Incredible Film Experience!
Jery Tillotson | New York, NY United States | 03/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have raved about this really astounding movie to all my film buff buddies. When I first saw it a year ago, it was one of the great movie-going experiences in my life. The male star, Rockliffe Fellowes, is so dynamic and masterful, that it's a tragedy his career never went anywhere. You'll be amazed at how much he resembles and acts like Marlon Brando. Even though his co-star is the beautiful Anna Q. Nillson, you can't keep your eyes off Rockliffe who is so charismatic in his performance I'm surprised there weren't mob scenes because he is so ...sexy and magnetic. I urge my younger film buffs to watch this movie and see what incredible work was being done nearly l00 years ago in the American cinema. This movie belongs in the library of any serious movie buff. It's also fascinating as a piece of visual Americana since it was filmed on location NY"s Bowery and actual inhabitants were used, giving this work an amazing sense of realism. Don't miss this one! Especially now that it's on DVD."
Two fine films from 1915
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 12/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The two films on this DVD are both well worth seeing. They show how quickly film- making had developed by 1915. Both films are sophisticated and tell their stories with flair and invention. Regeneration is one of the early films of Raoul Walsh, a truly great director, who would go on to make such classic films as The Thief of Bagdad, The Roaring Twenties and High Sierra. Walsh clearly knew how to make a crime drama, which is not surprising for, with Regeneration, he virtually invented the gangster film. The story shows a young orphan boy growing up in New York tenements, brutalised by his environment and turning to a life of petty crime. The film provides us with a fascinating and authentic view of real life New York locations. Many of the extras were recruited from these tough streets and it shows. The faces of these people seem to be marked by the conditions of the life they lead and the slums in which they live. Even the star of the film, Rockliffe Fellowes, is not exactly handsome. He looks rough, someone not to be messed with, and plays his part very well with an understated method of acting which fits in with the character and the story. Anna Q Nilsson plays a beautiful society lady who falls for Fellowes and sets out to lead him away from his life of crime. She is convincing in a difficult role.It would be grossly unfair to complain about the quality of the print of Regeneration as it is a miracle that it survives at all. It was found in1976 in a soon to be demolished building in Montana and is almost certainly the only surviving print of this important film. For most of its running time the colour-tinted print is very clear and sharp, but periodically, and thankfully briefly, the print shows some serious decomposition. That said, it is always possible to follow the action on the screen and the print damage does not distract from the enjoyment of the film. Philip Carli provides a good and appropriate piano score. Young Romance is something of a revelation. I bought the DVD for Regeneration, but enjoyed this extra film almost as much. It is the story of two shop workers who separately and coincidentally decide to masquerade as rich people in a resort in Maine. Although they work in the same shop they don't know each other and of course they meet up in the posh Hotel and start to fall in love. The plot is a delight; with the farcical difficulties these people have trying to act out the role of the rich. This is especially the case when they try to order dinner and have difficulties with the menu. Edith Taliaferro shows her skill as a comedienne and is a pleasure to watch, while her co-star Tom Forman, although a bit wooden, is good at acting bemused. The colour-tinted print of Young Romance is first rate and shows hardly any damage. Robert Israel provides a nice score which really fits the style and period of the action. These two films are good examples of the quality of films that were made in 1915. It is a pity that so few films from this period are available today."
Talking About Regeneration
Tom Without Pity | A Major Midwestern Metropolis | 03/25/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a review of the Kino videotape of Raoul Walsh's groundbreaking film REGENERATION (1915).
REGENERATION is generally credited as being the first feature length gangster film. It is also notably, the first feature length film directed by Raoul Walsh, one of the greatest early directors whose career lasted into the 1960s.
The story concerns Owen, an 10-year old orphan boy, who is informally adapted by his across the tenement hall neighbors and thus saved from literally living on the streets. Life at his foster parents' flat is anything but peaceful and nuturing, poverty causes many drunken arguments and Owen clearly has no responsible role models in this situation. He feels the sting of uncaring neglect at this early age and learns to disrespect adult authority in return.
When next we see Owen he is an 17-year old chopping ice on a dock. He tangles with gang member Skinny who is taking advantage of a smaller boy. Owen, in true heroic fashion, beats the stuffing out of the cowardly Skinny which impresses other people on the docks including Skinny's gang pals.
Next we join Owen(now played by Rockcliffe Fellowes) in a saloon at the age of 25. He is indisputedly the gang leader. Hiis Brando-like physical appearence casually dominates these early gang scenes and it is clear that he is the rising star in this world. When a highly publicized anti-gang district attorney visits the saloon to show off for slumming socialite friends, Owen saves them from an attack by his gang buddies and wins the notice of society girl Marie Deering (Anna Q. Nilsson).
Eventually, Owen and Marie have a subdued romance which causes Owen to leave the gang and he tries to reform against great odds. Ultimately, Owen has to phsyically defeat the gang and its new leader, Skinny, and prove his redemption to everyone, especially himself.
REGENERATION is something like a combination of Horatio Alger and D.W. Griffith which works well during its 72 or so minutes. Also notable is Raoul Walsh's filming on New York City's lower east side using many actual gang members and other slum dwellers as both actors and very colorful extras. REGENERATION'S influence can be seen on films from from UNDERWORLD (1927) through GOODFELLAS (1990) and beyond.
REGENERATION also marks the true beginning of Raoul Walsh's stellar directorial career which produced too many exciting movies to even try to list here. But if you want to see where the feature length gangster film began, REGENERATION is the place to start. All of that aside, REGENERATION is a darn fine movie and as entertaining as any motion picture can be.
I rate this film five stars and consider it a "must see."
Shadowy and brilliant
Rose Keefe | Canada | 08/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There was more to the Silent Era of Film than the sugary Mary Pickford reels and the slapstick of Chaplin, Keaton, and the Keystone Cops. In "Regeneration", Raoul Walsh, who was also an accomplished actor, took a cue from D.W. Griffith and used film as a means to first confront the public with issues that breached contemporary sensitivities, and then present a potential solution and, for good measure, the consequences of ignorance.
"Regeneration" (1915) was not shot in an elaborate Hollywood studio, but on the gritty streets of New York. Real tenements and their Dickensian dwellers figure prominently in the background AND the storyline. Owen, a gangster boss, and Marie, a society girl who finds her true calling as a social worker at a slum district settlement house, push each other toward their ultimate destinies: he recognizes the evil of the life he has been leading and 'goes straight', while she becomes of a victim of the violence that she has been selflessly working to eradicate. It's not the type of 'happily ever after' picture that was being churned out by the hundreds during the golden age of filmmaking, and its effect is unsettling even by today's standards.
"Regeneration" is especially noteworthy in that the bit players were, for the most part, New York low life. Alternately uplifting and depressing, this movie deserves an upper spot in any list of the previous century's most powerful films."