“Safety Last!” is a magnificent film and is a Harold Lloyd masterpiece that will continue to entertain silent comedy fans for many generations to come. Not only are you getting one classic film but also three newly restored Harold Lloyd shorts plus the long, sought after Harold Lloyd documentary “Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius”. This release is deserving of five stars! Highly recommended!
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TITLE: Safety Last! – The Criterion Collection #662
YEAR OF FILM: 1923
DURATION: 103 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:37:1 aspect ratio, Black and White, Silent
COMPANY: Harold Lloyd Entertainment, Inc./THE CRITERION COLLECTION
RELEASE DATE: June 18, 2013
Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor
Story by Hal Roach, Sam Taylor, Tim Whelan
Titles by H.M. Walker
Executive Producer: Suzanne Lloyd Hayes
Producer: Hal Roach
Cinematography by Walter Lundin
Music: Carl Davis
Edited by Thomas J. Crizer
Harold Lloyd as The Boy
Mildred Davis as The Girl
Bill Strother as The Pal
Noah Young as The Law
The comic genius of silent star Harold Lloyd is eternal. Chaplin was the sweet innocent, Keaton the stoic outsider, but Lloyd—the modern guy striving for success—is us. And with its torrent of perfectly executed gags and astonishing stunts, Safety Last! is the perfect introduction to him. Lloyd plays a small-town bumpkin trying to make it in the big city, who finds employment as a lowly department-store clerk. He comes up with a wild publicity stunt to draw attention to the store, resulting in an incredible feat of derring-do on his part that gets him started on the climb to success. Laugh-out-loud funny and jaw-dropping in equal measure, Safety Last! is a movie experience par excellence, anchored by a genuine legend.
Many silent comedy fans consider Harold Lloyd as one of the three silent film comedy kings of the silent era alongside notable names such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Lloyd’s comedies were enjoyable and similar to Keaton, Lloyd had the flair of doing his own stuntwork and when one is to watch his films today, there were a few that literally makes people gasp.
But the difference between these three men is that Harold Lloyd is not as well-known because unlike the other two, he wanted complete ownership of his films and if they were to be re-released or shown on television, he set the price high because he did not want TV commercials interrupting his film. While, some appreciate Lloyd’s business-sense at the time to have complete ownership but also to be one of the first who looked into preserving his films, the unfortunate aspect is that unlike Chaplin or Keaton, his name would not be as well-known to the general public.
Of course, times have changed as more and more people are becoming fans of silent cinema, especially comedies, because they quickly learn that there are three men who earned a lot of money through the box office and were successful. And for Harold Lloyd, one can only be thrilled that this wonderful filmmaker has been acknowledged by the Criterion Collection and his most popular film, “Safety Last!”, would be released by the Criterion Collection, in HD on Blu-ray!
One such film was “Safety Last!”, a silent film from 1923 and one of the many films included in the Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection box set. An impressive box set featuring over 25 classic comedies including well-known Lloyd films such as “Safety Last!”, “The Freshman”, “Speedy!” and many more.
If one was to see the film today, one would be impressed and stunned as their was no CGI, there was no green/blue screen. This was Harold Lloyd showing us the most extreme when it comes to filmmaking by climbing a skyscraper to the onlookers below Los Angeles. Needless to say, audiences were shocked about how far Lloyd had went with this film and although there were mini-stages built, this was one risky film that was adored back then and now being discovered by many today.
“Safety Last!” is about The Boy (played by Harold Lloyd) who moves to the big city in 1922 in order to make more income. He leaves his beloved girlfriend (played by Mildred Davis) back at home and promises that he will marry her once he does well in the city.
Since moving to the city, he has sent his girlfriend letters everyday but the boy makes his life seem like life is going extremely well and that he is a manager at a major department store.
This is far from the truth as he lives with his pal (played by Bill Strother) who are late on their rent and have to hide from the landlord. The boy barely makes any money as he works at the De Vore department store in the fabric department and is an employee who often gets into trouble.
One day after finishing his shift, he runs into a police officer who happens to be an old friend of Harold. The two joke around and when the boy meets up with his roommate, he jokes that he has influence with the police and persuades his friend to knock the policeman over.
What the boy doesn’t know is that when they are talking, his friend the police officer has left and another police officer has come in his place. Needless to say, the boy’s friend pushes the cop and the boy learns that the police officer is not his friend.
The police officer then chases his friend around but the friend manages to escape by climbing a building.
Meanwhile, the boy decides what he should do with his pay. He can get something to eat or buy his girlfriend a broach without a chain. He forgoes the food and buys the broach but hopes to buy the chain when he makes more money. He sends the gift to his girlfriend.
Upon receiving it, his girlfriend is so happy about the gift and the boy’s mother convinces his girlfriend to go to the city and see how he is doing.
So, one day during a wild day at work, the boy’s girlfriend appears and immediately, the boy must pretend that he is the manager of the department store.
Through a good stretch of gags and hijinks featuring the boy trying to fake his girlfriend, he overhears his boss talking about how they can bring people to the store and whoever can come up with an idea will get $1,000. The boy thinks about his friend climbing the building and suggests the idea and his boss decides to give the boy’s idea a chance.
During the big day at De Vore Department store which has been promoted on the front page of a major local newspaper, many have come to see a man climb the building.
The boy’s friend is ready to scale the building but things don’t go as planned since the policeman who was chasing the boy’s friend is now trying to pursue him again. With everyone all around the department store building expecting a man to climb, with his friend trying to avoid the police, the boy has no choice but to scale the building on his own.
“Safety Last is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:36:1 aspect ratio) and because Harold Lloyd believed in protecting his films, he was among the first to have his films preserved. Not only were these films under lock and key in safes, he did whatever he can to make sure they were protected from fires or any damage. It’s important to note that nitrate film does catch fire and he did experience a fire despite trying to protect his films, but fortunately because of that, it led Harold Lloyd to preserve his films.
And so, a lot of his films look fantastic compared to other silent films of that year or era. At 90-years-old, picture quality for “Safety Last!”, looks incredible on Blu-ray. White and grays are well-contrast, to see this film in HD versus the original 2005 DVD release, you notice how clear the film looks. There are no signs of major damage, dark flickering or white specks. Because the film is in HD, closeups and background look so much clearer and well-detailed. I was impressed!
According to the Criterion Collection, “The film is presented at a variable frame rate of approximately 22 frames per second to conform to film historian and restorer Kevin Brownlow’s presentation and the Carl Davis score that accompanies it. The new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on a DTF Scanity film scanner from a 35 mm nitrate print from Harold Lloyd’s personal collection, made from the original negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, and warps were manually removed using MTI’s DTRS and Pixel Farm’s PFClean., while Image Systems’ Phoenix was used for small dirt, jitter, flicker, and grain movement.
“Safety Last!” comes with two musical soundtracks. The Musical score by composer Carl Davis from 1989, synchronized and restored under his supervision and presented in uncompressed stereo (LPCM 2.0). While also included is an alternate score by organist Gaylord Carter from the late 1960s, presented in uncompressed monaural (LPCM 1.0).
There are no subtitles because it is a silent film, but there are intertitles.
“Safety Last! – The Criterion Collection #662” comes with the following special features:
- Audio commentary – Featuring the original 2005 audio commentary which features film critic Leonard Maltin and director and Harold Lloyd archivist Richard Correll.
- Introduction by Suzanne Lloyd – (17:21) Featuring an introduction by Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter and president of Harold Lloyd Entertainment
- Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius - (1:48:00) A classic 104-minute documentary from 1989 written by David Gill and Kevin Brownlow.
- Three newly restored Lloyd shorts: Take a Chance (1918), Young Mr. Jazz (1919), and His Royal Slyness (1920), with commentary by Richard Correll and writer John Bengtson
- Locations and Effects – (20:37) A new documentary featuring John Bengtson and special effects expert Craig Barron about the location of where “Safety Last!” was shot.
- Carl Davis: Scoring for Harold – (24:08) A 2013 interview with Carl Davis who discusses working with Harold Lloyd.
“Safety Last! – The Criterion Collection #662″ comes with a 24-page booklet featuring the essays “High-Flying Harold” by Ed Park.
Harold Lloyd is such a wonderful performer. “Safety Last!” is a film that anyone can watch and just be surprised about his risky performance and just seeing a man dangling from a clock tower or a piece of wood with the city of Los Angeles right behind him.
Granted, Lloyd and crew prepared the actor with a small stage built to give the illusion that the building was being climbed, but still…he was climbing many feet up and also climbing with a missing thumb and forefinger (a few years earlier, Lloyd lost his thumb and forefinger during a photoshoot when he had to hold a bomb which was suppose to be a prop ended up being a live bomb and putting the actor in the hospital).
“Safety Last!” is everything you come to expect from a comedy! A great story, great acting and a plenty of gags to keep the viewer entertained from beginning to end. This is a true classic in every way and I can only hope that many people would give this wonderful film a chance and watch it with a smile and also with awe with what Harold Lloyd has accomplished.
I know many people today may ask, who is Harold Lloyd? We heard of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton but who is Harry Lloyd? Part of the reason why people have not heard much of Lloyd is because he had major control over his films. Where as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton had an awesome career during the silent era, for those who study about the careers of the two men will learn that Hollywood was not to kind to them after the silent film era. Also, Harold Lloyd’s asking price for a film for licensing was more than most companies wanted to pay for at the time.
So, there are over 300 films of Harold Lloyd that many of us have not seen and not sure if we will ever have the chance.
While Warner Bros. did release the “Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection” on DVD back in 2005, by the time a second set was rumored to be released, Warner Bros. began focusing on their direct-to-DVD library for their classics. While those of us who were aware of the picture quality of Lloyd’s films would someday be picked up by another company like the Criterion Collection, but at the time, those were just dreams.
But the fact that the Criterion Collection has released “Safety Last!” on Blu-ray, as a fan of Harold Lloyd’s work, I am absolutely thrilled that the Criterion Collection has decided to release the film on Blu-ray. Not only is the picture quality magnificent, you get two scores and many more special features that were not included on the original Warner Bros. DVD.
As Criterion has done for their Chaplin releases, they have done a spectacular job with “Safety Last!”. The new “Introduction with Suzanne Lloyd” was wonderful to watch, as with the “Location and Effects” featuring Bengston and special effects expert Craig Barron was a wonderful addition but how awesome to have Carl Davis discussing his working relationship with Lloyd in 2013.
But the most notable special features that made me excited was to see “Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius”, the American Masterworks documentary by David Gill and Kevin Brownlow. With Chaplin’s “Unknown Chaplin” and Keaton’s “Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow” available to the masses, “Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius” has not been released since 1991. It’s only available on VHS and as a Harold Lloyd fan and collector of Lloyd memorabilia and videos, I have not been able to get my hands on a copy of this documentary and here it is, included with the Criterion Collection’s “Safety Last!” release.
And while Chaplin and Keaton’s shorts have been made available on DVD for quite some time, Harold Lloyd’s shorts have not. And with the “Safety Last!” release, you get three newly restored Lloyd shorts with “Take a Chance”, “Young Mr. Jazz” and “His Royal Shyness”, plus each of these shorts has optional commentary by Rich Correll and writer John Bengston.
One can only hope that more titles will be released by the Criterion Collection as Lloyd has created a number of wonderful films in his oeuvre, but the fact that Criterion Collection really goes out and gives you so much more. As a Harold Lloyd fan, I’m really impressed by this release and very grateful for the Criterion Collection for making this release perfect!
Overall, “Safety Last!” is a magnificent film and is a Harold Lloyd masterpiece that will continue to entertain silent comedy fans for many generations to come. Not only are you getting one classic film but also three newly restored Harold Lloyd shorts plus the long, sought after Harold Lloyd documentary “Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius”.
This release is deserving of five stars! Highly recommended!
“College” is an entertaining Buster Keaton comedy. It’s not his best silent film and its three-shot epilogue may seem unnecessary to audiences but at the same time, Keaton able to defy his own cliched endings of the past and possibly a scene that revealed more about the actor’s own personal life and outlook of his own marriage. But I look at “College” as the rebound film after the box office failure of “The General” and giving audiences what they wanted at the time, a straightforward comedy lacking anything deep but still able to produce laughs. For Keaton fans or the new fans of silent cinema on HD, “College” is recommended.
FILM RELEASE: 1927
DURATION: 64 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1, B&W, LPCM 2.0 Stereo
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Directed by James W. Horne
Story by Carl Harbaugh, Bryan Foy
Cinematography by Bert Haines, Devereaux Jennings
Edited by Sherman Kell
Buster Keaton as Ronald, the Son
Florence Turner as the Mother
Anne Cornwall as Mary Haynes, The Girl
Flora Bramley as Her Friend
Harold Goodwin as Jeff, the Rival
Snitz Edwards as The Dean
Carl Harbaugh as Crew Coach
Sam Crawford as Baseball Coach
Buster Keaton goes back to school and stages a hilarious send-up of university life in College. Keaton stars as Ronald, an idealistic freshman who attends Clayton College in pursuit of higher learning, but finds himself instead embroiled in a war of athletics as he fights for the heart of his beloved coed, Mary (Anne Cornwall).
More than he had in any other feature, Keaton stretched the boundaries of solo physical comedy. In a series of unforgettable vignettes, stone-faced Ronald tries his hand as a baseball player, soda jerk, waiter, coxswain, and track star, performing each task with a steady determination but with consistently disastrous results. These scenes are especially amazing because in demonstrating Ronald’s athletic inadequacies, Keaton reveals a surprising degree of physical prowess and finesse, particularly during the film’s exhilarating climax.
In 1927, the year was a major year for silent cinema. With the release of F.W. Murnau’s “Faust” and Harold Lloyd’s “Little Kid Brother”, while released in 1926, in January 1927, Buster Keaton’s “The General”, his most expensive film yet, would be release and would perform poorly at the box office.
While “The General” is regarded as Keaton’s true masterpiece, back in 1927, people felt the film was too dramatically heavy and not the comedy they were used to seeing from the actor. Also, many audiences who had parents who lived or were born during the civil war did not see how one could make a comedy about one of the bloodiest wars on American soil.
The result from the failure of “The General” was that studio moguls felt they could put their trust in Buster Keaton for cinematic ideas. His marriage with Natalie Talmadge was suffering, he was drinking more and spending a lot of his own savings on building an Italian villa in Beverly Hills.
So, his next film would be “College”, a film that was not directed or written by Buster Keaton. While considered a good, entertaining Buster Keaton film, it’s also considered as his weakest film. But people wanted the old Buster Keaton that would deliver many laughs and “College” was a film that provided that for audiences and more physical comedy the following year with “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”.
But what “College” provides cinema fans today is an earlier look at the University of Southern California (USC) and the old UCLA building which later became Los Angeles City College. The film would also be one of the few silent athletic films after Keaton’s “Battling Butler” and Harold Lloyd’s 1925 football film “The Freshman”.
And now “College” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber in March 2013.
