Read First Reactions to a Movie from 1906 and Other Gems from Rotten Tomatoes’ New Classic Film Archive

Ryan Lattanzio
·2 min read

Rotten Tomatoes has introduced its new archival hub, which will house and preserve editorial content related to classic and historic film. The staff of the RT Archives has worked to uncover lost and incomplete films from the silent and early sound era, as well as create Tomatometer scores for older films, resurface forgotten or shuttered press outlets, and give recognition to pioneering film critics. What did the critics say about your favorites when they were brand new? Take a deep dive into the RT Archives and find out.

Assets include writings of famed film critic Pauline Kael, whose biting insights on film are often hard to find on the internet, the story of pioneering aquatic star Annette Kellerman, what critics said about the world’s first feature-length film “The Story of the Kelly Gang” from 1906, and the story of the Lon Chaney monster that inspired Jennifer Kent’s cult classic “The Babadook.” Kael fans will enjoy her updated insights on “Lawrence of Arabia”: “The most literate and intelligent and tasteful and the most beautiful of the modem expensive spectacle films. And I wish it have never been made.”

Classic films with new Tomatometer scores include “A Night at the Opera,” “Double Indemnity,” “Home of the Brave,” “Victim,” “Madchen in Uniform,” “The Dirty Dozen,” and “Gilda.”

Diverse film critics from film history have also been integrated into the archives, notably Maybelle Chew, among the earliest female African American critics. Chew was added to the site, as was the Baltimore Afro American, a now defunct paper which originally housed a number of reviews for African American films dating back to the 1920s.

As part of its archival project, led by review-curation manager Tim Ryan, Rotten Tomatoes is collecting contemporaneous reviews for 100 lost films. It is estimated that between 75 and 90 percent of films made before 1929 are either lost or only exist in incomplete form, and Rotten Tomatoes is shining a spotlight on the stories and people behind them. (This will in turn make for a good resource to complement the AFI Archive, which houses detailed production notes on the makings of the first 100 years of American film.)

The new archival hub will live on Rotten Tomatoes’ site and will be continually updated with more assets.

More from IndieWire

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.