Today, more than 80% of silent cinema is considered lost forever. Some films were claimed by the flammable and unstable film stock of the day. Others were, once upon a time, thought to be worth less than the cost of keeping them. Yet, miraculously, unique copies of celebrated films previously thought lost are occasionally found and restored to delight a new generation. Bardelys the Magnificent joins Monte Cristo as two resurrected classics, both top-of-the-line productions starring John Gilbert, one of the most handsome, passionate and popular stars of the 1920s.
Bardelys the Magnificent (1926) is based upon the novel by Rafael Sabatini and directed by King Vidor, who just one year before had directed Gilbert in the smash hit The Big Parade. In France "in an age of light loves and lively scandals," the Marquis de Bardelys (Gilbert), casual womanizer and accomplished swashbuckler, is entranced by Roxalanne de Lavedan (Eleanor Boardman); and against a background of knavery and intrigue, he sets out to woo and win her. Lavishly mounted and superbly directed with spectacular action scenes, Bardelys is a hugely entertaining action romance given an A-plus MGM production. The sole surviving print was found in France in 2006; the English titles are restored according to the original script. A gap in the recovered footage is bridged with stills, titles, and footage from the original trailer so the story is complete. The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra provides a lovely score of period photoplay music; Antonio Coppola provides an alternate musical score on piano. This release is possible through the graciousness of Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures.
In Monte Cristo (1922), adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, and directed by Emmett J. Flynn, Gilbert is Edmond Dantes, a sailor unjustly imprisoned for twenty years, time he spends acquiring education and finesse. Later the accidental heir to a vast fortune, Dantes reinvents himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, and wreaking revenge on those symbols of the decadent monarchy that wronged him. Fox Film spared no expense on this prestige film with lavish sets and a distinguished supporting cast. The sole surviving copy of Monte Cristo is a worn and choppy print found in the Czech Republic, but nearly complete. English titles have been restored with the help of the original script. Pianist Neal Kurz arranged and performs a score of obscure yet beautiful French music of the period.
This DVD, produced by Serge Bromberg, Eric Lange, Jeffery Masino and David Shepard, includes a number of DVD special features; Film historians Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta draw from their own extensive historical research into the life of John Gilbert to provide a full-length audio essay on Bardelys the Magnificent as well as an enclosed booklet and a brand-new thirty-minute documentary supplement, Rediscovering John Gilbert, featuring an on-camera interview with John Gilbert's daughter and biographer, Leatrice Gilbert Fountain.
Bardelys the Magnificent - USA 1926 - Directed by: King Vidor - Written by: Dorothy Farnum, based on the novel by Rafael Sabatini - Cinematography by: William H. Daniels - Cast: John Gilbert, Eleanor Boardman, Roy D'Arcy, Lionel Belmore, Emily Fitzroy, Arthur Lubin - Produced by: MGM - Premiere: September 30, 1926
Monte Christo - USA 1922 - Directed by: Emmett J. Flynn - Written by: Bernard McConville, based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas père - Cinematography by: Lucien Andriot - Cast: John Gilbert, Estelle Taylor, Robert McKim, William V. Mong, Virginia Brown Faire, George Siegmann - Produced by: Fox Film Corporation - Premiere: September 3, 1922
Rediscovering John Gilbert - USA 2009 - Directed and written by: Jeffrey Vance, Tony Maietta - Photographed by: Zander Ross Hartung - With: Leatrice Gilbert Fountain - Produced by: Film Preservation Associates - First release
- Bardelys the Magnificent (tinted) 1926, 90'
- Chapter selection
- Orchestral score by Rodney Sauer
- Piano score by Antonio Coppola
- Audio commentary by Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta
- Rediscovering John Gilbert 2009, 32'
- Gallery with 235 production stills
- Monte Cristo (tinted) 1922, 107'
- Piano score by Neal Kurz
- Chapter selection
- Photo gallery
- John Gilbert 1921 contract with Fox
- 20page Booklet with essays by Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta
Edited by: Flicker Alley
DVD authoring: Brian Peterson
DVD supervision: Jeffery Masino, David Shepard