Any word on classic MGM/WB/Paramount silent films being released to DVD?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Patrick McCart, Nov 28, 2001.

  1. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Are classics of the likes of The Cameraman, Ben-Hur (1926), The Crowd, Greed, and The Big Parade coming to DVD in any reports?

    I'd buy DVD's of these in a heartbeat.
     
  2. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    I hope these get released as well. I really need to increase my knowledge of silent films! [​IMG]
     
  3. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    And don't forget THE CROWD. We've had an agonizing time getting Warner to up their catalog release schedule of classic SOUND films... I can't imagine what it will take for them to try out some of the silents in their vaults, but I'd be willing to send them requests.
     
  4. Ben Motley

    Ben Motley Supporting Actor

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    Steve, at the risk of hijacking this thread, I'll share with you a few immediate silent cinema wants of my own (you'll notice I tend to concentrate on the horror genre). If you're looking to enlighten yourself about silent film, you may want to check out DVDPlanet's Silent Cinema sale page. Lot's of good descriptions there for several promising films. Although they aren't MGM/WB/Paramount, I find them highly interesting, and am chomping at the bit to get these films in particular...
    Les Vampires
    Ten episode serial from 1915 shot on location in France, "follows the exploits of a brazen and resourceful band of arch-criminals who rob the rich, transfix the elite of France, and almost elude the obsessive pursuit of crusading journalist Phillipe Guerande and his sidekick Mazamette." Paraphrasing; a French masterpiece which was originally banned by the Paris police for glorifying crime. Over the years, I've heard about this, but have never had the chance to check it out myself, as I don't believe it was readily available. It is on top of my "to buy" list.
    Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler
    1922, German, directed by Fritz Lang (Metropolis). Dr. Mabuse, criminal genius at large... until State Attorney von Wenk gets on his trail. "a snapshot of a precise historical moment when Germany was often likened to Sodom and Gomorrah, when inflation skyrocketed, public morality collapsed, and the Nazi party first emerged from Munich beer-halls." YEAH! Looks like one for me. [​IMG]
    Destiny
    1921, German, dir. by Fritz Lang. Gothic fantasy inspired by the directors own childhood dreams, involves a lovers attempt to save her fiance from Death's grip by accepting Death's challenge to save at least one of three doomed lives. "Otherworldly atmosphere is created by extraordinary, bizarre sets, gothic lighting, and eccentric characters combined with spectacle and camera trickery astonishing for its time." I gotta say, I do love German silent cinema.
    The Bells
    1926, American, dir. by Rene Claire (Le Million, And Then There Were None), starring Lionel Barrymore and the uncanny Boris Karloff. Inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe poem, involves an innkeeper's descent into madness after murdering a wealthy traveller. The inkeeper is haunted by a hypnotist from a travelling carnival, and "his conscience is tormented by a blood-smeared apparition of the dead man who comes seeking a confession". Sounds great to me. [​IMG]
    I have and highly suggest The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera, both starring the legendary Lon Chaney. There is a version of Oliver Twist available with Chaney as Fagin, and Jackie Coogan (The Kid) as Oliver, which I think I'll be picking up. Nosferatu goes without saying if you're a fan of the darker side of cinema, and the Image disc is the best to get (all of the dvds I've mentioned here are in fact from Image, I believe. Bravo Image!), although Image's Masterworks of the German Horror Cinema, which includes Nosferatu, as well as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is the only place so far to find the intriguing Der Golum on dvd. I loved Der Golum, and strongly recommend it for any fan of re-animation stories, such as Frankenstein. And finally, I can't recommend strongly enough Criterion's new dvd of Haxan, an incredibly odd little film about witchcraft that I found extremely fun and engaging. It was given stellar treatment by Criterion, and one of my best purchases this year.
    Ahhhh, I love silent cinema! [​IMG] Anybody else got any recommendations?
     
  5. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Do I have recommendations? You bet!
    It, with the inimitable Clara Bow
    Diary of a Lost Girl with the amazing Louise Brooks
    Shadows/Outside the Law with Lon Chaney in two (well, three) extremely different roles. Also The Penalty with a legless performance by Chaney, with a bonus of his earliest surviving picture, By the Sun's Rays (1914).
    The nine volumes of silent Laurel & Hardy, plus Laurel & Hardy and Friends (which I just learned has an unbilled Buster Keaton appearance on it).
    The Lost World (the new special edition with the commentary and half an hour of added footage)
    The revised Nosferatu (with the red-toned cover)
    If you like epics, check out Cabiria and Last Days of Pompeii. Griffith's Intolerance (which derived heavily from these two in its scope) is also available in a nice edition.
    Sadie Thompson with an unforgettable performance by Gloria Swanson (especially fun for you lip-readers)....alas the last reel is lost and had to be reconstructed.
    1920 Last of the Mohicans, the most faithful adaptation of the novel, with an early appearance by Boris Karloff as an Indian!
    I'm sure I'll think of more...I of course second the recommendations of Les Vampires, Dr. Mabuse, Destiny and The Bells.
    DVD Planet's sale also includes Origins of Film and Treasures from American Film Archives sets, which while not entirely silent contain a good deal of worthwhile silent material.
    Stay away from Masterworks of German Horror, though, unless you've REALLY got to have Der Golem, because the other two pictures (Nosferatu and Caligari) are awful and cropped transfers and are run at sound speed. Der Golem is also available on a region 2 disc, but I've not seen it and can't vouch for the quality.
    If you're interested, I've reviewed almost all of these discs at http://www.digitallyobsessed.com as well as many other silent pictures.
     
