Re: Tillie's Puncture Romance on Laserdisc question

From: David P. Hayes
Date: 1997/10/15
Newsgroups: alt.movies.chaplin, alt.movies.silent

In article <19971014021601.WAA04962@ladder01.news.aol.com>,  srowecanoe@aol.com (SRoweCanoe) wrote:
>
> I see that Image has decreased their ld version of Tillie to $25.
> Now, I have Republic's ld version; and am very unhappy with it.
>
> Can anybody compare the two? Is there a significant difference, worth
> buying another disc?
>
> Thanks (and I guess I should ask the same about Barrymore's Dr.Jeklyll on AMS).
> Steven Rowe

The Image/FilmPreservationAssociates edition of "Tillie's Punctured Romance" was obviously put together from (at least) three prints, with about 60% coming from very good 35mm, about 30% from less-good 35mm, and 10% from 8mm or 16mm.

Obviously, "Tille's" had been cut for reissue, with the prime-quality footage coming from that edition.  The 60% that is highest quality include all of the key scenes.  It is obvious that great care was taken to restore the film to the length it is on disc (72 minutes) because in many scenes there will be a few shots inserted  from the inferior 35mm print (such as redundant shots of characters walking down a path where in the reissue version only included the shots from the beginning and end of the walk, not the in-between camera setups).  Throughout, there are instances where a few frames just before and after the intertitles were restored from the inferior 35mm where the reissue version apparently cut some frames on either side of dialogue titles.

The 10% that I referred to as of the worst quality all comes at one time, near the beginning of the party scene.

All in all, I do appreciate the work that went into the disc and am happy that so much of the film looks as good as it ever will.

As for "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" with Barrymore, I have seen both the Republic and the most recent Image releases.  (There was an earlier Image release which I have not seen.)  The Republic disc is marginally watchable, whereas the Image edition is an improvement but nonetheless murky and of lame contrast.

For the record, Republic's "Son of the Sheik" is the most unwatchable laserdisc I've ever seen, whereas Voyager created a decent disc using the same Killiam edition.

Before anyone misreads this as an indictment of Republic's quality, I do want to state that they did master good contrast and sharp images on "Orphans of the Storm" and "Intolerance," although both were sped up to 25 fps to make them fit on single discs.  "Hearts of the World," also transferred at 25 fps (I think these three titles were the only ones in the silents series, though), also is among the better-quality of all silent-film laserdisc transfers.

Republic's laserdisc transfers of cliffhanger series are consistently of better pictorial quality that of many of the laserdiscs of feature films of the same eras as released by other laserdisc companies.

David Hayes

 

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