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  • Many, many old silent and early sound films (including those of superstars like Theda Bara, Clara Bow and Baby Peggy) are now considered lost (partially or completely), simply because — in an era well prior to rebroadcast opportunities like TV or home video — it didn't make financial sense for the studios to care about keeping them around. The prints that do remain are usually those that were preserved in private collections. Theda Bara appeared in over two dozen films but only four have survived. According to Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation, 90% of all American films made before 1929 are lost forever, while the Library of Congress estimates that 75% of all silent movies are lost forever.
    • It hardly helps that nitrate-based film stock (used until 1951) is notorious for its chemical instability and flammability— film vault fires have destroyed the last known copies of many films. (Most of Theda Bara's career was burned up in a 1937 vault fire.) Also, the film stock contained enough silver to give studios a financial incentive to send "useless" and dangerous old negatives and prints for rendering. And the way many of the films were copied for distribution - with an optical printer - means that each pass to create a new copy actually damaged the original negatives somewhat. That's why a lot of the movies from this period (if they're not just impossible to find) are pretty bad copies. You could only get about a thousand copies out of one set of original negatives.
    • Some of the early Academy Award winners and nominees are missing, including a Best Picture nominee (The Patriot), and a Best Actor-winning performance (The Way of All Flesh).
  • The fate of many silent-era and early sound-era films is currently being repeated with many American independent films of the 1980s and '90s. One of the downsides of that era's indie filmmakers seeking financial control over their films is that, just as with early Hollywood films, it didn't make financial sense for them (being working artists without the backing of the major studios or the sort of government film commission found in other countries) to preserve the original reels. Furthermore, just as many old Hollywood films were shot on nitrate-based film stock that was both highly flammable and valuable for its silver content, many indie films from the '80s and '90s were shot on commercial formats that weren't designed with preservation in mind, such as magnetic tape and other early digital video technologies.
  • In addition to The Mountain Eagle, two early Alfred Hitchcock films, Number 13 (1922; unfinished) and An Elastic Affair (1930) - both shorts - are lost.
  • The British Film Institute has compiled a list of The 75 Most Wanted lost British films. The list includes The Mountain Eagle (1926) — the only lost feature film of Alfred Hitchcock. Also included in the list are the films that served as the screen debuts for legendary actors John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Errol Flynn and Patricia Kirkwood and an early film role of Ian McKellen. The list also stretches well into the late 20th century, with the three most recent films on the list all dating from the early 1970s — the 1971 drama Nobody Ordered Love (which was so poorly promoted and received that the director withdrew it and ordered all prints destroyed at his death in 1977), and the 1972 sexploitation comedy The Cherry Picker starring Lulu and Spike Milligan (bootlegs of which do circulate, but the master prints are lost).note 
  • The infamous American theatrical cut of Once Upon a Time in America has seemingly never been released on home video. Despite several claims to the contrary that it did see a VHS release at one point, virtually all of the known existing home video releases of the film are instead versions of the universally-acclaimed director's cut, and if there actually was a home video release of the American theatrical cut at one point, it's borderline impossible to find it now. Considering how said cut — which sloppily watered down director Sergio Leone's preferred non-linear four-hour cut into a chronological two-hour cut against his wishes — was trashed by reviewers and heavily flopped at the box office, its lack of availability may (understandably) be deliberate.
    • There also exist reports of a heavily-edited American network television version, based on the director's cut and the American theatrical cut, that was made and first aired in the early-to-mid 1990s. It ran for almost three hours long (without commercials), and while retaining the non-chronological order of the director's cut, had also removed many key scenes that had violence or graphic content, as well as having all profanity and references to drugs exiled from broadcast. This version was supposedly intended as a one-off showing, and despite apparently being re-aired by local stations (and according to one source, AMC) via syndication, no copies of this cut are known to exist.
  • In 1953 Disney established the Buena Vista Film Distribution Company, a division of the studio that was set up to allow them to distribute their own films and shorts independent of the other major studios. However they were still contractually obligated to release one more animated film for RKO Pictures, who up until that point had distributed all of their movies. Disney was worried about Howard Hughes' somewhat chaotic leadership of RKO, and wanted to sever their ties with the studio as soon as they could. Their solution was to quickly edit together and release a package film titled Music Land (no relation to the 1935 short of the same name), which was comprised of shorts from other package films Make Mine Music! (1946) and Melody Time (1948). Though the shorts were the same, the film included a new intro and ending, as well as new transitions between the shorts. This was technically enough to classify the film as a new movie entirely, and it allowed Disney to complete their contract with RKO two years before the release of their next animated film Lady and the Tramp. Music Land itself has not been released in any form since 1953, and it was removed from the Disney Animated Canon entirely in 1985.
