California’s forgotten movie heritage is on view in the National Film Preservation Foundation’s Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938 DVD set. Included among the 40 films are such fictional ones as The Sergeant (1910, the first surviving narrative film shot in Yosemite), Salomy Jane (1914, from the San Francisco-based California Motion Picture Corp.) and Over Silent Paths (1910, shot in the San Fernando Valley when it was still a desert). Even more revealing are the nonfiction types, including Romance of Water (1931, from the L.A. Department of Water and Power), Sunshine Gatherers (1921, from Del Monte), and two 1916 travelogues that document the beginning of auto tourism: Seeing Yosemite with David A. Curry and Lake Tahoe, Land of the Sky. These once-forgotten films stand as testimony to the complexity of the West—as a concept, a landscape, a borderland, a tourist destination, a burgeoning economy, and an arena for clashing cultures.
- © 2011 by the Regents of the University of California