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Silent Era Films on Home Video
Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
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We’re in the Movies
Palace of Silents &
Itinerant Filmmaking

(1914-2010)

 

This collection features two documentaries that look at do-it-yourself cinema in different ways, When You Wore a Tulip and I Wore a Big Red Rose (1983) and Palace of Silents: The Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles (2010).

Palace of Silents: The Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles (2010) focuses on the 150-seat movie theater on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles that, for more than 68 years, has sustained itself through the exhibition of silent films. Well known to silent film buffs, the Silent Movie Theater was built in 1942 by film collectors John and Dorothy Hampton to lovingly present silent films to the public while Hollywood studios across town were systematically destroying their nitrate print holdings. Throughout the theater’s history, its owners and employees struggled to keep silent film alive and relevant. The film documents the heavy toll in personal tragedies that have sprung from these struggles: obscurity, financial ruin, and even tragic murder.

The Lumberjack (1914), shot in Wausau by itinerant filmmakers, is the oldest film shot in Wisconsin that has survived in its original form. Enacted by members of the city’s leading families, the romance is played before a backdrop of the city’s lumber mills. In the early 1980s, documentary filmmaker Stephen Schaller was instrumental in the rediscovery and restoration of The Lumberjack. Schaller’s fragmented and jumbled film When You Wore a Tulip and I Wore a Big Red Rose (1983) nonetheless takes a valuable look at the making and recovery of The Lumberjack, and features interviews with the lone surviving cast member and with relatives of other cast members of the film. Schaller’s film also reveals the accidental death of one of The Lumberjack’s cameramen during production.

Our Southern Mountaineers (1918) and In the Moonshine Country (1918) are both short documentary productions released by the Bray Studios through Paramount Pictures Corporation.

coverFlicker Alley
2014 Blu-ray Disc / DVD edition

We’re in the Movies: Palace of Silents & Itinerant Filmmaking (1914-2014), color, color-tinted black & white and black & white, 217 minutes, not rated,
with The Lumberjack (1914), black & white, 16 minutes, not rated, Our Southern Mountaineers (1918), color-tinted black & white, 5 minutes, not rated, In the Moonshine Country (1918), color-tinted black & white, 3 minutes, not rated, Huntingdon’s Hero (1934), black & white, 20 minutes, not rated, The Kidnappers’ Foil (1937), black & white, 17 minutes, not rated, Mountain Life (193?), color and black & white, 5 minutes, not rated, When You Wore a Tulip and I Wore a Big Red Rose (1983), black & white, 65 minutes, not rated, and Palace of Silents: The Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles (2010), color and black & white, 77 minutes, not rated.

Flicker Alley, FA0036, UPC 6-17311-67869-1, ISBN 1-893967-86-7.
Pillarboxed and full-frame 16:9 AVCHD MPEG-4 format, one single-sided, dual-layered Blu-ray Disc, Regions ABC, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, and full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-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, $39.95.
Release date: 22 July 2014.
Country of origin: USA

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

This collection of modern documentaries and short silent era films has been transferred in high-definition from original nitrate or from preservation materials in their original gauge format of 35mm, 28mm or 16mm film and contains three silent era short films.

The Lumberjack (1914) has been transferred from 35mm preservation materials held by the Wisconsin Center for Theatre and Film Research.

Our Southern Mountaineers (1918) and In the Moonshine Country (1918) are both presented in their original color-tints from 28mm prints recently preserved with financial assistance of the National Film Preservation Foundation.

While silent, the film entitled Mountain Life is a collection of footage shot in the sound era by an unknown filmmaker on 16mm Kodachrome color film at sometime in the late 1930s or early 1940s.

The foregoing films feature musical accompaniment by The Ragtime Skedaddlers.

The supplemental materials include a 12-page booklet with an essay by David Shepard and reminiscences of the Silent Movie Theater by David John Slaughter. Also included are two sound films, Huntingdon’s Hero (1934), a local talent film made in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and a newly-restored, 2012 selection for the National Film Registry, Melton Barker’s The Kidnappers’ Foil (1937), which features a local troupe of children from Corsicana, Texas enacting a story of child abduction and escape.

The local talent films are presented courtesy of the Wisconsin Center for Theatre and Film Research, the Academy Film Archive, and the Tennessee Archive of Moving Images and Sound.

Our preliminary look at the collection gives us good reason to recommend this dual disc edition to those interested in some or all of its subject matter.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Regions ABC Blu-ray Disc / Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Regions ABC Blu-ray Disc / Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca.
Other silent era-related DOCUMENTARIES available on home video.
 
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