Keene State College Prof Uncovers A Lost Gem From Hollywood's Early Days

Sep 24, 2013

Mary Pickford stars in "Their First Misunderstanding," a 1911 short film believed lost. A copy of the film turned up in a barn in Nelson, N.H., and Keene State College took part in the process to restore the film.
Credit Courtesy Keene State College/Library of Congress

We use the phrase “long lost” more often than is probably warranted, but this story certainly qualifies.

Several years ago a contractor was cleaning out a barn in Nelson that he’d been hired to demolish. He found a 35 millimeter film projector and seven reels of nitrate film. Among those was a short film that had not been seen in decades. The film, called “Their First Misunderstanding,” stars an 18 year old woman named Mary Pickford, who would become one of Hollywood’s first and biggest stars.

Larry Benaquist founded the Film Department at Keene State College. He helped put together the effort to restore this film, and he explains the process to All Things Considered host Brady Carlson.

Keene State is hosting a screening of “Their First Misunderstanding” and several more Mary Pickford films on October 11th. If you can't make it to that event, you can see a clip of the film on the Los Angeles Times website.