“College” is a film about Ronald (portrayed by Buster Keaton) who is the “most brilliant scholar” graduating from high school. He is not popular like the jocks at school, especially the popular and athletic Jeff (portrayed by Harold Goodwin) but he is in love with Mary Haynes (portrayed by Anne Cornwall), the winner of every popularity contest in which the boys were allowed to vote, and wishes she would recognize him.
Unfortunately, after a mishap with his clothes, during his graduation speech titled “the Curse of the Athlete”, Ronald talks badly about athletics and how books are much more important which upset his fellow graduating class including Mary who vows not to recognize Ronald until he accepts sports.
As Mary and Jeff plan to go to Clayton college which the dean calls it a “athlete-infested college”, Ronald decides he wants to attend Clayton, even though his mother doesn’t have the money to put him through college, he would work odd jobs to help pay for it.
While at Clayton, Mary ignores Ronald (who is dating Jeff) and to make things worse, his dorm roomates are Jeff and a few jocks that like to intimidate and make fun of Ronald.
And while Dean Edwards (portrayed by Snitz Edwards) hopes that Ronald would bring his intelligence to Clayton, instead Ronald tries to join up with the sports teams.
Not knowing a thing about sports, he joins the baseball team and the track team. He fails miserably with each sports but Mary has been watching him afar and is proud that he is putting the effort and trying to be an athlete, which she respects. But because of his lack of athletic skill, he is often bullied by the athletes.
But when Dean Edwards talks to Ronald about why he is failing his classes, he tells him the truth. He loves Mary and because she thinks he’s weak, he has been focusing on sports.
The Dean sympathizes with Ronald because the same thing happened to him and that is why he is still a bachelor. Feeling bad for Ronald he tells the rowing coach that Ronald will now be the member of the competition team and will be the coxswain for their rowing team.
And with this opportunity, will it be enough for Ronald to win Mary’s heart?
“The Coach” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio, black and white). The film has been remastered in HD from 35mm archival elements. Having owned the previous DVD version, this Blu-ray release of “College” is quite literally the best looking version of the film available and for an 86-year-old film, Kino Lorber has once again done a spectacular job on a silent film release on Blu-ray.
Before I discuss the picture quality of “College”, it’s important to note that because this is a silent film, it’s important to emphasize that each silent film has been handled and stored differently. With that being said, I also want to add that there are only so many very good silent films still around, many destroyed from fires started by the Nitrate film or mishandling (or improper storage). Fortunately, a good number of Keaton films have strong film elements that have led to Kino International wanting to release more Keaton films on Blu-ray and to also make sure the film has not been digitally tampered.
Presented in 1080p High Definition, black and white, yes, the film is not pristine (no silent film in HD will be) looking as it does have scratches, dust, hair and other damage that the film has gone through within the last 86-years. But this is to be expected, if anything, many silent films on nitrate were not well taken care of, so each time I see a film in which the films are much better than I expect, I’m quite pleased and for “College” in HD, it’s definitely a major improvement over its original DVD counterpart.
I have watched many silent films that have had considerable nitrate damage but this film still looks fantastic for its age and you will not see the nitrate damage or acid buildup in the film’s sides. Yes, it’s not pristine but it’s the best looking version of the film that I have seen so far. You will see white specks, occasional scratches but the grays and whites are well-contrast, solid black levels and detail is much more apparent on the Blu-ray release.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“College” is presented in uncompressed linear PCM 2.0 and features the original organ arrangement by John Muri, that was on original DVD release. Granted, this is an uncompressed version and Muri did a wonderful job with the organ arrangement.
“College” come with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary - Featuring a well-detailed audio commentary by film historian and Slapsticon founder Rob Farr.
- Tour of Filming Locations – (9:55) An adaptation of “Silent Echoes” author John Bengston showing viewers of how locations for “College”, as seen on the film, looks today.
- The Scribe - (29:29) 1966 Construction Safety Association of Ontario industrial short starring Buster Keaton. In one his final appearances on film before his death.
“College” comes with a slipcase.
“College” is a formulaic film by Buster Keaton, always known for playing the underdog characters trying to win the girl that he loves.
But unlike his previous films, what makes “College” stands out for viewers today is its comedic charm, less of Keaton flair but also historic shots of an earlier Los Angels and its multiple campuses and features the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum which was built several years earlier.
It’s also a film in which partakes in racial humor which was acceptable for its time will not win many people today as Keaton is in black face trying to pretend he is Black in order to get a job. And also showcasing a woman, who is unable to barely live on her own without a man (unlike “The Navigator” or “The General”), which again is a sign of the time. And the former done without malice, while the latter is how women were portrayed in many films at the time. Females often portrayed as the damsel in distress.
And last, it’s a film that could have ended happily with simple banality, but unlike previous Keaton films that show a happily ever after, perhaps it was part of the original story by Carl Harbaugh and Bryan Foy or something inspired by Keaton’s own failing marriage, it strays from a formulaic approach and ends with man and woman ala tombstone.
But while Buster Keaton did not write or direct “College” it still has a lot of charm and humor. It’s not the death defying, risky stunts that Keaton is known for but its a character that has no athletic skill or knowledge, trying to partake in a baseball game, thinking he can be just as good as the track athletes but each time we watch him fail, it’s how he fails that make audiences laugh. But also how he tries to be cool whenever he sees Mary, may it be on the field as an athlete or during a part-time job, Keaton is actively wanting to do this for his love, Mary. But its the character of the underdog that people rally around for and wanting this individual to overcome adversity by the film’s end. We know how Keaton films end, we enjoy the journey of how that character becomes the hero.
“College” is a fun film and among the “collegiate” sports films, this and Harold Lloyd’s “The Freshman” are possibly the most well-known. But I suppose in 1927, perhaps it was a tired trend as even critic Carl Sandburg remarked in his review of the film, “Judging from the films that the studios are putting out, Hollywood is done and the University of California has taken its place. How the professors at the university can conduct classes with Richard Barthelmess kissing coeds in the hallways, Bebe Daniels in a bathing suit kicking the president soundly and Buster Keaton bounding through the classroom windows with Snitz Edwards in comic pursuit something to be imagined”.
But possibly the most stinging review for “College” is from one of the biggest supporters and reviewers of Keaton films, Daniel Moews, in his 1977 book “Keaton: The Silent Features Close Up”.
Moews writes, “The blacks, however, are simply accepted throughout as unacceptable, with no chance of ever being included in the hero’s world. They and not he are the true outsiders in the films, existing in segregated state, a state most clearly revealed in the several gags where their being momentarily mistake for a socially acceptable person is intended to be incongruous, impossible and wonderfully funny. A more description of these gags, which are also unpleasantly tainted by anti-Semitism, will demonstrate Keaton’s almost automatic reliance on repressive ethnic stereotypes to product what at that time were easy laughs”.
But Moews does add that to understand the portrayal of racial stereotypes or even how women were presented in his film, Moews wrote, “it was also a time of derisive ethnic stereotyping, of ethnic separatism and mistrust”.
Also writing, “a point to repeat and remember, however, is that the only seemingly real person in most of the films is the hero, with nearly everyone else reduced to an extra, a romantic or a comic type or an ethnic joke, and never intended to be viewed more than that”.
And I have to echo Moews sentiment. In today’s day and age, no one wants to see people doing a black face routine and no one wants to see females characters who are portrayed as weak women. But society has evolved so much since 1927 and I approach this film as one part comedy but also one part of a historic time capsule. To see how stereotypes were featured in cinema but also its ending to see how Keaton deviates from portraying a couple from his past films. But I also see this film for showcasing Los Angeles in 1927 and many structures that are no longer there and structures that are still around. So, I look at “College” as a film that signals how things were at the time for American cinema.
As for the Blu-ray release, “College” looks so much better than the original DVD release. The whites and grays are well-contrast, the blacks levels are nice and deep and while not pristine, it just looks so much better, no blurring or DNR, Kino presents the film in HD, remastered from 35mm archival elements and presents the film as is.
The inclusion of John Bengston’s visual essay on film locations are always a plus for these new Keaton releases, the audio commentary by Mr. Farr, creator of Indiana-based silent film festival Slapsticon, is wonderful as he is a person with wonderful insight on silent film. The Blu-ray release of “The Scribe”, one of the last filmed performances of Buster Keaton from 1966 is amazing in the fact that we see a late performance included with a Keaton silent release but at the same time, sad in the fact that we know this is a Keaton who was ill that year and was unaware he was dying of cancer.
Overall, “College” is an entertaining Buster Keaton comedy. It’s not his best silent film and its three-shot epilogue may seem unnecessary to audiences but at the same time, Keaton able to defy his own cliched endings of the past and possibly a scene that revealed more about the actor’s own personal life and outlook of his own marriage. But I look at “College” as the rebound film after the box office failure of “The General” and giving audiences what they wanted at the time, a straightforward comedy lacking anything deep but still able to produce laughs.
For Keaton fans or the new fans of silent cinema on HD, “College” is recommended.
Cheney’s performance in “The Penalty” is impressive even today, over 90-years-later, how one actor can perform a role with so much pain but yet give a commanding performance is a testament to how amazing an actor he was during that era. And it’s a gangster film that probably was dark and terrifying for its time. “The Penalty” on Blu-ray is recommended!
TITLE: The Penalty
FILM RELEASE: 1920
DURATION: 87 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1, Color tinted, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.0 Stereo
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Directed by Wallace Worsley
Adaptation of the novel by Gouverneur Morris
Scenario by Charles Kenyon
Cinematography by Don Short
Charles Clary as Dr. Ferris
Doris Pawn as Barbary Nell
Jim Mason as Frisco Pete
Lon Chaney as Blizzard
Milton Ross as Lichtenstein
Ethel Grey Terry as Rose
Kenneth Harlan as Dr. Wilmot Allen
Claire Adams as Barbara Ferris
In a role that established him as one of the most dynamically terrifying performers of the silent screen, Lon Chaney (The Phantom of the Opera) stars in The Penalty, a grotesque thriller form director Wallace Worsley (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). When an incompetent doctor amputates the legs of a young boy, he has no idea that the youth will grow up to be the immoral and embittered Blizzard, a criminal mastermind who orchestrates a bizarre and heinous plot to avenge himself upon his malefactor.
Lon Chaney, an actor known for taking on the roles of characters that were tortured or grotesque and known for horror silent films such as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Phantom of the Opera”, “The Unknown” and “Laugh, Clown, Laugh”.
Known as “The Master of Makeup”, Chaney has a long list of films in his oeuvre dating back to 1912, but it wasn’t until 1919 in which Chaney would receive acclaim as The Frog in “The Miracle Man” (unfortunately, the full version of this film is lost, only a few minute footage which is included on the Blu-ray release) but it was in 1920 in which Chaney would star in the crime drama, “The Penalty” and solidify his status as one of the most popular actors in America and not a one-hit wonder.
The film would also captivate audiences as Chaney, playing a double leg amputee, using a leather harness to strap his two lower legs behind his thigh to two buckets. While using crutches, he was able to take part in stunts without the use of his legs and feet. So painful for Lon Chaney to play this role, he could only do this for short periods of time.
Based on a pulp novel by Gouverneur Morris (which you can read online here), the film directed by Wallace Worsley and written by Philip Lonergan would be one of the few silent films starring Lon Chaney that many silent film fans have had watched on home video thanks to Kino (who released the original DVD back in 2001).
And in October 2012, Kino Lorber has released “The Penalty” on Blu-ray. Remastered in HD from the 35 mm restoration by the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department. The film is color tinted according to the surviving instructions and features a new musical score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra in 2.0 stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio.
“The Penalty” begins with a boy who was involved in an accident and we see a young doctor named Dr. Ferris (portrayed by Charles Clary) awaiting for a senior doctor to come by. Unfortunately, with the senior doctor, Dr. Wilmot Allen (portrayed by Kenneth Harlan) having not arrived, the young doctor decides to cut off the boys legs in hopes to save him. By the time the senior doctor arrives, he is shocked by what the young doctor has done and told him she shouldn’t have done that. Now the young boy’s life has been ruined.
The two doctors are unaware that the boy has awakened and is listening to their conversation. When the doctors bring the parents in to explain what has happened, the boy tries to tell his parents that he heard their discussion but the senior doctor tells the parents, the boy is dreaming things up and it’s the effects of the ether. The boy knows what he has heard but the parents believe the doctor’s explanation.
Fast forward years later and the film is now taking place in San Francisco. We see a young woman named Barbara Nell with a drunk, sleeping man and stealing his wallet. Meanwhile, another criminal named Frisco Pete watches. He approaches the woman, steals her necklace and kills her in front of all these people.
As the criminal leaves, he runs into a man without any legs or feet named Blizzard (portrayed by Lon Chaney) and Blizzard hides Frisco.
We learn that Blizzard has power in the city. An evil man who is so corrupt, he has corrupt police officers working alongside with him. He is a man that the police have been trying to nail down for murder, arson and many ther crimes but each time, Blizzard as alluded them.
Word has gotten to the police that Blizzard is up to something bad and it involves showgirls that he has them working as hat-makers for some unknown reason. They need to find a way in by using a spy and so, they look to one of their best agents, Rose (portrayed by Ethel Grey Terry) to infiltrate Blizzard’s business and disguise herself as a showgirl working for him.
Meanwhile, we see the cruelty of Blizzard as he goes to check on the girls and seeing how badly they are working on the hats, grabbing one woman by the hair and pulling it with all his might and screaming at them. Also, letting them know what happened to Barbara Nell, an escapee of Blizzard’s business and how she is dead.
We are then introduced to Barbara Ferris (portrayed by Claire Adams), daughter of Dr. Ferris (who amputated the legs of Blizzard), who is an artist/sculptor. Her next major sculpture is the fall of Satan and needs someone to be a model. So, she advertises in the newspaper and seeing the name of who is involved, Blizzard decides that he wants no one but himself to be the model. And so, he can exact his revenge on the Doctor and his daughter.
As for Rose, she becomes one of Blizzard’s top employees but as she is supposed to infiltrate and provide recon to the police, she finds herself being captivated by Blizzard’s charms.
As for Blizzard, what happens when he becomes captivated with Barbara Ferris?
“The Penalty” is presented in 1080p High Definition and remastered in HD from the 35 mm restoration print from the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department and is color tinted according to the surviving instructions. It’s important for people to know that Kino is not a company that cleans up their films but presents the film in high definition as provided to them. They choose films with the best print and so, you can expect prints to have some damage, tears and white specks and occasional hair or dirt that was made permanent during the restoration (at the time, many companies restored the nitrate print by converting it to 35 mm but with all defects included).
Fortunately for “The Penalty”, the film is not in bad shape at all. There are visible splicing, color tinting was a tad bit saturated at times and there are white specks but for the most part, I was quite pleased of watching this film in HD and seeing more detail as opposed to the 2001 DVD which had DNR but also a bit of blurring. But the contrast is good and I saw no major issues when it comes to artifacts or any significant errors. I’m confident that this Blu-ray release will be the definitive version of “The Penalty” to see for quite some time.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Penalty” features a new musical score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra in 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. I’m always a fan of Rodney Sauer and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra’s work and I enjoyed their score for this Blu-ray release of “The Penalty”.
