Kino Officially Announces THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928) On DVD!

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Roderick Gauci, Aug 2, 2003.

  1. Roderick Gauci

    Roderick Gauci Stunt Coordinator

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    Here is the Press Release in full, culled from Kino’s own website:

    “KINO ON VIDEO TO RELEASE NEWLY RESTORED VERSION OF PAUL LENI'S CLASSIC HORROR FILM ‘THE MAN WHO LAUGHS’

    By special arrangement with Universal Pictures, Kino on Video is proud to release for the first time on VHS and DVD Paul Leni's (WAXWORKS) exquisite adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. Starring Conrad Veidt, famous for playing the sleepwalker/assassin in the expressionist classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and Mary Philbin (The Phanton of the Opera), THE MAN WHO LAUGHS tells the story of Gwynplaine (Conrad Veidt), a tortured man with a permanent smile carved on his face-Batman creator Bob Kane has cited Leni's film as an inspiration for his classic villain The Joker. THE MAN WHO LAUGHS will be available on VHS and in a special edition DVD; both prebook on September 2nd, 2003, with a SRP of $29.95 on DVD and $24.95 on VHS. This title streets on Sept. 30th, 2003.

    Set in 17th century England, THE MAN WHO LAUGHS begins when King James II orders that his political enemy, Lord Clancharlie, be put to death. Left in the hands of a "comprachico" -a term created by Victor Hugo to name men involved in the traffic of children who are purposively disfigured and sold as freak attractions- Lord Clancharlie's son lives a marginal existence and is eventually abandoned in the outskirts of Poland by comprachicos on the move.

    Adopted by a travelling showman, the deformed youngster grows up to be a famous clown named Gwynplaine, or "the man who laughs." He travels from village fair to village fair, bringing with him a blind woman he once saved from death-Dea, played by Mary Philbin. Eventually falling in love, Gwynplaine and Dea are forced to confront the King's evil jester who is determined to destroy them after he intercepts a letter which reveals Gwynplaine's noble background.

    This first-ever home video edition of THE MAN WHO LAUGHS was mastered from a newly restored print, which was made possible by an unprecedented collaboration of the Cineteca Del Comune di Bologna, Cinematheque Francaise and Fondazione Cineteca Italiana di Milano. This newly restored print was struck from two first generation nitrate prints located in London and Milan; the intertitles found in the English version were used as a model for the new print, while the Italian print was used to guide the reconstruction of the sections missing from the English print. The original orchestral soundtrack presented with the first release of the film was also re-recorded and used on this DVD and VHS edition of THE MAN WHO LAUGHS-music was provided by Universal Pictures.

    THE MAN WHO LAUGHS Special Edition DVD comes with an original 20-minute documentary on the making of the film, rare footage of Conrad Veidt at home with his family and fellow European emigrés Greta Garbo, Emil Jannings, and Camilla Horn, an excerpt of the Italian release version, with unique hand-painted title cards, a booklet essay by John Soister, author of CONRAD VEIDT ON SCREEN and many other previously unavailable features.

    SPECIAL FEATURES (DVD):

    ·An original 20-minute documentary on the making of the film.
    ·Rare footage of Conrad Veidt at home with his family, as well as fellow European emigrés Greta Garbo, Emil Jannings, and Camilla Horn.
    ·Extensive gallery of rare photographs and art.
    ·Booklet essay by John Soister, author of CONRAD VEIDT ON SCREEN.
    ·Excerpt of the Italian release version, with unique hand-painted title cards.
    ·Excerpt from Victor Hugo's original novel.

    U.S. 1928 B&W -- 110 Min. 1.33:1
    Carl Laemmle presents
    A Universal Super-Jewel Production
    Directed by Paul Leni
    Screenplay by J. Grubb Alexander. From the novel by Victor Hugo
    Photographed by Gilbert Warrenton. Makeup Effects: Jack P. Pierce
    With Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin, Olga Baclanova, Cesare Gravina”


    The extras seem pretty decent but the main thing is that I can finally watch (and own) this classic film, which I’ve been reading about since childhood, and in a restored print to boot!

    To whet your appetite even further, by following the link below you can watch a couple of intriguing snippets from the film itself:

    http://www.kino.com/quicktime/man_who_laughs.html

    All I can say is September 30 can’t come soon enough for me!
     
