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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2018 by Carl Bennett
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When Knighthood
Was in Flower

(1922)

 

This historical drama, directed by Robert G. Vignola, stars Marion Davies, Forrest Stanley and Lyn Harding, with support from William Powell, Pedro De Cordoba, Ernest Glendinning, Arthur Forrest, Ruth Shepley, Johnny Dooley, William Kent, Theresa Maxwell Conover, Charles Gerrard and Arthur Donaldson.

Feisty and fiery, the sister of King Henry VIII, Mary Tudor (Marion Davies) is determined not to be a queen for sale but to marry for love as she is smitten with a young gentleman of the court, Charles Brandon (Forrest Stanley). Yet, Henry (Lyn Harding) is determined to marry her to the ancient King Louis XII of France (William Norris).

As is to be expected, the couple encounter all manner of difficulties that impede their love. The conniving Duke of Buckingham (Pedro de Cordoba) is a familiar villain in this type of historical story, and nothing we haven’t seen before but, somehow, still deliciously evil.

The tall Pedro de Cordoba, here, looks to us like Rush’s drummer Neal Peart as he appeared in the 1970s, with his moustache and long hair. William Powell, in only his second film appearance, looks like an unsure actor who is searching for his sweet spot.

coverUndercrank Productions
2017 Blu-ray Disc / DVD edition

When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922), color-tinted black & white, color-tinted and color-toned black & white, and black & white, 115 minutes, not rated.

Undercrank Productions,
no catalog number, UPC 0-86547-02311-5.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 Blu-ray Disc (BD-R), 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, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 12 chapter stops; and 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) 29.97 frames-per-second interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, 6.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital AC3 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 12 chapter stops; two-disc standard BD keepcase, $19.95.
Release date: 25 July 2017.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 8 / audio: 8 / additional content: 0 / overall: 8.

This dual-format Blu-ray Disc / DVD edition has been mastered from a 2K high-definition video scan of 35mm nitrate print materials held by the Library of Congress. We are extremely fortunate in that this sole surviving complete print is of the original 12-reel roadshow version of the film. Additional material from Reel 3 was sourced from a print held by the Academy Film Archive (Michael Yakaitis collection).

The source material does have a usual examples of light dust, speckling, scrapes, the occasional brief vertical scratch, processing flaws and a fine patina of emulsion scuffing. Some mild image instability has been allowed to remain in the presentation. That being said, overall, the source material is in excellent condition and is a pleasure to view.

Most of the time, the picture is finely-detailed and filmlike in its reproduction of the broad range of greytones in the source material. Admirably, the bulk of the 2K scan avoids replication of the picture in the swarm of hard black dots that are sometimes seen in the high-definition transfers of other silent and classic era films found on recent Blu-ray Discs. However, there are sections of the Grammont the Soothsayer sequence that do have the picture rendered in the cited black dots.

Utilizing instructions found in the source material, color-tinting and color-toning has digitally added to the picture, with an approximation of the original Handschiegl hand-coloring process added on sections in the final reel. Overall, this is a fine example of how a classic film should be presented on Blu-ray Disc.

The DVD is presented in standard full-frame format (still frame above). While not as sharp as the Blu-ray Disc presentation, this DVD is still detailed and quite filmlike in its picture quality.

The film is presented with a newly-composed music score performed on virtual theater pipe organ by Ben Model. As always, we are pleased with the authentic-sounding emulation of classic theater organ tones and voices.

Where there is no supplementary material on this disc, this edition does feature a 16-page insert booklet with film notes by Lara Gabrielle Fowler.

Beyond a doubt, this is our recommended home video edition of the film. Kickstarter campaign backers received their copies late in June 2017; the dual-disc edition will be available beginning 25 July 2017 through Amazon.

 
USA: Click logomark to purchase this Region 0 BD-R / NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
coverSilent Hall of Fame Enterprises
2016 DVD edition

When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922), black & white, 132 minutes, not rated.

Silent Hall of Fame Enterprises, 23, no 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, PCM 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; clamshell CD case, $29.95.
Release date: 2016.
Country of origin: USA
This DVD+R edition has likely been mastered from a 16mm reduction print.

The film is likely presented with a music score compiled from preexisting orchestral recordings.

If the video quality is consistent with other discs home video editions produced by Alex Staykov, we think the cost is greater than the value of the video purchased. We recommend the Undercrank Productions edition noted above for its higher quality and its lower cost.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD+R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era MARION DAVIES films available on home video.

Other silent era WILLIAM POWELL films available on home video.

 
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