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Rediscovered film archive up for auction


Rediscovered film archive up for auction

A unique film archive saved from landfill 25 years ago and only recently rediscovered hidden in storage comes to auction.

The archive of big film masters for film trailers and their component parts including negatives, print, titles and sound, came to light when the secure unused rooms on the second floor of a building they were stored in for the last twenty five years in the North of England was ordered to be cleared around five years ago.

Jonathan Torode of Excalibur Auctions:

“In basic terms the film publicity company was producing a mini film, to advertise a new production. The process required elements to be created such as the titles, opticals and credits, which were sandwiched together with the live action and sound. This included film negatives and magnetic sound, which was transferred and became the optically read soundtrack included on the final print and can be seen on the edge of final negatives and prints.”

The closure and sale in the late nineties of one of the leading film publicity production companies based in Perivale, led to a huge clearance of unwanted archived material destined for destruction and landfill in Canary Wharf. One of the then directors now deceased and himself a film fan, was keen to save material but was not in a position to do so personally.

A few very lucky collectors and industry insiders, were, with the director’s blessing, able to rescue a limited amount of material including master film reels for trailers and other film publicity material. On the day that many film reels packed in their original tins dating from the 20’s 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were about to leave on the back of flat bed trucks, destined for landfill sites, one collector in the right place at the right time, was given permission to rescue whatever they could, literally with minutes to spare.

“We are thrilled to have been appointed to sell this important slice of film history. This unique archive of over a thousand lots is a must for any film buff, as you are attaining a true piece of cinematic past, the like of which is hardly ever seen on the open market. Its’ exceptional provenance adds to its historic importance.” – Jonathan Torode

Some of these metal tins for unique UK and overseas trailers created to advertise new, ‘coming soon’ productions for cinemas, contained titles such as Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy films, Horror classics from the 30’s like Frankenstein and later productions in the fifties and sixties, including Night of The Demon and Hammer Horror thrillers like Dracula and The Evil of Frankenstein, Fellini’s first UK release of La Dolce Vita (The Sweet life), early westerns starring John Wayne in titles like Stagecoach, Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory and Dr Strangelove, Hitchcock’s chiller blockbuster Psycho, war film classics like A Bridge on the River Kwai, Zulu and the Dambusters and many British classics, such as Brief Encounter and Look Back in Anger.

Secret agent James Bond appears in a super rare find, complete with it’s original paperwork for two trailer productions for Goldfinger and Thunderball, along with a truly surprising and rare set of reels for a special first release trailer featurette for The Beatles in a Hard Days Night, which shows the fab four in conversation about their first ever feature film, possibly not seen since 1964 or since published.

Over a thousand tins of film reels were rescued and moved to a secret location in the North of England where, kept safely over the years in good conditions under lock and key, they were left undisturbed. Eventually the building was required for other purposes by its’ owner and the unused second floor, which had been boarded up, revealed on investigation it’s hidden treasure, all neatly stacked and packed on shelves that had been installed when they were originally placed in storage.

Jonathan Torode of Excalibur Auctions:

“The film reels packed in their original metal tins contain a unique mix of master elements and footage of live action, some of which may not have been released as part of the final cut or seen by the public, making them even more exceptionally rare.

“The entire auction has been arranged to allow the market to decide the true value of these unique pieces. As nothing like this has been offered for sale before there hasn’t been a precedent. Some may sell for hundreds, others thousands, it depends totally on the fans, or museums, as these are a piece of cinematic history.”

The archive’s owner, after much thought, took the decision to entrust this unique collection to Excalibur Auctions and the entire archive, over 1080 items, is being offered in an online auction which is live now until May 27th, 2024.

The auction offerings can be seen here

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