Devil season

4 devils gif
Our favorite Halloween ritual is participating in the collective month-long horror movie marathon, revisiting favorites and discovering new ones. Sadly, one we'll likely never get to experience is F. W. Murnau's 4 Devils. According to Martin Koerber, Head of the Deutsche Kinemathek, "A print of this was last seen in the 1940s in the Fox warehouse in Los Angeles. According to the files on this title in the Fox papers at UCLA, the print was given to Mary Duncan, lead actress. Legend has it that she either burned it or drowned it in her swimming pool." (Lost Films database, ID41). To us, Murnau's preceding feature, Sunrise, is among the most accomplished and moving films ever produced (silent or otherwise), and he has four others that are nearly as good (The Last Laugh, Faust, City Girl and Tabu). 4 Devils may or may not have joined his other films in the pantheon, as the transition to sound was disrupting the industry and Fox revoked Murnau's creative control (resulting in four cuts of the film), but still, of the 70% of American silent films that are lost (Library of Congress), this one stings the most.
We have in our inventory two surviving artifacts from the film, the publicity photograph in the image above (item 10015) and a first photoplay edition of the story with images from the film (item 10016).