The U.S. Library of Congress says about 75 percent of silent feature =length films made in the United States from 1912 to 1929 are lost forever.
Librarian of Congress James Billington calls this an alarming and invaluable loss to America's cultural record.
Among the important titles believed to be gone for good are silent versions of Cleopatra, The Great Gatsby, Lon Chaney's horror classic London After Midnight, and works by such major stars as Clara Bow and Douglas Fairbanks.
The library's report says other silent epics exist in fragmented forms, edited foreign versions, or in low-quality 16 millimeter formats.
The library's researchers recommend a nationally coordinated plan to repatriate silent classics from overseas film archives and document unidentified titles.