For this list of lost films, a lost film is defined as one of which no part of a print is known to have survived. For films in which any portion of the footage remains (including trailers), see List of incomplete or partially lost films.
Films may go missing for a number of reasons. One major contributing factor is the common use of nitrate film until the early 1950s. This type of film is highly flammable, and there have been several devastating fires, such as the Universal Pictures fire in 1924, the 1937 Fox vault fire and the 1965 MGM vault fire.
Black-and-white film prints judged to be otherwise worthless were sometimes incinerated to salvage the meager scrap value of the silver image particles in their emulsions.Films have disappeared when production companies went bankrupt. Occasionally, a studio would remake a film and destroy the earlier version. Silent films in particular were once seen as having no further commercial value and were simply junked to clear out expensive storage space.
Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation claims that "half of all American films made before 1950 and over 90% of films made before 1929 are lost forever."Deutsche Kinemathek estimates that 80–90% of silent films are gone; the film archive's own list contains over 3,500 lost films.
A study by the Library of Congress states that 75% of all silent films are now lost.While others dispute whether the percentage is quite that high, it is impractical to enumerate any but the more notable and those that can be sourced.
For example, roughly 200 out of over 500 Méliès' films and 350 out of over 1,000 of Alice Guy's films survive.
Amongst the films commonly mourned among critics and film historians are early films by noted directors and films of unique cultural importance. The Mountain Eagle was the second film to be directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1926; the silent melodrama has been described by the British Film Institute as their "most wanted" lost film.London After Midnight , directed by Tod Browning in 1927, was a silent-era vampire film that is seen as the 'holy grail' of lost films by collectors. Hollywood , a silent comedy film directed by James Cruze, featured over 30 cameo appearances from major stars of the day, including Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Astor and Pola Negri, but no footage exists. Films with all-African American casts produced by Ralph Cooper, including Bargain with Bullets starring Theresa Harris and While Thousands Cheer starring Kenny Washington, are also considered lost.
|1896||Arrivée d'un train gare de Vincennes||Georges Méliès||A French short documentary|
|L'Arroseur (a.k.a. Watering the Flowers)||Georges Méliès||A short comedy|
|Barque sortant du port de Trouville||Georges Méliès|
|Bateau-mouche sur la Seine||Georges Méliès|
|Bébé et fillettes||Georges Méliès||A short documentary|
|Les Blanchisseuses||Georges Méliès||A short documentary|
|Bois de Boulogne (Porte de Madrid)||Georges Méliès||A short documentary|
|Bois de Boulogne (Touring Club)||Georges Méliès||A short documentary|
|Boulevard des Italiens||Georges Méliès||A short documentary|
|Campement de bohémiens ( The Bohemian Encampment )||Georges Méliès||A short documentary|
|Les chevaux de bois||Georges Méliès|
|Le chiffonnier||Georges Méliès|
|Couronnement de la rosière||Georges Méliès|
|Déchargement de bateaux||Georges Méliès|
|Jardinier brûlant des herbes||Georges Méliès|
|Jetée et Plage de Trouville (first and second parts)||Georges Méliès|
|Jour de marché à Trouville||Georges Méliès|
|Gestoorde hengelaar||M.H. Laddé||The first Dutch fictional film|
|Spelende kinderen||M.H. Laddé|
|Zwemplaats voor Jongelingen te Amsterdam||M.H. Laddé|
|1900||Solser en Hesse||M.H. Laddé||The first film with this title, featuring the Dutch comedians Lion Solser and Piet Hesse|