  • The Beatles documentary Let It Be was last legally released in 1991 (laserdisc and VHS). Odds are, it will never be legally released again in its original form, and we've no idea if it'll ever be legally released again in any form. (There is dissonance between what viewers will expect to see and what Apple Corps wants to show.) Paul McCartney told Rolling Stone in 2016 that he wants the film to be released, correctly noting that he should be the main objector among the Apple Corps stakeholders because he "doesn't come off well" in it. Despite McCartney's comment, the film has yet to be re-released.
    • To be averted in 2020 for the 50th anniversary of the film, as it's being remastered in HD and receiving a recut by Peter Jackson sourcing the original film and audio elements recorded for the original, both for home releases.
  • Jerry Lewis' The Day the Clown Cried, about a clown who insults Hitler and ends up a Pied Piper to the children of a Jewish concentration camp. People are split on if keeping it suppressed is a good thing or not. Apart from the question of good taste, the project's legal ownership is disputed. The film remains unfinished; post production work was never completed. The film negatives were eventually admitted into the Library of Congress in August of 2015, but under the condition that it can't be screened for ten years. However, as stated before, the legal ownership dispute (plus the fact that some of the parties in said dispute, including Lewis, are dead) still leaves the film indefinitely lost.
  • The "Gay Jesus" film HIM (actually about a man who has sexual fantasies about Jesus), is sometimes thought to be mythical. Evidence for the film's existence (in the form of contemporary newspaper and magazine clippings) has been collected to show that the film at least did exist, but if any prints have survived, their location is unknown, and they're not in public circulation.
  • The original cut of Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons, as well as the hour or so raw footage that was excised for the final release, is lost forever - and we do mean forever; the excised footage was rendered for the silver nitrate. It's been said that Welles received a copy of the original cut, but where it is right now, if it actually happened, is anybody's guess.
  • Four of the Charlie Chan movies from the 1930s, Charlie Chan Carries On, Charlie Chan's Chance, Charlie Chan's Greatest Case, and Charlie Chan's Courage, are lost (though Charlie Chan Carries On survives in a Spanish-language version, Eran Trece).
  • The last known copy of Tod Browning's London After Midnight was destroyed (along with hundreds of other silent films) in 1967 when the vault it was stored in caught fire. A reconstruction using surviving stills and the original script was put together in 2002. Browning remade the film in 1935 as Mark of the Vampire, which was pared down from 80 minutes to 61 minutes prior to distribution; the cut footage is believed lost.
  • The original theatrical cuts for Star Wars films Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. None of those cuts appeared on the VHS releases or even the 2006 limited edition DVDs (which did feature versions of the original theatrical presentations, not the original cuts themselves), due to (according to George Lucas) the original negatives being deteriorated and destroyed. This began with some of the original Star Wars re-release in theaters to introduce "Episode IV: A New Hope" which is not original to '77. Part of this is supposedly due to Lucas having Old Shame over the fact that there were several elements of the films that weren't as good as he hoped (including effects and specific scenes) - he considers the altered versions his "true" vision. However, the American Film Institute and U.S. Library of Congress both purportedly hold prints of the original theatrical versions, so it's anyone's guess whether they will be released a long, long time from now. With the Disney buyout of Lucasfilm, some have taken up hope that the original cuts may be released. Alongside hopes of a release of The Star Wars Holiday Special.
  • Errol Flynn spent $500,000 of his own money to produce his comeback feature William Tell. Most of the money went to building an Alpine resort set, and he only had enough money left to shoot 30 minutes of film. He screened the footage at the Venice Film Festival, but bouts with dysentery and diarrhea kept him from meeting with investors for any meaningful lengths of time. Desperate, he staged a fake paralysis from a fall in his hotel room, hoping to secure a large insurance settlement. When this failed, he abandoned the project and spent the rest of his career playing drunks before dying of heart failure at the age of 50. None of the film's footage has been found, and the only evidence of the film remaining is the Alpine resort set, which is now a popular tourist attraction.
  • This is a common occurrence in VCR-era porn (late 1970s - through early 1990s), where entire film series would simply fade away due to lack of interest and the cash-grab tendencies of many producers. Another common cause of vanishing porn titles is the discovery of an underage performer, in which case every copy of the film in question is found and destroyed or erased as child porn. Traci Lords is an infamous case of this (though several bootlegs of her latter "work" are available via European copies, from countries where the A.O.C. for porn is 17 instead of 18), to the point where the only surviving early work of hers available in the United States where she wasn't Unpersoned from the work due to her age at the time is Traci, I Love You (which she made after her 18th birthday).
