Saturday, May 4, 2024

THE CAT AND THE CANARY (1927) On Blu-ray From Eureka


Eureka Entertainment's very first Region A release is an impressive presentation of the Universal 1927 silent mystery-thriller classic THE CAT AND THE CANARY. 

The original film adaptation of THE CAT AND THE CANARY had a great influence upon not just the old dark house genre but the Universal horror series in general. It has all the now-expected cliches of the comedy-mystery thriller--an eccentric old millionaire's will, a group of greedy relatives, sliding panels, secret passageways, and so on--but one must remember that this film and the John Willard play it was based on initiated most of these cliches. Due to Paul Leni's direction, Gilbert Warrenton's cinematography, and Charles D. Hall's art direction, the original THE CAT AND THE CANARY still stands out as a fun show, and an example of how inventive and creative Paul Leni was. The Bob Hope version of the story is more famous, but the silent version is the best overall adaptation. 

Eureka has done THE CAT AND THE CANARY proud with this release. The print presented on this disc is a 4K restoration of the original negatives, and it looks outstanding, with vibrant tinting. The music score, conducted by Robert Israel, is in 5.1, and it is based on music cue sheets created for the original 1927 release. 

The Blu-ray comes with a 36-page illustrated booklet that has three essays on the film written by Imogen Sarah Smith, Craig Ian Mann, and Richard Combs. The trio of articles go into the making and legacy of the film. (There is some overlap in the writers' observations.) There's also two new audio commentaries, one featuring Stephen Jones and Kim Newman, and the other with Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby. The talk with Jones and Newman has more info on the comedy-mystery thriller genre in general, and the one with Lyons and Rigby goes into greater detail about the lives and careers of the cast & crew. There is also some overlap between the two commentaries, but both are worthy to listen to, mainly due to the fact that the four men appreciate the film they are discussing, and enjoy talking about it. 

The disc also has a video essay by David Cairns and Fiona Watson that gives background detail on THE CAT AND THE CANARY and on those involved in making it, along with interviews with critics Pamela Hutchinson and Phuong Le. Also included are extracts from the John Willard play, and a Lucky Strike ad featuring Paul Leni. The Blu-ray has a reversible sleeve featuring original artwork by Graham Humphreys (see above). 

The silent THE CAT AND THE CANARY has had many home video versions over the years, but this one from Eureka is the presentation the movie deserves. Watching this movie on this Blu-ray makes one wonder what effect Paul Leni would have had on Hollywood history had he not died in 1929. Leni was certainly talented and artistic enough to make the transition to sound and even color. If Leni had lived, the Universal classic horror series might have been very different--and maybe better in some ways? 

I'm happy that Eureka Entertainment has now entered the Region A market, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they have in store for the future. 

No comments:

Post a Comment