Re: "Sunrise" and "Seventh Heaven" silent movies
Thu, 18 Oct 2001 11:48:01 -0700 (PDT)

In a message dated 10/1/01 11:37:36 AM, writes:

<< Ok, I am aghast. How can a legitimate company knowingly sell bootleg

produced by anyone? Why would they do this? (please don't tell me profit.)

I have copies of these. If I had known they were illegal copies, I would

have never purchased them. Now, the question is - should I remove them from

our collection? And, how can we know that what we purchase from Critic's

Choice - or any other vendor - are legal copies? We have had this come up

in a similar situation before - someone wanted to donate taped copies of the

Star Wars radio show to us. However, they were not legal copies, so we

didn't take them. >>

I suppose I should have answered this specifically a while back -- but I've
been bogged down with our next video releases. Anyway, the answer is simple.
Critics Choice was an honest and terrific company, started by Hugh Hefner and
Playboy to produce a catalog of classic films (okay, and "nighttime" films --
though as a happily married man, I cannot say whether these can be deemed
"classic" as well) for sale that they loved. It's always been a fairly good
quality company -- though Playboy sold it last year and it's stopped the
silent films and odd foreign so Critics Choice's selection is now like any
other company.

Anyway, to encourage the availability of classic silents, they licensed a
fair number of titles from Killiam Films in New York whose long and honored
history goes back to the 1940s. Sadly, the wonderful Paul Killiam sold the
company many years ago (and has since died). The current owner is not as
honorable as Paul and she has "stretched" the limits of acceptable copyright
behavior. Five or six of the titles through the Killiam/Critics Choice deal
were illegal and much to everybody's surprise, 20th Century Fox acknowledged
the copyright infringement but did nothing about it for over a year.

As for the ethics of this -- that's ALWAYS up to the individual. Critics
Choice definitely didn't know about the illegality and you didn't when you
bought them. And though I'm certainly the second person (Ms. Chicago Cubs of
Kino-land being the first) to attack illegal copyright dealings, the lack of
action by Fox permitted the selling of these videos to continue. My solution
would be to get the laserdisc of Sunrise that was put out by Fox a few years
back. You can get it through Big Emma's or Ebay. It's vastly superior and has
several great bonus features -- then you can throw out the Killiam/Critics
Choice tape which is of miserable quality to begin with. As I remember, the
video of Seventh Heaven was also abysmal and shouldn't be shown as
representative of the film's quality -- it's like buying a copy of
Shakespeare plays with stains, blotches and misprints on every page. That, as
much as anything else, should condemn the tape to the scrap heap.

Dennis Doros
Milestone Film & Video
PO Box 128
Harrington Park, NJ 07640
Phone: (201) 767-3117 or (800) 603-1104
Fax: (201) 767-3035