A scene from "The White Shadow," 1923, the earliest surviving film credit for Alfred Hitchcock, which is among the gems uncovered by "Mostly Lost."
AFP/New Zealand Film Archive
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In the Spanish colonial-style environs of Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel, around 100 film buffs chew pencils, polish spectacles and furrow brows in the flickering glow of long-forgotten silent movies. These cinema sleuths are being shown a selection of snippets from thousands of vintage films stored lovingly by the U.S. Library of Congress. About 120 kilometers southwest of Washington state, the 18-hectare Packard Campus houses 7.5 million films, TV and radio shows and other recordings, on 145 kilometers of shelving.A 2013 study for the Library of Congress showed three-quarters of nearly 11,000 silent films released by major studios between 1912 and 1929 have been lost.Picture houses failing to return prints, poor handling, silent-era bootleggers and faulty projectors were among the hazards a studio would face trying to hang onto its beat-up movies.Among the more high-profile gems uncovered by "Mostly Lost" are a 1928 Walt Disney cartoon, a 1933 Three Stooges color short, a 1927 comedy by John Ford and "The White Shadow," the earliest surviving film credit for Alfred Hitchcock.
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