Charlie Chaplin's DVDs and Video Collections
A look at Chaplin film collections available on DVDs and Videos in the US.
DVDs and Videos, US
Linda Wada - ednapurviance.org
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With so many different collections of Chaplin films available, it is getting a bit hard to keep track, especially for the first time Chaplin buyer. Check out Edna's Chaplin DVD and Video for the latest available in the US, but instead of listing all the different collections here, I will list the ones I feel are the best to get you started on a first-rate collection.
What should you buy first?
The serious Chaplin fan will buy anything good they can find or afford. But when you are starting out you have an overwhelming array of choices.
So where do you start with your collection?
2010 UPDATE FOR THE LATEST CHAPLIN FILMS
The latest Chaplin film collections, now included the restored 'Chaplin at Keystone' DVD set. These four disc boxset, are being offered in the USA by Flicker Alley and in the UK by BFI. I have seen them, and they are very well restored, considering how bad these were. So well worth getting. More below and at this link.
The current Chaplin (Roy Export) copyrighted films (from 1918 onward) are being released with Criterion in the USA and Park Circus in Europe. The films are being offered on DVD and Blu-Ray. Some of the same extras from Warner Brother release, have returned for these films, but new extras have been added too.
Not all the films are released, yet, with films like 'A Woman of Paris' not being planned for release for a couple of years (as I was told from a producer with Criterion, who was interested in our Edna project). I will add more of the films, as they are release, at this link.
The Chaplin Collection is a retired collection released from Warner Video in 2003-04. Some are special limited editions boxset collections, jam-packed with many extras, this is a perfect way to start any Chaplin collection.
Or you could start by collecting some of the valuable out-of-print editions that are still available but are becoming rare.
When collecting remember that European video formats (PAL) are different than American (NTSC), so make sure you are getting the right version for the country where you live. (List of codes)
|A note about collecting
If you are new to collecting Chaplin films, you can become confused about the many different film collections of his work.
During Chaplin's days at Keystone, Essanay and Mutual Studios, Chaplin did not own the copyright to those films. Those films fell into many hands over the years and are in many different collections around the world.
All the other films made from 1918 - 1967 under First National, United Artists and his last two British-made films were copyrighted under Chaplin. Today, these films are the property of Roy Export, which is the Chaplin family company started by Charles Chaplin. The Chaplin Family in turn uses other companies to help restore and distribute the films. The current distributors are MK2 in France and Warner Brothers in America.
As for the Essanay and Mutual films, the best of these films are the ones restored by noted film historian David Shepard and distributed by Image Entertainment. These have been repackaged again into a full set with all the Essanay and Mutual films together with bonus material included.
As for the Keystones, there is no fully restored collection available just yet, but work has been done the last few years in restoring all of Chaplin's Keystone films. BFI is getting ready to release a collection, maybe as soon as 2009, according to reports. The restored films have been shown at BFI Southbank in London, the fall of 2008 and also in Italy, so a DVD collection could be soon to come.
Also note that Chaplin's last film 'The Countess of Hong Kong' is available on DVD.
A place to look is here on ednapurviance.org: Charlie Chaplin DVD and Video Guide USA created by Linda Wada and the Charlie Chaplin UK DVD Video Guide and Shop by Garen Ewing. Two locations for the different collections in both countries.
The following below are lists of different collections available in the US to keep an eye out for.
|The Essanay and Mutual
Collections - DVDs - 1990's
(films where Chaplin did not own the copyright)
In the 1990's David Shepard's version of the restored Essanay and Mutuals appeared on the market. This fine set was created after many years of research to find all the films available. The films were restored to as close to the originals as possible.
These included all of Chaplin's Essanay and Mutual films. It also includes 'Triple Trouble', which was created from film stock Chaplin left at Essanay. Chaplin had no control of film material he left. 'Triple Trouble' was created out of some of the unfinished work of Chaplin's and released after he left the studio. Plus, there is a film called 'His Regeneration' which Chaplin did a cameo in as a favor for Essanay Studio head Bronco Billy Anderson, while Chaplin was working at Essanay.
