My favourite street in Paris is the Rue Christine. This evening we had dinner at the remarkable Christine restaurant (excellent confit of veal followed by an extraordinary mojito baba) and then crossed the road to the Action cinema for John Ford’s The Lost Patrol (about a group of British soldiers stranded in Mesopotamia after their officé has died)l.

Could I imagine a better evening? Well, actually yes.It could have been the silent version of The Lost Patrol directed by Walter Summers a few years before Ford made his movie. But that is one of the great legion of silent films that are probably forever lost.

The Ford version is probably the better film (and seeing it this evening reminded me how very taut and economical it is dramatically.) The Summers version, though, according to reports, was much closer to Philip MacDonald’s original novel,  including flashbacks to the soldiers’ civilian lives, and so showing tensions inherited from peacetime destroying the c0hesion and morale of the patrol. Ford hints at this, but the theme doesn’t dominate.

Boris Karloff played the same part in both silent and sound versions – Saunders, increasingly controlled by religious mania. Not a subtle performance, but a superb one.









  1. Jonathan Lighter
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Another lost film, which you probably know about, is “Mademoiselle from Armentieres” (1927), dir. Maurice Elvey.

    It suggests that the mademoiselle of the song was a real French girl who spied on the Boche for the British army.

    There was also a novelization by the prolific Cecil Street (“John Rhode”), a wartime major in the propaganda section of MI7.

    • Posted December 8, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Thanks. This sounds an interesting film.
      There are so many silent films reported missing believed lost – but one shouldn’t abandon hope. I was told authoritatively a few years ago that ‘The Enchanted Cottage’ was lost – but now it’s on Grapevine DVD.

      • Bradstreet
        Posted January 3, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        The 1916 William Gillette SHERLOCK HOLMES was another definitely lost film, and it turned out in 1914 that it had simply been incorrectly labelled in the French Cinematheque collection. Now you can get it on DVD.

        Karloff was an extraordinary actor, although he often risked veering into wild ham. Given a good script and good director he could really deliver the goods. In the 1945 Val Lewton THE BODY SNATCHER he is wonderful as the title-character, a charming and plausible psychopath.

  2. Bradstreet
    Posted January 3, 2016 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    I should have said that it was discovered in 2014. Oooops!

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