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Image Entertainment presents
Regeneration/Young Romance (1915)

"Hide me, Owen! I knifed a cop!"
- Skinny (William Sheer)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: November 15, 2001

Stars: Rockcliffe Fellowes, Anna Q. Nilsson, Edith Taliaferro, Tom Forman
Other Stars: William Sheer, Carl Harbaugh, Al Garcia
Director: Raoul Walsh, Cecil B. DeMille

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, child abuse)
Run Time: 02h:10m:11s
Release Date: November 27, 2001
UPC: 014381051025
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB-A- D-

DVD Review

Regeneration is an historically important picture for a number of reasons. It was the first feature film directed by Raoul Walsh (The Thief of Bagdad, High Sierra and White Heat), but was also one of the very first gangster feature films, being released in 1915, the same year as Alias Jimmy Valentine.

Young Owen (John McCann) is left an orphan at age ten, and is taken in by his abusive neighbors, the Conways. Owen, when grown up (Rockcliffe Fellowes), becomes leader of the gang controlling the unnamed city. Marie Deering (Anna Q. Nilsson), girlfriend of the crusading DA Ames (Carl Harbaugh) has a chance meeting with Owen, and she is inspired to work at a settlement house and attempt to reform Owen. While he falls in love with her and is willing to be reformed, his past catches up with him in the form of the murderous Skinny (William Sheer), who demands protection.

While the acting is nothing special, the film has a definite flair to it. For instance, while Owen drinks beer from a pail, there is a brief double exposure of the young Owen eating an ice cream cone, conveying his buried but still alive innocence. Indeed, one of the flaws of the structure here is that we never really see Owen do anything bad, giving his regeneration and reform much less impact than if we had seen even one misdeed. The set piece of a burning excursion boat is well-executed and contains exciting cutting and a wide variety of points of view. Fellowes bears an astonishing resemblance to a young Marlon Brando. Indeed, his costuming and look bear so much resemblance to Brando in The Wild One that one suspects that the creators of that film recalled Owen in Regeneration.

The companion piece on this disc is another picture from 1915, the romantic comedy Young Romance, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Young shopgirl Nellie Nolan (Edith Taliaferro) reads in a romance serial about a young man masquerading as a duke and decides to use her savings to spend a week pretending to be the wealthy Ethel Van Dusen. Meanwhile, Tom Clancy (Tom Forman), who works in the hardware section of the same department store, reads the same story and conceives the same idea of faking great wealth. By happenstance, they end up at the same town in Maine. Inevitably, they get together, though not without plenty of mishaps as a result of their deceptions.

This is a well-meaning little piece of fluff that manages to be amusing despite being dependent on excessive coincidences to make the story work. There are some very good moments, notably the dinner that the two frauds share, with Tom hurriedly checking his ever-shrinking bankroll as Nellie continues to order the most expensive items on the menu. While their deceptions are mostly harmless, there are others at the hotel whose fraud is not so benign. DeMille does a good job of making us like and be concerned for Nellie even though she really isn't all that sympathetic a character.

Both films are presented at proper running speed, color tinted, with musical accompaniments. Regeneration features a piano score by Philip Carli, while Young Romance includes a score by Robert Israel featuring piano and violin. Both scores do a very good job of supporting the films without attracting undue attention to themselves.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Other than the expected speckling, flicker and scratches one would anticipate for films 86 years old, these pictures look pretty good. Detail and clarity are surprisingly evident. However, Regeneration has several segments that have decomposed to near-obliteration. Rather than trimming these segments, producer David Shepard has left them intact in their decomposed state as a reminder of how fragile our film heritage is. Considering that this is the sole surviving print of the film, there's nothing that can be done about it. The picture does appear to be slightly cropped. When "Vengeance is Mine, Saith the Lord" appears on a stone tablet, the word "Vengeance" is cut off the picture. Windowboxing would have helped reduce the effect of overscan, to the extent that not doing so is contributing to this phenomenon.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0(music only)no

Audio Transfer Review: The musical scores are presented in 2.0 and they both sound fine. No distortion, noise or hiss is to be heard.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Nothing at all. Chaptering is adequate.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Two silent features from 1915, with historical significance and entertaining as well. The transfers are good, though decomposition has taken its toll. Alas, no extras.


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