Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|John Barrymore Collection |
Sherlock Holmes / Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde / The Beloved Rogue / Tempest
Actor: John Barrymore
Director: Albert Parker;John S. Robertson;Sam Taylor;Alan Crosland
Genres: Action & Adventure, Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
SHERLOCK HOLMES (1922) - From the collection of the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department. - When a young prince is accused of a crime that could embroil him in international scandal, debonair super-sleuth Sherloc... more »
To Be or Not To Be
Brad Baker | Atherton, Ca United States | 05/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kino is releasing a new four-DVD box set with four films of the silent era starring legendary John Barrymore. Nice going Kino. In 1925, John Barrymore reprised his Broadway stage production of "Hamlet" in London. Also in 1925, he signed a two-picture contract with Joseph Schenck of United Artists, and in the next two years he produced "The Beloved Rogue" and "The Tempest(though Barrymore earned only $2,000 per week as compared to the $10,000 per week he had earned at Warner Bros.)". Both of these films are part of this new collection.
First up is "Sherlock Holmes", based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story.
The film follows the famous Broadway play, including Homles' early days, in which he decides to study criminology. Holmes comes face-to-face with arch enemy Professor Moriarty(Gustav von Seyffertitz). A young William
Powell has a small role in his first Hollywood movie. "Sherlock Holmes" was shot, in part, on location in London and Switzerland. Watch for a scene with Barrymore strolling along the Thames near the London Bridge. Director Albert Parker later complained of Barrymore's drinking during the production. Though Barrymore is fine, the movie suffers from lengthy subtitles, and the pace is sadly tedious. This is the first official release of the 1922 "Sherlock Holmes", on either VHS or DVD, but avid collectors have had access to it for several years. "Sherlock Holmes" was believed to be a lost film, until a battered print surfaced in the 1970's. It was recovered by film historian James Card, and a restored version was fashioned by George Eastman House Motion Pictures, where Card was working. 1922. B & W. Full-Frame. (1.33:1).
Second is "The Beloved Rogue", with Barrymore as famous Parisian poet/vagabond Francois Villon. Crotchety King Louis XI(Conrad Veidt) appoints Villon king for one day. Villon uses the opportunity to rouse the thieves, tramps, and trollops of Paris to defend the walled city against the invading Burgundians. In 1927, Barrymore wrote: "I want my next picture to be something different. Villon was a creative poet, and everything happened in his head". Barrymore's performance is athletic, as he glides down a banister, and scales castle walls. In one scene, he flexes while being tortured, wearing nothing but a loin cloth. But the film's highpoint is the clown sequence. Crowned King of Fools, Villon is dressed in clown costume; white face, red nose, and bald head. First he is exuberant. But the King considers his actions as disrespectful, and Villon is banished from his beloved Paris. Barrymore as Villon here was never more expressive or touching. The camera moves in to record each facial movement. This is rarefied, transcendent acting you will never forget. No classic posing of grief. No grand shedding of tears. But only Barrymore's face, as a great actor disappears in the throes of overwheming artistry. The lavish sets of "The Beloved Rogue" were designed by William Cameron Menzies, who worked on "Gone With the Wind". This film was one of 13 aired in 1971 on public television as part of "The Silent Years" program, hosted by Orson Welles. Here also,is the show's filmed introduction by Orson Welles, a friend of Barrymore. 1927. Color Tinted. 98 minutes. Full-Frame (1.33:1).
Next is "The Tempest", which is set before, during, and after the Russian Revolution. Barrymore plays a Czarist military officer who is rejected by an aristocrat(played by German actress Camilla Horn). Horn had the female lead in Murnau's "Faust(1926)". She goes so far as to toss him into prison. In one scene, Barrymore is bare-chested, still handsome at age 46. It was a happy time for Barrymore during production of "The Tempest", as he enjoyed time with his new wife, Dolores Costello. Yet, despite this, and his financial prosperity, he continued to drink heavily. The studio signed White Russian Vyatcheslav Tourjansky to direct, but he was replaced by Lewis Milestone. Finally, Sam Taylor took over, and he was given screen credit. A screenplay by Erich von Stroheim was used, but after completion, Stroheim insisted that his name be removed from the credits.
1928. B & W. 111 minutes. Full-Frame (1.22:1).
Finally, there is "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", the first great American horror film, directed by John S. Robertson, and Barrymore's perhaps most famous silent movie role. This version of "Jekyll" is one of the most faithful to Stevenson's short story(despite the addition of Ziegfield Follies show-girl Nita Naldi). It is the story of one scientist's doomed attempt to unleash the human mysteries dwelling just beneath the surface of the civilized man. At age 38, Barrymore filmed "Dr. Jekyll" during the day at Astoria Studios(Long Island) and performed "Richard III" on Broadway at night. Including this one, writer Roy Kinnard lists some 16 different versions, sequels, and spin-offs of "Dr. Jekyll" released in the silent era. At least 9 more movie versions surfaced in the sound era, making "Dr. Jekyll" the most filmed subject of all time. Previously released by Kino, and mastered from a 35mm negative, this transfer far surpasses all of the other many VHS and DVD versions. Generous extras include "The Transformation Scene", a 1909 audio recording, "Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride", a 1925 short with Stan Laurel, the Sheldon Lewis version released in the same year(1920), "The Many Faces of Jekyll/Hyde(an essay on the story's history)", and "About the Score" by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. 1920 80 minutes. 1.33:1. Long over-due, this is an absorbing tribute to one of cinema's brightest lights. In fact, nothing would really eclipse a good Barrymore performance until 1929 and the coming of sound. For then we might hear him speak."
