The Northwest Chicago Film Society presents the 1927 silent movie Upstream. It is considered a lost treasure until 2010, when it was found in the vaults of the New Zealand Film Archive. The movie is made by John Ford and takes place in a theatrical boarding house in New York City.
Upstream features a love triangle involving a Shakespearean actor Eric Brashingham (Earle Foxe), and the knife-throwing act duo played by Grant Withers and Nancy Nash. It is based on the short story The Snake’s Wife written by Wallace Smith.
The movie premiered in Chicago last February 1927. It is described as interesting, atmospheric and exceedingly well done. But it was thought to be lost until it popped up as one of the 75 American silent movies in storage at the New Zealand archive.
It is said to be the first Ford movie to show influence of German director F.W. Murnau, who started working at Fox Studios in 1926. Through Murnau, Ford learned how to used forced perspectives and chiaroscuro lighting.
The New Zealand Film Archive found the American movies that have not been shipped back to the United States after they ran in the theaters. They were supposed to be destroyed after the end of their distribution run but some were kept in storage instead. Among those found was Upstream, which was considered important and this was why it was restored in New Zealand.
The National Film Preservation Foundation helped the New Zealand Archive preserved the movies with the help of several silent film preservation groups. Upstream was restored at a New Zealand lab but hasn’t been made into DVD or VOD yet. At present, it is in big-screen material and set to be shown in various cinemas in the United States. The restored version was premiered at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in September 2010.