The BFI 75 Most Wanted is a list compiled in 2010 by the British Film Institute of the most sought-after British feature films not held in the BFI National Archive, and classified as "missing, believed lost". The films chosen range from quota quickies and B-movies to lavish prestige productions of their day. The list includes lost works by major directors and those featuring top-name actors; also films that were top box-office successes in their time but have since disappeared, and works that are believed to be historically significant for some aspect of style, technique, subject matter or innovation.
The earliest film on the list dates from 1913, the latest from 1983. The 1930s is the most represented decade with 24 entries, followed by the 1920s (16) and the 1940s (14). Maurice Elvey, with four films on the list, is the most represented director. The first film on the list is Alfred Hitchcock's 1926 feature The Mountain Eagle, described as "the Holy Grail of film historians".
Since 2012, the BFI has revealed that a number of the films on the list have been found. As of 2017, 18 of the 75 films have been found in their complete form; two others exist in shortened, retitled versions that were re-edited for the United States market.
Films (in chronological order)
- Films that have been found
- Films that have significant segments or scenes still extant, or exist in cut versions, or in poor quality prints
- Films that have been found and exist as complete 16mm or 35mm prints, but film prints are still missing from the BFI national archive.
|1913||Maria Marten, or the Mystery of the Red Barn||Maurice Elvey||From first year of Elvey's directorial career. Dramatisation of the notorious Red Barn murder, filmed in the actual locations in which the events took place|
|1914||A Study in Scarlet||George Pearson||Earliest British Sherlock Holmes feature|
|1916||Milestones||Thomas Bentley||Ambitious multi-generational family saga|
|1919||The First Men in the Moon||J. L. V. Leigh||First direct H. G. Wells film adaptation|
|1920||The Amazing Quest of Mr. Ernest Bliss||Henry Edwards|
|1921||The Adventures of Mr. Pickwick||Thomas Bentley||Early Dickens adaptation|
|1921||The Narrow Valley||Cecil Hepworth||Starring Alma Taylor, highly praised for its location shots of the South Downs countryside|
|1923||Love, Life and Laughter||George Pearson||Acclaimed on release as "a screen classic" and "a masterpiece". On 2 April 2014 Dutch filmmuseum EYE reported that it had discovered a copy. Now in the BFI National Archive.|
|1923||Reveille||George Pearson||Socially significant World War I drama. Small segments believed to survive in private hands|
|1923||Woman to Woman||Graham Cutts||Hitchcock as assistant director and uncredited screenwriter|
|1924||Lily of the Alley||Henry Edwards||Experimental silent without use of intertitles|
|1924||Who Is the Man?||Walter Summers||Screen debut of John Gielgud|
|1926||London||Herbert Wilcox||Big-budget "Limehouse" picture starring Dorothy Gish|
|1926||Mademoiselle from Armentieres||Maurice Elvey||Highest-grossing British film of 1926. A little under one third is known to survive in fragments|
|1926||The Mountain Eagle||Alfred Hitchcock||The only lost Hitchcock feature film (his short An Elastic Affair is also lost). One of the world's most sought-after lost films.|
|1927||The Arcadians||Victor Saville||Curiosity as to how a silent version was made of a popular stage musical|
|1927||The Story of the Flag||Anson Dyer||First full-length British animation|
|1927||Tip Toes||Herbert Wilcox||Another Dorothy Gish vehicle, mauled by critics|
|1929||The Crooked Billet||Adrian Brunel||Starring Madeleine Carroll. May have been released in both silent and sound versions|
|1929||The Last Post||Dinah Shurey||Solo directorial debut of Britain's only female film director of this period|
|1930||Lord Richard in the Pantry||Walter Forde|
|1930||School for Scandal||Maurice Elvey||Only film shot in the abortive Raycol colour process. Only screened in black-and-white|
|1930||Too Many Crooks||George King||British film debut of Laurence Olivier|
|1931||Deadlock||George King||First British talkie to use a film set as its dramatic location.|
|1931||Hobson's Choice||Thomas Bentley||Conflicting reports as to whether George Formby appeared in this film|
|1931||Lloyd of the C.I.D.||Henry MacRae||12-part sound serial, the only such ever made in Britain not targeted at a juvenile audience. Known to have been extant in 1977, but has since proved untraceable|
|1931||Two Crowded Hours||Michael Powell||Powell's directorial debut, an unexpected box-office success|