The music is fantastic and sounds amazing, crisp and clear via its lossless soundtrack. Rodney Sauer wrote on Nitrateville.com, “Mont Alto’s score for ‘The Penalty’ — after our previous score for ‘Les Vampires’ — has had us wallowing in melodrama for most of 2012. But we really like this kind of music, it gives us a great opportunity for emotional playing. This Blu-Ray is also our first recording with my newly acquired Kawai grand piano, though in most of these arrangements, the piano ends up pretty buried. When Lon plays his piano on-screen, you’ll hear it a little more to the front. Grand pianos are very inspiring to play, but can be difficult to record.”
“The Penalty” come with the following special features:
- Chaney’s Secrets Revealed - (9:33) Author Michael F. Blake gives a video tour of Chaney’s actual make-up case and the costume he wore in “The Penalty”.
- “By the Sun’s Rays” – (11:27) A Lon Cheney one-reel western.
- The Miracle Man- (2:37) The only surviving footage of Lon Chaney’s breakthrough 1919 feature “The Miracle Man”.
- Lon Chaney Trailers - Featuring a trailer for “The Big City” and “While the City Sleeps”.
“The Penalty” comes with a slipcase.
As I tried to put myself in the shoes of those who must have watched this film in 1920, I can certainly see how this film would be chilling to viewers. A dark and somewhat evil character, Lon Chaney’s Blizzard shows viewers the cruelty of the underworld.
Viewers get to see how Blizzard is feared as he rules with an iron fist, he has show girls forcibly working under him and how his temper can easily flare to the point of hurting another woman with not so care in the world and the fact that he has this power, he gives this evil grin that surely is a predecessor of the evil grin that Jack Nicholson is known for in his chilling films such as “The Shining”.
And while people die in this film, it also is quite interesting to see how police are featured in the film. The criminals are always a step ahead of the police, so their best chance is Rose, an agent sent to infiltrate Blizzard’s operations and manages to do it.
While some may see this as a positive role for a woman officer in an early silent film, unfortunately, while she is successful to infiltrate and do her own recon, she makes a key mistake which gives herself away. To make things worse, she falls for Blizzard’s charms and is torn between duty and love for him. So, much that when he plays the organ, Rose kneels down to play the piano’s pedals for him.
There are quite a few scenes that are implausible and personally, there are times that I wondered that if all these women do not like to be treated so badly, what stops dozens of them from getting revenge as he is a man with no feet and on crutches. Suffice to say, this is one of those films one shouldn’t think hard of why these people do not do things this way or that way, just think of Blizzard as this evil power that men and women fear, despite his physical disability.
But what makes this film so entertaining is to see Lon Cheney giving an amazing performance. A man who had to undergo tremendous pain just to walk on his knees and take part in many stunts, I was just amazed of how much he was able to accomplish. But it’s his performance that the film rides on his shoulders and he manages to succeed and making the film worth one’s time to watch. And the scene of Blizzard posing as satan is quite creepy.
As for the Blu-ray release, for silent film fans, to have a silent Lon Cheney film on Blu-ray is fantastic, considering his breakthrough film “The Miracle Man” is lost. But it’s great to see the surviving footage of the film included on this Blu-ray plus one of his earlier shorts from 1914, the western “By the Sun’s Rays” included as well. Especially a video tour of Chaneys’ actual makeup case and his costume used on “The Penalty”.
Picture quality on this Blu-ray release is much better in detail and contrast over its 2001 DVD counterpart and the new score in lossless audio by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra is well-done.
Overall, Cheney’s performance in “The Penalty” is impressive even today, over 90-years-later, how one actor can perform a role with so much pain but yet give a commanding performance is a testament to how amazing an actor he was during that era. And it’s a gangster film that probably was dark and terrifying for its time.
“The Penalty” is another welcomed addition to the George Eastman House titles on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber. And to have a silent Lon Cheney film on Blu-ray is another win for silent film fans who have wanted to see more silent films featuring other notable talents in HD. And one can hope that Kino Lorber continues bringing more films with other silent film stars on Blu-ray!
As for this Blu-ray, “The Penalty” is recommended!
“The Navigator” is a film full of vaudeville gags, hilarious action and it’s also a film that shows us why Buster Keaton is definitely one of the kings of silent comedy. “The Navigator” is highly recommended!
TITLE: The Navigator
FILM RELEASE: 1924
DURATION: 60 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: Color-tinted, 1:33:1, 1080p High Definition
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber
RATED: Not Rated
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Directed by Donald Crisp, Buster Keaton
Story by Clyde Bruckman, Joseph A. Mitchell, Jean C. Havez
Produced by Buster Keaton
Executive Producer: Joseph M. Schenck
Music by Robert Israel (1995)
Cinematography by Byron Houck, Elgin Lessley
Edited by Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton as Rollo Treadway
Kathryn McGuire as Betsy O’Brien
Frederick Vroom as John O’Brien
Brilliantly exemplifying Buster Keaton’s ability to mime rich humor from the inanimate, The Navigator is a classic of the Golden Age of Comedy, centered on and about a single extraordinary prop: an immense five hundred-foot yacht.
In a return to the “pampered youth” role he had played in The Saphead (and would return to in Battling Butler), Keaton stars as Rollo Treadway, an inexperienced lad of extraordinary wealth — and surprisingly little common sense — who finds himself adrift on “The Navigator” with no one else on board except an equally naïve girl (Kathryn McGuire). After discovering each other’s presence in an ingenious ballet of unintentional hide-and-seek, the couple resourcefully fashion a home for themselves aboard the derelict boat, in spite of their unfamiliarity with the tools of domesticity.
They then embark on a series of misadventures on the ocean floor (where Rollo in a diving suit must parry the attacks of an aggressive swordfish) and upon the high seas, surrounded by a fleet of menacing cannibals, where the film reaches its explosively funny climax, with the aid of a crate of rocket flares.
There are a few films that Buster Keaton calls his favorites and his 1924 film “The Navigator” was not only one of them, it was also his most successful film in the box office.
And once again, Buster Keaton shows the audience why he is one of the silent kings of comedy, from his wonderful physical comedy to vaudeville gags, there is no doubt that “The Navigator” was also an expensive film as he bought an actual vessel (the USAT Buford, a passenger liner that served in World War I) for the film.
While headlining the film, it was also feature actress Kathryn McGuire, best known as one of Mack Sennet’s bathing suit and dancing beauties, having appeared in Keaton’s “Sherlock Jr.” that same year, her performance in “The Navigator” will be her most memorable role of her career.
Beloved by many silent film fans, especially Buster Keaton fans, prior to 1995, “The Navigator” was one of the most scarce Buster Keaton feature length film to find on video. But now it has become a fan favorite and now, “The Navigator” will now receive it’s Blu-ray release courtesy of Kino Lorber in Sept. 2012.
“The Navigator” begins with a group of men who are upset that the wealthy John O’Brien (portrayed by Frederick Vroom) has sold the vessel, “The Navigator” to a small country at war. The group of men from the opposing small nation at war decides that they must do all they can to make sure the other nation gains access to the ship, by sabotaging it.
Meanwhile, the wealthy Rollo Treadway (portrayed by Buster Keaton) looks out the window and sees a happily married couple. So, Rollo decides that he wants to marry his neighbor Betsy O’Brien (portrayed by Kathryn McGuire), a woman that he has loved. He tells his servant that he is getting married today and to book a honeymoon sea cruise to Honolulu.
Visiting Betsy, he proposes to her and is immediately rejected.
Dejected, Rollo decides to go on the honeymoon sea cruise by himself and boards “The Navigator”.
Unbeknown to Rollo, the saboteurs have kidnapped the captain of the ship. Meanwhile, later that night, Betsy and her father quickly make a stop to visit “The Navigator” but while her father is going to check it, the saboteurs kidnap him. As Betsy hears her father scream for help, she is pursued and she runs up to “The Navigator” which the saboteurs have since put the ship to leave port by itself. And she finds herself stuck on “The Navigator”.
Later in the morning, thinking that she is the only one in the ship. Rollo who is also aboard, goes to get some breakfast but shocked that he is not being served. He hears a woman screaming for help and through several misses between both he and Betsy, they finally find each other.
But to their chagrin, they are the only one on the boat and are lost in sea. With no knowledge of how to control the ship, the two try to make themselves useful by trying to prepare their own food. But being the wealthy people that they are and not knowing how to make their own food, their first chance at preparing coffee and dinner is a failure.
Their first night on the ship is also a failure as they think the ship is haunted and when they go to use a candle inside the ship, they are unaware that the candles are actually Roman candles and fireworks. Suffice to say, their first night was also a failure.
When a nearby ship comes near them, feeling they would be rescued, the two decide to put a yellow flag up on the ship in hopes they would get notice. But instead, the yellow flag gives the people on the other ship a signal that their ship is being quarantined.
With so many failures and the two drifting in the middle of the sea on a vessel they just don’t understand, Rollo and Betsy must find a way to work together as a team and survive on “The Navigator”. Can they do it?
“The Navigator” is presented in 1080p High Definition and was remastered in HD from a 35mm negative from the Raymond Rohauer Collection and was color-tinted according to the original specifications. As one can expect from a film that is nearly 90-years old, you’re going to see some scratches. But it’s a film that is not marred by nitrate damage, nor is it a film that is blurry or has excess flickering. The film is well-contrast and the color-tinting was also good in showing viewers that blue means night, green is underwater, etc.
In fact, “The Navigator” looks very good for a film for its age, not as pristine as “The General” but still, the film looks amazing in HD.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Navigator” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo utilizing Robert Israel’s well-known musical score. Having owned the original DVD, Israel’s score sounds amazing in HD. While not a musically immersive soundtrack, the dynamic range is great and the music does feel as if it comes alive hearing it via lossless. Crystal clear music, I was impressed by how great the music sounds on Blu-ray.
“The Navigator” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio comemntary by silent film historians Robert Arkus and Yair Solan.
- Featurette – (8:50) A featurette narrated by Bruce Lawton titled “Of Buster, Boats, Other Seacraft and Working on the Navigator”. The featurette goes into Keaton’s physical comedy and details on the underwater scenes.
- Asleep in the Deep – (3:15) The actual recording of the 78rpm disc of Wilfred Glenn’s song “Asleep in the Deep”.
- Gallery - Featuring a gallery of 16 images from “The Navigator” courtesy of Robert Arkin.
“The Navigator” comes with a slipcase.
“The Navigator” is a film that definitely shows the audience why Buster Keaton is one of the three kings of silent comedy.
The film not only offers wonderful physical and risky comedy that Keaton is best known for, the amount of gags and having an actress such as Kathryn McGuire, also willing to take part in the physical comedy leads to the film’s efficacy.
Although only 60 minutes long, to describe this film and say that it features a man and woman stranded on a ship in the middle of nowhere and features the duo overcoming what they think is a haunted ship, not knowing how to prepare their own meals, facing cannibals and Keaton taking on a swordfish and octopus may read as if this film is kitsch but the way its presented is hilarious, fun and a film that features a string of vaudeville gags, and Keaton’s understanding of how comedy works, makes this film so enjoyable and entertaining, but most importantly, accessible to young and old.
The chemistry between Buster Keaton and Kathryn McGuire is fantastic! They both need each other as if one is near harm, the other is their to save them. Both are privileged, wealthy young adults who probably have never cooked a meal, have never had to do any form of manual labor until they get stuck on the ship and it’s just fun to see how these two gradually get to understand their surroundings.
The battle against the cannibals is one of the most hilarious but also exciting moments I have seen Buster Keaton in. Yes, he was amazing in “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” and “The General” and has risked his life in many films, but for “The Navigator”, to see the characters of Rollo and Betsy taking on dozens of cannibals was so fun to watch because of the number of people involved.
I watched this film with my 9-year-old and he was laughing hard along with me while watching this film. And I know I am not alone. Many times I have heard from silent film fans how they have introduced their children or spouses to a Keaton film and “The Navigator” was a film that they used to cajole a friend or family member into enjoying silent film, especially Buster Keaton films.
While “The Navigator” was one of Keaton’s favorite films, it is important to note that the film was supposed to have an unhappy ending (as mentioned in Rudi Blesh’s 1974 biography “Keaton”), but Keaton knowing that his comedy films should not have any of the main characters dying, his films are primarily positive and upbeat with the happy ending. Personally, I don’t know if I can even imagine a tragic ending for “The Navigator” as it would have possibly ruined the film for me.
As for the Blu-ray release, “The Navigator” looks very good on Blu-ray. While one should not expect pristine-quality such as “The General”, while the film does have its fair share of scratches and dust (note: A lot of films on nitrate were “rescued” and transferred to another negative with scratches and dust intact to preserve the film, not knowing in the future that people would care for clean prints), but the film looks very good on Blu-ray. And the same can be said for its lossless soundtrack featuring Robert Israel’s score, crystal clear…I was impressed by how beautiful the music sounds in HD (considering I own the previous Kino DVD release).
As for special features, I’m glad that an audio commentary was included. Both film historians, Robert Arkus and Yair Solan are very knowledgeable about Keaton and the talent featured in the film. Also, for Kino to find the recording of Wilfred Glenn’s “Asleep in the Deep” was a nice touch. As well as Bruce Lawton’s featurette, on more behind-the-scenes information on the making of the underwater scene. And you also get over a dozen stills via the gallery
Overall, “The Navigator” is a film that I have waited to come out on Blu-ray. Not only is this a fantastic film to introduce people to silent comedy but it’s a entertaining, upbeat and fun Buster Keaton film that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. I loved the film! My nine-year-old loved it! “The Navigator” is a film full of vaudeville gags, hilarious action and it’s also a film that shows us why Buster Keaton is definitely one of the kings of silent comedy.
“The Navigator” is highly recommended!
For silent film fans, “The Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption” is a unique Blu-ray release that revolves around social issues such as drug addiction, prostitution or terrible corporate practices of the 1910′s. If you are a silent film fan, this is a fantastic, must see, must own Blu-ray release and I was completely surprised to see these films being released together, let alone in HD on Blu-ray! “The Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption” is highly recommended!
TITLE: The Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption
YEAR OF RELEASE: The Devil’s Needle (1916), The Inside of the White Slave Traffic (1913) and Children of Eve (1915)
DURATION: The Devil’s Needle (66 Minutes), The Inside of the White Slave Traffic (28 Minutes) and Children of Eve (73 Minutes)
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:33:1), Black and White
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber
RATED: Not Rated
Release Date: July10, 2012
The Devil’s Needle
Directed by hester Withey
Written by Roy Somerville
The Inside of the White Slave Traffic
Directed by Frank Beal
Story by Frank Beal, Samuel H. London
Produced by Samuel H. London
Children of Eve
Directed by John H. Collins
Screenplay and Story by John H. Collins
Cinematography by John Arnold, Ned Van Buren
The Devil’s Needle
Tully Marshall as David White
Norma Talmadge as Renee
Marguerite Marsh as Wynn Mortimer
F.A. Turner as William Mortimer
Howard Gaye as Hugh Gordon
John E. Brennan as Fritz
Paul Le Blanc as Buck
The Inside of the White Slave Traffic
Ninita Bristow as Immigrant
Edwin Carewe as Procurer
Virginia Mann as Victim
Jean Thomas as Procurer’s Sweetheart
Children of Eve
Viola Dana as Fifty-Fity Mamie
Robert Conness as Henry Clay Madison
Tom Blake as Bennie the Typ
Nellie Grant as Flossy Wilson
Robert Walker as Bert Madison
William Wadsworth as Peddler
James Harris as Mill Foreman
Hubert Dawley as Bobbie Roche
Director Alberto Cavalcanti (When the Day Went Well?) turns his sights on the London underworld in the engrossing Brit-Noir gangland drama THEY MADE ME A FUGITIVE.
