Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Charlie Chaplin Short Comedy Classics - The Complete Restored Essanay Mutual Collection|
Actors: Charlie Chaplin, Charles Chaplin
Genres: Classics, Comedy
See one of America's best-loved comedians at his finest with this side-splitting 7-disc DVD collection! Sixteen hilarious Essanay comedies from the beginning of Chaplin's career, including "His New Job," "The Tramp" and "... more »
Showing it's age...
Mark Pollock | Davis, CA United States | 01/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Make no bones about it - this is the BEST collection currently available of Chaplin's Essanay and Mutual films. The quality is superb, the soundtracks reasonably good, and the documentary on Eric Campbell is a delight. If you already know these films but have hesitated to buy these dvds, this is the perfect opportunity. More importantly, don't buy any other company's cheapo version of these films. The discs from Laserlight, Madacy, Delta, and Koch video don't hold a candle to these. In fact, it would be a good idea to hold a candle to those other versions.So, that's the good news. Now for the bad news.First of all, the transfers for the Mutual films were done at the infancy of the dvd medium. The encoding for dvds has gotten much better, which means that the details of these great restorations are sometimes lost in digital noise. Zooming in even a little makes this very apparant. These films deserved to be re-encoded for dvd, and it is an absolute shame that Image did not see fit to do this. The films look fine when shown full screen, with only a few exceptions, but those exceptions really stand out. (Example - each film opens with a text card giving some information about the film. These text cards are often almost unreadable due to the fact that the encoder couldn't handle the detail.)Second, these are the most complete versions of these films available, which is great, but unfortunately there are several bits missing. In "One A.M.", there is a whole sequence with Chaplin in mountain climbing gear that is missing. "Easy Street" is missing a title card and some shots. You get the idea. David Shephard did his absolute best to restore these films well, and he did a marvelous job, but like most archivists, he simply did not have access to every single possible piece of material available. There is another company in Europe currently doing a restoration of these same films, and we will see how they do, but I still support this version, mostly because Shephard tries his best to bring so many films to light, often at appalingly small profit. Third - the music. Now, I find the music on these discs to be just fine, but I do feel a bit disappointed that the old Van Beuren scores aren't there for the Mutuals. It's like having a record that you listen to for years, with crackles and skips and all the flaws of vinyl, and then you get a cd of the same album and you miss the crackles and pops! Same for these soundtracks. I even miss the really stupid calls of "Fire" from "The Fireman". I heartily endorse this set of discs, but also long for something just a little better. Maybe with time it will happen."
OBSCURE CHARLES EVOLVES INTO FAMOUS CHARLIE
Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 06/26/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"CHARLIE CHAPLIN SHORT COMEDY CLASSICS -- The complete restored 1917 Essanay and Mutual Collection. Starting around 1920, and lasting for over two decades, Charlie Chaplin was the most famous person on the planet (until his iconic image was usurped by Mickey Mouse). This fabulous collection of 28 films from Essanay and Mutual shows the evolution of Chaplin's screen alter ego -- slapstick, social concerns and sentiment -- and the reason for his global celebrity. In 1914 when Chaplin entered movies, he was an English pantomimist unknown to American audiences. His first film contract was for $150 a week -- a very good sum for the time. Only two years later, he signed with the Mutual company to make twelve two-reelers for $670,000, becoming the highest paid entertainer in history. Years later Chaplin wrote: "Fulfilling the Mutual contract ... was the happiest period of my career." Here are all the Essanay and Mutual classics (1915 - 1917) from His New Job to Easy Street. Fully restored and with the projection speed corrected, these rarely seen classics on six discs are the very best transfers available. All have new digital scores. A seventh bonus disc is Chaplin's Goliath: In Search of Scotland's Forgotten Star, a charming look at Eric Campbell."
Nice, but buy the Restored 90th Anniversary editions instead
Paul J. Mular | San Carlos, CA USA | 06/24/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Up until 2006, these were the best copies on DVD. But now David Shepard and Image Entertainment have restored the missing footage and re-mastered the films , addressing the complaints mentioned below.
So buy the "Mutual Restored 90th Anniversary Edition" instead of this edition.
