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The Chaplin Collection (Warner and M2K): reactions?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Bill Burns, Jun 29, 2003.

  1. Derek_McL

    Derek_McL Second Unit

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    I've only got the City Lights and Modern Times' Images but all the same I'm glad I've got them. It will interesting to see what the PAL versions are like and pray we here in the UK get all the extras. The blurring might disappear and it seams more prevalent in The Great Dictator than in Modern Times. I know pausing an image intensifies it but that shot of Chaplin and Billy Gilbert looks absolutely awful.

    More worrying though as the reviewer indicates is this same weird boosting of the contrast reducing the detail in Paulette Goddard's hair (in Modern Times) and now also in Charlie's coat in the plane and there is also slightly less image in the Warner version. I think I can probably live with that as long as we get all the extras. September 22nd or soon after is going to be an expensive time for me what with all the Chaplins making their UK Region 2 bow then. I think I'm sure to purchase The Gold Rush and The Great Dictator more than likely also The Kid, Monsieur Verdoux and Limelight. Not too bothered about the rest but I believe you need to buy them all to get Richard Schickel's new documentary. Sorry no sale.
     
  2. James_M

    James_M Stunt Coordinator

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    I think Gold Rush is the only one I really liked but I still respect the others. The funniest thing in Limelight was when Chaplin smacked that girl when she faked that she couldn't use her legs. So unPC.
     
  3. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Is the missing watch the result of PAL->NTSC transfer, or excessive use of DVNR? There seems to be a lot of texture missing in the Warner screengrab, but I'm having trouble identifying the exact cause. Are the adjacent frames better (which would indicate PAL->NTSC as the culprit)?
     
  4. Sean~J

    Sean~J Auditioning

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    Hello All

    Can someone report on what the quality is on the Chaplin collections of both Mutual Volumes (1-3) and Essanay Volumes(1-3)?

    Also (I know its off topic, but since some of talk is about silent movies in general) I once read that D.W. Griffith had original wanted his movie Intolerance to be around 8 hours long, is this true, and if so what is likelihood of that version one day making it to DVD? Granted that majority of the cut film probably has decayed by now.

    Sean Jones

    My DVD Collection
     
  5. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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  6. Roderick Gauci

    Roderick Gauci Stunt Coordinator

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    Quote (originally posted by Derek_McL):

    “Right that's enough analysis, now Roderick you're starting to almost rival Bill with your informative post on the silents in your collection. No mention of Joan the Woman though ! Seriously you've quite a few discs there to watch/order/pre-order etc.

    A few points: the Harold Lloyd short you mention Haunted Spooks is also available on The Slapstick Encyclopedia a must purchase for all fans of silent comedy. There is another Lloyd short there Get Out and Get Under which is quite entertaining and he also makes a guest appearance in the Our Gang film Dogs of War filmed on the set of Why Worry?.

    Thanks Bill and Roderick. The Linder disc looks good but as Bill says in that other thread pity it duplicates the condensation of Be My Wife on Slapstick Encyclopedia also one of the included shorts is already available on the Landmarks/Movies Begin sets. Still I love silent comedy so that will go on my list of must buys. Its going to be an expensive autumn/winter,I think I better start saving up ! Sorry Oscar I'm not going to see Die Nubulungen I'm just not a big Fritz Lang fan.”

    Derek,

    Thank you indeed for comparing me to the eminent Bill Burns but, why the “almost”? Just joking, of course. Even so, there are a couple of other people here on HTF whose posts regarding Silent movies I always look forward to, and those would be Patrick McCart and Mark Zimmer (whose knowledgeable reviews on the “Digitally Obsessed” website of several of the Image and Kino Silent DVDs are always worth reading).

