I wrote a post some years ago about why more of Pola Negri’s movies should be globally available to the public. The thing is that I’ve been fortunate to see some of the movies I included on that post, but I still would want to see those that are in film museums and archives all over the world.
I want to emphasize more on the films of Pola Negri that still survive and barely even a fragment can be seen by the public.
Yesterday, I was very lucky to find a website of rare films that sold three of Pola Negri’s talkies made under UFA during the Third Reich era in Germany.
Now, the films she made during that period are almost impossible to find. Yet, if a copy of one is found, it is most likely that it will not have subtitles. One positive thing is that at least Mazurka can be found in places like Amazon with English subtitles.
I found Madame Bovary, Tango Notturno, and Die fromme Lüge. I ordered them immediately, even though they don’t have the most decent quality or subtitles. I just wanted to see more of Pola from that era.
So, today, I spent about an hour researching Pola’s surviving films and where they could be. I’ll try to be as correct as I can when including their locations.
Hard-to-find Pola Negri’s surviving films (the ones that are really hard to find):
- Her earliest surviving film is Bestia, made in Poland in 1917, and can be seen here. It was also released in the Pola Negri Iconic Collection, but that is out of print.
- The second earliest is Arabella, but only a fragment of it survives. It can be seen here.
- The third earliest is called Wenn das Herz in Haß erglüht (When the Heart Burns With Hate). I can’t find footage of it anywhere unfortunately. It has been shown in The Cinémathèque Française, so it is probably there. It has also been shown in the Museum of Photography in Poland.
- Mania was thought lost, but was discovered some years ago and thankfully restored. It isn’t available in home media, however. The film has been shown in different countries in Europe. The trailer can be seen here. It probably survives in the National Film Archive of Poland.
5. Komtesse Doddy is a film that luckily survives in the Cinémathèque Française as well!
6. The next hard-to-find film is Die Flamme (The Flame). This one was both Pola’s and Ernst Lubitsch’s last German silent film together before they continued their careers in America. It has been said the film is incomplete, as there is a fragment available to be seen here, and another source says it survives in The Cinémathèque Française.
7. Bella Donna is Pola Negri’s first American silent film. In it she is depicted as a gypsy or femme fatale of some sort. A print survives in Gosfilmofond Archive in Moscow.
8. I had the most fortunate opportunity to see Forbidden Paradise when it was screened in Berkeley last year. It was a grand film! It survives in The Cinémathèque Française.
9. A complete print of The Woman on Trial unfortunately has not been found. Fragments survive in The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
10. Fanatisme is Pola Negri’s only French film. It is extremely rare and survives probably in The Cinémathèque Française.
11. Moskau-Shanghai probably survives in the German Film Institute in Germany.
12. I have found Madame Bovary, Tango Notturno, and Die fromme Lüge here.
13. Transit Film has a copy of Die Nacht der Entscheidung (The Night of the Decision). This is Pola Negri’s last talking film in Germany before she escaped to America. She sings beautifully in it. (Update: a kind soul uploaded this film to YouTube.)
Well, this explains that watching these films requires a trip to Europe and money. It is my goal to watch all her surviving films one day.
Her films should be better restored. I wish I had enough knowledge of technology and money to help them be restored, because Pola Negri was a very special performer and person who deserves recognition.