  2. Roderick Gauci

    Roderick Gauci Stunt Coordinator

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    Is there nobody here interested in this film at all?! With the many Silent-film lovers who contribute to this board, I had thought this announcement would be greeted ecstatically - unless I'm the only one here who has never watched it before!!
     
  3. Scott Leopold

    Scott Leopold Supporting Actor

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    I'm also thrilled about this one. I'm very eager to see and own this. I think I'm going to have to start selling plasma to pay for everything coming out the rest of the year.
     
  4. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    thanks for the update Roderick. Never seen this before so just might buy this

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    That's pretty amazing news. I had pretty much despaired of ever seeing this, considering the contempt that Universal has for most of its silent films. [​IMG]
     
  6. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    Those sample scenes convinced me! Thanks for bringing this DVD to our attention!

    Jan
     
  7. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    We are drawing ever-closer to a huge silent film renaissance on DVD, I think.
     
  8. TimJS

    TimJS Second Unit

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  9. TimJS

    TimJS Second Unit

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  10. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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    I've been reading about this film & looking at stills since I was a child. I'll be buying.
     
  11. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    What gloriously creepy and unnerving cover art! Thanks for the link, Tim. Here's the largest cover scan I've found so far (after a bit of hunting):

    http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0...1.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

    If anyone has located any larger pics, by all means link 'em -- I've been suffering a dearth of nightmares recently, and a large pic of this title should remedy that nicely. [​IMG] Only kidding! Perhaps apropos, though, given all the "Zzzzzz"s in that address. And hey, I'm as big a fan of ghoulish excess as the next guy, "big head syndrome" or no "big head syndrome." [​IMG]

    Thanks also to Roderick for bringing this to everyone's attention. Kino looks to have quite a treat in store for us at the end of September.
     
  12. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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    Has anyone received their copy of THE MAN WHO LAUGHS yet? Today is supposedly the street date, but DVD Planet(the company I ordered it from) says that it's "Coming Soon", DVD Empire says that it is on order, and Amazon says it takes 7 to 12 days to ship. I'm not going to lose any sleep if I have to wait longer, but I'm just curious if anyone else has received a copy, or if anyone has been able to buy it at a retailer.
     
  13. Roderick Gauci

    Roderick Gauci Stunt Coordinator

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    My copy of THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928) just shipped from DVD Empire, along with THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER (1941) and THE CHRISTOPHER LEE COLLECTION (1966-69) which all streeted today[​IMG]!

    I should be receiving the whole package (comprising 18 discs in all!) within a fortnight, and I’ll report back with my opinion about this celebrated – but till now extremely rare – Silent classic, which will surely be the one I’ll pop first in my DVD player[​IMG].
     
  14. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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    I had mine on order with DDD. I called this morning & was told that they received some 200 odd copies & sent them all out to pre-orders. Unfortunately I was not among those to have my pre-order filled. I guess a lot of people ordered before I did. They told me that by 10/6 they would have more in stock.
     
  15. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    This sounds like a solid release from start to finish! I had found the Kino Video DVD of METROPOLIS a few months back, and for a silent film and a restored classic it came off pretty well, despite the audio commentary that just rehashed the film's on-screen plot and, sadly, the lack of the missing footage because the footage could not be located, restored, or even saved to begin with.

    But THE MAN WHO LAUGHS should be an interesting view. I had seen a picture of Conrad Veidt in Bob Kane's book "Batman and Me", and Veidt's role of Gynplain was so eerie-looking that if they had filmed a Batman movie in the 1930's, Veidt could have done the Joker extremely well.

    I might have to check this one out! [​IMG]

    Now if we could see more silent classics on DVD, including the original versions of BEN-HUR and THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, I'll be one happy camper!
     
  16. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    While I've yet to run across any on-line reviews, Randy A. Salas mentioned one or two PQ parameters concerning the title here:

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...60#post1778560

    From his post, I gather this may be a PAL-NTSC conversion (something that seems to be cropping up more and more of late, though I just recently popped in a copy of All Day Entertainment's 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse, having read that it was a conversion, and discovered that, yes, alas, it blurs and ghosts. That's been on my shelf a couple of years, so the issue is by no means new to the format), though it may alternately owe its trouble to "tape to tape speed correction," which is apparently an inferior, and, in my experience with one crystal clear speed adjusted silent on DVD after another, rarely used, means of slowing silent films to their appropriate playback rate (see below, or specifically Dennis Doros' quoted comments on the above-linked thread). If a PAL conversion -- titles restored overseas are sometimes released to video/television overseas as well, and those PAL masters are, I gather, a more cost effective means of transferring the films for NTSC than would be the creation of a new NTSC master from the restoration elements. If a tape speed issue (and most speed adjusted films on disc look just great, with no blurring or ghosting, so I remain uncertain just what is meant by this) ... well, again, reference the link above for more.

