John Barrymore romps through medieval Paris playing a character best described as Robin Hood + Rabble-Rouser + Bugs Bunny. His pranks cause him to run afoul of the crown. Conrad Veidt (in his American debut!) plays the king as a superstitious, nose-picking goblin.Continue reading “Fun Size Review: The Beloved Rogue (1927)”
Maharajah Conrad Veidt hires a German architect to design a beautiful tomb for his wife. She isn’t actually dead yet.Continue reading “Fun Size Review: The Indian Tomb (1921)”
A pianist’s hands are crushed in an accident but worry not, the fresh corpse of a murderer is on hand to donate brand new ones. I mean, it’s not like stitching on a murderer’s hands will make someone commit murder, right? Right?
Conrad Veidt slithers across the American silent screen one last time in this drama of jealousy, murder and illusionists. Veidt fans will find much to love (our beloved monster has never looked better) but the overall film is disappointing as it is saddled with a simplistic script and a so-so supporting cast.
I am pretty excited about this new restoration, let me tell you. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is an astonishing film, a revered classic that more than lives up to its reputation. Yet, let’s be honest, the home media releases for this film have not been exactly pristine.
Available on DVD & Blu-ray.
Battered prints, marred by dust, streaks and lines have been the rule for bargain and more expensive releases. Even the best prints released have been a bit shabby and they have long been the only available ways to see this movie. I don’t mean to be a complainer but I have always felt that Caligari deserved better.
Fortunately, I was not the only one wishing for a restored film.
Our friends in Europe have been hard at work restoring an original camera negative (with 35mm prints filling in the gaps) of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and it is finally getting a U.S. release on Blu-ray, courtesy of Kino Lorber. (The restoration is also available on DVD but I will be focusing on the HD version in this review.)
I dare say that most film buffs have seen this film but never before in this quality.
Oh, and I am reviewing the new disc release, not the film itself. For my review of the film’s artistic merit (spoiler: I like it) please check out my movie review here.
Just take a gander at this trailer!
The introduction states that the first reel of the camera negative was missing and the lost material was restored using release prints. As no German distribution prints exist, the tinting was based on Latin American prints, believed to be the earliest surviving material. Here is what the first reel looks like:
Pretty darn good.
And here is the restored camera negative:
The release comes with your choice of two scores. There is the orchestral version performed by the Studio For Film Music at the University of Music, Freiburg. You can hear a taste in the preview clip. I loved the score. Caligari scores too often head in a discordant direction but this one manages to have a smart blend of melody and dissonance.
The other score is a trippy, almost perky, electronic affair from Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky. I tend to like non-traditional scores but I definitely prefer the main score in this release. However, I do appreciate being given a choice.
The biggest extra is the 52-minute documentary, Caligari: How Horror Came to Cinema. I also rather enjoyed the two sets of comparison clips included to show how the restored Caligari compared to original footage and previous restorations.
Yes, this is easily the best home media release for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I cannot recommend it enough. Buy it for yourself or the film buff who has everything. I am also pleased that Kino Lorber made this restoration available in both standard and HD formats, ensuring that almost everyone can enjoy this pristine experience.
Conrad Veidt is an illusionist who is in love with his assistant. Unfortunately, she falls for another, leaving Veidt in the dust. Now what will he do about that? Did I mention that he has an act that involves stabbing a trunk (and the person inside) with twelve sharp swords? You know, I think this just might figure into the story at some point.
Continue reading “The Last Performance (1929) A Silent Film Review”
One of the most analyzed silent films. One of the most watched silent films. One of the most famous silent films. What else is there to be said about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari? Well, I’m giving it a shot. We’re going to see if we can unravel the mystery of the film’s meaning. A daunting task? Only slightly.
There is only one thing I love more than a good silent movie: A good Conrad Veidt movie. And if it is a Conrad Veidt silent movie…
A young author (Wilhelm Dieterle) is hired by the owner of a wax museum to write tales about his most popular figures, Haroun al Raschid, Ivan the Terrible and Jack the Ripper. Entranced by his new boss’s pretty daughter (Olga Belajeff) the author sets to work writing about the wax figures. With each new story, the author and his new friend find themselves pulled inside the progressively nightmarish worlds that he has invented.
Continue reading “Waxworks (1924) A Silent Film Review”
John Barrymore plays Francois Villon, the medieval French poet/thief who runs afoul of the eccentric King Louis XI (Conrad Veidt). But when the kingdom is threatened by the Duke of Burgundy, it is up to Villon to save the day. Oh, and there is naturally a lovely damsel. The most fun you can have in the Douglas Fairbanks manner without actually having Douglas Fairbanks participating.
Continue reading “The Beloved Rogue (1927) A Silent Film Review”
Douglas Fairbanks is the titular thief who uses his burglaring ways to win a princess, defeat the Mongols and generally save the day. Scenery, sets and costumes? Gorgeous. Pace? One may safely describe it as, er, stately. Pluses: An early appearance from Anna May Wong and much Fairbanksian leaping.
The Maharajah of Bengal wants his wife to have the most fabulous tomb in the world. He hires an English architect to design and constructs it. There’s just one little problem. His wife is not dead. Yet. This is a classy adventure yarn with a strong Teutonic flavor. Well worth obtaining.
Continue reading “The Indian Tomb (1921) A Silent Film Review”