86 of 87 people found the following review helpful
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The films included are listed in the product description but not described. I do that here with information taken from the brochure about the DVD set:
Disc 1 - THE CITY REFORMED
The Black Hand (1906, 11 minutes) - Earliest surviving gangster film. Two members of a gang write a threatening letter to a butcher, demanding money, or else they will harm his family and his shop.
How They Rob Men in Chicago (1900, 25 seconds) - An elderly man is robbed in Chicago, but some money is left behind on his unconscious person. A policeman happens by, takes the money, and leaves the victim unattended.
The Voice of the Violin (1909, 16 minutes) - A terrorist plot foiled by the power of music.
The Usurer's Grip (1912, 15 minutes) - Melodrama arguing for consumer credit co-operatives.
From the Submerged (1912, 11 minutes) - Drama about homelessness and slumming parties.
Hope - A Red Cross Seal Story (1912, 14 minutes) - A town mobilizes to fight TB.
The Cost of Carelessness (1913, 13 minutes) - Traffic safety film for Brooklyn children.
Lights and Shadows in a City of a Million (1920, 7 minutes) - Charitable plea for the Detroit community fund.
Six Million Children are Not in School (1922, 7 minutes) - Newsreel inspired by census data.
The Soul of Youth (1920, 80 minutes) - William Desmond Taylor's feature about an orphan reclaimed for society through the court of Judge Ben Lindsey.
A Call for Help from Sing Sing (1934, 3 minutes) - Warden Lawes speaks out for wayward teens.
Disc 2 - NEW WOMEN
Kansas Saloon Smashers (1901, 1 minute) - Carrie Nation swings her axe.
Why Mr. Nation Wants a Divorce (1902, 2 minutes) - Role reversal temperance spoof.
Trial Marriages (1907, 12 minutes) - Male fantasy inspired by a reformer's proposal. A man tries marriage to several women and finally gives up on matrimony entirely.
Manhattan Trade School for Girls (1911, 16 minutes) - Training impoverished girls for better jobs.
The Strong Arm Squad of the Future (1912, 1 minute) - Suffragette cartoon.
A Lively Affair (1912, 7 minutes) - Comedy with women playing poker and child-caring men. The moral is that this is what to expect if women get the vote.
A Suffragette in Spite of Himself (1912, 8 minutes) - Boys' prank results in an unwitting crusader.
On To Washington (1913, 80 sec.) - News coverage of the historic suffragette march.
The Hazards of Helen, Episode 13 (1915, 13 minutes) - Helen thwarts some robbers and overcomes workplace problems.
Where are my Children (1916, 65 minutes) - This is Lois Weber's film against abortion that brings in the issue of birth control as well, which will be confusing to modern audiences. Tyrone Power's father stars in this one.
The Courage of the Commonplace (1913, 13 minutes) - A young farm woman dreams of a better life.
Poor Mrs Jones (1926, 45 minutes) - Why women should stay on the farm.
Offers Herself as a Bride (1931, 2 minutes) - A woman comes up with a way to survive the depression.
Disc 3 - TOIL AND TYRANNY
Uncle Sam and the Bolshevik (1919, 40 sec.) - Anti-union cartoon from Ford Motor Company.
The Crime of Carelessness (1912, 14 minutes) - Business version of the Triangle Factory fire.
Who Pays Episode 12 (1915, 35 minutes) - Lumberyard strike brings deadly consequences.
Labor's Reward (1925, 13 minutes) - Surviving reel showing the American Federation of Labor's argument for buying union.
Listen to Some Words of Wisdom (1930, 2 minutes) - Why personal thrift feeds the Depression.
The Godless Girl (1928, 128 minutes) - De Mille's sensational film about girls' reformatories and his last silent picture.
Disc 4 - AMERICANS IN THE MAKING
Emigrants Landing on Ellis Island (1903, 2 minutes) - Actual footage of the event.
An American in the Making (1913, 15 minutes) - U.S. Steel film promoting immigration and industrial safety.
Ramona (1910, 16 minutes) - Helen Hunt Jackson's classic about racial conflict in California as told by D.W. Griffith. Stars Mary Pickford.
