Rediscovered silent film makes a rare appearance in Hawick

Inspection day at The Fluthers. Credit:  Saving and Sharing Scottish Borders Stories of WWI.
Inspection day at The Fluthers. Credit: Saving and Sharing Scottish Borders Stories of WWI.

Members of the Borders public are being given a rare chance to see a film which is almost 100 years old and which was considered lost for over eight decades.

A Couple of Down and Outs, GB Samuelson’s 1923 silent film, has been described as ‘the original War Horse’ and will be screened at the Heritage Hub in Hawick on Saturday, February 24.

The film was lost for around 80 years before being digitally restored by the British Film Institute.

It tells the story of Danny Creath, an unemployed war veteran, who rescues his old horse Jack from being sent to slaughter. Pursued by the police he takes shelter in a house where a young woman, reminded of her own brother who was killed during the war, helps him to escape.

Sir Sydney Samuelson, son of the film’s creator, first saw a (non-restored) version of his father’s film at a silent film festive at Pordenone, Italy, some years ago, soon after it had been found in a set of rusty 35mm film cans.

Danny Creath, DCM is played by Captain Rex Davis MC, a courageous infantry officer who served with valour throughout the First World War. He was himself awarded the Military Cross for ‘Consistent bravery when overcoming dangerous situations.

Molly Roake is played by Edna Best. After making A Couple of Down and Outs, she acted in other Samuelson films and then Hollywood called. The last UK film she appeared in was South Riding (1938) with Sir Ralph Richardson and Ann Todd.

This screening follows on from the work of the Saving and Sharing Scottish Borders Stories of WWI project, by Live Borders Museum, Archive and Library Services in 2016/17.

Project Officer Morag Cockburn said: “We are excited to be able to show this rare film at the Heritage Hub, which highlights some of the many ways the war impacted on regular people.”

Supporting screenings with an introduction and Q&A are Scotland’s War. The Scotland’s War Project has its origins in Edinburgh’s War 1914-1919. It aims to build up a picture of the contributions and sacrifices that were made by the people of Scotland during WW1.

A Couple of Down and Outs will be screened at 2pm and 7pm. Admission is free but there will be a collection for Scotland’s War.

Booking is essential, call 01450 360699 or email to reserve a place.