BFI 75 Most Wanted

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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".

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.

Films (in chronological order)

  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.
1913 Maria Marten, or the Mystery of the Red Barn 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
1914Earliest British Sherlock Holmes feature
1916 Milestones Ambitious multi-generational family saga
1919First direct H. G. Wells film adaptation
1921Early Dickens adaptation
1921Starring Alma Taylor, highly praised for its location shots of the South Downs countryside
1923 Love, Life and Laughter Acclaimed on release as "a screen classic" and "a masterpiece". On 2 April 2014 Dutch filmmuseum EYE reported that it had discovered a copy. [3] Now in the BFI National Archive. [4]
1923 Reveille Socially significant World War I drama. Small segments believed to survive in private hands
1923 Woman to Woman Hitchcock as assistant director and uncredited screenwriter
1924 Lily of the Alley Experimental silent without use of intertitles
1924 Who Is the Man? Screen debut of John Gielgud
1926 London Big-budget "Limehouse" picture starring Dorothy Gish
1926 Mademoiselle from Armentieres Highest-grossing British film of 1926. A little under one third is known to survive in fragments
1926The only lost Hitchcock feature film (his short An Elastic Affair is also lost). One of the world's most sought-after lost films.
1927Curiosity as to how a silent version was made of a popular stage musical
1927First full-length British animation
1927 Tip Toes Another Dorothy Gish vehicle, mauled by critics
1929Starring Madeleine Carroll. May have been released in both silent and sound versions
1929Solo directorial debut of Britain's only female film director of this period
1930 Lord Richard in the Pantry
1930 School for Scandal Only film shot in the abortive Raycol colour process. Only screened in black-and-white
1930 Too Many Crooks British film debut of Laurence Olivier
1931 Deadlock First British talkie to use a film set as its dramatic location.
1931 Hobson's Choice Conflicting reports as to whether George Formby appeared in this film
1931 Lloyd of the C.I.D. 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
1931 Two Crowded Hours Powell's directorial debut, an unexpected box-office success
1932 Castle Sinister Early British horror film, intriguing tagline "Mad doctor tries to put girl's brain into apeman's head"
1932 Men of Tomorrow Screen debut of Robert Donat
1933 Counsel's Opinion Early Alexander Korda production
1933 Yes, Mr Brown Buchanan's first starring and directing role
1934 Badger's Green First production credit of Anthony Havelock-Allan
1934Exceptionally sophisticated and polished quota quickie
1934 To Be a Lady Sound film starring silent cinema star Chili Bouchier
1935 Murder at Monte Carlo Screen debut of Errol Flynn
1935One of Powell's most favourably reviewed quota quickies
1935First-ever Hammer Films production
1936 Educated Evans Considered the best of Max Miller's films
1936Powell'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.
1936The only Philo Vance film made in Britain
1937Last film directed by Ince before his death in a road accident
1938Sequel to The Vulture
1939The only Max Miller film with a period setting
1939 Murder Will Out Playing in cinemas at outbreak of World War II
1940 Dr. O'Dowd 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 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. [5]
1943 Deadlock Convoluted thriller with John Slater in dual role as twins. It is now available on DVD. [2]
1943 It's in the Bag Popular Gert and Daisy slapstick comedy
1943 Squadron Leader X 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.
1944 Kiss the Bride Goodbye Pre-stardom Jean Simmons role. The Huntley Film Archives states that it has "the whole film". [6]
1944 Welcome, Mr. Washington American soldiers in an English village. Rediscovered c. 2015. [7] It was shown on the British TV channel Talking Pictures TV on 13 October 2020. [8]
1945 Flight from Folly First starring screen role of stage star Patricia Kirkwood
1945 For You Alone Lavish wartime melodrama, a huge box-office hit. A 16mm safety print appears in the UCLA Film and Television Archive's online search. [9]
1945Lost 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 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 Tense World War II drama by increasingly studied director
1948 Somewhere in Politics Mancunian Films production starring Frank Randle. An 18-minute segment survives
1949Location-shot in Italy, starring Phyllis Calvert
1950 Double Confession 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 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 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. [10]
1953 Three Steps in the Dark Murder mystery starring Greta Gynt. It is in the collection of the National Film and Sound Archive in Australia. [2]
1954The first British 3D film. According to BFI, however, it was shown only once in 3D, on 13 September 2006 in Hollywood. [11] The first nearly five minutes can also be viewed on YouTube. [12] A complete version was shown on YouTube for several days in September 2017. [13]
1957Alive on SaturdayStars Guy Middleton and Patricia Owens. 'The BFI's Stills, Posters and Design collections holds two stills.' [14]
1957 Second Fiddle Elvey's last film, it is now available on DVD. [2]
1960 Linda Teen-drama starring Carol White and Alan Rothwell. Originally shown on a double-bill with Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
1962 Crosstrap 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, [15] and has been shown several times on Talking Pictures TV.
1963 Farewell Performance Murder mystery set in the pop world, with performances from Joe Meek acts including The Tornados and Heinz
1968Sleep Is Lovely (aka, The Other People )Believed to be experimental in filming style, no evidence of screening to a trade or paying audience.
1969The first time Russian playwright Aleksei Arbuzov allowed any of his works to be filmed. Stars Ian McKellen.
1971 Nobody Ordered Love Following poor promotion and a critical panning, Hartford-Davis reportedly took back all prints and ordered them to be destroyed after his death.
1972Mild 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.
1973 Symptoms 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. [16]
1983 Where Is Parsifal? 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