Set in unsettled post-WWII England where crime is on the upsurge, FUGITIVE is a suspenseful thriller which uses the picturesque Soho district to brilliant effect. The London pubs, alleys, and back bedrooms are transformed into brooding images of poetic urban realism. Trevor Howard (Brief Encounter, The Third Man) gives one of his greatest performances as Clem, an ex-serviceman who is fed up after the war and drawn to the excitement of black-marketeering. His psychopathic gang boss, Narcy (Griffith Jones), betrays him when he refuses to deal drugs, and the story becomes a breathtaking tale of revenge.
For cinema fans, especially silent film fans, one of the amazing experiences of watching these films is to get a glimpse of the world of how things were then. Especially stories that were affecting society at the time.
In July 2012, Kino Lorber released “Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption” on Blu-ray. The Blu-ray (and also DVD) release is a collection of three films from the Library of Congress that were provocative but tackled the social issues that were plaguing America in the 1910′s.
Included are “The Devil’s Needle” (1916) directed by Chester Withey and written by Withey and Roy Somerville. “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic” (1913) directed by Frank Beal and “Children of Eve” (1915) directed by John H. Collins.
The Devil’s Needle
“The Devil’s Needle” is a film that deals with narcotics and one of the earlier films in America that shows how drugs can destroy one’s life.
The film would revolve around an artist named David White (as portrayed by Tully Marshall). A grumpy artist because he can’t find the right model for his painting. Despite having the slightly plump Renee (as portrayed by Norma Talmadge, an earlier silent film for the actress) as a stand-in model, it’s not what he needs. And because she tends to show up whenever she wants, he easily shows his frustration towards her.
Meanwhile, Marguerite Marsh (as portrayed by Wynne Mortimer), the only daughter of William (as portrayed by F.A. Turner) and is dating the wealthy Hugh Gordon (as portrayed by Howard Gaye), have come to visit the artist. In hopes to purchase a painting. But they realize that David is in a tight spot with his latest painting, because he can’t find a model.
As he meets with the Mortimer family, to deal with her stress, Renee meets with a drug dealer who supplies her with morphine and when she shoots it up her arm, she is able to continue her day.
As days continue and many models have come and gone, which David has yet to find the right model. One day, he catches Renee shooting morphine up her arm and Renee tells him how morphine would give him more energy and make him feel better. And so, he gives it a try.
Marguerite comes to visit once again and while watching her from afar, David realizes that Marguerite would make a perfect model for him. So, he asks her to be his model and sure enough, the two start working together.
But Hugh, looking for his girlfriend, is upset that his girlfriend from such a high status, would lower herself to be a model and wants her to stop. But she doesn’t want to.
Eventually David and Marguerite start working quite closely together and in the process, they fall in love.
As Hugh talks to Marguerite’s father about proposing to her, it is too late. David and Marguerite get married immediately to everyone’s surprise.
But as the days go on, David starts to change as he becomes addicted to the morphine and can not live without it. His wife Marguerite starts to witness his outbursts when he doesn’t have drugs and Rene who only looked at morphine as a recreational drug, sees how David has become addicted and how its ruining his life.
Can someone help David before he kills himself?
The Inside of the White Slave Traffic
The second film “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic” was released in 1913 and it is important to note that this version is the abridged two-reel version. The raw surviving footage of the film is included as a special feature.
The film worked in cooperation with the US government to show the problems of white slave trafficking in America. And how immigrant women were targeted by American men and had an elaborate system for the time to keep tabs on the women they were exploiting.
Ninita Bristow plays the naive immigrant who goes out on a date with a man named George. She gets drunk, wakes up to find out that she slept in a man’s home and her family is disgraced that she had given up her virginity. But to make things right, George intends to show the parents that he wants to marry her, so all is good again.
But when George takes her far away from her family as he goes to find work, he leaves her with a friend, in this case, a procurer (another word for “pimp”, as portrayed by Edwin Carewe). She then receives a letter later on from George stating that he doesn’t want to be with her and now, to make money, the immigrant has become a prostitute.
As she wants to make money to escape, what she doesn’t know is that people within the city are tied into the white slave trafficking and no matter where she goes, her procurer will find her.
Can this immigrant escape the confines of her forced labor and watchful eyes of her procurer?
Children of Eve
In 1915, writer and director John H. Collins went on to create a film that was inspired by the tragic and most deadliest industrial disaster in New York City, known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. The film would also show how managers had women and young girls working for them, but yet have them working in unsafe conditions that would surely kill the workers if anything bad had happened in the factory.
The film would begin with a woman named Flossy Wilson (as portrayed by Nellie Grant), who is an actress from “The Follies”. Flossy stumbles into her room, quite drunk, and catches the attention of her neighbor, Henry Clay Madison (as portrayed by Robert Conness).
Henry is a student and a clerk and tries to have her change her life and in the process of spending time with her, the two end up having a sexual encounter and she gets pregnant. Henry proposes but she rejects him. Not wanting to destroy Henry’s life, especially when he has a lot going for himself.
We then see Flossy raising her baby but dying. The child, named Mamie is then raised by another woman and the film fast forwards 17-years-later.
Mamie “Fifty-Fifty” McGuire (as portrayed by Viola Dana) has now grown up and is dating Bennie “The Typ” (as portrayed by Thomas F. Blake”), a man who is often getting into trouble with the law. Meanwhile, Henry Clay Madison has done well for himself and is a capitalist and shrewd businessman who encounters an article about child labor investigations to the factory that he owns.
As Mamie and The Typ try to figure out how to make ends meet and hope to win money at the “Bucket of Blood” dance contest, needing to survive, she steals a vendor’s cart where she is being chased by authorities and runs into a man named Bert.
Bert Madison is the nephew of Henry and is a 25-year-old social worker who wants to help fix Mamie’s life and sure enough, both fall in love with each other. Henry gives Mamie the bible and gets her involved with helping people who are in need and showing her that her life can be used for good and she has the choice to change her life for the positive.
But as Bert has contracted something that has made him sick, Mamie tries to visit him but Henry catches Mamie (both not knowing that they are father and daughter to each other) trying to visit Bert and tells her to leave Bert alone, as a poor woman like her will only drag his nephew downhill.
Stung by Bert’s words, Mamie decides to change her life and prove that she can be a good person like Bert has thought of her. So, she takes a job working undercover as a young girl at Henry Madison’s factory.
But what happens when the factory full of child workers including Mamie, wanting to prove her self-worth, catches on fire?
“The Devil’s Needle”, “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic” and “Children of Eve” are mastered in HD from archival 35mm elements preserved by the Library of Congress. It’s important for those not familiar with silent films to know that back then, these films were shot in Nitrate and were prone to catching on fire, having damage and it’s part of the reason why over 90% of silent films created at the time did not survive and are considered lost. While the surviving films were either taken care of and some that were partially damaged, back then, when it came to restoration, some companies scanned the film with specks and damage included. So, these damages are quite permanent on the original negative.
Kino Lorber is a company that has dedicated themselves to bringing the surviving films to DVD, but knowing that some films are worse than others when it comes to picture quality. For silent film fans, as long as the film is watchable, then it is worth it. So, while these three films have been released on Blu-ray, unlike the Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin or Harold Lloyd films that people are used to seeing in better quality, a lot of these films are not in pristine quality. You will see lines, flickering and white specks but by no means will it affect you’re viewing.
With that being said, all three films are watchable and are in better condition than a lot of silent films I have watched from the 1910′s.
The first film “The Devil’s Needle” is a film that suffers from nitrate damage. While the majority of the film is watchable, one you reach the final minutes of the film, you will see nitrate damage. Fortunately, the majority of the film is not damaged but the final minute does show major nitrate damage which makes it hard to see the ending scene. Granted, it’s not an integral moment but the damage is there. But the fact is that most Talmadge films are hard to come by and as a fan of Norma and Constance, I’m just grateful that Kino Lorber has released another Norma Talmadge film.
The other two films “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic” and “Children of the Eve” are in good shape. They are watchable and there is no major nitrate damage. Bu it’s important to note that “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic” is abridged and the bad portions were removed and is featured as a 19-minute special feature.
AUDIO & INTERTITLES:
“The Devil’s Needle” and “Children of Eve” feature music by Rodney Sauer and “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic” by features music by Ben Model. The music is presented in LPCM Monaural 2.0. The music is crystal clear via lossless and I give credit to Ben Model for his work on “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic” because the film was edited to show only the clearer versions of the film and thus, he had the challenge of creating music for a film with a story that changes quite a bit. But both Sauer and Model did a fantastic job with the musical score.
Intertitles were easy to read.
“The Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption” comes with a slipcase and the following special features:
- Unedited Out-take from “Children of Eve” – (8:41) An out-take of the fire in the factory scene. No audio is present for this feature.
- Raw Surviving Footage from “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic” – (19:41) A comparison using another raw surviving footage of the film in 24 frames.
“The Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption” comes with a four-page “Film Notes” by Richard Koszarski (Professor of English and Cinema Studies at Rutgers University” on the three films presented.
As a silent film fan, “The Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption” is a Blu-ray release that you can’t help but be excited for.
In this day and age, it’s rare to find silent films that are released on DVD, let alone on Blu-ray that is not fixated on a major silent film star. But for a Blu-ray release that revolves around the social issues such as drug addiction, prostitution or terrible corporate practices of the 1910′s, I found this release to be fantastic and a surprise Blu-ray release from Kino Lorber.
First, let’s discuss “The Devil’s Needle”. As a Talmadge fan, any Norma or Constance Talmadge release on DVD or Blu-ray is a blessing! They are hard to find, many films are lost and with “The Devil’s Needle”, we have a chance to see a younger Norma Talmadge of 1916, months shy of becoming the wife of Broadway and film producer Joseph M. Schenk and forming the Norma Talmadge Film Corporation a year later.
And what we have with “The Devil’s Needle” is a film featuring Norma Talmadge as a drug user, something I don’t see the film producer Joseph M. Schenk having his young wife from 1916 on (by 1917, Talmadge would become one of America’s more popular drama actresses).
But this is a different Norma Talmadge, a little plumper than thinner version we would see of her in the 1920′s. While Tully Marshall and Norma Talmadge were the headlining stars of this film, one can’t help but be attracted to the performance and looks of actress Marguerite Marsh. And because Norma’s character of Rene is the drug user, Tully Marshall’s David White is an artist who is introduced to morphine by Rene, the purist character in the entire film is Marguerite’s Wynne Mortimer.
You can’t help but feel bad for Wynne because she is the pure young woman who is drawn into the world of darkness thanks to David and there is also a side-story that involves a group of guys who fear that Wynne is a spy. But the story is fascinating for a silent film fan who are curious of how drug use was featured in a film in the 1910′s and to see that there is a moral message that morphine addiction can be deadly.
“The Children of Eve” is another fascinating story and a tragedy that I’m sure, shocked many people watching it back 1915. Especially with the many deaths of children after New York’s most deadliest fire ala the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911.
Filmmaker and writer John Collins was able to craft a story to shock viewers of child labor and poor working conditions and while many factory workers chose to make money than care for their employee’s needs, the timing of this film was great. And as this is the first film on Blu-ray or DVD featuring the work of John Collins, it is unfortunate that Collins would die at the age of 26 due to the 1918 influenza epidemic.
But what best to grab the attention of the viewer by not giving the happily ever after. As a viewer, you are drawn by the performance of Viola Dana as she dances, flirts and has a energetic aura and later to see it sap away when she falls in love with a good man, but being poor and told by the wealthy money-obsessed Henry Madison (who she doesn’t know is her father and vice versa), she chooses to redeem herself by choosing to work undercover for an agency to expose the unsafe practices at the Madison Cannery. Unfortunately, what happens when this factory catches on fire. There is no act of heroism, there is no story to show that all things end happily. The children and women who died at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 did not have a happy ending, nor should the children and young woman of the Madison Cannery.
The message was bold and whether or not it got through to businesses is unknown, but at least filmmaker John Collins used his film as a way to get the message out and to me, that is quite noble.
And last, we have the 1913 film, “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic”. Sex Trafficking is still as controversial today as it was back then. While seen as a problem of other countries, back in the 1910′s, with the pouring of immigrants to America, many could not find work and with women seen as beneath men, they couldn’t hold great jobs. So, many were forced or got caught up in prostitution.
The message of this film was very clear, considering we are first informed that Frank Beal along with federal investigator Samuel H. London had wanted to get the message through about the problems of sex trafficking and the lingo used by the network and how a lot of these women could not escape. These were based on real experiences and many immigrant women were tricked into fake marriages and were then left with pimps, far from their own families for safety and help and had to survive by using their bodies for profit.
As for the Blu-ray release of “The Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption”, as mentioned with video quality, you’re not going to get pristine video but for those who follow silent films, they know they are getting three films that look very good considering their age but also three films that no one would expect for release on Blu-ray. Sure, “The Devil’s Needle” suffers from damage towards the final minute of the film but all three films are good considering their age (and I have seen worse for silent films made in 1910-1930). And you also get two special features (which I also wasn’t expecting) included with this Blu-ray release
Overall, “The Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption” is a wonderful collection of films tackling the social problems of the 1910′s. You just don’t see releases like this on Blu-ray or DVD and as a silent film fan, not only was I surprised but excited because we get to see a part of American history that many people may not be familiar with. From drug use, prostitution and shady corporate practices of that era in time, to see these three films released together is fantastic!
“The Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption” is a must-see, must-own Blu-ray release for silent film fans and is highly recommended!
“The Saphead” is Buster Keaton’s first feature film and while not his best, it’s a delightful, fun silent comedy on Blu-ray that Buster Keaton fans will surely enjoy!
