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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2018 by Carl Bennett
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Norma Talmadge
at Vitagraph



Contents: A Tale of Two Cities (1911), His Official Appointment (1912), An Old Man’s Love Story (1913), Father’s Hat Band (1913), Sawdust and Salome (1914), The Helpful(?) Sisterhood (1914), John Rance, Gentleman (1914) and The Devil’s Needle (1916) [excerpt].

This collection of Norma Talmadge short films (plus a feature film exerpt) focuses on her years as a supporting and featured player at The Vitagraph Company of America. Ranging from historical dramas through contemporary light comedy, the films become a showcase for standout Norma Talmadge, who by 1916 would be a leading lady in feature films. — Carl Bennett

coverGrapevine Video
2007 DVD edition

Norma Talmadge at Vitagraph (1911-1916), black & white, 114 minutes total, not rated
including A Tale of Two Cities (1911), black & white, 21 minutes, not rated, His Official Appointment (1912), black & white, 10 minutes, not rated, An Old Man’s Love Story (1913), black & white, 13 minutes, not rated, Father’s Hat Band (1913), black & white, 8 minutes, not rated, Sawdust and Salome (1914), black & white, 12 minutes, not rated, The Helpful(?) Sisterhood (1914), black & white, 19 minutes, not rated, John Rance, Gentleman (1914), black & white, 21 minutes, not rated, and The Devil’s Needle (1916) [excerpt], black & white, 9 minutes, not rated.

Grapevine Video, no catalog number, UPC 8-42614-10278-3.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD-R disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in windowboxed 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 32 chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $14.95.
Release date: 2007.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 4 / audio: 5 / additional content: 0 / overall: 4.

This DVD-R edition has been mastered from an older analog video master that was prepared for release on VHS videotape in the 1990s. The source prints appear to range from 16mm reduction positives to 8mm reduction positives. And, as would be expected, the visual quality ranges from good (The Devil’s Needle) to poor (John Rance, Gentleman). Several of the source prints have little highlight or shadow detail and are soft in their image details.

The films are accompanied by compiled music scores of preexisting recordings.

This collection is likely to be rough going for most viewers, with the dedicated Talmadge fan being the most forgiving viewer of all. Unfortunately, the charming Norma Talmadge isn’t quite enough to buoy this collection above its so-so source prints.

USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
This Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition is available directly from GRAPEVINE VIDEO.
Other silent era NORMA TALMADGE films available on home video.
Silent Era Home Page  >  Home Video  >  Norma Talmadge at Vitagraph



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