I’ve had some requests for a peek inside my silent film collection and everyone seemed to have fun with my list of the first ten silent films I ever purchased so I’m back with another taste.
I keep my movies in loosely categorized binders and will start in the front and work my way back. This is going to take a while (my collection is nearing the thousands) so I am dividing it into manageable chunks.
(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.)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
There have probably been a hundred different home video editions of The Phantom of the Opera. They range in quality from gorgeous restorations with suitable orchestral scores to scratchy prints with dubious goth music. I own three editions on DVD
My latest acquisition is Kino’s recent Bluray release (it also comes on DVD), which is also the version that I recommend spending your money on. It comes with multiple versions, multiple scores and plenty of extras. I also own the Image DVD release from 1997 and the Milestone two-disc set (billed as “the Ultimate Edition”) from 2003.
Read my huuuuuuge Phantom review here. I have backstage gossip!
The Hands of Orlac (1924)
One of the earlier entries in the “Get a hand transplant, they said. So what of the donor is a murderer, they said” horror genre, The Hands of Orlac is really more of an anatomy of a nervous breakdown. I own the 2008 Kino release.
I own the 2002 Kino release and the upgraded 2007 two-disc set. I have not yet upgraded to the 2013 Kino Bluray because, truth be told, I am not the biggest fan of the film. (Gasp! Get the Murnau stans some smelling salts!)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
This is the famous John Barrymore version of the film. I own the 2001 Kino DVD release, as well as the restored 2013 Bluray, which is just splendid. Both versions include Stan Laurel’s Dr. Pickle and Mr. Pryde as an extra and it’s worth the price of admission on its own!
The Penalty (1920)
Lon Chaney at his most macabre. I own the 2001 Kino DVD and (gasp!) I think the controversial synth score works for the film. The film was re-released on Bluray in 2012 with a more traditional score.
The Lodger (1927)
I own the out of print 2009 MGM DVD but have the new Criterion Collection Bluray on pre-order. (It will also be available on DVD.)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
I own the 1996 Image DVD, the 2002 Kino DVD and the 2014 Kino Bluray release, which features a 4K restoration. Caligari is another film that has hundreds of versions available but most are terrible. I recommend the Kino Bluray for region 1 and don’t be fooled into buying a bargain version. GIF evidence:
Read my review of the film here.
The Bat (1926)
Alas, no quality versions of this film are on the market and so I held my nose and bought the Alpha version. (Alpha is infamous for releasing silent films of dubious quality, pedigree and provenance. They are known for their lurid covers and their tendency to snip out random sections of films.)
Read my review of The Bat here.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
Lon Chaney’s famous foray into heavy, heavy, HEAVY makeup. I own the 2007 Image version billed as “the ultimate edition” and have not yet upgraded to the Flicker Alley Bluray.
I LOVE this movie so much! It’s not really horror, just some lovely Weimar weirdness from my beloved Paul Leni. I own the 2002 Kino release.
Nomads of the North (1920) with The Shock (1923)
I own the 2002 Image release of these oddball Lon Chaney pictures, both of which feature him in a more romantic light than we are generally used to seeing. Nomads of the North actually has him play a straightforward romantic lead! It’s… weird.
Read my review of Nomads here.
Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this little shelfie.
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Thanks so much for sharing this Shelfie! We own copies of all excepting The Hands of Orlac,and Nomads of the North/The Shock. Waxworks is out on a lengthy loan to someone, come to think of it.
Simply cannot wait for the new Criterion Lodger to make its way into the post box!
That Kino Bluray release of Phantom is very fine, isn’t it? We own several dvd incarnations (as many Chaney fans do), but that one is absolutely splendid!
Glad you like it! Yes, the new Lodger sounds faaaabulous! Most looking forward to that new Neil Brand score. Indeed! The Kino Phantom is really wonderful. I’m so glad that I now have an easy answer for people who ask which version to buy.
Love to see The Hands or Orlac. I talked about The Phantom a few days ago but nothing as adept as you. You are so lucky to have these all on DVD. I love Nosferatu but I forgive you:) I do own this one plus Hunchback and Phantom. I am excited because on May 3rd, there is a special viewing held where I live of The Phantom of the Opera with Chorus Niagara!
How wonderful! Enjoy the show!
Fully agree about the techno score on “The Penalty”, can’t imagine anything better.
I’ve recently watched “Variety” with the Tiger Lilllies score and loved it.
Glad you liked The Penalty. I can’t say that I enjoyed the Tiger Lillies but to each their own 🙂
I have the BFI Phantom; how does it compare to the Kino? Do you know? I’d like the best available.
I haven’t compared the BFI Phantom but I will say that what I like best about the Kino release is that it includes both the orchestral score by Gabriel Thibaudeau and a modern one by the Alloy Orchestra. There are also minor differences between the Photoplay Productions restoration and the one performed by David Shepard. That being said, I think the BFI generally puts out a very fine product.
Thanks,Fritzi, by the way,have you ever heard the story that “Phantom of the Opera” was boycotted by some British exhibitors because when the reels arrived in London someone thought it would be a good idea for them to be accompanied by a military band; others took offence and called for the boycott. The dying gasps of imperialism??
Sounds about right, American companies are notorious for not understanding local culture when they export.
I quite like Murnau, but personally I agree: “Nosferatu” is just not his best film.
Yeah, it is full of iconic scenes (most with Schreck) but the overall film is pretty poor stuff.
I have the Blu-ray of Hunch Back and it is definitely worth getting.
It looks really good.
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