TITLE: The Saphead
FILM RELEASE: 1920
DURATION: 77 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: Color-tinted, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber
RATED: Not Rated
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Directed by Herbert Blache, Winchell Smith
Based on the original play “The Henrietta” by Bronson Howard, “The New Henrietta” play by Victor Mapes and Winchell Smith, Scenario by June Mathis
Produced by John Golden, Marcus Loew, Winchell Smith
Music by Robert Israel
Cinematography by Harold Wenstrom
Art Direction by F.H. Webster
Edward Jobson as Reverend Murray Hilton
Beulah Booker as Agnes Gates
Edward Connelly as Mr. Musgrave
Edward Alexander as Watson Flint
Irving Cummings as Mark Turner
Odette Taylor as Mrs. Cornelia Opdyke
Carol Holloway as Rose Turner
Jack Livingston as Dr. George Wainright
William H. Crane as Nicholas Van Alstyne
Buster Keaton as Bertie Van Alstyne
Keaton stars in The Saphead as Bertie Van Alstyne, the spoiled son of a powerful Wall Street financier. Unable to escape the wealth and comfort that are foisted upon him, he pursues individuality in a series of comic misadventures in the speakeasies of New York, at the altar of matrimony, and even on the floor of the American stock exchange. The Saphead was instrumental in establishing Keaton as a bona fide star and greatly influenced his formulation of the Buster persona: a lonely, stone-faced soul thwarted by circumstance yet undauntedly resourceful and indefatigable in his struggle for love and survial within a chaotic world.
Prior to 1920, Buster Keaton was best known for his shorts with Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. Both under contract with Joseph M. Schenck, Keaton’s feature film debut was actually started by a recommendation by popular swashbuckling silent action star Douglas Fairbanks.
Fairbanks who starred in the film “The Lamb”, a 1915 action silent film based on the play “The New Henrietta” by Victor Mapes and Winchell Smith was being remade. And because of Keaton’s popular physical comedy and the fact that the comedy remake which would be based on “The New Henrietta” and Bronson Howard’s play “The Henrietta”, Fairbanks recommended that Buster Keaton play the part. And sure enough, Joseph M. Schenk gave his OK for Keaton to be loaned out and headline his first feature-film, “The Saphead” would create recognition for Buster Keaton acting and physical comedy but also giving him the chance to show that he can be a headliner .
While “The Saphead” was Keaton’s first film, he would go on to create primarily shorts for the next three years until 1923 in which he would star and co-direct the films “Our Hospitality” and “Three Ages”. Considered as “the big start” in Keaton’s film career, the film continues to entertain Buster Keaton fans and now, “The Saphead” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber.
The Blu-ray release will feature the original film featuring music by Robert Israel plus a complete alternate version. The alternate version featuring the same story, but featuring variant takes and different camera angles. So, same story but different takes, so essentially a different film. This alternative version would feature a 2.0 stereo solo piano score by Ben Model.
“The Saphead” begins with introductions to the powerful Van Alstyne family. Nicholas Van Alstyne (as portrayed by William H. Crane) is a man who is wealthy and knows how to invest in the stock market. Meanwhile, his daughter Rose (as portrayed by Carol Holloway) is married to a broker, Mark Turner (as portrayed by Irving Cummings). Mark’s law business is not doing well and he worries about making money. Meanwhile, he receives a message from a woman named Henrietta to see her.
Henrietta happens to be his mistress and he has an illegitimate child with her, but has kept it a secret from Rose. Henrietta is very sick and wants Mark to see her before she dies, but Mark has no intention of seeing her or his child.
Meanwhile, at the Van Alstyne’s home, Nicholas Van Alstyne’s son Bertie “The Lamb” (as portrayed by Buster Keaton) is awaiting for his adopted sister, Agnes Gates (As portrayed by Beulah Booker) to come home. Nicholas pretty much raised Agnes like his own daughter and has taken care of her, but for Bertie and Agnes, both have liked each other since they were kids, but now as they are young adults, Bertie feels he must prove his love to her and become a man.
As for Bertie, his father Nicholas thinks he is a “saphead”, a “lamb” and pretty much a weak person who is living off his father and has no initiative in becoming a businessman or anything. And it frustrates Nicholas that his son is like this.
Despite how his father feels about him, for Bernie… all that matters is Agnes.
Bertie has been reading books of how “bad boys” attract women, so he decides to try and be a tough guy. While showing up late to pick up Agnes at the train station, Bertie decides to hang out with a few of his guy friends and these guys take him out for a night of gambling. But Bertie doesn’t know that the location is an underground gambling club and the police end up busting the club. For Bertie, he sees this as an opportunity to get the police to take him to jail or the media to print something bad about him, so Agnes will think he is a”bad boy”.
But he is quick to realize that Agnes is in love with him because he is not a bad boy and both Bertie and Agnes decide to get married. But because of the negative publicity of the underground gambling and Bertie being featured on the front page of the newspaper, his father Van Alstyne wants Bertie to move out of the house, no longer receiving an allowance from his father and for him to mature and get a job.
So, his father cuts a $1 million check to Bertie and now, Bertie must find ways to become a man and find work. But also to prepare for his upcoming marriage with Agnes.
But when Henrietta’s message to Bertie’s brother-in-law, Mark not being answered. Before Henrietta’s death, she asks her friend to reveal the affair that she had with Agnes.
And on the wedding day of Bertie and Agnes, right before the two were to get married, Henrietta’s friend delivers the letters to the Van Alstyne family and out Mark Walters of having an affair with Henrietta. But shockingly, Mark lies and accuses Bertie of having an affair with Henrietta. And because Bertie is shy and never a guy to get into arguments, everyone believes Mark and Bertie is disowned by his father and also losing his love of his life, Agnes in the process.
As Bertie is now estranged from the family, he must now must make his own living and that is by working in “The Street” and getting involved in the Stock Exchange.. Meanwhile, Mark tries to scheme his way into taking care of Nicholas Van Alstyne’s investments and leaving Nicholas Van Alstyne in financial ruin.
Will Bertie be able to win his honor and the love of his life back?
“The Saphead” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is color-tinted. The good news is that fortunately “The Saphead” was restored and taken care of by film collector and archivist Raymond Rohauer. As for the film itself, I have watched the original Kino DVD many times (via “The Art of Buster Keaton DVD Box Set). And so I was anticipating the film to look great on Blur-ay as previous Buster Keaton films have been on Blu-ray.
But for anyone who has not seen a silent film on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber, it’s important to note that Kino is not a company that spends a lot of money and dedicates many hours into restoration and clean-up. So, with that being said, don’t expect the film to look pristine. Especially since it is over 92-years-old. You will see scratches, white specks but fortunately, this film was restored earlier on before any nitrate damage could have made the film unwatchable or terrible looking.
The film looks good on Blu-ray with black levels looking good, whites and grays that are well-contrast but could it look better, definitely. Could it look even clear? Of course. But the reality is that restoration is expensive and not many companies can afford to continually do it for each release. Yes, Raymond Rohauer did restore the film but restoring films a decade ago or many decades ago can not compare to how films are restored today with newer and costly technology.
With that being said, “The Saphead” looks very good and no blurring or faint details as seen on the original DVD release. I’m sure Keaton fans will definitely appreciate the video quality on Blu-ray!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
For the release of “The Saphead”, the original film features music by Robert Israel presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and in 2.0 Stereo. For the alternate version, Ben Model’s solo piano score is presented in 2.0 stereo.
I will say that hearing Israel’s music via lossless was amazing. I was testing the music back and forth from 5.1 to 2.0 and the overall music came alive in lossless. So, I do appreciate the lossless Robert Israel soundtrack being included on Blu-ray.
“The Saphead” comes with the following special features:
- Complete Alternate Version of “The Saphead” – The alternate version is the same story with variant takes and camera angles.
- “A Pair of Sapheads” – (7:31) A featurette comparing the two versions of the film and why an alternate version was made.
- “Buster Keaton: Life of the Party” – (30:34) A fascinating audio recording fro 1962 as Buster Keaton recalls memories of his youth and the songs of the past.
- Why They Call Him Buster – (1:11) The “Lost Keaton” promotional trailer.
- Gallery - Featuring a gallery of 16 images showcasing work from Buster Keaton’s career.
“The Saphead” comes with a slipcase.
“The Saphead” may not be the best film in Buster Keaton’s oeuvre, but what a delightful and fun film. I never grow tried of watching it!
Having seen this film multiple times, it was great to finally watch it on Blu-ray and also getting the opportunity to watch the alternative version included. But historically, “The Saphead” was a major film in Buster Keaton’s career as actor in Hollywood and Douglas Fairbanks really gave Keaton a major chance of being a movie star. While there are many shorts featuring Buster Keaton before and after “The Saphead” was released, it was the first film that would have a farther reach around the glove, but also would feature Keaton in his trademark, deadpan face. But also a chance to see him his physical comedy in action.
I enjoyed the film because of two things. One would be the film’s time capsule of capturing the feel of New York’s Stock Exchange. We see early footage of how packed “The Street” (Wall Street) was during 1920 but it also gives us a look at how investments were made in the Stock Exchange. And I always gravitate towards films that are time capsules of the past.
Also, I always found the film to be intriguing in how a man would try to be a “bad boy” in order to get a woman back then. It has its relevance today in the fact that many men try to read books on how to be a bad boy and date more women, so what the character of Bertie is no difference to how guys are today. Many single men are still reading “How to” pick up women type of books and as long as these men have difficulties, many will be like Bertie and end up doing stupid things in order to attract women.
But while “The Saphead” may not be a Keaton written or directed film, it’s a film that captures comedy, as Bertie is literally clueless. May it come to gambling or being part of the Stock Exchange, he has no clue but the way he goes about it, we can’t help but laugh.
In one scene, the men at the Stock Exchange go through their newbie ritual of hitting his hat or dropping his walking stick and just having fun with Bertie. And for Bertie, he doesn’t see these men as mocking him but his naivety lets him believe that this is the culture among men working at the Stock Exchange.
At 77 minutes long, “The Saphead” is a shorter feature film but fortunately with this Blu-ray release, you get the film in HD, you get an alternative version of the film (same story but slightly acted differently by the talent) plus special features including a half hour rare audio recording from 1962 as Keaton recalls memories and songs of his youth.
Overall, “The Saphead” is going to continue to entertain old and new Buster Keaton fans. And one should not come to this film thinking it to be on the same level as “The General” or “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”. It’s primarily Keaton’s first feature film but if anything, the film is delightful and funny and as a silent film fan, I love silent comedies and enjoy the work of Buster Keaton. The film succeeds because of Keaton, the film is hilarious because of Keaton. Any other silent actor, I can’t see anyone else pulling this film off. He was perfect for the role!
Is it worth watching? Definitely. Is it worth buying? If you have purchased many Buster Keaton films on Blu-ray thus far, then “The Saphead” is another feature film starring Buster Keaton that is worth having in your silent cinema collection.
Delightful, heartwarming and magnificent! “The Artist” began as a fantasy for filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius. Now, “The Artist” will now be considered his finest masterpiece. “The Artist” on Blu-ray is highly recommended!
TITLE: The Artist
FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 100 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:33:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Directed and Written by Michel Hazanavicius
Produced by Thomas Langmann, Emmanuel Montamat
Co-Producer: Jeremy Burdek, Nadia Khamlichi, Adrian Politowski, Gilles Waterkeyn
Executive Producer: Antoine de Cazotte, Daniele Delume, Richard Middleton
Music by Ludovic Bource
Cinematography by Guillaume Schiffman
Edited by Anne-Sophie Bion, Michel Hazanavicius
Casting by Heidi Levitt
Production Design by Laurence Bennett
Art Direction by Gregory S. Hopper
Set Decoration by Austin Buchinsky, Robert Gould
Costume Design by Mark Bridges
Jean Dujardin as George Valentin
Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller
John Goodman as Al Zimmer
James Cromwell as Clifton
Penelope Ann Miller as Doris
Missi Pyle as Constance
Malcom McDowell as The Butler
THE ARTIST is a heartfelt and entertaining valentine to classic American cinema set in Hollywood during the twilight of it’s silent era. Love, friendship and an exquisite story make it the most feel good, most original film of our time.
In France, Michel Hazanavicius is best known for his “OSS 117″ spy comedy films featuring actor Jean Dujardin and his wife, Bérénice Bejo. But for Hazanavicius, as a fan of silent films, especially the filmmakers of that era, it was always a fantasy to make a silent film.
Of course, when he brought up to producers or potential investors that he wanted to create a black and white silent film, he was not taken seriously. But fortunately, producer Thomas Langmann and other producers for the film, they listened and despite hesitation, followed his gut to finance the film, which would be known as “The Artist”.
With a budget of $15 million and 35 days to shoot in Los Angeles, the film which required a lot of research not just by Hazanavicius but also his cast and trusting casting directors to hire the right people to pull this film off. Along with Dujardin and Bejo, cast in the film are John Goodman (“Roseanne”, “The Big Lebowski”), James Cromwell (“L.A. Confidential”, “The Green Mile”, “i Robot”), Penelope Ann Miller (“Carlito’s Way”, “Awakenings”), Missi Pyle (“Big Fish”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) and Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”, “Halloween”, “Easy A”).
And the black and white silent film that was almost never made, would become a major success and receive universal acclaim. Dujardi won “Best Actor” at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, winner of three Golden Globes, winner of seven BAFTA awards, winner of five Academy Awards and winning six Cesar Awards (making it the most awarded French film in history).
Made for $15 million, “The Artist” would earn over $133 million in the box office and now “The Artist” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in June 2012.
“The Artist” is set in 1927 and George Valentin (as portrayed by Jean Dujardin) is one of Hollywood’s biggest silent film actors.
With his latest film “A Russian Affair” which he stars alongside his talented dog Jack (as portrayed by Uggie) and actress Constance (as portrayed by Missi Pyle), who he doesn’t get along with.
George loves being in the limelight and the night of the premiere and while posing in front of the cameras, a young woman named Peppy Miller (as portrayed by Bérénice Bejo) drops her near George and when she goes to retrieve it, she accidentally bumps into him. Instead of getting angry, George uses the moment to pose with Peppy and next thing you know, newspapers print a picture of both George and Peppy, wondering “who is that girl?”.
The morning after, George’s wife Doris (as portrayed by Penelope Ann Miller) is not too happy with what she reads in the newspaper but also with their marriage. George is focused on his career and knows that his wife is unhappy.
Meanwhile, Peppy is an actress looking for work. She tries to use the newspapers as a way to generate interest in her and she is eventually hired to be a dancing girl on a film.
When George arrives to work the following morning, Kinograph Studios boss, Al Zimmer (as portrayed by John Goodman), is not so thrilled that George used the newspapers to not promote the film but instead divert attention to him and a mysterious unknown young lady. While the two are talking, George can see the legs of a woman dancing (her upper body is not seen due to a curtain) and he decides to dances along with her.
When the curtains go up, both George and Peppy are surprised to see each other again. And while Al is not pleased with Peppy possibly using George to get on the newspaper, George gets her hired on his next film as an extra.
And while the two are dancing with each other during filming, both can sense an attraction towards each other.
When Peppy goes to meet with George inside his dressing room, he is not there but she is amazed to be in his dressing room and starts playing with his suit. But George enters the room, watching her and the two share a short conversation and he tells her that she needs to stand out from other actresses. So, he puts a beauty spot above her lip and both nearly share an intimate kiss but are interrupted.
While the two go on their separate ways, Peppy with beauty mark and all, works her way into Hollywood, from small parts and each parting becoming better and better each time.
