Tomorrow night marks the first Chicago screening in roughly 80 years of Upstream, a silent feature directed by John Ford in 1927 and long presumed lost; it happens at the Portage Theater at 7:30 PM. The movie was found in 2009 in New Zealand’s film archive (along with over 70 other rare and long-lost American titles), restored, and then returned to the United States the following year. Dave Kehr has reported on this staggering rediscovery since it first came to light, at which point he wrote:
Although Ford was already famous as a director of epic westerns like The Iron Horse (1925) and Three Bad Men (1926), Upstream appears to be his first film reflecting the influence of the German director F.W. Murnau, who had arrived at Ford’s studio, Fox, in 1926, to begin work on his American masterpiece, Sunrise. From Murnau, Ford learned the use of forced perspectives and chiaroscuro lighting, techniques Ford would use to complement his own more direct, naturalistic style.