|1903||Hiawatha, the Messiah of the Ojibway||Joe Rosenthal||Believed to be the first Canadian fiction film|
|1906||Solser en Hesse||M.H. Laddé||The second film with this title, featuring the Dutch comedians Lion Solser and Piet Hesse|
|1907||Salaviinanpolttajat|| Louis Sparre,|
|The first Finnish fiction film. Some sources also consider it to be the first Russian fiction film, as Finland was a part of the Russian Empire until 1917.|
|1908||The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays||Francis Boggs, Otis Turner||L. Frank Baum||First adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and several of its sequels. Shown only in roadshow engagements as part of a live theater presentation, the print decomposed and was discarded.[ citation needed ]|
|1908||The Music Master||Wallace McCutcheon, Sr.||D. W. Griffith||Most of D. W. Griffith's early appearances as an actor in Biograph films have been preserved, minus this title.|
|1908||La Tosca||André Calmettes||Sarah Bernhardt||The second film starring Bernhardt, the best known stage actress of the 1880s-1900s. Based on the play by Victorien Sardou that was adapted into an opera by Giacomo Puccini.|
|1928||Alias Jimmy Valentine||Jack Conway||William Haines, Lionel Barrymore||This part-talkie was MGM's first film with synchronized dialogue sequences. It was also released as a silent film, which is similarly lost.|
|4 Devils||F.W. Murnau||Janet Gaynor||Fox Studios' print was reportedly borrowed by actress Mary Duncan, who played a supporting role in the film, but its whereabouts are now unknown.|
|Heart Trouble||Harry Langdon||Harry Langdon||Langdon's last silent feature received little promotion in the United States, with fewer than 100 prints struck. There were reported showings in Australia in 1931.|
|The Home Towners||Bryan Foy||Doris Kenyon, Richard Bennett||Warner Bros.' third all-talking feature|
|The Melody of Love||Arch Heath||Walter Pidgeon, Mildred Harris||Universal's first sound feature|
|On Trial||Archie Mayo||Pauline Frederick, Lois Wilson, Bert Lytell||Warner Bros.' fourth all-talking feature|
|Tenderloin||Michael Curtiz||Dolores Costello, Conrad Nagel||Second feature film to have synchronized dialogue sequences, part-talkie|
|Women They Talk About||Lloyd Bacon||Irene Rich||A part-talkie released by Warner Bros.|
|1929||The Argyle Case||Howard Bretherton||Thomas Meighan, H. B. Warner, Lila Lee, Gladys Brockwell||Silent veteran Brockwell died in a traffic accident shortly after making this film.|
|The Aviator||Roy Del Ruth||Edward Everett Horton, Patsy Ruth Miller|
|The Awful Truth||Marshall Neilan||Ina Claire|
|College Love||Nat Ross||George J. Lewis, Eddie Phillips|
|Dark Streets||Frank Lloyd||Jack Mulhall, Lila Lee||Jack Mulhall's character is the first attempt at dual role double exposure photography in a talking film.|
|Evidence||John G. Adolfi||Pauline Frederick, Conway Tearle|
|Fancy Baggage||John G. Adolfi||Audrey Ferris, Myrna Loy||A part-talkie from Warner Bros.|
|Footlights and Fools||William A. Seiter||Colleen Moore||Part-Technicolor.|
|The Forward Pass||Edward F. Cline||Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Loretta Young|
|Fox Movietone Follies of 1929||David Butler||John Breeden, Lola Lane||Multicolor sequences|
|Frozen Justice||Allan Dwan||Lenore Ulric|
|The Gamblers||Michael Curtiz||H. B. Warner, Lois Wilson|
|Hearts in Exile||Michael Curtiz||Dolores Costello, Grant Withers|
|Honky Tonk||Lloyd Bacon||Sophie Tucker, Lila Lee||This was Tucker's film debut. The complete soundtrack survives.|
|The Hottentot||Roy Del Ruth||Edward Everett Horton, Patsy Ruth Miller|
|Is Everybody Happy?||Archie Mayo||Ted Lewis, Ann Pennington|
|Jealousy||Jean de Limur||Jeanne Eagels, Fredric March|
|Love, Live and Laugh||William K. Howard||George Jessel, Lila Lee|
