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Kino on Video presents
Parisian Love & Down to the Sea in Ships (1922, 1925)

"I married you for revenge--not love."
- Marie (Clara Bow)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: March 25, 2002

Stars: Clara Bow, Marguerite Courtot, Raymond McKee, Donald Keith
Other Stars: J. Thornton Baston, Lou Tellegen, James Gordon Russell
Director: Elmer Clifton, Louis Gasnier

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence)
Run Time: 02h:36m:46s
Release Date: April 02, 2002
UPC: 738329024321
Genre: romance

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- BCB- D-

DVD Review

Clara Bow was an almost immediate hit with moviegoers in the 1920s, hitting stardom before the age of majority. Her charms still manage to come across the screen nicely in these two rarities from Kino, including her first film appearance.

Parisian Love (1925)
"Now that my prisoner is recovering, I believe he can stand to spend six months of his sentence with me."
- Pierre Marcel (Lou Tellegen)

Marie (Bow) and Armand (Donald Keith) are lovers in a Parisian criminal gang that fleeces the tourists and sacks the houses of the wealthy. While robbing Pierre Marcel (Lou Tellegen), Armand is recognized by Pierre as a classmate from the university, and Armand's wound nursed back to health by him. Pierre attempts to get Armand to leave crime behind, but Marie will have none of this. First masquerading as a maid at Marcel's party, she then hits on the idea of getting her vengeance by using stolen goods to pretend to be wealthy, marrying Marcel and taking him for everything he's worth.

Bow turns in a fine performance and is utterly charming both as the street urchin and the society flapper. She's the principal reason that this picture is worth seeing. Tellegen and Keith are both cow-eyed when called upon to emote romance, even beyond my broad tolerance for silent acting techniques. The frumpy queen of the underworld, Frochard (Lillian Leighton) is darkly comic with slapstick overtones as she assumes the role of the wealthy Marie's guardian.

Thought lost for decades and only found in 1998, this picture is interesting for a few other points besides the presence of Bow. There is a strong current of homosexuality in Marcel, which Armand seems to respond to almost unconsciously. The Roaring '20s parties are also entertaining, and the sight of Bow and Tellegen doing a tango and the wild costuming provide some intriguing sociological artifacts.

Down to the Sea in Ships (1922)
"Unless thee has thrown a harpoon into a whale, take thy story of love elsewhere."
- Charles W. Morgan (William Wolcott)

The companion piece is Bow's debut film, at age 16 (she was in an earlier film but her scenes were cut out). This picture details with apparent accuracy the life of New Bedford whalers in the 19th century, set against a strict Quaker household.

Charles Morgan (William Wolcott) is a Quaker shipowner who is determined that his daughter Patience (Marguerite Courtot) will marry a Quaker with whaling experience. His narrow prejudices are taken advantage by Finner (Patrick Hartigan) and Samuel Siggs (Jack Baston). The latter schemes to marry Patience and Finner enlists on the boat intending to steal it for the gold field trade. Raymond McKee is Patience's true love, Thomas Allan Dexter, who is neither a Quaker nor a whaler, but he inadvertently gets some experience when he's shanghaied by Siggs and Finner. Morgan's tomboy granddaughter Dot (Bow) also stows away on the ship. With Dexter out of the way, Siggs conspires to get his clutches on Patience. In the meantime, Dexter learns the whaling trade and attempts to foil Finner's plots.

There is plenty of whaling footage here, apparently shot with the cooperation of the few ships out of New Bedford still doing whaling in the 1920s. PETA types will not want to watch, since there is ample material of cutting sheets of blubber off dead whales, as well as killing of dolphins onscreen. Since this was described on the case as a low-budget picture, I have to believe that these are all actual animal footage and not special effects of any kind. The racism of the period (both of the story and the 1920s) is ample, especially in the evil Siggs, who is presented as a part Oriental passing for white. This is reinforced by the 1970s' era piano score that plays an Oriental theme whenever Siggs is onscreen.

Marguerite Courtot makes for an appealing heroine who is rather believable in the context of the story. Although a leading lady for ten years, this appears to be the only one of her films to survive outside of a couple shorts, underlining the fragility of our silent film heritage. The story is put forth energetically by director Clifton in his first feature, with good pacing overall. The finale includes a race to the rescue that would have done D.W. Griffith proud. Bow's part is small, but she makes the most of it. It's no wonder that she caught the imagination of the public.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Parisian Love looks quite good. The tinting is delicate and the print is in surprisingly good condition. Slightly windowboxed, it looks much better than one would expect. The transfer is fairly clear and sharp with good detail overall, though there are some segments with overcontrasty blooming. But if that's present in the sole surviving print, what can you do?

Down to the Sea in Ships is more marginal. Although the keepcase states that it's from an archival 35mm print, large segments are fuzzy and dim and look as if they're blownup from 16mm. There's a significant tear in the picture during one of the whaling segments. Overall it's not terrible but not terribly good either.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Mono(music only)no

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono music tracks are piano only. Parisian Love features a score by Philip Carli that sounds first-rate, since it's quite recent. Down to the Sea utilizes a 1972 piano track by William Perry, but it sounds far older. With crackle, noise and hiss, it sounds like a badly bruised LP record transferred to tape, complete with tape warbles (there's a particularly egregious one in the middle of chapter 11 that makes one wonder if the audio had any quality control whatsoever). This really should have had a new score, because it's distorted, tinny and generally poor-sounding, especially in comparison to the Carli score. The grade below is a composite of the A- for Parisian Love and the D+ for Down to the Sea.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Packaging: unknown keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There are no extras. Chaptering is a bit thin overall, with some chaptering running well over ten minutes.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A pair of lesser Clara Bow features, given okay transfers. The audio on Down to the Sea is pretty marginal, and there are no extras, but a definite must for Clara Bow fans.


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