All the Mutual and Essanay films have Edna Purviance's work during her early days with Chaplin starting with 'His Night Out'.
New music was added making this the best set available since the original release of the films. These were released through IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT. Below is the Mutual set and to the right is the Essanay set. (Click on images to find out more.) Link to More!
Essanay Comedies that David Shepard restored.
This is a three disc set released in the 1990's
|Charlie Chaplin Short Comedy Classics
Classics on DVD
Essanay and Mutual - 2003
(Films where Chaplin did not own the copyright)
In June 2003, the latest repackaged box set of the Mutual and Essanay films mentioned above was released by IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT.
Bonus material!!! It also includes the 54-minute documentary on Eric Campbell: Chaplin's Goliath: In Search of Scotland's Forgotten Star.
This would be a particularly good choice for any Chaplin and Edna Purviance fans collection.
Charlie Chaplin - 2003 Mutuals and Essanay Classics. Great set of films to see Edna Purviance during her early days with Chaplin.
|The Chaplin Collection Vol. 1
Warner Brothers Collection 2003
(Films where Chaplin did own the copyright)
The Warner Brother Collection Volumes 1 & 2 of DVDs are the latest available of Chaplin's films and the best restored of the lot. This digitally restored collection has a crispness and contrast not seen in earlier films and the disks are loaded with extras.
It includes Kevin Brownlow's documentary 'The Tramp and the Dictator' which has Sydney Chaplin's rare color film, which Sydney shot during the filming of 'The Great Dictator'. 'The Gold Rush' has the original 1925 silent and Chaplin's re-edited 1942 version of the film. Both totally restored!
Included with each DVD is a new documentary, each about 30 minutes long. These include rare footage from Chaplin's home movies, news reels and much more.
The Richard Schickel documentary "Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin" has been included in the USA Volume Two as well as the 1959 'The Chaplin Revue'. The Revue includes all of Chaplin's first national shorts plus 'The Bond', 'Visitors to the Studio' and 'How to Make Movies'.
If you live in the UK, Europe, Japan or the Middle East, The Chaplin Complete Collection is available. This is all the films from Volumes I and II, with the exception of The Chaplin Revue, which includes all the First National Films. (The Complete Collection set is coded for European market.)
Visit Garen Ewing's Charlie Chaplin UK DVD and Video Guide for more details on the Complete Chaplin DVD Collection and other Chaplin DVDs and Videos available in the UK.
Pictured, The Chaplin Collection Volume I.
The Complete Chaplin Collection is available in the UK - Code 2 for Europe, Japan and Middle East markets only. Great Collection! Loaded with extras! Includes 'A Woman of Paris'. Visit Charlie Chaplin UK DVD and Video Guide for more details on The Complete Chaplin DVD Collection and what is available for Charlie Chaplin fans in the UK .
The Chaplin Centennial Collection
(Films where Chaplin did own the copyright)
This 1989 Chaplin Centennial Collection was created for Chaplin's 100th Birthday. This videotape collection was released through CBS/FOX Video. These were all the films (except for 1942 'The Gold Rush') that Chaplin re-edited during his time in Europe. He also scored music with composer Eric James especially for each film.
The music timing is perfect with this set, but the film speed is not. Chaplin's early silent pictures were all created with hand cranked silent cameras. His later silent films like 'City Lights' had a music soundtrack added, so the music synchronization is perfect.
That aside, my favorite of the tape collection is the 'Chaplin Revue'. This tape has Chaplin narrating before and after each film. A fun opening sequence shows bits from his never released 'How to Make Movies', showing the studio being built in Hollywood and Chaplin out of costume.
The downside to this collection is the fact it is on VHS videotape, which like other media of its day, will not be around at some point. Just something to be aware of if purchasing.
This is a great set to see the differences in how Chaplin edited his work years after their original theatrical release. And to see the differences, the collection listed next is the perfect set to compare it to.
