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The House of Mystery (La Maison du mystère)

 

(Alexandre Volkoff, 1923)

 

10-episode Films Albatros serial!

 

Serial films, or ciné romans were well-established in France before World War I, where they are most closely identified with writer-director Louis Feuillade. These melodramas for adult audiences were unlike American serials that were targeted primarily at youngsters. At Albatros, Russian émigré producer Joseph Ermolieff produced three serials in 1921, all adapted from roman-feuilletons by the phenomenally successful Jules Mary, a specialist in the genre, who penned many a famous melodrama around the theme of the miscarriage of justice - a theme that must have had special appeal for the unjustly displaced technicians and artists of Ermolieff's Moscow and Yalta studios.

The first two serials have not left a trace in the annals of film archives. But The House of Mystery (La Maison du mystère), Ermolieff's third serial, (begun in the summer of 1921 and not completed until 1923) by Alexandre Volkoff (with fellow studio director Viatcheslav Tourjansky providing some important and uncredited second-unit work), is a triumph of the genre and a complete delight that not only survived, but also was restored in its original ten-episode format by the Cinematheque Francaise. Flicker Alley and the Blackhawk Films® Collection are proud to present for the first time on DVD this six-and-a-half-hour epic of stylish elegance and narrative imagination, with optional English subtitles by Lenny Borger and a brand-new score by composer Neil Brand.


Titles


The involved plot of La Maison du mystère centers around Julien Villandrit (Ivan Mosjoukine) and his star-crossed courtship to Régine de Bettigny (Hélène Darly), that inspires bitterness and jealousy in Henri Corradin (Charles Vanel), Julien's long-time associate and secret rival in love. For Mosjoukine, who contracted typhoid fever during the course of production, it remains one of the ultimate consecrations to his multifarious talents as actor, writer, and even make-up artist. But the film also opened doors for Vanel (Les Misérables, The Wages of Fear, Diabolique) who gives the "Curses! Foiled again!" school of melodramatic villainy a new lease on life), and the astonishing Nicolas Koline.


Serials on disc reviewed by DVDBeaver

Theatrical Releases: April 10th, 1923

  DVD Reviews

 

DVD Review: Flicker Alley (3-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Flicker Alley - Region 0 - NTSC
Bitrates: Respective bitrates - 7.95, 7.13, 7.95 mb/s
Time: Respectively - 1:56:12, 2:23:40, and 2:03:28 (almost 6.5 hours)
Bitrate:

Disc 1

Bitrate:

Disc 2

Bitrate:

Disc 3

Audio 2.0 channel Dolby (Neil Brand piano score)
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Flicker Alley

Aspect Ratio:
1.33:1 Aspect Ratios - with some variation 

Edition Details:

  •  Included in this edition are a bonus slideshow featuring rare production stills and behind-the-scenes photos, as well as a booklet with an essay and biographical material on some of the actors and artists by film historian Lenny Borger.


DVD Release Date: April 7th, 2015

Transparent Heavy Keep Cases

 

 

 

Comments:

The 3 DVD SD content of this boxset is housed in a heavy transparent keep case and they are not sold separately at this time by Flicker Alley. Together it is almost 6.5 hours of Silent Era entertainment.

All three DVDs are dual-layered, progressive in, and around, the 1.33:1 aspect ratio and are coded for Region 0 in the NTSC standard. The Neil Brand score sounds wonderful and there are optional English subtitles (samples below).

Renée Lichtig's 1990 35mm restoration has been utilized - digitally restored by Eric Lange with content from Le Cinémathèque Française. It looks fabulous - no heavy flickering - in fact unbelievable stable with impressive and consistent grey scale. The image can look a shade thin at times - that would be my only complaint. The tinting for separation of lighting sequences is not extensively used. The digital work done makes the image look immaculate in-motion. There is some minor damage (see last screen capture below) but it is extremely rare. There are some scenes with a wider ratio than 1.33:1 and the SD image it is matted to a 1.78:1 frame.   

The Film is composed of 10 episodes: 1.- L'Ami felon. 2.- Le secret de L'etang. 3.- L'Ambition au service de la haine. 4.- L'Implacable verdict. 5.- Le Pont vivant. 6.- La Voix du sang. 7.- Les Caprices du destin. 8.- En Champ clos. 9.- Les Angoisses de Corradin. 10.- Le Triomphe de L'amour - ranging from 35-52 minutes each.

There are no extras aside from are a slideshow featuring rare production stills and behind-the-scenes photos, as well as a booklet with an essay and biographical material on some of the actors and artists by film historian Lenny Borger. 

For Silent Era fans, this is an amazing opportunity - as The House of Mystery (La Maison du mystère) is easily to totally wrap yourself up in. It looks and sounds exceptional and the screen captures below bear that out. I watched this every night for 3 nights - enjoying it more with each viewing. Very strongly recommended!

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus


 

 


 

 Intertitle Sample

 

 

Subtitle Sample

 


Screen captures

 





 















Damage

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

Distribution Flicker Alley - Region 0 - NTSC
Serials on disc reviewed by DVDBeaver




 

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