Restored ‘The Sheik’ Joining ‘Paramount Presents’ Blu-ray Line Nov. 2 for Its 100th Anniversary

The epic 1921 silent film The Sheik, starring Rudolph Valentino, will join the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray line Nov. 2 for its 100th anniversary from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Originally released at the height of the nation’s appetite for motion pictures, the romantic drama The Sheik became a massive sensation, breaking box office records and earning more than $1 million during its first year of release.

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, the film was directed by George Melford and stars the legendary Valentino as the title character. The role helped propel Valentino into stardom and sealed his status as a Hollywood heartthrob — and the original “Latin Lover” — at the age of 26. Valentino is Ahmed Ben Hassan, a charming Arabian sheik who becomes infatuated with the adventurous, modern-thinking Englishwoman Lady Diana Mayo (Agnes Ayres). When the sheik abducts Lady Diana, the two clash, but ultimately profess their love for one another.

Since original negatives for silent films rarely exist, Paramount searched the world for the best elements for the restoration and used a print and an intermediate element called a fine grain. One source of the film yielded better results for image quality, another for intertitles. One of the elements was “stretch-printed” and had to be adjusted digitally during the restoration process. In the silent era there was no standard frame rate, so stretch printing was done to show silent films at 24 frames per second. In addition, tints and tones were digitally applied, guided by an original continuity script from the Paramount archive.

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While The Sheik was wildly successful, it did provoke controversy, much as the source material had upon its original publication in 1919. Many of the themes and controversial elements of the film are still being grappled with and are explored in a new featurette on the Blu-ray with film historian and professor Leslie Midkiff DeBauche, “Desert Heat: 100 Years with The Sheik.”  The disc also includes a music score by Roger Bellon and access to a digital copy of the film.

As with all films released in the “Paramount Presents” line, The Sheik is presented with collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments.

Update (10/12/21): Release date changed from Oct. 19 to Nov. 2.

‘Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations’ Coming on Disc June 16 From MVD

Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations will come out on Blu-ray and DVD June 16 from MVD Entertainment Group.

The comedy films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy have been beloved around the world since they were first released between 1927 and 1940. Unfortunately, many of the available copies are blurred dupes printed from worn-out negatives. The best of their short comedies and two of their features have been fully restored for the MVD release.

The release includes new 2K and 4K transfers from the best original 35mm materials. The release also includes the 1927 silent “pie fight” film The Battle of the Century, making its video debut after being “lost” for 90 years; the only reel of the duo’s bloopers and outtakes, “That’s That!”; shorts “Berth Marks,” “Brats,” “Hog Wild,” “Come Clean,” “One Good Turn,” “Helpmates,” “The Music Box” (the legendary Academy Award winning “piano moving” short), “The Chimp,” “County Hospital,” “Scram!,” “Their First Mistake,” “Towed in a Hole,” “Twice Two,” “Me and My Pal,” “The Midnight Patrol” and “Busy Bodies”; and the feature films Sons of the Desert and Way Out West (which includes the team’s famous soft shoe dance routine).

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Extras include 2,500 rare photos and studio documents, audio and film interviews with the duo’s co-workers, original music tracks and trailers, and a full restoration of their one surviving color film The Tree in a Test Tube. Also included are commentaries by Laurel & Hardy historians Randy Skretvedt and Richard W. Bann.

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The restorations are provided by Jeff Joseph/SabuCat in conjunction with the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Library of Congress.

 

Silent ‘Shiraz: A Romance of India’ Coming on Disc Under New Label From Juno Films and MVD

Juno Films has licensed the exclusive North American rights to the British Film Institute‘s 2K restoration of director Franz Osten’s black and white silent Shiraz: A Romance of India.

The film will premiere in the United States at New York’s Metrograph Theater in January 2019 with a DVD and Blu-ray release to follow in May on the new Juno Selects home video label distributed in partnership with MVD.

Shot entirely on location in India and based on the romance between 17th century Mughal ruler Shah Jahan and his queen, the epic tells the romantic tale behind the creation of the Taj Mahal. Produced by and starring Indian film legend Himansu Rai, the film is performed by an all-Indian cast, featuring Rai as humble potter Shiraz, who follows his childhood sweetheart Selima (Enakshi Rama Rau) when she’s sold by slave traders to the future emperor (Charu Roy).

The release features a new digital restoration by the conservation team at the BFI National Archive and a specially commissioned score by the Grammy Award-winning Anoushka Shankar.

“It is an honor to work with the BFI on the release of Shiraz: A Romance of India,” said Elizabeth Sheldon, Juno’s CEO and co-founder, in a statement. “It is a timeless tale of devotion that left humankind with a monument to the inspiration and power of true love, the Taj Majal, and the new score by the Grammy-award winning Anoushka Shankar seals it as a contemporary masterpiece.”

“The restoration of Shiraz was the culmination of thousands of hours of painstaking conservation work by the BFI National Archive to transform this silent classic, thereby ensuring its safe preservation for future generations,” said the BFI’s Violette Martin in a statement. “The BFI therefore is very happy to see Shiraz in the highly skilled hands of Juno Films and Elizabeth Sheldon for its North American distribution, as well as to have the Metrograph Theater on board for the opening week in New York. We look forward to further collaborations with Juno Films around our classic film collection.”

“I’m excited to be teaming up once again with Elizabeth Sheldon and her new company Juno Films for the release of the beautifully restored classic 1928 silent film Shiraz,” said Eric Wilkinson, director of home video sales and acquisitions for MVD Entertainment Group. “Ms. Sheldon and I have had many successes in the past during our time together at Kino Lorber and it just made perfect sense to continue that partnership by pairing Juno Films and MVD. We’re excited to bring this wonderful movie to North American audiences and collectors for the first time.”

Additional home video titles to be released on the new Juno Selects label include Peter Sellers’ debut feature film Pennies From Heaven and his short film Let’s Go Crazy.