I’m back with another little peek into my silent movie collection. Unlike previous posts (find them here under the Shelfie category) this will be dedicated entirely to multi-disc sets.
(Click on image for more information, pricing, purchase options, etc. I live in California, so all discs will be region 1/A or region free unless otherwise noted.)
This 2002 Kino box set contains the feature films that are generally considered to be the top Griffith pictures: The Birth of a Nation, Intolerance, Broken Blossoms, Orphans of the Storm, plus a double disc set of Biograph Shorts 1909-1913. The shorts are the real highlight of the set, by the way. I can pretty much live without everything else but I keep them around for reference material.
(This may come as a surprise to some readers but my main objection to Griffith is less about his actual output– I quite enjoy his short films– and more about some people declaring that he invented everything and that he couldn’t possibly have been racist because, like, he had black friends. If his more rabid supporters would knock it off with the hagiographical fawning, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Realistic assessments of his life and career are always welcome but, frankly, they are in short supply.)
Griffith Masterworks 2
This 2008 Kino box is the more interesting of the two. It contains Way Down East, The Avenging Conscience, Abraham Lincoln, The Struggle and Sally of the Sawdust, as well as the documentary D.W. Griffith:
Father Rancid Magnolia of Film. So we get a very early feature, his only two talkies, one of his last hits and Way Down East, which I consider to be his most successful feature-length effort.
D.W. Griffith: Years of Discovery
This was an early acquisition for me (after several disappointing Griffith features) and helped form my opinion that D.W. Griffith was a master miniaturist. I have the 2002 Image edition but it is out of print. Flicker Alley has reissued the set as Volume One and Volume Two and it is definitely worth the purchase. The scores are by Robert Israel and Gaylord Carter, so you know you’re in good hands.
The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection
You whippersnappers may not remember but before 2005, finding Harold Lloyd on home video was quite a challenge. This 2005 set from New Line Home Video changed all that. It’s seven discs of all of Lloyd’s most famous films– not complete but absolute heaven for a Lloyd-starved populace. The set is now out of print and the Criterion Collection is issuing fully-loaded discs of Lloyd’s hits. However, this set can be quite a bargain considering the quality and quantity.
Edison: The Invention of the Movies
Most people have seen The Great Train Robbery but this 2005 Kino box set showcases 140 films produced by Edison between 1891 and 1918. It’s not perfect and I would have liked to see more of the company’s feature-length material (Edison features were remarkably modern in their editing) but it is a wonderful glimpse at a misunderstood pioneer.
Murnau, Borzage & Fox
This monster 2008 box set contains twelve films (two from Murnau) in the silent and early talkie eras. Keep your eye out for bargains, especially if you are a fan of Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor.
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