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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Murnau, Borzage and Fox - Preview (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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These few words are not meant as a review.
They are offered as simple advise to anyone with a shred of interest in the most creative elements of American cinema as it entered the sound era.
Following their immense 21 disc set of director John Ford's work at the studio, Fox Home Entertainment has taken another huge step toward bringing the early work of the studio to the public with a boxed set, that in my personal opinion, is the most beautifully and elegantly packaged in memory.
The films run from 1925 to 1932 and include Murnau's glorious 1927 Sunrise and his 1930 City Girl, plus a dozen Frank Borzage productions with 7th Heaven and Street Angel topping the list, as well as a reconstruction of The River (1929) derived from extant footage and stills. Rounding out the package is a new 106 minute documentary.
While I've sampled several of the productions, I've not yet had quality time to delve into them. Several have been restored by the likes of AMPAS, The BFI, UCLA, MOMA and the Netherlands Filmmuseum in association with Fox. Quality varies based obviously upon what has survived. A quick check of Liliom (1930), the basis for the musical Carousel, exhibited a highly resolved image, a superb gray scale, excellent steadiness, and a first in any version that I've encountered -- quality audio.
This set is coming on the 9th of December, is apt to be produced in limited quantities, and may well sell out and become an eBay staple.
It is currently available via Amazon at $180. While not an insignificant amount, especially in today's economy, the overall quality of this set -- down to the superbly designed and produced packaging -- is a rarity not to be overlooked.
More on this as time permits.
Fox's magnificent Murnau, Borzage and Fox set portends to be the home video event of the year when it comes to early, classic cinema.
All five pounds of it.
RAH
 

JackKay

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I never saw this set coming and my jaw dropped when I saw the review at DVD BEAVER. On the top of my wish list, but the price is a tough one, some day though...some day.
 

Henry Gale

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Robert Harris said:
The films ... include Murnau's glorious 1927 Sunrise....
RAH
Will Sunrise look any different than the "Studio Classics" release that came boxed with All About Eve, Gentleman's Agreement and How Green Was My Valley?
 

Charles H

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I seem to recall reading at some point in time that an "international" cut of SUNRISE would be included in the set.
 

Mark Zimmer

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Looks nice, but man I wish they had released this as two more affordable sets, one devoted to each director.
 

ColbyCo82

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Has anyone heard why they left out Doctor's Wives and Young As You Feel?
 

Jefty

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oh my!
I just ordered it!
No Christmas presents for anyone (except the pleasure of coming to my house to watch these wonderful films)
I really really hope this paves the way for more Borzage releases--even WITH this wonderful set, he's the most under-represented great Studio Age director... pretty much NONE of his MGM stuff (Three Comrades, Mortal Storm, Smilin Through, Shining Hour, etc.) is out there, and things like History Is Made At Night and Moonrise are absolute musts...
I'd also like to see sets devoted to Wiliam Dieterle and King Vidor someday--although neither of those could come from Fox
 

Eric Peterson

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Has anybody found any good online coupons this year. I would love to get this, but I can't swing the $180 right now. Maybe in January or February.
Last year, I picked up the "Ford at Fox" for under $120 through a B&N coupon.
I would pay big $$$$ for either of these.
 

Richard--W

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I hefted this box in the store the other day.
Eric Peterson said:
Has anybody found any good online coupons this year. I would love to get this, but I can't swing the $180 right now. Maybe in January or February.
Last year, I picked up the "Ford at Fox" for under $120 through a B&N coupon.
I would be surprised if Fox did not break up the Murnau / Borzage box into separate sets eventually, as they did with the Ford box. No book with the Ford sets, but you get the films at a reasonable price and that's the important thing.
 

Robert Harris

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Richard--W said:
I would be surprised if Fox did not break up the Murnau / Borzage box into separate sets eventually, as they did with the Ford box. No book with the Ford sets, but you get the films at a reasonable price and that's the important thing.
Keep in mind that Murnau is two films, with one already in release for some time. I finally picked up the Ford at Fox set (well discounted), which arrived in all its glory at a hefty 14 pounds. Fox is doing an exceptional job of mining their vaults and presenting their product in an elegant, albeit weighty fashion.
 

Tim Tucker

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Eric Peterson said:
Has anybody found any good online coupons this year. I would love to get this, but I can't swing the $180 right now. Maybe in January or February.
Last year, I picked up the "Ford at Fox" for under $120 through a B&N coupon.
If you have access to a Costco, they will have it for under $120 starting Monday.
 

Eric Peterson

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Wow! That's incredible. I'll have to either find a member, or maybe get a membership for that.
 

Richard--W

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Robert Harris said:
Keep in mind that Murnau is two films, with one already in release for some time. I finally picked up the Ford at Fox set (well discounted), which arrived in all its glory at a hefty 14 pounds. Fox is doing an exceptional job of mining their vaults and presenting their product in an elegant, albeit weighty fashion.
I see what you mean, if Fox breaks this box up into sets, there's not enough Murnau for a smaller box-set. Unless they include one of the books with it? Well, I'm sure they'll think of something. I'm particularly eager to set my eyes on City Girl. Sunrise I've come to know, but Borzage is like an undiscovered country for me. I might buy the box after the holidays, unless I come across another good deal on short ends for my refrigerator.
Fox is setting the highest standard with these two releases. I wish Paramount would gather all their Josef von Sternberg films into a box-set like this, fully restored and supplemented, but I know that's a daydream.
 

Robert Harris

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Richard--W said:
I wish Paramount would gather all their Josef von Sternberg films into a box-set like this, fully restored and supplemented, but I know that's a daydream.
The Paramount pre-49 (more or less) sound era films are owned by Universal.
 

Blake Comeaux

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My set arrived yesterday. I sampled a few moments of each to check out picture quality and was not dissapointed. I'll probably watch them in chronological order as I believe it will be interestingto follow one director's (Borzage) work through the transition from silent to talking pictures.

Thanks Robert. The more attention drawn to sets like this, the better.
 

Richard--W

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How's the audio on the early talkies? Any sound / silent alternate versions?
There was a region 2 edition of The River (1929) released in France that included three shorts by Borzage: The Pitch o' Chance (1915), The Pilgrim (1916) and Nugget Jim's Pardner aka Calibre of Man (1916). I just looked it up at amazonFrance but don't find it there now.
Scarecrow Press published Souls Made Great Through Love and Adversity: The Film Work of Frank Borzage, another one of those histories I buy but never have time to read. There is also a new book about Borzage introduced by Martin Scorsese which sounds like it might be a nice companion to this box-set:
Amazon.com: Frank Borzage: The Life and Films of a Hollywood Romantic: Herve Dumont, Jonathan Kaplansky, Martin Scorsese: Books
 

Richard--W

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Jonathan-S said:
Criterion are understood to have licensed these from Paramount and have confirmed they will release at least one of them next year (no title or street date specified yet).
EDIT: I refer of course to the extant von Sternberg silents, still owned by Paramount.
I'll look forward to that. After The Scarlet Empress everyone expected Criterion to move faster on their von Sternbergs, but they never disappoint once the DVD comes out.
 

Dave B Ferris

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Has anybody found this set at a Costco yet? I looked at the shelves at two Costco's, to no avail. When I asked the staff to look up the title, they were unable to type-in the title to produce any 'hits'. They said it would be easier to search by item number.

If anybody does pick this set up at Costco, could they post the item number here, so I (and others) might have better luck with the staff/computers at Costco?

Thank you.
 

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