  • Good luck finding a copy of Day Of The Tiger, the ultra-violent early 80s kung-fu film. After the audience reaction (disgust and horror) to its limited screening, the original distributor attempted to destroy all copies of the film to appease their theaters, and it's unclear if they succeeded or not. Most of the time, you'll just find small clips mistaken for parts of The Story Of Ricky. Its sequel, at least, can be found in torrents. The film is so rare that it's increasingly believed to be a hoax. The only information anyone has on it is from a Reddit post [1].
  • Humor Risk (also called Humorisk), the 1921 silent film which was the Marx Brothers' real screen debut. Groucho so disliked the result of their first venture on the screen that he bought and destroyed all copies of the film and its negatives. It would take 8 years (and the invention of talkies) before the Brothers returned to the movies.
  • Not one, but two Japanese adaptations of King Kong:
    • The 1938 film King Kong Appears in Edo (featuring an unauthorized use of RKO's Kong character) appears to have been one of the first, if not the first, Japanese Kaiju films. Reports differ on whether the ape (reportedly only called Kong in the title) was a giant or merely implied to be so in publicity while being a more human-scale yeti like creature in the film itself. Never shown outside of its original theatrical run in Japan, all prints of the film appear to have been lost during World War II or the postwar occupation. All that remains are movie posters (incorporating stills from the film).
    • Wasei Kingu Kongu, a silent short from 1933, is supposedly lost for similar reasons. Stills remain of this one too. Although the film itself remains lost, details about the film's script have emerged. Apparently it was a promotional tie-in to the 1933 RKO film, made with RKO's approval. The film is actually not a monster movie, but a comedy about an actor who begins playing King Kong on the vaudeville stage following the In-Universe release and popularity of King Kong.
  • Film, a musical version of Othello starring Richie Havens and directed by Patrick McGoohan was released in the early 1970s to terrible reviews (not helped by, according to legend, one of the producers "finding God" and adding fifteen minutes of religious imagery much to McGoohan's chagrin). It was retitled Santa Fe Satan before disappearing completely. The soundtrack can often be found for sale on Ebay, though.
  • Prior to The Birth of a Nation, Charles Giblyn's 1913 The Battle of Gettysburg was the longest and most expensive movie about The American Civil War. Today, it appears to be a lost film. Birth of a Nation itself had a sequel, The Fall of a Nation, which flopped upon release and is now considered lost.
  • "Underlying literary properties" (legalese for the play/book/other copyrighted material on which the movie is based) is an annoyingly common reason for films to be unavailable. If the moviemakers didn't properly secure the rights, the rights generally revert to the original "property's" author, and if the author or his or her estate doesn't want to cooperate, they can mandate that the film's distribution be limited, or completely forbidden:
    • The 1959 film version of Porgy and Bess is probably the most prominent title in this state of limbo.
    • Sometimes estates can be persuaded to cooperate. In recent years, TCM lawyers have persuaded the literary executors of Margaret Kennedy to allow general release of 1943's The Constant Nymph, and the estate of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry to allow release of 1933's Night Flight.
    • This is the real reason that The Day the Clown Cried (mentioned above) was never released. By the time filming was completed, the rights had expired. They ended up reverting to the screenwriters, who were so horrified and embarrassed by the result that they have refused to make any sort of deal that would allow the film to be released.
    • This has also held up any release of the somewhat obscure Errol Flynn movie The Perfect Specimen, a rare screwball comedy which has Flynn (alongside Joan Blondell) Playing Against Type as a spineless milquetoast.
  • Cleopatra, a 1917 film, is thought of to be one of the most elaborate and expensive films ever created. Only 20 seconds of the film has been found, as it was censored by Moral Guardians and the last remaining copies were destroyed in a fire.
  • The 1930 Fred Astaire/Irving Berlin film Puttin' On The Ritz. Very few parts of the film remain, unfortunately, and not even in its original colour.
  • The first film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera was made in 1916, starring the Swedish actor Nils Olaf Chrisander and the Norwegian actress Aud Egede-Nissen. There is no evidence of the film's existence save references in other media.
  • The 1930 film The Cat Creeps was an adaptation of The Cat and the Canary, and the first Universal Horror movie to be filmed with sound. As with Dracula (1931), a Spanish-language version of the movie (La Voluntad del muerto) was filmed simultaneously. Both versions are lost, though snippets of The Cat Creeps appear in the 1932 Universal comedy short Boo!.
  • All prints of the first werewolf movie, 1913's The Werewolf, are believed to have been destroyed in a 1924 fire. The movie featured a Navajo female werewolf.
  • Life Without Soul (1915) is the second film adaptation of Frankenstein, and a lost film.
