Pennsylvania-based ALPHA VIDEO is owned by Jerry Greene, founder of Collectable Records. Quality of their unrestored movie transfers varies from fair to good, based on condition of source material stock. The only extras provided are a catalog insert and DVD-accessible title list.
Their dubs of THE SILENT MAN and BLUE BLAZES RAWDEN are quite good, with one important exception. Both title card sequences are freeze-framed and a ghostly ALPHA watermark appears at lower right screen. Also, the first few intertitles in each photoplay are again obviously still-frames.
A pleasing piano track is provided. The musician may not have been overly-familiar with these films while dubbing the audio. There's none of the usual flourishes and crescendi during sudden action. The music is mostly original with some familiar classical themes mixed in.
Mr. Hart, he of the distinctive long face, plays a flawed individual in both, in fact, his character in "Rawden" is a rather villainous sort.
'Blue Blazes' is a lumberjack come to town to spend some hard-earned cash. He gets involved in a poker game that goes wrong, and makes a move on a saloon-owner's woman right while the man is there watching. The proprietor, 'Ladyfingers' Hilgard, is no angel either. These two stags immediately lock horns in a one-on-one brawl that leaves Hilgard dead and Rawden with control of the town and gorgeous Babette DuFresne all his own. Then Ladyfingers' mom and kid brother arrive from England and again Blue Blazes shows a lack of character by deceiving them on how Hilgard perished. That he tries to redeem the dead man's reputation for their peace of mind doesn't fully absolve Rawden of his sins. The story has an unusually bleak ending.
In the first picture, "Silent Man" Bud Barr is a prospector who has his claim on a rich vein of gold stolen by a corrupt saloon owner and bigamist who marries women just to enslave them at his watering hole. Barr responds to having his claim jumped by robbing a stagecoach transporting purloined gold dust. (What's that old saying about "two wrongs"?) But at least this time, Barr was an innocent man wronged, and the bad guys get theirs in the end.
Judging solely from these two works, in director/star Bill Hart's West, men didn't wear white or black hats, but different shades of gray. Editorializing aside, both movies are entertaining, far better than a good percentage of western programmers of 15 or 20 years later, and he is a most watchable lead.
Parenthetical numbers preceding titles are 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll ratings.
(6.3) The Silent Man (silent-1917) - William S. Hart/Vola Vale/Robert McKim/Dorcas Matthews/J.P. Lockney/George Nichols/Gertrude Claire/Milton Ross/Harold Goodwin
(6.4) Blue Blazes Rawden (silent-1918) William S. Hart/Maudie George/Robert McKim/Gertrude Claire/Robert Gordon/Jack Hoxie