Saturday, August 25, 2007


Turner Classic Movies ("TCM") is set to premiere the second installment of its remarkable "Lost and Found" series with a collection of films made at London's famed Teddington Studios by Warner Bros.-First National between 1932 and 1943. The collection of 13 films includes the U.S. premieres of two early works from director Michael Powell (The Red Shoes)—the comedy Something Always Happens (1934) starring Ian Hunter, and the crime thriller Crown vs. Stevens (1936) starring Beatrix Thompson. The other premieres are Crime Unlimited (1935) starring Lili Palmer; Man of the Moment (1935) starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Laura La Plante; The Peterville Diamond (1943) starring Anne Crawford and The Dark Tower (1943) starring David Farrar. The Teddington Studios: Lost and Found films premiere on TCM in September.

Charlie Tabesh, senior vice president of programming for TCM, advises, "Similar to the lost RKO films we premiered earlier this year, these six films had also quietly slipped through the cracks of film history. Warner Bros deposited the original nitrate camera negatives at the BFI in 1963 and, over the years, the BFI had restored and preserved them. As curators of film history, TCM is proud to take the lead in showcasing these rare and historically important films and airing them for classic movie fans of all ages."

Known as "quota quickies," these films were shot at a fast pace on low budgets to meet the demands of the Cinematograph Films Act of 1927, created by the United Kingdom Parliament to require a yearly quota of British-made movies and hopefully counter Hollywood's dominance of the cinema world. (Never considered a success, the Act was modified over the years and repealed in 1960.) The films made at Teddington during its Warner Bros. era were strictly for the U.K. market, and most were never seen on this side of the Atlantic. Of more than 100 such films, only 33 are known to survive.

Many distinguished actors worked at Teddington during its Warner Bros. period; also represented in the TCM series are Michael Redgrave in Sons of the Sea (1941), Richard Greene in Flying Fortress (1942) and John Gielgud in The Prime Minister (1942). Among those films believed to be permanently lost, one of the most historically significant is 1934's Murder in Monte Carlo, in which a young actor named Errol Flynn so impressed Warner Bros. executives that they dispatched him to Hollywood.

Teddington Studios has a long and interesting history dating to the 1880s. It became a production center for feature films in 1916 and was leased, then purchased, by Warner Bros. in the early 1930s. In 1944, during the dwindling days of World War II, a German rocket exploded on the property, causing extensive damage. Eventually reconstructed, the studios would become home to Thames Television, and today the facility remains an important media center.

Cross-published on Twitch.