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Restored Chaplin Keystone films available this October

Discussion in 'DVD' started by BrianRi, Jul 22, 2010.

  1. BrianRi

    BrianRi Well-Known Member

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  2. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Well-Known Member

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    Great news!


    Now how about a a complete set of the "Keystone Cops"? These were all released on VHS years and years ago. I have one volume that I found at a garage sale somewhere, but I would love a complete set. These films are referenced in pop-culture all the time, yet they're unavailable on DVD. (Similar to Betty Boop in that regard!)
     
  3. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Well-Known Member

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    This has been in the works a long time; I talked with David Shepard about it in our lengthy interview a decade ago!
     
  4. bigshot

    bigshot Well-Known Member

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    Wow! I just got this set from Amazon and it's mind blowing. I've seen some of these films before, going all the way back to my childhood seeing them at Shakey's Pizza, but I've never been able to really sit through them. The fragmentary prints, super fast projection speed, gray washed out prints, and crummy organ scores totally obliterated the films underneath the decades of wear and tear. This set completely changes all that. Aside from a few isolated places and one film sourced from 16mm, the image quality is great. The music and sound effects are idiomatic and well synchronized. It's exciting to discover this period in Chaplin's career when he was just starting out and experimenting. This may be the most important DVD release since the Keaton and Lloyd films were restored and put on DVD. Important stuff. If you're on the fence about getting this, don't be. It's great.
     
  5. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    My copy arrived yesterday too, and it's a pretty amazing set. Classy packaging, and some of these shorts look simply amazing. I've only sampled disc one, but I'm already impressed. I'm excited to watch these, I don't recognize any of the titles except for "Tilly's Punctured Romance", and I know I never did see that one! I've only watched the first short so far, really great stuff. Glad to add this to my Chaplin collection!

    I think now, with this and the restored Mutuals that came out a few years ago, the only missing gap are restored versions of the Essany titles right? I know Kino (or someone) did a "Essany/Mutuals" set, but only the Mutuals got the upgrade I think. Then it's the Warner sets and the Chaplin collection is pretty much as complete as can be?




    *Side note: Getting this and that Alien Anthology in Blu in the mail last night made for pretty impressive evening ha ha!
     
  6. bigshot

    bigshot Well-Known Member

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    It would be nice to have the shorts in the Warner set in the original release version, even if that means not having Chaplin's music score
     
  7. ChuckWL

    ChuckWL Well-Known Member

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    All I can say is WOW! This set is a great addition for this Chaplin fan! Thank you flicker Alley!
     
  8. ChuckWL

    ChuckWL Well-Known Member

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    It was well worth the long wait! Bravo!
     
  9. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Well-Known Member

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  10. bigshot

    bigshot Well-Known Member

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    You have to put objections about film speed and missing seconds of footage in perspective. Until now, unless you were a film collector, your video copies of these films consisted of lousy VHS transfers of incomplete, beat up, splicy and dupey 16mm prints accompanied by arbitrary out of sync music. These films were so popular in their day that the original camera negatives were printed right out of existence. What remained were thousands of old prints, each one with a myriad of problems. Some had been edited, or the first or last scene on the reel had rotted away. Others were copies of copies with super high contrast and blooming blacks. These films were hand cranked, and projection speed standards were pretty fast and loose. So what we have seen for years is the hyper fast speeds that may add its own sort of fun to the chase scenes, but that also obliterate any trace of acting or subtle pantomime.

    I've struggled to try to sit through these films many times in the past. The problems inherent in the source material made it impossible for me to follow half of what was going on. This weekend, I sat down with the new set and watched almost a whole disk without a break, enjoying every one of the shorts I watched. The music was good, the speeds were well judged, the shots flowed from one to another without any abrupt cuts and the picture was clear enough for me to see not only expressions, but details of the pantomime I had never seen before.

    I'm sure there are small bits that didn't make it into this set, and I'm sure that not all the speeds are absolutely perfect. But we're talking about the dead sea scrolls of film history here. The quality of this set is unprecedented.
     
  11. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

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    I pre-ordered from Flicker Alley and it arrived at my doorstep a full week before release. Classy.


    While there's a lot to get through, the few shorts I've watched are amazing. Sure, there's not much among the leagues of the consistently brilliant (and hilarious) Mutuals, but for laughs and pace, the Keystone shorts are certainly fun to watch. A few years ago, I bought Brentwood's multi-disc set with a smattering of Keystone, Essanay, Mutual, plus some First Nationals (which seemed to be swiped from David Sheperd's laserdisc remasters for Fox). They're either unwatchable due to the horrible print quality and transfer (most are straight off VHS), or the terrible compression wrecks what's left of the nicer transfers.