'The Chaplin Revue' from the Centennial Collection
This collection includes 'A Dog's Life', 'Shoulder Arms' and 'The Pilgrim' (Chaplin's last First National film).
The Centennial Collection includes all of Chaplin's First National Films, United Artists Films and his two British Films. See Chaplin's Film List for more.
The Charlie Chaplin Collection David Shepard and Roy Export re-edited 1990's
(Films where Chaplin did own the copyright)
After the Centennial collection was released, the next collection of Chaplin films to hit the market was the 10-disc collection that David Shepard and Roy Export re-edited in the 1990's. They were released by CBS/FOX and distributed by IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT.
This collection was unique in the fact the films included all the parts that Chaplin edited out in his later years. During the time between 1940's - 1970's, Chaplin personally re-edited and restored all his copyrighted films for rerelease. He removed parts he felt didn't suit modern audiences.
Check this link for the full collection
Charlie Chaplin - 1993 - 'The First National Collection'
|When these 1990 films were re-edited, those removed scenes were placed back into the films. Now for the first time since the films' original theatre releases, fans got to see the same versions viewed during Chaplin's day. It made films like 'The Kid ' even more interesting, in seeing the complete story as told in 1921, with added scenes of Edna and the kid's real father.
The film speeds were also corrected in this set. But all the added footage and corrected film speed created one big drawback. The music Chaplin so carefully arranged for each film no longer fit the film. The music sounds jumpy in parts and out of sync in others. It also has places the music is repeated to cover all the added footage.
Even with this drawback, this is still a great collection to have for serious Chaplin collectors. This DVD collection is out-of-print now, but disks pop up once in a while on the Web and are treasured by collectors. Since this collection is on DVD, you will not have the problems of videotapes. Here is a link to see what films are available in this collection.
(Films where Chaplin did not own the copyright)
I saw them on the DVD and on a larger screen on DVD, and the quality is great, for a collection that has been abused over the years. But you now have the best collection available, with release in the UK, USA and France.
Flicker Alley currently has this Chaplin at Keystone collection in the USA.
The following information is before the current DVD 2010 release of the Keystone.
If you are interested in Keystones, the newly restored version is the top one to buy. But, you may be interested in collecting older version, so I will leave the information below.
|Documentaries on Chaplin
Chaplin appears in many documentaries. New ones are released with the Warner Brother DVDs. (see THE CHAPLIN COLLECTION) This list are a few older ones for your Chaplin collection that are available. The downside is the fact most are available only on videotape.
Unknown Chaplin Series
David Gill and Kevin Brownlow 1983
This three-part series (three separate videos) contains rare Chaplin out takes from the Mutual, First National and early United Artists films. In 2005, became available on DVD.
Part one is called 'My Happiest Years', part two: 'The Great Director' and part three: 'Hidden Treasures'
These have great behind-the-scenes outtakes of Edna Purviance. A must for any collection. Available on VHS and DVD.
Comedy - 'A Serious Business'
Part eight from a thirteen-part series about the silent era by Kevin Brownlow and the late David Gill. Should be a part of everyone's film collection. VHS and DVD in the new Hollywood DVD Collection. (Note: The DVD collection is on hold again.)
The Gentleman Tramp:
The Authorized Biography of Charlie Chaplin 1974
Video release 1991
This film was created with Chaplin's help in the early 1970's. It has some rare family and news footage. Also includes footage of the 1972 Oscar awards. Available on VHS and DVD in The Chaplin Mutual Comedies 90th Anniversary Edition.
Charlie Chaplin: A Tramp's Life Biography
This two hour biography can be seen on A&E. It may be available at the A&E web site, though personally I have not seen it available.
Link to More Documentaries!
'The Gentleman Tramp' and 'Unknown Chaplin - Part 1'
Hollywood Series - Comedy - 'A Serious Business'
Special thanks for editing help from Wes Wada and Lisa Stein, for special Chaplin Variety Issue
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