Meanwhile, as for George Valentin, Al tries to show him the future of films and that is films with sound and featuring the actors talking. George balks at such an idea, he doesn’t feel that talking films will ever replace silent films, because for his films, people come to watch the film for him, not to hear his voice.
Fast forward to 1929, Peppy has now become one of Hollywood’s most popular actresses. As for George, he learns that Kinograph Studios has announced the end of production of silent films. Angered and feeling betrayed, George leaves Kinograph Studios to direct and financially produce his next film.
Unfortunately, the change in George’s life eventually takes a toll on his marriage and his wife leaves him. To make things worse, while directing and financially producing his silent film, America is hit with the Stock Market Crash and it takes a toll on his finances. The only thing that can save him now is if the film becomes a success.
And during the premiere of his silent film, it is hardly attended (unbeknown to George, watching the movie from the balcony is Peppy Miller). Dejected, George takes a walk and sees Peppy’s new sound film receiving a large promotion at another theater and George then realizes that the silent film era has ended and his acting career is now over.
With no money, George now must focus on bankruptcy and sell all his possessions. All he has is the clothes on his back, his dog Jack, his car and his loyal valet Clifton (as portrayed by James Cromwell).
Once beloved by fans and once a major star in Hollywood, what will become of the falling star George Valentin and what about the rising star, Peppy Miller?
In order to capture the feel of a silent film, “The Artist” is presented in black and white (1:33:1 aspect ratio) and looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray! Full of detail, the HD presentation on Blu-ray features wonderful clarity. From its closeups of the faces of the characters to the details of makeup, clothing and scenery.
Black levels are nice and deep and white and grays well-contrast, there is a little softness, but I believe that was intentional. I didn’t detect any anomalies or any problems with the video whatsoever. “The Artist” looks absolutely magnificent on Blu-ray.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Artist” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The film is a silent film but there are moments of sound effects but is driven by its musical score, composed by Ludovic Bource, who worked with the Michel Hazanvicius on both “OSS 117″ films.
According to Ludovic Bource, the relationship that he and Hazanvicius had during the making of the film was not saying so much. If anything, Bource watched the rushes to understand the feeling of the film and builds his music from there. Prior to making the film, both he and Hazanvicius listened to Chaplin, Max Steiner and Franz Waxman to Bernard Hermann. They analyzed and listened to the music from the past, including romantic composers from the 19th century.
Bource said in an interview, “We worked – a bit like Chaplin – along the lines of a light sophistication… What was great was being able to work in sequence blocks of 7, 8 or 9 minutes; to be able to reflect on the mood that could be connected to the plot or to a resonance which would be like the characters interior echo, even if there were different sequences within these blocks.”
Part of the challenge that Bource had in creating the music for a silent film was having to edit the music during editing. Bource said, “we had to reduce certain pieces according to the editing, throw lots of them away, and write new ones, adapt them following each step of the film that was being made. Michel and I didn’t stop fine-tuning, refining.”
For the soundtrack, Ludovic Bource worked with the Flanders Philharmonic Orchestra in Brussels for a week. Featuring 80 musicians, 50 string players, four French horns, four trombones, five percussionists, a harpist, ten technicians, five orchestrators and three mixers.
My personal favorites from the film’s soundtrack was its touch of elegance through the use of piano and strings. The music goes through a musically wonderful but sad and emotional transition once we see the decline of silent film and hearing the music starting to go for upbeat, to something much more melodramatic and with a hint of sadness. Bource had said that he was inspired by Brahms’ “Sapphic Ode” and a song that fits the film’s image of decline and loneliness of character George Valentin.
While Ludovic Bource created the majority of the music on this soundtrack, also featured are Brussels Philharmonic with “Estancia OP.8″, a surprise for me was hearing Red Nichols & His Five Pennies “Imagination”. Red Nichols was a popular jazz band in the 1920′s and a wonderful inclusion to this soundtrack. Also, included are Duke Ellington’s “Jubilee Stomp” (from 1928) and Rose Murphy’s “Pennies from Heaven” (a song that earned her the nickname “The Chee Chee Girl”).
The music was a major emotional component to the film and I found it to be delightful and fantastic. And on Blu-ray, the use of music and sound effects were more than appropriate for this film and sounds amazing in lossless!
Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.
“The Artist” comes with the following special features:
- Blooper Reel – (2:14) Outtakes from “The Artist”.
- The Artist: The Making Of A Hollywood Love Story – (21:56) Interviews with the cast of “The Artist” and their thoughts on the film and their characters.
- Q&A with the Filmmakers and Cast – (44:57) A fascinating and hilarious post-screening audience Q&A with director Michel Hazanavicius, producer Thomas Langmann and talents Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, Missi Pyle and James Cromwell.
- Hollywood As A Character: The Locations of The Artist – (5:10) A short featurette about filming in Hollywood and in classic locations. Interviews with the current owners of workspaces and homes where “The Artist” was shot.
- The Artisans Behind The Artist – (11:30) A featurette about the production, cinematography, costume design and the music composition for “The Artist”.
“The Artist” comes with a slipcover case and a Ultraviolet redemption code.
As a fan of silent film, you eventually begin to read about what happened to the careers or the individuals, the stars of the silent era.
From Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Harry Langdon Jr., Clara Bow, Mary Pickford, the Talmadge sisters and many other silent film stars of the time, not many fared well from the transition from the silent films to the Talkies.
Many were known for their look and their acting style but not for their voices. During that time, not many people had to remember their lines and people never judged about what came out of an actor’s lips, there were intertitles that would explain what was going on in a scene and many talents had a great career and life because they were the stars of the time.
And while some tried to make the transition and others refused it, aside from a few talents such as Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy or Gloria Swanson, the coming of the talkies was not welcomed by many of the stars, stars who balked that the talkies would never surpass the popularity of silent films.
They were wrong. The talkies would eventually be the nail on the coffin more the careers of most of the silent film stars and for those such as Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Mary Pickford who tried their best to make their careers continue, unfortunately, silent films and their stars were considered passe. And the studios tried to distance themselves away from them.
Charles Chaplin tried his best to incorporate sound and even went as far to narrate a re-release of “The Gold Rush” (which shocked people because they never knew their beloved “tramp” would have an accent), Buster Keaton would also be featured in many talkies but by the ’30s and ’40s, physical vaudeville comedies were not popular compared to slapstick comedy, romantic comedies with handsome leading actors nor heroic military or Western stars.
Harold Lloyd, Mary Pickford and Clara Bow tried as well and although Mary Pickford would win an Academy Award for “Best Actress in a Leading Role” for “Coquette” in 1930, she had amazing fear towards the microphone, because she felt that she would never make it into talkies. And her next talkie would become a flop, it killed career if the “American’s Sweetheart”. As for Clara Bow, people were more surprised that she had a Bronx accent.
Harold Lloyd on the other hand would make a talkie but knew that with age and what the industry was looking for in Hollywood, he began to focus his career on photography and was one of the few people who had creative control of his films and did what he can to restore it.
But with silent films and the stars being considered as old-fashioned, movies and stars that your parents or grandparents would watch, not many stars made the transition.
And with the release of “The Artist”, filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius was aware of that. Sure, he is known as a comedy filmmaker for his “OSS 117″ films but he is a silent film fan, has watched many films and knew that he wanted to make one, he just needed the financial support.
The timing of “The Artist” is incredible. As more and more people are now discovering silent films through the wonderful releases on Blu-ray and DVD, many are clamoring for the films featuring these top stars of that era. Many wanting to know more about the silent era and being entertained by the films of directors such as D.W. Griffith, Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, F.W. Murnau, Frank Borzage, Ernst Lubitsch, Fritz Lang, to name a few. There is resurgence of interest in silent films today.
I have no doubt in my mind that “The Artist” will convert some people to silent films. It may not make one an ardent fan but at least giving people exposure to a silent film.
And one thing that Michel Hazanavicius wanted to do is capture normalcy. No vaudeville comedy type of direction but to capture the normalcy as seen in Murnau and Borzage films. The feeling of natural acting.
And this is where “The Artist” achieves efficacy because both Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo are wonderful in this film. They make you believe in their characters, they make you feel the emotional high and lows of the character of George Constantin. But not only is the acting wonderful by its main talent and also its supporting talent (including the extras), “The Artist” captivates you with its wonderful acting, its costume design, the authentic look of capturing an era but also a film that has emotion, humor, sadness and Ludoic Bource’s music…everything comes together in this film.
I absolutely love this film and I probably watched this film about seven times now and I still have not grown tired of it. The music, the camera, the editing, the overall rhythm of the film carries us along. George Constantin is the silent actor that captivates a generation that grew up with the advances of cinema and embraced the silent film. Peppy Miller is the upcoming starlet that epitomizes the “out with the old” sentiment, and Bejo plays her character with so much enthusiasm. She knows how to flirt with the camera, captivate the viewer.
As for the Blu-ray release, the video and audio quality is magnificent. While a silent film, the musical soundtrack by Ludovic Bource is fantastic! As for the special features, it was great to see how the film was shot in various, historical locations in Los Angles and the addition of the post-screening live audience Q&A was also fun to watch!
“The Artist” is a great film and while I doubt Hollywood is going to invest in any more modern day silent films, “The Artist” was a film that many never seen before or for those who are familiar with silent films, caused excitement and came out in a time that was just right. It’s delightful, heartwarming and magnificent!
In some way, “The Artist” is quite relevant because we are also in a modern, technological flux in entertainment. Television and film are changing thanks to the Internet and ways to catch entertainment. May it be music or cinema, with technology, social media and an audience who has access to many forms of entertainment, what is in today could be gone or drastically changed a decade from now. Change is inevitable and “The Artist” is a good reminder of how change affected a genre and all the talent involved.
“The Artist” began as a fantasy for filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius. Now, “The Artist” will now be considered his finest masterpiece. “The Artist” on Blu-ray is highly recommended!
One of my all time favorites… “The Gold Rush” is a delightful, hilarious and entertaining Charlie Chaplin comedy! Featuring both 1925 and 1942 versions of the film, “The Gold Rush” is another five star release from the Criterion Collection!
Image courtesy of
TITLE: The Gold Rush – The Criterion Collection #615
FILM RELEASE DATE: 1925 and 1942 versions
DURATION: 72 Minutes (1942) and 88 Minutes (1925)
DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, Monaural, 1:33:1 Aspect Ratio, English Intertitles and Subtitles: English SDH
COMPANY: Janus Films/mk2/The Criterion Collection
RELEASED: June 12, 2012
Directed by Charles Chaplin
Written by Charles Chaplin
Music by Charles Chaplin
Cinematography by Roland Totheroh
Charles Chaplin as The Lonely Prospector
Mack Swain as Big Jim McKay
Tom Murray as Black Larsen
Henry Bergman as Hank Curtis
Malcolm Waite as Jack Cameron
Georgia Hale as Georgia
Charlie Chaplin’s comedic masterwork—which charts a prospector’s search for fortune in the Klondike and his discovery of romance (with the beautiful Georgia Hale)—forever cemented the iconic status of Chaplin and his Little Tramp character. Shot partly on location in the Sierra Nevadas and featuring such timeless gags as the dance of the dinner rolls and the meal of boiled shoe leather, The Gold Rush is an indelible work of heartwarming hilarity. This special edition features both Chaplin’s definitive 1942 version, for which the director added new music and narration, and a new restoration of the original 1925 silent film.
Back in 1925, Charlie Chaplin, best known for his role as the “Little Tramp”, produced, wrote and directed one of the most expensive nine-reel films of its time. It was also another silent film that achieved box office success for Chaplin, “The Gold Rush” which became Chaplin’s most successful comedy would be re-released in 1942, in a new re-release.
The re-release inspired by the success of his first talking picture “The Great Dictor” (1940), “The Gold Rush” was a film that was dear to Chaplin (and a film that he wanted to be remembered for) and this new version featured music composed by Chaplin and would also feature a new musical score. Plus added narration and tightened the editing of the film bringing down the film’s duration from 88 minutes to 72 (the 1942 film version would also feature newer footage that was cut from the 1925 version).
The film has been deemed as a Chaplin masterpiece, praised by critics and Chaplin fans and was even selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”. The film has also been recognized by the American Film Institute ranking #25 for “AFI’s 100 Year…100 Laughs” and “AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies” ranking at #58.
And while the film is beloved in America, the film also resonated strongly internationally. In 1958, an international jury at Brussels selected this work as the second greatest film of all time (after “Potemkin”).
The film would also feature the famous “Bread Roll Dance” which has been replicated in films and television by Robert Downey Jr. in “Chaplin” , Johnny Depp in “Benny and Joon” and most recently in “The Muppets” by Amy Adams. Also, for introducing actress Georgia Hale (Miss Chicago 1922), who would be a big part in Chaplin’s personal life.
And now this beloved classic (both the 1925 and 1942 versions) will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of The Criterion Collection in June 2012.
“The Gold Rush” is set during the Klondike Gold Rush (between 1897-1899, over 100,000 people traveled to north-western Canada prospecting for gold) and The Tramp or “The Lone Prospector” (as portrayed by Charlie Chaplin) travels to the Yukon.
Despite the terrible cold weather, The Tramp still manages to find gold but with the storm getting worse, he finds a cabin. But inside the cabin is where an escaped fugitive named Black Larsen (as portrayed by Tom Murray) is hiding out. And as the Tramp makes his way into the cabin, before Black Larsen can kill him, another prospector named Big Jim McKay (as portrayed by Mack swain) has arrived to the cabin and protects the Tramp and sends a warning to Black Larsen with his rifle.
And as the three men stay inside the cabin due to the harsh weather, the three know they are running out of food. But as Black Larsen goes to search for food, he manages to kill two authorities that are looking for him and also manages to find a large gold deposit that belongs to Big Jim McKay.
As the weather has gotten better, Big Jim and the Tramp part ways and while Big Jim goes to get his gold, he finds Black Larsen trying to steal it. The two fight and Larsen hits Big Jim in the head with a shovel and as Black tries to steal the gold, the cliff underneath him begins to buckle and both Black Larsen and the gold fall off the cliff.
As for the Tramp, he arrives at a gold rush town, broke with no money and decides that prospecting is not for him. While at a saloon, he falls for a beautiful saloon girl named Georgia (as portrayed by Georgia Hale). Georgia has grown tired of the men that hit on her at the saloon, especially by Jack Cameron (as portrayed by Malcome Waite). So, in order to get away from Jack, she pretends that she is interested the Tramp, which makes the Tramp quite happy.
Meanwhile, Big Jim McKay has awaken after his injury but has lost his memory of where the gold is kept. And now has wandered into the town hoping to get clues of what happened to it. When McKay finds the Tramp, he tells him that if they find the gold, both will be millionaires!
Will the Tramp become rich and will he get the girl?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“The Gold Rush” is presented in black and white (1:33:1 aspect ratio). It’s important to note that I am reviewing the DVD version and for those who want better clarity and definitive picture and audio quality will want to opt for the Blu-ray release.
With that being said, the DVD version looks fantastic. While I have not seen the Park Circus Blu-ray release in the UK, I can say that the 1942 version of the film looks amazing. Black levels are nice and deep, white and grays are well-contrast and while you can see the grain on the DVD version, for those who own the previous DVD release will enjoy this MK2 HD restoration.