The Essanay comedies are not part of the new restoration, but can be purchased separately."
Excellent presentation but......
Robert Badgley | London,Ontario,Canada | 06/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've looked through this wonderful release of Chaplin material with a detailed eye.
I've found it on the whole to be a well deserved and well done presentation of some of the most important works in comic cinema history.
I breathed a sigh of relief on seeing the quality of the restored prints as one never knows sometimes what one is going to get with
so-called "restored" films.
I do have some criticism,as picky as they might seem.
Mr.Pollocks' review(a couple previous to this one) makes a couple of rather good points.He mentioned a "mountain climbing outfit" scene in One A.M. that seems to have been forgotten,and some title cards in another that have been excised.
Well I have only viewed the Blackhawk/Van Buren releases for years so I cannot say I have ever seen this particular scene.If it exists,and I have no reason to doubt Mr.Pollock that it does,then it and any other scene not extant in these releases should have been included.As far as title cards go I am not that concerned about leaving some out because the action usually speaks volumes anyways and title cards I find can actually get in the way instead of helping as they were originally intended.
The Van Buren music excluded from the set as also mentioned? Well,as quaint and cute as it was, it was of its time and I'm not too bothered by its' removal.I DO agree that the music throughout could have had a bit more punch to it.
I find that what we have here,as far as the Mutual releases are concerned, are more or less just re-releases of the original Blackhawk/Van Buren film versions.Some wonderful work has been done to restore their condition though,to add original tinting where applicable,etc.But it seems the Blackhawks have been the basis around which Mr.Shepherd has restored them which has led to a less than perfect release and which seems doubly strange considering the "sources" listed in the info booklet( which comes with the set) from whence he supposedly gleaned his material from.MY biggest "complaint" is the "correct speed" statement.
When theses films were first produced and released there wasn't a "correct" anything about them.They were usually viewed on a hand cranked or variable speed projector and many times cue sheets were included to tell the projectionists when to speed the action up or slow it down for effect.As they got repeatedly shown over and over the cue sheets were often by then non extant and the projectionists were often left to their own devices.You might see
say "ONE A.M." at one theater projected a certain way/speed then be able to go across town to another theater and see it projected in a very different way.
And we know the silent films were shot at variable speeds themselves to enhance action where necessary(again hand cranked cameras!).Some have put an average FPS(frames per second) speed of around 16-18 for these films.This is generally close but to put a silent film at a CONSTANT speed in that range is to do an injustice to it and its' creators and their original intent.It does NOT show us what the film actually may have REALLY looked like in a theater in 1916.It may approximate it in some instances but not come even close in others.As a result I look at some scenes in these movies and I wait for Charlie to say "zoom" out a door as he should do but instead as with the entire film before and after he's in a constant state of "correct speed" and the impact therefore is now gone.
Also remember these films were just fillers or run-ups for the main "big" picture being shown on that occasion.Depending on the "pull"/star power of the filler(in this case Chaplin) this is what would draw the crowds to the movie house even MORE than the main feature.So a two reeler was generally not more than 20 minutes.If the two reeler was not that good he might want to speed it up to get it over with.If it was good he might extend it and/or really "spice up" the spots he thought would enhance the picture and the resultant reaction from the audience.Then it might run a little longer.It depended.But not usually the length we see in this release.
Silents were not a cut and dry affair like they are today.There were many variables in the making AND projecting of them.One final "fault" I'd like to point out is the restoration process itself.Currently on Kino video there is the newly restored "Metroplis" an outstanding achievement in the restoration of ANY silent film to date.To make a long story short the European company that did the work used a marvellous new process whereby the picture has its' print faults digitally and exactingly(is that a word?) removed frame by loving frame.The result is astounding,especially considering the shape of what the company had to work with there.My point is I was hoping Shepherd and company would use this process or something similar on these films but they didn't.Too bad.
Despite these "trifles" I'd like to recommend this set to anyone and everyone interested in the early cinema and especially to those Chaplin fans out there.P.S.Regarding the wonderful inclusion of the Eric Campbell special.I find it rather odd that one of the last quotes about Mr.Campbell came not from Chaplin in whose set this is included with and is about but by none other than Stan Laurel."