Lost legends are back in the reel world for Warner Bros' 90th anniversary


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The Independent Culture

Warner Bros celebrates its 90th anniversary this month with an exhibition of items from its best known titles at its studio lot in LA. As Mastering Vice-President, it is Ned Price's job is to maintain the archive.

“You'll never have to worry about losing Gone with the Wind,” he says. “We have more back-up copies than you can imagine. But it's the lesser-known lost films that are on my mind.”

Many original nitrate prints were destroyed by fires during cinema's first century. More than 70 per cent of silent-era films are considered lost to history.

Price believes they can be found. He recently recovered negatives of two Warner Bros films dating to 1929, featuring silent star Colleen Moore, whose career is largely forgotten, because most of her films are no longer thought to exist.

Synthetic Sin and Why Be Good? were discovered in a private archive in Milan, but will now take up residence in the Warner Bros vault at Burbank, which contains 675,000 reels, remains at 3.3 degrees Celsius and is built to withstand an earthquake.

After all, says Price, “the films are Warner Bros' assets. In a way, they are Warner Bros.”