|The Love Racket||William A. Seiter||Dorothy Mackaill, Sidney Blackmer|
|Lucky in Love||Kenneth S. Webb||Morton Downey, Betty Lawford||All-talking|
|Madonna of Avenue A||Michael Curtiz||Dolores Costello, Grant Withers|
|Melody Lane||Robert F. Hill||Eddie Leonard, Josephine Dunn||Universal's first fully talking musical|
|A Most Immoral Lady||John Griffith Wray||Walter Pidgeon, Leatrice Joy||Eight sound discs survive at UCLA. Visual elements appear not to have survived.|
|The Painted Angel||Millard Webb||Billie Dove, Edmund Lowe|
|Paris||Clarence G. Badger||Irene Bordoni, Jack Buchanan||Technicolor sequences.|
|Queen of the Night Clubs||Bryan Foy||Texas Guinan, Lila Lee|
|Red Hot Rhythm||Leo McCarey||Alan Hale, Kathryn Crawford||Multicolor sequences.|
|The Sacred Flame||Archie Mayo||Pauline Frederick, Conrad Nagel|
|Skin Deep||Ray Enright||Monte Blue, Betty Compson|
|Smiling Irish Eyes||William A. Seiter||Colleen Moore||Part-Technicolor.|
|A Song of Kentucky||Lewis Seiler||Lois Moran, Joseph Wagstaff|
|South Sea Rose||Allan Dwan||Lenore Ulric, Charles Bickford|
|Speakeasy||Benjamin Stoloff||Paul Page, Lola Lane|
|Stark Mad||Lloyd Bacon||Louise Fazenda, H. B. Warner||Released in both silent and all-talking version; both are lost.|
|The Time, the Place and the Girl||Howard Bretherton||Grant Withers, Betty Compson|
|1930||An Elastic Affair||Alfred Hitchcock||Short film made by Hitchcock for an awards ceremony at the London Palladium in January 1930|
|The Big Party||John G. Blystone||Sue Carol, Dixie Lee|
|Cock o' the Walk||Walter Lang||Arturo S. Mom, Frances Guihan|
|Bride of the Regiment||John Francis Dillon||Vivienne Segal, Walter Pidgeon||All-Technicolor musical drama, only the soundtrack survives on Vitaphone discs|
|Cameo Kirby||Irving Cummings||J. Harold Murray, Norma Terris|
|The Cave of the Silken Web II||Dan Duyu||Yin Mingzhu||Silent. Chinese film. Original title: 续盘丝洞 (Xù pán xī dong). Sequel to the 1927 The Cave of the Silken Web (which itself had been thought to have been lost, but was rediscovered in 2013)|
|College Lovers||John G. Adolfi||Marion Nixon, Jack Whiting||Musical comedy|
|Fellers||Austin Fay, Arthur Higgins||Arthur Tauchert, Les Coney||An Australian comedy|
|Kismet||John Francis Dillon||Otis Skinner, Loretta Young||A lavish costume drama in the early widescreen process known as Vitascope. The complete soundtrack exists on Vitaphone discs.|
|Let's Go Places||Frank R. Strayer||Frank Richardson, Dixie Lee|
|Lilies of the Field||Alexander Korda||Corinne Griffith, Ralph Forbes|
|Lord Richard in the Pantry||Walter Forde||Richard Cooper, Dorothy Seacombe||Included on the British Film Institute's "75 Most Wanted" list of lost British feature films|
|One Mad Kiss||Marcel Silver||José Mojica, Antonio Moreno|
|No, No, Nanette||Clarence G. Badger||Bernice Claire, Alexander Gray||Part-Technicolor musical comedy. The soundtrack discs and the trailer survive.|
|Song of the Flame||Alan Crosland||Bernice Claire, Noah Beery||All-Technicolor musical drama, the first color film featuring widescreen, and Academy Award nominee for Best Sound. Sound discs for five of the nine reels exist.|
|1931||Alam Ara||Ardeshir Irani||Master Vithal, Zubeida, Jilloo, Sushila, Prithviraj Kapoor||The first Indian sound film|
|Charlie Chan Carries On||Warner Oland, Hamilton MacFadden||An alternate Spanish-language version, featuring a different cast, exists|
|Deadlock||George King||Stewart Rome, Marjorie Hume, Warwick Ward||On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list|
|Hobson's Choice||Thomas Bentley||James Harcourt, Viola Lyel, Frank Pettingell||On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list of lost films|
|Kalidas||H. M. Reddy||T. P. Rajalakshmi, P. G. Venkatesan, L. V. Prasad||First sound film in Tamil cinema, as well as in South Indian cinema|
