Silent film enthusiasts ought to be thrilled with Criterion's release of LONESOME, a 1928 Universal feature from director Paul Fejos, a unique Hungarian who also, in addition to filmmaker, counted doctor and anthropologist among his many lifelong pursuits.
The film's subject matter isn't anything out of the ordinary for the genre - "Lonesome" tells the story of a lonely man (Glenn Tryon) and equally single woman (Barbara Kent) living in the urban chaos of New York City, who find one another while on an outing to Coney Island but then become separated when a fire breaks out on one of the rollercoasters. What makes "Lonesome" fascinating are the real locations matched with Fejos' ahead-of-its-time direction, which employs a moving, "inquisitive" camera, plus color-tinted sequences, unconventional editing and even several sound sequences that were added after the fact to appeal to Hollywood's transition out of the silent era.
Those dialogue sequences may be limp, but the film itself otherwise is one of the more unusual silent films I've ever seen: instead of being static and stilted, the picture has an energy that's a testament to Fejos' style, in addition to an interesting, overriding theme of individuals being lost in the day-to-day world of contemporary life -- something that gives the film a timelessness that holds true today.
A film festival favorite, "Lonesome" makes its home video debut with Criterion's Blu-Ray release (also on DVD). The 1080p B&W/color tinted 1.33 transfer is quite good given the extensive restoration performed on the picture, with a fascinating commentary from historian Richard Koszarski; a reconstructed sound version of Fejos' 1929 musical "Broadway," with its all-color finale intact; Fejos' 1929 silent "The Last Performance" with Conrad Veidt; a 1963 visual essay on Fejos' life from Paul Falkenberg; an interview with Hal Mohr about the "Broadway" camera crane; and extensive booklet notes all included on the supplemental side.