As for the picture quality, according to the Criterion Collection, “The Gold Rush” features a new high-definition digital transfer of the 1942 release created on a Spirit Datacine at Scanlab in Paris from a 35 mm duplicate negative, under the supervision of MK2.
As for the audio for the 1942 version, the audio is presented in monaural. Chaplin’s narrated dialogue and music sounds clear and understandable. I didn’t detect any audio anomalies during my viewing and according to the Criterion Collection, “The Gold Rush” was remastered at 24-bit from the 35 mm optical soundtrack negative at L.E. Diapason in Paris. Additional restoration was done at Criterion, where clicks, thumps, hiss and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, and crackle was attenuated using AudioCube’s integrated workstation.
As for the 1925 version of the film, as the 1925 version was abandoned due to Chaplin feeling the 1942 version was the definitive version of the film. In 1993, with the support from the Chaplin family, filmmakers Kevin Brownlow and David Gill completed a major reconstruction of the original silent film. Brownlow and Gill’s reconstruction comprises footage from various sources, some unevenness between scenes and shots remains. Additionally, numerous shots could be recovered only from sound prints, where the optical soundtrack was visible in the frame. According to the Criterion Collection, the company reframed the shots while retaining as much of the image as possible.
The new digital restoration of this reconstruction was jointly undertake in 2011 by Cineteca di Bologna and Criterion. According to the Criterion Collection, a new digital transfer was created in 6K>2K resolution from Brownlow and gill’s 35 mm reconstruction duplicate negative on an ARRISCAN film scanner at L’Immagine Ritrovata at Cineteca di Bologna. The data was then digitally restored by Criterion, which spent over 500 hours cleaning up thousands of instances of dirt, scratches, jitter and flicker using MTI’s DRS, Pixel Farm’s PFClean and Image Systems’ DVNR. The restored data was then recorded out to Fuji ETERNA-RDS 35 mm duplicate negative stock using an ARRILASER 1 film recorder at L’Immagine Ritrovata for preservation.
As for the audio for the 1925 version, the soundtrack is presented in 5.1 surround sound and the score for the 1925 version was adapted and expanded by composer Timothy Brock from Chaplin’s score for the 1942 version. It was recorded by Brock and the Orchestra Citta Aperta in 2011.
English subtitles are presented in English SDH.
“The Gold Rush – The Criterion Collection #615” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary - The 1925 version features audio commentary by biographer Jeffrey Vance.
- Presenting the Gold Rush – (15:51) Kevin Brownlow and Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance recount the journey of reconstructing the original 1925 film.
- Chaplin Today: “The Gold Rush” – (26:53) A documentary directed by Serge Le Peron in 2002 on the making of “The Gold Rush”a nd featuring interviews with actress Georgia Hale, Mary Pickford and more. Plus observations by filmmaker Idrissa Ouedraogo.
- A Time of Innovation: Visual Effects in the Gold Rush - (19:07) Visual effects expert Craig Barnes looks at the technique used to create some of the classic set pieces in “The Gold Rush”.
- Music by Charles Chaplin – (24:56) Classical music composer and conductor Timothy Brock discusses Chaplin’s musical achievements and his own work reconstructing Chaplin’s scores.
- Four Trailers – (9:11) Featuring the four trailers that were featured in England, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Featuring optional English subtitles.
- 26-Page booklet – “The Gold Rush” comes with a 26-page booklet with the following essays: “As Good as Gold” by Luc Sante, “James Agee on the Gold Rush” (James Agee’s review that was published in April 6, 1942 for Time Magazine).
I consider “Gold Rush” to be one of the few Chaplin films that a cinema fan must watch in their lifetime.
For me, the first time I watched “Gold Rush”, I was absolutely captivated. Sure, we get to see “The Little Tramp” and Charlie Chaplin’s physical comedy displayed in this film, but there are just too many things that I can still remember of this film. From the visual effects of a storm making the cabin seem as it was going to be crushed, the Tramp and Georgia dancing while Chaplin is tied to a large dog, the Tramp and Big Jim McKay starving to the point that they must eat a cooked shoe and of course, one of the most well-known scenes in cinema, “The Bread Roll Dance” which has been replicated several times in film but yet never accomplishing the greatness of the original.
“The Gold Rush” is a comedy that makes people laugh because of its humor but also captivates us because many people can identify with the Tramp, a man who has not much to show for his life, in love with a beautiful woman that many desire. The feeling of thinking you are loved, the feeling of not being with that person on New Year’s Eve. In a way, you can call this an early romantic comedy but done in a way that Charlie Chaplin is best known for.
It’s the persona of the Tramp that many people loved about Chaplin back in the day and it’s what audiences love about his character role today. There is always hope within Chaplin films and no matter what era this film is shown or which generation watches it, it’s a film that all can watch, laugh and be entertained.
Which leads us to two films. The original 1925 version and the re-edited 1942 version. The great news about this Criterion Collection release is that it includes both films. Part of the chatter on online when “Modern Times” was released was the debate amongst Chaplin fans who adored the original version and despite Chaplin wanting the newer versions of his films to be the definitive versions to see, many people disagree with Chaplin’s choices.
Some will say that these re-edits were done not just because it was being re-released for the movie distributors sake (to capitalize on Chaplin’s films) but it was a new Chaplin that felt differently about life and a man who certainly has lived through many hardships before and after the making of these films.
In the 1925 version, there was a focus on Chaplin’s character, the Tramp, who was in love with Georgia. The former showcased a touching scene between the Tramp and Chaplin at the end, while the 1942 version removes the entire scene. There were other edits done to the film that included the Tramp trying to woo Georgia and being fed misinformation by Jack Cameron, another man who wants Georgia and other scenes as well. And the biggest difference is the 1942 version features a new score by Chaplin and also narration by him.
Which version is better? Personally, I felt that this was a re-release that was much better than the original, although I preferred the ending of the original. Why was the touching scene cut? While there have been many opinions of why Chaplin did it, my feeling back then and now, happens to relate to his personal life. It is known now that both Chaplin and Georgia Hale had an off-an-on relationship after this film was made. Of course, to make things problematic, he was also with several women (and married) during the time that “The Gold Rush” was created.
In 1925, Charles Chaplin was one of the greatest talents in America, a powerful man but also a man who was naive of where his relationships would take him. Married to a young woman named Lita Grey and literally forced into a marriage that he didn’t want to be in (Lita wrote in her memoir that her grandfather forced Chaplin to marry Lita due to her pregnancy and threatened to kill him if he didn’t), Chaplin’s mid-’30s had his fair share of problems. But yet, he was able to be romantic with his co-star, Georgia Hale which would lead to a friendship and relationship between both individuals for many years.
But by 1942, Chaplin was 52-years-old, he was no longer the same man. Accused of “un-American activities” and suspected as a communist by the FBI, needless to say that his life had become more problematic to the point that his problems went from troubles with a woman to problems with the United States government and with other women in his life.
But did those personal problems in his life lead to the changes of “The Gold Rush”? What we do know that the ending of the 1925 version features a touching and definitive ending for The Tramp and Georgia, while the ending of the 1942 version does not. And as romantic at heart, I enjoyed the 1925 ending because it was romantic. And perhaps cutting that scene out was possibly personal as he also had cut out Georgia Hale from his life. Or perhaps the notion of a man and woman always having a happy ending was not plausible, especially of how things have went for him…Chaplin himself had been with different women, but he himself had not found a happy ending (note: A year later, in 1943, Chaplin would meet and marry Oona O’Neill at the age of 54 and the two would remain married up to the day of his death).
But what we have are two films that should appease fans of the 1925 or 1942 versions. Unlike “Modern Times” which sent some fans in a furor because the extended dance scene was not included (despite Chaplin himself making the cut), there are silent film fans who believe middle-aged Chaplin and much older Chaplin were different and even if older Chaplin made these cuts and called them definitive, there are fans who believe that these re-releases or cuts shouldn’t have been done.
So, the good news is that there are two versions of “The Gold Rush” included with this Criterion Collection release.
And even better news is how magnificent this film looks. Sure, I’m reviewing the DVD version and not the Blu-ray version of the film, but I can still see major improvements from the previous DVD (and also the hideous public domain copies), that fans of Chaplin or those who are curious, will still love this release! Otherwise, I have no doubt in my mind that the best version to get of these two films are on Blu-ray. But what you have with this release are two films that went through many hours of restoration and in Criterion’s part, over 500-hours dedicated to cleaning the film up for release.
And both the Blu-ray and DVD release both include a good amount of special features and an audio commentary as well.
Overall, “The Gold Rush” is one of my all-time Chaplin favorites. Is it his best film? Chaplin has too many films in his oeuvre that can be considered great but for a comedy, I really enjoyed “The Gold Rush” (both versions) a lot and the many scenes from the film, I just love watching over and over and I have not grown tired of watching it!
Chaplin’s physical comedy and writing was fantastic, Georgia Hale was impressive and the visual effects for its time was amazing. There are too many things that I love about this film and I’m glad that both versions have been released on Blu-ray and DVD.
I truly believe that for older Chaplin fans and newer Chaplin fans… “The Gold Rush” from the Criterion Collection is one release that you will not regret buying. It’s a delightful, hilarious and entertaining comedy that I’m sure many of you will feel it’s a comedy that is not only worth watching but also a release worth owning!
“The Gold Rush – The Criterion Collection #615″ is highly recommended!
“Wings” is a magnificent Blu-ray release. For silent fans who have wanted a reason to upgrade to Blu-ray, “Wings” can be added to that list for another reason why to upgrade. A fantastic Blu-ray release that cinema and silent film fans will want to have in their collection! It is a must-own!
FILM RELEASE DATE: 1927
DURATION: 144 minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Color Tinted, Re-Recorded Score Composed by J.S. Zamecnik (orchestrated and arranged by Domink Hauser, Featured Pianist – Frederik Hodges with sound effects by Ben Burtt), 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Pipe Organ Score composed and performed by Gaylord Carter, 2.0 Stereo Dolby Digital, Subtitles: French, Spanish, Portuguese
RATED: PG (Some Language)
Release Date: January 24, 2012
Directed by William A. Wellman
Story by John Monk Saunders
Screenplay by Hope Loring, Louis D. Lighton
Titles by Julian Johnson
Associate Producer: B.P. Schulberg
Cinematography by J.S. Zamecnik
Edited by E. Lloyd Sheldon
Clara Bow as Mary Preston
Charles “Buddy” Rogers as Jack Powell
Richard Arlen as David Armstrong
Jobyna Ralston as Sylvia Lewis
El Brendel as Herman Schwimpf
Ricahrd Tucker as Air Commander
Gary Cooper as Cadet White
Gunboat Smith as The Sergeant
Henry B. Walthall as David’s Father
Roscoe Karns as Lt. Cameron
Julia Swayne Gordon as David’s Mother
Arlette Marchal as Celeste
Director William A. Wellman’s masterpiece is the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Featuring a meticulous restoration and a newly recorded soundtrack based on the original score, Wings comes to Blu-ray for the first time. This timeless story of love and loss follows two men who go to war and the girl they leave behind. Popular Twenties “It” girl Clara Bow stars in this unforgettable World War I epic alongside Richard Arlen, Charles “Buddy” Rogers and the legendary Gary Cooper in a cameo appearance. The aerial battle sequences still rank among the best in motion picture history.
As a silent film fan, you tend to accept that a lot of films are lost and those that are not lost, you tend to expect smaller companies releasing them on Blu-ray or DVD.
For many years now, there have been three silent films, epics, that I have been awaiting for a DVD video release for a long time. The three films are Erich von Stroheim’s “Greed” (1924), King Vidor’s “The Big Parade” (1925) and William A. Wellman’s 1927 film “Wings”.
And I have to admit that I have felt that the studio have been dangling a carrot for silent film fans, teasing us over the years, watching a once in awhile airing on TCM and yet, not knowing when these films will ever see a video release at all.
That changed in 2012 as “Wings”, known as the first Academy Award winning film for “Best Picture” (at the time known as “Most Outstanding Production”) would receive it’s HD treatment with a Blu-ray release and also on DVD, after receiving extensive restoration.
And not only does William A. Wellman’s (known for directing “The Public Enemy”, “A Star is Born”, “The Ox-Bow Incident”) masterpiece look absolutely fantastic in 1080p High Definition, the inclusion of a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack with sound effects literally surprised me, as I was not expecting it.
And this is quite interesting as the film was once considered lost until a print was found at the Cinematheque Francaise film archive in Paris, in which the deteriorating nitrate film was transferred to safety film stock, and was re-released in theaters.
In 1997, “Wings” was selected for preservation in the United Stats National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
“Wings” is based on the story by John Monk Saunders and the screenplay adaptation was written by Hope Loring and Louis D. Lighton.
The film is known as a war epic and love story, but is also known for its amazing aerial cinematography (which aimed at capturing realistic dogfights that two incidents took place, including a tragic crash). The film was also made before there were rules were set of what a movie studio can not do in a film, so the film actually shows a few-second shot of a nude Clara Bow, nude men undergoing military physical exams in the background and a shared kiss between two male friends (as some people today would say, a “bromance” scene).
“Wings” is a film that takes place in a small American town. Jack Powell (played by Charles “Buddy” Rogers) is working on his vehicle and the girl next door, Mary Preston (played by Clara Bow) has been in love with him for quite some time.
While a one-sided love affair, Mary helps Jack fix his car and call it the “Shooting Star” in which she paints an image of a shooting star on his car. Expecting gratitude, hopefully with a kiss, instead Jack thanks Mary and drives off with his car to meet the girl that he likes, Sylvia Lewis (played by Jobyna Ralston), the popular girl from the city.
But as Jack arrives to meet with Sylvia, she is already with the guy she loves, the wealthy David Armstrong (played by Richard Arlen). Both love each other, but Sylvia has not been able to tell David, in order to spare his feelings.
Needless to say, this sets up the rivalry between Jack and David.
The scene shifts to World War I and both young men join the Air Service to become combat pilots and are off to training.
For the loving son David, it’s difficult to depart from his mother (played by Julia Swayne Gordon) and his father (played by Henry B. Walthall). But his mother finds the teddy bear he once played with as a child and David wants to keep it with him as a good luck charm. His mother wants to see David come back alive with the bear, as both parents worry about their son.
As for Jack, he’s all ready to go but first, he wants his own good luck charm and he goes to meet Sylvia for a picture. Meanwhile, Sylvia is planning to give David a picture of her, but instead Jack thinks it’s for him and takes it. David arrives to see Sylvia with Jack and Jack leaves with a grin towards his rival.
Sylvia knows David is jealous but reminds him that Jack may have her picture, but David has her heart. Meanwhile, as Jack is about to leave for training, Mary gives Jack a good luck charm, a picture of herself.
For military training, both Jack and David try to excel in what they do and during their boxing match, both decide to let their rivalry be tested through a fight. Jack doesn’t think much of David, since he’s from a wealthy family and doesn’t think he can fight. And sure enough, Jack beats David with ease. But at the same time, David earns Jack’s respect and the two become best friends afterward.
