The River (1928) on DVD!

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Gagman 66
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The River (1928) on DVD!

Post by Gagman 66 »

:) I posted a whole bunch on this the other night. Unfortunately, it all got deleted in the server crash. Anyway, some very, very, big news! I am rather surprised that No One is talking about this yet???

:shock: Well, according to Silent Era.Com the brand new new restoration of Frank Borzage's THE RIVER (Fox, 1928) starring Charles Farrell, and Mary Duncan is being released on official DVD in December! At least over in the UK.

:o What makes this so incredible? As recently as 2004, this film was still lost! Only a fragment was know to survive! I had not heard anything previously about it having been found, let alone restored! That is, not until now! Does anybody else here have additional details?
feaito

Post by feaito »

I had replied to this post and it also was lost in the server crash. I recently had the opportunity of watching this film, thanks to a French friend and this is what I wrote on another thread:

The River" (1929). This Borzage film is incomplete, but was reconstructed by a French or Swiss Cinemathèque using the portions that have survived (around 45 minutes) plus image stills and written descriptions of the scenes (following the film's original script). I feel privileged of having had the chance of watching this rarity. Mary Duncan is tantalizing, beautiful, alluring, sensuous, as the worldly woman who attemps to seduce (and ultimately falls in love with) naive Allen John, played by a glowing Charles Farrell. The erotic tension between both characters is perfectly displayed by masterful Borzage and I really feel that the scenes that survived are the best ones, because they depict the development of the relationship that builds between both of them. Mary Duncan's physical appearance reminded me of a young Ann Dvorak. An atmospheric film, full of symbolism. The film has that ethereal quality present in most of Borzage's pictures. An aesthetic pleasure.

I think that the only surviving footage that still exists are those 45 minutes that were included in the copy I saw.
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Gagman 66
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Post by Gagman 66 »

feaito,

:? Thanks for the response. This is at least somewhat disappointing? I was hoping to learn that additional footage has since been uncovered? By the same token, I have yet to see those remaining 45 minutes either.

:o Borzage's LUCKY STAR (1929) with Farrell, and Janet Gaynor, is yet another film which only survives in truncated form. The last two reels appear to be completely lost? As is the Vintage Movie-tone track?

:roll: Apparently the missing footage is all sound, and dialogue? Up until that point this picture is strictly a Silent film. What survives is still remarkably good. The storyline holds together quite well. The film seems to be in-tact, even if it really isn't?
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Ann Harding
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Post by Ann Harding »

If you go to the website of the German Film Museum, you'll get more details regarding this edition:

http://www.edition-filmmuseum.com/product_info.php/language/en/info/p59_The-River.html/XTCsid/9f7605354e3cb2843f4a38c7ac526152

Actually, it's available to order now!!! :D

I think I'm going to order ASAP. I already have a copy (the one that Feaito talked about) but the print is terrible.....
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Ann Harding
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Post by Ann Harding »

Gagman 66 wrote: :o Borzage's LUCKY STAR (1929) with Farrell, and Janet Gaynor, is yet another film which only survives in truncated form. The last two reels appear to be completely lost? As is the Vintage Movie-tone track?

I taped Lucky Star on French TV in 1994. As far as I know, the film is complete. It was shown without its soundtrack. I do not know if the movietone sountrack survived. Mind you, I don't like much these soundtracks....they are too 'syrupy' for my taste. :wink:
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Ann Harding
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Post by Ann Harding »

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ImageImage

AAAAaaaaaaaaah I am SO excited!!!! :P

I just received the new DVD of The River (1929). The print looks a bit better than my old VHS. But, it's still a transfer from the same (unique) surviving 16mm print. But, they included a newly found (censored) sequence between Mary Duncan & Charlie Farrell!!! :shock: I just had a look through it: it's torrid....I understand why it was cut! :lol:
I include a few screen caps to give you an idea of the print quality. The two lower images are from this new sequence. 8)

I'll tell you more about the 2-DVD set tomorrow once I had time to look at it completely. :)
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Ann Harding
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Post by Ann Harding »

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I have now watched the 2 DVDs in their entirety. This new DVD set from the German Film Museum is definitely excellent. 8)

DVD-1 offers an excellent transfer of the extant footage of The River with Mary Duncan & Charles Farrell. The sharpness is very good, even if the print is damaged here and there. It runs 54 min including production stills to cover the missing parts. This new transfer boast an extra scene (cut by Swedish censors) where Rosalee (M. Duncan) tries to get Allen John (C. Farrell) interested in her. Watching the film yesterday, I felt I was seeing it for the first time, as the previous print I saw was terribly dark and murky. Mary Duncan really smoulders and offers a fantastic contrast with the shy and boyish Charles Farrell.

