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The 10 silent films Russia returned to the U.S.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011; 10:36 PM

The Russian government has returned 10 American silent-era films that no longer existed in the United States but were found in Russian state archives. The gift, presented to the Library of Congress in October, is the first installment on the return of up to 194 movies that were not preserved in the United States but were found in Russia. In an October news release, the Library of Congress described the 10 films presented to James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress:

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The Arab (Metro Pictures, 1924)

Director: Rex Ingram

Cast: Ramon Navarro, Alice Terry

Jamil (Navarro), son of a Bedouin leader, falls in love with the daughter of a Christian missionary. Jamil foils an attempt to massacre Christians when he calls the Bedouins to his aid. Upon his father's death, Jamil is made leader of his tribe, while the girl (played by the director's wife, Terry) departs for America but promises to return to him.

Ingram, a stickler for realism, shot portions of "The Arab" on location in Algiers, using Bedouins as extras. Ingram's big career break came when he directed "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" three years earlier and made a star of Rudolph Valentino. Navarro's collaboration with Ingram on this picture and earlier silent versions of "The Prisoner of Zenda" and "Scaramouche" helped catapult him to stardom.

Kick In (Famous Players, 1922)

Director: George Fitzmaurice

Cast: Betty Compson, Bert Lytell, May McAvoy

On release from prison, a thief named Chick Hewes (Lytell) resolves to go straight but is harassed by the police for refusing to turn stool pigeon. He is further angered when the district attorney's son Jerry (Robert Agnew) is not prosecuted for killing a child from the slums in a car accident. He decides to undertake one more job - at the district attorney's home - but discovers that Jerry is already stealing from his father's safe. Jerry's sister Molly (Compson) prevents the police from arresting Chick for her brother's crime, and they go west to begin anew.

"Kick In" had been a successful Broadway play starring John Barrymore. Fitzmaurice also directed an earlier version of the film in 1917. He gained fame as a director of successful romantic dramas, including "The Cheat" with Pola Negri, which he also produced; "The Son of the Sheik," Valentino's last film; and "The Night of Love" with Ronald Colman.

The Conquest of Canaan (Famous Players, 1921)

Director: Roy William Neill

Cast: Thomas Meighan, Doris Kenyon

Defiant of polite society and friendly with corrupt town leaders, Joe Louden (Meighan) is encouraged by his friend Ariel (Kenyon), a recent heiress, to succeed. He studies law and opens a practice in Beaver Beach, where he defends suspected murderer Happy Farley (Paul Everton). When the trial turns ugly and a mob threatens the presiding judge, Farley defends the judge. He is acquitted of murder. Joe wins Ariel and is proclaimed the next mayor of Canaan.

CONTINUED     1              >

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