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Press Release Criterion Press Release: 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg (Blu-ray)

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Ronald Epstein, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. Brent Reid

    Brent Reid Supporting Actor

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    I love it when older, long-cherished scores can be reissued with silent films, but it's simply not always possible. Newer restorations often have more footage, alternate takes and/or are simply transferred at completely different (and usually more correct) speeds to earlier versions. Then there are the dreaded rights issues...

    These three films were issued on Gaylord Carter-scored VHS tapes by Paramount in 1993. Runtimes for Underworld and The Last Command are close to their newer transfers but The Docks of New York VHS is 76 minutes, while the restored version is 72 minutes. Even with a skilled engineer and the latest digital editing tools, that would never fit satisfactorily. Better to enjoy them via the original tapes or copies thereof.

    As for why at least the first two scores haven't been included, I've no idea but I'm sure Criterion are assiduous enough to have tried to get them. You could try contacting Paramount, but don't hold your breath waiting for an informed response. By commissioning two very different but highly appropriate scores for each film by some of the best musicians in the business, Criterion have already given us an incredible gift. I'm really looking forward to this new set.

    PS: Criterion's long-deleted DVD set is currently fetching hundreds of dollars, but that'll drop when the BDs arrive. If you plan to upgrade, now's the time to sell! ;)
     
    B-ROLL, PMF and Arthur Powell like this.
  2. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I reviewed the original DVD release in 2010, and you can find it here if you're unfamiliar with the films or Criterion's fine packaging of them.
     
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  3. Arthur Powell

    Arthur Powell Second Unit

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    I don't think Carter ever recorded a score for "Underworld" as I don't think Paramount released that on VHS. As for "The Last Command", the Carter score is included on the MOC region 2 blu ray. Assuming that Criterion and MOC are using the same master, I'm not sure why Criterion wouldn't have availed themselves to the score.

    It is interesting to note that of the three Paramount Carter-scored silents that Kino reissued on blu/DVD, only one retained the Carter score ("The Covered Wagon"). "Old Ironsides" was presented at a variable frame rate (as per the original cue sheet specifications) so the older score, recorded at a fixed 24 fps, wouldn't fit without manipulation. On the other hand, I'm not sure why the Carter score was dropped on "Running Wild" as the running times are the same for the blu ray and the 1987 VHS. I suspect either internal editing differences or music rights. Well, for me personally, all of this means that I'll be holding onto my copies of the older editions, but I'll still be purchasing the new ones.
     
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  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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