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Chaplin at Keystone; Restored at last
Topic Started: Aug 2 2010, 07:09 PM (3,473 Views)
Ignatz Ratzkywatzky
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Flicker Alley has just announced a 4-DVD, 35 film set--Chaplin at Keystone. This appears to be the BFI restored set that we have been waiting for.

The release date is set for October 26, 2010.
IT CAME FROM THE BOTTOM SHELF! is a movie recommendation site, focusing on forgotten classics, lesser-known gems, and oddball discoveries. https://www.bottomshelfmovies.com
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The Batman
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Iggy, you have made my day! Thanks!!

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Ignatz Ratzkywatzky
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Flicker Alley has now posted an official press release, and I posted an item (with a link to that press release) on my Website, boozemovies.com:

http://www.boozemovies.com/2010/08/booze-news-soused-cinema-dvd-release-of.html
IT CAME FROM THE BOTTOM SHELF! is a movie recommendation site, focusing on forgotten classics, lesser-known gems, and oddball discoveries. https://www.bottomshelfmovies.com
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panzer the great & terrible
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As I mentioned on another thread, I've seen a few of these restorations and I suspect they'll never be topped. Beware imitations. I have cheaper versions of all the Chaplins and they're not worth a cent of your money or a minute of your time.

While we're on the subject of Flicker Alley, Their releases of The Italian Straw Hat (René Clair's best film) and Chicago belong in every collection. The Georges Melies set is pricy, but fascinating, and they've already issued a much cheaper sequel to fill in some of the blanks. My guess, there may be yet another down the road. If there's anybody out there who doesn't know, Melies was a French magician who made the first movies that told a story cinematically, if you define the word "story" kind of loosely. Some of his surviving films exist in hand-colored prints that the set restores, with eye-popping results. The films are short and I only watch a few at a time: three or four seem about right. I've had the set now for a month and have watched a quarter of the first disc, with mounting interest.

I went ahead and ordered the Chaplin set yesterday. They're offering it at a good pre-release price. Their website is interesting (see Ignatz's post above for address).
Edited by panzer the great & terrible, Nov 1 2010, 09:11 PM.
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The Batman
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panzer the great & terrible
Aug 7 2010, 06:52 AM
As I mentioned on another thread, I've seen a few of these restorations and I suspect they'll never be topped. Beware imitations. I have cheaper versions of all the Chaplins and they're not worth a cent of your money or a minute of your time.

While we're on the subject of Flicker Alley, Their releases of The Italian Straw Hat (René Clair's best film) and Chicago belong in every collection. The Georges Melies set is pricy, but fascinating, and they've already issued a much cheaper sequel to fill in some of the blanks. My guess, there may be yet another down the road. If there's anybody out there who doesn't know, Melies was a French magician who made the first movies that told a story cinematically. Some of his surviving films exist in hand-colored prints that the set restores, with eye-popping results. The films are short and I only watch a few at a time: three or four seem about right. I've had the set now for a month and have watched a quarter of the first disc, with mounting interest.

I went ahead and ordered the Chaplin set yesterday. They're offering it at a good pre-release price. Their website is interesting (see Ignatz's post above for address).

Got 'em all, Mr P. Flicker Alley is fast becoming a favourite around the Batcave.

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The Batman
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For those who would like to go directly to the Flicker Alley site announcement for the Chaplin Keystones:


Chaplin Keystone Collection

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Ignatz Ratzkywatzky
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I received my pre-order from Flicker Alley today. It's absolutely beautiful, and the print quality is (comparatively) outstanding. Here's a link to a review of the set:

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film3/dvd_reviews52/chaplin_at_keystone.htm

I echo the strong recommendation for these DVDs!
IT CAME FROM THE BOTTOM SHELF! is a movie recommendation site, focusing on forgotten classics, lesser-known gems, and oddball discoveries. https://www.bottomshelfmovies.com
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panzer the great & terrible
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Watching them chronologically.

"Making a Living" was the first film Chaplin did at Keystone. Instead of the Tramp he plays a dandy/rotter who wants to become a reporter but spends his time trying to snake director Henry Lehrman's girlfriend. According to Chaplin's Autobiography, Lehrman was jealous and cut Chaplin's best comedy bits. "(He) confessed years later that he had done it," wrote Chaplin, "Because, as he put it, he thought I knew too much." Nevertheless, some of the Chaplin genius shines through. The print is the best I've seen.

"Kid Auto Races at Venice, California" was the first the public saw of Chaplin as the Tramp. Sennett sent a crew to film a soapbox derby and Chaplin went along. It's all improvised. Chaplin keeps getting in front of the camera, and we see the audience at the event gradually catch on that he's deliberately being funny. Lucky people! Excellent print.

"Mabel's Strange Predicament" was directed by Mabel Normand, who gave Chaplin a chance to stretch out. His first appearance is 75 feet long, looking forward to such brilliant long takes as the clock scene in "The Pawnbroker."