|Peludópolis||Quirino Cristiani||Argentine production; the world's first animated feature film with sound, using a primitive sound-on-disc system|
|Two Crowded Hours||Michael Powell||John Longden, Jane Welsh, Jerry Verno||Powell's directorial debut|
|1932||Charlie Chan's Chance||John G. Blystone||Warner Oland||Sixth film of the Charlie Chan series and third with Warner Oland|
|Men of Tomorrow||Zoltan Korda, Leontine Sagan||Maurice Braddell, Joan Gardner||Robert Donat's film debut; on the BFI 75 Most Wanted list of lost films|
|The Missing Rembrandt||Arthur Wontner||Second film in the Sherlock Holmes series|
|Tonendes ABC||László Moholy-Nagy||Experimental film; the negative was scratched by hand. Seen by Norman McLaren in the 1930s|
|1933||Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka||Kenzō Masaoka||First sound anime|
|Convention City||Archie Mayo|| Joan Blondell |
|A pre-Code film produced by First National–Warner Bros.|
|Night in the City||Fei Mu|| Ruan Lingyu |
|Fei Mu's debut|
|Two Minutes Silence||Paulette McDonagh||Frank Bradley, Campbell Copelin, Marie Lorraine||Australia's first anti-war movie|
|Wasei Kingu Kongu||Torajiro Saito||Isamu Yamaguchi||Japanese short film based on King Kong|
|1934||Jail Birds of Paradise||Al Boasberg||Dorothy Appleby, Moe Howard, Curly Howard||The only lost Three Stooges film|
|Murder at Monte Carlo||Errol Flynn||Flynn's debut film in the UK|
|Ragazzo||Ivo Perilli||Costantino Frasca, Isa Pola, Osvaldo Valenti||Screening was banned by Fascist authorities before the premiere, and the film was subsequently stored at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. During the Germans' retreat in 1944, the center was looted and set on fire.|
|The Scarab Murder Case||Wilfrid Hyde-White||A Philo Vance film|
|1935||The Magic Shoes||Peter Finch||Completed, but never released|
|Obeah!||F. Herrick Herrick||Jean Brooks, Phillips Lord||Released in February 1935|
|1936||The Oregon Trail||John Wayne||Stills were found in 2013|
|The Adventures of Pinocchio||Raoul Verdini, Umberto Spano||Unfinished film intended to be the first animated feature film from Italy. Only the original script and a couple of still frames survive.|
|1937||Terang Boelan||Albert Balink||Rd. Mochtar, Roekiah||Romance film from the Dutch East Indies; the colony's biggest commercial success|
|1938||Buzzy Boop at the Concert||Dave Fleischer||Mae Questel||A lost cartoon which stars Buzzy Boop, the cousin of Betty Boop|
|King Kong Appears in Edo||Sōya Kumagai||Eizaburo Matsumoto||Likely lost during World War II|
|Nad Niemnem||Wanda Jakubowska and Karol Szolowski||The Nazi regime liked the artistic value of the movie, but could not allow the screening of a picture so firmly rooted in Polish history. It was dubbed and re-edited, changing it to pro-German propaganda. Stefan Dekierowski informed the Polish underground, and the remaining three copies (out of five total) were hidden in winter 1939; the movie is believed to be lost.|
|1939||The Good Old Days||Roy William Neill||Max Miller, Hal Walters, Kathleen Gibson||On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list of lost films|
|Secreto de confesión||Lost during the bombing of Manila during World War II|
|1940||Harta Berdarah||R Hu, Rd Ariffien||Zonder, Soelastri||Indonesian action film. Screened until at least July 1944|
|Kedok Ketawa||Jo An Djan||Fatimah, Basoeki Resobowo, Oedjang||Union Films' first production. Screened until at least August 1944|
|1941||Asmara Moerni||Rd Ariffien||Adnan Kapau Gani, Djoewariah, S. Joesoef||Indonesian romance film. Screened until at least November 1945|
|Bajar dengan Djiwa||R Hu||A Bakar, Djoewariah, O Parma, Oedjang, RS Fatimah, Soelastri, Zonder||Indonesian drama film. Screened until at least October 1943|