    Here, all films look like film. While a few are still in terrible condition (Recreation is from an nth generation 16mm print with one brief section of beautiful nitrate filling in near the end), this is a revelation. Some shorts, like The Masquerader, look like they were shot recently and lightly aged to appear old. It's a bit jarring to see such old films look this detailed and sharp. There's scratches and printed in dirt, but the photographic quality and image stability are spot on. The scores are appropriate and nicely composed, too. It's obnoxious to have beautiful transfers joined with inappropriate or mediocre music scores on some releases.


    Flicker Alley and the dozen archives who worked on the Keystone Project really out-did themselves on this slice of film comedy history.
     
  12. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    We're having a splendid time with Chaplin At Keystone.

    What a joy and a pleasure.


    I understand the criticisms being leveled at this set over at nitrateville.com, silentcomedians.com and elsewhere, but I prefer to think of the cup half full. No the set isn't perfect, but under the circumstances it's a miracle the compilers and FlickerAlley are able to achieve what they do. Perhaps it's only a first step. Now that the biggest hurdle has been overcome perhaps somebody will build on it, one short at a time.


    I waited a long time for Chaplin's Keystone shorts to find their way onto DVD, and I'm not disappointed. The truth is I've never seen them look this good. I give Chaplin at Keystone my enthusiastic recommendation. Owning this set is an absolute necessity.
     
  13. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    I agree with the criticism that FlickerAlley needs to work on their menus. One should be able to click on each short individually, instead of a "play all" in which you have to skip through chapter stops to find the short you want to replay.


    I appreciated the title card before each short that identifies sources and elements, and who contributed which and what. Every film that's been restored should be preceded by exactly this kind of title card.


    I wish the booklet were thicker, with two explanatory pages devoted per short. But that's a little thing. The packaging is fine.


    Anyone can see a lot of tender loving care went into restoring these shorts and assembling this set. It's an impeccable piece of work. You have every reason to buy CHAPLIN AT KEYSTONE with confidence.
     
  14. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    Which disc is this? I've only played disc one from this Keystone set so far, and I can select the shorts separate on the main menu by pressing down into the list of titles and then pressing enter.

     
  15. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Disc 1, yes.

    However, I put the DVD in again to double-check.

    I'm playing DVD's in my PC now because the LARGE high-resolution monitor.


    I can't select a short by clicking on it nor can I move the on-screen cursor down to the next title.

    However, when I use the arrow keys on my keyboard, I can select the shorts individually.


    It would be nice if the mouse and clicking worked, however.


    Not that I'm complaining.

    This set is the most fun I've had watching movies all year.
     
  16. bigshot

    bigshot Well-Known Member

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    I suspect that might be your computer, not the disk.
     
  17. PaulaJ

    PaulaJ Well-Known Member

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    David Shepard and his company Film Preservation Associates released the restored Essanays on three Image Entertainment DVDs back in 1999. They are still available from Amazon and the other usual places.
     
  18. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    The restored Essanay and Mutual shorts by Image are in this 2003 box-set:


    http://www.amazon.com/Charlie-Chaplin-Short-Comedy-Classics/dp/B00009Q4VX/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1289568894&sr=1-1


    The six DVD's are, or rather were, available to purchase individually.


    The Mutuals were restored again and defects corrected, and re-released by Image in this 2006 set:


    http://www.amazon.com/Chaplin-Mutual-Comedies-Restored-Anniversary/dp/B000F4TMIW/ref=sr_1_4?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1289568894&sr=1-4


    To have a complete collection of Charlie Chaplin's films, add CHAPLIN AT KEYSTONE and these two box sets from Image:


    http://www.amazon.com/Chaplin-Collection-Modern-Dictator-Limelight/dp/B000096IBS/ref=pd_sim_d_14


    http://www.amazon.com/Chaplin-Collection-Monsieur-Verdoux-Charlie/dp/B00017LVRI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1289569480&sr=1-1


    supplemented by UNKNOWN CHAPLIN, an outstanding documentary containing behind-the-scenes footage and alternate takes:


    http://www.amazon.com/Chaplin-Master-at-Work/dp/B000BB14ZS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1289569505&sr=1-1


    Avoid the public domain brands.
     
  19. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    A dry and well-considered review of CHAPLIN AT KEYSTONE :


    http://homecinema.thedigitalfix.co.uk/content/id/73355/chaplin-at-keystone.html
     
  20. bigshot

    bigshot Well-Known Member

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    The one thing that's easy to forget is that these were intended to be seen one at a time as part of a larger program. Contemporary audiences wouldn't notice the similarity of situations from film to film at all. These films are a lot more fun if you dole them out a bit at a time like ice cream rather than devour them a disk at a time in one sitting.
     

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