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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.

The Blot
(1921)

 

Director Lois Weber’s most-famous film, The Blot (1921), is a drama of small-town poverty in an academic family, and a star-crossed love triangle.

Coming on a little wolfish at first, carefree student Phil West (Louis Calhern) is smitten with a professor’s daughter, Amelia Griggs (Claire Windsor), all the while pursued himself by jealousy-blinded Juanita (Marie Walcamp). Amelia is not short on devotees, however. Not only has she caught Phil’s eye, she has captured the hearts of a young minister and the neighbor boy. The shame of a meagre existence tears at the Griggs family, but human nature rises and Phil comes to see his ne’er-do-well friends with different eyes as he becomes familiar with the humble, working-class people surrounding the Griggs family.

Weber’s story touches upon the hierarchy of status within class divisions, both humble and pretentious, while driving home the message that it is a blot on American society that teachers and clergy — those who feed our minds and souls — are so meagerly paid. While Weber focused on college teachers in the early 1920s, we feel she would today champion the under-paid elementary school teachers of America. — Carl Bennett

coverFlicker Alley
2017 Blu-ray Disc / DVD edition

Early Women Filmmakers: An International Anthology (1902-1943), black & white, 652 minutes total, not rated,
including The Blot (1921), black & white, 94 minutes, not rated.

Flicker Alley, FA0052, UPC 6-17311-68529-3.
Three single-sided, dual-layered, Region A Blu-ray Discs, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in pillarboxed 16:9 (1920 x 1080 pixels) progressive? scan AVCHD MPEG-4 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, DTS-HD Master Audio? 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; and three single-sided, dual-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD discs, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 14 chapter stops; two three-disc BD keepcases in cardboard slipcase, $69.99.
Release date: 9 May 2017.
Country of origin: USA

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

This dual-format edition has been mastered from a very-good 35mm print. There is a moderate amount of speckling and dust visible in the print and the overall grayscale range being a bit dark with gray highlights. The picture has not been digitally stabilized but the image is only moderately jittery and is rarely distracting. The high-definition video transfer (the Blu-ray Disc capture above) is excellent, rendering a filmlike image without overemphasizing film grain or, as in several early HD transfers, capturing the picture in contrasty black & white pixels that swarm about like so many hyperactive gnats. We certainly favor this form of HD scan for its smoother, filmlike picture and encourage home video producers to make these results their goal in future HD editions of silent era films.

The DVD edition (screen capture above) of The Blot in this collection is also very-good but, with the standard resolution of DVD and the dark transfer, the image looks a bit more like a 16mm reduction print picture than that of a 35mm print.

The film is accompanied by an excellent music score compiled by Rodney Sauer and performed with the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra — always appropriate to the film’s action and always entertaining.

The collection’s supplementary material includes informative and insightful audio commentary for The Blot by author and professor Shelley Stamp, and a booklet essay by film historian and Women Film Pioneers Project Manager, Kate Saccone.

Whether you prefer Blu-ray Disc or DVD for your home video collection, this is our recommended home video edition of The Blot.

 
USA: Click to order this Region A Blu-ray Disc and Region 1 DVD disc edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
 
Canada: Click to order Region A Blu-ray Disc and Region 1 DVD disc edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
 
United Kingdom: Click to order this Region A Blu-ray Disc and Region 1 DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Purchase supports Silent Era.
 
Click the button at right to order this dual-disc Region A Blu-ray Disc
and Region 1 DVD edition directly from Flicker Alley.
coverThe Milestone Collection
2003 DVD edition

The Blot (1921), black & white, 79 minutes, not rated.

Milestone Film & Video, distributed by Image Entertainment,
ID1968MLSDVD, UPC 0-14381-19682-5.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, 6 Mbps average video bit rate, 224 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 10 chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $24.99.
Release date: 9 December 2003.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 7 / audio: 7 / additional content: 5 / overall: 7.

This critically-acclaimed drama follows Lois Weber’s Too Wise Wives (1921) (which was released on the out-of-print The Origins of Film DVD boxset) onto DVD home video. The edition was prepared by the late David Gill and Kevin Brownlow of Photoplay Productions and features a new chamber orchestra music score composed and conducted by Jim Parker.

The video transfer for this edition has utilized the UCLA Film and Television Archive restoration print, which appears to be compiled from more than one source print — one appears to be a good 35mm print (coarse, a bit contrasty and well-worn), the other a very-good 35mm print (broad range of greytones but a little soft in image detail, possibly indicating a duplicate positive, and at times greyed out) which has been utilized for the majority of the presentation. A very few times, shadowy ghosts appear to the right of strong image highlights, as in the shot beginning at 25:24 into the disc and in some of the intertitles, which may indicate an older analog video master. In reevaluating the disc on high-definition equipment, we stand by original our grading of the video content.

Having seen the film before only in a shoddly-produced VHS edition, this Milestone release of The Blot is quite an improvement and is recommended as a record of the Photoplay Productions edition.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
This Region 1 NTSC DVD edition is also available directly from MILESTONE FILMS.
coverGrapevine Video
2012 DVD edition

The Blot (1921), black & white, 98 minutes, not rated.

Grapevine Video, no catalog number, unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD-R disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? 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, $14.95.
Release date: 14 April 2012.
Country of origin: USA
This public-domain edition has likely been mastered from a 16mm reduction print.

The film is accompanied by a theatre organ music score performed by David Knudtson.

 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition is available directly from GRAPEVINE VIDEO.
Other silent era LOIS WEBER films available on home video.

Other silent era films directed by WOMEN DIRECTORS.

 
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