Unboxing the Silents: Kino Lorber’s Old Ironsides (1926)

I know a lot of you have been looking forward to this one! Old Ironsides, beloved adventure film, makes its DVD/Bluray debut after only being available on VHS for years.

Kino Lorber’s release features a commentary, booklet and a piano score adapted from the original release score by Rodney Sauer.

The film is available as both a DVD and a Bluray.

Here are some screen caps (click to enlarge).

Quite lovely, no?

Old Ironsides is a proper rip-snorter of an adventure, by the way, with an absolutely impeccable cast: Charles Farrell, Esther Ralston, Wallace Beery and George Bancroft. It was one of many “real big real ship” movies that silent era Hollywood put out and one of the most popular. Definitely a must-see.

Now I know there is a slight kerfuffle because the film is not shown at sound speed and not interlaced but is progressive. (If you don’t know what any of this means, give thanks to heaven and keep it that way.) I absolutely hate interlacing and I hate silent films run at sound speed when they were clearly shot at a different speed so, in my opinion, Kino took the best option and I have zero interest in discussing this matter any further.

(I made the same decision to use progressive for my own DVD release.)

This is a most welcome release and I am very glad to have it in my collection.


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  1. David Steere

    A totally delightful release from Kino. I have always had a big crush on Esther Ralston, George Bancroft and Wallace Beery are a hoot and terrific together. I know this is controversial to many but I don’t at all like organ scores for silent movies…even from Gaylord Carter. So, I am very gratified with Rodney Sauer’s terrific piano adaptation. Rodney (and when with the Mont Alto Orchestra) can do no wrong in my book. I can finally dispose of my VHS copy. What is also interesting is how much better this is than Cruze’s COVERED WAGON (very dull in spite of the presence of the fabulous Lois Wilson and Ernest Torrence). As to your post, Fritzi, from yesterday–as good a place to start for one’s most wanted lost silent films is with Esther Ralston. Oh, if only AMERICAN VENUS and THE CASE OF LENA SMITH could be found!

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      I felt the same way until I attended a screening with a real theater organ and WOW! Absolutely astonishing old school surround sound from those pipes. Unfortunately, home video doesn’t often capture the majesty of the instrument and it can end up sounding decidedly unimpressive.

  2. miselainis

    I’ll always have a special fondness for this and for The Red Kimono. The first two silents I ever got to see on the big screen with organ accompaniment!

    1. David Steere

      You probably already know this.. The wonderful new PIONEERS: FIRST WOMEN FILMMAKERS set from Kino includes this moving movie from Mrs. Wallace Reid. I’d seen Kino’s earlier DVD with a very nice score by Robert Israel (one of my favorites) but this incarnation on Blu ray looks even better and boasts a truly lovely new score by Libby Meyer. Priscilla Bonner is simply mesmerizing.

  3. Marie Roget

    It’s finally here…Yippee! I love Tall Ships silents and what a cast Old Ironsides has. Thanks so much for the screen caps, they’re beautiful! Of course I had to order the Bluray right away 😀

  4. Overseas Visitor

    “Sound speed” can be understood in two opposite ways:

    1. Silents were often filmed at much slower frame rate than the talkie standard. If they are projected by talkie equipment, there will a speed-up of action, which can detrimental for some films.

    2. If the projection speed of a talkie is changed there will also be a change of actor’s sound frequency, which will make them sound ridiculous. At least to some extent, this can be overcome by modern sound editing techniques, but anyway this is one reason why talkies are more bound to realism than silents, where increasing the speed of action is an important artistic freedom.

    Obviously, because the preferred projection speed of many silents is unclear, there is room for opinions. However, I don’t understand why this matter cannot be discussed in a civilised manner? Any review is also an opinion: you love Lubitsch, I love Murnau, but I can still enjoy reading your thoroughly prepared reviews without shouting: “You are wrong!”

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      Oh good lord, you would not believe how heated this can get. I had evidence of the original projection speed for my DVD release and I STILL got lectures because the progressive method adds frames. It’s an imperfect solution to a problem that silent filmmakers could not possibly have anticipated but it’s the best we have.

  5. Doowop

    No, Kino did not do the best they could with Old Ironsides – this Blu-ray is a botch, lovely stills don’t show how unnecessary frame duplication ruined the motion of this film, and if this kind of wrong headed thinking is going to govern how the silent artistry I love is going to be handled on home video then it’s time I gave up silent film because I’d rather do without than have them, and more to the point pay to have them so stupidly and thoughtlessly compromised.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      What did I say about progressive frame rates? I said it was NOT under discussion and that I did not want the conversation hijacked by a vocal minority. I can’t imagine how I could have been plainer.

      I used progressive scan in my DVD release. Am I stupid and thoughtless? Just because you don’t like something does not give you the right to stoop to namecalling. I am not banning you at this time but if you continue to ignore commenting instructions and fling insults, you will be.

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