  6. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    Also:
    F.W Murnau's The Last Laugh & Faust
    D.W. Griffith's Intolerance & Broken Blossoms
    Carl T. Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc & Vampyre
    and any of the Buster Keaton discs.
    And in the "needs to be on DVD" file:
    Victor Sjostrom's The Wind
     
  7. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

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    I second the need for The Wind on DVD which reminds me of another Lillian Gish title, La Boheme directed by King Vidor.

    Rob
     
  8. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    I third the need for "The Wind" and everything everyone else listed, but I'd like to add King Vidor's 1929 film "Hallelujah" (even though not silent, it is in the MGM library).
     
  9. Dave L

    Dave L Stunt Coordinator

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    All great silent film suggestions in this thread, but I didn't see Abel Gance's "Napoleon" mentioned. One of the greatest of the era, it pioneered "widescreen" with its use of a three-panel "Cinerama-like" tryptych during the final sequence.

    As reconstructed by Kevin Brownlow, it was released by Universal on LD years ago as a boxed set with a Carmine Coppola score. I thought I read that Brownlow had found more or re-edited it and that there is another score that is also sometimes used. Whatever the case, this film warrants a new extras-loaded release.

    Also, Brownlow and Gill's magnificent 10 part documentary "Hollywood" on the American silent film is long overdue. Their documentary on European silent film was released on DVD awhile back, but the version on the U.S. silent era hasn't been out since the boxed LDs of years ago.

    Glad to see there are other silent film enthusiasts here.
     
  10. Bob Cashill

    Bob Cashill Producer

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    A must for DVD: The restored, 147-minute version of METROPOLIS that I saw at Brooklyn's BAM Rose Cinemas last night. Fantastic.
     
  11. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    In addition to all that has already been mentoned, I'd recommend SPARROWS, an excellent silent melodrama with Mary Pickford and a whole swamp full of quicksand & hungry gators (a couple of Pickford film shorts are also included on the DVD as extras), as well as Douglas Fairbanks in the very entertaining silent versions of THE MARK OF ZORRO and THE THIEF OF BAGDAD.
    The two fascinating silent "documentary dramas" from filmmakers Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack (who'd later make KING KONG, SON OF KONG, THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, etc.), GRASS, and especially CHANG, are must-see DVDs from Milestone/Image Entertainment.
    The two volumes of ARBUCKLE & KEATON are swell, too, and it sounds like there's finally some Harold Lloyd coming to Region 1 DVD next year; I'd particularly recommend Lloyd's THE FRESHMAN, GIRL SHY and THE KID BROTHER, if any/all of those are in the upcoming first wave of Lloyd DVD releases.
     
  12. John Sparks

    John Sparks Screenwriter

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    Speaking of "The Lost World". I have the Lumivision version that runs 90 min., with alot of extras, also a beautiful print. Just bought at DVDPlanet "The Lost World" by Image that runs 93 min., also with different extras, such as outtakes of the dinosaurs scenes, some with Obie in them. Each has different music scores and sound.
    So if this is your movie, you must have both copies.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  13. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Bob, was that Metropolis the one that's currently touring the country with organist Dennis James? I'm really looking forward to seeing that!
     
  14. Hendrik

    Hendrik Supporting Actor

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    ... [​IMG] also recommended: Méliès, Le Cinémagicien, a French Region ALL/NTSC DVD-9 from arte video that couples Jacques Mény's 1996 130-minute documentary La Magie Méliès with Une Séance Méliès, a 55-minute program featuring 15 Méliès films, introduced by Madeleine Malthête-Méliès... Optional French or English versions...
    http://www.dvdfr.com/dvd/fiche.php3?id=4297
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  15. Ben Motley

    Ben Motley Supporting Actor

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    Mark (and everyone), thanks for the suggestions. It's great to see so many reviews in one place for these films. Thanks for the link, and all the good work.
    I did want to get Faust, but DVDPlanet is sold out. Saw it yesterday at Virgin, but dang, they sure were proud of it. I have an aversion to full retail, so Faust must wait.
    And yes, after having seen Der Golem, I'd say it's a must have, or must see anyway, for anyone who is into horror/fantasy cinema. It has some very good examples of early f/x work, very well done, interesting sets, and is just downright dripping with atmosphere. A very cool flick.
    This is the last day of the sale, and I'm afraid I'll be placing a rather large order here very soon. Sigh, I guess I'll never get out of debt. [​IMG]
     
  16. PaulaJ

    PaulaJ Supporting Actor

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    Add to the want list lots of silents starring the great Conrad Veidt.

    At the top of that list for me are Universal's The Man Who Laughs, and a German film, The Student of Prague.

    The Man Who Laughs has never been relesed on video, not even VHS (although it's easy to find bootleg copies). The Man Who Laughs has a Movietone score, plus the noted silent film accompaniest and composer Gabriel Thibideau wrote a new score for it that has been played at various film festivals. From what I've been told, though, Universal feels the cost of putting The Man Who Laughs out on video is prohibitive and would not be recouped by sales, and that even the cost of clearing the rights in order to license it to a third party for release would cost more than they could get for a license fee.

    And while we're talking about wants... the silent version of The Enchanted Cottage. The Library of Congress has a beautiful print, but it does not have a score. I think WB owns the rights to it, which means we'll never see it. ;(

    -- PaulaJ
     
  17. Ben Motley

    Ben Motley Supporting Actor

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    Yay! I just spoke to a woman at DVDPlanet who told me they were going to extend the sale, probably until Dec. 15th. They are definitely extending the Criterion sale until that date, and she said they were considering keeping the silent cinema on sale til then. She said it would be on for at least another week anyway. Cool, maybe I'll get that pumpkin patch to work for me yet. [​IMG]
     

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