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<i>The Mountain Eagle</i> 1926 film by Alfred Hitchcock

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<i>Detective Lloyd</i> 1932 film

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The Cherry Picker is 1974 British drama film directed by Peter Curran and starring Lulu, Bob Sherman, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Spike Milligan, Patrick Cargill, Jack Hulbert, Fiona Curzon, Terry-Thomas and Robert Hutton. As of August 2010, the film is missing from the BFI National Archive, and is listed as one of the British Film Institute's "75 Most Wanted" lost films, due to the loss of the original print, though inferior quality copies are still in circulation. A VHS version of the movie has now been discovered and reuploaded on YouTube.

<i>The Man Behind the Mask</i> 1936 British film

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<i>London</i> (1926 film) 1926 film

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<i>Kiss the Bride Goodbye</i> 1945 British film

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<i>The School for Scandal</i> (1930 film) 1930 film

The School for Scandal is a 1930 British historical comedy film directed by Thorold Dickinson and Maurice Elvey and starring Basil Gill, Madeleine Carroll and Ian Fleming. It is the first sound film adaptation of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play The School for Scandal. It is also the only feature-length film shot using the unsuccessful Raycol colour process, and marked the screen debut of Sally Gray. The film was shot at the Elstree Studios of British International Pictures with sets designed by the art director Lawrence P. Williams. It ended up being released as a second feature and is classified as a quota quickie.

Lord Richard in the Pantry is a 1930 British comedy film directed by Walter Forde and starring Richard Cooper, Dorothy Seacombe and Marjorie Hume.

<i>Lily of the Alley</i> 1924 film

Lily of the Alley is a 1924 British silent film drama directed by Henry Edwards, who also starred in the film with his wife Chrissie White. Lily of the Alley was filmed in 1922 and given trade showings in early 1923, but its general release to cinemas was delayed until February 1924 due to various problems within the British film industry at the time.

Who Is The Man? (1924) is a British silent film drama directed by Walter Summers. The film was based on the successful French play Daniel by Louis Verneuil and is notable as the first screen appearance of John Gielgud.

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<i>Tip Toes</i> 1927 film

Tip Toes is a 1927 British silent film comedy-drama, directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Dorothy Gish and Will Rogers. The film is a loose adaptation of the stage musical Tip-Toes, with the action transferred from Florida to London.

This Man Is Dangerous is a 1941 British thriller film, directed by Lawrence Huntington and starring James Mason and Gordon McLeod. The film is based on the 1934 novel They Called Him Death by David Hume.

<i>Golden Madonna</i> 1949 Italian film

Golden Madonna is a 1949 British-Italian drama film directed by Luigi Carpentieri and Ladislao Vajda and starring Phyllis Calvert, Tullio Carminati and Michael Rennie. It was considered a lost film and was on the BFI 75 Most Wanted list, until a copy was loaned to the British Film Institute by Cohen Media. Filmed on location, a group of original negatives and contact prints taken by Francis Goodman are in the possession of London's National Portrait Gallery.

The Promise is a 1969 British drama film based on a play by Russian playwright Aleksei Arbuzov. Set in the Soviet Union during the Second World War, it is the story of a love triangle involving three young people caught up in the Siege of Leningrad. The film follows the main protagonists in the post-war years in an attempt to show the lasting effects of that relationship. It featured Ian McKellen's film debut.

<i>The Diamond</i> (film) 1954 British film

The Diamond is a 1954 British film noir crime film starring Dennis O'Keefe, Margaret Sheridan and Philip Friend. It is based on the 1952 novel Rich Is the Treasure by Maurice Procter. It was released by United Artists in both Britain and America where it was known as The Diamond Wizard. It has the distinction of being Britain's first 3D film, though according to the British Film Institute, it was shown in 3D only once, on 13 September 2006 in Hollywood. Despite the 2006 showing the film was listed on the BFI 75 Most Wanted list of lost films. The 2D film, however, is not lost and can be viewed on Amazon Prime while the restored 3D version was released on Blu-Ray November 2022.


  1. 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. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Josephine Botting (29 November 2012). "BFI Most Wanted: our discoveries so far". BFI. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  3. Filmmuseum ontdekt meesterwerk.
  4. "BFI Most Wanted". British Film Institute. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  5. "BFI Most Wanted". BFI. February 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  6. "Film: 91524". Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  7. 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)
  8. Radio Times, 10–16 October 2020
  9. "For you alone / produced by F.W. Baker; directed by Geoffrey Faithfull". UCLA Library Catalog. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  10. "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.
  11. "The Diamond / BFI Most Wanted". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  12. "The Diamond – 1954 First British 3D Film (intro)" . Retrieved 26 May 2014 via YouTube.[ dead YouTube link ]
  13. "The Diamond (1954) Dennis O'Keefe, Philip Friend 48 hours ONLY!". YouTube. Retrieved 3 September 2017.[ dead YouTube link ]
  14. Archived 3 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved 15 August 2020
  15. "Crosstrap on BFI Player". Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  16. "Lost Euro-Horror Film 'Symptoms' Unearthed by Mondo Macabro! [Exclusive]". Retrieved 6 February 2016.