LON CHANEY: BEFORE THE THOUSAND FACES and WHISPERING SHADOWS

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BenModel

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LON CHANEY: BEFORE THE THOUSAND FACES and WHISPERING SHADOWS

PostWed Sep 27, 2017 12:41 pm


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NEW YORK, N.Y. (WEDNESDAY September 27th, 2017) – Undercrank Productions (undercrankproductions.com) announced today that they will be releasing the DVDs Lon Chaney: Before the Thousand Faces and Whispering Shadows on October 17, 2017 and both will be available on Amazon.com.

Lon Chaney’s film work from the 1920s is well known and – with the exception of the notoriously lost London After Midnight (1927) – is mostly available on home video. However, only a small percentage of the 118 films Chaney made at Universal in the 1910s survive, and have never been available for fans. Lon Chaney: Before the Thousand Faces contains three feature films from this era: A Mother’s Atonement (1915), If My Country Should Call (1916) and The Place Beyond the Winds (1916). Each has been newly scanned from the only surviving archival 35mm prints, preserved by the Library of Congress, and all three films feature new musical scores by Jon C. Mirsalis.

"The mission of Undercrank Productions’ DVD releases has always focused on making undiscovered classics available to fans," says Undercrank's Ben Model. "These two DVD releases, produced and scored by two of my film accompanist colleagues, were another opportunity to showcase the holdings of the Library of Congress and the USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive as part of our ongoing work to bring obscure films to the fans who want to see them."

Jon Mirsalis, both a Lon Chaney historian and well-known silent film accompanist, selected these three rare titles for this release, having first seen and impressed by them in the late 1970s. The films have not been in circulation largely because each is incomplete, missing 1 or 2 reels. For this release, Mirsalis has reconstructed missing footage with titles based on contemporary reviews and copyright records. The films’ new availability gives Chaney fans the opportunity to see him in dramatic, supporting roles before made before starring for Universal and then MGM in the 1920s.

A contemporary review proclaims “Whispering Shadows is the possessor of a ‘kick’, the kind of a ‘kick’ which creeps through your veins when you are anticipating something unwelcome while enshrouded in darkness”. Whispering Shadows (1921) stars Lucy Cotton as a woman whose fiancée’s rival embezzles funds from her father’s financial firm, framing her fiancée for the crime. When the father dies unexpectedly, evidence proving the guilty party surfaces…in the form of messages from Cotton’s father from beyond the grave! This moody occult-themed independent production only survives in a print on the rare 28mm film format, preserved by the Library of Congress. Rounding out the disc is the equally obscure The Devil’s Assistant (1917), in which Margarita Fischer portrays a woman whose rejected suitor transforms into the Devil himself, administering opiates to his medical patients and in particular to Fischer. Her red-tinted descent into madness and hell possesses visual effects remarkable for an independent production in 1917.

The Whispering Shadows disc was scored on theatre organ by Andrew E. Simpson, who also funded the project via Kickstarter earlier this year. Simpson had created and performed his score for the film at a show held during the Library of Congress’ annual Mostly Lost Film Identification Conference in 2015. That screening was unique and a cinema first, in that the Library of Congress’ 28mm print was projected that evening on vintage 28mm projectors. The equipment, originally designed for living-room-only use in the late 1910s, had been retrofitted for theatrical use and operated by Dino Everett, Chief Curator of the USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive.

Lon Chaney: Before the Thousand Faces features 2K scans from 35mm preservation materials from the Library of Congress. Both A Mother’s Atonement and If My Country Should Call are from the Library of Congress’ Dawson City collection, a huge cache of lost silent films discovered in the Yukon in 1978 recently profiled in Bill Morrison’s documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time (2017). Whispering Shadows is presented in a 2K scan of the Library of Congress’ preservation of its vintage 28mm print. The USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive provided the rare film element for The Devil’s Assistant, seen here in a new HD scan. A documentary short by Ben Model on the 28mm film format, Everett and the 2015 Mostly Lost screening can be found on YouTube.


