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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Lonesome [Blu-ray]

 

(Pál Fejös, 1928)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal Picture Corporation

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #623

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:10:09.330

Disc Size: 47,306,451,767 bytes

Feature Size: 19,579,219,968 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.99 Mbps

Chapters: 15

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 28th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Audio commentary featuring film historian Richard Koszarski
The Last Performance, director Paul Fejos's 1929 silent starring Conrad Veidt (59:32)
Reconstructed sound version of Broadway, Fejos's 1929 musical (1:44:27)
Fejos Memorial, a 1963 visual essay produced by Paul Falkenberg (19:35)
Audio excerpts about Broadway from an interview with cinematographer Hal Mohr (6:52)
A booklet featuring essays by critic Phillip Lopate

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: A buried treasure from Hollywood’s golden age, Lonesome is the creation of a little-known but audacious and one-of-a-kind filmmaker, Paul Fejos (also an explorer, anthropologist, and doctor!). While under contract at Universal, Fejos pulled out all the stops for this lovely, largely silent New York City symphony set in antic Coney Island during the Fourth of July weekend, employing color tinting, superimposition effects, experimental editing, and a roving camera (plus three dialogue scenes, added to satisfy the new craze for talkies). For years, Lonesome has been a rare treat for festival and cinematheque audiences, but it’s only now coming to home video. Rarer still are the two other Fejos films from his Universal years included in this release: The Last Performance and a reconstruction of the previously incomplete sound version of Broadway, in its time the most expensive film ever produced by the studio.

 

 

The Film:

Dr. Paul Fejos, producer of that unusual film "The Last Moment," is responsible for "Lonesome," the production with which Universal has re-opened the Colony Theatre. This current attraction suggests an O Henry story without that author's keen insight into human nature. It is agreeable and interesting, a relief in many respects from the cut and dried picture formula so frequently set forth as a narrative. But there are a number of episodes where Dr. Fejos's imagination seems stunted. Sometimes it looks as though he did not know what to do with his characters; he also sounds the same note too often.

The rigid direction has its effect upon the acting, particularly on the performance of Barbara Kent, who, charming as she looks when smiling, is hardly expected to appear as cheerful as she does in most of the scenes.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

Lonesome is a working-class lullaby. In finding its plot in the day-to-day activities of everyday life, Lonesome reminds of a narrative version of Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, and also anticipates the docu-drama prototype People on Sunday that borrows significantly from Fejos’ story. With almost no intertitles, the film’s opening sequence shows the expressive magnificence of editing during the silent era. Its heroes, Mary (Barbara Kent) and Jim (Glenn Tyron), are average blue-collar citizens and their story is that of an ordinary day. They may not know each other, but they are isolated parts of the same machine. They rise early, dress hurriedly, dunk their doughnuts in coffee at the local diner, and rush to join the crowd as the whole city heads to work. Fejos crams the image with so many people it seems as though the screen will burst and subway passengers will spill out into the aisles.

Excerpt from Not Coming to a theatre near you located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The varying quality of Criterion's Blu-ray image is entirety due to the condition of the Eastman restored source.  There is light damage and speckles but the grain is exquisite.  This is dual-layered with a very high bitrate and we can guess that it is as solid representation of Lonesome as we are likely to get on digital.  The contrast is at Criterion's high standard. The color example is somewhat of a novelty. This Blu-ray exports the imperfect source wonderfully in 1080P. I REALLY enjoyed the presentation.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The score and brief dialogue are presented via a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. The score sounds great and the dialogue, predictably imperfect. The intertitles are pristine in a wonderful font (and in English). My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

Criterion have really stacked the disc starting with a professional audio commentary featuring film historian Richard Koszarski author of An Evening's Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915-1928 (History of the American Cinema). The Last Performance, director Paul Fejos's 1929 silent starring Conrad Veidt as a vengeful magician smitten with his assistant, Like many pictures bridging the silent and sound eras - it was initially filmed as a silent then had dialogue added before its release. Unfortunately, the part-talkie version of the film no longer exists. It is presented with the Danish version of the silent film, re-titled "De tolv kilnger" (The Twelve Swords) with a new score by composer Donald Sosin. It runs an hour in HD. We also get a reconstructed sound version of Broadway (1:44:27), Fejos's 1929 musical - a black-and-white tale of hoofers and gangsters in a New York Nightclub that features a daring Technicolor finale, released as both a silent and sound feature - although the last reel of the sound film has been lost - it was reconstructed incorporating the silent version with a sound element discovered in a private collection. There is 20minutes of a Fejos Memorial, a 1963 visual essay produced by Paul Falkenberg and 7-minutes of audio excerpts about Broadway from an interview with cinematographer Hal Mohr. The package contains a booklet featuring essays by critic Phillip Lopate.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Lonesome is brilliant - reminding me of Murnau and some of the best Silent films I've ever seen. I'm so thankful for the Criterion's stacked Blu-ray package and, even beyond Silent Era fans, this has our strongest recommendation! Don't miss this! 

Gary Tooze

August 21st, 2012


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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