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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
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Love ’em and
Leave ’em

(1926)
 

This frothy comedy starring Evelyn Brent and Louise Brooks is cherished by Brooks’ fans for her early featured role as a young party girl.

Mame (Brent) has been caring for her sister Janie (Brooks) since their mother died. While Mame is the responsible one at home, Janie stays out late having fun. Bill (Lawrence Gray) from down the hall is sweet on Mame. All three work at a department store, where Janie has been made treasurer of the employee league dues. Lem (Osgood Perkins), a scoundrel in the apartment building, recommends a race bet that Janie cannot resist, and she uses some of the league dance money to place her wager.

Mame’s creative ideas have mistakenly been credited to Bill and he is is given a chance to be a window dresser at the store. When Mame leaves on vacation, Bill and Janie try window dressing together, with disasterous results: Janie seduces Bill. Meanwhile, Mame returns early to find Bill kissing her sister. To top it off, Janie’s gambling has left her eighty dollars in the red. Lem convinces her to bet the last of the league money to cover her losses. Surprisingly, the horse comes in, but Lem lies about placing the bet for her. Janie allows the blame for the missing money to fall on Mame.

Although she doesn’t deserve it, Mame comes to Janie’s rescue by stealing the money back from Lem. When Lem steals it back, the two begin an unusual male-female fight with Mame coming out on top. Even though the money is returned, both Bill and Mame are fired. But all is still alright with the world as the couple make up in a display window.

Brent turns in an appropriately subdued and gentle performance in comparison to her firey turn in The Last Command (1928). Brooks plays herself, basically, as the male-manipulating and impulsively girlish vamp. Of note is a brief filmed dance performance by Brooks, who began her entertainment career as a dancer. — Carl Bennett

2004 Sunrise Silents DVD edition

Love ’em and Leave ’em (1926), color-toned black & white, 76 minutes, not rated.

Sunrise Silents, LELE-N (NTSC) and LELE-P (PAL), no UPC number.
Windowboxed 4:3 NTSC or PAL, one single-sided, single-layered DVD-R disc, Region 0, 6 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, PCM 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 6 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $21.95.
DVD release date: July 2004.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 6 / audio: 6 / additional content: 0 / overall: 6.

This edition from Sunrise Silents, a small public-domain home video company, has been transferred from a 16mm reduction print of good to very-good quality. The print is hampered by the usual shortcomings of 16mm prints: tight cropping that comes close to the edges of intertitles, speckling, dust, some light emulsion damage that was likely present in the source print, picture movement within the frame, soft image details, a slightly contrasty picture, and exposure fluctuations. The windowboxed transfer shows us much of the image available after the image has been gated in the projector, and is of very-good quality for its holding of what highlights and shadow details are present in the 16mm print. However, on comparative inspection, the top and bottom of the picture are overmasked, obscuring about 5 percent of the total picture.

The film is anonymously accompanied by a music score performed on digital piano. The music is somewhat one dimensional, but it serves its purpose well enough, and it is far, far better than a canned score lifted from old and unrelated recordings.

Overall, the disc is of good quality and is very watchable despite the quality of the 16mm source print. We recommend this disc until an edition transferred from a 35mm print becomes available.

 
SUNRISE SILENTS has discontinued business and this edition is no longer available.
2007 Grapevine Video DVD edition

Love ’em and Leave ’em (1926), black & white, 65 minutes, not rated,
with Railroad Stowaways (1926), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated.

Grapevine Video, no catalog number, UPC 8-42614-10308-7.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD-R disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, PCM 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 10 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $16.95 (reduced to $14.95).
DVD release date: November 2007.
Country of origin: USA

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

This budget edition has been mastered from a good 16mm reduction print that is contrasty, with plugged-up shadows and featureless highlight, and soft of image details. The full-frame video transfer, which was likely originally prepared for release on VHS videotape (as it appears to be an older analog transfer), doesn’t hold some of the image details in highlights that we know are in the source print, and faces are sometimes lost in a flare of fuzzy white.

The film is accompanied by a soundtrack of vintage music abruptly compiled into a serviceable filler of silence.

This wouldn’t be our first choice of home video editions to collect this film. The disc would benefit from a higher-quality remastering.

 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition is available directly from GRAPEVINE VIDEO.
Other silent era LOUISE BROOKS films available on home video.
Louise Brooks filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
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