LON CHANEY: BEFORE THE THOUSAND FACES
The Films:
A Mother’s Atonement (1915) – directed by Joseph De Grasse; starring Cleo Madison, Arthur Shirley, Lon Chaney, Wyndham Standing; 20 mins.
If My Country Should Call (1916) – directed by Joseph De Grasse; starring Dorothy Phillips, Helen Leslie, Frank Whitson, Lon Chaney, Albert MacQuarrie; 24 mins.
The Place Beyond the Winds (1916) – directed by Joseph De Grasse; starring Dorothy Phillips, Jack Mulhall, Lon Chaney, Joseph De Grasse; 39 mins.
Genre: Drama
DVD Street Date: October 17, 2017
DVD SRP: $19.95
83 mins – B&W – stereo – NTSC – not rated
new musical scores composed and performed by Jon C. Mirsalis
Jon Mirsalis website: www.lonchaney.org
produced for video and restored by Jon C. Mirsalis
DVD produced by Ben Model, in association with Greenbriar Picture Shows
released by Undercrank Productions

WHISPERING SHADOWS (1921)
Directed by Emile Chautard; starring Lucy Cotton, with Charles A. Stevenson, Philip Merrivale, Robert Barrat; 68 mins.
bonus:
THE DEVIL’S ASSISTANT (1917)
Directed by Harry A. Pollard; starring Margarita Fischer, Monroe Salisbury, Jack Mower, Kathleen Kirkham; 23 mins.
Genre: Drama/Horror
DVD Street Date: October 17, 2017
DVD MSRP: $19.95
91 mins – B&W/tinted – stereo – NTSC – not rated
new musical scores composed and performed by Andrew E. Simpson
produced for video by Andrew E. Simpson – www.andrewesimpson.com
DVD produced by Ben Model
released by Undercrank Productions
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R Michael Pyle

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Re: LON CHANEY: BEFORE THE THOUSAND FACES and WHISPERING SHA

PostWed Sep 27, 2017 1:30 pm

Ben, I'm incredibly excited by the Chaney release! I've got the DVD release of "Whispering Shadows", which I thought was magnificent, and the accompanying music equally superb, especially for the "hell" scenes in "The Devil's Assistant". Are we able to pre-order the Chaney release somewhere? If so, would you post that information here; or, do we have to order through Amazon alone?
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Re: LON CHANEY: BEFORE THE THOUSAND FACES and WHISPERING SHA

PostWed Sep 27, 2017 2:28 pm

Ben, I am also thrilled to read about these new releases. Will you post links to amazon or will we be ordering directly from you?
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Jim Roots

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Re: LON CHANEY: BEFORE THE THOUSAND FACES and WHISPERING SHA

PostWed Sep 27, 2017 2:31 pm

The real mission of Undercrank Productions has been to personally bankrupt Jim Roots.

Sign me up for the Chaney, Ben.

Jim
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BenModel

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Re: LON CHANEY: BEFORE THE THOUSAND FACES and WHISPERING SHA

PostWed Sep 27, 2017 3:23 pm

Like it says in the info at the top of the thread, both discs will be available on Amazon.com. These are released through CreateSpace, which does not allow for pre-ordering, and the links won't go "live" on Amazon until a few days before the street date.

Closest thing to pre-ordering is the scenario I am usually able to offer members of my email list: a week or two before the release, I send an exclusive link and code to list members to buy the DVD early at $5 off. If you're on my email list, then you're set. Plus, when you sign up, you get to watch a rare comedy short that's not all that available. :)

Ben
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Undercrank Productions - rare silents on DVD/Blu available on Amazon
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moviepas

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Re: LON CHANEY: BEFORE THE THOUSAND FACES and WHISPERING SHA

PostFri Sep 29, 2017 4:18 am

I think I am on ben's email list as I remember getting $5 off the Marion Davies titles and am buying this new release. The link above silentmusic does come up No Page Found 404 Error.
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BenModel

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Re: LON CHANEY: BEFORE THE THOUSAND FACES and WHISPERING SHA

PostFri Sep 29, 2017 6:57 pm

Fixed. Send me an email and I will send you the link.

:)

Ben
Sign up for my emails at silentfilmmusic.com
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Silent Film Music Podcast available on Apple Podcasts and on Stitcher.
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Darren Nemeth

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Re: LON CHANEY: BEFORE THE THOUSAND FACES and WHISPERING SHA

PostSat Sep 30, 2017 5:17 am

If you like weird and unusual silents you will probably like the Whispering Shadows disc. It is really good.
Darren Nemeth
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