  • The first ever Sherlock Holmes film, A Study in Scarlet, released in 1914, has yet to be rediscovered.
  • A low-budget, straight-to-video zombie film titled Dead End was produced around 1985 but it is now considered lost due to the fact that none of the original VHS tapes (which were supposedly sold at horror conventions) are known to still exist. Those who saw the film have provided detailed and consistent accounts of its extraordinarily graphic violence and twisted sense of humor (a zombie mailman stuffs body parts into mailboxes while another drags a dead dog on a leash towards a fire hydrant and expects it to urinate), making it something of a holy grail for zombie fans. Unfortunately, not even a single still frame remains, and the director himself has admitted that he does not know where a copy might exist, meaning it will likely never be viewed again. Many suspect that the film was merely a hoax planted into IMDb, given the surrounding evidence.
  • Dracula's Death (1921) was a Hungarian movie that was the first film to feature Dracula, beating F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu by a year. The movie was re-released in an edited version in Hungary in 1923 and disappeared afterwards. However, a novelization of the movie was published in Hungary, and the story had nothing to do with Bram Stoker's novel; only the name of Dracula was used. Dracula is not even a vampire in this story, but rather a demon, who terrorizes a woman in a mental asylum in a castle in Switzerland.
  • In 1988, a movie called Music City Blues was announced, starring Catherine Bach (aka Daisy Duke) and Country Music singer Larry Boone. The film was abruptly canceled due to lack of funding, per a 1989 news article in The Tennesseean, and no traces of it are known to exist.
  • The first film adaptation of Land of Oz books from 1908, The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays, is considered a historically important yet lost film. It was the first silent film to feature an intended musical score (rather than musicians improvising) and was the first all-colour film. It was a blockbuster however was cut short after a few months due to being too expensive to show (due to it involving play elements alongside being a film). Only a few screencaps exist and the film itself is missing. The 1910 film was once thought to be the same film, but once that surfaced it became clear that it was a completely different adaptation.
  • The 1933 Pre-Code comedy Convention City was taken out of circulation shortly after its release due to its very racy content. The most recent known screening was in a Spanish theater in 1942. The script still exists and there have reportedly been readings of it at film festivals. Also, b-roll footage of Atlantic City that was used for the movie has been found.
  • The Taiwanese film Hai Mo, released in 1975, is believed to be lost. A poster for the film is pretty much the only thing that has survived. Going by the poster illustrations and the English title "Sea of Monsters", it seems the plot revolved around sea monsters of some sort.
  • The 1917 film The Gulf Between is considered the oldest all-technicolor film. Only tidbits are known to still exist.
  • Some of Kevin Spacey's last projects, including Gore, a biopic about Gore Vidal, might never be released as a result of being hit with sexual misconduct accusations as part of the Weinstein effect in 2017.
  • The two sequels to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) are both missing.
  • The Song of the Flame, the first film from Warner Bros. to incorporate widescreen footage, is better known as the first film to be accompanied by a Looney Tune on the big screen. Only its soundtrack survives.
  • Teenagers from Outer Space director Tom Graeff made four other movies prior to Teenagers' release, but since his suicide in 1970 they've completely disappeared. While his first film was eventually found, his other three remain missing and it's unlikely they'll ever be found.
    • His first missing short was called The Orange Coast College Story and was commissioned by Orange Coast College with Vincent Price providing narration.
    • Then there was his 1955 feature debut called The Noble Experiment, which was a comedy he stared in opposite of an unnamed local beauty queen. The film's poor reviews would foreshadow the reception of Teenagers a few years later.
    • Finally there was his short art film Island Sunrise which doesn't have any info on it whatsoever.
  • In 1987, gold manufacturer Santo Rigatsuo directed a sci-fi B-Movie called Blood Circus which he also starred in and produced for $2 million. The movie involves the U.S. and Soviets teaming up to fight off an alien invasion by hosting a wrestling tournament, with one of the wrestlers being a pre WWE Brent Albright. Santo was unable to find a distributor, forcing him show the movie at local Baltimore theaters before it vanished. All that survives of the film are IMDB reviews from the few who were able to see it and a musical sequence from Santo himself that only serves to promote his company. It wouldn't be until 2008 when Santo announced that he found a copy of the movie and attempted to auction it off several times on eBay to no avail, note  leaving any chance for the film's release uncertain.
  • In 1985 Brian De Palma was approached by Cannon Films to make a horror film entitled The Piece Maker. However, the project was cancelled due to the studio performing poorly at the box office that year. Only a trailer survives.
  • In 1981 a movie based off of the novel The Pike was announced. However, its production was never finished and only production stills survive.
