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The Penalty [Blu-ray]
(Wallace Worsley, 1920)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Goldwyn Pictures Corporation
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 32,733,919,870 bytes
Feature Size: 26,277,536,832 bytes
Video Bitrate: 31.89 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: October 22nd, 2012
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3848 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3848 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
• A video tour of Chaney's actual makeup case and the "double
amputee" costume worn in The Penalty (9:33)
Essay by Chaney biographer Michael F. Blake
Description: In a role that established him as one of the most dynamically terrifying performers of the silent screen, Lon Chaney (The Phantom of the Opera) stars in The Penalty, a grotesque thriller form director Wallace Worsley (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). When an incompetent doctor amputates the legs of a young boy, he has no idea that the youth will grow up to be the immoral and embittered Blizzard, a criminal mastermind who orchestrates a bizarre and heinous plot to avenge himself upon his malefactor.
Lon Chaney, the Man of a Thousand Faces, was no mere makeup wizard, as this dark, deviant crime drama shows. Strapping his legs into a painful leather harness to play a double-amputee underworld kingpin, Chaney scrambles through the film like a human spider weaving his criminal web across San Francisco with equal parts seduction and terror. Crippled as child by an incompetent doctor, he dedicates his life to vengeance in a double-barreled plot that will bring both the city and the doctor (now an honored physician) to their knees. Director Wallace Worsley (who later collaborated with Chaney on his legendary Hunchback of Notre Dame) peppers the busy plot with bizarre touches of sexual menace and sadism, and he creates a wicked atmosphere of corruption and murder that implicates every character. Even the absurd twist of a happy ending can't wipe that away.Excerpt from Sean Axmaker's review at Amazon located HERE
In The Penalty Chaney transforms his body into that of a double
amputee (needless to say, the 1920 intertitles have no qualms about
calling him a cripple). There are no elaborate makeup effects. We can
see his true face here, and the hammy grimacing that Chaney could
indulge in is kept pretty much under control. The evil of his character
of Blizzard, king of the San Francisco criminal underworld, is generally
conveyed by a slight scowl to his features, which only softens when he’s
with his underlings, when he’s applying a mask of pretence to the
outside world, or when he’s enraptured by the power of music. (Yes, here
music calms the savage beast.)
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Penalty arrives on Blu-ray from Kino Video. The image quality is about what I expected. This is dual-layered with a strong bitrate and, I assume, the 1080P does its absolute best with the impressive George Eastman House 35mm restoration. There are tints but mostly the film is in black and white with decent contrast. Detail in close-ups has impressive moments. This Blu-ray has done a solid job in presenting the film with few warts and a reasonably consistent image.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio comes in two flavors of the same new Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra score - a DTS-HD Master surround at a healthy 3848 kbps and a linear PCM stereo track at 2304 kbps. The surround mix has some adroit separations but in my sampling I may have preferred the 2.0 channel which still contained some potent depth and the orchestra sounded crisp. The intertitles are in English and there are no subtitle options.My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
There are some decent extras on this Blu-ray. We get a 10-minute video tour of Chaney's actual makeup case and the "double amputee" costume worn in The Penalty which is fairly interesting. There is also one of Chaney's one-reel westerns entitled By the Sun's Rays running a dozen minutes. It is only 2.5 minutes but the disc includes the only surviving footage of Chaney's 1919 The Miracle Man about a gang of crooks who evade the police by moving their operations to a small town. There are original theatrical trailers from Chaney's The Big City (:47) and While the City Sleeps (:54) and some liner notes essays; "The Penalty: Novel, Script to Screen" and another by Chaney biographer Michael F. Blake etc.
October 18th, 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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