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Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
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The Battle of
the Sexes

(1928)
 

The Battle of the Sexes (1928) was directed by D.W. Griffith and features Jean Hersholt, Phyllis Haver and Sally O’Neil. The title was lifted from Griffith’s 1914 film to grab attention for this late comedy-drama effort which was adapted from The Single Standard by the man who helped develop the language of silent cinema.

Hersholt is exceptional as a middle-aged real estate developer who is lured by a blonde golddigger (Haver) into distancing himself from his family and throwing himself into her jazz baby arms. Her smarmy boyfriend (Don Alvarado) is intent on selling the fool bogus bonds for a quick sting. There is the heartbreak of the discovery of retrayal and deceit, but — surprisingly — it is a story without retribution.

In the late twenties, it was perceived that Griffith was losing touch with the times and that his films were old-fashioned — a persistent perception today. Certainly this was true for Griffith films like Sally of the Sawdust (1925) and The Sorrows of Satan (1926), but this straight-forward tale has the pacing and humor of many other comedy-drama films from 1928. What can be said truthfully is that it is a minor film in Griffith’s oeuvre. A handful of Paramount directors could have produced a similar film, which benefits in no small part from contributions by designer William Cameron Menzies and cinematographer Karl Struss. — Carl Bennett

2000 Image Entertainment DVD edition

The Battle of the Sexes (1928), black & white, 88 minutes, not rated.

Film Preservation Associates, distributed by Image Entertainment, ID9226DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-92262-2.
Windowboxed 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc (reissued on DVD-R disc), Region 1, 5 Mbps average video bit rate, 224 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 16 chapter stops, snapper DVD case, $24.99.
DVD release date: 29 August 2000 (reissued 2012?).
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 8 / audio: 8 / additional content: 5 / overall: 8.

This film, which was released on VHS videotape by Kino International earlier in 2000 and later in the year on DVD, was touted this as its first release on home video. The film had been available on VHS from public-domain distributors before (usually transferred from 16mm reduction prints). We stress that this is the first time 35mm materials have been used for transfer and released by a quality home video company.

A slightly windowboxed digital video transfer was made from a first-generation 35mm nitrate positive struck from the original domestic negative. There are a few minor print flaws in the form of speckling, dust, processing flaws and a little print damage. However, the viewing results are exceptional on standard televisions, and hold up well on high-definition monitors with upscaling capabilities.

The film is accompanied by an excellent music score compiled by Rodney Sauer and Susan Hall, and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. A separate disc menu identifies the musical pieces and their composers and allows audio access to each music cue.

Still a good-looking disc for its age, we highly recommend it for its high-quality picture and outstanding music. The edition has been reissued on DVD-R disc.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era D.W. GRIFFITH films available on home video.

Other silent era JEAN HERSHOLT films available on home video.

 
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