Surviving Kinemacolor

The fame of Kinemacolor is sadly not supported by the films that survive. Around 1,0000 Kinemacolor films were produced (the British Kinemacolor catalogue of 1912-13 alone lists some 440 titles); barely fifty are known to exist today. The loss is largely due to the failure of Charles Urban’s American business Urban Motion Picture Industries business, which went bankrupt in 1924. His Kinemacolor library was probably destroyed at this time. However, it is certain that there are more Kinemacolor titles out there. Kinemacolor prints are black-and-white. It is only when they are shown through the correct colour filters that the colour effect emerges. There are films in collections throughout the world where the owners will have detected a curious flickering effect, combined with a slowness of action at anything under thirty frames per second. These will be Kinemacolor, and it is hoped that the publication of the list below of surviving Kinemacolor films may help to bring more of these ‘lost’ films to the surface.

The surviving Kinemacolor films are listed by archive. For reasons of practicality, technical details have been kept to a minimum, and interested researchers should check with the respective archives concerning precise materials held and whether viewing copies are available. Thanks are due to Janice E. Allen, Bryony Dixon (BFI), Livio Gervasio, Nicola Mazzanti, Andrea Meneghelli (Cineteca di Bologna), Ken Weissman (Library of Congress) and Adrian Wood for their help in compiling this filmography.

Les Archives du Film du Centre National de la Cinématographie, Bois d'Arcy, France
(A Highland Lassie) (UK? 19??)
Unidentified dance film held in the Will Day collection.

BFI National Archive, London, UK
(Cat Studies) (UK c.1907)
(Miscellaneous Flowers) (UK c.1914)
Nubia, Wadi Halfa and the Second Cataract (UK 1911)
(Pageant of New Romney, Hythe and Sandwich) (UK 1910)
A Scottish Lass (UK 1909) (formerly given archive title Woman Draped in Patterned Handkerchiefs)
Sunsets in Egypt (UK 1911)
(Tartans of Scottish Clans) (UK c.1907)
(Two Clowns) (UK c.1907)
Varieties of Sweet Peas (UK 1911)

Most of the BFI’s Kinemacolor films are test films made by G.A. Smith which were not produced for public exhibition, and in some cases demonstrate faults with the system which would not have been tolerated for commercial productions. Nubia, Wadi Halfa and the Second Cataract is a copy of the film held in the Cineteca di Bologna (see below). A reel that was previously though to be part of the Kinemacolor feature film The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1914) has now been identified as not that film, and not Kinemacolor.

British Pathé, London, UK
(New York’s Central Park) (USA c.1913) [contained within ‘Edwardian Summer’, an episode of the Time to Remember television series,]
(English racegoers, society figures, Atlantic City scenes [see below], man and woman in dramatic scene) (USA c.1913) [contained within Those Long Forgotten Days (1930), episode of British cinemagazine Eve's Film Review,]

Cineteca del Comune di Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Biskra and Sahara, Algiers (UK 1910)
Choosing the Wallpaper (UK 1910)
A Day at Henley (UK 1911)
I plotoni nuotatori della terza divisione cavalleria comandata da S.A.R. il Conte di Torino (Italy 1912) [Comerio production]
Feeding poultry at Prowse-Jones farm (UK 1911)
Fording the river (UK 1910)
From bud to blossom (UK 1910)
The Harvest (UK 1908)
L’inaugurazione del campanile di San Marco (Italy 1912) [Comerio production]
L’industria del ghiaccio sul fiume San Lorenzo. Montreal, Canada (USA? 19??)
Khartoum and its natives (UK 1911)
Lake Garda, Italy (UK 1910)
Niagara Falls (UK 1911)
Nubia, Wadi Halfa and the Second Cataract (UK 1911)
Le pittoresche cascate d'Italia (Italy c.1914) [Comerio production]
A Run with the Exmoor staghounds (UK 1911)
The Smallest barque in the world (UK 1911)
The Vandal outlaws (UK 1912) [fiction]
La vita dei nostri ascari eritrei in Libia (Italy 1912) [Comerio production]
With Our King and Queen Through India: The Pageant Procession (1912)

In 1992 Bologna acquired the largest single collection of known Kinemacolor films. It was found at the Archivio Cinematografico Ansaldo in Genoa, which had bought the collection from a private collector. The precise number of films and their titles cannot be given, as some reels are in a severe state of decomposition, making their identification difficult. The titles listed above are those the archive is currently able to name with confidence. All are single reels, with the exception of The Vandal Outlaws (two reels). Some are productions of the Italian company Comerio, using the Kinemacolor process, but not official Kinemacolor productions. How they came to be produced (when there was such tight control over the Kinemacolor process) is a mystery.

