25 July 2008

"London After Midnight" Found?!

Yeah, I know--we've heard this one before. But this time, the news is a lot more encouraging, if not entirely convincing: a fellow with the dubious name of "Sid Terror" (presumably, because "Rob Zombie" was taken) claims to have held, in hand, a long-lost nitrate print of Tod Browning's legendary "lost" silent classic, which headlined Lon Chaney, Sr. Although it's been said that the last known print was burned in a fire in the MGM vaults, and also that a private collector owns it and has been waiting for its copyright to lapse, Terror has revealed that he came upon the film in the late 80s, when he was tipped off that it was filed under the title "The Hypnotist" in a film storage facility owned by Turner Entertainment.

Now, Ted Newson, a horror "historian", confirms that he, too, came upon the catalogue entry for "The Hypnotist" (co-labeled "London After Midnight" years earlier by "Terror") while employed at MGM in 2004. He tried to interest his employers, and some higher-ups at Turner into restoring the film, but with no success.
Now comes dire news that the storage facility housing the alleged print has been leased to new tenants and that its contents have been transferred to Warner studios and UCLA. And according to a recent search of the new database, the film has been lost again.
(Damn, Sid--you sound like an honest guy and all, but why the hell didn't you just tuck the reels under your shirt?!)
Read Terror's detailed account here at Horrordrunx. Just a few months back, nearly 30 minutes of lost footage from Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" were found, so who knows? TCM's stills-based "recreation" back in 2002 was a noble experiment, but generations have waited long enough for the real thing...