Three Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg (1927-1928), black & white, 244 minutes total, not rated,
including Underworld (1927), black & white, 81 minutes, not rated.
The Criterion Collection, CC1911D (spine number 528), UPC 7-15515-05951-0.
Three single-sided, dual-layered, Region 1NTSC DVD discs, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) progressive? scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 17 chapter stops; three plastic trays on three cardboard wraps in cardboard slipcase with 96-page booklet, $79.95.
Release date: 24 August 2010
Country of origin: USA
This edition of Underworld directed by Josef von Sternberg has been mastered from a very-good to excellent 35mm source print.
The collection’s supplemental material includes visual essays by UCLA film professor Janet Bergstrom and film scholar Tag Gallagher, a 1968 Swedish television interview with Sternberg, and a 96-page booklet featuring the original film treatment for Underworld by Ben Hecht, essays by film critic Geoffrey O’Brien, film scholar Anton Kaes, and author Luc Sante, and an excerpt on actor Emil Jannings from Sternberg’s autobiography, Fun in a Chinese Laundry.
Hands down, this is our recommended home video edition of Underworld.
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
Underworld (1927), color-toned black & white, 81 minutes, not rated.
eMoviez, unknown catalog number, no UPC number.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0NTSC DVD-R 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, 256 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 5 chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $19.99.
Release date: 2006
Country of origin: USA
This DVD-R edition has been mastered from a very-good 16mm reduction print. The full-frame video transfer is of higher quality than most small company DVD-R disc editions, with few signs of encoding compression (despite its low video bit rate) even in still frames. The source print is a bit contrasty, with dark, closed-up shadows, but otherwise features good picture detail and tonal range.
The presentation features what appears to be a custom music score tastefully performed on MIDI keyboards.
With the Criterion Collection edition noted above now being available, and while this edition filled a need when it was the sole DVD edition available, we recommend the Criterion edition instead of this passable edition.