February 7, 2019  (Web Review)

Found at “Mostly Lost” Vol. 2

Undercrank (avail. from www.amazon.com), 106 min., not rated, DVD: $19.98

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

This anthology compiles 10 silent film shorts that languished in archives for years because they were either missing titles or were misidentified. They are now properly catalogued thanks to input from audience members at the Library of Congress’s “Mostly Lost” workshops who were able to correctly identify the works and offer full production credits. Much of the focus is on comedy, with highlights including the surreal Georges Méliès-inspired 1906 special effects romp And the Villain Still Pursued Her; or, the Author’s Dream, the wacky Snub Pollard misadventure Do Me a Favor (1922)—the scene with Snub and an inept fire brigade running through the street with an oversized hose is brilliant—and the charming Fresh Fish (1922), in which animated characters Bobby Bumps and his dog Fido interact with an impatient live animator and his unpredictable cat. Also notable is a 1903 Edison-produced peek at the diminutive vaudeville star Adolph Zink, who shows off his talent for costume and makeup quick changes as he transforms from a fashionable Edwardian damsel to an aged plutocrat in a matter of seconds. A non-comedy gem is the 1909 The Falling Arrow, a fast-paced Western that is one of the few surviving films of the pioneering Native American actor/director James Young Deer. And one French short is included: the 1907 The Faithful Friend; Or True to the End, which depicts the heartbreaking lengths a devoted dog will go to to be with his blind master. Sure to delight anyone with a passion for the silent film era, this is highly recommended. (P. Hall)