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Blu-ray Review A Few Words About A few words about...™ - Philo Vance Collection - The Canary / Green / Benson Murder Case(s) -- in Blu-ray (2 Viewers)

Robert Harris

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Several years before actor William Powell, who had played an extremely sleazy Frenchman in a 1926 Paramount adventure / drama, and even before he didn't play the role of The Thin Man for Cosmopolitan (M-G-M) in 1934, he was cast as one Philo Vance in a very early talkie that had actually been shot as a silent film in 1928.

A bit earlier, Paramount had purchased the first three Philo Vance novels from S.S. Van Dine. The fourth (The Bishop Murder Case) ended up going to M-G-M, and Mr. Powell was replaced in the role by Basil Rathbone.

The fifth Vance, with Powell returning to the role, was The Kennel Murder Case (1933), a WB production. More Murder Cases were written through 1939, with a series of short films produced in the early '30s by Warner.

But returning to our subject, the three Philo Vance productions, all starring Wiliam Powell, has been released by Kino via their deal with Universal, via their EMKA deal with Paramount.

While I don't have a listing of the EMKA titles handy, The Canary Murder Case, would be one of the easiest, as it was produced in 1928. The other early title of which I'm aware, which was a silent with synchronized music and effects, was the 1929 The Four Feathers.

The release of these films is a good move for Universal, as the first is shorting to enter the public domain, and this Kino offering stop anyone from bothering to put out physical media, although it's rather certain that someone will steal the data from this disc and it will appear somewhere.

But if you desire to own these films, and you should, as they're very good early detective dramas, this collection is the way to do it. As the there films, all in 1.20 aspect ratio (Movietone) total only 213 minutes, they fit handily onto a single BD-50 with quality intact.

While unrestored, and presumably derived from 35mm masters, they look absolutely fine. Image and Movietone audio quality can't be bettered without a full restoration, which really isn't a necessity.

For those unfamiliar with the series, the first, Canary has Colleen Moore and Jean Arthur lending support, while the second has Ms. Arthur and Eugene Pallette once again in secondary roles. Mr. Pallette also appears in the third.

At $27 for the trilogy, the collection is easy to recommend. Personally, I find the first to be of major interest as it's a silent film converted to sound.


Image – 7

Audio – 9

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors - Yes

Worth your attention - 8

Slipcover rating - 2

Highly Recommended

RAH
 

Robert Harris

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You forgot to mention who plays The Canary. The star of a couple of very important German silents.
I was waiting for someone to bring her up. You win the prize.

When the decision was made to re-do the film and add dialogue, Ms Brooks refused to help, which did not exactly make her the vamp of the hour.

Which may have been the reason for her making her next films for Pabst in Germany. She didn't return to Hollywood until 1930, and never again resumed her previous stature in the industry.

She was last seen in a John Wayne Republic western in 1938.

That single decision seems to have led to a rather sad existence for an extremely talented young woman.
 

JoeDoakes

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How do people think these films compare to the way they have appeared on TCM for years?
 

Robert Crawford

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Several years before actor William Powell, who had played an extremely sleazy Frenchman in a 1926 Paramount adventure / drama, and even before he didn't play the role of The Thin Man for Cosmopolitan (M-G-M) in 1934, he was cast as one Philo Vance in a very early talkie that had actually been shot as a silent film in 1928.

A bit earlier, Paramount had purchased the first three Philo Vance novels from S.S. Van Dine. The fourth (The Bishop Murder Case) ended up going to M-G-M, and Mr. Powell was replaced in the role by Basil Rathbone.

The fifth Vance, with Powell returning to the role, was The Kennel Murder Case (1933), a WB production. More Murder Cases were written through 1939, with a series of short films produced in the early '30s by Warner.

But returning to our subject, the three Philo Vance productions, all starring Wiliam Powell, has been released by Kino via their deal with Universal, via their EMKA deal with Paramount.

