Silent Film recommendations please...

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Eric Huffstutler, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. Eric Huffstutler

    Eric Huffstutler Screenwriter

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    If someone was to choose only 5 silent films, which ones would you pick as being the most important to have in a collection?

    I already know "The Lost World" 1925 - Image's restored release is one of them as well as Kino's restored "Metropolis" which currently is the only one I own. Can you give me 3-5 more offerings to add to these two? Include the best representation from which studio on DVD.

    Thanks!
    Eric
     
  2. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    You have to have at least one Keaton & one Chaplin.

    Keaton - The General
    Chaplin - Modern Times (City Lights or The Gold Rush will work too)

    You also can't lose with Harold Lloyd. His films only recently became available for the first time. "Safety Last" is his most well known film, but he has many gems.

    Others
    Sunrise - Murnau (I just watched this and it was wonderful)

    Here's a great website for your reference.
    http://www.silentera.com/index.html
     
  3. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    "Sunrise" is one of the best films I've ever seen, period. I think it's only available in a box set though.

    I'd recomend the silent "Ben Hur" avilable in the newly released Warner "Ben-Hur" set. As good as the Chuck Heston version is, I enjoyed the silent more.
     
  4. Shaughan

    Shaughan Stunt Coordinator

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    The Crowd
    Ben Hur
    Battleship Potemkin
     
  5. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer)
    The Last Laugh (Murnau)
    Steamboat Bill, Jr. (Keaton)
    The Gold Rush (Chaplin)
    Strike! (Eisenstein)
     
  6. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    FRAU IM MOND -- the first "hard" science-fiction film, and one of the last silents [Lang's last]

    NOSFERATU -- may still be the definitive Dracula
     
  7. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Do not pass up on the excellent Harold Lloyd releases from New Line. I recommend the box set, but if you have to limit yourself to just one, I would recommend Volume 2 which includes both the "The Freshman" and "The Kid Brother", two of my all-time favorite silent comedies.

    Regards,
     
  8. Tory

    Tory -The Snappy Sneezer- -Red Huck-

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    Diary of a Lost Girl
    Our Hospitality(Comes with Sherlock Jr. in a double feature from Kino)
    Pandora's Box (You will have to import or wait for a US release)
    Piccadilly
    The Strong Man (comes with Tramp, Tramp, Tramp and Long Pants on the single DVD triple feature Harry Langdon...The Forgotten Clown)

    Sherlock Jr, Tramp, Tramp, Tramp and Long Pants are great too.
    Really with Keaton and Lloyd you should just go ahead and buy the boxsets, it will be cheaper, much cheaper, in the long run.
     
  9. Jeff Newcomb

    Jeff Newcomb Second Unit

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    Sunrise (Fox)- One of the greatest films of any era, and a pretty great disc too. Russell is correct that it is only available in a box , but when that box is only $22.00 and includes All About Eve, Gentlemen's Agreement, and How Green Was My Valley, it's still a very good deal.
     
  10. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    The Gold Rush
    Safety Last
    Modern Times
    The Kid
     
  11. Mike D

    Mike D Stunt Coordinator

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    Silent comedy gets most of the meagre attention paid to the silent era by studios today. While the dramas are mostly relegated to specialty labels if they get released at all.

    A few of my favorites...

    The Docks of New York - von Sternberg (N/A)
    Broken Blossoms - Griffith (Kino)
    The Crowd - Vidor (N/A)
    The Last Laugh - Murnau (Kino)
    Louisiana Story - Flaherty (HVE)
     
  12. Rodney

    Rodney Screenwriter
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    The Cameraman (Buster Keaton)
    The Crowd (King Vidor)
    Sunrise (F.W. Murnau)
    Tumbleweeds (William S. Hart)
    Mark of Zorro (Douglas Fairbanks)

    I would need more than these five however. I would need to add Metropolis, The Lost World, and every Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle film available.
     
  13. TimJS

    TimJS Second Unit

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    The Gold Rush - I wd probably try to get the Image edn
    The General - Kino
    The Freshman - Lloyd Collection disc. New Line
    The Black Pirate - Fairbanks is so much fun (this one's in color too!). Kino
    Passion of Joan of Arc - Only if you like the human face.up close. all the time. Criterion

    Most of the previous recommendations are fine, but several have not been released on DVD.
    Might suggest that you join Netflix for a couple of months and explore several genres to find out what appeals to you the most, ...be sure and catch Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood , and if it ever comes to Region 1, Hollywood is a must see (you could also go multi-region, and get the R.2 when it comes out - I'm tempted).

    Tim
     
  14. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    ^ Hollywood will probably come out in 2006 (Kevin Brownlow said he was working on it along with Unknown Chaplin, which is already out).

    By all means, get your hands on the Harold Lloyd box set. While I saw a lot of them on TCM, I'm just in awe of how funny his films are. Of course, it has his most famous films like The Freshman, Safety Last, and Speedy. The films look stunning and the music scores (on the silents) are excellent. DVD of the year, no question about it.

    Also, the 4-disc set of Fatty Arbuckle films (The Forgotten Films of Fatty Arbuckle) is terrific, too. Arbuckle could be considered to be a D.W. Griffith of film comedy... especially his later two-reelers with Buster Keaton, he not only makes them hilarious, but extremely well made. Out West (not in this set, but in the 2-disc "Best Arbuckle/Keaton Collection" set) is surprisingly modern in its form. Coney Island, too (which IS on the set).

    The Man Who Laughs, while a PAL conversion, is one of the best "hidden" classics of the silent era. It's a must-have. Kino's special edition of The Thief of Bagdad is worth getting, too. Tons of extras, but also a hugely entertaining film (what else do you expect from Douglas Fairbanks?)
     
