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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Early Universal Vol. 2


Starring: Allen Holuba, Hoot Gibson and Reginald Denny
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £25.99


Certificate: PG
Release Date: 25 October 2021

Eureka Entertainment releases Vol 2 in its Early Universal series, which delivers a further trio of early silent features from the legendary film studio, on Blu-ray for the first time on home video in the UK as part of The Masters of Cinema Series...

Following on from Vol 1, the second release in this series delivers another three movies from the early days of Universal. Once again, these are all fully restored as part of the studio’s ongoing restoration program.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (dir. Stuart Paton, 1916) – Allen Holubar stars as the domineering Captain Nemo, who rescues the passengers of an American naval vessel after ramming them with his iron-clad, steampunk submarine, The Nautilus. Incorporating material from Verne’s Mysterious Island, the film also follows the adventures of a group of Civil War soldiers whose hot-air balloon crash lands on an exotic island, where they encounter the untamed “Child of Nature” (Jane Gail).

The Calgary Stampede (dir. Herbert Blaché, 1925) – Real life rodeo champion Hoot Gibson plays Dan Malloy, an expert rider who wins the big one, the Calgary Stampede. When the father of his new French-Canadian girlfriend (Virginia Browne Faire) turns up dead, Malloy is the only suspect!

What Happened to Jones? (dir. William A. Seiter, 1926) – Reginald Denny plays a wealthy young bachelor on the night before his wedding. He is convinced to attend a poker party which is promptly raided, sending him on the run in a series of increasingly hilarious disguises.

Each of the movies (apart from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea which has no audio commentary) has two audio options. You can listen to the movies with new scores or hear audio commentaries by various film historians / experts.

There's a new video appreciation by author / critic Kim Newman (22 min, 26 sec. Newman touches on just about every aspect of the movie that you can imagine, setting it into historical context); The Calgary Stampede – Brand new audio commentary by professor and film scholar Jason A. Ney; and What Happened to Jones? – New audio commentary by film historian and writer David Kalat. Although the Blu-ray menu wrongly claims that this is a commentary for The Shakedown (a film which was released on Vol 1).

There's also a collector’s booklet which features new writing on the films included in this set.

This collection is worth it for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea alone. As usual Eureka do an impressive job of preserving classic cinema for film lovers to discover / rediscover.


Nick Smithson

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