Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

 

 

 

Frank Borzage Vol 1: Seventh Heaven + Street Angel

 


 

(aka "Seventh Heaven" or "Im siebenten Himmel" or "El 7 cielo" or "Settimo cielo" )

 

directed by Frank Borzage
USA 1927

 

...This is an exceptionally well-acted place of work and Janet Gaynor's performance as Diane is true and natural throughout. This young woman was discovered by Winfield R. Sheehan, general production manager for the Fox Film Corporation. Never once does she falter in her difficult task of reflecting the emotions of the character she portrays. There is no effort to make her unduly beautiful with a halo over her head. She is winsome from the moment one beholds her countenance. She can cry and smile simultaneously and she impresses one by her depiction of faith when every day at 11 o'clock she "meets" her Chico, who is in the trenches. Sometimes Miss Gaynor reminds one of Lillian Gish and in other moods she resembles Lois Moran. Yet in her acting there is nothing imitative, but always an earnest and successful effort to impersonate the French girl who is rescued from hardship and cruelty by that "very remarkable fellow," Chico....

Mr. Borsage, who produced some passages of this production in the French capital, reveals no little imagination in his work and sometimes when it is least expected. He has a happy way of setting forth a touch of comedy at the psychological moment. Take the moment when Papa Boule's dear Eloise explodes. All that is left of the taxicab is the old-fashioned horn, and Papa Boule, brushing away a tear, declares that Eloise died for France. You will always remember the bit where a poilu, a sewer companion of Chico's, steals a chicken, and the officers in lieu of observing a roast fowl when the dish cover is raised observe to their chagrin nothing but a block of wood.

Excerpt of review from Mordaunt Hall located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 6th, 1927

Reviews       More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Review:

BFI (Frank Borzage Volume One) - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Covers

 

 

Distribution BFI
Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:53:44 (4% PAL speed-up)
Video

1.20:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.87 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio

Silent (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.20:1

Edition Details:
• Illustrated booklet containing essays and credits

DVD Release Date: October 26th, 2009
Keep Case

Chapters 9

 

Comments

Although both 7th Heaven and Street Angel were released as part of last year's mammoth Murnau, Borzage and Fox box set, the BFI's recent release of the two in Frank Borzage Volume One stands out as one of the most important releases of silent cinema this year. These films are two of the crown jewels of late 20's Hollywood. Borzage, a former actor himself, deftly crafts raw emotion like almost no other director of his or any other era. Here there is no exception. Both films, while perhaps properly labeled melodramas, transcend the limitations of that title, revealing the complexities and sorrows of love and loss in ways that almost no other film has.

I consider this disc to be another essential purchase from the BFI and would encourage anyone to pick this up even if you already own the Fox box. Before I get to why that is, let's talk about the limited downsides to the purchase. The first point to note is that the commentary found in the region 1 release by Robert Birchard and Anthony Slide on 7th Heaven is missing here. Unfortunately, I have never heard it, so I can't comment on its value, but I can only assume that this was quite the loss for the release. Second, the transfers are essentially identical to those in Fox's release, and to paraphrase Gary, they are what they are. As Fox says in their release, the best available elements were used to construct these prints. While there are some scenes that look quite nice, overall there is a good deal of damage on both prints. However, both are acceptable for films from the silent era and look better in motion than the captures do justice. Over all, the quality of the image was never a major concern, as I was just happy to have either on DVD. The sound too, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 here is not ideal, but still passable.

So, why should you consider this package? There are are two reasons (three if you count the ENORMOUS price difference between the two release). First, as Craig Keller noticed HERE, the aspect ratio of Street Angel was artificially compressed from 1.33:1 to 1.20:1 in the Fox set. As a result the images on screen were thinned, creating a very unnatural look. Thankfully the BFI has restored the film to its original aspect ratio, and it can now be enjoyed without the previous distraction. Second, the disc comes with one of the best booklets that I have ever come across from the BFI. It has essays on both films and a rather lengthy one on Borzage himself (not to mention the luscious and clear black and white stills that we get from the film). Each essay is phenomenal, but the real stand out here is Joe McElhaney's "Frank Borzage: Architect of Ineffable Desires", which is essential reading for anyone interested in the director.

I give this release my highest recommendation for anyone interested in silent cinema, classic Hollywood, or simply grand storytelling. Right now this is available at a little under £6.00 per film on amazon.uk. At even twice that price it would still be a steal.

 - Brian Montgomery

 



DVD Menus
 

 


 

Screen Captures

Intertitle Sample

 

 


(Fox (Murnau, Borzage, and Fox) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI (Frank Borzage Volume One) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Fox (Murnau, Borzage, and Fox) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI (Frank Borzage Volume One) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


 

 

 


 


 

directed by Frank Borzage
USA 1928

 

A picture of wonderful beauty, entitled "Street Angel," was presented by William Fox at the Globe Theatre last night. This entrancing production was directed by Frank Borsage, who guided the destinies of the pictorial version of "Seventh Heaven." In it the leading rĂ´les are finely portrayed by Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. Never has the camera been used quite so effectively and artistically as it is in this subject, for in the background of the sombre side of Naples there are the compelling shadows, the inspiring old arches, the slender iron railings over the foot-worn steps and, in many of the scenes, there hangs a soft mist through which the characters sometimes fade gradually from view....

The story is told in a peculiarly appealing fashion. It is particularly charming when Gino whistles a few bars from "O Sole Mio" and hears the answer whistled by Angela. When she is led away to the workhouse, Gino is in his room. He whistles and at first Angela cannot make a sound with her nervous lips, but finally she succeeds in spasmodically whistling the air. All these scenes are so marvelously photographed, that even without considering the story or the acting, they are always a source of admiration. It is indeed a picture which possibly more than any other reveals the strides made in motion picture camera work.

Miss Gaynor and Mr. Farrell, who were together in the film conception of "Seventh Heaven," are equally clever in this current offering. Miss Gaynor is especially fine in the sequence in which she is having the tearful hour with Gino, who looks upon her tears of sorrow as tears of joy. Mr. Farrell is a fine specimen of manhoood, and he, too, acts as well as he did as that "very remarkable fellow" in "Seventh Heaven." He is swelled with pride as the artist who has earned an enviable commission and when he is left alone he is doleful, morose, wondering what has become of Angela.

Excerpt of review from Mordaunt Hall located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: April 9th, 1928

Reviews        More Reviews         DVD Reviews

 BFI (Frank Borzage Volume One) - Region 2 - PAL



DVD Menu
 

 


 

Screen Captures

Intertitle Sample

 


(Fox (Murnau, Borzage, and Fox) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI (Frank Borzage Volume One) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

NOTE: Murnau, Borzage, and Fox is horizontally compressed!

 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 

DVD Box Covers

 

 

Distribution BFI
Region 2 - PAL



Search DVDBeaver
S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!