Thanhouser Classics DVD Synopsis
Edwin W. Thanhouser | Portland, OR United States | 11/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collection of seven classic silent films were produced between 1911 and 1915 by the pioneering Thanhouser Company of New Rochelle, New York. Recently discovered, The Evidence of the Film was selected by the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington as one of 25 films added to the National Film Registry in 2001 for special preservation status. These digitally processed transfers are accompanied by original music composed and performed exclusively for this special edition.
Only in the Way (1911) - Family disharmony with a happy ending featuring Marie Eline, "The Thanhouser Kid."
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912) - Early film production of this classic tale starring James Cruze and Florence LaBadie.
The Cry of the Children (1912) - Critical pre-WW I film on child labor reform starring James Cruze and Marie Eline.
Petticoat Camp (1912) - Early "women's lib" film with a comedy twist with William Russell and William Garwood.
The Evidence of the Film (1913) - Crime tale with film making as a subject starring Florence Labadie and Marie Eline.
A Dog's Love (1914) - Fantasy about the love between a young child, Helen Badgley, and her collie dog, Shep.
Their One Love (1915) - Civil War drama with spectacular night-for-night battle sequences with the Thanhouser Twins."
Steven Hellerstedt | 10/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Preface - I bought this used from a local vendor and have a defective disk. A couple of times while watching this disk the image froze, and track seven (Their Only Love) wouldn't play at all. Still....
It's a treat to watch these short, early films. The print quality is good, although some sections show serious deterioration. The films are digitally preserved, if not restored. It doesn't seriously interfere with enjoying these short gems.
The films I did see:
Only in the Way - 12min. Grandmother is sent to an old folks home, much to the consternation of her adoring (and adorable) granddaughter. Sentimental without being cliché filled. As with most of the others on this disk, it has a strong moral point to make.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - 11 min. Slick transformation scenes for the time. Jekyll has probably never gone from first sip to brutal death so swiftly.
Cry of the Children - 25min. Longest film here, a bit of a melodrama about working for a mill and child labor. Impossibly adorable little Alice (Marie Eline) has to go work in the mill when her mother falls ill.
Petticoat Camp - 14min. Husbands and wives go on a camping trip. Husbands hunt and fish and swim while wives stay at camp doing chores. Wives strike and move to a new site. Comedy doesn't much survive a century's lapse, but an interesting look at gender politics circa 1912.
Evidence of the Film - 14min. A crooked broker plans to bilk a client out of $20,000 by switching an envelope stuffed with newspapers with the one with the money in it. He carries out his nefarious scheme while a camera crew films nearby.
A Dog's Love - 11min. Poor little rich girl with nobody to play with except her best friend, the neighbor's dog Shep.
I recommend these to anyone interested in early filmmaking (although you should buy them from a reputable dealer with a sturdy return policy.) What most impressed me about them were their lack of excessive sentimentality and their ability to strip a story to its essentials and tell it in a short amount of time. Good fun.
Jery Tillotson | New York, NY United States | 10/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This truly amazing DVD from Marengo is a must-see for any movie lover--and especially for any budding film historian. You don't have to be a fan of early or silent movies to enjoy these treats. If nothing else, you can study the women of the early l900s dressed in theirlong gowns, corseted, narrow waists, enormous hats and men in their high collars. Thanhouser was the MGM of the l900s in that budding new invention: flickers. In these movie shorts, you're presented with a time capsule that captures America at the turn of the 20th century. Filmed mostly in and around New Rochelle, NY, this smart, prestige studio created short films that were shown mostly in the back of stores, in nickolodeans and in a few new sights in many towns and cities: the movie houses. "Petticoat Camp", filmed in spring of l912, shows you a group of fun-loving and attractive couples who camp out for a weekend. Usually, we see images of American women and women in that year in stiff, formal photographs. In this film short, you see them naturally--joking, teasing--acting like people you know today. They evoke a living past that most of us only see in museums and history books. "The Cry of the Children" is another fascinating glimpse into the early America of l911. Filmed in winter, where snow abounds in several scenes, you discover that Thanhouser was already finding its voice in creating controversy as it showed child labor horrors. I watch this DVD regularly after having enjoyed all these movies on tape. They are endlessly fascinating in studying acting styles circa l911-12, fashions, physical types (women were usually buxom, full-figured)decor of homes and apartments. Decorations were still over-stuffed Victorian with tons of bric-brac, ferns, flowers, heavy draperies. Now, if only Marengo would bring out all the other movies from the Thanhouser vaults.Many of these performers are so good-looking, especially the men in "Petticoat Camp" that they would have no problems at all finding work in today's movies or television. Watch, enjoy and watch again!"
A wonderful and impressive collection!
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 11/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collection of seven excellent short silent films from the years 1911 to 1915 is extremely interesting and enjoyable to watch, and as good as other well-known films of that time such as by D.W. Griffith (eg his Biograph Shorts). Most of them are around 15 minutes in length only but contain all the ingredients of a good, moving and touching story. They vary from themes with a tragic and serious message (such as child labor) to a light-hearted look at early women's lib ("Petticoat Camp") There is one to get you thinking about how to treat the elderly ("Only in the Way"), a tear-jerker about the love between a girl and a dog, and even a surprisingly good 11-minute version of "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde". The editing and overall presentation of these films are excellent, especially for their time, and each one is a gem in my opinion. The DVD also has very good notes on each film with a list of the cast and short explanations about special features or highlights of each film. The music is mainly traditional organ accompaniment, well-suited to each scene and appropriate. Definitely a must for anyone who appreciates silent films or quality stories told in a short film.
A previous reviewer seems to have received the same kind of faulty DVD as I had, with skipping and some tracks not playable. I was able to return my faulty disc to Marengo Films and promptly received a replacement so that I could thoroughly enjoy these wonderful films. I hope there are only a few such faulty ones around, but in any case, the folks at Marengo Films are very nice and fully guarantee their products."