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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
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The Man from
Beyond

(1922)
 

Famous illusionist Harry Houdini produced this melodramatic potboiler of suspended animation, reincarnation and betrayal.

When he is discovered frozen for a hundred years in Arctic ice, the revitalized Howard Hillary (Houdini) is desperate to recover his lost love Felice (Jane Connelly). Back in civilization, Howard discovers another Felice, who resembles his love, is being married the smarmy Dr. Trent (Arthur Maude) and disrupts the ceremony. Felice calls off the wedding when she discovers that her father has gone missing for the past year from the scientific expedition that discovered Hillary. Somehow convinced that his love and this new Felice are somehow the same person, Hillary dedicates himself to solving the mystery of her missing father. Trent accuses Hillary of his murder, but Trent is soon revealed as being responsible for the disappearance. Felice is kidnapped by Trent, who wants to drug and then marry her but is interrupted (again) by Hillary. Felice escapes while the two struggle, chased by a henchman to the banks of the Niagara River. When she tries to cross the river in a canoe, the currents carry her down river pursued by Hillary, who must rescue her before she goes over the great falls.

What isn’t explained is why Hillary isn't shocked by the existence of automobiles before he is told the truth of his modern situation., and how he manages to be resourceful enough in a modern world to uncover Trent’s treachery.

Unfortunately, it appears that The Man from Beyond has only survived in 16mm reduction prints that are of moderate quality. The Library of Congress has prepared a preservation version of the film from the best of those materials.

Houdini is OK as the hero in this subpar melodramatic production, which is short on logic and long on hokum. — Carl Bennett

2008 Kino International DVD edition

Houdini: The Movie Star (1918-1923), black & white, color-toned black & white, color-tinted and color-toned black & white, 450 minutes total, not rated,
including The Man from Beyond (1922), black & white, and color-tinted and color-toned black & white, 68 minutes, not rated.

Kino International, K563, UPC 7-38329-0563?-?.
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 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 12 chapter stops, three slimline DVD keepcases in cardboard slipcase, $39.95.
DVD release date: 8 April 2008.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 5 / audio: 7 / additional content: 6 / overall: 6.

This edition is the best available edition (of several nasty-looking editions) of The Man from Beyond (1922), having been mastered from the Library of Congress preservation version prepared from surviving 16mm print materials.

As is to be expected, with all surviving prints seemingly originating from the same rough 16mm print, the source print for the video transfer has soft image details, a contrasty grayscale range (which is compensated for a bit by the color-tinting and color-toning), and other defects like dust, speckling and vertical scratches.

The film is accompanied by a piano score composed and performed by Jon C. Mirsalis.

While not of great visual quality, this is our recommended edition of The Man from Beyond.

 
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 supports the Silent Era website.
2006 Alpha Video DVD edition

The Man from Beyond (1922), black & white, 61 minutes, not rated.

Alpha Video, ALP 5123D, UPC 0-89218-51239-0.
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 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 7 chapter stops, keep case, $6.98.
DVD release date: 22 August 2006.
Country of origin: USA

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

This edition of this feature film has been mastered from a VHS videotape copy of a transferred 16mm reduction print, with freeze-framed intertitles (some with NTSC interlacing clearly visible) each with an Alpha Video logomark on them. As is typical, the disc has been mastered as a sub-par bit-rate rendering jerky image details, as occasionally portions of the picture seem to leap out of alignment to their surrounding details. The video transfer has been made at a faster than natural pace, with some sections running annoyingly too fast. The print itself is contrasty, with plugged-up shadow details and blasted-out highlights, and little of the original 35mm image detail left in this, probably 1960s vintage, sub-par dupe.

The film appears to be missing some footage as evidenced by several splices and by a substantial narrative jump shortly after Dr. Trent’s accusation of murder, as wormy Duval suddenly confesses at the steps of the city prison to a conspiracy to frame Hillary. How Duval was convinced to change from false witness to confessor has been lost with the missing footage.