  • The only way to watch the action movie Fight and Revenge was to be in the theaters it played in in 1997.

    Works Partially Lost 
  • The first half of a lost 1923 Hitchcock melodrama, The White Shadow, was discovered in the New Zealand Film Archives. The second half of the film remains lost.
  • Canzo Empyrean, a bizarre movie (apparently a GI Joe fan film) involving an AIDS sex apocalypse, has received a limited release in Africa and Russia and then disappeared. Aside from trailers and info from the film's website, no complete copy of the movie has surfaced online. Recently, a 45-minute compilation of various scenes was released online. According to the uploader, there's at least two more hours of footage still missing.
  • One of cinema's greatest tragedies is the fate of Erich von Stroheim's Greed. Its original cut was a whopping nine hours long, and considered by those who were fortunate enough to see to be a masterpiece. Unfortunately, the studio ordered it chopped down without Stroheim's involvement, and the cut pieces were destroyed. Thus, most of that footage has been lost. Even the Turner Classic Movies four-hour cut of it replaces a lot of the footage with still photos just to keep the story intact.
  • The Wicker Man (1973) had something like twelve minutes of footage removed after an early screening. With the possible exception of the original Media-Home Entertainment release, they've never been seen since. Christopher Lee, who considered this one of his best films, was NOT happy about this. A 2001 home video release restored some of these scenes, including the original opening scene - from a clearly inferior print, but still.
  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was edited down from its original 3 1/2 hour length for worldwide distribution following its original release, and the cut footage was discarded and believed lost for years. Thanks to a batch of the discarded footage being found in a condemned warehouse and the efforts of Stanley Kramer, 20 minutes of footage were re-edited back into the film for the VHS release. The film's first DVD release (in a white cover and now out-of-print) has the footage on Side B. The second release (in a blue cover) does not have this footage. In 2014, The Criterion Collection released a reconstructed/restored version of the original release on DVD and Blu-Ray. 3 or 4 minutes are still missing, but it is still the closest we'll get to the original.
  • Stanley Kubrick's first feature, Fear and Desire, a shoestring production funded by donations from Kubrick's family and friends. Paul Mazursky, who himself went on to a successful directing career, played a leading role. Kubrick was embarrassed by it, so he bought up as many copies as he could and discouraged screenings of the movie while he was alive. It finally got a release in October 2012.
    • The Shining had an epilogue, in which Ullman tells Wendy that they have been unable to locate Jack's frozen corpse and gives Jack's tennis ball to Danny. This actually played in theaters, but was cut by Kubrick a week after the film's release. (Maybe for the best, as Roger Ebert pointed out, because the scene left the rest of the movie open to Plot Holes.) It's not been seen since.
    • The uncut version of 2001: A Space Odyssey has not been seen anywhere since its premiere engagements. Warner Bros. discovered 17 minutes of the footage in 2010; they have no intention of reinserting the footage back into the film in keeping with Kubrick's intentions, but whether they'll be included as extras in an upcoming video release is anyone's guess at this point.
  • The 3D versions of Top Banana and Southwest Passage, as well as the uncut version of the former.
  • The 1937 adaptation of Lost Horizon had a running time of 132 minutes in its first release. When restored in 1973, only 125 minutes of film could be found, but they did have the entire soundtrack. The restored version shows publicity photos and stills in place of the missing film elements.
  • Dracula (1931), in its original release, had an epilogue in which Edward Van Sloan (Van Helsing) addressed the audience. The epilogue starts out sounding like a reassuring This Is a Work of Fiction message, until at the last moment he subverts it with "There really are such things as vampires!" The epilogue was cut from the 1936 re-release due to fears of offending religious groups by endorsing the supernatural, and is now lost, barring a literal two seconds of footage that appear in a Dracula tribute documentary [2].
  • The rumored three-hour long version of The Last House on Dead End Street.
  • The 1954 remake of A Star Is Born originally ran for 182 minutes, but the studio, Warner Bros., cut it down to 154 minutes before release. In 1983 a restoration was made that runs 176 minutes. However for several scenes only the audio survived, so stills were used in place of the missing footage.
  • The documentary/movie Grizzly Man has an Apocalyptic Log that depicts an audio recording of Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend's deaths from a bear. In the movie, Werner Herzog, the director, is shown listening to it, and he tells the owner of the clip to destroy it. However, it's locked away in a safe deposit box, with no intention of being released.
    • Present in Grizzly Mans theatrical cut, but missing from the DVD release, is a clip from Treadwell's interview with David Letterman in which Letterman jokes about him being eaten by a bear.
