2 June 2005 | finki
An extremely important lost movie that must be found
This is a unique film in the history of Hollywood and the Argentinean film. The fact that it is also a lost film is also a painful frustration. For the first and only time, a Hollywood studio production was actually financed, supervised and produced by an Argentinean producer, Julián Ajuria.
In the USA, FBO Pictures (which was becoming RKO Radio Pictures), virtually dismissed it as a programmer, reediting it and it was exhibited without success at the beginning of the sound film revolution. But this film was specifically intended for Argentinean audiences and in South America this film became the most financially successful of all of the silent films ever released.
While it was on production, the film was dismissed as a Hollywoodized view of the Argentinean history. The perception changed once the press, historians and politicians were able to see the film before its release.
Director Albert Kelly was an unknown, and probably a traffic officer under the watchful eye of Julián Ajuria. A lot of money was put in the picture in terms of authentic historical reconstruction of the Argentina of 1810 and the camera-work by George Benoit (who directed "Juan sin ropa" in Buenos Aires nine years ago) and Nicholas Musuraca was unquestionably excellent.
It's premiere was quite an event and those who were able to see this film never forgot it and always wanted to see it again. The last time that this film was officially exhibited was in 1939, then it vanished.
That was a sad thing for a film that several institutions, not related to films, tried to preserve. Today, only stills and descriptions of certain scenes that were published by the contemporary papers have survived.
Francis X. Bushman, as Manuel Belgrano, probably gave a performance of a lifetime. The fact that this is a silent film was a major advantage since when later Argentinean producers attempted epic historical reconstructions failed for the most part. The absence of sound unquestionably helped when the actors have to deliver important speeches. Bushman managed to embody Manuel Belgrano to perfection even in the surviving stills.
By the time of its release in 1928 Francis X. Bushman was no longer an important star. Had this film survived he might be honored in Argentina.
The fact that "Una nueva y gloriosa nación" (a title lifted from the original version of the Argentinean National Anthem) is a big frustration. But its importance in the development and encouragement of the Argentinean film industry will never be denied.
This film should be available again.