There is an excellent documentary (in English) by Janet Bergstrom comparing the output of Murnau (Sunrise, 4 devils & City Girl) and Borzage (Seventh Heaven, Street Angel, the River & Lucky Star). They worked at Fox studios at the same time sharing technical staff and actors (Janet Gaynor & Mary Duncan). The documentary is richly illustrated with clips and production stills of the lost film 4 Devils. It also looks at the expressionist heritage and highlights the influence of Murnau on Borzage.

On DVD-2, I discovered Frank Borzage, the actor and director of three western shorts (30 min). These are the earliest surviving pictures of Borzage. They prove without the shadow of doubt, he was already a talented director and actor.

The Pitch o' Chance (1915). Frank Borzage plays a compulsive gambler. He wins a professional gambler's girlfriend at cards. He let the girl free while her former boyfriend tries to kill him. She comes back to warn him of the danger.
It could have been a big pile of clichés, but, Borzage gives each character an interesting psychology. I was struck by the understated acting on all part, especially Borzage.

The Pilgrim (1916) is even more interesting. Borzage is a wandering cowhand, moving from place to place with his mule. He is hired in a ranch, but stays very much a loner. Until he is attacked by a Mexican and has to defend himself. His life is changed forever when he meets the ranch's owner daughter, a real city girl...
In this short, Borzage reminded me of Kirk Douglas in both Lonely Are The Braves and Man Without A Star. He portrays this lonely man so deftly, it's pretty incredible that the film is more than 90 years old!

Nugget Jim's Pardner (1916) In this one, Borzage is the prodigal son of a rich man. But his father cast him away. Drunk, he gets on a train getting west. He falls by accident from the train and lands in the cabin of a gold panner. He makes himself at home and swallows all the food available while 'Nugget Jim' looks at him in disbelief. They eventually get friendly....
This film mixes humor and emotion in equal measure. Again, Borzage draws some great performances from his actors. He is himself superb. At that time with his curly hair and boyish looks, he makes me think in Charles Farrell.

The two DVD offers numerous production stills as supplement and DVD-1 also has some DVD-ROM features with lots of documents on The River (Campaign books, stills, etc..) and some excerpts of Hervé Dumont's excellent book on Borzage.

The DVDs are Region Free and offer French/German subs for all films and documentary.
feaito

Post by feaito »

Thanks for all that info Christine.

The DVD edition sounds like a true must-buy, especially for Borzage fans.
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Post by CoffeeDan »

I got to see THE RIVER on the big screen with live piano accompaniment by Phil Carli last year at Cinevent (just up the road in Columbus). I had read much about Mary Duncan as a major discovery in the late '20s, but had never seen her in any film which showed her off to good effect. What survives of THE RIVER does indeed show what everybody was raving about. She's excellent, as is Charles Farrell, both of them effectively directed by Frank Borzage.

Christine, you made the DVD sound so good, I had to check it out on the German Film Museum's website. I was all set to order until I found that the cost of the DVD, plus shipping and handling to the States, at current exchange rates would set me back $57!! YIKES!! I'm going to have to wait till payday on this one -- but from what you say, I think it will be worth it . . .
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Ann Harding
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Post by Ann Harding »

I found the shipping & handling pretty steep myself, and I am in Europe! But, it's definitely worth it. :)
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Post by charliechaplinfan »

I've had chance to see this release now. It's everything Annharding said it was. It is like watching a different movie. The restoration and the added scene open the movie up so much more. The scene that was cut is torrid. It's well worth a look. I've not had chance to see the extras yet but I will be doing.
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Post by CoffeeDan »

Here's Frederick James Smith's review of THE RIVER (*** out of four) from the Feb. 2, 1929 issue of Liberty. It gives some idea of what's in the missing reels:

THE RIVER, coming from the William Fox studios, is an oddity. Its background is a deserted construction camp. Just as winter comes, a shy, inexperienced backwoods boy drifts into the lonely camp on his homemade scow. He is on his way to the sea, but the clutch of winter closes the stream.