    It’s good to know that there are other Harold Lloyd shorts available on DVD. Even if I DO love Silent comedy and Image’s 5-Disc Set of SLAPSTICK ENCYCLOPEDIA is the most appealing one for me among all the other Box Sets mentioned here, I’m a little wary of shelling out over $50 on what is partly a blind purchase and probably a mixed bag! I may be totally wrong in this, of course, but this is actually why I have none of the Silent film DVD compilations yet…but I might get there, someday! Oh, and unfortunately, the Image DVD of Cecil B. DeMille's JOAN THE WOMAN (1916) is still within the ranks of my "DVDs To Buy" list...as is the Kino double-feature disc of THE CHEAT (1915)/MANSLAUGHTER (1922)!

    Derek, I’m surprised to learn about how you feel towards the films of Fritz Lang. While the consensus is generally divided as to whether he made his greatest films in Germany or the U.S., he did make various great and highly influential Silent/early Talkie films: DESTINY (1921; credited with “inspring” both Alfred Hitchcock and Luis Bunuel – my all-time favorite film director – in “choosing” their profession; available on DVD from Image); the two-part DR. MABUSE: THE GAMBLER (1922; which prefigures all subsequent crime and espionage movies); another two-parter DIE NIBELUNGEN (1924; a veritable epic, in every sense of the word); METROPOLIS (1926; a colossal production and an undeniable influence on Universal’s subsequent horror cycle and Sci-Fi films in general); M (1931; a clear influence on Hitchcock’s PSYCHO [1960] and, in my opinion, not only Lang’s greatest film but one of the greatest ever made, period), etc. I have yet to watch THE SPIDERS (1919; available on DVD from Image) SPIES (1928), THE WOMAN IN THE MOON (1929), THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE (1933; the shorter US cut is available as a supplement on All Day Entertainment’s SE DVD of its 1962 remake, but I’m hoping the complete version will eventually make it onto an official DVD release) and LILIOM (1934; a future Kino release, and Lang’s only French-language movie).


    Quote (originally posted by Oscar Merkx):

    “Roderick

    what an impressive log list of silent pictures to go through.

    I will print out your long list of suggestionas and try and hunt some of them down”

    Oscar,

    I’m glad you found my post helpful. While my list wasn’t meant to be a definitive one with regards to the worthwhile DVD editions currently available of Silent films, I do think that there are several essential films (and discs) in there…and I’m not saying this just because I’ve got them already!


    Quote (originally posted by Bill Burns):

    “Roderick: there are many wonderful titles in your post (how could I have forgotten David Shepard's wonderful restoration of The Lost World?), and thanks for the kind words, by the way. Among your list of exciting upcoming DVDs, allow me to add two that have just been announced by Kino:

    (I'll use an Amazon link for the first, as the titles don't seem to be up yet at DVDEmpire, but even Amazon doesn't seem to have the second listed)

    1. Assunta Spina
    2. The Holy Mountain*

    While Kino's site is designed in such a way that individual pages cannot be linked (at least I can't seem to link them), if you go to their main page, Kino International, and click on "Kino on Video Catalogue," the announcement of these titles is currently at the top of the list that link generates. Clicking on their titles from here will take you to further info -- and Derek, FYI, the first is an Italian silent, but I'm not sure if it qualifies as an epic. I've yet to see either, but they sound absolutely fascinating.

    *Update: I believe I've found it at Amazon, under its German title: Der heilige Berg. I don't speak German, so if I'm wrong, please correct me, but I think this is The Holy Mountain. Kino's release features the English title on the cover, but Amazon has been known to do this on other foreign releases, which of course makes it more difficult for English-speaking fans to locate them on the site. Odd.”

    You may have forgotten to mention THE LOST WORLD (1925), Bill, but I have committed a greater sin in failing to mention Kino’s upcoming DVD of Paul Leni’s THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928) which had always been a sort of a “holy grail” for me!

