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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
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Children of Divorce


This Frank Lloyd drama stars Clara Bow, Esther Ralston and Gary Cooper. Support is offered from Einar Hanson, Norman Trevor, Hedda Hopper and Edward Martindel.

Childhood friends Kitty (Bow) and Jean (Ralston) are in love with the same man (Cooper). What will prevail — love or friendship? Heartache and sacrifice ensues.

The Library of Congress acquired the original camera negative of the film in 1969. The negative was beginning to shows signs of decomposition and the archive produced fine-grain photo-chemical preservation duplicate materials at that time. In 2000, the Library undertook a photo-chemical restoration of the film as the camera negative decomposition had advanced and about one-fourth of the footage was unusable. With a conflation of the camera negative and the 35mm preservation materials the restoration was complete. A small amount of decomposition remains in the restoration from the state of the camera negative in the 1960s, hard printed into the 1969 preservation materials, as is seen in the insert shots of Clara writing a letter toward the end of the film.

Carl Bennett

coverFlicker Alley
2016 Blu-ray Disc / DVD edition

Children of Divorce (1927), black & white, 71 minutes, not rated,
with Clara Bow: Discovering the ‘It’ Girl (1999), color, color-tinted black & white and black & white, 65 minutes, not rated.

Flicker Alley, FA0050,
UPC 6-17311-67589-8, ISBN 1-893967-58-1.
One single-sided, dual-layered, Region A Blu-ray Disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in pillarboxed 16:9 (1920 x 1080 pixels) progressive scan AVC (MPEG-4) format, SDR (standard dynamic range), 36.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 2.3 Mbps audio bit rate, LPCM 48 kHz 24-bit 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 9 chapter stops; and one single-sided, dual-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) progressive scan MPEG-2 format, SDR (standard dynamic range), 7.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 Kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 48 kHz 8-bit 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles; 9 chapter stops; over-and-under two-disc BD keepcase; $39.95.
Release date: 13 December 2016.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 9 / audio: 9 / additional content: 8 / overall: 9.

This dual-format Blu-ray Disc / DVD edition has been mastered in 4k high-resolution from the very-good to excellent 2000 restoration by the Library of Congress utilizing what remains of the original camera negative and preservation materials copied in 1969. The restoration source material does have light amounts of dust, speckling, scrapes, schmutz, and fine vertical scratches that remain present in the picture of this edition.

The Blu-ray Disc picture is made up of coarse to fine (depending on the shot) pointilistic black dots instead of gradations of continuous greytones. This makes for a sharp and detailed picture, but one that appears to have swarms of dots throughout the middle greytones. In some shots, the dots are finer and thus less likely the distract the eye from the film’s action. When finer dots make up the image, the picture is more filmlike in appearance.

While there is less sharpness due to the lower resolution disc encoding, we feel that the DVD in this edition produces a more filmlike picture with its smoother greytone transitions. Comparing both discs, there is a two-way compromise between a smooth projected filmlike image (DVD — still frame below) and the sharper details of a high-definition picture (BD — still frame above). We slightly favor the DVD when viewing the film on an HD system.

The film is accompanied by an entertaining music score compiled by Rodney Sauer and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

The supplemental material is limited to a feature-length documentary on Clara Bow by Elaina Archer and Hugh Munro Neely, and a 12-page booklet that includes an excerpt from David Stenn’s Clara Bow biography, a note on the film’s restoration by Larry Smith of the Library of Congress, notes on the music score by Rodney Sauer, and notes on the making of the documentary by Hugh Munro Neely.

Given that this film has previously only been available in bootleg home video editions produced from substandard 16mm reduction prints, we enthusiastically recommend this high-quality Blu-ray Disc/DVD combo edition of this long-out-of-circulation Bow film. Unfortunately, the edition is now out-of-print.

USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc / Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Support Silent Era.
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray / Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Support Silent Era.
Other silent era CLARA BOW films available on home video.

Other silent era GARY COOPER films available on home video.

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