As 1917 is the 100th anniversary of the release of Theda Bara’s blockbuster, Cleopatra, and since her films have the worst availability of just about any major star, I thought the subject of ease of access would be an interesting topic.
Some major silent stars have few films on home video because, like Bara, their pictures were lost to fires and decay. Some stars have one major hit available and their back catalog is spotty. Some, like Laurel and Hardy, had quite a few of their silents released on DVD but they have since fallen out of print. Some, like Norma Talmadge, have quite a few films on DVD but it’s only a fraction of their output.
Which silent star do you think needs some more home video love? Like, if this were a perfect world and you had the budget and the access to their pictures, whose movies would you release as a box set?
A quick caveat before getting started: This is in no way meant as a jab at archivists and silent movie producers. Archival budgets are tight and the market is tiny. I am very grateful for the wonderful silent films on home video but I wanted to discuss the stars that are more neglected.
Obviously, availability varies depending on where you live and what you consider to be a fair number of titles on home video. It’s all a matter of perspective and opinion.
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