Scores for silent movies discovered

Sorry not to have updated for a while – I’ve been busy and then was away on holiday. However, this is just a note to say that I was interested to hear a report about how Birmingham Central Library has discovered what could be the UK’s largest collection of silent movie scores, including a unique Charlie Chaplin theme tune.  The library’s Youtube channel also has two videos showing Ben Dawson, a pianist from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, playing some of the music discovered in the collection and talking about the pieces.

The BBC did a short report about this which mentioned that the scores may be used to help create music for nine silent Hitchcock films being restored by the BFI. A couple of brief snippets of unnamed films from the BFI archives (I don’t think they are the Hitchcocks) are set to music here and I think there may be a glimpse of John Barrymore in the first one, although to be honest I’m not sure if it is him or not – he is wearing a wig and doesn’t stand in profile. If anyone can answer this one either way, I’d be interested to know.

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13 thoughts on “Scores for silent movies discovered

  1. Utterly fascinating find here Judy! As a longtime collector of film scores (previously on vinyl, now on CD) I simultaneously applaud and envy the treasures unearthed here, though any serious rarities may well be bought and mass produced at some point. But the tentative plans to provide music for Hitchcock silents is fantastic as is the discovery of the Chaplin theme. Judy, I had difficulty with the bottom link, so I was unable to ascertain anything about John Barrymore, sorry to say.

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    • Thanks very much, Sam – must admit I don’t know very much about silent movie scores, so am interested to hear that you collect them. Sorry about that last link – as it is to a BBC site, I suspect it may only work in the UK, but it was only a short report anyway.
      I believe the BFI is planning to show the restored Hitchcock silents on the big screen later this year and then later release them on DVD.

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  3. This is exciting news. Though this is a bit different, it still gives me hope that one day an uncut version of the Marx Bros’ HORSE FEATHERS may be found one day.

    Glad to see you’re back, Judy. I was getting concerned. BTW, do you or anyone else know what happened to Dave over at GoodfellaMovies?

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    • Cagney Fan:

      Dave is doing well. I spoke to him my e mail about six weeks ago. He is attending law school in Ohio, and has been understandably busy on that front. His blog remains suspended at the point where he stopped posting but he assures me in his spare time he tries to keep up at the sites.

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    • Thanks, CagneyFan – it would be great to see more of the many lost films turning up. Every now and then a lost goodie does emerge from the darkness. I am very busy at the moment so no need to be concerned if my posting is a bit intermittent – or, should I say, more so than usual.:) Thanks again.

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    • Thanks, Sam – I had a vague memory that Dave was in law school, but wasn’t sure if I’d got that right. Good to know that he is doing well.

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    • Sam, thanks for that info on Dave. Glad to know he’s okay and is fulfilling his goal of going to law school. Success and good health to him.

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    • Thanks, Nick – I agree, it is always exciting when these sorts of things turn up. Even more so when lost films are found, of course!

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