Except for an old woman storekeeper and her strange deaf and dumb son, the only camp occupant is a woman of the world, a siren who was left behind when her partner, the camp boss, was dragged away for murder.

The story concerns itself with the sex siege and capitulation of the country boy before the wiles of the sophisticated girl from beyond the hills. THE RIVER is sexy enough to send shudders along Deacon Hays' spine.

The girl from beyond them thar hills is done by Mary Duncan, who gives a vivid and seductive performance, one of sharp and sudden moods and keen amatory analysis. Charles Farrell lends personable and restrained aid as the simple mountain boy.

You may or may not like THE RIVER. It is a picture of considerable primitive intent, of strangely ominous atmosphere, of tight, intimate drama -- and director Frank Borzage has paused frequently to lend passionate verisimilitude to the seduction.
Last edited by CoffeeDan on February 2nd, 2008, 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by charliechaplinfan »

I watched the documentary Murnau and Borzage at Fox this morning. It is an extra worth having. I love the way their careers mirrored each other and in the speace of 2 years made some American classics like Sunrise, Seventh Heaven, The River, City Girl etc. There is a lovely shot of the Fox backlot showing the sets for the individual movies Sunrise and The River. I was very surprised The River wasn't filmed on location.
feaito

Post by feaito »

Thanks to Christine I got to see this edition with the extra footage ("feel my heart") and it was really like watching the film for the first time. Bravo!! And the documentary's excellent; a gem.
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Gagman 66
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Post by Gagman 66 »

Here is a condensed version of a recent review I wrote of this picture.

:shock: There is no question that Fox should scour the globe to find the rest of this awesome film! THE RIVER even in incomplete form is Truly a masterpiece! FRank Borzage had to be one of the greatest talents ever! The reconstruction is very well done. What remains, of the film has the Vintage Maurice Barron, Erno Rapee score intact, and it is positively spectacular! I was simply flabbergasted by this picture! What a scorcher!

:oops: Miss Duncan I must say, was a Jaw-droppingly Beautiful Woman! Lordy Momma!!! I did not remember Her looking anything like this in F. W. Murna's CITY GIRL! Yes Sir, I'm definitely gonna have to watch that one again!

:shock: Here She plays for lack of a better term "A Kept Woman" though no longer kept, as Her benefactor Marsdon is thrown in prison! She remains in residence at His Cabin. Duncan's character Rosalee, is what might be termed a Nymphomaniac! A genuine Sexual Deviant! She destroys ever Man she has ever come in contact with. That obviously covers a Wide-field and she is bound and determined that innocent Allen John Pender (Farrell), from down the river a Spell, will not be the next one. To many have Fallen at her feet, and died at her feet. She swears off all men, but John after-all is just a Boy, not yet a Man. He's the exception.

wink: Before long Rosalee starts to waver. Growing weary of the bizarre ever vigilant Pet Raven that makes sure that the Lady behaves, She blatantly throws herself at poor Allen (my goodness he's to be pitied!) nine ways to Sunday! He is to Timid and Naive to respond, Dauntless, the more the Boy resists, the more she wants him!

:P This film had to have the sensors from cost to cost Crying Wolf. or Turning Wolf? Which ever comes first. Or maybe just barking "Woof, Woof", at the Smoldering Miss Duncan? I don't know which??? Somebody turn up FOUR DEVILS for real please!

:) I will try and post a bigger review of the movie at a later date, right now, I am just trying to reconcile it all in my head! I cut half of this review twice already! An amazing picture in many ways to say the least! Sure hope that the ending, that appears to have been action packed, as Marsdon Escapes from Sing-Sing to reclaim his Mistress, will yet be found!

:roll: All I can say is I am definitely hoping for more releases such as this one from Edition Film Museum. Maybe in the future such long unseen Charles Farrell features as Rauol Walsh THE RED DANCE, with Delores Del Rio, and FAZIL with Greta Nissen. Both of these films still exist they are not lost, and I hope to be able to see them one day!
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