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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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Work
(1915)
 

Having left Keystone late in 1914 for employment with the Essanay studio in Chicago, Charles Chaplin departed for their studios near San Francisco for a few films, only to insist on returning to southern California to complete his contract. Work, his first Essanay film shot in a studio in southern California, includes some location photography that was taken near Los Angeles and at the Bradbury Mansion on North Hill Street.

Charlie causes a messy commotion in an upscale house as a paperhanger’s apprentice while wooing Edna Purviance, the maid.

The two-reeler allowed Chaplin to work in his own studio, for the first time ever, and settle down to making another funny and inventive comedy. — Carl Bennett

1999 Image Entertainment DVD edition

Chaplin’s Essanay Comedies, Volume 2 (1915), black & white and color-tinted black & white, 135 minutes total, not rated,
including Work (1915), black & white and color-toned black & white, 28 minutes, not rated.

Image Entertainment, ID5414DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-54142-7.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 6.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, snapper DVD case (rereleased in standard DVD keepcase), $24.99.
DVD release date: 28 September 1999.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 8 / audio: 9 / additional content: 7 / overall: 8.

The source print used for the majority of the transfer of Work is a very-good but slightly soft 35mm positive.

As with other prints of Work we have seen, the first four minutes of this film (and occasionally later in the print) are slightly marred by two short horizontal marks in the center of the picture. We don’t know whether surviving materials all originated from the same damaged print or that the damage was on the original negative. Some attempt was made to digitally mask the marks in later shots. Otherwise, the print is in very good condition, with little speckling and very little wear. A second 35mm print was utilized that is very soft, almost blurry. On close inspection, lighter gray areas of the picture such as light wallpaper or curtains reveal some digital compression artifacts.

 
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 Work (1915), black & white, 27 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, 3 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: 1 / overall: 3.

This less-than-desirable edition has been mastered from a latter-day 16mm reduction print, with synchronized music, narration and sound effects. Its coarsely mastered picture reveals all manner of compression artifacts, and does little to well represent the good but substandard source print.

Two processing marks, present in the circa-1920s rerelease source print for the 16mm print, are seen in the center of the picture throughout its presentation.

 
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 Work (1915), black & white, 27 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, 3 chapter stops, 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 Work (1915), black & white, 27 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, 3 chapter stops, five standard DVD keepcases, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 1998.
Country of origin: USA
Yet another Madacy repackaging, this a box set, 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.
2005 Delta Entertainment DVD edition

The Essential Charlie Chaplin Collection (1914-1916), black & white, 700 minutes total, not rated,
including Work (1915), black & white, 24 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, eight plastic DVD trays in bookwrap, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 7 June 2005.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 2 / audio: 5 / additional content: 4 / overall: 4.

This multidisc edition features a full-frame video transfer of Work that has been mastered from a fair 16mm reduction print, but the results are poor with contrasty highlights that are blasted out to white. This is one of several nasty-looking home video editions borne of the same low-quality materials.

 
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 Work (1915), black & white, 24 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: 1 / audio: 4 / additional content: 4 / overall: 3.

This cheap multidisc edition utilizes the same video transfer as the Delta edition noted above, except that here it is slightly more contrasty.

 
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 St. Clair Vision DVD edition

Charlie Chaplin: 51 Features (1914-1921), black & white, 870 minutes total, not rated,
including Work (1915), black & white, 24 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: 1 / audio: 4 / additional content: 3 / overall: 2.

Shamelessly offering the worst-looking edition of Work we have ever seen, St. Clair Vision should be drummed out of business for this stupidly horrible excuse for a home video product. The video transfer started as the same as that utilized for the Delta and Brentwood editions noted above, but the disc mastering makes it even worse. Do you think that this company cares one iota whether you get value for your money? Look again.

 
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 SHORT COMEDY FILMS of the silent era available on home video.

Charles Chaplin filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
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