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Silent Era Films on Home Video
Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2017 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
All Rights Reserved.

Blood and Sand
(1922)

 

Rudolph Valentino stars in his first blockbuster film since The Sheik (1921). His performance as Juan Gallardo, the hero of Vicente Blasco-Ibáñez’s bullfighting novel, is bright and moving. It is only when he must register emasculation that Valentino resorts to the hackneyed whipped-dog performance of averted eyes and drooped shoulders. A number times in the film the famous Valentino smile is present to sway audiences of adoring and swooning fans, even now as then.

Lovely Nita Naldi is her seductive best as Doña Sol, a dark beauty with her own dazzling smile and mysteriously beautiful eyes. Lila Lee is a pretty, virginal saint in her role as Carmen, Juan’s loving wife. Yeoman actor Leo White (of Charles Chaplin’s 1915 Essanay comedies) plays Juan’s sycophant brother-in-law, Antonio, with exaggerated and self-conscious hamminess.

The only character in the film that should have fallen under the editor’s scissors was the town philosopher, Don Joselito (Charles Belcher), a pompously moralizing twit (whose genesis was probably in the Ibáñez novel) who is the film’s unnecessary choral voice.

There is a moment in the film that is actually quite funny, and that is when Juan cannot figure out what Doña Sol’s servant is all about. Valentino’s reaction takes are to be savored.

The film itself is less a film about bullfighting and more a tragic love triangle story, a story consistent with the expectations of Valentino’s 1922 audience. — Carl Bennett

coverKino on Video
2001 DVD edition

Blood and Sand (1922), black & white and color-toned black & white, 94 minutes, not rated,
with Big Moments from Little Pictures (1924) [exerpts], black & white, 7 minutes, not rated.

Kino International, K214, UPC 3-83290-21429-9.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 4 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $29.95.
Release date: 9 October 2001.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 8 / audio: 9 / additional content: 7 / overall: 8.

Tremendous! That is how we describe this new edition of Rudolph Valentino in Blood and Sand (1922) in a word. The combination of a new video transfer of great source materials, with great music and extras, makes a great home video edition of one of the silent era’s perennially cherished films.

We had intended to compare this new Kino DVD edition to the old Kino laserdisc edition from 1991, but within the first ten minutes of the film there were so many shots and intertitles missing in the laserdisc edition (with one shot completely out of proper order) we threw up our hands in frustration! Instead, we chose to compare the Kino DVD to the fairly complete Paul Killiam print on the Republic Pictures Home Video laserdisc of 1991, with its blurry over-cropped image and muffled piano score performed by William Perry. The laserdisc editions from Kino and Republic were both transferred from what appear to be 16mm reduction prints.

This new video transfer from a 35mm negative has very-good to sometimes excellent image detail and a broad range of greytones, with light to moderate scuffing, speckling and other emulsion damage. At times apparent breaks in the filmstock and splices are visible for an instant. The DVD image is cropped a smidgen tighter than the old Kino laserdisc. The DVD transfer runs a little slower than that of both laserdiscs and is now closer to a natural pace. The negative is worn but the increased image detail over previous editions makes this new transfer quite watchable. Our reevaluation on high-definition equipment, upscaling the standard NTSC signal to full HD, reconfirms our original grading of the disc, with the standard definition video transfer just a little softer than a high-definition transfer (downscaled for DVD release) would have been.

This new Kino edition includes shots that are not in the Killiam/Republic edition. They are: an extended main credits shot complete with the Paramount logo over the bullfighter’s cape; the “We spread our capes for your amusement and most generous alms!” intertitle before the first bullfight; an extended sequence of shots at Carmen’s window when Juan gives her a pendant in the ‘Eating Iron’ scene; and the extended scene with Doña Sol before Juan goes downstairs to talk with Plumitas at Rinconada. The total additional footage may only last less than two minutes, but it is highly desirable to collectors and historians.

An extended sequence in the DVD edition, beginning after the “How fickle the world . . .” intertitle and finishing approximately with a shot of Juan snubbed by Doña Sol and another shot of Carmen praying, was — for some unknown reason — resequenced in the prints utilized for the laserdisc editions. Those shots of Carmen, Antonio and Don Joselito arriving at the arena were edited among later shots of Juan in the arena to intercut the action, creating a concurrent timeline between the actions of Juan and Carmen. This could be the surviving result of some reedited theatrical rerelease print from the 1920s. The shot order in the DVD edition of this sequence makes far more sense and (we think) accurately represents the editorial continuity of the original prints.