Redskin (1929, 82 minutes) - Racial tolerance epic shot in two-strip Technicolor. Richard Dix plays Wing Foot, son of a Navajo chief who suffers heartache and prejudice before the film's happy ending with Wing Foot bringing peace between the Navajo and Pueblo peoples.
United Snakes of America (1917, 80 sec) - World War I cartoon assails homefront dissenters.
Uncle Sam donates for Liberty Loans (1919, 75 sec.) - Very odd patriotic cartoon.
100% American (1918, 14 minutes) - Mary Pickford buys war bonds and supports the troops.
Bud's Recruit (1918, 26 minutes) - Brothers serve their country in King Vidor's earliest surviving film.
The Reawakening (1919, 10 minutes) - Documentary about helping disabled veterans build new lives after the war.
Eight Prohibition Newsreels (1922-23, 13 minutes) - footage on raids along with various opinions about the effectiveness of Prohibition.
This set has quite a bit of a history lesson on film with several feature length films and shorts that are entertaining as well as informative on important social issues early in the twentieth century.
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
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This third volume in the series of Treasures from American archives is the best so far, in my opinion, and is a special treat for every serious silent film enthusiast. Each of the four discs in this great set has an excellent selection of films varying from just one minute in length, to feature films over 2 hours, and spanning three important decades, 1900-1934, which saw some of the biggest changes and developments in recent history. This set is both a visual documentary of those events and changes in American society in the early 20th century, as well as an education, but at the same time also immensely entertaining. This is especially the case with the five outstanding feature films in this set, as well as some of the shorter 10-minute films from around 1912, two of them featuring Mary Pickford.
Other famous names in this set include the 2-hour drama "The Godless Girl" directed by the legendary Cecil B. De Mille in 1928, at which time he had perfected the art of a sophisticated and thoroughly entertaining movie while still getting across an important message. That message is atheism versus religion, as well as exposing the harsh and unfair conditions in some juvenile reformatories at that time, but far from being lecturing in any way, "The Godless Girl" has powerful drama, tragedy, romance, great action and one of the most gripping and almost unbearably suspenseful, drawn-out climaxes I've seen in a long time. The film is on the disc with the theme "Toil and Tyranny" along with other shorter silent films depicting various other facets of American life, good and bad, which became the subject of films, and in the hands of innovative filmmakers such as Lois Weber, the theme of birth control is poignantly portrayed in "Where Are My Children" on the disc entitled `New Women'. Some of the subjects handled in films during the silent era might be quite surprising, and for anyone with a little interest in social history, playing the audio commentary with the films on these DVDs will give much more insight and background information. There is also a comprehensive book with all kinds of information, as well as more notes on the DVDs about each film, and given the special subjects handled in this set, it is probably worthwhile taking advantage of this wealth of resource and information. Personally, I found it a much more satisfying and rewarding experience just to play the commentaries with some films in order to appreciate why some points were important to audiences back then, as well as action in some scenes which I might have overlooked or not fully understood otherwise.
Education and history aside, the five feature films are already treasures in themselves, such as "Redskin" with Richard Dix which features about half the film in two-tone colour using red and green filters; a technique already used in the 1910s but not often employed due to the extra work and expense. In "Redskin" colour is used only for the scenes showing the Navajo and Pueblo Indian people and their land, which I found very appropriate because the red/green system seems to lend itself perfectly to the red and earthy colours of the landscape, the Indian people and their colourful tribal cloths. The story also makes a deep impression and is a relevant subject even today, affecting all kinds of native peoples and wherever different cultures collide. Sent to white man's school as a boy, an Indian chief's son benefits from the best of both worlds, but this only results in him no longer fitting in, nor being accepted in either the white man's world nor his own native culture. Finally, the other feature film I thoroughly enjoyed is "Poor Mrs Jones" in the `New Woman' category, who works endless hard hours on the farm and believes her sister who lives in the city has a much a better life, until she visits her for a week and realizes that the grass is not always greener on the other side. All films are of very high picture quality, and there is a variety of musical scores from traditional piano to orchestral, making it a fine selection which is never boring or monotonous, and which can be enjoyed many times over.