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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2017 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
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The
Joyless Street

(1925)

 

The Joyless Street (1925) is notable in the history of silent era film for a number of reasons. It is well-known as Greta Garbo’s final film in a brief European film career. Soon after this film was completed, Garbo was snapped up to star in films for MGM in Hollywood. It is a film that also distinguishes the early career of director G.W. Pabst, who would later direct an American actress who fled Hollywood to make films in Europe, Louise Brooks.

Thought to be politically inflamatory in content, the film was cut by German censors, and no print of the original German version survives. While more than 700 metres of the original film is presumed lost, the film was reconstructed by Filmmuseum München, produced by Jan-Christopher Horak, Gerhard Ullmann and Klaus Volkmer, reinstating subplots that were missing from the well-known short version prints of the film. — Carl Bennett

coverEdition Filmmuseum
2009 DVD edition

Die freudlose Gasse [The Joyless Street] (1925), black & white, 151 minutes, not rated.

Edition Filmmuseum, 48, UPC 4-260100-33048-3.
Two single-sided, dual-layered, Region 0 PAL DVD discs, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (? x ? pixels) interlaced? scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, German language intertitles, optional English language subtitles, chapter stops; two-disc standard DVD keepcase, €29.95.
Release date: October 2009 (reissued December 2009, reissued August 2010).
Country of origin: Germany
The reconstruction version by Filmmuseum München has been transfered to home video in this PAL DVD edition.

The film is accompanied by a music score for piano, violin and violoncello by Aljoscha Zimmermann.

The supplementary material includes Der andere Blick (1991, revised 2009, 111 minutes), Pabst wieder sehen (1997, 21 minutes), Outtakes and Intakes (1925, 14 minutes), sound document with memories of assistant director Mark Sorkin (49 minutes), screenplay drafts, shooting script and documents in DVD-ROM section, and a booklet with essays by Klaus Volkmer, Werner Sudendorf and Stefan Drössler.

This high-quality edition is recommended to all with a PAL disc player. North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
This Region 0 PAL DVD edition is available directly from EDITION FILMMUSEUM.
coverNavarre Corporation
2002 DVD edition

Triple Feature Drama Classics, Volume 7 (1921-1925), black & white and color-toned black & white, 198 minutes total, not rated,
including The Joyless Street (1925), color-toned black & white, 61 minutes, not rated.

Navarre Corporation, 1630, UPC 7-41027-16309-4.
One single-sided, dual-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, 3 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 6 chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $9.98.
Release date: 16 April 2002.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 4 / audio: 4 / additional content: 6 / overall: 4.

The video transfer utilizes a very-good but dark British 16mm reduction print that dates to the 1950s or 1960s. This color-toned print of The Joyless Street has previously appeared on home video in a cheap VHS edition from Madacy Entertainment. The print features a number of English language insert shots that possibly date to the 1920s. Some intertitles in the print are so dark that they are nearly unreadable. However, it must be noted that this is a heavily-edited print of The Joyless Street, although whether it was edited for its English language release or for the rerelease of the reduction print at hand is unknown. Several scenes and intertitles are missing, notably much of the story featuring the character portrayed by acting legend Asta Nielsen, which confuses the storyline.

While this is the least of the three prints featured on this disc, it remains at least watchable despite its truncated and dark self. The edition of The Joyless Street from Kino International on VHS and laserdisc, compiled from a number 35mm and 16mm prints, remains the best available on American home video. However, some of the 16mm footage in the print at hand is not as contrasty as some of the 16mm footage in the Kino edition. This is The Joyless Street’s first appearance on DVD home video.

The film is accompanied by a compilation of prerecorded Mozart orchestral recordings. No effort has been made to synchronize the recordings which randomly play through the film.

This edition of The Joyless Street is passable until some company releases a quality DVD edition of the film.

 
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.
coverSynergy Entertainment
2007 DVD edition

The Joyless Street (1925), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Synergy Entertainment, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD 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 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles?, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $9.99.
Release date: 20 September 2007.
Country of origin: USA
Well, this ain’t the quality edition of The Joyless Street that we have been waiting for.

The word around is that, despite the listed running time of 90 minutes, this edition runs just over an hour and may well be identical to the severely-edited edition noted above from a British 16mm reduction print.

 
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.
Other silent era GRETA GARBO films available on home video.

Other silent era G.W. PABST films available on home video.

Other ASTA NIELSEN films available on home video.

Other GERMAN FILMS of the silent era available on home video.
 
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