Flicker Alley, in partnership with Universal Pictures, are proud to present Universal Pictures new 4K restoration of the 1928 silent classic, The Man Who Laughs, accompanied by a newly recorded orchestral score by the Berklee School of Music. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, the story centers on the extraordinary adventures of Gwynplaine (Conrad Veidt), whose wide and mirthless grin inspired DC Comics legendary Batman villain, the Joker. Veidt’s character has become well known to most cinephiles. Orphaned as a child, Gwynplaine is punished by the king for his father s transgressions, by having face carved into a hideous grin. Disfigured and alone, Gwynplaine rescues a blind girl Dea (Mary Philbin), and both end up starring in a sideshow where they fall in love. Because she cannot see, Dea does not know about her lover s tormented grin.
Masterfully directed by Paul Leni, The Man Who Laughs marks Leni s penultimate work. Having grown up in Germany during the era of Expressionism, Leni embraces haunting characters, twisted sets, harsh angles, and deep shadows. Heralded as one of the best American silents emulating German Expressionism, The Man Who Laughs presents Leni at his creative directorial peak. Originally released silent, the film was enough of a hit for Universal in 1928 that the studio released it with a synched musical score using the Movietone sound-on-film process, presented here as a secondary audio track.
Part of Universal Pictures ongoing silent restoration initiative, The Man Who Laughs honors the studio’s rich film history that has spanned more than a century. The primary source element for this restoration was a 35mm composite fine grain from the Universal Pictures vault, created in 1954 from the nitrate original camera negative. NBCUniversal’s restoration team was able to stabilize and deflicker the film as well as repair scratches, warps, and dirt. The 4K digital restoration was completed by NBCUniversal StudioPost.
BONUS MATERIALS INCLUDE:
Paul Leni and The Man Who Laughs: A visual essay by film historian and author, John Soister, on Leni s work at Universal during this period.
Celebrating Universal s Masterpiece: A new booklet essay written by renowned film historian and author, Kevin Brownlow.
Notes On the New Score: A short essay by composer Sonia Coronado of the Berklee School of Music on their new score for The Man Who Laughs.
Optional Secondary Audio Track: In addition to the new Berklee School of Music score, the film s original 1928 Movietone score presented here as a secondary audio track.
Rare Image Gallery: A slide show presentation of vintage marketing materials, trade ads, memorabilia, and more from The Man Who Laughs, courtesy of the Reel Heroes of Film.
Universal Pictures and Flicker Alley present Universal Pictures new 4K restoration of the 1929 silent classic, The Last Warning, accompanied by a newly recorded score from Arthur Barrow. Adapted from Thomas F. Fallon s 1922 Broadway play of the same name, The Last Warning is based on the story The House of Fear by Wadsworth Camp and centers on an unsolved murder that occurs during a live Broadway performance. When the victim s body goes missing, the death remains unsolved and the theater is condemned. That is, until years later when a suspicious new producer arrives to restage the play with the original cast and crew. As one of the last silents Universal produced, The Last Warning was later released as a part-talkie with roughly sixty feet of sound scenes added.
The Last Warning was Paul Leni’s final film before his untimely death, and a prime showcase for Universal’s 1920s leading lady, Laura La Plante. A visual artist at the peak of his career, Leni s camera never stops shifting, offering cutaways and trick shots involving nervous could-be culprits, a highly suspicious sleuth, and cast members who suddenly disappear in the darkened theater. The result is a cinematic funhouse that restlessly cross-examines the suspense of the story s stage play against the real murder mystery saga, all unfolding amid the outstanding production design of Charles D. Hall.
Part of Universal’s ongoing silent restoration initiative, The Last Warning honors the studio’s rich film history that has spanned more than a century. Universal’s team of restoration experts conducted a worldwide search for The Last Warning’s available elements, ultimately working with materials from the Cinémathèque française, and the Packard Humanities Institute Collection in the UCLA Film & Television Archive. NBCUniversal’s restoration team was able to stabilize and deflicker the film as well as repair scratches, warps, and dirt. The 4K digital restoration was completed by NBCUniversal StudioPost.
BONUS MATERIALS INCLUDE:
Paul Leni and The Last Warning: A visual essay by film historian and author, John Soister on Leni s final film.
Rare Image Gallery: A slide show presentation of vintage marketing materials and production stills.
Of Gods and Monsters : An essay excerpt from the book of the same name by historian John Soister.
Notes On the New Score: A short essay by composer Arthur Barrow on his new score for The Last Warning.