  • The Land Before Time has eleven minutes cut from the final film for being too scary and intense. All that remains of those eleven minutes are some stills and production sketches.
  • The Phantom of the Opera (1925) had already been re-cut several times before the 1925 version was released, with additional scenes being shot by Edward Sedgewick after the original director Rupert Julian left the production. It's this version that was found in 2011. The original Rupert Julian cut, which was much closer to the book and featured the original novel ending where the Phantom lets Christine go and then dies of a broken heart, is still missing.
  • The 1916 film Snow White is the earliest film adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It also inspired Walt Disney to create his animated adaptation. It was considered lost until a Dutch copy was found in 1992. Even then, it's still missing several scenes such as when Snow White eats the Poisoned Apple.
  • The 1987 film adaptation of Flowers in the Attic originally ended with Malcolm Foxworth still being alive for Corrine's wedding, and the grandmother attempting to kill the remaining Dollanganger children with a knife only for John the caretaker to perform a Heroic Sacrifice and allow the children to be free. The studio cut the original ending and filmed a new one without the film's director, which pleased neither critics or fans. For years the only parts of the original ending to have surfaced were photos, but in 2018 it was announced that Arrow Video would be releasing the film on blu-ray with the original ending as a bonus feature. They later released the blu-ray in the U.S. in 2019.
  • Due to Creator Backlash, Mary Pickford tried to forcibly make the 1923 film Rosita into this. In the 1970s a Soviet copy was found. It was a really poor quality looking, presumably bootleg, copy from the 1920s. Attempts to restore it were made and now the film looks as good as any other silent film. A few rolls are still missing, however.
  • Class Opinion is one of two films, the other being Impulse, that brought down ABC's final attempt to break into the motion picture business. As a consequence of this, it's the only ABC Motion Pictures film that hasn't been released on home video, and little else is known about it, not even its release year. Indeed, not even IMDb nor Wikipedia have a page on it.
  • A few reels of the 1920 film The Symbol of the Unconquered are missing. This includes the climax where the Ku Klux Klan is kicked out of town (or, likely, killed) and a black man attacks them with a brick.
  • The full 130 minute cut of Event Horizon. Test audience reactions to full cut were less then stellar, with some people reportedly fainting at the extreme amounts of gore. Director Paul W.S Anderson acquiesced into cutting the film down to a much more digestible 90 minutes and the result tanked at the box office and was critically eviscerated. The full uncut version, which contained an even longer version of the notorious “Blood orgy” scene, remained lost for years until a highly deteriorated copy surfaced in a Transylvania salt mine. As it turns out, that copy was reportedly so badly damaged, a full uncut release has been deemed impossible. Still, a few deleted scenes managed to appear on the DVD, including a longer, significantly more graphic version of the final Hell Hallucinations.
  • When Black Rage was released on VHS in 1988 about 11 minutes of footage was edited out for unknown reasons, resulting in rather blatant jumps in the middle of several scenes. Since then the additional footage has yet to turn up and it possibly never will given how rare the 1988 edit already is on the web.
  • The original roadshow print of Fantasia is long lost; the best attempt to restore it not only omits an offending image of a black centaur in one segment, it also uses Corey Burton's voice to dub that of Deems Taylor because the original audio was greatly deteriorated to the point of becoming irretrievable.
  • In 1932, the husband-and-wife team of Mikhail Tsekhanovsky and Vera Tsenkhanovskaya embarked on their most ambitious project yet - an animated opera based on the Alexander Pushkin fairy tale The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda, featuring a score by renowned composer Dmitri Shostakovich and an art style heavily influenced by contemporary Russian Telegraph Agency posters. Unfortunately, the film suffered from one hell of a Troubled Production, with Shostakovich bailing on the project after seeing his score publicly denounced in a Pravda article. Since the film now had no score, it was never completed and placed in storage at the Lenfilm archive in St. Petersburg, then known as Leningrad, where the majority of the footage was then lost when the Germans bombed the archive during the Siege of Leningrad. All that remains of the film is a two and a half minute segment from the marketplace scene, showing various merchants showcasing their wares.

  • One of the first best picture nominees, The Racket, was also missing for years...and when it was found, it sadly turned out to be just a standard gangster film.
  • In a rarer example of a deliberately missing movie, the Disney film Song of the South is more or less impossible to see through legal channels (at least in the US; it was available in a few other countries on video, including south of the border and in Europe), as Disney fears the wrath of those who might have reasonable objections to a film full of friendly, happy sharecroppers in the Deep South during Reconstruction. These days, it's largely remembered only because it produced the Breakaway Pop Hit "Zip-a-dee Doo-dah."
