THE BLACK BIRD (1926) Inside the slums of London’s notorious Limehouse district, dwell two very different twins. The Black Bird and The Bishop (Lon Chaney) lead very different lives. The saintly but crippled Bishop has dedicated his life to the salvation of Limehouse’s desperate denizens, while the depraved master criminal Black Bird is dedicated to their ruin. But the brothers share a terrible secret, a secret that threatens to unravel when the Black Bird gets involved in a deadly rivalry with the Raffleian gentleman burglar West End Bertie (Owen Moore) for the affections of cabaret chanteuse Mademoiselle Fifi Lorraine (Renée Adorée). Directed with atmosphere to spare by Tod Browning, and full of Chaney’s astonishing powers of transformation The Black Bird offers up a true Beggar’s Opera of delights.
WEST OF ZANZIBAR (1928) Chaney takes on Walter Huston’s breakout stage role in this silent era adaptation of Kongo, the tale of a crippled magician’s misplaced vengeance. Unmanned by the oily Crane (Lionel Barrymore), stage magician Phroso swears vengeance on the man who stole his wife and the use of his legs. Phroso builds an empire in Africa based on fear and superstition through his skills as an illusionist. But when he finally springs his trap, his vengeance proves to be more terrible than he could have imagined. Tod Browning directs. Huston would return to the part a few years later for the sound version, Kongo, also available from the Warner Archive Collection.
WHERE EAST IS EAST (1929) In the last of their screen collaborations, Browning and Chaney spin a tale of sadism and seduction set amidst the exotic lands of Indochina. Animal trapper Tiger (Chaney) has one real care in the world - his young but voluptuous daughter Toyo (Lupe Velez, who plays opposite Huston in Kongo). After reluctantly giving his blessings to his daughter’s union with her paramour, Tiger sees his world savagely undone when his ex, the mesmerizing Madame de Sylva (Estelle Taylor), sets her sights on Toya’s young man.
TELL IT TO THE MARINES (1926) This film is a pure military coming of age tale, in which a callow youth is ushered into maturity and manhood thanks to the less-than-tender ministrations of the Sergeant (Chaney) tasked with his instruction. This film would prove to be Chaney’s most popular role, and one that involved no transformative mysteries at all save for his own prodigious talents as a pure thespian. So captivating was Chaney’s portrayal of the blustering Sgt. O’Hara, that he defined the role for decades to come. Co-starring with Chaney are the silent screen superstars William Haines and Eleanor Boardman. A George Hill production.
INCH HIGH, PRIVATE EYE (1973) The early Seventies cartoon sensation is back, ready to reclaim its place and stand tall amongst the halcyon ranks of ’toon detective shows. The rather pre-cognitively named Inch High, is uniquely poised to battle the forces of perfidy and menace thanks to his small size and his large heart. Employed by the world famous Finkerton Detective Agency, Inch and his normal sized niece, Lori, her hulking boyfriend Gator, and his loyal dog Braveheart are ready to foil the most complex and nefarious of schemes. Junior crime-fighters will find a complete collection of Inch’s adventures spread across this 13-Episode, 2-Disc Collection. Featuring the voice work of Lennie (H.R. Pufnstuf) Weinrib (Inch High) and Don Messick (Braveheart), as well as a memorable theme contributed by the great Hoyt Curtin.
PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (1937) Errol Flynn begins to add a lighter touch to his screen dash and daring do in this justly celebrated screen adaptation of the Mark Twain classic. The Mauch twins of Penrod fame play the titular twins, one royal (Bobby Mauch) and one prole (Billy Mauch). After the two boy’s plan to switch lives goes awry, they must depend on one man’s wit and rapier to guide them home and restore order. Also stars Joan Valerie, Montagu Love and Claude Rains with an exuberant score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
Special Feature: “Mark Twain on the Screen” essay.
KIM (1950) Young Dean Stockwell stars as Kipling’s immortal creation alongside Errol Flynn in this big-screen adaptation. Shot on location in India, the saga does not sting on spectacle as it tells the tale of a young urchin who becomes a lynchpin in the struggle for the Khyber Pass.
Special Features: Two “Fitzpatrick Traveltalks” specialties - Ancient India and Land of the Taj Mahal. “Rudyard Kipling on the Screen” essay.
SCARAMOUCHE (1952) Stewart Granger stars in the remake of the silent screen swashbuckler (also available from the Warner Archive Collection), set amidst the dangerous days of the French Revolution. Nobleman Andre Moreau (Granger) is forced to take cover as a commoner clown after humiliation at the hands of the Marquis de Maynes (Mel Ferrer). Moreau achieves fame on stage while training himself as a master swordsman. When his theatrical troupe returns to Paris, Moreau has his chance for vengeance - and love. With Janet Leigh and Eleanor Parker. Based on the novel by Rafael Sabatini.
Special Features: Featurette with Mel Ferrer. “Great Screen Swordfights” essay. Trailers and TV spots.
KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE (1953) Robert Taylor stars in this sweeping Cinemascope take on the Arthurian legend. Ava Gardner co-stars as a most beguiling Guinevere while Mel Ferrer plays Arthur. 16x9 Widescreen
Special Features: Introduction By Mel Ferrer. Premiere Newsreel. Vintage Concert Hall Musical Short. “King Arthur At The Movies” Essay. Trailers.