"the sheer difficulty of seeing much of it"

Film Joe McBride's biography of Frank Capra, The Catastrophe of Success, was required reading on my film course with its incisive skewering of the fiction Capra weaves in his actual autobiography (late night liaisons with dwarves etc.).

In this Sight and Sound piece, he considers Capra's earliest work, or more specifically the films I didn't need to write about because I chose essay question three rather than four when it came time to doing the assignment:
"A major reason that early Capra has been neglected by audiences and critics has been the sheer difficulty of seeing much of it. A US distributor, Kit Parker Films, circulated Capra silents and early sound films on 16mm decades ago, but only a few of his features for Columbia Pictures from the 1920s and early 30s have been made available on VHS or DVD. On the other hand, many of the films he made with silent comedian Harry Langdon (first as writer and then as director) have recently shown up on DVD. Most of Capra’s early Columbia films long existed in bastardised prints of indifferent quality, often preserved only because of the efforts of European collectors and archives. Joseph Walker, Capra’s indispensable cinematographer, told me that Columbia president Harry Cohn was too cheap to take good care of the studio vaults in Capra’s heyday."
Which was the other reason. As with the missing believe wiped items in the BBC's archive, few in old Hollywood had any inkling of the cash cow they were leaving to rot after it's theatrical distribution.  Luckily, some of it may be in Russia.

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