While I don't have a listing of the EMKA titles handy, The Canary Murder Case, would be one of the easiest, as it was produced in 1928. The other early title of which I'm aware, which was a silent with synchronized music and effects, was the 1929 The Four Feathers.

The release of these films is a good move for Universal, as the first is shorting to enter the public domain, and this Kino offering stop anyone from bothering to put out physical media, although it's rather certain that someone will steal the data from this disc and it will appear somewhere.

But if you desire to own these films, and you should, as they're very good early detective dramas, this collection is the way to do it. As the there films, all in 1.20 aspect ratio (Movietone) total only 213 minutes, they fit handily onto a single BD-50 with quality intact.

While unrestored, and presumably derived from 35mm masters, they look absolutely fine. Image and Movietone audio quality can't be bettered without a full restoration, which really isn't a necessity.

For those unfamiliar with the series, the first, Canary has Colleen Moore and Jean Arthur lending support, while the second has Ms. Arthur and Eugene Pallette once again in secondary roles. Mr. Pallette also appears in the third.

At $27 for the trilogy, the collection is easy to recommend. Personally, I find the first to be of major interest as it's a silent film converted to sound.


Image – 7

Audio – 9

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors - Yes

Worth your attention - 8

Slipcover rating - 2

Highly Recommended

RAH
I'm patiently awaiting my Target preorder. I'm a big fan of William Powell.
 

TheSteig

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I pre-ordered on Kino's site along with the Sci-Fi classics collection, they should be going out soon, I cannot wait !
 

bujaki

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I was waiting for someone to bring her up. You win the prize.

When the decision was made to re-do the film and add dialogue, Ms Brooks refused to help, which did not exactly make her the vamp of the hour.

Which may have been the reason for her making her next films for Pabst in Germany. She didn't return to Hollywood until 1930, and never again resumed her previous stature in the industry.

She was last seen in a John Wayne Republic western in 1938.

That single decision seems to have led to a rather sad existence for an extremely talented young woman.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood for Ms. Brooks. The one she chose made all the difference: it immortalized her, though it led to what was, as you say, a rather sad existence for a mortal.
 

Robert Harris

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How's progress on this project? Can't wait to see it since I've only seen the cut version during the Paramount cycle at MoMA.
We’re still on it. Still scanning various 35 and 16 elements. No sign of the original roadshow. Closest we’ve come is several reels of 1926 Nitrate second cut. But it’s an important project and needs to be saved.

We’ve been on this project for over a year and more to go.

Magnificent film. Mr. Colman et al are superb.
 

cadavra

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I was waiting for someone to bring her up. You win the prize.

When the decision was made to re-do the film and add dialogue, Ms Brooks refused to help, which did not exactly make her the vamp of the hour.

Which may have been the reason for her making her next films for Pabst in Germany. She didn't return to Hollywood until 1930, and never again resumed her previous stature in the industry.

She was last seen in a John Wayne Republic western in 1938.

That single decision seems to have led to a rather sad existence for an extremely talented young woman.

Almost. She was already in Germany working on PANDORA'S BOX, so her refusal to return was geographical as well as artistic. She probably thought she could get away with it. Sadly, she was wrong. Poor Ann Dvorak made the same mistake when she took an extended European honeymoon with Leslie Fenton.
 

Will Krupp

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How I'd love to get any sort of release of The Gracie Allen Murder Case. It's supremely silly, and far more a vehicle for Gracie than Warren William's Philo, but I've always had a soft spot for it (and for her.) William is the only actor, other than William Powell, to play the character more than once.

Van Dine wrote 12 Vance novels, 10 of which were made into movies contemporary to their time. Excluding the lost Scarab Murder Case, made in the UK in 1936 with Wilfred Hyde-White as Philo (!), Gracie remains the only one not available on some sort of media.

While we're at it, and just to make things complete, I also wouldn't mind a release of Paramount's Night of Mystery (1937) which is a B-remake of Greene and the only one I've never seen.
 
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