With a tiny potential audience, Ben Model’s Undercrank Productions is going full passion ahead in releasing two sets of Very early Lon Chaney films. Pre-Lon Chaney in a way, all preserved by The Library of Congress.
Appropriately entitled “Before the Thousand Faces,” the first is three feature or partial features produced 1915-16. The second offers five features, reconstructions, partials or fragments from 1914-1917.
All of these films from Universal survived not by design, but by chance.
All have scores by Jon Mirsalis, and are not being released for those who find anything outside of the Marvel or DC Universes are not worth viewing.
Let me be very clear. These are antiques, created while Griffith was still creating the language of cinema, and they make use of many of his early advances.
The quality ranges from acceptable, based upon the fact that it is unique, and derived from a 16mm blow-up negative of an 8mm print, to quite acceptable, coming from 35mm nitrate. The scores by Jon Mirsalis work beautifully with the imagery.
The first set includes the following three films:
A Mother’s Atonement – 1915 (20 minutes)
If My Country Should Call – 1916 (24 minutes)
The Place Beyond the Woods – 1916 – 39 minutes
The second set includes 5 films, or partial films.
By the Sun’s Rays – 1914 (13 minutes)
The Oubliette – 1914 (46 minutes)
The Millionaire Paupers – 1916 (6 minutes)
Triumph – 1917 (33 minutes)
The Scarlet Car – 1917 (62 minutes)
These two releases are meant for those with an interest in early silent cinema, film restoration and preservation, and keeping the early cinema alive. The first set was previously released on DVD five years ago, and has not been upgraded.
Image – n/a
Audio – 5 (musical score)
Pass / Fail – Pass
Plays nicely with projectors – Yes
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