Friday, January 22, 2016
'The Undesirable' BD: Awesomely Restored Silent from "Casablanca" Director
The OliveFilms Blu-ray release of the recently discovered and restored 1914 Hungarian silent film "The Undesirable" makes a terrific topic for the inaugural Unreal TV review of an Olive release and an apt opportunity to touch on the Olive release of four recently released John Huston WWII-era propaganda films during his tenure in the Army. This (soon-to-be-reviewed) collection is under the title of the (until recently banned) documentary "Let There Be Light." The decades-long suppression of this documentary on treating WWII soldiers for PTSD relates to the film not being flattering toward the military.
General notable things that must be said regarding "Undesirable, " which "Casablanca" director Michael Curtiz helms. are that the dialog title cards are in English and that the picture quality is virtually flawless; there is nary a scratch or other defect, and there are absolutely no jerky edits. The toned backgrounds in a few spots contributes nice richness to the film.
Additionally, the newly commissioned orchestral score is perfect to the degree that the music is coordinated with the breathing of the actors. This makes the viewing experience light years beyond the piano playing that often accompanies silent films.
The story centers around 20-something Betty, who flees to the big city in the wake of a literal deathbed confession. The ensuing adventures of Betty include becoming a working girl, falling in love with a charming and good-looking young man whom the society of that day (and ours) considers out of her league, being accused of a crime, literally confronting her past, and obtaining justice regarding those developments. The commentary on the bourgeois lifestyle is tasty icing on the cake.
The talents of the actors and the behind-the-camera crew exceed all expectations regarding "Undesirable" being a run-of-the-mill silent film. The cast does adhere to the American model of over emoting due to their stage training and the lack of spoken dialog, but do so to a far less degree than their American cousins. The better sets and reduced melodrama are further enhancements regarding typical American fare from the same era.
All of the above results in a good chance to see a long-lost film that is still highly relevant and entertaining 102 years after its debut.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Undesirable" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.