Mabel is the girl who gets locked out of her hotel room in her pajamas, Chaplin is a drunken masher, and there's an older couple across the hall complete with jealous wife. In other words we're in the land that Thelma Todd would some day rule, but Mabel is fetching too, in a 1914, well-fed sort of way. Near the very end of the film is a few hundred feet from what may be a dupe negative, and it's spectacular stuff. In all, it's the first watchable version of this film I've seen.

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The Batman
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Sooo jealous, guys! But I will be picking my set up on Sunday. Can't wait!

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Ignatz Ratzkywatzky
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panzer the great & terrible
Oct 21 2010, 08:33 AM
The very end of the film is a few hundred feet from what may be a camera negative, and it's spectacular stuff. In all, it's the first watchable version I've seen.

Chaplin's makeup is quite different in "Mabel's Strange Predicament" than in future films. His darkened cheeks make him look gaunt and unshaven. I'd never noticed this before, but as you said, this is the first watchable print of the film.

I skimmed through a few of the Keystones to sample the print quality, and I noticed missing footage and inter-titles that had been reinserted, as well as corrections in the sequencing in some scenes. I think this set will hold lots of surprises. I can't wait to start watching the films chronologically this weekend.

This is my pick for the DVD release of the year.
IT CAME FROM THE BOTTOM SHELF! is a movie recommendation site, focusing on forgotten classics, lesser-known gems, and oddball discoveries. https://www.bottomshelfmovies.com
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panzer the great & terrible
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Mine too, Ig.

"Between Showers" may be the same restoration used in Lobster Films' Saved From the Flames compilation. It's a head-on collision between Ford Sterling's stagy early Keystone style and Chaplin's beginnings at a more filmwise one. The film's mostly improvised, involving the adventures of an umbrella Sterling steals from unwitting cop Chester Conklin. Sterling and Chaplin vie for the attentions of Edna Clifton and the umbrella keeps changing hands. Now that we can see Chaplin's face, he looks impossibly young and handsome in some shots -- his face lights up when he laughs. Photographed in orthochromatic film, the movie looks primitive 'cause of high contrast, but it's as good a print as we're likely to see.

"A Film Johnnie" has Chaplin as a Keystone groupie, stumbling onto film sets and locations and causing havoc. The film is not well-directed but has some of the invention that was already making Chaplin a name performer, especially some improv in which a revolver becomes a toothpick and a cigarette lighter.. There are fascinating glimpses of early Keystone production techniques, cameos from Fatty Arbuckle, Henry Lehrman, and Ford Sterling as themselves, and isn't that Mack Sennett himself in the fire scene?
Edited by panzer the great & terrible, Oct 25 2010, 03:34 AM.
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Laughing Gravy
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Dunno when I'll get into this set (heck, I'm still going through the Mutuals) so thank you for the running reviews. These are useful and interesting.
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panzer the great & terrible
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I'd suggest throwing a Keystone into the mix while watching the Mutuals. Gives a feel for how far Chaplin progressed in three short years...and for the many things in his style that never changed.
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The Batman
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panzer the great & terrible
Oct 21 2010, 08:33 AM
"Making a Living" was the first film Chaplin did at Keystone. Instead of the Tramp he plays a dandy/rotter who wants to become a reporter but spends his time trying to snake director Henry Lehrman's girlfriend. According to Chaplin's Autobiography, Lehrman was jealous and cut Chaplin's best comedy bits. "(He) confessed years later that he had done it," wrote Chaplin, "Because, as he put it, he thought I knew too much." Nevertheless, some of the Chaplin genius shines through. The print is the best I've seen.

"

Picked up my Chaplin at Keystone set yesterday and now having most (if not all) of Chaplin's stuff on disc, I have decided to watch his career in order, to see the evolution of this comedic genius, IMHO.


"Making a Living" - Even under the longer moustache of the classic silent movie villain, Chaplin is still easily recognizable as the Tramp we know and love. You can see the early stirrings of some of his more famous moves and mannerisms in this short. As Mr P states, he plays more of a con-man/swindler in this one, but he still shines.

The print is scratchy, but solid and completely watchable. You always know what is going on.

I am curious about the running time, however, as IMDb has it listed at 15 minutes, but the one on the set only runs 13 minutes. Thoughts Mr P?

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panzer the great & terrible
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It all depends on what speed you project the film. My guess is, the guy with the 15 minute count projected the film at "silent speed" which is too slow for most people and was not the speed professional projectionists used. There is no correct speed. Dave prefers to zip things up a little, and I agree that's best. If you can tell what's going on, then he's got it right in my opinion. There's also the tiny little fact that IMDb is riddled with errors. I know heckin' well Dave and Serge the Lobster guy didn't look at multiple prints and then decide what to throw out: they're looking for MORE footage. Dave is, after all, the fellow who found the offensive stuff Griffith threw out of Birth of a Nation, and then put it all back. That didn't help Griffith's reputation, but it did give us a clear idea of what the film was like on opening night before the fuss about racism made Griffith decide to make changes, something I'm glad he did even though the historic record that he did so is vanishing every day.
Edited by panzer the great & terrible, Oct 27 2010, 05:00 AM.
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