Secret Silents: Seven amazing silent films released as home video extras

What’s better than a silent movie? A free silent movie! Many loaded talkie DVDs and Blurays include related silent movies as extras. These films are often rare and/or unavailable from any other source and usually feature first-rate scores too. The problem? When the title isn’t on the cover, it may be hard to track down which disc has what. That’s where my list comes in. I am sharing some real hidden gems buried in the “extras” menu.

(I live in California and so this list is made up of films from my region but many of them are region free. Always check region encoding before ordering.)

Camille (1921)

camille

The 1921 version of Camille stars Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino but you won’t see any mention of it on the cover of the Greta Garbo vehicle’s DVD. Oh well, I will gladly exchange publicity for a silent movie presented with an excellent orchestral score.

You can get details and purchase here.

Read my full-length review of the 1921 film here. (Don’t miss the comments! They are bonkers!)

Ben-Hur (1925)

ben-hur

The real gem of the 2005 DVD release of the 1959 Ben-Hur is not the deadly dull Charlton Heston vehicle, it’s the wondrous 1925 original! (Yes, original.) This version has the glorious orchestral score by Carl Davis and it’s one of my favorites.

You can see more details and purchase the DVD set here.

I compare the 1925 and 1959 versions here. (Spoiler: The ’25 wins.)

Bucking Broadway (1917)

stagecoach

This early John Ford western is tucked away as an extra on the Criterion Collection’s release of his 1939 classic, Stagecoach. It features a lovely score by Donald Sosin.

You can learn more and purchase Stagecoach on DVD and Bluray here.

Read my review of Bucking Broadway here.

The Merry Jail (1917)

trouble-in-paradiseThe earliest Ernst Lubitsch film currently available on home media (if you know of an earlier one, please share!) is tucked away as an extra on the Criterion Collection release of Trouble in Paradise, his pre-code hit. It features a plucky score by Aljoscha Zimmerman.

Learn details and purchase here.

Read my review here.

The Last Performance (1929)

lonesomeConrad Veidt’s last film made during his first stay in Hollywood is included as an extra on the Criterion Collection release of Lonesome, a part-talkie also directed by Paul Fejos. The print is a little rough compared to other Criterion releases but seeing this rare film is worth it!

You can see more details and order a DVD or Bluray here.

You can read my review of The Last Performance here.

The Crazy Ray (1923)

under-the-roofs-of-parisRene Clair’s very first film (a sci-fi comedy!) is included as an extra on the Criterion Collection’s release of Under the Roofs of Paris. I warn you, this is the cutdown version that Clair himself released later in his career but it is still a grand bit of fun.

You can learn more and buy the DVD here.

Read my review of The Crazy Ray here.

The Wizard of Oz Films

wizard-of-ozOkay, this includes more than one film but are you really going to complain about more silent films? Of course not! The deluxe anniversary edition of the 1939 classic includes not one, not two but five silent Oz films. Wowzers! We get The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910), The Magic Cloak of Oz, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, His Majesty the Scarecrow of Oz (all 1914), as well as the infamous 1925 Larry Semon version of The Wizard of Oz.

(Most of the deluxe multi-disc Oz releases have some silents as extras but these vary from version to version. Always check in advance to make sure the film you want is included.)

You can read more details and purchase a Bluray here.

And do read my Oz reviews! (More site traffic makes me very, very happy!)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910)

The Magic Cloak of Oz (1914)

The Wizard of Oz (1925)

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What’s your favorite silent film included as an extra? Let me know!

19 Replies to “Secret Silents: Seven amazing silent films released as home video extras”

  1. I found a box set at a yardsale once called “Fright Fest”. It had movies like House on Haunted Hill etc. in it, and I was very surprised to later discover it also had two silent horror films in the collection! Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari! Although not super high quality (no tinting, a little fuzzy) it was a nice surprise to find them as extras.

  2. The earliest Ernst Lubitsch film available on home video that I know of is PINKUS’S SHOE PALACE (1916), a German short featuring Lubitsch as actor and director, available on the Criterion disc of TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942).

  3. At least two video editions of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 THE TEN COMMANDMENTS also contain his 1923 silent original — in both DVD and Blu-ray!

  4. Also, the recent reissue of STELLA DALLAS (1937) with Barbara Stanwyck on Warner Home Video includes the 1925 silent original with Belle Bennett, directed by Henry King.

  5. And two more: Will Rogers’ silent two-reeler THE ROPIN’ FOOL (1921),
    an amazing demonstration of his intricate rope tricks (some filmed in slow motion), is an extra on the Fox disc of Rogers’ 1933 talkie MR. SKITCH.

    Another Fox disc, O. HENRY’S FULL HOUSE (1952) features two silent shorts, GIRLS and A MAN ABOUT TOWN (both from 1927), that were also based on O. Henry’s stories. Looks like these might have been part of a series — they are called “jazz versions” in the opening titles, and were “supervised” by George Marshall.

  6. I’m not sure it counts, since it’s more of a “split” DVD than a secret, but I was very pleased that “The Gusher” (1913) was included with “The Extra Girl” (1923). Of course, they’re both silents!

    1. Thanks! This list was for silents hidden behind talkies but I may do another one with silents hidden with other silents. So many great films if you know where to look πŸ™‚

  7. There Will Be Blood has a silent documentary about the oil industry produced by Sinclair Petroleum. It has some animation demonstrating some of steps in the process of drilling, pumping, etc of the oil.

  8. If I might add a small note on the Ten Commandments one, the parting of the red sea scene was shot in color, and a poor quality color copy of the scene is included as an extra, but the actual movie contains a clean copy in black and white.

  9. The 2 disc DVD set of “O” contains a silent movie version of Othello (I believe the 1922 German version but am really not sure)

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