And the two go through extensive military training and prepare to be shipped off to France in order to go in aerial combat against the Germans.
Mary meanwhile wants to be involved in the war effort, so she takes a job and becomes an ambulance driver in hopes that she can be close to Jack.
But with World War II and the Germans prepared to show their aerial superiority, will Jack and David be ready for battle? And will Mary be able to let Jack know that she loves him?
When it comes to silent films on Blu-ray, I’m not very picky as many silent films have suffered from nitrate damage and neglect. And the fact is that many companies can’t spend millions of dollars on restoration. So, I have had this “take what you can get” attitude towards silent films on Blu-ray and DVD for a long time.
But when “The General”, “Modern Times” and “Metropolis” were released on Blu-ray, three films that did receive restoration, that’s when I have high expectations. With “Wings”, it’s the same situation. I know that there was a PhotoPlay restoration done awhile back, but the version featured is a Paramount restoration.
The film is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:34:1 aspect ratio), color tinted with black bars on the side. I was absolutely pleased with the video as visually, this is best I have seen of the film, this is the best I have ever seen of Clara Bow on video and there were no nitrate damage, no warping. I didn’t see any scratches or dust which was surprising. There is no doubt that there was considerable money spent to restore this film and it shows as the film looks clean and visually, stunning!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Wings” is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (featuring a re-recorded score composed by J.S. Zamecnik (orchestrated and arranged by Domink Hauser, featuring pianist Frederick Hodges and sound effects by Ben Burtt). There is also a Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 soundtrack featuring a pipe organ score composed and performed by Gaylord Carter.
It’s one thing for the film to look amazing in HD but for those with a home theater system, when you watch and have your audio setting set to the lossless version, audiophiles, you are in for a treat. I was absolutely floored by the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless audio. The sound effects…I was not expecting to hear it. But when the LFE (subwoofer) started to rumble and started to hear audio coming from all around me through the surround channels during the aerial dogfighting sequences, my first reaction was amazement and I was shocked because I was not expecting it at all.
And I can continue to gush about the lossless soundtrack, while others may not be so thrilled with sound effects and a new re-recorded score, as some absolutely love the Carl Davis score that was featured long ago. But the expected Gaylor Carter pipe organ score was included (as many people are familiar with his score) and it also sounds good via lossless stereo.
So, I’m very pleased that Paramount had decided to include two soundtracks and also really do something different by incorporating the sound effects, what a surprise and I’m impressed!
Subtitles are also included in French, Spanish and Portuguese.
“Wings” comes with the following special features:
- Wings: Grandeur in the Sky - (25:56) A featurette that goes into the making of “Wings”, the challenges of aerial cinematography of the time and trying to make the film authentic with a $2 million budget (which was a lot at that time). As well as looking into the success of the film.
- Restoring the Power and Beauty of Wings - (14:21) A featurette on the restoration of “Wings” including the re-recording score by J.S. Zamecnik and the sound effects by Ben Burtt
- Dogfight – (12:54) A featurette about the evolution of airplanes, especially those used in World War I.
“Wings” comes with a slipcover.
For so many years, I have wanted this film on DVD. What was easily available and accessible were bad versions of the film available via public domain and suffice to say, the announcement of “Wings” on Blu-ray was incredible.
As a silent film fan, it’s amazing that in these last few years, we have seen the progress of having to see silent film in HD with amazing detail and clarity but most importantly, seeing generations of movie fans taking a chance on silent cinema and enjoying them.
While you have your loyal fans who will buy these videos, may they be in Blu-ray, DVD, LD, VHS or actual reels, the fact that Paramount has released “Wings” on Blu-ray is fantastic news because it leaves the possibility for other classic Paramount silents to be released on Blu-ray and DVD.
And with “Wings”, this is one film that has evaded video release for a long time and here we are now with the definitive version of the film to date. The most beautiful version of the film to date and now, I must add, the re-recorded score with sound effects in lossless audio adds another dimension to this Wellman masterpiece.
I certainly didn’t know what to expect as I watched this film expecting better video quality but when you start hearing machine gun’s firing all around you, the engines of airplanes reverberating around your room via the surround channels and hearing that LFE kick in…this is something that you never expect from a silent film.
And why that makes me happy is that Paramount is reaching out to two sets of fans. The hardcore fans who were familiar with Gaylord Carter’s pipe organ score (unfortunately, Carl Davis’ score was not included) but then also knowing that Blu-ray fans, especially for a silent film, you’re going to have to entice them with something extra in order for them to purchase this film. And sure enough, these fans can enjoy this silent film with a fantastic lossless track with immersive sound effects.
And for the silent fans who still haven’t upgraded to Blu-ray, add “Wings” on the list for another reason why they should upgrade!
So, it’s one thing to have a wonderful visual presentation and soundtrack, but what about the film?
I absolutely enjoyed it as it has a good balance of drama, action and also comedy mixed in. For Clara Bow fans, the truth is that “It” was a wonderful film that showcased Bow’s talents but in terms of accessibility, for one of the top actresses in America, it’s not easy to find films with Clara. And “Wings” on Blu-ray not only shows us her emotional performance (the Blu-ray does bring out the details of the tears) but also her boundless energy.
Of course, Clara Bow, while receiving top billing on the Blu-ray case, the film is primarily featuring Charles “Buddy” Rogers and Richard Arlen. Although I typically dislike this modern term to describe male friendship, yes…”Wings” is the ultimate “Bromance” film. You get the camaraderie of best friends training to be pilots, knowing they are rivals but managing to get past that and become brothers, watching each other’s backs. And to see how this friendship develops towards the end of the film.
Both men performed their roles magnificently and it was interesting to also be treated by a cameo featuring Gary Cooper as Cadet White, while not long at all and years before the actor became popular and would star in films such as “High Noon”, “Sergeant York”, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”, “A Farewell to Arms”, to name a few, Cooper’s cameo definitely sets things into perspective that war is ugly and death can happen anytime. It’s important to note that also that same year, for Clara Bow’s “It”, Gary Cooper had an uncredited cameo.
And while the film features wonderful performances by its three talent for this film (especially this era), there is no doubt that this epic engages its viewers through its visual setting as hundreds of men are engaged in war, while above, we are taken above to the sky with actual aerial cinematography that even makes me wonder how they pulled it off back in 1927. It did help that director William A. Wellman, writer John Monk Saunders and actor Richard Arlen served in World War I as military advisors (in fact, Arlen would teach as a United States Army Air Forces flight instructor during World War II). While Buddy Rogers would undergo flight training to prepare him for his role. And for the most part, the training led to the efficacy of director Wellman trying to achieve authenticity for his film.
As for the Blu-ray release, as mentioned… this is the definitive version of “Wings” to own for now. While I would have loved to hear an audio commentary track and see more special features included, as mentioned with my feeling towards silent films, many hardly come with special features and when they do, they are fairly short. You get three special features that end up as around an hour worth of extra content and you take what you can get. But it would have been nice to see an audio commentary track, perhaps lobby card and photo gallery.
Overall, “Wings” is a magnificent Blu-ray release. For silent fans who have wanted a reason to upgrade to Blu-ray, “Wings” can be added to that list for another reason why to upgrade. A fantastic Blu-ray release that cinema and silent film fans will want to have in their collection! It is a must-own!
Harold Lloyd’s “Grandma’s Boy” is an enjoyable comedy with many slapstick gags and an attention to character development. And one of the many films included in the wonderful “Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection” DVD Box Set. Highly recommended!
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DVD TITLE: Grandma’s Boy (from the Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection DVD Box Set)
THEATRICAL RELEASE DATE: 1922
DURATION: 56 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Full Screen, Dolby Digital, B&W, Subtitles: Spanish
COMPANY: New Line Home Entertainment
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: November 15, 2005
Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer
Story by Hal Roach, Sam Taylor, Jean C. Havez
Titles by H.M. Walker
Executive Producer: Suzanne Lloyd Hayes
Producer: Hal Roach, Jeffrey Vance
Cinematography by Walter Lundin
Music: Robert Israel
Cinematography: Walter Lundin
Edited by Thomas J. Crizer
Harold Lloyd as The Boy
Mildred Davis as The Girl
Anna Townsend as His Grandma
Charles Stevenson as His Rival/Union General
Dick Sutherland as The Rolling Stone
Noah Young as Sheriff of Dabney County
Having appeared in more than 200 films and widely considered to be one of cinema’s most respected comic geniuses, Harold Lloyd was one of Hollywood’s first true movie stars. Now, entertainment enthusiasts of all ages can enjoy the work of the man who inspired generations of acting greats with The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection.
Harold Lloyd, one of the three kings of silent film comedy.
Known for his physical comedy and the man with the eyeglasses, Lloyd’s comedies were enjoyable and similar to Keaton, Lloyd had the flair of doing his own stuntwork and when one is to watch his films today, there were a few films that literally makes people gasp and made you wonder, “how did he do that?”.
But then there were films which relied on comedy but also chemistry. The 1922 film “Grandma’s Boy” was one of those films that showcased the wonderful chemistry between Harold Lloyd and the leading lady who would later become his wife, Mildred Davis.
“Grandma’s Boy” was hailed as Lloyd’s first five part feature and for many Lloyd fans today, many see this classic film as a wonderful demonstration of a film featuring slapstick gags and character development.
The film revolves around Harold Lloyd as Grandma’s Boy, a boy who never stood up to his bullies and for the most part, was seen as meek and cowardly.
But despite many people thinking of him that certain way, one girl (played by Mildred Davis) didn’t. And because of that, grandma’s boy has always cared for the girl and wants to woo her.
Unfortunately, his rival (played by Charles Stevenson) is one that has always bullied him and also has sights towards the girl.
One day as grandma’s boy has tried to woo the girl, the rival pushes him over a well and thus shrinking his clothes.
Not wanting the girl to see him in wet, shrunken clothes, grandma’s boy heads home dejected. His caring grandmother has always wanted her grandson to be brave but not sure how she can get him to stand up for himself. When he arrives back home, she notices a tramp (a term to describe a homeless man) reading a newspaper at their home. She asks her grandson to get him to leave their property.
But because grandma’s boy is afraid, he tries to get the family dog to scare him away, but instead, it aggravates the tramp to the point that he wants to hurt grandma’s boy. Fortunately, grandma is around with her umbrella to help her grandson.
Meanwhile, the tramp heads into town and tries to steal jewelry by breaking the glass window. As men try to stop him, he pulls out a gun and shoots one of the men.
Immediately, the tramp becomes a wanted man and the sheriff requests that all men also become a sheriff to capture the tramp. Unfortunately, they are one short of a badge and so, grandma’s boy doesn’t get one. But seeing this as an opportunity for him to be closer to the girl, the rival gives his badge to grandma’s boy who now must help the other men capture the Tramp.
The grandma’s boy is so afraid to be part of the group that must hunt down the sheriff but he knows that the girl is proud of him for doing so. Afraid and cowardly, his grandmother doesn’t like seeing him this way. So she tells him a story about his grandfather who was also a coward and had to fight in the Civil War, but because he had this good luck charm, he was able to take on the Union Army and complete his mission.
And now, grandma’s boy has been given his grandfather’s good luck charm. Believing in the charm, now grandma’s boy feels confident that he will have what it takes to catch the tramp but also, win the girl’s affection. Can he do it?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
Where many film stars lost control over their films or their films were destroyed by fires (the nitrate of the film in which silent movies were shot with would catch on fire – such as FOX losing nearly 90% of all silent films due to massive fire) or have some severe acid decay, Lloyd was pretty smart in that he had control over his films and instead of having others watch over his films, he had his films stored via lock and key, fireproofed but most importantly during the ’60s, transferring the film to a better film stock.
So, the 1922 film “Grandma’s Boy” looks very good. Granted, you can see slight scratches but there are no signs of film warping, nitrate degradation or any major problems. Overall, “Grandma’s Boy” looks very good for a film that is 90-years-old.
As for audio, there is a wonderful score by Robert Israel (presented in Dolby Digital) which fits absolutely remarkably with what is seen onscreen. I haven’t heard Don Hulette’s 1974 score, so I can’t compare the two scores, but I will say that Robert Israel’s 2002 score which was used for this DVD is fantastic.
The film has English intertitles.
There are production notes on DVD disc 2 and DVD-rom features (all I found was a DVD player to watch films on PC or Mac).
Harold Lloyd is one of silent film’s greatest stars and one of the three kings that many people have probably not heard about.
Many have heard of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton but many ask, “who is Harry Lloyd?”. Part of the reason why people have not heard much of Lloyd is because he had major control over his films. Where as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton had an awesome career during the silent era, their films were distributed on video courtesy of the studio and they didn’t have total control of their work. Lloyd was very smart in the fact that he took control of his work, preserved it and also didn’t sell it cheap to just anyone, and thus many companies couldn’t afford his asking price. But Lloyd wanted to make sure that his films received it’s worth.
Granted, at the same time, because his films were not as distributed over decades like Chaplin or Keaton films, not many people have seen them.
Even in 2012, there have not been periodic releases of Lloyd films such as Chaplin or Keaton films that have made it onto Blu-ray. Many Harold Lloyd fans wonder if there will be any future releases especially a heavily anticipated part two of the Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection DVD set.
So, there are over 300 films of Harold Lloyd that many have not seen. The good news is that his 1922 silent comedy “Grandma’s Boy” featuring Lloyd and his future wife, Mildred Davis is included with this box set.
“Grandma’s Boy” is a film that showcases Lloyd’s amazing use of comedy, may it be facial expressions, gags and also a sight of a grown man with shrunken pants and suit is just hilarious to watch. The gags still hold up quite well today and for the most part, it’s a charming comedy tale that is straightforward, easily accessible and just fun to watch!
While Lloyd is wonderful in the film, the cast also does a wonderful job. Mildred Davis looks absolutely ravishing and does a wonderful job playing the girl interested in Grandma’s Boy, Charles Stevenson is wonderful in playing the brutish rival and Dick Sutherland, with his acromegalic features, looked threatening as the tramp/rolling stone. And Anna Townsend as grandma, she is always great playing the caring mother or grandmother in Harold Lloyd’s films.
And in terms of picture quality, for this DVD, “Grandma’s Boy” is presented on a double-sided DVD disc and is shared with two other films on one side of a DVD. Picture quality is very good considering that “Grandma’s Boy” is 90-years-old. Can it be better? Sure, if Harold Lloyd’s work ever receives the HD treatment and is released on Blu-ray. But considering how difficult it is for his work to be even released on DVD, one can only hope that Lloyd joins Chaplin and Keaton is receiving a Blu-ray release, seeing how their silent films have looked fantastic in HD.
Overall, “Grandma’s Boy” is a fun and enjoyable comedy but the good news is that it is one of the many wonderful Harold Lloyd films included in the “Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection” DVD Box Set!
If you want to experience Harold Lloyd’s films, this DVD box set is highly recommended!
(Note: Review is for film not the complete DVD box set)