    I know about the two upcoming Kino titles you’ve mentioned although I’ve watched neither of them. Incidentally, an Italian TV channel recently showed ASSUNTA SPINA (1914) – VERY late at night, naturally – but I missed out on it because I had never heard of it and Kino hadn’t announced it yet! I’ve only watched one film of Leni Riefenstahl’s so far – the two-part OLYMPIA (1938) – but I’ve heard of her famed “mountain” films back in the days when she was an actress. I’m not yet sure whether I’ll eventually purchase them but, I guess, it all depends on how positive the reviews for these two discs will be!

    By the way, will anyone be picking up Image's DVD of Raymond Bernard's THE CHESS PLAYER (1927) which streets on 07/29? Although it will be a blind purchase for me, I have already pre-ordered it based on the recommendations of Milestone Film's own Dennis Doros and a couple of enticing clips I caught of it in a documentary on Silent films recently shown on local TV entitled "Nickelodeon":


    http://groups.google.com/groups?q=th...aol.com&rnum=2
     
  7. Derek_McL

    Derek_McL Second Unit

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    The Essanays look excellent for movies made in 1915 probably as good as they are ever likely to look. I remember reading an interview with David Shepard who said that it was huge job of restoration recreating the proper versions of these films because sequences had been mislaid and many incomplete versions existed. He had to combine prints from many different sources but generally they are in great shape.

    The Mutuals are alright but I was a little disappointed by them after the Essanays. They still look fine though and both sets are now combined in one large boxset which is great for those who don't already own any of the films.

    As for Griffith he did indeed shoot a lot of film on Intolerance. As Bill said there isn't a definitive version : the prints on the Image and Kino DVD seem to be slightly different cuts. There may well be some extra footage somewhere (a limited amount I would think) but an 8 hour version is sadly now unlikely to exist.

    According to "Hollywood - The Pioneers" the book based on the great Kevin Brownlow/David Gill TV series the rough cut was indeed 8 hours. I would think this is a pretty reliable source. I also seem to recall Lillian Gish offering the opinion at some point that Griffith ruined the film by cutting too much and baffling the audience with frenzied intercutting.

    If only someone could come across this footage I would love to see it on DVD but the fact that the majority of all released silent features have now turned to dust doesn't offer up much hope.
     
  8. Derek_McL

    Derek_McL Second Unit

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    Roderick your post appeared just before I finished my last one. I didn't really mean to single out anyone or even two people : I think this has been a great thread all the way through with many people offering interesting info and asking pertinent questions. I'm also a big fan of Mark's excellent reviews of silent DVDs on the Digitally Obsessed website. Have you seen his comprehensive one of the Slapstick Encyclopedia set ?

    As for Lang I didn't say I didn't like his work just that I'm not a huge fan. To be fair I haven't seen a lot of his films and am not as clued up on the European silents as the American ones. I have seen Metropolis which I didn't particularly like but I do enjoy some of Lang's later film noirs/thrillers like Fury and Scarlet Street. I like those type of films and love Hitchcock's work so maybe M would be obvious one to track down.

    I'll see but there is so many films I like and want to get on DVD which aren't blind purchases. Dr Mabuse and Die Nibelungen are just a bit expensive to be bought blind. So many films,so little time and I'm afraid not enough money ! But I respect your views and I'll give them another look and if lots of folk here start recommending them I might just change my mind !
     
  9. Mark_vdH

    Mark_vdH Screenwriter

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    Well, I don't particularly care too much for Metropolis either (though I'm already owning my third dvd of it [​IMG] ): Great style and an interesting depiction of the future, but the acting and the story line put me off a little.....

    But I do like M (wait for the R2 2 disc restored SE if possible), Die Nibelungen (I like Siegfried much more than Kriemheld's Revenge though) and The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse (not properly released on dvd yet, I believe) very much.

    I've never seen Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler though. Is that 2 disc set recommended?
     
