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Silent Era Home Page  >  Home Video  >  A Film Johnnie
 
Silent Era Films on Home Video
Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
All Rights Reserved.
A Film Johnnie
(1914)
 

This short comedy of a starstruck tramp (Charles Chaplin) who stumbles into the movie business and manages to wreak havoc also presents a valuable look backstage at the Keystone studio lot and stages.

Smitten with a beautiful actress, the Keystone Girl (Virginia Kirtley), Charlie sneaks onto the Keystone lot and causes headaches for film director Edgar Kennedy. When a house fire becomes a real life backdrop for his melodrama, Kennedy finds that trouble (Charlie again) has followed.

Having escaped the uninspired guidance of his first Keystone director, Henry Lehrman, Chaplin fared slightly better in A Film Johnnie (1914) under veteran actor and director George Nichols. Still dissatisfied with the quality of story and direction, Chaplin would soon begin to write and direct himself.

The film presents brief cameos of several Keystone stars, including Roscoe Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, Ford Sterling, Harry McCoy and Minta Durfee. — Carl Bennett

2010 Flicker Alley DVD edition

Chaplin at Keystone (1914), black & white, 590 minutes total, not rated
including A Film Johnnie (1914), black & white, 12 minutes, not rated.

Flicker Alley, FA0018, UPC 6-17311-67579-9, ISBN 1-893967-57-3.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, four single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, 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, four slimline DVD keepcases in cardboard slipcase, $79.95.
DVD release date: 26 October 2010.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 7 / audio: 8 / additional content: 8 / overall: 8.

This quality edition has been mastered in high-definition from a digital conflation of two 35mm nitrate prints and two 35mm duplicate negatives held by the British Film Institute, a 35mm nitrate duplicate negative held by Lobster Films, Paris, and a 35mm safety duplicate negative in the Library of Congress film archive. The results are generally stunning, with some sections of footage that are only good. Some of the footage has never been seen on home video before, but it also appears that this presentation is incomplete as there are a couple of sudden jumps forward in the film narrative. Image quality is excellent from the original nitrate prints, with a broad range of graytones and a generally clean and sharp picture; but some of the duplicate source materials are grayer and softer in image details.

The film is accompanied by an excellent music score performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

This restored home video edition is highly recommended, and we highly recommend that you enjoy burning the crappy home video editions of A Film Johnnie that you have had to endure over the years.

 
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.
1999 Madacy Entertainment DVD edition

Chaplin: Collector’s Choice Double Feature (1914-1918), black & white, 91 minutes total, not rated,
including A Film Johnnie (1914), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated.

Madacy Entertainment Group, DVD9 9103, UPC 0-56775-03619-5.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one double-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 3 Mbps average video bit rate, 448 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 2 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $11.98.
DVD release date: 2 March 1999.
Country of origin: USA

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

This edition has been mastered from a contrasty but fair-quality 16mm reduction print that originates from a 1930s rerelease print from Exhibitors Pictures Corporation. The print is overcropped on the left side, blurry and quite speckled, which is not helped by the coarse, grayed-out sound-speed video transfer.

Painful to watch, worthless to own. Not a recommended edition. Buy the Flicker Alley edition noted above instead.

 
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.
2004 Brentwood Home Video DVD edition

Charlie Chaplin: 57 Classics (1914-1921), black & white, 5948 minutes total, not rated,
including A Film Johnnie (1914), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated.

Brentwood Home Video, 45340-9, UPC 7-87364-53409-8.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, five dual-sided, single-layered DVD discs, and one single-sided, single-layered DVD 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, chapter stops, five-disc DVD keepcase in cardboard slipcase, $19.98.
DVD release date: 27 April 2004.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 3 / audio: 6 / additional content: 4 / overall: 4.

This low-budget edition follows the suit of the other cheapy editions of A Film Johnnie with its use of the same subpar video transfer. The contrasty picture, with its coarse image details, looks more like a bad 8mm reduction print in quality.

At very least, the film is accompanied by a music score performed on piano by an anonymous musician.

The documentary The Chaplin Puzzle, written by Joe Adamson, features narration by Burgess Meredith.

We do not recommend buying this edition for its presentation of A Film Johnnie. Consider picking up the Flicker Alley edition noted above instead.

 
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.
2005 Delta Entertainment DVD edition

The Essential Charlie Chaplin Collection (1914-1916),
black & white, 700 minutes total, not rated,
including A Film Johnnie (1914), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated.

Delta Entertainment, 89 246, UPC 0-18111-92269-6.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, eight single-sided, single-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, plastic trays in bookwrap, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 7 June 2005.
Country of origin: USA

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

This low-budget edition has been transferred from the same 16mm reduction print as the Madacy edition noted above, with even worse results. The picture is often so contrasty that highlight details are lost in a blast of white nothingness. The sound-film speed video transfer runs too fast for viewer enjoyment, and is overcropped on the left-hand side.

The film is accompanied by a soundtrack of vintage jazz recordings.

This edition is so horrid that it is nearly impossible to recognize the individual players in the film. Not at all recommended. Buy the Flicker Alley edition noted above instead.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase support the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase support the Silent Era website.
2005 St. Clair Vision DVD edition

Charlie Chaplin: 51 Features (1914-1921), black & white, 870 minutes total, not rated,
including A Film Johnnie (1914), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated.

St. Clair Vision, 45340-9, UPC 7-87364-53409-8.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, three single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, three-disc DVD keepcase, $19.98.
DVD release date: 27 July 2005.
Country of origin: USA

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

Really? Who is providing these cheap video producers with their cheap video transfers from substandard reduction prints? And how can both of them get away with selling this rot to consumers? This edition is the same as the crappy, contrasty editions from Brentwood, Madacy and Delta noted above. Dreadful.

The film is accompanied by a music score performed on piano by an anonymous musician.

Do yourself a favor and don’t throw away your money on this ripoff edition. Buy the Flicker Alley edition noted above instead.

 
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.
1999 Madacy Entertainment DVD edition

Chaplin (1914-1918), black & white, ? minutes total, not rated,
including A Film Johnnie (1914), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated.

Madacy Entertainment Group, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, two single-sided, single-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 2 chapter stops, two-disc standard DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 1999.
Country of origin: USA
A repackaging of the same Madacy DVD program reviewed above was also issued under a different title and on two discs, with a slipcase wraparound, as Chaplin: Hollywood Classics.

No doubt, just as rough.

 
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.
1998 Madacy Entertainment DVD edition

Chaplin: The Collection (1914-1918), black & white, ? minutes total, not rated,
including A Film Johnnie (1914), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated.

Madacy Entertainment Group, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, five single-sided, single-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 2 chapter stops, five standard DVD keepcases in cardboard slipcase, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 1998.
Country of origin: USA
Yet another Madacy repackaging, this time a boxset, of the content reviewed above.

Have they no shame in their repackaging attempts to deceive the consumer?

 
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 silent era CHARLES CHAPLIN films available on home video.

Other MABEL NORMAND films available on home video.

Other KEYSTONE comedy films available on home video.

Other SHORT COMEDY FILMS of the silent era available on home video.
Charles Chaplin filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
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