(2013/Anchor Bay DVD)/Oka!
(2011/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/William
Powell At Warner Bros.
(1931 - 1934/Warner Archive DVD Set)
B/C/B-/C+ Sound: B-/C+/B-/C+ Extras: B-/D/C-/C- Films:
DVD set is only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner
Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.
are a nice group of new dramas old and new...
(1925) is an epic intended to show the futility of war by being an
epic tale about WWI (running 151 minutes) is the story of a wealthy
man (John Gilbert in one of his most important roles) who goes to
fight in The Great War because he believes it is the right thing to
do and eventually finds more shock and horror than expected. It
takes a while for the silent film screenplay to even get tot he
battlefield because this is about the characters and in its time, was
considered a major achievement, helping to put (along with Ben-Hur)
the newly-formed MGM on the map. It worked and they became the #1
studio of the entire Classical Hollywood period.
is a sprawling, ambitious film, even by today's standards, but it has
dated in odd ways. It has some then-impressively well conceived
battle sequences, but they pal in comparison to other WWI films made
later, could only be so realistic for filmmaking of the time and in
either case simply could not show all the horrors of what really
happened. IN this, I give it latitude that this was about as
realistic as they could show.
that brings me to what the film says. Vidor was trying to make an
anti-war film, but the film is too safe and (by Vidor's own admission
later) not explicit enough about this point, so by default, the film
becomes a slightly right-of-center endorsement and inoculation of war
that the makers did not necessarily intend. Despite this, it is one
of the great silent films and showed Hollywood could make epic silent
films like the other cinemas of the world, so it is very important in
that context. Despite its flaws and length, everyone who loves film
should see this one once and in a restored edition this impressive,
that will be more pleasant than you'd think. Also, expect more
song-based moments than you'd consider for the genre.
include the 64-page booklet inside the covers of this DigiPak
including an essay by Kevin Brownlow, while the Blu-ray adds a
theatrical trailer, vintage 1925 short film tour of MGM and a feature
length audio commentary track by film historian Jeffrey Vance with
interview excerpts by Vidor himself.
(2013) has the longtime character actor directing an co-starring in
this drama about a married couple (Orser and Jeannie Tripplehorn) not
able to quite hold it together about their lives when their baby is
suddenly dead. Done with some stretches of silence and with fine
supporting appearances by Laura Linney, Eliott Gould, Jason Ritter
and Kyle Chandler, the results are not bad, but it does not have the
impact or conclusion you would expect for a film that seems to have
something big to say and somehow does not quiet manage to say it.
I liked the approach and though we have seen dramas on the subject,
this is not bad. Sadly, there are no extras.
(2011) is roughly based on the true story of Louis Sarno (Kris
Marshall) who is an extra on Africa and has visited there to do
extensive studies for much of his life. Now diagnosed with an
irreversible illness, he is going to join the Bayaka Pygmies and
sadly, just in time to take on corporate raiding of their lands. The
script has humor, intelligence and some good moments, but some of it
is also more than a few moments we have seen before, yet it has to go
where it goes to tell what it has to show and say.
acting and directing is not bad and the look is decent, but it never
totally adds up though it takes us some places we really have not
been before. If you are curious, I don't think you'll be
disappointed and it runs a tight 105 minutes.
trailer is the only extra.
Powell At Warner Bros.
(1931 - 1934)
features four of the nine films he made at the studio as he was a
rising star at the time. These four films are a good sampling of
Powell's early appeal, especially before Hollywood self-censorship
set in. Powell was one of the sound era's first big stars. Not only
did the camera like him,but his combination of carrying himself in a
way that fit both a wealthy man and tough, streetwise man was perfect
for Depression-era audiences and
made him a fine fit for the films Warner put out. The films in this
E. Greene's The
Road To Singapore
(1931) is a melodrama set in the then-exotic locale about betrayal,
power and a possible love triangle between a couple (Doris Kenyon,
Louis Calhern) and Powell in classy mode.
(1932) is a comedy about Powell taking over a fake rubber business in
a send-up of business big and small Hollywood would be much less
likely to make today.
(1933) has Powell as the title character involved in shady legal
shenanigans until he gets too involved with one of his female
targets. Margaret Lindsey and Ruth Donnelly co-star.
(1934) is another love triangle, this time in 1920 Dublin where
Powell is an officer getting involved with a woman (Edna best) he may
have a past with, but her life is not with another man (Colin Clive
from the Universal Frankenstein).
are good films running no more than 73 minutes, yet they are not
B-movies and all are not bad. They are all worth a look for serious
film fans and to see the rise of one of the great early sound film
for each film are the only extras.
being 88 years old, the 1080p 1.33 X 1 black and white digital High
Definition image transfer on Parade
is in remarkable shape, clean, clear, well-preserved and highly
restored throughout with solid Video Black and must have been
stunning in its time. Yes, you can see grain, but it is not as
excessive as you might expect for a silent film. Some scenes are
tinted and one sequence with a Red Cross van used two-strip,
dye-transfer Technicolor to make their Cross logo red. Looks good.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Oka!
is not bad, but has some detail issues ands color can be
inconsistent, so don't expect Walkabout,
but it is still consistent in the look chosen, though I wonder if
some of this was styled down in a way it should not have been
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Morning
should be the better of the two DVD releases here, but the HD shoot
is a little softer throughout than it ought to be, though maybe the
tradedown and making this look as soft as morning might be factors.
It too I at least consistent, though.
leaves the 1.33 X 1 black and white image on the four films on the
collection are only six to nine years older than Parade,
showing how stocks were slowly becoming faster to develop and show
more detail, though some of the footage is rough and other shots look
second generation. We get some sharp shots, but overall, it averages
out with the newer films not necessarily looking better than the
older ones. The format also limits detail, of course, but all four
need some work, but this is the best they have looked outside of
actual film prints.
for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on
Parade has some good Pro Logic surrounds if you choose to decode the
music, as this is a silent film, but even in stereo it is warm, full
and recently recorded so it is fine and it could not sound much
better. It is tied by the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix
which has some good recording and editing, but is a little more
the front speakers than I would have liked.
lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Morning
is on the quiet side and is sometimes vaguely stereo, so only expect
so much and therefore, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the four
films can more than complete, holding up much better for their age
than expected despite some flaws and distortion.
order the William
DVD set, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive