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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Early Universal Vol. 1


Starring: Reginald Denny, Neil Hamilton and James Murray
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £25.99


Certificate: PG
Release Date: 16 August 2021

Early Universal Vol. 1 sees Eureka Entertainment releases three early silent features from the legendary studio, fully restored, on Blu-ray as a part of The Masters of Cinema Series...

This collection features three silent movies from the early years at Universal Pictures, all fully restored as part of the studio’s ongoing restoration program.

Skinner’s Dress Suit (dir. William A. Seiter, 1926): Reginald Denny stars as a shy clerk who asks his boss for a raise at the urging of his wife. His request is rejected, but he lies to his wife, who immediately goes out and buys an expensive suit, an act that upends his once-ordered life. (4K Restoration).

The Shield of Honor (dir. Emory Johnson, 1927) – The LAPD has a new method of fighting crime, the Air Police! Their newest recruit, young hotshot pilot Jack MacDowell (Neil Hamilton), is tasked with catching a gang of jewellery thieves. (2K Restoration) (Worldwide Debut on Blu-ray).

The Shakedown (dir. William Wyler, 1929) – Dave Roberts (James Murray) is a fighter better known for taking falls in fixed fights than for taking home the prize money. But then he falls head-over-heels for a fiery waitress (Barbara Kent) and a rough-and-tumble orphan (Jack Hanlon), and he begins to dramatically alter his life inside and outside of the ring. (4K Restoration).

Each feature can be played with new scores with optional audio commentaries by silent film experts and historians. All audio commentaries are worthy of your time, but if you only listen to one (although why you'd only listen to one is beyond me) then film historian and writer David Kalat's musings on Skinner's Dress Suit is the most entertaining (if you can get past the occasional dad joke).

The collection also includes a 27 page booklet with essays on the movies. This is an important collection for those who have a keen interest in cinematic history, in particular the silent cinema.


Nick Smithson

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