Edna Purviance's bio

June 6, 2018 - Re-editing Edna Purviance's family biography 2nd Draft. Photo: Leading Ladies © used by ednapurviance.org

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Chaplin's Image Entertainment DVDs Still the Best!

One advantage of being around a long while, is the fact you can see different versions of films, as they get released. I'm basing this on the USA versions of DVDs available on Chaplin, but if you like the best print quality of Chaplin's films, what was on TCM last night (January 7, 2012), wasn't it. And it's not TCM's fault, it's just what is available now.

I watched City Lights, Modern Times, A Dog's Life, Shoulder Arms and The Kid, before turning off, but in those alone, only 'Modern Times' was good (but not great). The rest were far too contrasty to be enjoyable to watch. Just sad and painful, when you know the prints are so much better than what was shown. And some of emotional moments and comic has been lost with these poor prints, and new fans don't even know it. One of the reasons I am speaking out about these poor quality DVDs now available.

People who have not seen the older DVD versions or a high quality film prints of Chaplin, don't know what they are truly missing. And you are missing a lot! 

The out-of-print Image Entertainment DVDs are still the best print quality Charlie Chaplin film prints available for home use of Chaplin's films. Image is expensive, because they are out of print, but only best ones on DVD around. The warm beautiful film tones, full of rich fine detail, that has been totally lost in these later DVD transfers.

I have seen the different film releases of Chaplin films going on 15 years now, so talking from experience in seeing them from VHS, 35MM film, 16MM film and DVD.

What I saw last night, was so sad to see, and even hear, it was painful to watch, for someone who loves to see excellent print quality, but not being sold in the latest versions. They are becoming a strain to watch. Made sadder, because I know there are beautiful prints of these films. (And Image DVDs is one place you can see them.)

Watching Harry Myer (The Millionaire) in his house on the sofa talking with Chaplin and seeing his fancy shirt so blowout white or jacket solid black in tone, you couldn't even see the elegant clothes he was wearing, is a huge lost of the wonderful detail these films have.

I couldn't even see the tears on Jackie's or Charlie's face, in the key scene in The Kid. Their faces had no detail, just ghostly white. 

'A Dog's Life' print and sound quality was so poor last night (Jan. 7th, 2012), I placed my Image DVD copy in the player, to remind myself just how beautiful looking and good sounding that film really is. The sound on this latest version last night was horrible, with it fading in and out, missing whole sections. And print quality was the worst of the batch. Surprisingly dirty, especially at the beginning. Nothing like that on the Image DVD. Shoulder Arms wasn't much better last night either.

So, if you're new to Chaplin, and those are the first films you have seen, you didn't see the best prints of Charlie Chaplin's films.  Rollie (Chaplin's cameraman) worked hard on getting good print quality for Chaplin, and I know he would have been upset seeing those prints last night.

I know Image can be expensive, but the Image DVD versions should be part of your collection, if you want the best prints and also, the best prints with Edna's work, which has been edited out of the final versions available now. Edna aside, the Image Collection of Chaplin films is still better, even with the Chaplin score music adjustments for the added back scenes, than that I have seen since.

Just saying this, as a loyal fan, who loves these films, and love watching the best. I'm very glad TCM showed them, but sad to see such poor prints of the films. I especially want new fans to know this, since you may never know, and think you are seeing the best. You are not.

Anyone who thinks those were great, have not seen a quality print of Charlie Chaplin films.

Note: Image doesn't have the silent 1925 version of The Gold Rush, which is the best version of that film, for fans who want the true silent film. The 1942 does have the great score, so good to have both.


Thuy said...


Thank you for sharing your experience. But I wonder if you mean the edition by Image is also better than Criterion's (for the title they already released)?

Edna's Place said...

I've never been real keen on the Warner Collection, because too many of them are very high in contrast. Originally, the early black and white negative film had a full scale, and softness in contrast, which gave the printed film a glow. You could see all the detail clearly.

Some people like high contrast (okay, if that is what it was met to be), but the lack detail is noticeable, if you know these films well. And it was never met to be such high contrast.

And as far as the Criterion's collection, from what I have seen, so far, they are not different than the Warner Collection. (This is on the DVD USA, ones.)

Because some people never seen much of his earlier versions or never seen an actual 35 MM film of Chaplin's, they may think the latest DVD (Warner or Criterion) versions are the best. But as a black and white fine art printer and photographer for over 30 years, I see the difference, so not impressed with the later versions of the Chaplin films copies. I'm not alone in this, as others have notice it too. (I have seen some of the UK ones, and the ones I have seen, look better, than the USA version.)

Also, I like the Image versions, because of the clips placed back into the film, but that is another issue, with Chaplin always re-editing his work. I like to see what his audience saw, at the time they originally release. Some of these films we see now days, never were seen by the audience that helped make him famous.

Thuy said...

Thank you for your advice

Unknown said...

If I should look for DVDs of the early shorts (pre-The Kid), which ones are the best quality-wise?

Edna's Place said...

I am strongly an Image fan, and never cared for the later, over contrasty versions and want the full versions. Not the over cropped ones.

If you are having a problem with deciding, rent the films, or find a place to check the films out from a library.