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Silent Era Films on Home Video
Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2017 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
All Rights Reserved.

The Eagle
(1925)

 

When a Russian lieutenant deserts the czarina’s army, choosing not to be a sexual dalliance of hers, he becomes a Robin Hood-like defender of the downtrodden named The Black Eagle. The Eagle soon finds that he is smitten with the refined daughter of the man who has robbed his own family of their estate. Much of the film pivots on the growing relationship between Rudolph Valentino as Lieutenant Dubrovski and Vilma Banky as Mascha, as The Black Eagle seeks to collect his revenge on her father.

The Eagle (1925) was Rudolph Valentino’s return to feature motion pictures after his protracted contract dispute with Famous Players-Lasky Corporation. Valentino had kept himself busy with vaudeville tours and appearances in independently-produced short documentary films, until his Paramount contract expired, and in 1925 negotiated a new contract for films to be distributed by United Artists. The Eagle was directed by one of Hollywood’s top directors, Clarence Brown, and designed by the great William Cameron Menzies, but is ultimately little more than a romantic vehicle for screen idol Rudolph. And the Valentino charm is here in full effect, with plenty of gauzed close-ups of the somber and now-smiling Rudolph for fans to swoon over. — Carl Bennett

coverImage Entertainment
2002 DVD edition

The Eagle (1925), black & white, 72 minutes, not rated.

Worldview Entertainment, distributed by Image Entertainment,
ID1574WVDVD, UPC 0-14381-15742-0.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 1, 5 Mbps average video bit rate, 224 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 1.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 14 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $24.99.
Release date: 25 June 2002.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 5 / audio: 5 / additional content: 0 / overall: 5.

This Killiam presentation has been transferred from a beaten and dusty 16mm reduction print that, nonetheless, features a very good range of greytones and good image detail. The print is further compromised by light to moderate speckling, long vertical scratches, and several moments of drastic print scuffing. The transfer has been too tightly framed, and some intertitles will be cropped on some televisions. A moving frameline, annoyingly adjusted throughout the progress of the film, further reveals the amount of over-cropping.

Compared to the best edition of The Eagle on home video, the 1989 laserdisc from Image Entertainment (transferred from Kevin Brownlow and David Gill’s presentation for British television), this Killiam DVD edition suffers by comparison. The Brownlow and Gill edition not only features open framing of the picture image, it was also transferred from a 35mm print in the Raymond Rohauer collection and thus features greater image detail.

One of the main reasons a collector may want to obtain this Killiam edition of The Eagle is the music score performed on theater pipe organ by the late Lee Erwin, the first of his performances released on DVD. The music has been transferred from the optical soundtrack of one of the Killiam prints of the film. The resulting audio quality is OK, with some crackling and pops, but fares better here than on other Killiam DVD releases.

Ultimately, the edition is watchable, with its above-average 16mm source print, but it is frustrating that (what appears to be) a new transfer should be so tightly cropped and utilize a reduction print when quality 35mm materials have survived. We advice collectors that, in the absence of a better home video edition in their collections, this Killiam edition may be serviceable until a better-quality edition is produced for DVD.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
coverReel Enterprises
2007 DVD edition

The Eagle (1925), black & white, 70 minutes, not rated.

Reel Enterprises, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD-R disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $9.95.
Release date: 5 April 2007.
Country of origin: USA
This budget DVD-R edition has likely been mastered from 16mm reduction print materials.

The film is likely accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
coverPassport Video
2009 DVD edition

The Rudolph Valentino Collection: 5 Fabulous Films (1918-1925), black & white, 420 minutes total, not rated,
including The Eagle (1925), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Passport Video, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, three single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, five-disc DVD keepcase, $19.98.
Release date: 11 August 2009.
Country of origin: USA
This three-disc collection of Rudolph Valentino films may have been mastered from 16mm reduction prints. All of the films in the collection have previously appeared on DVD in high-quality editions.

The film is likely accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
coverNavarre Corporation
2002 DVD edition

Triple Feature Drama Classics, Volume 8 (1925-1926), black & white and color-toned black & white, 230 minutes total, not rated,
including The Eagle (1925), black & white, 81 minutes, not rated.

Navarre Corporation, 1631, UPC 7-41027-16319-3.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 1, 3 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 6 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $9.98.
Release date: 16 April 2002.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 4 / audio: 5 / additional content: 5 / overall: 5.

For the Navarre video transfer, the first on DVD, a 16mm reduction print has been used that is slightly contrasty, with soft image detail, moderate dust and speckling, some print scuffing, splices, and fine vertical scratches. The framing is tight but the intertitles will remain readable, and the film has been transferred at a proper speed, unlike the Killiam DVD edition that followed this one. Overall, the print is watchable but some of the burnt-out image highlights are annoying.

The presentation is accompanied by a canned orchestral soundtrack.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
coverInstant Vision
2003 DVD edition

The Eagle (1925), black & white, 91 minutes, BBFC Classification PG.

Instant Vision Limited, DVDIV060, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 PAL, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 2, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, £9.99.
Release date: 21 July 2003.
Country of origin: England
It is unknown what quality of materials have been utilized for this PAL British edition.

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 2 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
Other RUDOLPH VALENTINO films available on home video.

Other silent era CLARENCE BROWN films available on home video.

 
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