  10. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    A quick update for Derek: I've just watched the first twenty minutes of Intolerance again, in its Kino edition, and the score is indeed comprised of multiple instruments. Joseph Turrin's written comments in the supplements section say that he composed the score in the Summer of 2002, and the instruments for which it is designed are, in his words, "winds, piano, harp, and strings." In that first twenty minutes or so I was able to clearly identify violins and a piano, possibly a harpsichord or other "tinny" string, winds of some sort -- I believe trumpets at the beginning of the first French segment? -- and a few intriguing portions of music whose instrument I could not identify. Suffice it to say, though -- multiple instruments are the name of the game. [​IMG] Unfortunately, I confirmed what I recalled earlier -- it's recorded to the left channel alone, with the right decoding but containing nothing (if subsequent pressings have fixed this, I haven't heard a word about it; my copy of the entire box was pre-ordered prior to the release, so I presume I have a disc from the first pressing). This reminds me of reviews I've read for some series of "Drive-In" discs or another, where one audio option was to isolate the soundtrack into the left speaker to approximate the sensation of sitting in a drive-in with a mono speaker attached to your windshield. [​IMG] While I'm sure many theaters had their pianos (or perhaps even orchestral pits for a few larger theaters) to the left of the screen in the silent days, I doubt this was always the case (particularly for orchestras, which I'd expect to find in the center of the stage/screen), and even if it were ... this isn't a period score! It's brand new, and should at least offer a true stereo or stereo surround option, if by some off chance the "left speaker only" business is intentional.

    Happily, though, as I said, forcing the receiver into artificial surround spreads the music to four speakers and makes for a more pleasing and transparent viewing experience. The bass and other instruments lack much of their oomph, thanks to the fact that you're driving four (or five if anything bleeds into the center) speakers with a signal only meant for one, but with the volume cranked up and a bit of artificial bass management, it works well enough. The score itself is very pleasing to my ear -- considered and quite beautiful.

    Roderick: The Man Who Laughs is the big "Halloween surprise" Kino promised a couple of newsletters back, isn't it? I think I received a newsletter naming it just a week or two ago. I've never seen the picture, but I've always appreciated the work of Conrad Veidt. WB's rumored to have Lon Chaney pictures on the way in late October, as well. Later this month, along with The Chess Player from Milestone/Image (which I'm tempted to pre-order, but it would be a blind buy for me as well -- still, as a Brownlow restoration, quality promises to be top notch; I only hope they've used native NTSC, as Brownlow's restoration of The Iron Mask, as I've mentioned, is a by and large superlative transfer available from Kino, but remains marred by the motion blur I'd associate with PAL-NTSC), Kino has their "Classics from the Studio Vault" release -- It Happened Tomorrow (1944) I may have seen on cable, but aside from that these are new to me; I've loved Criterion's two Douglas Sirk films, particularly Written on the Wind (and here we've just lost Robert Stack [​IMG]), and indeed Kino's own copy of Sirk's Lured, so A Scandal in Paris is also tempting; the other two discs in the "Studio Vault" bunch are They Made Me a Fugitive and a double feature of St. Martin's Lane (with a young Vivien Leigh) and Wings of the Morning (with Henry Fonda), but I'm tempted to wait for reviews on the last title (possibly all of them, but certainly the last) given that Wings of the Morning is Britain's first Technicolor feature, and after the reported troubles with Image's Under Capricorn, I'll want to be certain they've done right by the color and detail before investing (I'm always a bit suspicious when the box and/or publisher makes no mention of the elements or transfer methodology used for a disc whose film elements would obviously require particular care).

    As if these weren't enough (hey, no complaints here -- the more the merrier for all film enthusiasts), two boxed sets of restored Sherlock Holmes films (ten in all, with two more reportedly coming later), starring Basil Rathbone, are reportedly coming later this year, two seasons of the Dick Van Dyke Show are rumored (or have they been confirmed?), the first big set of Looney Tunes is destined to arrive, another slew of Disney Treasures titles arrives in December ... and that doesn't account for all of the "modern classics," such as the big four disc release of The Two Towers, the Indiana Jones box (announced), a new Alien Quadrilogy set (not yet announced) ... so many movies and shows, it boggles the mind! My wallet weeps, but my heart sings.

