On the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the birth of Hungarian film, the National Film Institute – Film Archive launched a widespread research programme to identify lost treasures of Hungarian film history. These works are irreplaceable and form a vital part of our national cultural heritage, which is why their preservation and making them accessible is our prime mission.
In 2021, we calculate that more than one-third of all films made during the 120 years of Hungarian film history have still not been recovered.
Due to the fragility of the raw material and in the course of historical vicissitudes, the original prints were frequently destroyed, lost, or have only survived to this day in a fragmentary form. It is a sad fact that we will never see most of these in their entirety. However, it occasionally happens even today that in attics, cellars and from the depths of collections, rolls of film turn up that, incredibly, survived and prove interesting for contemporary viewers.
We are now in the final hour to locate these continuously degrading treasures and rescue them for posterity. In this regard, we ask for the help of the domestic and international community. In the list below we introduce the 120 most sought-after films made between 1901 and 1944, with commentaries about why it would be especially important to find them. The selection includes various genres, early silent films and missing sound films, demonstrating just how diverse the “lost Hungarian film heritage” is.
If you have any information whatsoever in relation to the location of the following films, or perhaps you could give us tips about where to look for them, please write to us at the e-mail below. Thank you very much for all your help!
Lead image: The Tales of the Typewrite, 1917 (Source: NFI)
Márton Keleti, 1937. The world of country houses and much great music in a Romeo and Juliet story set in rural Bihar county.
Kertész Mihály, 1916. Using early film tricks, actor Mihály Várkonyi appears as three characters at once.
The Wheat Ripens
Béla Gaál, 1939. An English girl and an Italian young man learn about Hungarian culture.
The Two-faced Woman
Géza Bolváry, 1920. Playing a twin role, Ilona Mattyasovszky is both the well-to-do lady and the depraved underworld girl (‘apache’).
The Stork Caliph
Sándor Korda, 1917. The film version of the Mihály Babits novel was written by Frigyes Karinthy.
The Silver Goat
Mihály Kertész, 1916. The film by Mihály Kertész, who went on to become world famous as Michael Curtiz, stars Mihály Várkonyi, who went on to become world famous as Victor Varconi.
The Shabby Dressed
Béla Gaál, 1925. Gizi Bajor in a dual role in this comedy about bohemian travelling comedians.
The Seven Hundred Years Old Love
Márton Garas, 1921. Gripping thriller in which a knight dead for 700 years is brought back to life.
Mihály Kertész, 1918. Two-part adventure drama by Mihály Kertész that captivated contemporary audiences.
The Sacrament of the Confession
Jenő Janovics, 1916. Jenő Janovics, father of silent film production in Cluj-Napoca, not only directs but acts in this work.
The Rotschild Girl
Béla Gaál, 1934. Lightweight comedy about a Hungarian millionaire girl looking for a marriage partner.
Cornelius Hintner, 1920. Carmen Cartellieri is lead actress in this drama set in the countryside.
The Red Samson
Mihály Kertész, 1917. Family story spanning continents about brotherly love and forgiveness.
The Millionaire's Daughter
Jenő Janovics, 1913. The film examines an important social issue, emigration.
László Márkus, 1920. Bubbly comedy about a hatmaker who escapes her aristocratic suitor in order to pursue her passion.
The Magic Child
Zoltán Korda, 1924. Tibor Lubinszky, a gifted child star of the age, plays the lead role.
The Land of Whips
Mihály Fekete, 1919. Drama on a Russian theme from the golden age of filmmaking in Cluj-Napoca.
The Hell in Danger
Béla Balogh , 1921. Bizarre satire in which the devil Beelzebub works to regain his lost horns.
The Gyurkovics's daughters
Mihály Fekete, 1917. Lively love comedy with four sisters and their suitors.
The Gypsy Girl
Cornelius Hintner, 1919. The tragic tale of a Gypsy girl starring Carmen Cartellieri.
The Fools of the Love
Carl Wilhelm, 1918. Grandiose Jókai film about a woman who only toyed with men.
