A few words about…™ Blood and Sand (1922)- in Blu-ray

Very film-like, nice grain, shadow detail, and properly tinted. 4 Stars

Kino’s new Blu-ray of Fred Niblo’s 1922 Blood and Sand, with Rudolf Valentino is a quality affair.

Based upon 35mm elements, it’s a wonderful example of the film, and we’re apt not to see better.

The film was re-made in 1941 by Fox, based upon the same novel by Vicente Blasco Ibanez, with Tyrone Power, and the two give very different and interesting takes on the same subject.

Very film-like, nice grain, shadow detail, and properly tinted.

Image – 4

Audio – n/a

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Yes

Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

29 Comments

  1. Am I the only one excited by silent films in HD? Many of these are lost, so when we get a good one with a good restoration, it's exciting. I just wish they would release these with the Carl Davis scores. They are so outstanding and add to the experience.

  2. warnerbro

    Am I the only one excited by silent films in HD? Many of these are lost, so when we get a good one with a good restoration, it's exciting. I just wish they would release these with the Carl Davis scores. They are so outstanding and add to the experience.

    You are not alone.

  3. warnerbro

    Am I the only one excited by silent films in HD? Many of these are lost, so when we get a good one with a good restoration, it's exciting. I just wish they would release these with the Carl Davis scores. They are so outstanding and add to the experience.

    Hear, hear regarding the Carl Davis scores.

  4. I don’t know why but I find Carl Davis pure cacophony. I know I’m alone that everyone loves his work. I dread him like the plague. Someone like Steve Sterner at Film Forum I find superb and always does a great job. One of the few remaining pleasures in NY have been silents there. Also Loews Jersey has had some wonderful organists. MOMA as well as had terrific pianists. But Davis for me is unlistenable. I wish I knew why I’m not hearing what everyone else is.
    He did a nice job though of arranging Rimsky Korsakov for The Thief of Bagdad.

  5. notmicro

    My vote is for Garbo's final Silent The Kiss (1929 MGM) with its amazing Art Deco interiors, and where she's at the height of her considerable powers before being forced to master English.

    It also has a great original music and effects score.

  6. I should add that Steve Sterner for whom my admiration knows no bounds talks about Davis’s work in the most glowing of terms. And I’m thinking to myself but you’re so much better!

    The great classical record producer John Culshaw who made so many wonderful recordings from the 50s through the 60s said he found Mahler unlistenable. So there you have it.

  7. atcolomb

    It's great that silent films like Blood and Sand are being released and there are hints that Abel Gance's Napoleon might happen this year?

    Get an all-region player and buy the phenomenal UK BFI HD release.

  8. Just wish that Kevin Brownlow and Photoplay could wrestle The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Wind, The Crowd, It, The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg and Greed AWAY from the silent classics burial crew over at WB (who will NEVER put them out on either DVD or blu-ray) along with the gorgeous Carl Davis scores and do it themselves. Public domain?

  9. roxy1927

    I don't know why but I find Carl Davis pure cacophony. I know I'm alone that everyone loves his work. I dread him like the plague. Someone like Steve Sterner at Film Forum I find superb and always does a great job. One of the few remaining pleasures in NY have been silents there. Also Loews Jersey has had some wonderful organists. MOMA as well as had terrific pianists. But Davis for me is unlistenable. I wish I knew why I'm not hearing what everyone else is.
    He did a nice job though of arranging Rimsky Korsakov for The Thief of Bagdad.

    While I would hesitate to call Davis overrated, I think that his good scores have created unrealistic expectations for a lot of people concerning silent film scores. Full symphonic scores with dozens of players would have been the exception and not the norm during the silent era, and when you would have encountered such elaborate scoring it would have been in one of the big cities for an initial engagement. Then you have the issue that Davis scores in a more contemporary style than you would have encountered back in the 1920s. Does that make his work bad? I would say no. His scores for "Ben-Hur," "The Big Parade," "Safety Last," "The Kid Brother," The Iron Mask," "The General," and several others are quite good. His more recent efforts aren't as good though in my opinion. His score for "The Freshman" was considerably off the mark and missed Lloyd's humor, but I do know that some feel that comedies aren't his forte. I also can't say that enamored of his "Thief of Bagdad" score as it comes off like a Rimsky-Korsakov/Scheherazade needle-drop to me. Gaylord Carter's theater organ score is the still the definitive "Thief of Bagdad" score for me.

    Thomas T

    And what kind of musical accompaniment does this blu of Blood And Sand have? Orchestral? Piano? The dreaded organ :(?

