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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
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Under Full Sail
Silent Cinema on the
High Seas

(1922-1933)
 

Contents: The Yankee Clipper (1927), an exerpt from Down to the Sea in Ships (1922), Ship Ahoy! (1928), The Square-Rigger (1932), and Around the Horn in a Square-Rigger (1933).

This collection of nautical films includes the DeMille-produced The Yankee Clipper (1927), directed by Rupert Julian, and starring husband and wife team William Boyd and Elinor Fair. The big-budget film was partially shot aboard a mid-nineteenth-century sailing vessel.

A sequence from Down to the Sea in Ships (1922) is presented for its realistic, semi-documentary depiction of a whale hunt, starring Raymond McKee.

Ship Ahoy! (1928) is notable for its capturing of the everyday life aboard a vintage sailing vessel, including sailors climbing the rigging and washing clothes (and themselves). The ship weathers a storm that is nowhere near as dramatic as Hollywood special effects.

An early golden age Fox Movietone sound short, The Square-Rigger (1932) takes place aboard a Polish sailing ship, and presents a montage everyday life footage that includes footage (apparently de rigeur) of sailors climbing rigging and securing sails, along with everyday life shots of idle time, scrubbing decks and laundry. Intertitles narrate the story, while the Movietone orchestra busily fiddles away, in between sound footage that includes sailors singing a Polish version of “Anchors Aweigh.”

Documenting a Finnish four-masted barque named Parma’ 83-day success in a race from southern Australia to England, Around the Horn in a Square-Rigger (1933) was shot aboard the ship on 16mm film by Alan J. Villiers. There are the usual shots of everyday events, such as setting sail, bad weather, and lengthy shots of sailing calm that give a sense of the true pace of sailing, but there are also some adventurous camera angles and image framing that call forth comparisons to the Avant Garde films fo the day. — Carl Bennett
2009 Flicker Alley DVD edition

Under Full Sail (1922-1933), black & white, color-tinted black & white, and color-toned black & white, 130 minutes total, not rated,
including The Yankee Clipper (1927), color-tinted black & white, 81 minutes, not rated, Ship Ahoy! (1928), color-toned black & white, 9 minutes, not rated, The Square-Rigger (1932), black & white, 9 minutes, not rated, Around the Horn in a Square-Rigger (1933), black & white, 16 minutes, not rated, and an exerpt from Down to the Sea in Ships (1922), black & white, 10 minutes, not rated.

Flicker Alley, FA0012, UPC 6-17311-67439-6, ISBN 1-893967-43-3.
Windowboxed and full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $29.95.
DVD release date: 14 April 2009.
Country of origin: USA

For this high-quality edition, a conflation of two very-good-to-excellent 35mm prints and a good-to-very-good vintage 16mm reduction print has been utilized for the slightly windowboxed, natural-speed video transfer of The Yankee Clipper. For a full review of this film’s presentation, see our The Yankee Clipper on DVD page.

The whaling exerpt from Down to the Sea in Ships (1922) has been transferred from a 35mm nitrate print that is strikingly detailed. See our Down to the Sea in Ships on DVD page for additional notes. These films are accompanied by music scores compiled by Dennis James, performed on the Mighty Wurlitzer of the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington.

The short film Ship Ahoy! (1928), a Fox Varieties documentary from the “World We Live In” series, has been transferred from a very-good 16mm reduction print that appears to be missing its ending footage. The presentation is accompanied by a score performed on synthesizer by Eric Beheim.

The Fox Movietone sound short The Square-Rigger (1932) has been transferred from a duplicate 35mm negative (struck in the 1970s from a 35mm nitrate print) in very-good to excellent condition. Accompanied by the original Movietone soundtrack.

Alan Villiers’ Around the Horn in a Square-Rigger (1933) has been transferred from a vintage 16mm reduction print in good condition that is thought to have been struck from the original 16mm negative. The print has distracting blotches on many of the image highlights throughout. The natural-speed video transfer sometimes reveals the relatively low frame-rate of the original film exposure. The film is accompanied by a score composed and performed on synthesizer by Eric Beheim, which provides most of the drama of the dark, lingering shots.

The supplemental material includes an audio interview with Junior Coghlan on his work in The Yankee Clipper (7 minutes), a booklet with an article on the films by John E. Stone and notes on scoring The Yankee Clipper by Dennis James.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other NAUTICAL FILMS of the silent era available on home video.
 
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