The Favourite of Fortune
Márton Garas, 1917. Social satire that generated record revenue from its distribution abroad.
The Dolova Nabob's Daughter
Jenő Janovics, 1916. Fine acting by Lili Berky in this adaptation of a popular stage work.
The Cut-offs Hand
Károly Lajthay, 1921. The case of a London detective and the dismembered hand of a woman.
Mihály Kertész, 1917. The story of a young doctor that was directed by Mihály Kertész twice.
Mihály Kertész, 1916. The film version of the novel by Baron József Eötvös is about flaming passions of a revolutionary era.
The Boys of Paul Street
Béla Balogh, 1917. The first film version of the most famous youth novel in Hungarian literature.
The Bostonwille Adventure
Emil Fenyő, 1920. A complex thriller with hair-raising pursuits and hilarious misunderstandings.
The Borrowed Babies
Mihály Kertész, 1915. Mihály Kertész’s smash comedy proved to be a box office hit abroad as well as at home.
The Black Rainbow
Mihály Kertész, 1916. Heart-rending drama about a blind mother that is presumed to include a closeup.
Storm on the Plains
István György, 1936. French-style film of passion about the consequences of an accident.
Stars of Eger
Pál Fejős, 1923. The first film adaptation of one of the most popular novels of Hungarian literature.
Someone's Knocking On My Window
László Sipos, 1944. A doctor with big dreams goes to work not in a private sanatorium but in a small village.
Soldiers of the Emperor
Béla Balogh, 1918. Stirring military drama from the days of the Aster Revolution.
Viktor Gertler, 1937. Film drama about a love triangle with Éva Szörényi, Pál Jávor and Sándor Svéd, opera singer.
Silent Trick Films of István Kató-Kiszly
István Kató-Kiszly, 1914-1921. Paper cut-out animated cartoons made between 1914 and 1919 by the pioneer of Hungarian animation.
Béla Gaál, 1932. A poor young couple meet an American millionaire of Hungarian ancestry.
New York, Express Cable
Márton Garas, 1921. American-style cloak and dagger film featuring thieves, diplomats and reporters.
Ákos Ráthonyi, 1943. Complex comedy in which a spoiled gentleman is inducted into the army.
Mattie The Goose-Boy
Alfréd Deésy, 1922. The first film version of the story of the smart goose boy.
Sándor Korda, Miklós M. Pásztory , 1915. The daughter of a ‘wonder rabbi’ and a Russian prince meet in the shadow of the First World War.
Jenő Janovics, Sándor Korda, 1917. The silent movie version of the evergreen comedy, which had the audience laughing as much as with the later ‘talkie’.
Emil Martonffy, 1939. This music comedy involving much switching of outfits preceded Some Like It Hot by 20 years.
It is Hard To Be a Father
Márton Keleti, 1938. An abandoned little boy causes a mix-up in the girls’ school in this Hungarian adaptation of a French film.
I Protected a Woman
Ákos Ráthonyi, 1938. An innocent beer in the pub turns into a divorce and then marriage.
I Never Stole In My Life
Béla Balogh, 1939. Light farce revolving around a supposed jewellery heist.
I Entrust My Wife To You
János Vaszary, 1937. Lively comedy with excellent actors and plenty of music.
Béla Gaál, 1921. Vörösbegy (Robin), the ginger-haired, one-eyed adventurer is one of the most original fraudsters in Hungarian film history.
Everything for the Woman
Béla Gaál, Géza Cziffra, 1934. Hacsek & Sajó movie adventure with three comic episodes.
István Székely, 1934. The consequences of a riding accident and a girl in love in a dual role.
Béla Balogh, 1920. Moving film about siblings from the master of children’s stories, Béla Balogh.
Sándor Szlatinay, 1938. Military comedy with the heroine played by the brilliant Zita Szeleczky.
István Kató-Kiszly, 1932. The only sound, colour short by István Kató-Kiszly, pioneer of Hungarian animation.
Beauty of the Pusta
István Székely, 1937. Story of a highwayman starring Pál Jávor on the picturesque Hungarian plain.