A good value if you don't already own these
calvinnme | 04/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The following is from the press release for this set:
Sherlock Holmes (1922) was mastered from a 35mm restoration by the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department, and is accompanied by a score by Ben Model, performed on the Miditzer Virtual Theatre Organ. It is the only new release in this set.
The other three titles are The Beloved Rogue (1927), Tempest (1928) [both previously released by Image Entertainment] and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) [previously released by Kino]. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is in American Silent Horror Collection (The Man Who Laughs/The Penalty/The Cat and the Canary/Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde/Kingdom of Shadows) (5pc) which I own and highly recommend. Only The Beloved Rogue has any extras, which is an introduction by Orson Welles. The Beloved Rogue is not a well-known Barrymore silent, but it shows him in a cross between swashbuckler and comic that is quite entertaining. Plus you get Conrad Veidt, who up to this time had been playing tragic characters in horror films. Formerly released on DVD in 2002, if this is the same transfer it is a good but not great transfer. The Tempest is a film that has John Barrymore as a Russian peasant in search of a military career at the time of WWI/the Russian Revolution. He is caught in a compromising position, and though innocent, is stripped of rank and thrown into prison for the appearance of the thing. Along comes the Russian Revolution and changes everything. Initially released in 2003, this is a pretty good transfer of the film. If Kino restores Sherlock Holmes like they recently restored the Murnau films, that should be some treat to behold.
The Tempest and The Beloved Rogue currently cost as much individually as this set costs on sale/for preorder. Therefore if you are interested in any three of the four, it would probably be worth your while to purchase the set. If you don't own any of the four, you should definitely consider picking this set up and see the versatily of John Barrymore's acting abilities and also that Douglas Fairbanks didn't have a corner on the market of playing the swashbuckler in the silent realm."
Quality releases but not much else
M. J Jensen | Venice, CA United States | 12/18/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The thrill of the initial announcement for this is slightly dimineshed by the contents of the set. The big news of the press release was that the long-lost Sherlock Holmes is finally coming to home video. Some of us were wondering if it would considering the restored reconstuction was almost 10 years ago in 2001. I can only speculate that the long delay must have been financial or legal, since this was a bare-bones release. That's a shame too, since there are volumes of extras that could have been easily created about this particular film, the character Sherlock Holmes, or the actors. In addition to John Barrymore, the film also contains the debuts of William Powell and Roland Young; a simple featurette could have pointed them out to the unfamiliar. I think the most glaring omission is about the history of the film. For being a lost film for years, the reconstruction was a challenge not because of limited available materials, but instead because the elements surviving included EVERY take jumbled out of order. Theoretically, there is a lot of material out there that didn't make it onto the DVD, it would have been nice to see some of that here. Lastly, this film, and the other releases new to Kino inthis set, present a new trend in minimal menus that I'm not very fond of, with about 6 chapter selections listed right on the main menu. Granted, there aren't many extras in the set that they could have branched to, but even when there are, those are still just on the main menu. This trend is reminiscent of the early days of DVD, when not every DVD had menus or chapter selections. Even on past releases with no extra features, Kino displayed a main menu and more sophisticated chapter selections.
As for the other films, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde is the most available of all four, and the DVD with the most extra features in this set. While the extras make it superior to all competitors, they do not feature John Barrymore, but rather the history of the Jekly and Hide productions. Also, this DVD has been previously available from Kino and is found in another box set. While I love Kino, that does irritate me a little, since that practice only seems convenient for people who don't buy many of their products. In other words, it already seems like it's not a product made for people like me.
The Beloved Rogue and Tempest were both already available from Image Entertainment. The Kino edition of the Beloved Rogue has an improved image quality and adds an extra feature, an introduction by Orson Welles from the 70's; the piano score is also apparently still the same used in home video since the 70's. The Kino edition of Tempest, however, has no special features unlike the Image edition, which included home movies of John Barrymore on his yacht, "Vagabonding on the Pacific".
I really wanted to be able to rate this set higher, but i feel it has some shortcomings as a product. For Barrymore fans, Sherlock Holmes is probably the main appeal, but if you're a long-time Barrymore fan then you've probably already purchased some of the existing DVDs on the market. If so, then you probably don't need to double dip here, just buy the Sherlock Holmes single DVD. I can't quite understand Kino's decision not to add anything else to films that are already available on home video--in some cases apparently recycling existing musical scores! Perhaps it's just me, and maybe I've been spoiled by stellar DVD releases of silent films, but I don't see why any film from the silent era wouldn't deserve extra features to add appeal and also put them in context. I don't want to judge the product too harshly on content I feel is absent, but on the other hand, it's difficult to recommend this set on the content that is included. Still, Kino is reknowned for quality silent DVD releases, and the transfers here would only disappoint the strictest critics. As long as you're aware that this product is almost limited to just quality film transfers and aren't expecting fully loaded DVDs, then this set won't disappoint."
Filmnoir | NY | 07/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No one breaks my heart more than this man. Barrymore is more pathetic than tragic, but he still devastates me. When I see him in "Twentieth Century" I am breathless. Even in the worst films that he made, the glimmer of his talent still shines through, however dimly. On every level, this man had it all, but just couldn't overcome the enormous self-destructive streak that was innate. When I see the heights he climbed to, I feel so much sadness about his dissolute life and tumble to the depths. "Dinner at Eight" and "Grand Hotel" are fun, but don't miss "Topaze" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" - or "Eternal Love", or his Sherlock Holmes. My favorite will always be Oscar Jaffe, though. What a creation! What's tragic is that his great stage performances as Hamlet and Richard III could not be filmed at that time."