    I believe that an ensemble score from Mont Alto accompanies this release. We don't have the privilege of hearing from the honorable theater organ on this release, but Mont Alto's work is generally good.

  10. I have a book which I frustratingly cannot find which was put out by WQXR in the 60s Something like a Listener's Guide to Classical Music. One of the writers speaks about first hearing classical music played by orchestras during silents in the midtown Manhattan movie palaces. I'm sure the Liebestod was played to death. They managed even to find a place for Bruckner.

    Eugene Ormandy got his start as a conductor in the orchestra at the Capitol on Broadway which according to Wikipedia had 77 musicians.
    Anybody remember the string of silents presented by channel 13 in the '70s? They were all accompanied by an organ(and introduced by Lillian Gish) and Pauline Kael complained in print that they should have had orchestral accompaniment as originally presented. PBS responded something to the effect that 'you and about 10 other people care.' I was one of the very few who watched. I don't think channel 13 ever did it again.

  11. Arthur Powell

    And that would have been your loss. 😀

    I'm sure. I've already skipped the blu ray of The Covered Wagon for just such a reason. I could (and have) turned off the sound on silent films with organs and put a CD on but it's such a hassle.

  12. roxy1927

    I have a book which I frustratingly cannot find which was put out by WQXR in the 60s Something like a Listener's Guide to Classical Music. One of the writers speaks about first hearing classical music played by orchestras during silents in the midtown Manhattan movie palaces. I'm sure the Liebestod was played to death. They managed even to find a place for Bruckner.

    Eugene Ormandy got his start as a conductor in the orchestra at the Capitol on Broadway which according to Wikipedia had 77 musicians.
    Anybody remember the string of silents presented by channel 13 in the '70s? They were all accompanied by an organ(and introduced by Lillian Gish) and Pauline Kael complained in print that they should have had orchestral accompaniment as originally presented. PBS responded something to the effect that 'you and about 10 other people care.' I was one of the very few who watched. Channel 13 never did it again.

    It sounds like that you're referring to the Killiam Silent Years series. I think there were two or three distinct "seasons" – the first had introductions by Orson Welles and the second with Lillian Gish. Some of those introductions have been included as extras on various DVD and blu-rays. Most of these Killiam presentations were with piano scores by William Perry (most of which were wonderful), but a handful of them did have organ scores mostly by Lee Erwin. As for Kael, she was partially incorrect. The elaborate orchestral accompaniment (like Ormandy) would have only been found at the more prestigious theaters in areas like NYC. Outside of those areas (and even inside) you would have been far more likely to encounter organs and/or small three to five player bands. Piano only scoring would have been found primarily in smaller town theaters. A 1922 survey in "Motion Picture News" reported that 45% of theaters used organ, 30% used orchestral, and 25% piano. Yes, classical music was a big staple in silent era scoring, and you can hear that first-hand with period Vitaphone and Movietone tracks.

  13. Thomas T

    I'm sure. I've already skipped the blu ray of The Covered Wagon for just such a reason. I could (and have) turned off the sound on silent films with organs and put a CD on but it's such a hassle.

    Sort of a shame especially since the theater organ score for "The Covered Wagon" is one of the best examples in terms of performance and recording (theater organs can be difficult to record). Then again, remember that the weirdo typing this considers "All About Eve" a pretentious snooze-fest, and I'm sure that's my loss. :wacko:

    I keep a small CD boombox in my theater room for occasions where a score is completely lacking (a lot of foreign archives are making their silent era holdings are available on youtube but no scores are included) or when I find a score doesn't work well with the film (like most of Alloy's work in my opinion). A few CDs of Chopin and Brahms normally suffices.

  14. roxy1927

    I don't know why but I find Carl Davis pure cacophony. I know I'm alone that everyone loves his work. I dread him like the plague. Someone like Steve Sterner at Film Forum I find superb and always does a great job. One of the few remaining pleasures in NY have been silents there.

    Agree 100% about the silent films at Film Forum, and based on this review by Robert Harris I will definitely purchase Blood And Sand.

    I too wish Warners would release a few other silent films. The Garbo films especially, though "silent", have a very modern sensibility and were big audience hits when I saw revivals of them many years ago at the old Regency on the Upper West Side.

  15. Yes these orchestras were also playing for the stage show in the major first run downtown movie places that had continuous performances. So certain performances had to use the organ. I wonder if these were noted in advertisements for audiences.

  16. It looks amazing. Much better than I've ever seen it. The music is pretty good. The commentary is outstanding. Please let him do everything from now on. His wit is razor-sharp and he packs in so much information in every second.

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