(2020/*both Sony Blu-ray)/This
Is Francis X. Bushman
(2021/Flicker Alley Blu-ray)
B-/C+/B/B Sound: B/C/B-/B Extras: C-/D/C-/B- Films:
a solid new group of documentaries you should know about...
Moreh's The Human Factor
(2019) reminds us of what a horrible thing conflict in the Middle
East is, telling us how the on chance for peace in the early 1990s
was wrecked by too many people on both sides too angry to forgive,
work things out and how some people are making money and/or holding
onto power on all sides to want the conflict to end. Told by U.S.
negotiators under President Clinton, who really tired to make this
work as President Carter before him, it is a sad-but necessary story
may not always agree with a few fine points here, but Director Moreh
takes the 106 minutes here and leaves no stone unturned. The result
is a vital portrait of the last 25 years on this subject and how
things have only grown worse and more distorted. Cheers to those who
tried to make a difference and especially to some who lost their
lives in the process. Well done!
trailer is the only extra.
Batty's Nuclear Nightmares
(1979) is a remarkable documentary not seen enough today, hosted by
the late, great Peter Ustinov, about how close we were to nuclear war
at the end of the 1970s and how The Cold War between the U.S. and
now-defunct U.S.S.R. (Russia currently possesses all the nuclear
weapons from that fallen empire) despite the attempts at peace by
President Carter. The technology (from deadly weapons to how they'll
be delivered to now-dated computer technology, some of which has only
recently been updated!!!) is something to see.
90 minutes, Ustinov has some bold things to say that are as relevant
as ever, holding nothing back, denying nothing about the endless
danger this all poses to all of us and beyond. He and the cameras go
places that they were lucky to go to, some of which you could not go
to now, a few of which might be gone. Ustinov also has some very
smart intellectual points that makes this more than a standard work.
made for public television, the DVD case keeps saying this is from
1980, but that is wrong and finished before Reagan won the White
House, the film actually ends on a note of stability months or even
weeks before the potential of a mutually destructive war escalated
thanks to Reagan pumping up the arms race and talking fantasy
technology that still does not exist over 40 years later, sexing it
up with the name 'star wars' (Lucas sued to stop this, but lost) so
this is the vital final chapter of the pre-Reagan era on this
subject. I highly recommend it and am glad to see it again after all
are sadly no extras, including any updates.
Dweck and Gregory Kershaw's The
Truffle Hunters (2020) is
a mixed look at the men who look for rare, expensive white Alba
truffles (a form of mushroom) down the generations and have
especially trained dogs to help. It falls under a cycle of
documentaries an dramas about food that tend to be laid back, but as
the case art reminds us, it is also considered a dog movie. I think
it qualifies for the latter loosely, but is a food program first.
even a 84 minutes, I thought it dragged on a bit and despite the
great scenery in Piedmont, Italy, this plays more like a mood piece
and (pun intended) an acquired taste. Yes, they may lead a laid back
lifestyle in real life, but do I have to be dragged into it? It is
just too much. Its worth a look for those interested, but do not
operate heavy machinery while viewing.
Story of Truffle Hunters
featurette is the only extra.
one of the biggest movie stars of all time, especially in the silent
era, but beyond that is finally brought back to life in Lon Davis'
terrific new documentary This
Is Francis X. Bushman
(2021) about one of the most critically and commercially successful
names in all of Hollywood history. Though most of his early works
are lost (though some have been found recently) and he was working
until his death, he had his ups and down despite being a name that
helped build that town.
known for co-starring with equally beloved and successful Ramon
Navarro in the original 1925 Ben
Hur, MGM's first big epic
and a massive hit, Bushman was already a big name and was only
challenged by Rudolph Valentino for silent star with the most
screaming female fans throwing themselves at him. Yet, he was
secretly married and was able to keep that a secret until a scandal.
Working in pictures early on at smaller studios and in New York and
Chicago before Hollywood became the capitol of U.S., then world
filmmaking and production, his solid looks and fact that he was one
of the rare, early bodybuilders made him a perfect early star.
by his his grandson Chris Bushman, an Oscar winner himself, he does a
great job of explaining his long history of being in entertainment
most of his life, even with some ups and downs. A nice amount of
audio from his grandfather is here and this melds into a great
viewing. I just wish it were longer, maybe with more clips or
interviews from film scholars and current fans, but this is archival
calibre all the way and a must-see for serious film fans. I always
liked him when he showed up, proving himself as viable in sound films
as silent ones, but actually seeing all his works like this will give
you a whole new respect for his amazing run of work that not enough
people know about today.
best part is seeing big name stars form all over the industry
embracing him after some of his lows. Go out of your way to see this
one. Also, we get some great supplements too.
Francis X. Bushman?''
- Video introduction by Lon Davis discussing the forty-year journey
of bringing Francis X. Bushman's story and legacy to fruition.
Thirteenth Man (1913) (fragment) - A one-reel drama starring
Francis X. Bushman, derived from existing 35mm materials. Musical
score compiled and arranged by Frederick Hodges.
and Twilight (1914) - A complete one-reel Essanay drama
featuring Francis X. Bushman, restored from a rare 8mm print,
derived from 35mm materials. Musical score provided by Frederick
Hodges and Richard Chon.
Men and a Girl (Love Conquers All) (1911) - One of the earliest
uncovered films of Francis X. Bushman's career, from 16mm materials
provided by the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum.
Marriage Clause (1926) (fragment) - Produced by Carl Laemmle and
directed by Lois Weber, this backstage drama starring Francis X.
Bushman and Billie Dove is presented from a surviving 16mm
abridgment from the Library of Congress collection.
A Tale of the Christ (1925) Trailer - Original promotional
trailer for the film Francis X. Bushman would become best known.
''The City That Was'' (1957) - A CBS radio drama about a
murder set in old Hollywood (a good copy in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0
Mono), narrated by Francis X. Bushman.
an Image Gallery - Slideshow presentation featuring seventy-two rare
images of Francis X. Bushman, covering his entire life.
for playback performance. The 1080p
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Factor
looks good, but has a little too much low-def analog video
throughout, but that's the format that was used to record so much of
the history the film shows, so there are no higher-def alternatives.
At least it is edited well and the
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix fares better, even when it
has it monophonic and simple stereo moments from the archive footage.
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Bushman also
looks good and even more often, even when some of the classic film
footage (especially silent films) and classic TV footage shows its
age. Otherwise, it is a pleasant viewing including some stills and
film in remarkable shape. The PCM
2.0 Stereo lossless mix is surprisingly warm, clean, clear, balanced
and strong, also sounding good in some surround modes. Cheers to
whomever did the remixing and mastering here.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Hunters
consists of mostly new footage, so it is smooth viewing throughout,
while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio)
5.1 lossless mix is also mostly new audio, so it is fine save slight
limits of location audio.
1.33 X 1 image on the Nuclear DVD looks good for the format,
all shot on what looks like 16mm color film, but slight flaws can be
seen and the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0
Mono sound is a little lower in volume than I would have liked. Be
careful of high volume playback and volume switching. Otherwise,
Ustinov is easy enough to hear.