|1932||Castle Sinister||Widgey R. Newman||Early British horror film, intriguing tagline "Mad doctor tries to put girl's brain into apeman's head"|
|1932||Men of Tomorrow||Leontine Sagan||Screen debut of Robert Donat|
|1933||Counsel's Opinion||Allan Dwan||Early Alexander Korda production|
|1933||Yes, Mr Brown||Jack Buchanan||Buchanan's first starring and directing role|
|1934||Badger's Green||Adrian Brunel||First production credit of Anthony Havelock-Allan|
|1934||The Path of Glory||Dallas Bower||Exceptionally sophisticated and polished quota quickie|
|1934||To Be a Lady||George King||Only lost sound film starring Chili Bouchier|
|1935||Murder at Monte Carlo||Ralph Ince||Screen debut of Errol Flynn|
|1935||The Price of a Song||Michael Powell||One of Powell's most favourably reviewed quota quickies|
|1935||The Public Life of Henry the Ninth||Bernard Mainwaring||First-ever Hammer Films production|
|1936||Educated Evans||William Beaudine||Considered the best of Max Miller's films|
|1936||The Man Behind the Mask||Michael Powell||Powell's last quota quickie. A print of the American release, titled Behind the Mask, has been found, but it is a cut version of the original UK film.|
|1936||The Scarab Murder Case||Michael Hankinson||The only Philo Vance film made in Britain|
|1937||The Vulture||Ralph Ince||Last film directed by Ince before his death in a road accident|
|1938||The Viper||Roy William Neill||Sequel to The Vulture|
|1939||The Good Old Days||Roy William Neill||The only Max Miller film with a period setting|
|1939||Murder Will Out||Roy William Neill||Playing in cinemas at outbreak of World War II|
|1940||Dr. O'Dowd||Herbert Mason||Irish-set drama, screen debut of Peggy Cummins. Enthusiastically reviewed in Ireland ("a film about Ireland with a difference...no animals in the living rooms of the homes.")|
|1941||This Man Is Dangerous||Lawrence Huntington||The only missing James Mason film. Although it is said to have been shown on British television as recently as 1987, this is a false claim. Dubbed Italian copy traced.|
|1943||Deadlock||Ronald Haines||Convoluted thriller with John Slater in dual role as twins. It is now available on DVD.|
|1943||It's in the Bag||Herbert Mason||Popular Gert and Daisy slapstick comedy|
|1943||Squadron Leader X||Lance Comfort||Extremely well-reviewed at the time of release, sought due to critical reassessment of Comfort's importance in British cinema history. Story by Emeric Pressburger.|
|1944||Kiss the Bride Goodbye||Paul L. Stein||Pre-stardom Jean Simmons role. The Huntley Film Archives states that it has "the whole film".|
|1944||Welcome, Mr. Washington||Leslie S. Hiscott||American soldiers in an English village. Rediscovered c. 2015. It was shown on the British TV channel Talking Pictures TV on 13 October 2020.|
|1945||Flight from Folly||Herbert Mason||First starring screen role of stage star Patricia Kirkwood|
|1945||For You Alone||Geoffrey Faithfull||Lavish wartime melodrama, a huge box-office hit. A 16mm safety print appears in the UCLA Film and Television Archive's online search.|
|1945||The World Owes Me a Living||Vernon Sewell||Lost film from a re-evaluated director. The Library of Congress possesses "nitrate material". In 2020, the film was shown on Talking Pictures TV.|
|1948||Bless 'Em All||Robert Jordan Hill||Army comedy-musical, screen debut of Max Bygraves. A 2½-minute trailer survives, while a cut-down version titled Be Kind Sergeant turned up on eBay.|
|1948||But Not in Vain||Edmond T. Gréville||Tense World War II drama by increasingly studied director|
|1948||Somewhere in Politics||John E. Blakeley||Mancunian Films production starring Frank Randle. An 18-minute segment survives|
|1949||The Golden Madonna||Ladislao Vajda||Location-shot in Italy, starring Phyllis Calvert|
|1950||Double Confession||Ken Annakin||Peter Lorre's only non-Hitchcock British film. A DVD was released but is no longer available. A 35mm print exists in an independent archive in the UK.|
|1952||Hammer the Toff||Maclean Rogers||Two films based on the John Creasey character The Toff. Salute the Toff was released on DVD in November 2013 and Hammer the Toff in March 2016.|
|1952||Salute the Toff|
|1953||Small Town Story||Montgomery Tully||Football thriller with appearances by Denis Compton and the Arsenal and Millwall football teams. Starring Donald Houston and Susan Shaw. Has now been found, restored and released on DVD.|
|1953||Three Steps in the Dark||Daniel Birt||Murder mystery starring Greta Gynt. It is in the collection of the National Film and Sound Archive in Australia.|