|Soeara Berbisa||R Hu||Raden Soekarno, Ratna Djoewita, Oedjang, Soehaena||Screened until at least February 1949, longer than any other Union Films production, and the only Union picture known to have been shown post-World War II|
|Wanita dan Satria||Rd Ariffien||Djoewariah, Ratna Djoewita, Hidajat, Z. Algadrie, Moesa|
|1942||Brother Martin: Servant of Jesus||Spencer Williams|
|Mega Mendoeng||Boen Kim Nam||Raden Soekarno, Oedjang, Boen Sofiati, Soehaena||Union Films' final production before the studio closed ahead of the impending Japanese occupation|
|1943||Squadron Leader X||Lance Comfort||Eric Portman, Ann Dvorak||On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list of lost films|
|1944||Red Sky at Morning||Hartney Arthur||Peter Finch, John Alden|
|1945||Flight from Folly||Herbert Mason||Patricia Kirkwood, Hugh Sinclair||Screen debut of stage star Kirkwood. On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list of lost films|
|1945||We Accuse||Joseph H. Zarovich||Everett Sloane, narr.||One of the first feature-length American Holocaust documentaries released after Liberation, with narration scripted by John Bright, screenwriter for The Public Enemy (1931) and She Done Him Wrong (1933)|
|1948||The Betrayal||Oscar Micheaux||The director's final production|
|1960||Linda||Don Sharp||Carol White, Alan Rothwell||On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list of lost films|
|1961||Cranks at Work||Ken Russell||English. Russell's short 35mm film about the choreographer John Cranko|
|1963||Andy Warhol Films: Jack Smith Filming Normal Love||Andy Warhol||Jack Smith||This home movie, which may have been Warhol's first film, was seized by the New York City police in March 1964 and has since disappeared.|
|Farewell Performance||Robert Tronson|| David Kernan,|
|On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list of lost films|
|1967||Batman Fights Dracula||Leody M. Diaz||Jing Abalos, Dante Rivero||A Filipino parody made without the permission of DC Comics, which owns the copyright for the character of Batman|
|Israel: A Right to Live||John Schlesinger||Director Schlesinger shot this film for producer Harry Saltzman. Alan Rosenthal claims that "hours of film had been shot and edited, but nobody liked the result. Israel was too triumphant, too out of keeping with the changed mood. It had a few showings and then passed into oblivion." On the other hand, William J. Mann claims that Schlesinger never finished the documentary, "due to 'creative differences' with the BBC." Cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond claimed in 2011 that he has never been able to find a copy of the documentary.|
|1968||Las Noches del Hombre Lobo||René Govar||Paul Naschy||The second in a series of films featuring the character of Count Waldemar Daninsky, it was never publicly screened or seen by anyone, Naschy included. It is suspected by some to be a hoax.|
|1972||Nobody Ordered Love||Robert Hartford-Davis||Ingrid Pitt, Tony Selby||All known prints believed destroyed upon the director's death at his request. On the BFI 75 Most Wanted list of lost films|
|1973||Prem Parbat||Ved Rahi||Satish Kaul, Hema Malini||According to the film's director, the print of the film has long since degraded to the point of being unusable.|
|1974||Him||Ed D. Louie||Tava||Pornographic film about the life of Jesus Christ, previously believed to be a hoax|
Der Golem is a 1915 German silent horror partially lost film, written and directed by Paul Wegener and Henrik Galeen. It was inspired by an ancient Jewish legend, the most prevalent version of the myth involving 16th century Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel who created the Golem to protect his people from antisemites. Wegener claimed the film was based on Gustav Meyrink's 1915 novel The Golem, but Troy Howarth states "it is more likely that simply drew upon European folklore".
