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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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Tumbleweeds
(1925)
 

This perennial favorite was William S. Hart’s final film (apart from a small number of later film appearances as himself), another in a long series of formula Westerns that nonetheless delivers the two-gun goods.

Tumbleweeds (1925) is the story of budding love amid the largest land grab in U.S. history. It is about the conflict between pioneering cattle ranchers and the swarm of land-hungry homesteaders. It is also a commentary that laments the progress of modern America and the loss of the 19th century cowboy’s legacy.

Hart is ably supported by love-interest Barbara Bedford (whose film debut was in the 1920 Hart crime drama The Cradle of Courage) and comic-relief Lucien Littlefield as Kentucky Rose.

Tumbleweeds is as formula as they come, yet it is entertaining and is a fitting end to Hart’s extremely successful career as a western film star. The film is fun and lighthearted in the beginning, settling down to the tense dramatic conflict and resolution, and the star’s one last appearance as the two-gun man in the doorway of the Box K Ranch. — Carl Bennett

2002 Image Entertainment DVD edition

Tumbleweeds (1925), color-toned black & white, 85 minutes, not rated.

Worldview Entertainment, distributed by Image Entertainment, ID1580WVDVD, UPC 0-14381-15802-1.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 1, 5 Mbps average video bit rate, 224 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $24.99.
DVD release date: 25 June 2002.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 7 / audio: 5 / additional content: 0 / overall: 7.

This edition’s video transfer has been made from a Paul Killiam collection sound rerelease print at sound speed. The print is marked with some scratches, a few splices, and more dust specks than usual. The beginning of a superimposed intertitle visible at 49:50 reveals that the intertitles here are not the originals. The transfer maintains a very good range of graytones, but appears to be a bit overcompressed at times. The dust clouds in the background at 14:40 seem coarsely rendered in playback. The MPEG video compression reveals its undersampled status in several examples of light print decomposition. Generally, the DVD at hand looks much the same as earlier VHS home video editions prepared from the Killiam materials.

The piano music score performed by William Perry is distorted in places since the audio source was the mono optical soundtrack from the Killiam rerelease print. Since the original sound recordings of the Perry performance must exist somewhere in Worldview Entertainment’s holdings, the DVD would have benefitted from a new audio transfer from the original magnetic tape masters.

We noted that it is unusual to see a land rush that moves from left to right, seemingly in the wrong direction — psychologically a progress from the west to the east.

This presentation includes William S. Hart’s 1939 sound introduction (and main titles) from the film’s late-thirties rerelease, a turgid affair that records for posterity Hart’s Victorian theatrical modulating vocal delivery. We cherish every melodramatic moment of it. We recommend this DVD edition.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2003 VCI Entertainment DVD edition

The Great Train Robbery 100th Anniversary Special Edition (1903-1925), black & white and color-tinted and color-toned black & white, ? minutes total, not rated,
including Tumbleweeds (1925) [1939 rerelease version],
black & white, 82 minutes, not rated.

VCI Entertainment, 8297, UPC 0-89859-82972-7.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, no chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $19.99.
DVD release date: 16 December 2003.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 4 / audio: 5 / additional content: 6 / overall: 4.

This midline edition has been mastered from very-good 16mm reduction print materials of the 1939 rerelease version, with the sound introduction at the beginning of the film. Because the print is the sound rerelease version, the footage runs at the faster sound-speed pace and features the rerelease soundtrack of music and synchronized sound effects.

At times the print is dark and contrasty, with plugged up shadows but leaving highlight detail intact at the brightest end of the grayscale range. The usual amount of light speckling and dust is present in the source materials.

This edition is just watchable and is a greater value with the additional films included on the disc, but the Image edition above is the best currently available on DVD.

 
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 at right to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD is also available directly from VCI ENTERTAINMENT.
2002 Navarre Corporation DVD edition

Tumbleweeds (1925) [1939 rerelease version], black & white, 82 minutes, not rated,
with Judge Priest (1934), black & white, 61 minutes, not rated, and Yellowstone (1936), black & white, 63 minutes, not rated.

Navarre Corporation, 53-RPH-1636, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 1, ? Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $9.98.
DVD release date: 16 July 2002.
Country of origin: USA

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

As in the majority of Navarre DVD releases, the source material for the video transfer is a 16mm reduction print, which is soft of image detail, scratched, dusty and other damage. The coarse picture details are a combination of the subpar print and overcompression of the video data. The result is a rough viewing experience.

The film is accompanied by the mono soundtrack from the 1939 rerelease.

We recommend the Image edition above instead of this budget disc.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2009 Image Entertainment DVD edition

Tumbleweeds (1925), black & white, 78 minutes, not rated.

Alpha Home Entertainment, ALP5887D, UPC 0-89218-58879-1.
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, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $7.98.
DVD release date: 25 August 2009.
Country of origin: USA
This budget edition has likely been transferred from a 16mm reduction print of the 1939 sound rerelease. The edition includes Hart’s spoken introduction from that version.

The film is accompanied by the synchronized music score from its 1939 rerelease.

 
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.
200? Reel Classic DVD edition

Tumbleweeds (1925) [1939 rerelease version], black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Reel Classic DVD, no catalog number, 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, no chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $20.00.
DVD release date: 200?
Country of origin: USA
This DVD-R edition has been transferred from a 16mm reduction print, with the sound-film edition spoken introduction by William S. Hart.

The film is likely accompanied by the synchronized music soundtrack from its 1939 rerelease.

 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD-R is available directly from REEL CLASSIC DVD.
2007 Sinister Cinema DVD edition

Tumbleweeds (1925) [?] [1939 rerelease version]?, black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Sinister Cinema, W354, 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, PCM 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $11.95.
DVD release date: 2007
Country of origin: USA
This DVD-R edition has likely been transferred from a 16mm reduction print.

The film is likely accompanied by the synchronized music soundtrack from its 1939 rerelease.

 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD-R is available directly from SINISTER CINEMA.
Other WILLIAM S. HART films available on home video.

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

William S. Hart filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
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