|1954||The Diamond||Montgomery Tully||The first British 3D film. According to BFI, however, it was shown only once in 3D, on 13 September 2006 in Hollywood. The first nearly five minutes can also be viewed on YouTube. A complete version was shown on YouTube for several days in September 2017.|
|1957||Alive on Saturday||Alfred Travers||Stars Guy Middleton and Patricia Owens. 'The BFI's Stills, Posters and Design collections holds two stills.'|
|1957||Second Fiddle||Maurice Elvey||Elvey's last film, it is now available on DVD.|
|1960||Linda||Don Sharp||Teen-drama starring Carol White and Alan Rothwell. Originally shown on a double-bill with Saturday Night and Sunday Morning|
|1962||Crosstrap||Robert Hartford-Davis||Directorial debut, reportedly with exceptionally graphic violence for its time. The BFI reported that a black and white negative print of the film was discovered in the early 2010s and digitally scanned. It is now available for screening on the BFI player websiteand has been shown several times on Talking Pictures TV.|
|1963||Farewell Performance||Robert Tronson||Murder mystery set in the pop world, with performances from Joe Meek acts including The Tornados and Heinz|
|1968||Sleep Is Lovely (aka, The Other People)||David Hart||Believed to be experimental in filming style, no evidence of screening to a trade or paying audience.|
|1969||The Promise||Michael Hayes||The first time Russian playwright Aleksei Arbuzov allowed any of his works to be filmed. Stars Ian McKellen.|
|1971||Nobody Ordered Love||Robert Hartford-Davis||Following poor promotion and a critical panning, Hartford-Davis reportedly took back all prints and ordered them to be destroyed after his death.|
|1972||The Cherry Picker||Peter Curran||Mild sexploitation comedy with cast including Lulu, Spike Milligan and Terry-Thomas. Believed to be still in private circulation via inferior quality bootleg copies, but original prints and negatives are missing.|
|1973||Symptoms||José Ramón Larraz||British entry in the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. Also believed to circulate privately through bootlegs, but for many years the negatives remained missing. The film was obtained by February 2016 and has since been released on DVD.|
|1983||Where Is Parsifal?||Henri Helman||Cast includes Orson Welles, Tony Curtis and Peter Lawford. Shown at 1984 Cannes Film Festival but withdrawn before scheduled UK release. Never publicly available in UK or US, the original English-language sources are missing. Director Helman donated "his personal 35mm print, with French subtitles" to the British Film Institute.|
- BFI 75 Most Wanted Archived 2 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine BFI National Archive. Note: For references and further information for individual films, follow this link then click on the appropriate film name.
- Josephine Botting (29 November 2012). "BFI Most Wanted: our discoveries so far". BFI. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- Filmmuseum ontdekt meesterwerk. www.NOS.nl
- "BFI Most Wanted". British Film Institute. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
- "BFI Most Wanted". BFI. February 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
- "Film: 91524". huntleyarchives.com. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- Brooks, Richard (10 January 2016). "Wartime film returns to big screen after going Awol for 72 years". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 10 January 2016. (subscription required)
- Radio Times, 10-16 October 2020
- "For you alone / produced by F.W. Baker; directed by Geoffrey Faithfull". UCLA Library Catalog. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
- "Small Town Story: 'lost' football film tells tale of corruption and lure of the big league - video". The Guardian. 12 August 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- "The Diamond / BFI Most Wanted". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "The Diamond – 1954 First British 3D Film (intro)". Retrieved 26 May 2014 – via YouTube.
- "The Diamond (1954) Dennis O'Keefe, Philip Friend 48 hours ONLY!". YouTube. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
- http://old.bfi.org.uk/nationalarchive/news/mostwanted/alive-on-saturday.html Archived 3 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 15 August 2020
- "Crosstrap on BFI Player". Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- "Lost Euro-Horror Film 'Symptoms' Unearthed by Mondo Macabro! [Exclusive]". bloody-disgusting.com. Retrieved 6 February 2016.