The Criterion Collection
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The early Hollywood gem Lonesome is the creation of a little-known but audacious and one-of-a-kind auteur, Paul Fejos (a filmmaker/explorer/anthropologist/doctor!), who bridged the gap between the silent and sound eras. Fejos pulled out all the stops for this lovely New York City symphony set in antic Coney Island during the Fourth of July weekend—employing color tinting, superimposition effects, experimental editing, and a roving camera (plus three dialogue scenes, added because of the craze for talkies). For years, Lonesome has been a rare treat for festival and cinematheque audiences; it’s only now coming to home video. Rarer still are the two other Fejos films included in this release: The Last Performance (featuring a new score by Donald Sosin) and a reconstruction of the previously incomplete sound version of Broadway, in its time the most expensive film ever produced at Universal.
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I also collect 100+ year old Coney Island postcards. So imagine my delight when the film Lonesome 1928 turned out to be a delightfully rewarding film that is set in the Coney Island that existed when it was one of the most amazing places on Earth.
The director Paul Fejos was a maveric visionary among Hollywood directors and this film displays his talents in abundance. He uses editing and design derived from his awareness of avante-garde and European cinema with exciting camera angles and impressive crowd scenes. The film was started as a silent film but three passages we're inserted with sound. The color tinting on the print used for this DVD are bright and fresh and thrilling. Lonesome is an exciting film with one foot in the silent era and one foot in the sound era.
There are two other films included here. Broadway is remarkable for it's extravagent Art Deco interiors and costumes (those skyscraper inspired dresses and head pieces are a hoot). The giant crane built to film within the cavernous nightclub set allows the audience to swoop around a multileveled Deco wonderland filled with partiers that are really having a ball. There are some fun two color technicolor sequences in this film.
This Criterion Collection is a delight.
Both playing lonesome hearts in the big city of New York and deciding to go to Coney Island to celebrate the Fourth of July Weekend after having a long working day/week.
Fazit: its a nice lovestory with a surprising ending. Just a few scenes might be a little bit to "long" but otherwise it makes sense for a "long"-working-day.
Jim's (Glenn Tryon) Friend is played by Andy Devine.
Înteresting: the movies was meant to be silent but contains 3 short talking/dialogue scenes and also some color-scenes (at the carnival).
The Picture Quality: I would call it not perfect but good. The Dialogue scenes have better picture Quality than the silent scenes.
As bonus are added two more movies:
a musical called "BROADWAY" (104 MIN), the studios first talking movie (but also a silent version was released) which contains Technicolor-Sequences also starring Glenn Tryon.
The other by far more interesting, entertaining movie is "The Last Performance" which was believed to be lost but a danish copie survived and was used (incl. danish intertitels) for this Blu-Ray Release: optional English Subitles available (!)
Star of this movie is Conrad Veidt ("Casablanca") as Erik the Great who is in love with is young assistant Julie. Erik catched a thief, Mark (played by handsome Fred MacKaye, his next movie was "Our Dancing Daughters") but is giving him a chance to work for him. Mark and Julie going to be in love which Erik don't like. He makes a evil decision.
The picture Quality is good.
One more "true" Bonus is a audio-record (optional english Subtitles available) by Paul Fejos who talks about his life and working on the movies - which might be interesting for movie goers/fans.
FAZIT: Criterion did it again - releasing some rare-seen titles. The Set contains also a 34-page-booklet.
ATTENTION: Region Code A
As well, there are so many terrific extras on this two-disc set. The audio commentary by noted film historian Richard Koszarski is of the highest calibre; one of the most interesting and informative I have heard accompanying a feature (I watched the film with the audio commentary immediately after watching the feature by itself). Also on disc one is a visual essay on the director by his wife, featuring Fejos narrating his life and career and that is quite a revelation as well. Certainly a well-lived life in so many different fields!
Disc two has the 1929 Conrad Veidt silent, directed by Fejos, "The Last Performance" and a reconstructed sound version of the famous but incomplete "Broadway" with its innovative camera techniques (with audio interview with cinematographer Hal Mohr). And if that is not enough, there is also a 32 page booklet loaded with articles and photos on Paul Fejos and his films. And as to be expected, the Criterion restoration is superb. A great buy and more importantly, a treasure rediscovered.