    • By how often "Zip-a-dee Doo-dah" is used in modern Disney canon (including showing the original clip in sing-a-long videos), it seems like a lot of people inside Disney want to finally just release the film and get it over with. Until it was announced that the ride would be thematically changed to The Princess and the Frog, it was the source of the Splash Mountain ride at various Disney parks (which is one of the most popular rides, if the lines are anything to go by), leaving many younger riders confused about what the hell the ride is based on (plus, the Brer Rabbit part of the film is quite good).
    • Back when they actually aired Walt Disney cartoons on the Disney Channel, the Brer Rabbit segments would occasionally be aired by themselves, usually to fill time between a movie and a regular show. Thanks to some clever editing they came off as stand-alone cartoons and not parts of a larger film.
  • Yet another "lost movie": the infamous 1994 Roger Corman produced The Fantastic Four. The story began when Constantin Film optioned the rights to make a Fantastic Four feature film with a planned budget of $40 million. Unfortunately they couldn't raise the money on time and the option was about to expire so they brought Corman on board who reduced the budget to $1.5 million and made it within a one-month shooting schedule which should give you a good estimate to its quality. From that point onward, accounts differ. According to Stan Lee, Constantin Film never planned to release the movie and made it only to keep the rights and basically blackmail Marvel into giving them a substantial sum in exchange for the movie never seeing the light of day (depending on the legend, Marvel either locked the movie in a vault or had Avi Arad himself burn the negatives), whereas Roger Corman claims one of the other producers managed to raise the intended money, bought the distribution rights from Corman via a clause in his contract and simply chose not to release it. 9 years later, Constantin Film produced the now well known 2005 Fantastic Four and the rest is history. For a long time, one of the few ways you could see the movie was via bootleg copies sold at comic book conventions, but lately it's been uploaded to YouTube, and recaps are also available. A documentary about the making and subsequent legacy of the film was also released in 2016 and includes numerous clips.
  • Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which retells Karen's life story using Barbie dolls, was forced out of circulation by Richard Carpenter and all prints were ordered destroyed. It's readily available over the Internet, however, and a 16mm print was screened at Bard College (the alma mater of the film's director, Todd Haynes) as recently as 2011.
  • Orson Welles' early comedy film Too Much Johnson, made even before Citizen Kane, was never even publicly screened. Given the title, this is almost for the best. However, a work print was discovered in 2013 and it was put online in 2014 (and aired on Turner Classic Movies in 2015).
  • The original version of the 2003 Disney documentary The Sweatbox, which is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the music for The Emperor's New Groove. The process of scoring the film's soundtrack (composed by Sting) was held in a cramped sound stage that was nicknamed "The Sweatbox", but grew in nature to encompass the state of the film's troubled production. The documentary (directed by Sting's wife Trudi) chronicled the change during the production from its original title Kingdom of the Sun to the final product, and the filmmakers' growing horror when they realized the original version was terrible. The documentary was screened for a limited time at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2002 in order to qualify for consideration for the Academy Awards, but it has been barred from release (perhaps indefinitely) by Disney. The workprint was available on YouTube... for about a day before the uploader removed it. But that was long enough for many people to get a copy.
  • The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a horror movie that had an incredibly limited run in theaters, and the director refuses to release it in public in any way (it doesn't help that the studio that financed it is only just recovering from its recent bankruptcy). For a while the only way to find it was through pirated copies online, though for a little bit it was legally available via Direct TV On Demand back in 2014... until that was taken down not too long after it was released. Eventually it was given a direct to video release from Shout! Factory in 2017.
  • One of El Santo's many films, Santo en El Tesoro de Drácula (Santo in Dracula's Treasure) (1968), had an alternate version entitled El Vampiro y el Sexo ("The Vampire and Sex"). Additional scenes featured nude or topless vampire seductresses (fortunately or unfortunately, the heroic luchador himself did not engage in any sexual activity). This version of the film, intended for more liberal audiences outside Mexico, apparently had a limited release (newspaper ads exist for showings in New York-area Spanish language theaters), then disappeared, but stills of nude vampire ladies from the "sexy" version provided evidence of its existence. It was finally discovered by the producer's grand-niece and publicly screened in Guadalajara in July 2011.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler is a rather interesting example here. Richard Williams spent decades trying to make this an animated classic, yet it was screwed up by the many executives that held on to the film. The original cut was left on the shelf for decades due to Williams having to deal with other works being made. Eventually, he managed to get further work done and tried to license the film to Warner Bros. for release, but Williams couldn't finish it in time, and Disney had its own A Thousand and One Nights story in development. As a result, WB terminated the deal and the executives forced Williams out of the project. Soon afterwards, the project suffered heavy editing and outsourcing in order for the film to be completed faster, and was released to heavy panning by animation lovers and critics across the board. This made Williams extremely devastated, leaving his career in ruins. The original, unfinished left unseen for decades until it was finally shown, half remastered, as the "Recobbled Cut", retaining most of the elements of the original print and some scenes that were never even finished.
