KSC to show long-lost Mary Pickford film found in NH barn
"I was up in the attic, and tucked away over in a corner was some film, film canisters and a silent movie projector," said Massie.
Massie found what film buffs have dubbed Tinseltown treasure - four features long thought to be "lost," including the 1911 Mary Pickford short film "Their First Misunderstanding."
Christel Schmidt, a Pickford scholar and author of the book, "Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies," said the 1911 film is a significant find.
"Most of Pickford's remarkable career took place during the 1910s and 1920s, a period when women gained power and influence in the public sphere and won social freedoms," said Schmidt. "Offscreen, this star was the era's most famous and arguably influential woman. She was a savvy power player who, by 1918, had accumulated an impressive amount of wealth and had complete creative control over her work. She was a true heroine and a positive role model.
So big, in fact, that the Library of Congress is funding the restoration. The library boasts the world's largest collection of movies by Pickford, known affectionately as "America's Sweetheart."
The estimated cost of the restoration work is $9,000.
Larry Benaquist, who started the film program at Keene State, which has an archive of about 1,000 films, was contacted in 2006 by Peter Massie about what he found in the barn.
"The couple has their differences and have some time apart, but then come back together and their relationship is stronger than ever," said Benaquist. "It's told with a very distinct feminine point of view, which was rare in film at the time."
Benaquist said any time a film like the Pickford short is found, it's an important event.
It's even more special when they feature an actor like Pickford, who Schmidt called one of Hollywood's first "superstars."
Schmidt will be at Keene State on Oct. 11 to host what Benaquist calls the world "re-premiere" of the film. The event will take place at 7 p.m. in the Alumni Recital Hall in the Redfern Arts Center. Schmidt will also bring "Sparrows," a 1926 United Artists film that was Pickford's next to last silent film. Schmidt said the film is considered by many to be her best.
The event is sponsored by the School of Arts and Humanities, Film Studies, the Redfern Arts Center, Women's and Gender Studies, and the KSC Film Society. Tickets are $5, but admission is free for Keene State students with valid ID.
"I can't wait to see what's on there," said Massie.
Closing the season in style