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Treasures From American Film Archives (V): The West, 1898-1938


The American Film Archives, which have preserved hundreds of rare and nearly lost films, are releasing their 5th DVD set this month, on the West. Covering the years 1898-1938, this set has some absolutely amazing stuff for those interesting in film, the West, and awesome American art. Among the films I am particularly excited to see are:

The Tourists (1912, 6 min.), Mabel Normand runs amuck in Albuquerque’s Indian market.
Romance of Water (1931, 10 min.), how L.A. got its water.
The Sergeant (1910, 16 min.), first surviving narrative shot in Yosemite.
Salomy Jane (1914, 87 min.), Gold Rush tale with America’s first Latina movie star Beatriz Michelena.
Mantrap (1926, 71 min.), wilderness comedy with Clara Bow and a woman-hating attorney.

It goes on. The American Film Archives do amazing work. Among the films they’ve made available is The Battle of San Pietro, which Rob talked about last night. I also cannot recommend enough Where Are My Children, the pro-birth control, anti-abortion silent film that promotes eugenic marriages and is, basically, insane. No student of American abortion politics has a complete education without it. It is part of the 3rd DVD set, Social Issues in American Film.

As a western historian who next academic year will be teaching a 2 semester capstone on the American West, I cannot express enough glee for this awesome collection. Those kids are going to have watched a hell of a lot of westerns by the time they are through, from these silents to John Ford to East Germany anti-American propaganda westerns.

Here’s a sneak preview of the collection, 1917’s How the Cowboy Makes His Lariat.

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