"Black Oxen" (1923)

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Big Silent Fan
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"Black Oxen" (1923)

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:26 am

The film's title, "Black Oxen" (1924) is taken from the title of the 1922 book it's is based on. Clara Bow's in it, but the beautiful Corinne Griffith is the real beauty in this film. It's a strange story of someone regaining their youth and returning to encounter friends that have all grown old. Later (at the end of the existing film) she dines with the younger crowd who talk about how they might have to compete with their grandmothers for dates. Very clever titles throughout the film, at least what I was able to see on YouTube.

Strange title perhaps, but it was used because of the book's success. The film is a prime example of "Hollywood's Golden Years" with a cast and sets more extravagant than seen at the Oscars. All the scene settings are bigger than life mansions or crowded stage and opera houses. It's a black tie film throughout. Cars have all been carefully done with a fine polish making them stand out. I was able to read the first pages of the book and it was like reading a screenplay for the film.
I discovered this treasure but unfortunately, the 'restored' picture (shown as running much longer) ended abruptly when the image froze at 22 minutes. There are multiple posting of this on YouTube, both restored and unrestored but all of the restored recordings each froze at 22 minutes. I've learned since that the 'George Eastman House' attempted a restoration of the part of the film they had which is missing the final three reels. My guess is that they've only restored these first 22 minutes and others have reposted this without ever watching for themselves.

Researching further, I've learned the 58 minutes I was able to watch (continuing in a unrestored version) is all that's currently available anywhere. I also learned the Russian Archives has all but reel three, meaning that if Eastman and Russia were to work together, the entire film could be available. I suppose I can add this to my wish list.

In my research, I also learned what happens in the ending and I think I'd be quite disappointed watching this...so, I'm glad to have been able to see the beginning 22 minutes in a fine quality print and continue at least through the first hour with what's available. It has no sound, but I was satisfied with the music I provided.

A link showing the films promotion to exhibitors. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0014721/med ... 3572380416" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

There's a wealth of other information available and the first part of the novel is available to read at Amazon. It reads like the screenplay for this film.

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Rick Lanham
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Re: "Black Oxen" (1923)

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:56 am

The ebook seems to be available on Gutenberg.

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/25542" target="_blank

“The past is never dead. It's not even past” - Faulkner.

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Re: "Black Oxen" (1923)

Unread post by Brooksie » Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:03 pm

I've been curious to see this since finding a Photoplay edition of the book in a second-hand store a few years ago, but I've held off watching until a full restoration arrives, which doesn't seem impossible. Seems like an intriguing idea for a film.

YouTube has some of the Eastman House's restored material online. It's much better quality than the other versions available, so I suspect there is no overlap:

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Re: "Black Oxen" (1923)

Unread post by CoffeeDan » Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:54 am

Years ago, I downloaded a copy of BLACK OXEN from the George Eastman House website, and it runs just short of 75 minutes -- and doesn't freeze at the 22-minute mark. Their description said this version was missing only the final reel.

There's also an incomplete print of the film at Gosfilmofund, the Russian film archive. On this thread, Micromegas said he asked them about it, and they responded that their print was missing reel #2.

If it weren't for copyright issues, this might make a dandy Kickstarter project . . .

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