American Silent Horror Collection (The Man Who Laughs/The Penalty/The Cat and the Canary/Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde/Kingdom of Shadows) (5pc)
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Top Customer Reviews
The four silent features never looked nor sounded so good as they do here, many mastered from nitrate negatives. Lon Chaney's THE PENALTY (1920) has an eerie music score and rich color tinting. It a ghoulish number, with Chaney as a double amputee crime lord in 1920 San Francisco who seeks revenge on the surgeon who cut off his legs after an auto accident as a child! This gripping melodrama's bonus material includes a tour of Chaney's makeup kit, two original theatrical trailers for other movies, the 1914 Chaney one-reeler BY THE SUN'S RAYS, surviving footage from THE MIRACLE MAN (1919), and an essay by Chaney author and scholar Michael F. Blake, among other items.
John Barrymore's DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1920) is the masterpiece of this elegant horror set. His magnificent performance really holds up, especially his scary Hyde. Memorable bonuses include a 1909 audio recording of a stage performance for "The Transformation Scene", the hilarious Stan Laurel parody DR. PYCKLE AND MR. PRIDE (1925), an excerpt from the rival 1920 Sheldon Lewis version, and more. Mastered from a 35mm sepia negative, Barrymore's film has a wonderful score by Rodney Sauer and the Mont Alto Orchestra. Watch this one on Halloween night with a loved one.
I adore Paul Leni's THE CAT AND THE CANARY (1927), which is the grandfather of all old dark house thrillers with a reading of a will on a rainy night.Read more ›
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", John Barrymore's 1920 version has decent quality, but the music sounds a little too electronic for my taste. Picture quality, good. Shown at a faster speed than normal.
"The Cat and the Canary" (1927) has a very good picture, and the music fairly fits the action. Agin, it runs a little fast.
"The Penalty", Lon Chaney's 1920 tour de force, has a very good picture, but a lousy music score. (Michael Polher wrote this, and in my humble opinion, has no idea of themes, or pacing, or melody. Better to put on a CD of your choice when watching this film.) This film seems to run at the proper speed, which enhances the quality of this film.
"The Man Who Laughs" (1928) suffers from being run at too fast a speed, due to the Movietone (sound on film) soundtrack. This is a tender story, with Conrad Veidt giving an over the top performance. But the faster projection speed of the film tends to diminish the tenderness of the subject. Film quality varies, but is fairly good even so.
The final item in this boxed set is "Kingdom of the Shadows" a 1998 documentary narrated by Rod Steiger. While the film clips and history of horror in cinema are very good, the narration is deadly -- too soft and not very dynamic. (If you have insomnia, this is the one for you!)
To sum up: this is a good collection to own, even with some shortcomings.
1. The Man Who Laughs (1928) - directed by Paul Leni. A boy, Gwynplaine, is punished for the deeds of his disobedient nobleman father by having a permanent smile carved into his face. He is left for dead, but survives. He rescues an orphaned infant girl, raises her, and becomes a clown. As the baby grows to adulthood, Gwynplaine's feelings toward her turn to love. However, he refuses to marry her because of his appearance. Meanwhile, a jester learns of Gwynplaine's true identity and informs the queen. Gwynplaine inspired the character of The Joker in the Batman comic series.
2. The Penalty (1920) - starring Lon Chaney. Chaney plays Blizzard, whose legs were needlessly amputated when he was a child. He overhears the doctors all agree to lie to cover up the mistake, and he grows up an embittered criminal out for revenge. The end takes a strange twist and is somewhat dissatisfying, but the first 80% of the film is great.
3. The Cat and the Canary (1927) - directed by Paul Leni. This is the Kino DVD debut of this film, and it will be available separately.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I feel that this set may not be around for much longer. I purchased mine at a reasonable price and fell right in with the Man Who Laughs. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Pulpman
All of the dvds in this set were remastered beautifully. The choices to include in this set were the best. Two thumbs up.Published on August 5, 2013 by omega
A perfect collection of some unique silents. The Man Who Laughs is one of the greatest films ever made that you have never heard of! Read morePublished on March 26, 2013 by Heidi Brennan- Darby
Gosh, I thought I did write a review! What a terrific movie! Chaney was such an amazing actor, and the pain he tolerated for his art (wait until you see what he rigged up to wear... Read morePublished on December 26, 2012 by Ketch
*Wallace Worsley made five films with silent movie icon Lon Chaney. Lamentably, two of those, Voices of the City (1921) and The Blind Bargain (1922), are lost. Read morePublished on December 17, 2011 by THE BLUEMAHLER
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