    That reminds me: I watched Kino's It again last night, after a couple of years on the shelf, and realized why we should all be longing for the Brownlow restoration from Milestone. [​IMG] Kino gets the job done, but their presentation of Paul Killiam elements remains decidedly fuzzy and "flat," with only close-ups of Ms. Bow looking very good at all. Frame damage and a speed that looks, in some scenes, a bit fast to my eye all add up to ... well, hopes for a better edition, which I'm sure Milestone will provide with the as-yet-unscheduled Brownlow restoration (it's one of the bunch of Brownlow films Milestone has acquired for distribution; I don't have the list in front of me, but it includes this, The Chess Player as discussed earlier, The Phantom of the Opera, La Terre, and possibly one or two more?). Kino's It wasn't as pleasing as it seemed when I first watched it (what two years of quality silents on DVD will do for an opinion! [​IMG]), but the documentary (what a sad, melancholy piece of work this doc is!), produced by Hugh Hefner, offers many intriguing clips from a slew of surviving Bow pictures ... including Wings, which of course we all hope WB has planned for the not too distant future under the same label that'll bring us the Chaneys.

    Oh, and I also watched The Matinee Idol again (it was a grand movie night), and was struck by just how glorious this film looks. Once thought lost, Columbia (in conjunction with a couple of other organizations) has fully restored it (I didn't watch the documentary again, but either there or elsewhere, at the time of its release, I recall mention of a full 2K restoration by their Sony High Definition Imaging facilities, and indeed those facilities are among the restoration credits at the end of the picture); I've mentioned before that this was the first studio silent to appear on DVD from a major studio, and of course it appeared early in the format as well -- so a hearty congratulations to Columbia, both for bringing it out early and bringing it out in such phenomenal shape. I laughed myself silly watching it again, much more so than I've laughed at many silent comedies, or comedies in general -- Frank Capra, who directed it, has a marvelous eye for visual humor. Very highly recommended for those who don't yet own it.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled silent programming.
     
  11. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  12. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    Thanks, Damin. I had no idea (I wish the major DVD review sites would cover this sort of thing a bit more carefully, and Kino might consider saying something about it on their Intolerance page, of course -- Criterion, as an example, lists known disc problems and fixes on their website; if Kino does so, I haven't found it). I was happy enough with it as it stands, but a corrected replacement will be most welcome (and kudos, as they say, to Kino for fixing the issue, of course [​IMG] ). If I was a bit more confrontational, I'd have probably e-mailed them with a complaint and learned this long ago. I must learn not to settle ....
     
  13. Mark_vdH

    Mark_vdH Screenwriter

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    I ordered my copy of the box a few months after release (shipped on 3/10), and it already contained the corrected version of Intolerance. The strange thing is - or maybe this has something to do with the "hasty" correction - that my copy of Intolerance was missing its insert.
     
  14. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    Mark and Damin: something occurred to me last night as an "off chance," as I thought this over -- Mark in particular, given that your box set arrived with the corrected Intolerance: is your copy of Orphans of the Storm tinted or untinted?

    My copy is entirely untinted, and this is strange for three reasons:

    1. It appears to be derived from the same or similar elements used for the Image edition, which is tinted throughout (the only notable difference I uncovered was the "fix" of a brief segment of repeated footage found in the Image edition; I assume this could have been done at the tape stage, rather than film, as I'd be surprised if the repeated footage was cut that way into any film prints).

    2. It's the only feature in the set that is not tinted.

    3. And, most telling of all, the scene selection menu on Kino's disc has tints for a number of the segments (I'm unsure how many)! But when you select them, of course, the scene as it appears in the film is untinted.

