While we live in an age of remarkable access to classic films, many more great films remain elusive. In some cases, great movies aren’t just temporarily unavailable; they’ve been lost forever due to negligence or tragic accidents. (Fun fact: Nitrate film, the kind of stock that was the industry standard until the 1950s, is incredibly flammable!) Even a few classics that are available can only be watched in compromised cuts that do not reflect their director’s original intentions.

The list below contains both kinds of lost films. Some are nearly 100 years old; others are less than 30. Many were spoiled by studio executives concerned about their investments, but a few were willingly cut by their directors. Whatever the reason, all of these movies (or their original iterations) were removed from circulation, and then lost — possibly forever, although hope springs eternal that they might someday be rediscovered in a vault or archive somewhere. These are ranked in ascending order by the degree to which film dorks would lose their mind if these suddenly showed up on HBO Max one day.

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