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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
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Daughter of
the Night

(1920)
 

This romantic espionage drama, originally a two-part German feature production, was edited down for USA release. Best known for the prominent appearance of a young Bela Lugosi, this tale of love and political intrigue is full of unscrupleless baddies and features a lovely Lee Parry.

2005 Sinister Cinema DVD edition

Daughter of the Night (1920), black & white, 55 minutes, not rated.

Sinister Cinema, ST44D, no UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD-R disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital? 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 11 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $16.95.
DVD release date: 2005.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 5 / audio: 5 / additional content: 3 / overall: 5.

This budget edition, originally prepared for VHS in 1997, has been mastered from a good to very-good 16mm reduction print of the USA release version. The video transfer is relatively in focus in the center of the picture but blurs slightly toward the left frame edges — something that is most apparent in the intertitles. The slightly-faster-than-natural-speed video transfer is a bit contrasty, with some loss of image detail in highlights and shadows, but nevertheless holds reasonable image detail throughout the middle ranges of graytones. Tre transfer is a little darker in the last half of the film. Due to the framing of the source reduction print and/or the video transfer, the left edge of some intertitles will be cropped off when viewed on some monitors. Occasionally a little “SC” logo appears in the lower right-hand corner of the picture in an attempt to discourage transfer poachers (see below).

The presentation features a serviceable music score that has been pieced together from existing film soundtrack recordings.

The disc is supplemented with a theatrical trailer for Robot Monster (1953).

While not great, this is still the best available edition of Daughter of the Night on home video.

 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition is available directly from SINISTER CINEMA.
2008 Alpha Video DVD edition

Daughter of the Night (1920), black & white, 54 minutes, not rated.

Alpha Home Entertainment, ALP5635D, UPC 0-89218-56359-0.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-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, 6 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $7.98.
DVD release date: 28 October 2008.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 3 / audio: 7 / additional content: 2 / overall: 4.

This budget disc has been mastered from an older VHS videotape (always a guarantee of low resolution) with a substandard video transfer that is relatively in focus in the center of the picture but blurs slightly toward the left frame edges. We suspect that Alpha Home Entertainment staff nicked this transfer from a VHS copy of Sinister Cinema’s edition (noted above). While the source print, which appears to have been a 16mm reduction print, features a reasonable range of graytones, the presentation picture itself loses highlight details in a blast of smeary whites. New intertitles have been inserted, with digitally-added speckling to make them appear original to the print. Ridiculous. Also, the film does not run 83 minutes, as stated on the packaging, but rather a mere 54 minutes.

The presentation is accompanied by a music score by Skip Heller and Marc Kaplan performed on digital piano, which surprisingly is the best thing about the entire presentation.

The supplementary section includes Bela Luposi’s 27 July 1953 appearance on the You Asked for It television program (9 minutes). Poor quality.

This disc, a horrid viewing experience on HD systems, again reinforces our low opinion of budget disc producers who release product as cheaply as Scroogely possible, with little regard for quality nor the consumer. Why bother to add a custom music score and new intertitles when the video transfer itself is crap? Alpha Home Entertainment appears to be more concerned with turning over product than a new leaf.

 
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.
 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
Other silent era BELA LUGOSI films available on home video.

Other GERMAN FILMS of the silent era available on home video.

 
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