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Upcoming Early Films on DVD (1 Viewer)

Randy A Salas

Screenwriter
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Apr 25, 2002
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I recently interviewed historic-film producer David Shepard for a short article about Slapstick Encyclopedia. I asked him what films he's working on for future DVD release. Here is what he said, from tomorrow's edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

David Shepard, producer of the wonderful "Slapstick Encyclopedia" and other historic-film DVDs, said recently that he is working on eventual releases of director Billy Wilder's first feature, 1934's "Mauvaise Graine," and a collection of 12 shorts made by Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle from 1917 to 1920. His other DVD projects include "The Childhood of Maxim Gorky," a 1938 Soviet film; the 1935 version of "Scrooge" with Seymour Hicks; the anthology "Before Hollywood, There Was Fort Lee, New Jersey"; two Lon Chaney double features; a Max Linder anthology; Aleksandr Dovzhenko's 1928 film "Arsenal"; and two religious silents, Ferdinand Zecca's [hand-colored] "Passion Play" (1905) and Sidney Olcott's "From the Manger to the Cross" (1912).
There are two or three other titles that I could not include in the paper due to space constraints. I can post those here once I have access to my work email account. Shepard did not indicate when any of these titles will be available.

I hope this is of interest to early-film fans.
 

Roderick Gauci

Stunt Coordinator
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Mar 3, 2002
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Thanks Randy for sharing some of the projects on which the eminent David Shepherd is currently working on. From the films you mention, I am particularly interested in:

1)I am glad that I have held out from buying the present two DVDs from Kino On Video featuring 10 of the shorts made by Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton between 1917-20. It seems that since they were released about a year ago, two more shorts which had been thought lost have resurfaced and are apparently being included in this upcoming collection. Well done to all concerned for making this important but little-seen part of the Buster Keaton legacy available for home viewing.

2)I have never been able to watch any of Max Linder’s work. He is a tragic figure who in his time was considered the equal of Keaton, Lloyd and Chaplin. There is no mention as to what the upcoming Max Linder Anthology may include, but I wish his own daughter’s compilation film LAUGH WITH MAX LINDER (1963) would also be considered for an eventual DVD release.

3)Although I have yet to buy the other Lon Chaney double-feature OUTSIDE THE LAW (1920)/SHADOWS (1922), I am the proud possessor of Kino On Video’s superb Deluxe Collector’s Edition of Wallace Worsley’s THE PENALTY (1920). I am also eagerly awaiting Kino’s version of his most famous vehicles, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923) and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925). So, therefore, any more Lon Chaney DVD would be very welcome in my book. Although I have never watched NOMADS OF THE NORTH (1920) or THE SHOCK (1923), the latter sounds promising enough – it was directed by Lambert Hillyer, who directed, among many others, the excellent DRACULA’S DAUGHTER and THE INVISIBLE RAY (both 1936) with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Would you care to divulge the contents of the second proposed Lon Chaney double-feature DVD?

4)Alexandr Dovzhenko’s ARSENAL (1929) should make a suitable companion piece to Image Entertainment’s earlier Dovzhenko DVD, EARTH (1930), which came very close to becoming part of my collection but got side-tracked by more alluring Special Edition DVDs. However, now that more Dovzhenko is on its way, there is no reason to hold back. Indeed I would also welcome a DVD of ZVENIGORA (1928), IVAN (1932), AEROGRAD (1935) and SHCHORS (1939). They might even be packaged as double-feature discs due to the scarce possibilities for supplementary features.

5)Mark Donskoi’s THE CHILDHOOD OF MAXIM GORKY (1938) is the first part of a celebrated trilogy about the famous Russian writer. Although there has been no mention yet in the Image Entertainment website of a DVD release, I suppose that the last two parts, MY APPRENTICESHIP (1939) and MY UNIVERSITIES (1940), are to follow soon after. Is it possible then that the 3 films be released as a Box Set, considering that it is highly unlikely that anyone would buy anything less than the entire trilogy? Anyway, now I am glad that I have resisted buying them on PAL VHS a couple of years ago.

The rest of the films mentioned also have considerable historical (and curiosity) value, especially Sidney Olcott’s religious pageant FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS (1912), Billy Wilder’s MAUVAISE GRAINE (1934) and SCROOGE (1935).

God bless enterprising producers like David Shepherd who work so hard in saving these priceless films from the ravages of time and obscurity and preserving them for generations to come. Thank God for the DVD format which is giving us film lovers the opportunity to experience these early treasures of world cinema – in most cases, for the very first time.

Coincidentally, I have just received today the end result of another of David Shepherd’s remarkable achievements: the superbly restored DVD edition of THE LOST WORLD (1925). Can’t wait to watch it!
 

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