The film is accompanied by a MIDI-keyboard and digital piano music score performed amateurishly by Rachel Gutches that does the job but does little to entertain or impress viewers.

 
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.
2007 Grapevine Video DVD edition

The Man from Beyond (1922), black & white, 75 minutes, not rated.

Grapevine Video, no catalog number, UPC 8-41614-10299-8.
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 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 18 chapter stops, keep case, $12.95.
DVD release date: 2007.
Country of origin: USA

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

This DVD-R edition from Grapevine Video has been mastered from a good to very-good 16mm reduction print, that nonetheless still has all of the problems of all remaining prints of the film. The source print is soft of image details, contrasty to the point of losing highlight and shadow details, dusty, worn and sometimes dark. However, the video transfer appears to hold what grayscale ranges and image detail that exists in the rough reduction print. Intertitles that may have been too short in duration to completely read in the source print have been still-framed for readability.

The presentation is accompanied by a cobbled-together music score of preexisting orchestral recordings that are of higher sonic quality than many earlier Grapevine releases. The music is serviceable and has been edited to accompany the film’s action.

While not great, this Grapevine edition is a nice black & white option to the color-toned Kino edition noted above, with similar image quality, and is the best of the budget home video editions of The Man from Beyond.

 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition is available directly from GRAPEVINE VIDEO.
2007 Restored Serials Super Restoration Corporation DVD edition

The Man from Beyond (1922), black & white, 62 minutes, not rated.

Restored Serials Super Restoration Corporation, no catalog number, no UPC number.
Windowboxed 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 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, no chapter stops, keep case, $13.95.
DVD release date: 2007.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 3 / audio: 6 / additional content: 2 / overall: 3.

Whoa, Nelly! Despite the claims — despite the long-winded company name — there is nothing ‘restored’ about this horrid product from this eBay seller. No excessive use of exclamation marks on packaging or in online descriptions can alter the fact that this shameful disc has been cobbled together from one or two analog video transfers of a 16mm reduction print duplicated on VHS videotape, digitally smoothed to render smeary image details, and digitally reprocessed to attempt to put back what was taken away. One of the video sources is likely the Alpha Video disc, with its logo-stamped intertitles, hence the cleaned-up high-contrast dialog titles here, with artwork titles and letter inserts overlaid with a digitally-added swarm of artificial film grain to mask their origin. The net result looks awful, especially on an HD monitor.

We can see that this edition is the result of a lot of work — the digitally-generated music accompanying the film is sometimes better than that on the Alpha edition — but to what end? Much of this effort would not have been necessary had edition producer Bruce Cardozo started with a new video transfer from the best-available print, even if it was from a 16mm reduction print.

Take note, this is one of the few times that we recommend an Alpha Video edition over another. This one is to be avoided, unless you’re a masochist.

 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition is available from RESTORED SERIALS SUPER RESTORATION CORP.
2011 Restored Serials Super Restoration Corporation Blu-ray Disc edition

The Man from Beyond (1922), black & white, 80 minutes, not rated.

Restored Serials Super Restoration Corporation, no catalog number, no UPC number.
Pillarboxed 16:9 MPEG-4, one single-sided BD-R Blu-ray 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, keep case, $21.95.
DVD release date: 2011.
Country of origin: USA

This BD-R edition touts a new natural-speed, wetgate digital video transfer, with image stabilization and frame-by-frame removal of dirt, scratches and other flaws. But, the publisher says nothing about the source print materials. Exclamation marks fly all over the place as the publisher touts this as the most complete edition available, claiming that it contains scenes missing from other editions. Given the substandard quality of their 2007 DVD edition noted above, we are very skeptical of any claims made by Restored Serials Super Restoration Corporation.

The film is presented with a music score by SonicFire. The edition is supplemented with newsreel footage of Houdini escaping a straitjacket over Dayton, Ohio, a 20-page pressbook, and a script and synopsis for The Master Mystery (1918-1919).

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region-Free BD-R Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
Other HARRY HOUDINI films available on home video.
 
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