Re: Silent films and public libraries

Jessica Rosner (
Thu, 6 Jun 2002 11:28:11 -0700 (PDT)

Re bootlegs etc.
There are a certain number of flat out PIRATE silents such as
Sunrise, The Man Who Laughs, Safety Last ( except the old HBO Copies) Unholy
Three etc. These are illegal copies of copyrighted films which the rights
holder HAS NOT LICENSED. I don't believe any reputable company should carry
these but some times even they don't know it or have a don't ask , don't
tell policy. Actually these are not the big problem, the BIG problem is poor
quality versions of films which ARE in the Public Domain such as Birth of a
Nation, The General, Phantom of the Opera and as John mentioned The Doll.
All films made before 1923 are now PD in the United States and some of the
above were just not properly protected. There is no easy solution on some of
these because the crappy copy is all that there is BUT with most well known
PD titles there are good copies and bad copies. Most of you can recognize
this by the name of the distributor BUT many wholesalers don't make the
information clear and many bureaucracies seem to insist on buying the
cheapest copy even if it SUCKS. Should you ever run into this I suggest you
try my line from last year about would they buy really cheap copies of Tom
Sawyer if they were missing pages, beat to hell and marked up but hey they
were CHEAPER? Same thing applies to bad copies of PD films.
Some companies to be weary of are Madacy, Film Forum, New York Film Annex
Midnight Video, Nostalgia video . There are many others that I can't think
of. One of the bigger PD AND sometimes bootleg distributors of silents is
Grapevine. I have my own reasons for finding them annoying ( they have
stolen our material) but they are totally hit and miss so it is hard to
make any sweeping judgement. Videobrary is a small company that has reliable
PD silents.

Only thing I can suggest is that if you get a BAD copy, tell the company you
bought it from that you won't pay for it and send it back. This might
pressure some wholesalers to stop carrying the really awful ones



Jessica Rosner
Kino International
333 W 39th St. 503
NY NY 10018