The First Men in the Moon is a 1919 black-and-white silent film, directed by Bruce Gordon and J. L. V. Leigh. The film is based on H. G. Wells' 1901 science fiction novel The First Men in the Moon. There have been many subsequent adaptations of Wells' novel on film, radio and video.
Thérèse Raquin is a 1928 drama film directed by Jacques Feyder. It is the third silent film adaptation of the 1867 novel of the same name by Émile Zola. The film stars Gina Manès as Thérèse Raquin, Wolfgang Zilzer as Monsieur Raquin, and Jeanne Marie Laurent as Madame Raquin. The décors of the Paris suburbs for the film were built by André Andrejew. The film was produced by Deutsche Film Union in Germany, with German and French actors, in a French-German co-production, to be later released at the same time in France as Thérèse Raquin and Germany as Du sollst nicht ehebrechen!. As no words were spoken, both versions differed only with the language of intertitles. The British title at the time of the film's original release was Thou Shalt Not. This is the last of the silent film imports distributed by Warner Bros.' newly acquired First National subsidiary, containing no dialogue with music score and sound effects.
4 Devils is a 1928 American silent drama film directed by German director F. W. Murnau and starring Janet Gaynor. It is considered to be lost.
A Study in Scarlet is a 1914 British silent drama film directed by George Pearson and starring James Bragington making him the first English actor to portray Holmes on film. It is based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1887 novel of the same name and is considered to be lost. An American film of the same name was released in the U.S. on the following day, 29 December 1914. As of 2014, 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.
The Boy in Blue is a 1919 silent German drama film directed by F. W. Murnau. It was Murnau's directorial debut. The film is now considered to be a lost film, though the Deutsche Kinemathek film archive possesses 35 small fragments ranging from two to eleven frames in length.
Hobson's Choice is a 1931 British comedy drama film directed by Thomas Bentley and starring James Harcourt, Viola Lyel, Frank Pettingell and Herbert Lomas. Based on the play Hobson's Choice by Harold Brighouse, it follows the tale of a coarse bootshop owner who becomes outraged when his eldest daughter decides to marry a meek cobbler. It was produced by the leading British company of the time, British International Pictures, at their studios in Elstree.
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 which were top box-office successes in their time but have since disappeared, and works which are believed to be historically significant for some aspect of style, technique, subject matter or innovation.
Maria Marten, or the Mystery of the Red Barn is a 1913 British silent drama film directed by Maurice Elvey. It was based on the 1827 Red Barn Murder. A Suffolk squire murders a young pregnant woman who had demanded that he marry her. The story of Maria Marten was a popular stage melodrama of the Victorian era, and five films based on the story were made between 1902 and 1935.
Milestones is a 1916 British silent drama film directed by Thomas Bentley and starring Isobel Elsom, Owen Nares and Minna Grey. It is an adaptation of the 1912 West End play Milestones by Arnold Bennett and Edward Knoblock. Four years later an American film of the same title was released. As of August 2010, the film is listed as one of the British Film Institute's "75 Most Wanted" lost films.
London (1926) is a British silent film, directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Dorothy Gish. The film was adapted by Wilcox from a short story by popular author Thomas Burke. The British Film Institute considers this to be a lost film.
The British Film Institute (BFI) is a charitable organisation established in 1933, based in the United Kingdom. It has awarded its Fellowship title to individuals in "recognition of their outstanding contribution to film or television culture" and is considered the highest accolade presented by the Institute: British actor John Hurt said the award was "the highest honour possible".
A Daughter of Eve is a 1919 British silent crime film directed by Walter West and starring Violet Hopson, Stewart Rome and Cameron Carr. Ronald Colman made an early screen appearance. The film is now considered a lost film.
It is often claimed that 75 percent of all American silent films are gone and 50 percent of all films made prior to 1950 are lost, but such figures, as archivists admit in private, were thought up on the spur of the moment, without statistical information to back them up.