    There remains the possibility that the "ghosting" he describes in hand motions and their like is simply the "blur" any rapid motion might take on as it's captured on film. Freeze-frame blur in rapidly moving objects is the hydrogen of filmmaking -- it's everywhere and has nothing to do with the varying anomalies introduced when PAL sources are converted to NTSC. But double-exposure images (images that appear doubled), and of course fine detail blurring (such as in faces) at normal playback (I can even see the ghosting at normal playback when I look hard enough, but casual viewing just reveals fine-detail blur, particularly when dark features, such as eyes and mouth, appear against brighter backgrounds when in motion, such as a face turning or even nodding, etc.), are key examples of the issues discussed above and below. Further comment on this release should iron that out, but until it's forthcoming I'll assume the worst and treat it as a PAL-NTSC or "speed corrected in tape to tape" disc.*

    As you can see from earlier posts to the above-linked thread, blurring/ghosting (whatever its cause) is a big issue for me, but a small or even non-existent one for others. Colloquially: mileage may vary. [​IMG] But if blurring bothers you, I'd encourage polite letters to Kino and other companies issuing these films in this manner, that they might redouble their efforts to find a way to requisition NTSC-native masters for their NTSC product. The beauty of some of Kino's early, NTSC-native overseas silents (The Last Days of Pompeii jumps to mind), crystal clear at proper silent running speeds with nary a blur or ghost, makes motion blur and freeze frame ghosting all the more lamentable. To me. [​IMG]

    I wonder if there are any DVD companies in Germany or other PAL regions issuing the The Man Who Laughs to DVD? If so, those with PAL-NTSC player conversion capabilities, may, by reports (I don't yet have one), find the conversion superior to the variety usually encountered in PAL-NTSC master conversions on DVD (again assuming that the blur Randy describes is true ghosting and not of the variety any rapid motion would take on when captured on film).

    That said, I should again emphasize that there seem to be as many who don't see the blur at all on earlier examples of this problem as there are folks like me, who go into fits when they see it. Your track record with titles like 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse, The Iron Mask, MK2's Region 1 WB Chaplin discs, and other such examples should give you an idea of whether the conversion trouble will stand between you and the value of any new PAL-NTSC disc.

    And I should again note, for those who haven't read all of the above-linked thread, that there seems to be some issue of on-the-fly speed adjustments, or adjustments in speed made from tape to tape, also causing motion blur/ghosting. Whether the titles I've named above are definitely PAL conversions or possibly victims of this other form of blur/ghosting -- I can't say. But I find it similarly irksome on the listed titles, whatever its root cause.

    Others don't! Seriously. So ... make of that what you will. But my thanks, again, to Randy for his advance comments on The Man Who Laughs, and I look forward to finding further detail on the release and the precise nature of its "blur" or "ghosting." [​IMG]

    * For those who remain uncertain just what qualifies as "normal" freeze frame blur and what is truly conversion blur ghosting (only the latter is visible at full motion, but it might be confusing in freeze frames to those new to the phenomenon), the DVD Beaver comparison review of The Great Dictator is a fine reference. Note Chaplin's arm in the last two captures; while the ball blurs in both (as it should, because it's in motion relative to the camera), it ghosts slightly, as does Chaplin's arm, in the conversion capture, and only in the conversion capture. Some titles ghost more dramatically than others, and in some cases the ratio of good frames to bad frames differs. But the ghosting itself is very clear. Here's a link to the DVDBeaver comparisons:

    http://207.136.67.23/film/dvdcompare....52.35-new.jpg

    Ack. This turned out much longer (and more convoluted) than I intended, particularly for anyone reading who's at all familiar with this "controversy." Sorry. In short:

    We don't know if The Man Who Laughs is a conversion; it might be. More info will be welcome. In the meantime, Randy's comments are the first I've seen on-line. [​IMG]
     

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