Lonesome Blu-ray Review
While a bit cheesy in parts, “Lonesome” is an impressive silent film.
Mary and Jim are both single, lonely youngins living in the hectic New York. Rather than stay at home bored while everyone else is having fun, the two separately decide to venture out to the July 3rd Celebration at Coney Island. Upon arrival, Mary and Jim happen to meet each other where they hit it off right away. Can the two lovebirds find happiness together or will tragic accidents cause them to drift away from one another?
I can’t tell you why film historians haven’t talked about director Paul Fejos as much as other silent film directors, but he certainly deserves more attention. While the story of “Lonesome” is very simplistic and direct, it’s Fejos’ directorial style that grabs your attention. Via superimposed imagery, ahead of its time editing, clever sound scenes, and color tints, Fejos beautifully captures young love in a frantic 1920’s NY. It’s true one could argue that the love story suffers from some stilted title cards (and dialogue) and an overly convenient plot device at the end, but they don’t ruin the film at all. In fact, for the time period, the characters are incredibly realistic. By showing their day-in-the-life routines and emotions at the beginning, we really feel for these characters because they seem like real people and not caricatures.
Another surprising fact about “Lonesome” is how exciting the movie is. With the frantic pacing, an intense rollercoaster sequence, and extra cast packed sequences, there’s never a dull moment in this powerful love story. In fact, this film would make a good starting point for those trying to get into silent films.
Summary: If you’ve never heard of this little seen, little known 1928 silent film, you might want to check it out.
The film, which is presented in 1.19:1, is not a usual aspect ratio for sure and, unfortunately, it’s not the best print either. While the print gets better about 20 or so minutes in, the opening of the film missing frames and is littered with scratches and grain. On the plus side, the Coney Island scenes look particularly impressive and the hi-def transfer does add clarity from everything to the facial features to the background action.
The Mono audio track contains a pleasant score pleasant and some decent sounding “sound” moments.
* A booklet featuring information about the restoration, an interview between John T. Mason Jr. and director Paul Fejos and essays by Phillip Lopate and Graham Petrie.
* “Fejos Memorial”- A visual essay/autobiography narrated by director Paul Fejos.
* “The Last Performance”- A Danish version of the 1929 silent film by Fejos about a magician who falls in love with his lovely assistant who in turn falls for another man. Like all of the directorial work of Fejos, this is a visually interesting film that is well worth watching for silent film buffs. The talkie portion of the film is missing in this version however.
* “Hal Mohr On Broadway”- The acclaimed cinematographer talks about the crane used in the film.
* “Broadway”- The third film included on this Blu-ray disc. The film contains a conventional love triangle story, but the epic spectacles by the talented Paul Fejos make up for the film’s shortcomings.
* Commentary on “Lonesome” by an English professor/film study Richard Koszarski. Typically informative, but scripted commentary by a film historian.