Tel 0191 286 9800

BFI’s Most Wanted List

Through the many years of film we’ve seen an evolution of picture making from black and white silent films to epic computer-generated imagery, but in the midst of reaching new highs we’ve lost some great films that can never be recovered. Some of these precious pieces of history have succumb to fires, bankruptcy, the trash can, and deterioration because the films were not looked after properly. Let’s take a look at 10 of these films that are forever lost.

Maria Marten or the Mystery of the Red Barn (1913): Directed by Maurice Elvey, this silent film was based on the notorious 1827 Red Barn Murder committed in Polstead, Suffolk, England. The story was of a young pregnant woman. She is murdered by a Suffolk squire after she demands that they get married.

A Study in Scarlet (1914): This silent film was based on a novel of the same name and stared James Bragington. The film featured Sherlock Holmes’ first onscreen appearance. In 2010, it made the British Film Institute’s “75 Most Wanted” list of lost films.

Linda (1960): This is a story of a teenager who joins a gang. The 1960 film stared Alan Rothwell and Carol White and was directed by Don Sharp. The story follows the teen as he falls into a life of crime. Then he meets Linda and falls for her. The plot takes a turn when Phil rejoins a gang because of heartbreak.

The Last Post (1929): The lost film starred Frank Vosper, John Longden and Alf Goddard and told the story of identical twin brothers who grew up loving the same girl. Its director, Dinah Shurey, was the only female director and producer in Britain at the time the film was made.

Somewhere in Politics (1948): The final film in a series, this long lost film was directed by John E. Blakeley in 1948. It was a British comedy starring Frank Randle, Tessie O’Shea and Josef Locke.

Symptoms (1973): This British horror film was about a young woman and her friend. The two lived together in an old English mansion where things go from good to bad. The last time the film was seen was on a British station in 1983. It was lost soon after.

Sleep Is Lovely (1968): This film is also known by the name The Other People and I Love You, I Hate You. It was based on the character Peter and a tumultuous relationship with Elsa. The film was never released.

Squadron Leader X (1943): This British World War II drama was directed by Lance Comfort. It stared Eric Portman who is a pilot sent on a mission to gain the confidence of locals in the Belgian city of Ghent. The original short was written by Emeric Pressburger and adapted into a screenplay by Miles Malleson.

Two Crowded Hours (1931): This film told the story of a murderer out for vengeance and the detective who is determined to chase him down. The movie was produced by Jerry Jackson and directed by Michael Powell.

The Mountain Eagle (1926): This film was Alfred Hitchcock’s second film as a director (his first being The Pleasure Garden). The romance melodrama is about a widower, his crippled son, a schoolteacher and a man he hates.

In all, 75 films make the BFI National Archive’s list of the most wanted. There is still hope; with the nation’s help it’s possible that some of these great films can be taken off the list. The BFI encourages the public to check sheds, vaults and attics to help hunt down these lost treasures.