  15. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    The Last Command with Emil Jannings is a terrific film, as is the Janet Gaynor-Charles Farrell film Seventh Heaven , finally lets hope Warners does a DVD of the wonderful Ramon Novarro - Norma Shearer film, The Student Prince In Old Heidelberg
     
  16. Stan Rozenfeld

    Stan Rozenfeld Stunt Coordinator

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    my favorite silents are (in no particular order):

    Passion of Joan of Arc
    Orphans of the Storm
    Way Down East
    City Lights
    Modern Times

    My all time favorite silent is Abel Gance's Napoleon. I don't know if we'll ever see it on DVD in Region 1, but a few years back I watched it in New York's Radio City Music Hall with live orchestra and it was one of the great film viewing experiences of my life.
     
  17. Terry St

    Terry St Second Unit

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    Louisiana Story is *not* a silent film. Maybe you meant Nanook of the North, which was also made by Flaherty?

    There are lots of excellent films mentioned so far... I'll chime in on some versions available on DVD.
    • The General and Steamboat Bill Jr.: are available from both Kino and and Image. The Image version is a double-feature which puts both these films on the same disc and has some interlacing artifacts that might possibly be the result of a PAL conversion. If you have a progressive scan display, the Kino versions will look better. However, the Image version has rather well done sound-tracks from the "Alloy Orchestra" that are far more evocative than the generic accompaniment on the Kino DVD's. The Kino versions are available as part of a Buster Keaton box-set, which features so many outstanding flicks that it's well worth the price.
    • Charlie Chaplin films: Warner released a fine collection of some of Chaplins films in two box sets that include "Modern Times", "The Great Dictator", "Gold Rush", "Limelight", "City Lights", "The Circus", "The Kid", "A King in New York", "A Woman of Paris", and "Monsieur Verdoux". Unfortunately, the region 1 versions are PAL conversions that look abominable on the wrong player/display. I cannot recommend them. However, the PAL versions from Region 2 are *excellent*, and I strongly endorse them if you have a region free player and PAL capable display. Again, I stress, do *not* buy the region 1 box sets from Warner. They're absolutely hideous.
    • Passion of Joan of Arc: I heartily second the endorsement of the Criterion release of this film. It includes a nice 5.1 track of Voices of Light, an orchestral/choral work written as a companion piece that really heightens the emotional impact of the film. It sounds bloody amazing! Highly recommended.

    Not yet mentioned:
    • Robin Hood: (1922) This is Douglas Fairbanks take on the story, and it's actually very good. Although it had an immense influence on Errol Flynn's "The Adventures of Robin Hood", Fairbanks version is darker in tone and more violent and explicit. This film, along with "The Thief of Bagdad", the aforementioned "The Black Pirate", "The Three Musketeers, "The Mark of Zorro", and "Don Q - Son of Zorro" are available in a pretty good box set from Kino. All the films are worth seeing. "The Black Pirate", although a fascinating experiment in two-strip technicolor, is probably the worst film of the lot.
    • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: (1921) German expressionist horror of the sort that you'll never forget. This film is visually amazing and features absolutely unique set designs. Image and Kino both have versions of this out. The Kino version has some quality issues in the opening scene, but in general has a better transfer that is both sharper and less heavily cropped. It also has a wonderfully creepy soundtrack.
    • Faust: (1926) If you like Nosferatu or Sunrise, this film is a must. Murnau had an immense budget here and it shows. The visual effects in this film are absolutely jaw-dropping, and the visual metaphors equally so. The portrayal of the devil in this film is one of the creepiest I've ever seen on film. Kino has a good version of this available.
     
  18. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    While I agree that getting the region 1 Warner films is a bad idea, I can not agree that the solution is to get the region 2 films, since they suffer from PAL speedup. The real solution is to seek out the old Image releases which look fine, and are at the correct speed.
     
  19. TimJS

    TimJS Second Unit

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    In my 1st post, I answered your specific question. I will again suggest you try out various genres at Netflix or comparable, to see what you like. One of the big reasons for doing so is to maximize value. If you wanted to go beyond 5 titles, you really can't beat the following in terms of quality and value:

    Charlie Chaplin Boxed Set

    The Art of Buster Keaton

    German Horror Classics

    Griffith Masterworks

    The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection

    The Douglas Fairbanks Collection

    Fritz Lang Epic Collection - hafta sell off/donate your Metropolis disc

    plus anthologies of shorts...

    Slapstick Encyclopedia

    Treasures From American Film Archives William S. Hart, Hell's Hinges [​IMG]

    More Treasures from American Film Archives 1894-1931

    & the really old stuff:

    Edison - The Invention of the Movies

    There is a boxed set called
    The Movies Begin , but for value, I would suggest the two volume Image offering Landmarks of Early Film Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 , which has nearly the same contents as Movies Begin - just cheaper. You may want to hold off on investments of this size until certain semi-annual sales come in the summer & winter[​IMG] .

    An Eisentein silent box as well as Pandora's Box have been rumored from Criterion for more than a year. The TCM silent collections are another excellent value...just announced a Laurel & Hardy collection, and I think I remember reading that a Valentino collection may be coming as well. End of Prolix.

    Tim
     
  20. RoyM

    RoyM Stunt Coordinator

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    Surprised no one mentioned Lang's Die Nibelungen or either of Griffith's masterpieces, Intolerance and Birth of a Nation. Maybe they're just too obvious.

    Also, looking forward to The Big Parade and Greed which are heavily rumored for 2006 release.
     

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