1954 First British 3D Film (intro)". Retrieved 26 May 2014 – via YouTube.[dead YouTube link]
  14. ^ "The Diamond (1954) Dennis O'Keefe, Philip Friend 48 hours ONLY!". YouTube. Retrieved 3 September 2017.[dead YouTube link]
  15. ^ Archived 3 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 15 August 2020
  16. ^ "Crosstrap on BFI Player". Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
This page was last edited on 6 September 2023, at 23:47
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