    My only real criticism of the set, aside from the now fixed audio issue on Intolerance, is the lack of tinting on Orphans of the Storm; as I've mentioned earlier on the thread, the Image edition goes into some detail in its liner notes about the bold tints and colored floodlights Griffith used to present the picture at its premiere. It's obviously intended for tinting. If Kino omitted this by error, rather than intent, is it possible they've also corrected this disc? Any info would be much appreciated, as a tinted Orphans would make this set one of the best on the market.
     
  15. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    Oh yes, and a quick note to Gary Tooze: these comparisons for the Chaplins you've posted are terrific. If I may, one comparison I've been very eager to hear from any source, but as yet haven't found either in writing or with screen captures, is the distinction between Image's Foolish Wives and the recent Kino edition of the same. This notoriously butchered silent epic (what was Stroheim's rough cut? Six hours? Eight? Ten? Some tremendous running time) has probably been restored about as extensively, in terms of footage, as we'll see, but any differences in the cut, and particularly any differences in image quality, would be of great interest. I know Kino's includes supplements not found on the Image, but without an improvement in the quality of the film's presentation, I don't believe I'll buy the new edition.

    Your website remains a terrific resource. Thanks again for the Chaplin input. [​IMG]
     
  16. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

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  17. Mark_vdH

    Mark_vdH Screenwriter

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    Bill:

    Orphans Of The Storm is untinted in my set.

    I don't think it's an authoring error of some kind, because if you look closely at the back cover, you can see the movie is designated (is that the right word?) as being in B&W, while the tinted titles are designated as color tinted on their respective back covers.

     
  18. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    Oh sure -- it's still a great picture, with or without tints. And the Kino edition fixes the duplicate material found on the Image release. They do, in the process, introduce what looks like a video mastering glitch to two or three frames of the film (during a sequence I won't describe lest I spoil any plot details for you), but it's scarcely noticeable without freeze framing. I checked the Image, and it's not on there's. So Kino fixes the Image problem, but removes the tints and introduces a brief glitch. I just don't know which to recommend. [​IMG]

    I've wavered back and forth about this for a while. I gave away my copy of the Image when I ordered the Kino, but still have access to it and may try to engage in a swap (the other individual isn't as keen on silent fidelity as I am). If not, I may repurchase it. I haven't decided yet. I like Kino's keepcase (the Image edition is in a snapper), but I like Image's liner notes. I like Image's tinting (which the liner notes detail to be in keeping with the film's original release, though they don't specifically claim that their tint choices are exact to that release, if I recall), but I like the continuity of Kino's edition, which fixes about thirty seconds of repeated material found late in the picture on Image's edition. I'd say ... go with either if you're not ready to buy both. Since you have the Kino, by all means watch it.

    And hey, if the box is wrong and it's tinted, be sure to let me know! [​IMG] My copy of Intolerance says Stereo right on the front, but of course it's mono (I've just written Kino, so we'll see how easily the replacement comes about), so the folks who write up the box description aren't always right in line with the folks encoding the discs. I always cling to tenuous hopes when solid hopes prove elusive. If those tenuous hopes break, this might be a good topic for Kino feedback, at any rate. Meantime, I'll continue my internal struggle over whether or not to revert to the Image (perhaps while keeping the Kino case), as shelf space is making it more and more difficult to own two copies of very many films, and I already have two of Intolerance (for reasons mentioned earlier -- I actually had four, but the first two have been evicted).
     
  19. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    hi folks

    just a quick update for htf members who live in Scotland & and the rest of the world.

    Aug 16 Edinburgh Film Festival

    Charlie : The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin

    a documentary by Richard Schickel who will also be present to discuss the film.

    this sounds awesome, isn't Schickel doing audio commentaries on various DVDs such as Once Upon a Time in America & others

    Aug 17 Edinburgh Film Festival

    The Great Dictator

    [​IMG]
     
  20. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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