  • The strange Jon Voight film The Legend of Simon Conjurer seems to be heading this way. It was supposedly released to a limited number of theaters in 2006 and apparently has yet to receive any release on DVD, Blu-ray, or even Netflix with a large portion of the internet population trying to find it. Considering the only footage available is a trailer, it is speculated that the whole thing was a weird hoax. The film was quietly released to streaming platforms in September 2014. It is now called Deadly Lessons.
  • The second ever Sherlock Holmes movie, released in 1916 and simply titled Sherlock Holmes, was thought lost forever, until it was found mislabeled in the French Film Archive in Paris in 2014. This is especially important since it stars William Gillette, the man who first performed Sherlock Holmes on stage over a thousand times and became the Trope Codifier for many Sherlock-isms like "Elementary, dear Watson" and him smoking a Calabash pipe (he needed a pipe that could be seen from the back row). So in many ways, this is the first time ever we are able to see the original Sherlock Holmes!
  • For many decades, the only way to watch a complete version of The Phantom of the Opera (1925) was the Eastman House print of the 1929 recut since the original 1925 version was believed to be lost to time. That all changed in 2011 when the British Film Institute located a copy, going on to release it on DVD two years later.
  • Charles Burnett's 1978 student film Killer of Sheep was made to wild acclaim by every critic who saw it, but could not be released commercially because the rights to the soundtrack, filled with blues legends, were way too expensive. For nearly 30 years it remained almost unseen while appearing on the Roger Ebert 'Great Movies' list and other lists of critical masterpieces. It finally got a home video release in 2007 after a fundraising campaign scraped together the money for the soundtrack.
  • 1922's The Toll of the Sea is considered the second oldest technicolor film. It was considered lost until it resurfaced in 1985. It's complete except for the very last scene. Fortunately, it was just a shot of an ocean and thus a new scene was shot to complete the film.
  • The surprisingly prophetic 1924 film, The City Without Jews, which was Exactly What It Sayson The Tin and predicted the rise of Nazism and antisemitism, was thought lost until a badly damaged copy was found in Austria in 1989 and a more complete copy was found in a Paris flea market in 2015. In its time it was surprisingly successful, but was banned due to the highly negative right-wing reaction to it (it helped the the right wing had significant influence in Austria at the time).
  • The 1962 Hong Kong film Big and Little Wong Tin Bar, featuring the young Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung in their film debuts, was long considered lost, with only a 9-minute opening clip and a 5-minute stretch of dialogue surviving. The complete film was rediscovered in 2016 and has since been posted to YouTube.
  • Orson Welles' The Other Side of the Wind, one of his last projects, starring John Huston and Peter Bogdanovich. Welles shot all the footage he wanted and had started editing it before the negative was seized during the Iranian Revolution. (The Shah's brother-in-law had helped pay for it.) After the new government decided it didn't have any value to them, it was locked away in a vault in Paris while various legal rights were worked out. Welles had edited about 40 minutes of footage before it was taken away. There were various efforts to complete it that were either blocked by his daughter Beatrice or by legal decisions. Showtime supposedly bought the rights to the project in the late 90s but never released a version of the film. Various people (including Bogdanovich) were granted access to the negative and tried to complete the editing. By the mid 2010s, it was supposedly "96% complete" (and just needed some post production work, including a score) but gathering dust in a vault for decades due to these legal squabbles. Netflix bought the rights to the film in March 2017, and released it in late 2018.
  • Carl Dreyer's original cut of The Passion of Joan of Arc was believed to be lost after the master negative was destroyed in a fire just a few weeks after the film's release in 1928, though he would reconstruct a facsimile of his original cut using alternate and unused takes (this, too, was destroyed in a fire the following year, but not before enough copies were made to allow continued distribution). Dreyer died in 1968 believing his film was lost forever. It wasn't until 1981 that copies of the original negative were found in, of all places, an insane asylum in Norway. It's unknown how they came to be there — there are no records of any copies of the film being shipped to Norway — but historians believe that the director of the asylum in the 1920s — who was also a professional historian — may have requested a special copy.
  • The 1972 Israeli countercultural film An American Hippie in Israel was believed to be lost until 2007, when film historian Yaniv Edelstein managed to locate a copy in the possession of one of the film's cast members. Upon its rediscovery it was screened in Tel Aviv and quickly gained a cult following similar to that of The Room.


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