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Contains a tantalising glimpse of the 'lost' 1929 sound version.
on 23 April 2014
As Amazon still persists in mixing reviews up with wrong editions, this review is for the BFI edition. I received this DVD after one day of ordering, what a result!
Watching it, however, I can't help comparing it with the still definitive 'Milestone' Phantom disc set, as this BFI set succeeds and fails in equal proportions. I bought this mainly for the apparently only surviving reel (part 5) of the 'lost' 1929 sound release, in which the principle actors (minus Lon Chaney, as he was now working for MGM) were bought back four years later to fill out the feature so that a part talkie could be released.The section of the film this concerns is following the fall of the chandelier with Mary Philbin, looking slightly older, (it's 1929!) back in her dressing room.This alone was worth it for me. So the programme goes--
Disc 1. The Photoplay blu-ray version of the 1929 re release (silent) version-- fine, though the grain seemed now a little more apparent in HD, and the original 1925 release, as good as can be expected, considering the worn out 16mm origin. Also sound and silent trailers and Part 5 of the sound re release, plus the 'Man with the lantern' sequence, without any explanation.
Disc 2. The same things in standard DVD.
Disc 3. Documentary; Lon Chaney: A thousand faces.
What's missing for me is what's only in the 'Milestone' boxset---The excellent Scott MacQueen commentary on the Photoplay 1929 silent re release, and the wonderfully atmospheric organ score by Jon Mirsalis in the 1925 version. This BFI set had an adequate piano accompaniment in my opinion.
What a bonus if they could find the complete 1929 sound release print!
All in all? If you've got the Milestone edition, you've got this and more, (including trailers). If you want a tantalising glimpse of the 1929 sound release, however, you'll have to cough up for this one.
An excellent addition in this set is a booklet explaining it all.