EYE, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Lake Garda, Italy (UK 1910)
Coronation Drill at Reedham Orphanage (UK 1911)

George Eastman House, Rochester, USA
The Scarlet Letter (USA 1913)
One reel of an original three-reel feature film, based on the Nathaniel Hawthorne story.

Huntley Film Archives, London, UK
(Kinemacolor Clowns) (UK? 19??)
(Puppets film) (UK? 19??) [contained within Colour in the Cinema compilation film]
These two films may be the same, and the same as the film shown on UK television as (Animated Circus Dolls) - see Other Sightings below.

John E. Allen Inc., USA
Balkan War Scenes (UK 1913) [extracts]
Britain Prepared (UK 1915) [extracts - the main part of the film, in monochrome, is held by the Imperial War Museum in London]
Trooping of the Colour (UK 1911)
(unidentified - WWI)
(unidentified - on board ship)
(unidentified - Bosnian Volunteers for Servian Army)
(unidentified - well dressed people entering horse show at Longchamps race track in Paris)
(unidentified - street scene in front of Pennsylvania Station)
(unidentified - woman in corset turning half way around on stage?) [possibly Lillian Russell, see below]
(unidentified - sign on top of building)
(unidentified - horse-drawn trolley with passengers moving toward camera)
(unidentified - street scene with pedestrians New York)
(unidentified - street scenes at 42nd Street and 5th Ave in New York City)

The John E. Allen stock footage library holds a number of Kinemacolor films, identified on its catalogue as '2-color b/w/ flicker', possibly on account of its holding some of the Kinograms library, a newsreel co-founded by Charles Urban.

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., USA
(Scenes of Atlantic City and New York) (USA 19??) [included within a Vitaphone short, Ye Old Time Newsreel]
(Further scenes of Atlantic City and New York) (USA 19??) [contained within a Castle Films Old Time Movie compilation]
Mike and Meyer in Jail (USA c.1915)
Mike and Meyer in the Store (USA c.1915)
(William Howard Taft – Kinemacolor) (USA 1912) [The Taft fragment is only a few frames long, and was discovered as serving as threading leader to another film. The President was filmed 14 October 1912 on board the ship ‘Mayflower’]

The Library of Congress also hold the nitrate copies of the John E. Allen Inc. stock footage collection (see above).

Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, USA
(Horse-drawn trolley) (USA 19??) [included within a Castle Films Old Time Movies compilation Gay Nineties Live Again]

Producers Library, Hollywood, California
How to Live 100 Years (USA 1913) [fragment, featuring Lillian Russell - catalogue says in Tosca, presumably an error, though there was a British Kinemacolor film, La Tosca (1911)]

Russian State Documentary Film & Photo Archive, Krasnogorsk, Russia
With Our King and Queen Through India: The Royal Review of 50,000 Troops (1912)
These two reels from the ‘Delhi Durbar’ film show the section The Royal Review of 50,000 Troops, an event which took place the day after the main Durbar ceremonies. The film was discovered in 2000 during the making of the British television series The British Empire in Colour (2002).

UCLA Film and Television Archive, Los Angeles, California, USA
How to Live 100 Years (USA 1913) [fragment, held as Lillian Russell in Kinemacolor] [identity awaiting confirmation]
How to Live 100 Years was a physical culture film which the actress Lillian Russell included in a lecture tour.

Other sightings
A Granada television programme on early film pioneers, Camera: Moving Pictures – The Electric Paradise (UK tx.19 March 1981) included a sequence from a Kinemacolor film identified as Animated Circus Dolls.

The 1983 American documentary The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt includes some unidentified Kinemacolor shots of people in fashionable dress walking past the camera.