Exciting news from the BFI today – especially for those of us about to break up for the holidays and looking forward to having some spare viewing time on our hands. The BFI has released more than 170 ‘orphan’ films on its YouTube channel – and they can be watched around the world as well as in the UK (unlike the BFI Player, where some of these films are also found). ‘Orphan’ films are those protected by copyright for which rights-holders are positively unknown or uncontactable. The films range from 1899 to 1985, but as you’d expect, there are several silent movies in the collection.
Here’s a short selection of some highlights, although you can see the full playlist here.
The first filmed version of Harold Brighouse’s Hobson’s Choice, this is from 1920, directed by Percy Nash and starring Joe Nightingale, Joan Ritz and Arthur Pitt:
The Fisher Girl’s Folly (1914), a glimpse of an early two-reel drama directed by George Pearson:
This 1916 fragment of a crime drama featuring three generations of the Terry dynasty, including Ellen Terry herself as a theatre dresser trying to catch a murderer – Her Greatest Performance (1916)
An early appearance by comic Lupino Lane in schoolboy slapsticker The Missing Link (1917).
A festive tearjerker – this beautiful 1914 version of The Little Match Girl, complete with tints and effects:
And check out this 1955 film with a familiar title … London Symphony.