This new Kino edition features a fantastic music score compiled and arranged by Rodney Sauer. The contemporary score was performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and was well recorded in clear stereo sound in 2001. The score is in turns lively and somber, following the direction of the original 1922 musical cue sheets. Notes by Sauer lists information (title, composer and year of publication) about each composition utilized in the compiled score. Each piece of music selected was published before the film premiered, with the sole exception of an improvised guitar break accompanying Valentino’s flamenco dance. The musical performance is, overall, very pleasing and is another fine example of how silent film accompaniment should be handled on home video.

The disc supplements include an introduction by Orson Welles for Blood and Sand that has been cut together with an introduction from another Valentino film, both transferred from what appear to be 16mm prints and showing exerpts from Eyes of Youth (1919), The Eagle (1925), a Will Rogers parody of The Sheik and more; an original trailer for Blood and Sand; a Blood and Sand parody from Will Rogers’ Big Moments from Little Pictures (1924) from an excellent 35mm print with some quickly-passing decomposition; newsreel footage of Valentino’s funeral; an audio performance of the love theme to Blood and Sand, “You Gave Me Your Heart,” with vocal by Susan Rogers and piano by Rodney Sauer; a 1922 essay on Ibáñez and his novel Sangre y Arena by Isaac Goldberg (which we think is set in a type size that is a little small for televisions); a couple of items from Photoplay magazine of “dubious authenticity” collected under the title “Valentino ‘Speaks’”; and the notes on the compiled music score.

This DVD is such an improvement over previous home video editions of Blood and Sand on all fronts that we highly recommend this new edition to everyone.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Reel Enterprises
2006 DVD edition

Blood and Sand (1922), black & white, 90 minutes, not rated.

Reel Enterprises, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD-R disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $9.95.
Release date: 13 November 2006.
Country of origin: USA
This budget DVD-R edition has likely been mastered from 16mm reduction print materials.

The film is likely accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Passport Video
2009 DVD edition

The Rudolph Valentino Collection: 5 Fabulous Films (1918-1925), black & white, 420 minutes total, not rated,
including Blood and Sand (1922), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Passport Video, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, three single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, five-disc DVD keepcase, $19.98.
Release date: 11 August 2009.
Country of origin: USA
This three-disc collection of Rudolph Valentino films may have been mastered from 16mm reduction prints.

All of the films in the collection have previously appeared on DVD in high-quality editions.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Alpha Video
2004 DVD edition

Blood and Sand (1922), black & white, 78 minutes, not rated.

Alpha Video, ALP 4501D, UPC 0-89218-45019-7.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 5.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 6 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $6.98.
Release date: 28 September 2004.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 4 / audio: 5 / additional content: 0 / overall: 4.

This budget edition of Blood and Sand has been transferred full-frame at a natural speed from a 16mm reduction print, that is in turns reasonably clear then highly-speckled, flat then contrasty. Also evident in the soft print is a light amount of frame jitters, dust, scratches and emulsion scuffing. This source print is identical in its reedited continuity to the print utilized for the laserdisc edition from Republic that is noted above. There is evidence that many of the available prints of the film originate from the same surviving nitrate print, and so have many common flaws.

The film is accompanied by a new music score performed on synthesizers by Paul David Bergel. A number of musical transitions follow scene changes and simply fade out, then starting another recording. Some of the music has apparently been composed for this film but the fade-out editing gives the score a generically compiled feeling. We, again, applaud low-budget home video producer Alpha Video for paying for any kind of custom music score to accompany their low-cost editions of silent films, but are disappointed that the results are not more engaging.

We do not recommend this edition since it pales in comparison to the Kino edition reviewed above. However, if you are collecting on a tight budget, this contrasty edition is marginally watchable.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Instant Vision
2003 DVD edition

Blood and Sand (1922), black & white, 109 minutes, BBFC Classification PG.

Instant Vision Limited, DVDIV061, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 PAL, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 2, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, £9.99.
Release date: 21 July 2003.
Country of origin: England
It is unknown what quality of materials have been utilized for this PAL British edition.

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 2 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
Synergy Entertainment
2008 DVD edition

Blood and Sand (1922), black & white, 80 minutes, not rated.

Synergy Entertainment, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $9.99.
Release date: 3 April 2008.
Country of origin: USA
This budget edition has likely been mastered from 16mm reduction print materials.

The film is likely accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Unidentified company
200? DVD edition

Blood and Sand (1922), black & white, 109 minutes, not rated.

Unidentified company, unknown catalog number, UPC 0-90328-30200-9.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, DTS and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, slimline DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
Release date: 200?.
Country of origin: USA?
This low-budget edition showed up for sale on eBay and is likely available at other low-cost retailers. Editions like this are often mastered from 16mm reduction prints. We suspect that the running time is overstated, and that the DTS and Dolby sound statements are just a come-on.
Other RUDOLPH VALENTINO films available on home video.
 
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